My Favourite Window

September 23, 2015

The Wizard of Oz

Some weeks ago Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman got lost in the Secret Garden.

Somehow they found their way out... 

and along with the rest of the Dale Hartley School of Speech and Drama, are busily rehearsing for opening day next week. This is the drama school's big return to its beloved Town Hall theatre. And...  proud mama has to mention that Dale's Assistant Director for this show is Bryony!

All the promotional photos were taken by Trevor White. You can see the rest of his Wizard of Oz photos taken in and around Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden at Ashley on his website Trev White Photography .

August 20, 2015

Another Year Older...

Make the most of celebration days I think...
Get out early in the morning and breakfast somewhere you've never breakfasted before...

Like the Lyttleton Coffee Company. 
Walk by the seaside and marvel at

spring buds...

Check out some civic art and recall a literary hero at the same time...

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Mowgli, Just So, Puck, and more recently, Kipling's poetry on what it is to be torn between two countries, have coloured nearly all my years of reading. Here he sits at the end of Kipling St in Christchurch - a sculpture by Chris Reddington.

Eat more at some indulgent place like The Tannery - Christchurch's post Earthquake, boutique shopping destination... While you're there buy kid gloves, dried hops, an old Penguin book of 
D H Lawrence's short stories England My England.

Head home to the garden with your brand new birthday gloves and potter ... Today I planted peonies received from a friend earlier this week. 

Finish the day by giving your niece a belly dancing lesson. Don't forget to dance a bit yourself even at your age!

August 17, 2015

Five Years of Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden

You'd be forgiven for thinking I am flagging: that after five years, original intentions for setting up this blog have fallen by the wayside, and I have lost interest. 

I've experienced major life altering events since 17th August 2010, and the idea of following the development of an old garden into a self sufficient source of income has certainly lost impetus. So has the intention to create a record of the restoration of a dilapidated historic home for eventual use towards a qualification in museum and archiving studies.  

The Skudder House now has a different story to tell though it is more one of bureaucratic bumbling than anything structural.

The budding daffodils that illustrated my very first post though, are a symbol of some kind of forward motion. I did move them, and this year after a couple of years of sulking from earthquake stress, they have bulked up and are a mass of buds by my back door! The increase of bulbs was a distant dream back in 2010.

April 15, 2015

Birthdays Come and Go

Snow! And we haven't even had a frost here in Ashley yet. The snow in the photo is covering Sugar Loaf hill on the Port Hills around Christchurch - 14th April. It had melted away by early afternoon. 

Until now Autumn has been mellow here. After a long, dry and windy summer, the weather softened to cool, foggy mornings and warm, calm days. 

Last year Autumn was a miserable aberration so I've been pleased to see the Indian Summer character of Autumn return here. 

This butterfly stonecrop flowered handsomely in amongst the foliage of an old fashioned rose - making a pleasing visual pairing not of my design. I don't know which variety of Sedum spectabile this is because it came in a garden bouquet for Elwin's funeral, but it is a good deep pink.

Yesterday was Elwin's birthday and in our school holiday meanderings, Kitty and I remembered him with quiet asides. Later Bryony joined us for a night at the pictures and we imagined he would have enjoyed this family time together.

Another autumn birthday in our famly is Bryony's on 
13th March. She turned 21 last month.
We spent her special day together eating brunch and morning tea - in that order - at The Colombo, which is a classy city shopping mall grown up out of the earthquakes. We ate our brunch off a billiard table and over-indulged on macaroons.

Later we were drawn by the beautiful weather, to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, where Bryony photographed this monarch butterfly feeding on elecampane...

and we loosely recreated a photo from her infancy in the rose garden. 

The following day - after attending to small, Great Gatsby, details -

It was party time.

As mother-in-charge I was nervous about holding a 21st birthday party at home - but Bryony loves making events happen here - and I needn't have worried. There were no gate-crashers, no unruly or messy behaviour, and nearly all the guests made a lot of effort with their costumes. Bryony's friends who so often make their own music, set up a sound system and I enjoyed the novelty of seeing our period-styled living room heaving like a night club. 

What was a problem of sorts was an empty water tank. Discovered the night before, and due to an unidentified leak, there was no way to fill the tank to a usable level, before the 50 or so guests arrived. So water was carted to washing points and particularly the toilet, and all the guests were given toilet-use instructions as they arrived, which they followed, bless them. 
The leak is fixed now, but I have no doubt there will be other challenges to face as Autumn turns to Winter, here in Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden.

