Double Celebrations and a Holiday Retrospective

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and magical and inspiring holiday!

I certainly am – not only did I have the first holiday break in four years with both my daughters at the same time, closely followed by being extremely spoiled on Christmas Day [hint: I’m writing on it now 🙂 ] but also something really amazingly generous and wonderful and quite magical has happened for me, my readers and The Contented Crafter Blog altogether!

A few days before Christmas I received a sale notification from my Etsy Store and a wee note which said in part  Pauline, please don’t send this to me; I want you to use it for a give-away in the New Year………

You may well imagine, I was totally overwhelmed.  If I hadn’t already been sitting I would have sat – splat!  The donor has asked to remain anonymous and I [reluctantly] respect that.  Here is what is written on the Contented Crafter FB Page 

‘I am donating one of Pauline’s inspiring prints for her to use as a give-away. I’m choosing to remain anonymous because this is about her and her lovely work, not about me. I rarely give money to large institutions, but like to use a wee part of my income to support a variety of efforts that come to my attention. I love supporting people who are artistic, alternative, creative and more. Anyone making a positive change in this world deserves support. I hope all her readers and followers will enter to win this lovely prize. Good luck, everyone!’

Isn’t this the most amazingly unexpected, wonderfully kind and generous and Christmassy Spirited thing?  It’s like we have our very own Christmas Fairy!!

So we get another give-away 🙂  Which makes me happy – and you too I hope and one lucky person will get to choose a print, and I hope they will be happy too!


And – as I discovered as I began this post – this is my 100th post – so, double celebrations!!  I’ve been blogging for a full 10 months already and so much has happened – not least the amazing people I have stumbled upon, so many of whom have become new friends 🙂


We went to Queenstown to celebrate YD’s mumbley-mumble birthday.  It has to be said she is now older than I think I am.  Perhaps the Time Lord has been zipping around in his Tardis and completely destroyed linear time in favour of concurrent and eternal time [?]

Any-hoo…. it was a chilly morning when we set off with me as official back seat driver and the two lovelies up front


Our road trip took us through some pretty amazing scenery and some of New Zealand’s early history too.  If you travel this route you will soon become familiar with the beginnings of European Settlement in this country.  Rich with gold, the hills are high and rocky.  Schist is piled precariously atop schist and always makes me think of some wild and ancient god such as Thor, haphazardly throwing rocks about.  The scenery will remind you of Greece, of Tuscany, of England – all in the space of five minutes.  The lakes are huge, one is man-made and a village was drowned to make it – and the colour is spectacular –  aqua waters shine out against stark brown hills..

It’s wild, it’s barren, it’s breathtakingly beautiful!

First stop was at a great favourite of mine, Lawrence where the original gold rush took place in the early 1860’s. Gabriel’s Gully is on the outskirts of town, but it was a bit too cold to do the walk.

We stopped for lunch in a pub garden in Alexandra, then pushed on to Clyde.

Clyde is in the middle of nowhere, high up in the mountain plateau.  A stunningly beautiful, stark, rocky, brown landscape with an aqua lake, a hydro dam and little picturesque villages that  could come straight from the English Cotswalds.

I snapped ED standing and staring



What she was entranced with, and you can’t smell is the wild thyme.  Those dead looking clumps in the background are wild thyme.  This part of the high country, where the topsoil is thin and the bedrock is on the surface, grows wild thyme.  It goes from the waters edge up the sides of rocky cliffs, along the road side and over the hills.  It is abundant, it is dried, it is redolent and

I picked me some 🙂

We drove on, past the drowned town of Cromwell, stopped at Roaring Meg for a few moments and on to Queenstown.

We arrived about 4 pm – just in time to see the last of the beautiful warm summer days they had been enjoying.  But we were not concerned.  We settled into our uber posh hotel and enjoyed the view


Queenstown nestles itself on two sides of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu  It is small, it is hilly and it is entirely a tourist spot.  Sam Neill calls this place home, Shania Twain built a ranch house on several hundred acres on the outskirts and there is scarcely a Hollywood star who has not spent at least two nights nestled up in any of the twenty or more ultra luxurious, inordinately expensive, privacy guaranteed hotels.

