It’s Only Words!

“She had always wanted words, she loved them;
grew up on them.
Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”
Michael Ondaatje  1943 –

from The English Patient.

I am sure by now, you know that I am a logophile – a lover of words. From a very young age, I have been fascinated by words. I just love words.  I like the sound of them, I like to see them written down, I like to see them used by others in different ways, and I just like playing with them.

Today, as the Rain Drips, from somewhere in the back of this elderly brain, came the word Onomatopoeia.  I am sure you know what it means but my dictionary defines it as – “The formation of words whose sound is imitative of the sound of the noise or action designated, such as hiss.” My late husband’s favourite was “The water lapped at the lake”

So after playing around for a time I came up with this –


Actors mumble
Birds flutter
Cats purr
Dogs bark
Eagles swoosh
Friends chatter
Guns boom
Harnesses jangle
Insensitives belch
Jellies squish
Kites swoosh
Lovers whisper
Mothers murmur
Noses sniff
Orchestras zing
Pigs snort
Rain drips
Snakes hiss
Trains rumble
Victors roar
Xylophones twang
Zealots blare.

Sorry, I couldn’t come up with words for Q, or U. Perhaps you can. And I am sure you can come up with many others.  But it was an interesting way to spend an hour today.

Better than a thousand hollow words
is one word that brings peace. ”

JB Wellington, NZ
October 2, 2022

It’s Official

I know you were/are absolutely sick of hearing me moaning and complaining about the wet weather we have endured this winter. Oh yes, I know it has been a very hot summer for all of you in the Northern Hemisphere, but here in Wellington, it has been wet! Incredibly wet and now we have the official figures to prove it.

Today we got new rainfall figures from Greater Wellington’s Environmental Science team to confirm that last winter was the wettest on record, following the misery of a summer that was also the wettest on record in the Wellington region. 

The figures we are told, and on which we have to agree, “paint a portrait of suburbs soaked and districts drenched by record amounts of rainfall which exceeded many of the previous highest totals recorded across the entire region. On average, June rainfall was approximately 160% up on long-term seasonal averages, with July coming in higher at 200 per cent and August at 170 per cent. 

“The main causes of the extremely wet pattern were three-fold, says Climate Change scientist Dr Alex Pezza. 

“Background global warming increasing moisture in the air and leading to higher rainfall, a third consecutive year of a developing La Niña and the development of semi-permanent marine heatwaves around New Zealand. 

“These factors contributed to an enhanced northerly flow and formation of the phenomenon known as ‘atmospheric rivers’, which brought large amounts of tropical moisture into our region. The compounding factor of the wet seasons is important and has led to lasting, disruptive and expensive consequences, says Dr Pezza. 

“A chain of significant rain events effectively prevented our saturated soils from drying out, contributing to the severe slips seen in many areas of the capital by the end of winter.” 

And just for your edification, this was our driveway for a couple of days during the worst of the rain.

And today almost as if it is mocking our joy that Spring is here, it has poured nonstop from early this morning, and still, it rains!

End of rant about the weather, except..

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain
falling on the sunshine…” 
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

JB September 30, 2022
In a very wet Wellington

What Was I Thinking?

I know that it is my turn to post today, so why did I spend the afternoon with a friend and then dinner with another one, allowing me no time to write. So, 10.30 pm here and no idea what to write about.

I must say that Chris’s post yesterday horrified me. Particularly the photo of the school teacher who thinks it acceptable to turn up to school in a totally inappropriate form of dress.

I thought about all the outcry around much of the world in 2011 about the young woman who had to adhere to the dress code of Harrods or risk losing her job. The part of the code about which she was arguing was the need to wear makeup at all times at work. Read about it here.

So if a young woman is either sacked or forced to leave her chosen place of business because of an item in the dress code to which she cannot or will not adhere, how come then a teacher, in charge of a mixed class of children, teenagers perhaps, is allowed to appear at school in this ridiculous, and embarrassing to young women, attire.

I think I have said enough. I share Chris’s embarrassment and trust that the Halton District School Board works quickly to right this very obvious wrong happening right now. Perhaps the Board and the teacher should dwell upon the quote from Loretta Young –

“Wearing the correct dress for any occasion
is a matter of good manners.”
Loretta Young. American actress, 1913-2000

A Very Grumpy JB
September 28, 2022
Wellington NX

Ticket to Paradise

After the excitement of Opera at the Met on Saturday, today we went to the movies and saw a totally different tale.  George Clooney and Julia Roberts star in Ticket to Paradise.

This is a fun and frolicking movie.  Clooney and Roberts characters were married for 5 years and have been divorced for 20.  Their only child, a daughter Lily, travels to Bali after graduation and meets and falls in love with a local seaweed farmer.

Her parents for once agree, they travel individually to Bali to stop their daughter from marrying and making the same mistake they think they made 25 years earlier.

There is no great story to be told, but the film is brightened and lifted by the fantastic scenery and some hilarious interactions between the stars. And of course, the stars brighten the screen with their smiles and their facial movements.