Butterfly stonecrop, ice plant - Hylotelephium spectabile var (formerly Sedum spectabile)
Elecampane, horse-heal, elf dock, marchalan - Inula helenium
Red rose - Rosa 'Lavaglut'

March 8, 2015

Coming Down ... And Going Up

It's been a long time coming - the Rangiora renewal. 

Maybe because the town didn't suffer too obviously from the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes, it hit us all harder when so much was shut down later. We had been lulled into a false sense of security during the golden age of favour when Christchurch shoppers retreated from the city's shopping malls and broken streets to the apparent safety of a small, friendly, and not too distant town.

But over the last six months or so the town has had an air of progress. Quite a lot of the progress has looked like this...

Farmers Department Store

John Knox Presbyterian Church

Mainpower (originally North Canterbury Electric Power Board)

Robbie's (originally the Junction Hotel)

Farmers' site

Junction Hotel façade from behind

The old hotel's preserved historic frontage stands like a stage set from a Wild West movie, awaiting a new development to give it substance. Further along High Street new developments are well under way! 

Some of the changes aren't directly Earthquake related. The Westpac Bank building has been demolished to make way for a long overdue road re-alignment...

And on the edge of town the new Ashley Bridge is another long awaited project that is close to completion. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Saturday 21st February ahead of the bridge being opened to traffic. 

That happened without fanfare, but with much excitement for local drivers, on Friday evening, 6th March. I couldn't help thinking that there might be a competitive streak in the bridge-building team, determined to beat the Town Hall refurbishment team to opening...

 ... on Saturday 7th March. My girls and I feel strongly the place of the Rangiora Town Hall in our identity. Although the 90 year old building has been refurbished and extended to provide better performing arts facilities, it is also a listed Heritage building and many tangible features remain to keep us connected to the memories we all have woven into the building's fabric.

A good crowd attended the opening ceremony, explored the spaces - old and new - and many of us made sure we were among the first to enjoy the much-anticipated boutique cinemas.

One of the new/old spaces was this round room under the cupola which has long been inaccessible to the public. Now it is an airy elegant space to look out from onto the future of Rangiora.

February 19, 2015

February 15, 2015

Cricket Anyone?

Actually this is another post about Morris dancing...

Did I really think that I could come home from the National Tour and rest up for the sake of my ankles? Not with the Cricket World Cup Opening looming right on my doorstep.
Both Christchurch Morris dancing sides, the Tussock Jumpers and Nor' West Arch, were involved as programmed acts during the pre-ceremony entertainment happening around Hagley Park.

The UK Daily Mail didn't quite get the picture when they declared that "Maori warriors shared the stage with morris dancers," but the Tussock Jumpers were flattered never the less, to make it into the international broadcast and get that brief exposure.

Graham from Nor' West Arch - that's him towering above the others in the photo below - had organised for our two groups

to present three styles of Morris dancing between us: North West, Border and Cotswold. Regular practice nights were serious work-outs with attention to choreography, transition between dances, and visits from the organisers. Then last week, it was time for on-site rehearsals with fine tuning for everyone concerned...

We performed on one of four themed stages, with the Woolston Brass band, adorable Highland dancers,

and Irish dancers, who did get to share the big stage with Maori warriors late in the evening!

The entertainment on the stages was intended to be a backdrop for 'backyard' cricket games, which were played out by children from the Metropolitan Cricket clubs while roving entertainers kept the crowd engaged.

It was hard to get away from our stage to see other acts but on opening night, I did manage to get over to see the Indian Banghra dancers... and snuck in on their group photo session just before the opening ceremony. I loved the way the men were completely at ease with their bodies as they danced - very captivating.

Moving on from our time at the 'Traditional As' stage,

all of the performers processed through the gathered crowd before dispersing to watch the Opening ceremony on the big stage, or the huge screens set up around the park.

Now of course three games have already been won... how could New Zealand not win their first home match! Australia and South Africa have also won their matches. On with the Show, and special thoughts of my English cricketing cousins, the Lerigos. The family team, in their cricket whites, hung on my fridge for ages, looking for all the world like a troupe of Morris men!

Photos various by J Hobby, K Jamison, G Rippon