We settled for a very nice 5 Star and had a thoroughly enjoyable time with our discount vouchers and savings coupons and lets not forget the trusty credit cards!


It has to be admitted up front that we spent the better part of the next two days eating and drinking.  We wanted to stick with the theme – so it was mostly an endless array of delicious and extraordinarily fresh seafood and fine Otago wines.

We did make the trek half way up the mountain to catch the gondola that took us all the way to the top – vertically!  YD and I are okay with being in tiny little orbs that look alarmingly like a storm troopers helmet that sway about in the breeze and travel in a series of jerks and rushes.  Not so much ED, who began to sing ‘Soft Kitty, warm kitty’ in a tremulous voice – which just made us laugh even more.

The view was worth it.  This is what you see immediately below the space age viewing deck

Gondola wildflowers

The wilding pines and wildflowers are found all over the mountain sides around Queenstown and were looking particularly pretty.  [Wilding pines are self seeded and unwanted invaders in National Parks.  There is a huge push to handle them properly so that the native forest can regenerate and the wildings be stopped in their tracks.  When I first came to Queenstown 28 years ago, there were few pines growing up the mountain sides – now they cover them.]

Gondola View2

This is a panoramic shot taken by one of the daughters clever phones. [ 🙂 ]

Gondola View1

The view is quite stunning and we repaired to a small wine bar to admire it some more.

We chose a spot where we could see the storm troopers whizzing past and I amused myself by trying to take an arty shot.  You had to be really quick!Gondola wine2

Eventually I got this one and had to be happy with it or I couldn’t enjoy my chardonnay!

gondola wine3

That evening we celebrated YD’s birthday at a very fine lakeside restaurant where we ate copious amounts of fish, drank not quite copious amounts of white wine and took silly photos with ED’s new iphone to the amusement of the servers and several other tables of diners.

D's birthday dinner w PD&P @ dinner

The next day, Christmas Eve, we reluctantly packed up and headed back across the thyme covered mountain plateau to a cold, wet and windy home city and readied ourselves for an exciting Christmas Day.

Meet Esmeralda, my new, silver, ultra sleek, super fast Personal Computer.


She has just finished her first successful  and very happy blog post 🙂

Thanks for coming by today and taking the time to read – I’m so happy that you did!  🙂

57 thoughts on “Double Celebrations and a Holiday Retrospective

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year and A Give-Away To Start Us Off! | The Contented Crafter

  2. I as a nerd cannot understand emotional…what the heck,I’ll try anyways 😀 .

    That is amazing!!! Where do I start? Happy Birthday YD, happy 100 posts – it all goes up from here! Finally, happy bloat-ware removial. Yes, that was a nerd joke…sorry! Anyway, happy new computer!

    I think that computer is a….Samsung or a Dell(I’m really not sure, Tom or Adam maybe will correct me), great brand. I have a HP, not a big fan.


    • Hey Will – nice to see you! Those 2 girls in the pics are both either nerds or geeks – never sure which one is correct….. They like sci fi and Dr Who and Star Trek and all that [and have educated me though I have yet to watch the good Dr’s] – YD is quite good with computers but not a whizz…
      Maybe they are geeks because they are quite okay with emotions – or that might just be because they are girls 🙂

      Nope, didn’t get the joke – so much to learn 😦

      The computer is a Toshiba – it lights up like a airplane landing strip in the dead of winter but is given to freezing at the oddest moments and now and again refuses to let me use the internet – both really annoying traits in a computer with treble the power of my old one. My old one was an HP – not a fan either! But I miss Spider Solitaire 🙂

      Thanks for coming by and leaving a note – love that you did 🙂


      • Thanks for liking my post 😀 My Windows 8.1 OS freezes a bit and so did my Windows 7, thinking about doing another restore. 😦 Either that or making some changes to the “backbone” of Windows (system 32 ect).