But a great movie it is not.  I am left wondering why these two mega stars became involved in this story.  Maybe the idea of travelling to Australia to film it during Covid was the draw.  

Having said all that, it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours as Wellington and New Zealand marked the Official Memorial Day for The Queen.

And now for the famous last line from Billy Wilder’s 1959 film, Some Like it Hot

“Well, nobody’s perfect!”

JB, Wellington NZ
September 26, 2022

Opera at The Met

I have told you before about the bijou cinemas we have here in the capital. They bring us opera from The Met, live in HD. And this enables those of us around the world to visit a local cinema to see world-class singers performing in this fantastic Opera House.  

And so, on a chilly early Spring morning, today we went to see the New York Met’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor.  

Wikipedia tells us – The story is “loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor“.

“The tale was originally set in Scotland, which, to artists of the Romantic era, signified a wild landscape on the fringe of Europe, with a culture burdened by a French-derived code of chivalry and an ancient tribal system. Civil war and tribal strife are recurring features of Scottish history, creating a background of fragmentation reflected in both Lucia’s family situation and her own fragile psyche. The design of the Met’s new production by Simon Stone suggests a present-day American Rust Belt, an area once prosperous but now fallen into decline and neglect.” from

Apart from watching the performance, we are taken backstage to see and hear interviews with the leading artists, the director, the orchestra conductor, one of the designers, and the overall stage manager amongst others.

This magnificent performance headed by Nadine Sierra, Artur Rucinski as Enrico. and Javier Camarena as Edgardo, was a joy to our senses. The incredible stage settings must have been a total nightmare to the overall stage manager – I am sorry that was not the title given to him in the interview. I was too engrossed to even mentally make a note.

It was quite a long production, 4 hours including two breaks, one for 10 minutes for coffee and another for 20 minutes for a light lunch.  The lunch was ordered before the opera started and was already served when we came from the theatre to the cafe.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our foray into the Rust Belt, somewhere known only to us through books and films.

This performance of this well-known story showed great promise as maybe a forerunner of other operas which could be brought up to date.

JB September 24, 2022
Wellington, NZ

Look Who is Coming to Dinner!

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner

I have written before about this cookbook and how it makes fun of the pretentious while delivering some really good recipes.  On looking through it today for some inspiration I came across this:

This picture accompanied the suggestion that we assemble a nightmare selection of guests for a party.  Thinking about this, my suggestion is:

  • Film star or celebrity
  • Woman CEO of a major company
  • A rising young author- female to balance the gender
  • Repertory actor
  • Accountant
  • Backbencher (for those who don’t know this is a member of the parliament who doesn’t hold a Ministerial portfolio)

The actor, the writer and the star will no doubt have had to starve at times while making their fortune and the rep actor probably is still starving.  So they will be reasonably easy to please.  No doubt the  career woman has” had to fight tooth and claw to establish herself in a man’s world and she’s nobody’s fool” and the accountant probably has an ulcer or is diabetic because of the stresses and strains of his chosen profession.  And the Backbencher is used to being fawned over and eating at Bellamy’s (or the equivalent of the restaurant in the seat of government) so he is likely to be more demanding.

So what would you serve this nightmare group?  Our author suggests two menus but for these disparate and perhaps difficult people I would serve:

Chilled cucumber soup because they would be so busy talking and trying to impress each other that a hot starter would soon get cold.
Roast New Zealand lamb a la Jamie Oliver, French green beans and a large green salad
For dessert, Pavlova (from the bakery of course) with fresh fruit and cream*
Followed by brandy or a liquor of their choice, freshly brewed coffee, cheese selection and crackers.

Hopefully, this will impress the career woman, the accountant and the Backbencher and totally ‘blow the socks off ” the other three.

Image via wikipedia

*Pavlova is a dessert with a meringue base, topped with fresh fruit and fresh cream.  It is the subject of hot arguments between New Zealanders and Australians as to which of them first introduced this dessert.  But we all agree that a well-made Pav takes a lot of beating- excuse the pun!

Then hopefully, they would all make their way home having been thoroughly entertained by the other guests and well fed by me.  Leaving me to clear the table and do the dishes and all those other follow-up chores after a party.

And then hopefully, the next day they will tell their friends –

“I went to a marvellous party,
I must say the fun was intense,
We all had to do
What the people we knew
Would be doing a hundred years hence…”
From I went to a Marvellous Party, 
Sir Noel Coward

JB Looking very pleased with herself afer a successful
dinner party.
Wellington, September 22 ,2022


Go in peace – you’ve earned your rest

Yesterday along with millions around the world, I sat and watched the pomp and ceremony of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. It was 10 pm here and 11 am in London, so I sat in bed to watch the ceremony. And marvelled again at the splendour, the tradition,  and the precision  And once again thought that only  Britain can carry out something this magnificent, this well

142 Royal Navy sailors pulled the gun carriage holding the flag-draped coffin to and from the Abbey. I am sure this is the day those chosen young sailors will never forget.

