Tapestry without needle and thread

So I’ve been spending the last week quietly putting into action some of the things I roughed out two weeks ago, after that stint of 6 weeks solid temp work.

Remember this?


Yes, I sat down and nutted these general areas of action down, and have made a step toward getting at least SOME of them done. The Outlander story in picture form, which I affectionately call The Gabeaux Tapestry for instance. I have now completed three more panels for the new scarf design, and am therefore nearly halfway finished.

I hope you like the look of these:

I’m thinking I will adjust the colours in the next one so that there are some choices like this:

You’ll have to tell me whether the garish colours on skin tone and hair are too off putting, but I thought it might broaden the range of clothing this scarf could be worn with, without ruining the story.

And talking about colour change – it’s doing that outside right now. Moving from a long dry summer into the vivid colours of Autumn. I am quite ready for it to do that, because I love an excuse to huddle under covers and read a good book, guilt-free. I love making soup and casseroles that require slow cooking. And it’s a season for time spent inside playing board games or watching a DVD with friends.

And yes, I know it’s coming into summer for all of my northern hemisphere friends – enjoy!! It was just over a year ago that I set off for Scotland and found it wintry rather than the Spring I expected. Can you believe that I have been there and written a book in the time since? I can’t. As you can see on my planning map, travel is high on my list of priorities, and I’m already working out which of many pilgrimages to make to places close to my heart. No doubt I’ll write about them too and take you all along with me.


Wildly successful Outlander Gathering

This is going to be a LONG post. I’ve just returned yesterday from an amazingly successful Kiwi Outlander Gathering to Wellington, and still buzzing about it. Top photo shows Rhonnie Brinsdon, Beverley Hamilton and I on Friday, having flown in on the same plane from Auckland as about 6 other fans making their way south to the Gathering. We three spent the afternoon before the Meet and Greet going to Te Papa, the National Museum, and seeing the excellent display called Gallipoli, put together by Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop, to commemorate the Anzacs who fought and/or died at Gallipoli. It was amazing to walk into a room and find a double life-size model complete with pores in their skin, abrasions, and hairs on their arms, and their audio of their own story speaking quietly around the room.

When we soberly left the exhibition and returned to our humble little motel, it was to discover that the neighbouring rooms upstairs and downstairs were buzzing with other Outlander fans. After a ‘nanny nap’ and a cup of tea, we began to dress for the Meet and Greet.

We arrived in good time and walked through a public restaurant and bar to the room set aside for festivities this Friday night. The two admins – Bex Moffat and Ana Fierek – were quick to welcome us all and introduce us to the line of other helpers who had worked tirelessly to make this weekend the success it was.

It was then QUIZ NIGHT! Trish Sixtus had put together a comprehensive quiz from all the episodes of Outlander that have currently screened, and Pippa Beams read out the questions and hosted. We were split into groups, and I was with a raucous team Murtagh who started well, but slid as the night progressed. I wonder why?

After an entertaining evening, we made our ways back to our various rooms, and prepared for a full day on the morrow. 7.30 am saw Beverley, Rhonnie and I stumbling down the road to the nearest cafe for breakfast, to find a table there already with fans at it.

We had our brekky, and then drove up the hill and to the Celtic Hall, complete with mural of bagpipers on the walls, and registered at the desk. Hugely exciting goody bags were handed out, and the chairs arranged for the morning’s presentations.

The first presenter was Rebecca Lenihan, a historian of 19th and 20th century Scotland and New Zealand. She spoke very ably and comprehensively on ‘The History that led up to Culloden, the Jacobites and the aftermath’. What followed that presentation was a delicious morning tea of warm scones, cream and jam. And then the next presenter who was Donna Lee, of Cottage Hill Herbs. I loved the revelations from her as well, and we discovered there’s more to be expected in the common household variety weed. I want to go to one of her weekend teaching sessions. We all passed the weeds around and sampled the salve, learning how to make one as well.

Time to drive down to lunch at the Empire Theatre in Newtown, which was a delightful cafe and cinema complex. We chatted and ate mini burgers and nibbles, before progressing up to see a secret show.

The show turned out to be our own special video put together by Àdhamh Ó Broin who told us about the origins of Gaelic and gave us some idea of the spelling of it compared to English. He answered questions that had been sent to him earlier. If I had known how easy it was to grasp the basic concept s of Gaelic, I might have done better when I attempted it years ago.


After the show, we had a wee bit of time off, before needing to get dressed up for the whisky tasting and dinner. Naturally, because the gals and I were intending to go ‘all out’ we didn’t really have time for the nanny nap, and after a cuppa, pretty much started into pulling on the corsets. I balanced a precarious fake wig on the top of my head that gradually descended throughout the night. Upon arrival at the hall, photos were taken:

Then the hilariously poetic whisky expert – who came from Whisky Galore – entertained us royally with all the whimsical details surrounding a good dram of whisky – the water of life. It was as good as a show, and we sipped carefully, nosed splendidly, tippled tentatively, and called out as many unlikely adjectives as I’ve ever heard, to describe what we were sensing.