        Computers aren’t that hard – you just start with C++ and erro……….wait, they are hard. I couldn’t explain it, I use too much confusing vocabulary. 😛


          • Just so you know, which you may, you need to back-up your files on another form of storage (USB hardrives are reccomended) before you can restore. Restore will fix any problems with programs downloaded and errors in the OS which happened before X restore point was created.

            Just thought I’d say that, I don’t want to be help responsable if you lose all your files. Basicly, back-up your files on another PC or USB hardrive and then restore. The rest is just be talking something that only a person in the know will understand 😀


  3. Hi Pauline,
    You are truly having a magical and spirited Christmas season! I am delighted that you got to create such warm and wonderful memories with your daughters. Hehehe! I like “clever phone” so much better than “smart phone”. I’ve never heard of wild thyme- I will look it up further. Esmeralda is a great addition to your life- I know she will give you many, many hours of fun. Congratulations on the 100th post on this your 10th month of blogging!! Your anonymous donor added a bonus of cheer to all of our hearts:)

    I wish for you a most wonderful 2014 filled with good health, happiness, creativity, and warm & loving friends.


  4. You LUCKY BUGGERS! I just finished lamenting how lucky you New Zealanders are to be living in paradise on earth AND you have hedgehogs to another NZ blogger and you go and show me all of this? Today I get to finish sanding the deck rails and then paint the deck, the rails and part of the house…not entirely sure it is how I would have liked to spend my break but hopefully it makes the house look nicer and will allow me to step out onto the deck without thinking “er…must paint deck!” If only I had a hedgehog…everything would be better…(make that a hedgehog AND a glass of that chardonnay…)


    • Oh, poor Narf7! I had no idea you didn’t have any hedgies until I read Wendy’s post – I thought everyone had them. I think ours came from England with the settlers and the gorse and the rabbits………. one out of three ain’t bad – if I might misquote the mighty Meatloaf :-

      But just think – when you have finished your labours on the deck it will indeed be a thing of beauty – a place of relaxation and solicitude. A place where you can sit [sans hedgie, sadly] with a whole bottle of chardonnay if you wish and a doggie or two and a Steve even. You’ll be able to admire that pristine driveway and abundant garden – while I shall just have my fading memories of a couple of days in a mountain paradise to warm my toes in….



      • Tell you what, I will snaffoo one of our echidna’s and will send it over to you and you can suruptitiously stuff a hedgehog in a padded bag and wing it over to me. THEN I will be a happy narf7…until then I will just have to content myself with wistfully looking at echidnas with my eyes half closed imagining that they are about quarter the size and are hedgehogs…sigh…we have gorse and rabbits but we also have a lot of South African “weeds” as well…why no hedgehogs I wonder? Maybe it was just too dry for the poor little sods here 😦


        • I don’t think I want an echidna Fran, but I would LOVE a wallaby….. pop one of those babies across and I’ll send you two hedgehogs – and a kereru in a pohutakawa tree too!! I think you’ll love them 🙂


          • A Kaka would be a good addition to Serendipity Farm, pity they are endangered…they seem to have the right mentality to be happy here 😉


            • Do you mean a kakapo? If so, I absolutely agree – Fabulous animals, amazing outlook on life and great at booming too – I am sure they would love you – literally! 🙂 I shouldn’t mind one myself – I’m sure it would get on quite nicely with my wombat 🙂


              • Most probably that is what I mean ;). I Googled for what I was looking for (those endangered parrots that eat car tyres in parks and that are amazing characters) and it told me “Kaka” so sorry if that was wrong ;). We watched a documentary about them and they were amazing birds and incredibly intelligent. I have to say, the plant life and the bird species in NZ are amazing. Might have to come over there myself one day for a look-see. I will probably get arrested coming back to Aus for pinching seeds 😉


                • Okay, you mean a Kea – they are parrots who particularly like rubber, windscreen wipers and car tyres get a good going at if you are foolish enough to park your car up in the Alps -which is where they live. I’ve met them and they are such fun – very intelligent and curious and cheeky. They would suit yu better I think than the rather more pedestrian [but hilarious] kakapo. Did you ever see Stephen Fry’s meeting with one?

