Happy Ramblings

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

I made a paper automaton aeroplane - Warning! air pockets

 Paper automaton aeroplane WAP

I had a lot of fun making this moving automaton for my 11 year old nephew. It took me just over 2 weeks to make and it is made out of paper printed on my printer. 

The Warning! air pockets (WAP) automaton was designed by Giuseppe Civitarese and I found the free template for it on his website, together with the theory behind the mechanics and a YouTube clip showing how it moves.

There were 19 pages of instructions, with diagrams, and 52 pages with 165 parts to cut out! The printing used a very large amount of ink and different thicknesses of paper. The construction was quite complicated for me, being the first automaton that I have ever made, but I completed it and it works 😎 

WAP moving aeroplane model automaton

The flying movements of the aeroplane mimic those of an aeroplane that is hitting air pockets. Quite a bit of turbulence!

To make the automation work, you turn the handle on the large wheel at the front. 

This makes:
- The waves rock up and down individually
- The aeroplane move up and down and rock from side to side as if it has hit air pockets
- The seagull's wings flap up and down
- The sun spin around
- The cog wheels at the back work as gears moving the pistons and crank shaft

It is quite complex and you can see all the workings as they control the automaton.

Rear view of the WAP automaton

I had such a great time making this and even more fun playing with it. 

Really happy 😊

Hugs, Rose x

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Another spring walk with my cat Otto

view towards the young eucalyptus trees
The sun came out at last, in between squally Spring showers, so I took the chance to go for a walk with my cat Otto, in the fresh air, while I could.

Otto is very much like my shadow, he likes to follow me wherever I go. He is now 2 and a half years old and acts like a kitten still, always leaping about and climbing up trees. 

my cat Otto up a eucalyptus tree

You can see Otto in the photo above, near the top of a very tall eucalyptus tree. This is the highest that I have ever seen him climb. 

My heart was in my mouth when I saw him rush up the tree trunk at lightning speed. He has only just learnt to climb down backwards, instead of just leaping down from any height, or trying to run down the tree trunk head first! 

overgrown garden

The ground was very wet and muddy and the grass was long, so I had to wear my gumboots to keep my feet dry. We are waiting for the land to dry out before we can mow the grass. It is quite overgrown at the moment.

my cat Otto up a cabbage tree

This cabbage tree (cordyline australis) is Otto's favourite tree to climb at the beginning and end of each walk. He also uses it as a scratching post, then rushes up the trunk until his head is in the leaves which he plays with. 

Occasionally Otto will bring long cabbage tree leaves into the house as presents for me, or to play with. 😄

the blue wisteria in flower

The blue wisteria is in full flower now and smells wonderful. This one grows just outside my bedroom window, so I can enjoy the scent when I have the window open.

view across the orchard

Above is the view through our orchard and across one of our fields to the nature reserve. 

You can see the lemons, which are ready to pick, on the small tree at the bottom right of the photo. The buds on the rest of the fruit trees are just starting to open.

our pond

Our pond has filled up with water now, after all the rain that we have had. The pond is frequently visited by Mallard ducks, Canada geese and Paradise ducks. Although there were none to be seen on this walk. 

I love the Canada geese with their honking call, but they are very shy here and fly away as soon as they see us.

view towards the daffodil patch

In the middle of the photo above is where the daffodil patch is. The daffodils finished flowering a month ago and we are waiting for the leaves to die off before we can mow over that area again.

view past the persimmon tree

The bright green tree on the left is our persimmon tree. It puts on a lovely show of fresh green leaves in the Spring. Then in Autumn the leaves turn a bright rusty orange colour and the tree is then full of bright orange persimmons.

my cat Otto

Otto and I very much enjoyed our walk 😊

It is time now for me to have my afternoon tea. Twining's English breakfast tea, no milk, 2 sugars and a slice of lemon with a couple of shortbread biscuits today. Yummy.

I hope that you are having an enjoyable week.

See you again soon.

Hugs, Rose x

Friday, October 8, 2021

A Springtime ramble in my garden

naturalised purple babiana
The rain has finally stopped, for the moment, so I jumped at the chance of going for a stroll in my garden with Otto and my camera. I love being outside during Spring, seeing the new flowers opening and the leaves on the trees unfurling. 

view with babiana
The purple Babiana flowers are abundant in my garden this year. They grow from corms which I spread about each year to form new clumps. The flowers also form seeds which I collect and sprinkle around wherever I want them to grow.

New Zealand garden view
Once established, the Babiana clumps grow quite quickly. I love the contrast between the purple of the Babiana with the gold of the Arctotis.

purple babiana and gold arctotis

babiana close up
We spread the golden Arctotis by taking cuttings, at any time during the year, and planting them directly into the ground. We tried growing different colours of Arctotis, but for some reason gold is the only colour that will survive in our gaden. I have no idea why.

