“Every age has a secret society of congenial spirits.
Draw the circle of friends tighter,
that the truth of art may shine ever more clearly.”
Robert Schuman German composer, pianist,
and influential music critic. 1810 – 1856

The Circle of Friends is the name chosen for the 2022 series for Orchestra Wellington. The reason for this is the music for the series all comes from the 19th-century circle of music friends – Robert and Clara Schumann, Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms and many others. It is recognised that these musical greats constitute one of the most remarkable interactions in musical history. So the stage/scene was set and we were tempted.

Each year the orchestra produces six concerts and last night, unfortunately, was the final for the year. This was an amazing performance. Titled “Faust Robert Schumann, Scenes from Goethe’s Faust.”

Our Book of Words for the season tells us “As a fitting culmination of this season, we present the New Zealand premiere of Schumann’s Faust – one of the most astonishing works of the 19th century. “

And we are told “It combines the choral weight of that genre with the dramatic power and grandeur of opera and the intimacy and thought of Lieder. It’s mammoth proportions are mirrored by the forces required for performance, including two choirs, and nine soloists!”

And amazed, delighted and astonished we were as we sat through this performance based on Goethe’s epic poem. Besides the full orchestra, we had eight vocal soloists (Not the promised nine, but who is that picky?) and The Orpheus Choir Wellington and St Marks Schola Cantorum.

We can’t wait to see what is on offer for the next season, although of course, we have already secured our seats by paying for the tickets.

JB Sunday, December 4, 2022
Wellington, New Zealand


Another Good Find

How often do you find a book that really holds you from beginning to end?  From time to time, our local librarians recommend books they have read and recently one recommendation was Cruel Tides, by Maria Adolfsson.  What I didn’t know was that this was book 3 in a trilogy.  

The novels are set on a fictional island called Doggerland, supposedly in the North Sea somewhere between the UK and Denmark.

Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Horby has returned home after an absence of ten years working in London for the Metropolitan Police. She finds life is not easy being the only female Detective Inspector in this small police force on the island.  However, she is not the only one to return to her homeland after several years abroad.  Luna has decided to come back to where she was born and raised to secretly record her comeback album.  This world-famous singer has a wrap party at the end of the recording sessions to which Karen is invited, but the next morning the singer it’s nowhere to be found.

Meantime, there is a rapist loose in the community whose brutal attacks on women are increasing both in intensity and frequency.  So, while the rest of the force is concentrating on finding the perpetrator, Karen is tasked with looking into the disappearance of the singer.

This is a well-written novel.  The characters are well-defined and the story is easy to follow.  I didn’t hesitate to get the first and second novels in this series as soon as they became available.

So if these three books are available at your library, I suggest that you grab them if you can. The three books in order are  Fatal Isles,  Wild Shores and this book Cruel Tides but reading the books out of order didn’t detract from the story. 

I strongly recommend this author and her trilogy. 

JB November 24,2022
Wellington, NZ

My Lot Is Cast

My Lot Is Cast

Catching up on the posts I have missed during this busy week, I read this from Waking Up On The Wrong side of 50 – Life Lessons, I thought back to a post I wrote 10 years ago.  I talked then about ageing and how things change as we get older.  I would like to repost some of that here:

In that post, I talked about my sisters both of whom live/lived on the other side of the world, both were prolific readers and emails were full of books each of us had read.  My sister in Los Angeles (she died in August last year) was apparently very fond of Nicola Upson’s series about detective Jacqueline Tey.  She quoted one of her favourite poems which came from the book “To Love and Be Wise

“My lot is cast in inland places,
Far from sounding beach
and crying gull,
And I
who knew the sea’s voice from my babyhood
Must listen to a river purling
Through green fields
And small birds gossiping
Among the leaves”.

I don’t live in inland places – the ocean is about 10 minutes drive away, but I miss the sights and sounds of the ocean that I used to see from all the windows of my home.  It seemed that we were surrounded by the sea and its activities. For 15 years we lived in that house.  The children spent their teenage years there and we became almost immune to the fantastic views from most windows.  We could see not only the ocean with all its comings and goings (cruise ships, ferries, barges and tugs for the port)  but the planes landing at the airport, and the trains bringing people and goods into our capital city. So maybe this post should be headed “Trains and Boats and Planes”.
And as in this poem, now I don’t hear the crying gulls when I awaken in the morning but I do hear the small birds gossiping among the leaves.  I love the thought of the birds gossiping.
I hear the sounds of busy families getting ready for their day – households waking up, newspapers being brought in, children going to school and parents to work.  The road outside my house is alive with activity for a short time each morning and then, as if a switch has been pulled, the peace descends and only those of us who are no longer living the busy years are left behind.
We have time for another leisurely cup of coffee; time to exchange pleasantries with our neighbours as we retrieve the newspaper from the drive; time to read the newspaper, complete the crossword and as I am getting older, I peruse the death notices just in case there is somebody I know mentioned there.
And so –

My lot is cast
In different places
Not beside the river or the ocean
But in the city with its life and vitality.
Not in the distant years of my youth
Nor the busy years of family life
But the peaceful years of time for me
To enjoy friends and family.
Time to investigate new things
New activities and new friends
Time to be me.