                  Also – I see I said ‘wallaby’ when I meant ‘wombat’ jeez – ditz! Wombat – I want a wombat!


                  • My dad fostered a wombat when he and his partner were alive (hard to do it when you have passed on 😉 ) called Vicky. There are still chew marks in the walls from her exploits and wombat claw scrapes on the wooden doors. We left them as they give the place character :). I would love to see a Kea. Apparently it’s good value holidaying in NZ at the moment. The son-and-heir and his partner headed to NZ to apply for her bridging visa (to stay in Australia) as you can’t apply on home soil and said it was an amazingly cheap but awesome holiday. Cheap and awesome are my middle names! Might have to count the pennies and see if they stretch to a bit of time feeding windscreen wipers to Kea…plenty of Japanese tourists cashed up who won’t mind me borrowing their windscreen wipers for a good cause 😉


                    • I love reading your train of thought 🙂 I laughed out loud at the first sentence! It’s all relative isn’t it – I found Melbourne very expensive when I was last there, so therefore I guess the locals [and by that I mean any Australians] would find NZ cheap [though that sounds wrong] I guess its the exchange rate.

                      However – to find a kea requires journeying to the ski fields or glaciers, neither of which come cheap or easy [does this sound wrong too?] Unless you are okay with trekking, in which case you can be cheap, easy and fit all at the same time.

                      None of this sounds okay to me – it must be the large glass of wine I drank…. Happy New Year Fran and all at Serendipity Farm 🙂


                    • The son-and-heir just told me that he has a photo of himself next to a Kea so I think he forged ahead and beat me to it! 😉 Happy New Year from Sidmouth Tassie 🙂


  5. Beautiful photo diary Pauline. Looks like you had a magical time with your gorgeous girls – you look like three sisters rather than Mum and daughters! What a lovely gesture from your giveaway winner – very Christmas-spirited! Hope you are enjoying the holidays. We are winging over to Auckland for New Year’s to visit some cousins of my hubbie’s who have moved there from Ireland and England over the past few years. We will wave and blow you kisses as we fly over the South Island on the 31st!! : )))xox


  6. Your daughters are beautiful, just like their mama. May you have the most creative, love-filled, healthy year ever in 2014. Thank you for being you…the most wonderful way for you to be. Beautiful sister…happy holidays.


    • Casey!! I’ve been so missing you! Thank you for those lovely words. I am desperate to know how things are with you – I’m sending you boatloads of love and good things for today and always xoxo


  7. How wonderful, Pauline. You didn’t mention how to enter. Is it the same as last time? What a nice gift and you sure deserve it!

    I love those orbs and if I ever get down your way, we will have to take a ride together (or else find one of those 360 degree loop the loop roller-coasters; I’m assuming you like crazy rides, too? I’ll go on anything, crazier the better and I want to be the first woman of 100 (or older 😉 ) to ride on a 360 coaster . . . fun!! I did all the coaster rides that were open at Disneyland the one time I got to go (alone, thank heavens; none of that “but Mummmmm, you’ve been on Space Mountain already and we had to wait in line an hourrrrrrrr . . .” [sounds of loud whinging]). I like the salt and pepper ride, too, and the zipper! Mmmmmmmmm

    Your daughters are very lovely even though they look older than you do . . . it’s easy to see where they get their looks . . . 😉

    I like your arty photos, too, and that new pc is very, very nice. Love her name, too . . .

    Glad you had some wild thymes, my friend . . .