After this comprehensive experience, we were all a little light-headed, and with great joy saw the dinner being laid out on tables up in the dance floor. Time for the group photo:


Dinner was delicious: a buffet extravaganza we took back to our tables and devoured slowly, enjoying the sounds and sights of a group of five kilt-clad men setting up chairs and tuning their instruments on the dance floor. I sidled sideways through them to the restrooms, trying not to sweep a couple of them up into my panniers as I passed. There were raffles, prizes, laughter, clinking of cutlery, guffaws, and the noise level only grew as the evening progressed.

There was dancing then. It was glorious. Sadly, I was either up there doing it, or in a prone position on my table, and did not get a video of it myself. Trust me when I say, the fewer photos in evidence, the more fun was being had.


Rhonnie, Beverley and I made our stately way home as supper was being served – yes, SUPPER! Sadly we missed the moment a lone piper came out and played ‘Speed Bonnie Boat’. But he did.

The next morning we had to rush up the hill to the hall and catch a bus for a mystery tour that would take 1.5 hours to reach over treacherous hills and valleys with low cloud. Just like the Highlands.

And guess where we ended up? YES! STONEHENGE! Well, Aotearoa Stonehenge anyway. This was another spot I didn’t know about, and was put together about ten years ago by scientists and astronomers on the lands belonging to the couple presently running it. We had morning tea and a presentation by them about the history behind standing stones, and the science behind the telling of time and seasons by sun, stars and moon. It was so fascinating and left me wanting more, but time would not permit. We DID have time to play among the stones though – and we did.

The poor old bus that had to return us by hill and bend to Wellington had its work cut out for it in getting us back in time to catch planes etc. IMG_9582

As it happened, Beverley and I would have missed our plane flight, were it not suddenly delayed upon our being turned down at the bag station. That delay meant that we were admitted to the lounge and found ourselves waiting another 30 mins before being cleared for takeoff.

Still, it was a fine end to a fine weekend, and one that has set the bar on Outlander Gatherings for me. SO VERY WORTH IT.

National Kiwi Outlander Gathering

All is in readiness for this weekend when I travel south with my good friend, Beverley, to attend the Outlander Gathering. It’s being held in Wellington, and promises to be a great time. Around 50 people will be there, and the programme is well organised and involves: Quiz Night, Seminars about herbs and potions, and Scottish history, mystery bus tour, whisky tasting, formal dinner, and a CEILIDH.

I’ve had this week to gradually prepare my costumes – made by Rhonnie and added to by myself. Just found extra hair at Geoff’s Emporium today, so I can pile it up on top and wear it with my ball dress. SOMEHOW it’s not quite looking like the lass on the left, but we’ve all got good imaginations.

My suitcase managed to easily take my two elaborate costumes, along with some pockets of friends who wish they were there. I’ll have to try and do a better job of including them in the photo shoots. My apologies if you are not one of those pockets – there were many who I’m sure would love to have come. You will be there in spirit.

Hopefully the next post will feature the actual event, but in the meantime, you can get a bit of an idea of what the anticipation is like. . .

Circling the harbour


They’ve asked me to stay for another week. Yes, another five days of getting up before dawn and crossing the harbour bridge, working for 7.5 hours, and then going up around the upper harbour to complete a full circle of Waitemata harbour and reach home. Daylight saving means that I get sunstrike on the way in again – the clocks were all set back on Sunday morning – so now the sun is pretty much up by the time I’m getting the best view from the bridge. I am reminded, as I join the throngs of morning traffic, what a huge privilege it was to work from home. I’m looking forward to that routine again when I used to get some early morning exercise in before starting the day. All those photos of the inner harbour.  . . the occasional coffee . . . a brisk 5kms under my belt before I sat down at my computer. Despite having a fitbit, (which I regularly forget to put on!) I’m still not managing the 10K steps I should be. I just can’t get up the gumption to go walking at the end of the day.

Still, it’s all money – and money I will need when I am back in my office considering where my passions and goals lie for this year. And look at that, it’s already just after 9pm and I should be in bed! Good night all.

Life: living, dreaming and inspiration

When I started this blog, I meant it to record my day-to-day experiences, like one or two other blogs I enjoy reading. Now whether it is because my own life doesn’t feel that interesting or that I am constantly challenged by external and internal ideas, my blog has become more of a vehicle for my thoughts. I am using it as a sounding board and looking for echoes bouncing back from others of like heart. I hope you find it resonates and if not, I’m sure there are blogs out there more to your taste.

My heart feels very full right now and I feel the need to put it all down on virtual paper. Where to start?

