A Crone at Christmas: I have this friend (2)

Here in Pamrovia we love a good crone. In fact we are thinking of starting a crone gallery, self-portraits included. Here is a favourite pair, snapped last year in the charming little town of Silves, in the Argave, Portugal. crones small

That said, my friend didn’t enjoy feeling like a crone on Christmas morning. “You will never guess what he gave me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.” In the end, she sat under the tree and laughed. But Shar (we shall call her Shar, because that is indeed her name) is spluttering, a month after the event. “He must think I’m a real old crone!” Shar admits she is slightly on the wrong side of middle age, and that she is not quite as spry as she was. (Tell that to the painting and wallpapering, to the brisk walks, the gym, and the Otago Rail Trail.)  Still, she was unprepared for the surprise Christmas gift. “A walking stick!  Can you believe he gave me a walking stick for Christmas?” Well no, I couldn’t. Perhaps it was a joke? “No,” she explodes. “He was perfectly serious. He genuinely thought a walking stick was a good present for me.” A wounded voice emerges from the background. “She’s been finding it difficult to walk up and down hills lately so I thought it might help,” the voice squeaks. And here is his winning point: “It’s not a walking stick, it’s a tramping pole.” That new fact rather ruined my mate’s lament, I think. A tramping pole might technically be a walking stick, but its user is more adventurer than crone.  Although, speaking as a person who was once given a wing mirror for the car on her birthday, I do have sympathy with the lack of romance. Perhaps HE should have tucked a pair of diamond ear-rings into the parcel?

Wake Up, Pamrovia!

It’s a whole new year and I’ve been taking it easy. pamrovia rests Thanks for sticking with me, loyal citizens of Pamrovia  – all several of you.  A Princess of Pamrovia is travelling in Vietnam as we speak. She promises a guest post. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I will try to be more efficient.  Trouble is, I think I’m stuck in 2013.  I want to be in last year’s scenario, cruising around the Med on Seadream 1,  having my every whim catered to. I barely had to paddle my own canoe on that nifty little ship.27743-9 The reality of 2014 is that I’m driving a fishing boat in the Hauraki Gulf – where there has been an uncomfortable wind many days this January – while a fanatic puts out lines from the back, and pulls them in with very few fish to speak off. This is the face of someone who would rather be ashore. driving Hirani 2 And if this photo seems to lean sideways, that’s because at times my vessel was in the same state. “This boat is a dog side on to the sea,” says the fisherman, cheerful and completely unconcerned. I sensibly decide that I need a land base, somewhere near the fishing grounds, in walking distance of the water but not actually on the wet stuff.  I found this lovely old bach at Palm Beach, Waiheke Island. It needs a complete do-up, you can’t see the ocean, but it’s only a few minutes walk to the sand. palm beach bachTrouble is, the asking  price is $1.7 million.  So I found this flash house at Enclosure Bay, on a very steep site, five minutes walk (at least) to the beach.  enclosure bay houseAsking price: just under $1.2 million. Out of the question!  It’s back to the rocky tub on a turbulent sea. And dreaming of a life of luxury afloat on the Mediterranean. I’ve been thinking about some of the lesser known tourist islands of Europe. Next post will be a story I’ve written for a newspaper about them. Anybody have a favourite Mediterranean island to add to the list?

Swanning Around

P1010972Help! I’m surrounded by swans and I think I’m developing a bird phobia.

What am I to do with all these swans?

I love retro as much as the next person – nay, I love it more – but I’ve reached the point where a line has to be drawn, before a neck is wrung.

Sharing my coop are about 40 swans. Mostly white ones, some large, some small, plus a bevy of fabulous glossy ones glazed in turquoise and mother-of-pearl. They are ceramic swans of the Crown Lynn variety of course. Imagine my dilemma if the beasts had feathers and a digestive system.

A few of them had an outing on the Christmas lunch table at Ngataringa Tennis Club this week, admired by some and looked upon with puzzlement by others, but now they are back home gathering dust.photo 1

So here I am with 40 swans in a house already overflowing with retro delights (aka the junk I’ve refused to get rid of over many years), and it’s all the fault of my daughters. One wanted white Crown Lynn swan vases on the tables at her wedding. The small size ones. So her sisters and I began buying small Crown Lynn swans on Trade Me.

At the last minute, the bride exercised her prerogative and changed her mind. She still wanted Crown Lynn swans, but they had to be the large ones.

Loyal to the end, the sisters and I phoned every second-hand shop we knew, buying swans sight-unseen. We camped on TradeMe. Swans were flying in from all around the country. We succeeded in delivering 20 large swans to the florist, enough for the guest tables, the bridal table, and a few spare for the church. And we dotted the little ones around the reception venue.

Mission accomplished. No breakages. A smart person would have put the swans back on Trade Me to recoup my not inconsiderable investment.  Ha-bloody-ha. It is well-known that I am a great Trade Me customer. I love to buy, and I don’t muck about. Selling? Not so much. In fact I’m not sure I’ve ever actually pulled off a sale.