    Sam Neill, eh? . . . too bad he’s married; he’s just the right age for you. 😉 I like that he does so many non-conventional films. Any time I see his name on credits, I know I’ll enjoy the work.

    I love your Christmas Fairy . . . how nice to be celebrating your 100th post with a give-away. I did something similar for mine, too. I’m still figuring out what to do for the next milestone post.

    So, let us know the rules, will you? sheesh . . . 😉 ~ Linne


    • The rules are coming Linne – i have to think of something cruel and unusual for everyone to do first 🙂 [Any suggestions will be given due consideration]

      It all worked out quite well didn’t it – but I’m hoping that by Twelfth Night [when the give-away goes live, that I may have hit the 200 followers milestone – just 11 to go.

      Your punning is getting better and better! And I’m cutting and pasting the sentence about me looking younger than my daughters!

      Oh, by the way, sucking up doesn’t get your name in the draw multiple times – just saying…… xoxo


      • But I wasn’t sucking up . . . so telling the truth oughta get my name in there a whole bunch of thymes; don’t you think? 😉 ~ Linne


  8. Such a lovely post, full of happy, positive, and fun things!
    I am such a fan of anonymous giving, and will be posting about just that soon, so a big shout out to whoever the giver is 🙂
    Your trip and family photos are awesome, as are the shots of the views (and you know I love that wine glass shot!)
    And yippee about Esmeralda!


      • I love the tag! I did not catch it at first (darn!), but as soon as I read your comment, I had to come back and check it out! I’ve been trying to add a slightly silly tag to my posts lately to see if anyone picks up on them 🙂 one more small nuance to blogging!!


  9. Nice post! Gosh we had a lovely holiday! Hope you are getting to grips with Esmeralda!

    J (aka Ed) XXX


  10. Oh what a happy post, Pauline. I love the pics of you with your daughter, love in every pore. The thyme…I can almost smell it. Mmmmmmm. I’m so glad you have a time away, good food and drink, great company and the magic of it all coming together, too.

    Congratulations on your spiffy new laptop. It’s done a bang up job with your first post-Esmeralda blog.

    My hat is off to your secret admirer (or at least secret to us). What a kind, generous, loving and supportive thing to do. xox


  11. Pauline, your road trip looks fantastic! I love that area of the South Island, it’s just gorgeous and you are so right, those places looks like tiny bits of other countries. Just so picturesque!! My son plays in a band in Southland and we went down to Cromwell a couple of years ago to watch his band play the New Years Eve street party, gosh we had a lovely time and I so admired those very stone buildings you have in your photo 🙂

    Yes, I also feel the same age my kids are now, it’s weird. Your two young ladies are gorgeous 🙂

    I think it’s totally awesome (and very Random) for someone to pay for one of your prints then donate it as a giveaway. What a wonderful heart this person has and obviously recognises quality 🙂 So nice.


    • Hi Wendy! I have been so touched by the doner’s intentions – you are so right – it is totally a rare and amazing thing! I find it hard to put into words – I kind of think Alys got it right on the fb page – she wrote ‘WOW’ and that is exactly how I feel 🙂

      I love the buildings of Central Otago – unfortunately, between my two computers and rogue camera, I seem to have misplaced a couple of shots of real stunners – one I wanted to move into there and then and I wouldn’t have minded one bit living in Clyde 🙂


    • Wendy, it’s funny you said that about the area looking like bits of other countries; I always think NZ looks so much like my home province (BC). ~ Linne


      • I can see why you say that….there was a programme on TV a month or so ago about BC and I commented to Roger it looked just like NZ. Neither of us can remember what it was about now that I mention it though. x


        • There are parts of BC [seen in movies etc] that are stunningly beautiful. I once watched a movie all the way through simply for the scenery – it was set in a small fishing village and I immediately set my heart on going there to live. But the girls said it was a bit far away….

          ED and her best friend travelled the width of Canada a few years back – east to west and then zigzagged across and down the States. She loved Canada – and Seattle – best!


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