The streets of the Capital were lined with thousands of those British people who felt so highly of their queen that they wanted to be present in any way possible on her final journey. And so from far away New Zealand I watched this ceremony. I was in the Abbey with the Royal Family.  They obviously said their goodbyes to their queen, mother, grandmother, great grandmother in private, but here we could see how they mourned the loss of this beloved woman. You could see the distress on the faces of the King, the Queen Consort, and the rest of the family.

I won’t go on about the ceremony or the funeral because so many of you will have watched or read about it. Enough to say that I sat up into the early morning hours saying goodbye to my queen..

“To live in lives we leave behind is not to die.”

JB, Wellington, New Zealand
September 20, 2022

More Music

Yesterday we went to the orchestra. The programme is entitled Leviathan and Orchestra Wellington’s Programme Notes noted “This concert is very special to OrchestraWellington as it marks the fourth piece presented through our Composer in Residency programme with John Psathas. We are joined by international percussion soloist, Alexej Gerassimez, for the NZ premiere of ‘Leviathan’ and would like to thank the German Embassy for their support of this project.”

Alexej Gerassimez is an amazing performer. Across the front of the stage was a large number of instruments. Several different size drums, two xylophones, a large bowl of water, and a water bottle, among other things.

Gerassimez playing
a water bottle

This percussionist spent 25 minutes playing his instruments, one after the other while rushing about the stage from side to side. Amazing.!

In case you are interested here is a link to a YouTube video showing him in a different percussionist activity.

A different concert but a fascinating evening.

Note – the photo of Gerassimez was not taken at this concert.

JB September 18, 2022
Wellington, NZ

Not Forgetting!

I wrote this on Monday, and now it’s Friday, and wondered whether to share. it. Obviously, I decided to.

As a British subject, living on the other side of the world far from Queen and country, I have always been totally in awe of The Queen. I remember when we watched her marry her prince; when we learned of her accession to the throne; a day off from school for the coronation. So many memories over 70 years. And yes I am a Monarchist. But…

9/11 passed by here with hardly a murmur. 21 years and have we forgotten? There was little coverage in our news media, and I read no comments about the day on WordPress. Maybe there were posts on blogs I don’t read.

Most of the news here was about the Queen‘s passing. I agree she was a very good Monarch and somebody to look up to, but I wonder if we should be spending so much time on this 1 person’s death almost ignoring the 2996 who died because of 9/11. 

Just a Brit,  thinking on the other side of the world.

JB Wellington NZ
September 16, 2022


Chris has recently been entertaining/educating us with new words. Well you know I like playing with words, and I love Alliteration.  

Several years ago I read a novel by Sean Chercover, called Trigger City.  I remember nothing about the book but I made a note of this alliteration “Flower-boxes displayed dying dwarf dahlias in differing degrees of decay” Isn’t that wonderful?

Alliteration is defined as “The repetition of the leading consonant sound in each word throughout a sentence or a phrase. Alliteration is commonly used in poetry and tongue twisters. It is also sometimes used in advertising taglines and business names to make them more memorable.” according to wiki-answers and “the use of the same consonant or vowel at the beginning of each word” according to my Collins Dictionary which goes on to give the example of “round the rocks the ragged rascal ran”  Alliteration in literature, prose or poetry is used mainly to introduce style and make the piece of writing more memorable.
So consider these examples :

  • I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
    When far away an interrupted cry
    Came over houses from another street

    Robert Frost – Acquainted with the Night
  • Silence surged softly backwards and  forwards on the 
    forest’s ferny floor
    Walter De La Mare – The Listeners 
  • Once upon a midnight dreary, while
    I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, 

    Edgar Alan Poe – The Raven
  • “So we beat on, boats against the current,
    borne back ceaselessly into the past.

    F Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
  • For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
    Lay like a load on my weary eye,
    And the dead were at my feet.

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • Perhaps tomorrow you will see her sail. 
    She sails at sunrise:
    John Masefield – The Wanderer

And of course, there are many instances of alliteration used in advertising:

  • Greyhound Going Great
  • Landrover – The best four by four by far
  • Jaguar – Don’t dream it; drive it

And Brand Names:

  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Pay Pal
  • Best Buy
  • Borders Books
  • Corporate Caterers
  • Perfect Party Planners
  • Absolute Accountants
  • Coca Cola

And people’s names

  • Ronald Regan
  • Jesse James
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Michael Moore
  • William Wordsworth
  • Mickey Mouse &
  • Donald Duck.

Another form of alliteration is sound, where the words have the same sounding beginnings but are not spelt in the same way

  • Funny phone
  • Quality kebabs – sorry can’t think of any others.  Can you?

And from the Wizard of Oz:

“Step forward, Tin Man. You dare to come to me for a heart, do you? You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk…And you, Scarecrow,
have the effrontery to ask for a
 brain! You billowing bale of bovine fodder!”

This game, for surely it is a game, could go on and on ad infinitum.  Until I fall fast asleep on my feet. Goodnight!

JB Wellington NZ
September 14, 2022