In the aftermath of the wedding, daughter number one and I decide to put the swans to work by hiring them out to other brides to use on their wedding tables. A business venture – Swansaround – is born. We set up a website ($15 a month through Telecom).  I drive to a plastics factory in the back of beyond and buy polystyrene fish boxes in sizes suitable to house large swans and small swans. We cut partitions to fit, and hey presto we can deliver swans to wedding venues in safe packaging.

How’s it going?  Not so well. We’ve kinda lost interest, and the daughter has gone back to a real job. We had quite a few hires in the early days, but our marketing is non-existent. If a swan-hire market ever existed, the bottom seems to have fallen out of it. The same fate has befallen some of the polystyrene boxes, piled up in the damp end of the garage. The swans languish around the house like good-for-nothing lodgers.

I should put them back on Trade Me. I could possibly double my money – although I suspect the market for Crown Lynn generally is not as hot as it was a few years ago. Did I mention I’m not much of a seller?

Who knows, they might turn out to be a good investment one day. Meantime, any ideas on how to put swans to work?photo 2

Funerals and Burials: I have this friend…

I warned you Pamrovia would feature random wanderings of the mind.

I have this friend called Sally. She called in the other day in a state of excitement, waving a legal-looking document.

“I’ve bought a couple of places,” she said. “I woke up this morning and realised it was a fantastic thing to do.”

Eyes all aglow, she talked of sun-kissed slopes, meandering paths and dappled shade from mature oak trees. North-west facing they are, these plots of land. She’d spent the morning wandering around and choosing them.

“And I’m not having those nasty metal plaques,” she said. “They go rusty.”

My friend had insisted on the best slabs of granite that money can buy. The whole transaction had set her back more than $2500.

“I could have bought just one because you are allowed to put two into one, but I think you need a bit of personal space, don’t you? And a pair looked so much nicer.”

Yep, my friend has bought two plots in the cemetery to bury an urn containing her cremated ashes, and those of her beloved husband, when the time comes.

“Just don’t tell Pete*,” she warned. “He’ll have a blue fit because he wants to be buried at the beach or scattered at sea.”   (*Name changed to protect the innocent.)

Sally* (name changed to protect the not so innocent) is in the prime of life. Just turned 60 – only a tad past middle age really – she works full-time, blitzes the golf course, never a day sick. She survived being bowled by a truck while crossing a road a few years back, an accident which would have killed some of us, and checked herself out of hospital after 12 hours. (Not advisable when you literally cannot walk, but that’s another story.)

The epiphany of needing somewhere to bury herself came from reading something, somewhere, about family needing a place to go to remember their deceased loved ones. It was an argument against the fashionable scattering of ashes. And she didn’t want the kids stressing about her funeral arrangements if she suddenly kicked it.  Did you know there are hundreds of unclaimed ashes stored in Auckland funeral homes?  The “forgotten society” a funeral director called them in the NZ Herald a while ago.

So Sally drank her tea, and dreamed out loud about her children and grandchildren coming on Sunday afternoon outings to pay their respects. No guarantees of course, but if the family forget her at least she knows the caretaker will regularly mow around her granite plaque.

Planning ahead is probably a sensible idea. And why not buy a (secret) grave for your husband? I see what she means about a plot each, too. A bit like the joys of twin hand-basins.  I suppose Peter can opt out of Sally’s plan if he really wants to be scattered at some faraway beach, just because he once caught a fish there. Provided she ever gets around to telling him of course. So far, Sally hasn’t told him about her purchase. Talk about taking secrets to the grave.

Any thoughts?

I Shot My Computer


The damn thing definitely deserved it.  Let me down once too often, multi-sending emails, refusing to open attachments, declining to print from websites.  Enough is enough.  Our differences were irreconcilable. Now I have a lovely new Samsung. The honeymoon begins.

Sick at Sea

I have one word to say and it is GINGER. Ginger tablets, ginger tea, crystallised ginger, ginger ale. And as well as all that ginger, get a seasickness tablet from the concierge on the ship. They all carry them. Some folk are even going to the ship’s doctor for an anti-seasickness injection.
And when things look up a bit, add a dash of brandy to the ginger ale. I must be better because I’ve written more than one word.

Tommy needs Monkey

Oh the PAIN.Tom losing Monk is Adam minus Eve, Tarzan without Jane, Scarlett sans Rhett. If Angelina ran off with Jay-Z the distress would be paltry in comparison.

Tom sits in a corner refusing to eat, drink or sleep. “Tommy’s waiting for Monkey”.


We love a happy ending. Two days of grief – manifested by hurling across the room any replacement offering – led to the indescribable joy of finding The Monk. What kind of cake do you want for your birthday Tom? No contest


(Rather you didn’t ask, but if you insist … he wasn’t lost at the supermarket after all. He was under a sofa cushion at home. Those of us who scoured the village want our weekend back!)