Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Before and After photos of cousins. Amazingly still going strong after 60 years.

I'm the teddy bear kid fifth from the left, my sister Sue is on my
left. She lives in Vancouver with her super family. Robin, on the far right has lived in Africa most of his life but has now settled in UK.

Incidently, the Denne family tree stretches back to 1065. I have a copy of the whole document, with family crests and occupations.
Robert de Denne is first on the tree, he was a butler and taylor to
Edward the Confessor in 1065. Four of the cousins are Dennes my sister and I are Glasses. Our Mum was Esme Denne. Jessica (on my right) Hester (third from right) and Robin (on the end) their Mum was Molly Denne.

Monday, July 26, 2010


It’s not that I have run out of ideas, oh !! no no no, I just wondered if I could write about absolutely nothing. (“He’s done that every week for the last twelve months,” I hear you saying) I remember doing the duties of auctioneer at a charity auction some years ago. People had been generous with their donations and we had fifty odd lots going under the hammer. Problem was, lot number 16 had been withdrawn so I had a choice, move from lot 15 to 17 or the alternative, much more challenging, attempt to sell nothing. I did the latter and bidding for lot 16, absolutely nothing at all, was spirited and brisk. We achieved a last bid of sixteen dollars, and attempted to squeeze a further donation from the new owner of nothing, by offering to gift wrap nothing for a small charge. Which brings me to another incident in the business of nothing. An ancient Aunt of mine told me the story of her cruise ship holiday to the Islands. In those days the huge liners anchored off shore and passengers wanting to explore a particular Island were ferried in by life boats. Just before departure the Islanders would paddle out to the ship and barter with the passengers. My Aunt was offered a large box of Island chocolates, all she had to do was throw the required coins into the sea , watch the islanders dive for the money. The box of chocs would be pulled up to the boat on a string. Auntie opened the sweets after they had put to sea and discovered neatly packaged, mouth watering, nothing.
Farmers in Europe continue to receive subsidies, one such payment is for setting aside up to thirty percent of an individual’s land area. The subsidy is, not surprisingly, called ‘set aside’ and has been available to farmers for many years. Currently you can earn $459.59 per annum for every acre of land growing absolutely nothing. Americans living in the Texas rice belt collected a whopping $37million in crop payments a couple of seasons ago. The secret to drawing part of this substantial subsidy is knowing that your particular (large or small) plot was at some time during the last 65 years growing a crop of rice. If such is the case you will also receive an annual payment for growing nothing. Speaking of the USA, I once read a wonderful story about an American farmer who found out that he could make a reasonable living by not rearing hogs. He discovered that the government subsidy for not raising 50 hogs was $1000, being a prudent investor he decided to begin his business venture by not raising 4000 hogs. He had no idea which was the best breed not to rear but he did find out that his 4000 animals would not eat 100,000 bushels of corn. As luck would have it the government were also paying farmers for not growing corn which meant that he could claim payments for not growing the corn that he was not going to feed his 4000 hogs.( Nothing ventured nothing gained.)
I can happily report that nothing has been very kind to us over the years, we once bought a house for next to nothing and we actually were given a house for removal for absolutely nothing. Mind you, we spent the whole of one summer doing it up and eventually sold it, minus expenses and made nothing.
I heard a story the other day about Ma and Pa’s frequent trips down to Levin. Apparently
Pa was quite partial to a wee tipple and frequently stopped the car to, supposedly, check the water temperature. The bonnet was lifted and the bottle that cheers was surreptitiously guzzled.
Hard to believe but Ma did not realise that on this particular model the motor was at the rear of the vehicle. Pa had a great trip, Ma knew nothing.
Our second daughter has the final word, having been given an empty envelope she announced, ‘There’s something not in it’, which is delightful toddler logic for ‘nothing’.

Friday, July 23, 2010

For Dawn and countless others

True friends

There is a time in latter years
When you reflect and perhaps regret
That a friendship you had, has disappeared
Just when it happened, you forget.
The friendship, well, it just declined
You felt it go but did not care
The love you had lagged far behind
The phone went dead, you did not share.
It is not too late, re-kindle the flame,
Make every effort to get in touch
Excuses are pride, it would be a shame
To lose a friend who meant so much.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pals from Kent farm Institute days and an assortment of cousins


What a lovely lot Giles,Miles,me,Russ,Pete,Kath,Ian,Henry,Liz,Val,Filly.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Many have heard the term, progressive marketing. Basically it is a cunning plan to manufacture products in such a way as to insure their complete demise in the shortest time possible. Obviously this system keeps the wheels of commerce turning and lines the pockets of the producer as the poor old consumer is forced to replace specific items.
The only exception to this rule, as far as I can see, is the resilient, old fashioned push mower. They seem to go on forever unless one makes the fatal mistake of lending yours to a family member. ‘Sure’, you say, with a jovial demeanor, ‘Of course you can borrow my old push mower, it belonged to great Granddad you know’. Sad to say the next time you see this wonderful old relic (not Granddad) is when said family member appears in your driveway with the broken handle in one hand and what appears to be a sort of twisted metal art form, from Picasso’s neo surrealism period, in the other.
Progressiveness can be a double edged sword, it may be good, it could be bad.
Some years ago we managed a large holiday camp. There were a number of accommodation blocks all consisting of eight small cabins. There were extensive lawn areas that had to be regularly attacked with a tractor driven mower. While mowing one day a stone flew into a window in one of the cabins. It was a small crack, easily fixed, or so I thought. As I removed the broken pain I found that the frame was rotten. The whole job became a nightmare as I discovered dry rot in the sill and the surrounding weather boards. One rotten board led to another. In the end the whole back of the cabin block had to be repaired and re-built. So for the sake of a small crack in a tiny window an expensive progression had occurred.
This brings me, in a rather round about way to one of my pet hates. Counselors, not, I hasten to add, Town councilors (I’m saving them for another column) I’m talking about untrained and often unqualified, advisors who make it their business to pounce upon the smallest crack in someone’s life and proceed to delve into every nook and cranny until the poor soul is either totally bewildered or at the very least absolutely convinced that they were abused as a child. Sometimes these folk, having had their weatherboards of failure and self esteem ripped off, are incapable of re-building their lives and are filled with the proverbial ‘no more gaps’ (valium) and left to cope with life.
Out of the mouths of babes there is often wisdom, our son once made a profound statement, ‘Why does there have to be a reason for everything?’ A question that I now aim at (often self appointed) counselor’s who have not experienced life, or worse, are content to counsel other people while their own lives are a disaster. Sometimes it’s better to put up with a tiny crack in the window of our lives. A small irritation in an oyster shell can turn into a priceless gem. To progress means to proceed. For some it may be an uphill struggle and a helping hand will be necessary. Choose that hand carefully and leave the past where it belongs, in the past. I hope our progression in the new year is positive, every step, will be easier and a step in the right direction if we happily accept who we are, warts and all.
To end on a lighter note, Mr Michael Hill (golfer) decided to put a one hole fairway on his Arrowtown deer farm. Having done that and with his game much improved he determined that two holes would be more fun. It was, so he got rid of the deer, established a nine hole course which then progressed to an eighteen hole course which progressed to an exciting international tournament for the benefit of New Zealand… Now that’s what I call being progressive.