If the Arctotis flowers are regularly deadheaded, they are supposed to flower from Spring right through to Autumn. But it is backbreaking work, we have so many of them. I tried one year and had to give up. There were too many flowers and each flower only lasts 2 days. Maybe this year I will try deadheading just one clump and see what happens.

gold arctotis
Below is a view across the Ixia wild flower bed towards the native New Zealand Ponga trees (tree ferns). The Pongas grew themselves there, we didn't need to plant them. 😊                                                                                                                            
And another view, in the opposite direction, of the Ixia. The wind was blowing quite strongly so the flowers were bobbing around making it hard to take a clear photo.  
naturalised ixias

view to garden seat
This is my favourite garden seat, overlooking the Ixias to the pond. Behind the seat are Kniphofia, Agapanthus and Clivia plants. The Clivia didn't flower this year. It tried to, but snails ate all the flower buds off them 😕

I still haven't managed to find the name of our frothy, pink-flowered succulents. Please let me know, in the comments, if you have the name for them. It has been puzzling me for years.

pink frothy flowers succulent

pink flowered succulent
Here is Otto, walking alongside the orange Sparaxis. This clump has been growing steadily in size over many years. You can see how big they are compared to Otto!

Otto cat with sparaxis
The Sparaxis have also naturalised into the wildflower bed near the Ixias. 

This year the pheasants have left the Sparaxis alone. Usually they peck all the flowers off. I don't know if they actually eat them, or just like picking at them. Hopefully they will form large clumps like in the photo above. But it will take many years.  

               naturalised sparaxis
I feel refreshed after walking outside. I find the garden calming and soothing, and Otto is quite hilarious as he follows me around, then runs up trees all excited that I am outside with him.

Now I am back inside trying to sort out some technical problems. My mum's iPad has stopped being able to download library books. I phoned the library to see if it was an internet/library problem, only to be told that their eBook application had been updated and that many people are having the same problem. The libraries are all closed to the public in Auckland, due to lockdown, so there is no other way for mum to borrow books.

It turns out that the operating system on the iPad is too outdated, even after doing an update for it. Sigh. Mum was beside herself with despair. I phoned my brother for help and he said there is nothing we can do apart from by a new iPad....But shortly after, he phoned back and said to expect a new iPad mini in the post! Thanks big brother, mum is now over the moon with delight.

My next technical glitch happened after I downloaded the latest update for my Android cellphone. Included in the update was a change to how the phone's camera operated, to speed up the time it takes to take a photo. My photos now are not as clear. I will have to investigate the settings and see if I can do anything about it. Plus there are other changes that I haven't tried yet...a job for this afternoon.

My last technical problem was with this blog post. Not being able to align my photos and text properly. Not sure why it is happening, but please excuse the messy bits.

They do say horrible things come in threes, so fingers crossed that that is all, for a while at least! I am off now to have a play with the camera function on my cellphone, while the weather is still fine.

Looking forward to seeing you here again soon.

Hugs, Rose x

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Spring has arrived in my veggie patch

cineraria and silverbeet (Swiss chard)
My vegetable patch is looking colourful with self-seeded cineraria coming into flower just now. The cineraria are so pretty that I am going to leave them growing in-amongst the silverbeet (Swiss chard). They will attract beneficial insects, which is always a good thing. 

I also discovered that some evening primroses have seeded themselves in this spot too, together with echiums. I can't wait until they are all flowering.

Edible sage flowering
The edible sage has started to flower too. I am going to leave the flowers for the bees, then trim them down once the flowers have faded. Hopefully the sage will grow back, I think it is a perennial? This is the first time that my sage has survived through the Winter.

Oregano growing strong in Spring

The oregano has put on a strong growth spurt after the flower stems were trimmed down to the ground a month ago.

My vegetable garden in Spring

All of the parsley has bolted in the warmer weather. However it can still be used as a cooking ingredient at this stage. I am going to leave it to flower and set seed, so we will have plenty more parsley later in the year. 

In this photo you can see the Winter vegetables which are now ready to harvest (swedes, red cabbages, broccoli and cavolo nero kale). 

Potatoes growing in early Spring

The potatoes, planted a few weeks ago, now have leaves on and should be ready to harvest at Christmas. I love new potatoes 😊

I am hoping that the danger of frosts has passed by now. Although it is still possible for frosts to happen at this time of year, we had an exceptionally mild winter, so fingers crossed. We have cloches, made from large plastic water bottles, ready to use just in case.

garlic planted mid June

Dad planted this garlic in May and it is looking really healthy. It should be ready to harvest 6 months from planting, as long as nothing goes wrong. There is no 
sign of the dreaded rust yet, touch wood. We are hoping that, having planted the garlic earlier this year, it will have a good chance of forming bulbs before the rust arrives.

Some of the vegetable seedlings are coming up well in the cloche on the deck. The courgettes are ready to be planted out and the tomatoes, capsicums, pumpkin and purple sprouting broccoli seedlings are looking good.

We sowed the Blue Lake runner beans and Goliath snow peas directly into the veggie patch where the soil has been rejuvenated with homemade compost.

