Christchurch survivors

My mum’s a New Zealander and all her family live there.

Last September one of my cousins was effected by the earthquake and found the experience quite scary. It took the young children a little while to recover especially the baby whom was restless for days. This picture shows the road just around the corner from them.

I emailed those living in Christchurch where they purchased a house a couple of years ago hoping they were well and sending our thoughts and prayers their way after the recent events. I received a reply a few days later to say that my cousin was on the phone to her husband who was on business in Auckland. The conversation was normal until all he heard was screams and then the line went dead!

Liz had grabbed her children as the house shook violently around them and hung onto them whilst laying on the floor. They didn’t move until the tremor stopped. John meanwhile managed to get a flight in the early hours from Deniden followed by a car journey not really knowing what was in store.

What a nightmare of a journey for him, I really felt for them. Their house has been assessed and deemed not safe to live in and it could take at least a year before their area is habitable again as the sewage system is beyond easy repair. Obviously the most important fact is they’re alive. A removal lorry arrived and they salvaged most of their belongings and have left the area. Fortunately for them the company John works for have an office up in Nelson and have transferred him, so they are housed temporarily until they decide what to do next.

I have no recent pictures as their priority was to move out quickly and communication was still slow when I last heard from them.

Thoughts are with those who have not been as lucky as my cousins and lost loved ones.

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My daughter

About time I added something about my fourteen year old. She has always loved running and since she was 5 years old she would without fail win the sports day events. People (in the nicest possible way) couldn’t wait for her to move up to senior school to give somebody else a chance to win. Embarrassment would set in because I suspected she would win the annual event yet again.

Once she started senior school the competition was much tougher for her, she needed this. She ‘s by no means the fastest now but loves to run. Being short she doesn’t make challenges easy for her competitors. She can easily run four miles, non stop off-road. Last week she asked if she could join a running club so last weekend I looked online for clubs to join. I received an email from one to say she could come and try a few sessions free of charge. 

Thursday evening came, we finished her paper round together and with a quick trip back home to change and refresh our thirst we headed off to the track. We met George the instructor, full of enthusiasm, a dedicated volunteer instructor who asked a few questions and set her off to run for 15 minutes around 9 football pitches with 4 other teenagers 16/17 years old. George was impressed, they were able to chat as they ran (a good sign) and he told them to continue for a third round still within their warm up time limit.

Exercises continued with various ballet exercise to strengthen their core muscles, they used weights and ran a couple of 400 metres. George would like her to join his classes but she needs to decide whether she wants to focus on 400 metres or to do longer distances. As of yet she is undecided which to do, she thinks George is great and loved the evenings challenges. She is quite a determined young lady and despite being younger and much shorter than the others in her group she puts up quite a challenge.

Meet Melissa


Melissa is a slightly different breed to Zara, she is a Buff Partridge Pekin Bantam. Buff means the colouring, other colours available that I know of are Red, White and Lavender. The biggest difference that you can’t fail to love are the feathers on their feet, like little socks.

Moulting process

Melissa is a pale Buff and once a year she will lose her feathers and look quite bald and almost sickly as her carcass underneath is tiny. The first time this happened we actually were quite concerned and took her to the vets. I had seen moulting in hens before but she was so withdrawn and would hide away from everyone. Almost embarrassed about her appearance. She would have also felt the cold more. When their feathers start to grow they look a little like a hedgehog as they are lathered with what appear to be spikes. Then at the tips you can just see new feathers beginning to sprout. Once the regrowth is over their coats appear much darker and lighten as the weeks progress. If they were kept indoors their coats would remain the darker colour. Melissa is a free range hen so spends all her time out doors apart from dusk when she’ll return to her pen.

Her personality

Melissa is very much in charge of the group and until Pop (the cockerel) arrived she would rally everyone around making sure no one strayed too far. She would run after a hen if they had found a juicy worm and taught the others that any bird in the garden/field should be frightened off so as not to eat their food. This I’m sorry to say was quite a sight to see as their bodies would rock from side to side as they ran at birds. At dusk however she would always without fail be the first to bed ‘Come on ladies, time for bed’. A few minutes later the other hens would follow suit.

She was a fantastic mother and looked after her chicks really well. There were quite often Buzzards flying ahead, we were a little apprehensive about this as a chick would be a tasty meal. However we knew that we had to let Melissa outside to graze with her chicks. One particular day we heard the most terrifying screeching sound, never heard anything like it. I ran outside to see a buzzard just taking off from the garden. Having abandoned her babies Melissa was at the Buzzards heels with her feathers all fluffed out looking extremely aggressive. I looked around for her chicks, they were hiding under the potato leaves and all accounted for – phew! What a great mother.

Many emotions all rolled into one.

Having been riding a bike for over a year my son started his driving lessons last September. He was ready apparently to take a test by December I was quite surprised but then he’s had experience with his bike so I guess that’s helped him. However he failed his test with 2 minor faults and one major – he indicated incorrectly at a roundabout. I was relieved to an extent because I felt he hadn’t been driving a car for very long, well 3 months to be honest. Also he was expected to be the driver for a pub crawl two days after that .  . . Can you understand my relief?

So Christmas came and went and the lessons started again, his instructor said he should have been passed the first time around but I wasn’t going to complain. We put in for a test again, it had gone up from £60.00 in December to £75.00 in January! Quite an expensive increase in such a short space of time I felt.