I have reached an age in my life – approximately ¾ through my given years – and a point in my life, where time is of greater importance than money or things. I’ve learned to value the time I have and do not want to waste a moment of it. Now hear me: I am NOT saying that whiling away an afternoon reading a good book is wasting time. I AM saying that spending any of it on the proverbial treadmill being miserably industrious for the sake of ‘work’, ‘retirement’, ‘the boss’, ‘money’, that ‘elusive dream that you can’t quite name’ is a waste. I speak as one who knows what it is to do that, and who has reached a time in life where it I see it for what it is. I regret none of my choices in life, which have brought me to where I am today – single, childless, owning no home, in a state of flux work-wise.

My wealth has been in experiences, and I am very rich. I know what it is to have very little and yet be content. I have travelled many times and absorbed with great joy the experiences. There are moments that have thrilled me and long years of working and dwelling among people of a different culture who were family to me. My dreams have been strong enough to cast me off the shores of my comfort zone, and to discover new lands and faces and skills that have made me who I am today. I have never felt lonely, but I am often alone. My singleness never stops me from going to a restaurant, movies, or – well – anything. Of course I enjoy the companionship of others; it expands the experience to share it – but I don’t NOT go, because I have no one to go with.

But that’s not what I wanted to say.

I had coffee the other day with a friend I met through the Kiwi Outlander fan group, and we regularly enjoy meeting up now. Annie shares her stories with me and I come away inspired and full of ideas which I long to ignite into action. I consider myself rich in my friendships – and humbled by how kind and generous my friends are. Beverley, with whom I can talk about anything, whose talents are not just her needlework and home-making, but thoughtful discussion that eases the heart. Barbara Joy, who started out as business mentor, but who is a woman who is so eagerly involved in creative activities that retirement has never been a consideration. Rhonnie, who I met through Outlander as well, who has floored me with her generosity and skills, making me costumes for my memes at her own expense, just because she loves what she does. Another friend, Kerrin, who works from home as an accounts clerk, but dabbles successfully in a range of other interests, from ice-hockey to drafting and sewing.

When I finish the six-week contract in a week that I’ve been working for the temp agency, (as an administrator), I know what I am going to spend the first day back in my office doing. I will be sitting with a huge sketchpad and pens, mapping out my dreams and goals for this year, and five years from now. Then I will hone what I will do daily to move towards fulfilling them. There are so many possibilities, and I risk wasting time while I dabble with them all. That time spent mapping down the ideas is never wasted and serves to bring focus and direction. It’s something I learned through my small business course years ago, and it has served me well in the time since.

But let’s move away from me for a moment (ha ha, do I hear sighs of relief?):

I’ve lived long enough now that I can make some observations about people’s choices regarding work. There are some diligent, conscientious people out there, who are skilled at what they do, and consequently find they are given more and more responsibility. It’s the nature of the world we live in, and the hierarchical work situation, that no matter where you are in the pecking order, you are likely to find yourself under pressure you can hardly bear. (I’m not talking about that group of people who do as little as they can, for as much money as they can, delegating and schmoozing their way out of responsibility and effort.)

I’m talking about those who have passion. Who work with that same passion, even in a job that hardly tugs at their heartstrings. The sort of people who need to be told to let go, to move out of their comfort zone, to learn to delegate, to care less about finding security in their job, and more about encouraging their real passions.

Recently someone close to me finally gave up working for the same company after seven years. She had suffered regular bouts of being made to feel she was not good enough, or working hard enough, and yet she WAS. It was very hard for her to 1) give up a work environment she knew for one that was unknown and 2) face feeling disloyal for leaving the old known environment and people. But it was long past time for her to move on, especially given her experience and skills and the sure likelihood she would be refreshed and find new friends and experiences at the new job. There are so many I have met in this situation. She DID go for an interview and get the new job, and now she is elated and thrilled and filled with excitement again. What you have to ask yourself is: bottom line, what could be worse than the job you are presently doing that you dislike so much? My own experience has taught me that there are never regrets for leaving a situation like that for a new one. I have met many people in jobs that they feel they cannot leave, for FEAR. Fear that they will not get another one, or that they are too old, or that they aren’t skilled enough, or that the pay cut will be damaging.

NONE of those reasons are good enough to waste the years of your life on.

Lacking skill? There are endless ways you can upskill – on the internet, through courses, through libraries. Too old? All the people I’m talking about in the first few paragraphs are near my age, and I’m 60. The difference is that you need to find what you are passionate about, and put your efforts and energy into that. It’s hard to go past someone who is passionate about what they do.

And don’t just think of the money. I know, I know, we all need it. But I recently saw a video clip of the former president of Uruguay speaking about materialism and living to consume – missing out on so much in life by that mentality. See it here: https://www.facebook.com/203959539740058/videos/692358027566871/?pnref=story

Just hearing those words has given me pause regularly as I reach out to purchase something. It challenges me on how much I need to live well.

YOU are so worth it – you have only so many years of life here, to live. Why not continually investigate ways to live it well? Why not discover your passions and seek to find ways to pursue them? Why not learn to need less and give more?

Okay, enough already.