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The Pounamu Prophecy - birth of a book Two women, two cultures and an ancient Maori prophecy that will change their lives. That's the tag line for The Pounamu Prophecy - my first novel. It has been a slow process, interrupted by moving...


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Bran MuffinsBran Muffins These bran muffins (adapted from a recipe by Alison Holst) are super filling - a great snack when you are trying to control your weight. Enjoy these muffins with a cup of tea but don't expect to absorb...


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My nanna's recipe for homemade Rewena (Maori) bread Rewena Bread Step 1 1 c flour 1 tsp sugar 1 potato Peel and cut potato into small pieces. Place in pot with 1 cup water, lid on, and simmer to mashing consistency. Mash, cool and when luke...


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Creative Writing in Chengdu, China

Posted on : 13-05-2017 | By : Cindy | In : Event buzz, Spices, The Pounamu Prophecy, Travelling, Writing




‘It’s not the child I need to interview, it’s the parents.’ The principal of Beanstalk International Bilingual School in Chengdu had just finished talking to the parents of a prospective student and was now showing me around the campus of the newly opened school, complete with state of the art four hundred metre running track, brand new fifty metre pool, spacious grounds and beautiful classrooms opening into a central garden.

The school follows the International Baccalaureate curriculum which is vastly different to the teaching style of the local Chinese schools. The parents he had just spoken to, wealthy business people, wanted their child to move from the rote learning style of the local school to the more creative teaching style that BIBS offers. Unique to this international school is that it does not require the student to have an international passport and so the majority of students here are local, wealthy Chinese.


The students were a delight to work with and eager to try out the creative writing exercises I set them. Some of the younger ones struggled to compose a story in English but I could only admire their eagerness to try writing creatively in a foreign language. It was better than I could do!!

With the older group of 14-15 year old boys we discussed historical fiction and the stories they wrote were amazing. I caught the beauty of the Chinese language spilling over into their English stories – poetic, evocative, and with some of the boys, very witty.

So often during this trip to China I heard people lament that the rote learning style produced incredible results for fact learning subjects but it stifled creativity. In this school I saw creativity unleashed, enabling these Chinese students to re-discover the beauty and imagination of this ancient language and culture.

Thank-you to Hugo for inviting me to his school, to Michael the librarian who coordinated everything and all the teachers who introduced me to the delights of the spicy, mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorns and hotpot.


Poppies, salty mutton and blood red sea – impressions of D-Day Normandy

Posted on : 21-09-2013 | By : Cindy | In : Travelling


france and uk 1 1054 france and uk 1 1029 france and uk 1 1053“It’s the red sea that the veterans most remember,” Brigette, our Normandy D-Day tour guide, tells us. I look at the gentle waves rolling into Omaha Beach and try to imagine them red, stained with the blood of the 7000 men felled by the deadly 88mm gun behind me. It’s positioned to fire, not out to sea, but down the beach. It can kill a soldier ten kilometres away. I follow the line of the gun imagining what the Germans would have seen: 37,000 soldiers jumping from their metal boats into the icy water and racing across the flat expanse of sand. Today it’s quiet – just a few tourists dotted on the golden sand, their hair whipped by the permanent wind that sweeps across from England. This salty wind flavours the grass giving Normandy mutton a distinctive seasoned flavour. Hovering above the cliffs like brightly coloured poppies are a handful of hang gliders. It’s peaceful, calm, and nothing like what it must have been at 6.30am on the sixth of June 1944.

I try to imagine running up this beach, stomach churning with sea sickness, uniform sodden with seawater, caught in the cross fire of these deadly 88mm guns stationed all along the beach. I look at the clear sweep of sand and imagine trying to run, tripping over hundreds of my dead and injured comrades, and dodging the deadly Rommel asparagus’s which are not vegetables but wooden asparagus shaped mines sticking out of the sand. I listen to the birds singing and imagine the deafening noise of gunfire, shouting and young men screaming. I expect to feel something bad, an echo of the horrors that occurred here but there’s nothing.

The Battle of Normandy

Posted on : 01-09-2013 | By : Cindy | In : Travelling


france and uk 1 fI look out the train window as we swish past ancient stone villages and rolling farmland dotted with hay bales looking like giant bobbins. After three weeks without rain the usually green fields are parched and brown. Normandy is known for its rain and yet we are about to spend five sunny, hot days exploring Bayeux, tasting Norman cuisine and visiting the D-Day sites.

I am not as enthusiastic about war history as my husband and son and the thought of spending two full days visiting war graves, war museums and war sites does not thrill me quite so much as a food tour would have. Fortunately our guide, Brigitte (“My mother named me after Brigitte Bardot”) tells us lots of stories which add the human touch.

One of our first stops is Pegasus Bridge, north of Caen near Benouville. It was here that three gliders each carrying thirty soldiers landed on a narrow strip of grass just after midnight on June 6 1944.

Pictures of Bayeux

Posted on : 18-08-2013 | By : Cindy | In : Travelling


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