Today was test day again, the half hour of his test was the slowest 30 minutes I have experienced. My daughter and I went shopping and she kept texting me at the point we were expecting to hear an answer, my heart kept missing beats. Then at 3.40 p.m he text ‘I’ve passed with no faults :D’ I showed the text to my daughter and rang him straight back. I was so excited, proud and absolutely delighted for him, I even shed a tear of happiness!

WELL DONE

Next once the car is on the road I expect there will be anxious moments from me hoping that he sticks to the highway code and that others around him do the same.

An egg in mid air!

Zara is a Plymouth Rock Bantam, Bantam meaning a smaller variety of hen. They are supposed to be a non broody type but Zara proved this wrong and was very moody just for one day. She built the largest dust bath you have ever seen and sat in it for the entire day. Their chests get very hot underneath during this process, she was sweating too.

The following day Zara couldn’t decided where to lay her egg. They were all very good at laying in their nest boxes but Zara was unpredictable. She jumped up at the window sills and squawked profusely then jumped into the runner bean tub. Still not happy with her nest we watched as all of a sudden she took off across the garden. A squirrel had wandered onto her territory. Out of the garden she ran so fast with her body rocking from side to side, she is quite a slim hen – when all of a sudden an egg drops from her behind!  She carried on running for a bit, stopped and looked back a little bewildered and continued on her mission. It was the funniest site we had ever seen and we all stood there in absolute hysterics.  🙂

Our hens

Have your thought you’d like to have hens of your own? Well if you have a fairly large garden I would thoroughly recommend owning a couple to start with. As long as you are able to find someone to look after them when you go away on holiday.

Our first brood of hens were hatched in an incubator at my last school. The hatching of 6 chicks bought much delight to 120 4 to 7 years olds! Oh and a few of the doting staff 😉 So who was going to be the new owner of these delightful yellow balls of fluff? Well yours truly obviously, much to the delight of my family. I had been bought up with hens so wasn’t apprehensive.

They were all given names; Melissa – she is top bird, Sophie – is the most caring mother, Karis – who is top worm catcher! and finally to Zara – she is the most social and visits neighbours including a policeman! They have fascinating characters and can be great time wasters in a positive way.

Since the original brood we added to it couple of years later as we had plenty of land and woodland for them to roam free in. We gave some away and the last brood were called; Snap, Crackle and Pop – yes Pop was a cockerel. The names changed as Snap wasn’t really appropriate and she became Daisy.

So Zara or Zippy Zar as she was nicknamed had many adventures in her younger days. When we got home from school one day we saw her in next doors garden. Knowing they were still at work we quickly popped round to rescue her, we were curious as to how she got there. Peter is a keen gardener with an immaculate garden and Zara had scrapped all the bark chippings off his borders onto the grass! We quickly removed every scrap of evidence of her being there and took her back next door. We lived on a farm and only had two neighbours close by. A week went by and the same routine had been performed so by that weekend I decided I would have to come clean with Peter. I confronted him on a bright Saturday morning and told him what had been happening and he said nothing, I told him we would clip her wings so that she couldn’t fly over his fence as we by now had witnessed her doing so. It was at this point Peter piped up and said “Please leave her wings she comes to join me every lunch time and I quite enjoy her company and her little routines” I was surprised but have to say quite relieved. He thought she was quite a delicate little worm and bug collector.

Paddy our cat


So here is the only male in my life – apart from my son that is!

At times it’s like having another child or toddler in the household.  He’ll wake me up between 2.00 am and 3.00 am so that he can go outside.  Take last night for instance I surfaced drearily as he mewed to be let out but once he realised it was pouring with rain he backed away from the door! I really must get a cat flap fitted! He does have a litter tray which he uses at his convenience, though he can spend ages in there and makes such a racket.

I love his company and the feelings mutual much to the annoyance of my teenagers at times. “Why does Paddy always have to follow you around the house mum?” As I enter the door you can almost guarantee that Paddy will appear at the top of the stairs so that he has the visual view of who is at the front door. He’ll see that its me and will dart down the stairs almost missing a step in order to be greeted by myself.

He has his routines of whose bedroom he’ll stay in during the day.  If I’m at work and my son is home he will settle on the bed next to him whilst he is on Xbox or his laptop. My daughter seems to come bottom of the pecking order with Paddy, she gets quite jealous sometimes.  However, when Paddy does go in her room she usually ends up throwing him out because he discovers some paper work! He loves to sit in my sons window sill so that he can see the world go by. If only he could talk I think he would be the worlds best gossip! This window over looks the cul-de-sac that we are at the end of. My window over looks fields and watercress beds, so this is best for viewing other cats or birds! At night-time without fail, he will wait for me to settle down after my lights are out and he will jump up onto my bed and pad around until he finds the best place to sleep.  He has to lean up against my body somehow, usually my legs.

His worst habits are paper tearing! This started when he was a kitten when he loved to crawl into the cat basket for travelling and tear the newspaper into shreds. Despite the fact that he could go outside whenever he wanted. So I don’t think it was a boredom factor or attention  . . though now it can be attention seeking. His favourite is a paper bag, he will crawl inside it and sleep for a short while and then chew his way out.  This will keep him amused for hours! He has found my daughters homework before now and happily munched a huge whole in it. Of course teachers are never going to believe that one! I’m a teaching assistant and hear many odd stories . . So we have to be very careful about leaving paper work out of reach of Paddy as you can guarantee it will be destroyed.

Paddy is a great family member and has us all in fits of laughter at times especially when he plays hide and seek with us! We love him to bits.