Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Historic Fruit

I was making room in the cupboard for the marmalade which we made at the weekend, when I came across a special treat.

Bottled stewed quince and apple, 1996 vintage!

Although I often reuse the seals if they have come off without bending the edge (there's a knack to that), I don't think Mum does. And I have never bottled stewed apple, with or without quinces. So this would certainly have been true to label.

Mum probably gave me a few jars of her (older) bottled fruit to use up, but that would have been some years ago.

We like quinces very much, but you don't see them often. Grandad has a quince tree tangled in with one of the pear trees in the orchard where he lives, but it sometimes only gives 4-8 quinces (and sometimes none) - and his landlady makes sure she gets a few of those. I usually make jam, when I can get them.

We opened this jar with a bit of caution, smelling and tasting the contents carefully, but all seemed well. Those of us who appreciate this sort of thing had them cold with vanilla ice cream for pudding, and then finished off the jar with muesli for breakfast this morning.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Block Book

I am currently in the process of writing a book on block play in early childhood centres (and homes of course). It is for the Playcentre Publications 'area of play' series, and I got to choose my subject from the short list that hasn't been done yet.I chose blocks because they are so cool. (As some younger members of the house might say.)

The tricky part is saying, in about 7000 words, exactly WHY they are so cool, and HOW playing with blocks develops learning of all sorts in young children.


I've discovered it's really easy to have lots of good ideas - when you're working to the park, or lying in bed, and so on. It's quite a lot harder to keep having those good ideas when you have a blank page in front of you! Hence, I am using blogging as a procrastination tool.

When I talk about blocks, I mostly mean the multi unit wooden blocks you find in almost every playcentre, kindergarten and childcare centre (though some childcare centres have funny ideas). They range in size from 'palm of your hand' to 1/2 metre long. A lot of the point of this equipment is that they are carefully cut to be in exact multiples and fractions of a unit block. The unit is a rectangular brick twice as long as it is wide, and twice as wide as it is thick - often about 12.5cm long.

Part of the richness of these blocks is that they can be combined in literally an infinate number of ways. (I think I can prove that mathematically.) And it seems to be really important to have the range of sizes, including the bigger blocks - for reasons I haven't quite nailed down yet. Kids can build things which are of the order of their own bodies, which is important when young children learn concepts about how the world works through interacting with it with their bodies.

(Ask me someday about the connection between musical ability and mathematics/algebra - and walking.)

Anyway, it keeps me out of trouble. Back to work.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cafe review - Mt Maunganui

On our last morning in Tauranga (after packing up) Bern took Elanor and Sophie for a last swim at Main Beach, and I took Rowena and Katie out to a cafe.

We ended up having a 1/2 hour walk to find a cafe that looked 'just right'. (There was a bit of a 'goldylocks syndrome' operating there!) Either cafes were too crowded, or no chance of a table outside, or not a good enough range of slices to choose from, or coffee too expensive, and so on.

We finally settled on the Captain's Table Cafe. It opens into a courtyard off the street and I think the name derives from a nautical these in the shops around the courtyard.

I would recommend it because:

  1. it had very stylee cane armchairs at the outside tables,
  2. the coffee was a good price - it has gone up heaps with the rising cost of milk, but I think some places are using this as an excuse to 'milk' the tourists, and everyone gets caught in that. I'm not ready to pay $4.50 for a latte. It was $3.00 here and it was nice coffee too.
  3. good range of cake/slices. The caramel and choc chip slice was my favourite of the ones we sampled and was very tasty indeed. Kate preferred a different choc slice which had real chocolate topping. Rowena had a mini lemon meringue pie. She said it was very nice, but we never expect bought lemon meringue pie to be lemony enough - we always add extra to the recipe when we make it.
Right after we arrived a large group of oldies wearing matching tee shirts arrived too. (So we timed it just right.) They were the Mt Maunganui walkers and joggers group (according to the tee shirts). It seems that when you retire to the Mount you fill your days by walking (or jogging) with friends, meeting for coffee afterwards, then probably hitting the beach in the afternoon. Sounds alright to me!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mt Maunganui ferry

We spent a week in Taurange during the early part of January. We had a holiday house - a two bedroom suburban unit - on the west side of the city, and every day we drove over the bridge to Mt Maunganui to swim.

(Before you ask, no, there's no toll on the bridge anymore.)

Fabulous swimming, by the way. Perhaps it always is, but it was hot hot weather, and not the wind we are used to here. We tried several points on Long Beach, but settled on a favourite some 5 minutes drive from the Mount.

One day I took the girls on the ferry from the Mount to Tauranga. It's about 25 minutes I think, and gave a different view of the city and port.

I like this view of the mount (above), with the series of pine trees as a counterpoint to the mount itself.

And one of the older three girls (a good one of Katie) to show they were really there.

Bern took the car round and met us at the end. That's him leaning on the wharf.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Imagine swimming in the harbour!

(Actually, better not to imagine too much.....!)

But, yesterday it was so hot (and we'd been invited to a beach BBQ by friends) that I swam in the harbour for possibly the very first time.

I'm a bit of a wuss as regards getting into cold water. We have swum every day at Mt Maunganui and Rotorua lakes since my last post (not Lk Rotorua itself), but I have always only paddled at the beaches round here, due to the Antarctic currents that tend to swirl round te Upuko o te Ika.

But, on a very hot day round about 6pm, the water at Hataitai Beach was lovely.

One acquaintance I met there says she doesn't put her head under (just in case), and another lady swimming recommended sandals (rocky bottom might have glass....). But the friends who invited us for the BBQ have swum there often for years with no mis-haps. So it must be all right.

The picture is from Google Images. We swam to the left of the changing sheds.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Happy new year to anyone reading this.

And it has been a happy one so far. It was such a great day yesterday that we took a picnic to Lyall Bay Beach and Elanor had a swim. The rest of us only paddled or read or dug in the sand.

The beach (any beach) is colloquially known as the 'big sandpit, by the big bath'. Can't remember whose toddler comment led to that phrase. May not have been one of ours. Anyway, Elanor has a new (serious!) spade from one of her sisters for Christmas, and Bern is writing a book on sand play, so I can see lots of serious research is going to be required this Summer!

(I keep forgetting my camera. Must collect photos....)