Otto in the vegetable patch

The soil preparation for the rest of the new seedlings and seeds is almost complete, with the help of my cat Otto of course!  Otto loves to inspect anything new that is happening, especially in the veggie patch.

Silverbeet grows all through the year here in Auckland and I pick fresh leaves for dinner whenever it is needed. 

These plants self-seeded themselves here and now that the weather has warmed up, they are bolting. I will leave them to set seed again and let them grow wherever they want. 

Swedes ready for harvesting

The swedes are ready to dig up now. It is a new vegetable crop for us and we quite like it. We had one as a side-dish for dinner yesterday, boiled for 20 minutes in salted water, then drained and mashed with cream, butter and a large pinch of nutmeg. It was surprisingly tasty!

On the topic of food, I am now off to plan the meal menus for the week and the grocery list.

I hope that you are having a great week.

See you again soon.

Hugs Rose x

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Macarons for afternoon tea - Yum!

Mini macarons, plus...

...a freshly picked vase of forget-me-nots...

...together with a cup of Twining's English Breakfast tea in my favourite Giens filet bleu cup...

made a wonderful setting for afternoon tea at my desk...


Perfect for cheering up a dismally cloudy and rainy day. I wish that I could have shared them with you :)

Macarons are now one of my favourite treats. I had been deprived of them during lockdown. Being in level 4 lockdown for 5 weeks, and now level 3, for me, means no going out to the shops. 
However I discovered that the supermarket, that we get our groceries delivered from, sells mini-macarons which are made in France. I couldn't resist ordering some. 

When my shopping arrived, the macarons were the first thing that I unpacked. I was surprised at how small they were (about 2.5 cm in diameter), but the flavours certainly made up for the size.

They came in a box of 12, with 6 different flavours; lemon, pistachio, vanilla, caramel, chocolate and raspberry.

I enjoyed biting into the thin crisp outer layer, to be met with soft chewy yumminess, then a flavour-packed creamy filling. Perfection! A drink of tea between flavours cleansed my palate for the next flavourful experience. Bliss!

Do you take time out to have afternoon tea? What is your favourite treat?

Hugs, Rose x

Friday, September 24, 2021

Cat's face - Drawing practice

It has been many years since I drew anything from scratch with my watercolour pencils. I have spent my time mostly using my pencils, dry, for colouring in my collection of colouring-in books. Something that I always find very relaxing.

I wanted to draw a cat but have never drawn a cat before, so I went hunting on YouTube for tutorials and ideas. I found a series of 4 videos by Shannagh-Leigh:

These videos are really detailed with easy-to-follow instructions, and even better they are free tutorials! Shannagh-Leigh even kindly put up a link for a copy of the original photograph that she used in the tutorial. Thanks Shannagh-Leigh.

The colouring pencils I used, to draw the cat, were Caran D'Ache Artist Supracolor Soft watercolour pencils. I bought a set of 120 pencils from Switzerland, many years ago, as a special treat to myself. I really really wanted, needed, had to have them, but they were so expensive I thought I would only get them if I won lotto one day. After months of sighing at the thought of them I made up my mind to buy the pencils and have never regretted it. These pencils have given me years of pleasure. 

I have since found that I can now buy individual replacement pencils, here in Auckland, if needed, for NZ $4.60 each. Not too bad if I only buy a few at a time (I say quickly trying not to faint).

It took me a week of working with the YouTube tutorials to draw the cat's face. I found it very absorbing and relaxing to do and it made me happy :)

First I drew the outline, then used the shading techniques, with dry pencils, that I learnt from the videos. Then, when I has happy with the colouring, I used a very fine, wet paintbrush over the eyes, nose and fur to activate the watercolour pencils to make the drawing pop out. I was so surprised at the result. I have never tried this technique before. 

Now I need to decide what to try drawing next :)

See you soon.

Hugs Rose x

Thursday, September 23, 2021

I found some old Spring photos of Cineraria

A while ago my brother rescued all the photos that were on my old computer which had died. I thought that everything had been lost, but by some miracle he managed to transfer the files onto a USB stick and I have now put them onto my present computer.

I found these photos of our Cineraria, which I took during Spring many years ago. The Cineraria used to grow in abundance under the pine trees around the house. They had self-seeded from somewhere and loved the growing conditions under the trees. 

There were so many different colours, ranging from blue, through pink, mauve, purple and white.       

Unfortunately we had to have the pine trees around the house removed. They were old and leaning dangerously. In stormy weather the pine branches used to thump on the roof....scary.

After the trees had gone the cineraria stopped growing in this spot. But some have still managed to spread into the orchard and surprisingly into the vegetable patch and under the deck. 

I am waiting for new, self-sown seedlings, to flower this Spring. I never know which colours will show up. I like to pick individual florets of different colours and float them in a bowl of water on my desk :)

Now I am off to sort through more of my photos, I love the memories that they evoke.

See you again soon.

Hugs, Rose x