On This Day

On this day, 65 years ago I married my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman).

Sunday, November 17 was a cold, foggy day in 1957.  All those years ago and I was a naive young girl sitting painting my nails and talking to my family.  Excited, yes and somewhat scared at what I was getting myself into. what I was about to do.

Wedding photo
 Our wedding 1957

This was the day I was going to marry my Dashing Young Scotsman.  Oh so many years ago.

I clearly remember sitting in the car on the way to the church with my own, supportive Dad who asked me again was I sure that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with the young man waiting at the church.  He told me that there was still time to change my mind.  Of course, I was sure and no I didn’t change my mind.

And the Dashing Young Scotsman became the son my Father didn’t have, his own son having died as a small baby many years before..  My parents loved him as did my sisters.

So on this day 65 years ago, I married my soulmate and for the next 41 years, we celebrated the fact that we had found each other.

What a long time ago, no doubt before many of you were born, but what a glorious day it was for me.  And how glad I am that I didn’t change my mind on the way to the church.

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions,
they can take away your money,
and they can take away your health.
But no one can ever take away your precious memories.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger, Mother, Grandmother, Friend


Three am on Thursday

Chris has told you of the new regimen for posting in AWA, and Thursday is one of my chosen days to write.
I am one of those fortunate people who decide it’s time to turn out the light, do so and immediately fall asleep for many hours. So, on the very few occasions when I find myself awake in the middle of the night I am surprised. And then I have to think of something to send myself back to sleep. So here it is 3 o’clock on Thursday morning. I’m drinking camomile tea and writing my blog post.
So what to write about?
Here in New Zealand, we have large areas of geothermal activity. This is surely one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular tricks. It is scary, amazing, and totally mesmerising; these things don’t change no matter how often you see this activity.
I always make a point of taking overseas visitors to see it. 
I have said before that I enjoy writing to a theme or to a specified number of words. One thing I used to do was write to a theme in five sentences. Here’s a post from several years ago about the activity.


She had loved Dante’s Inferno since first being presented a copy to read for English Literature classes so many years ago.  And now she wondered was this the closest she would get to Dante’s Inferno in this life?
She stood there, totally surrounded by mist, mesmerised by the sight of great gusts of steam emanating from the ground accompanied by the roar of a fast-approaching steam locomotive.
As she walked slowly past a pool that resembled a boiling cauldron she remembered reading that the indigenous people, the Maori, still used the heat from this activity for cooking and heating their houses as they had done for centuries.
On her return home on the other side of the world, she needed to have these photos as evidence that this was in fact real and not a figment of her very active imagination.

The word that week word was STEAM.  I thought as few people might have seen the
Geothermal activity producing clouds of steam, I would use this as the setting for my Five Sentence story this week.

Thoughts for Thursday

I have talked before about a blog I follow, Murder is Everywhere (MIE). This is a group of thriller/murder writers who have banded together. to make MIE. Unfortunately, the founding member has since died, but his plans for this continue.

Each day a different member posts a blog and I start my day with the first cup of Earl Grey, sitting in bed reading who has said what today.

A few days ago, one of the bloggers, Annamaria had a post headed Limericks for Mental Health. Apparently, she has been writing limericks for many years and says she uses them to let off steam. Americas 

Here is the Link so you can read the whole thing.

With her approval I am copying the opening limerick here.-

“Every Sunday Patricia must blog
On a subject she chooses to flog, 
But she cannot today
Her brain’s not okay
It’s stuck in a terrible fog.”

And because my mind has been in a terrible fog since I arrived back from Bali three days ago, I am going to let you see what she wrote for me.

Judith of the surname Baxter
Got angry of anyone taxed her.
All levies she ignored
From the nation’s tax board,
Until they showed how they’d axed her.

Clever huh? And so that’s my thoughts for Thursday.

JB, October 27, 2022
Wellington, NZ


“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, 
more talented than you know,
and capable of more than you imagine.” 
Roy T. Bennett, Author, Politician and

member of British South African Police

 I have spoken before about my amazement at how people, in particular women, handle and survive quite awful situations.

I have a reasonably new friend/acquaintance with whom I’ve become quite close. I knew she was divorced but knew little about her life before meeting her in our reasonably affluent

Recently she had a book published titled Notes from Inside.

A pseudonym to protect her family

The preface to the book starts “Domestic abuse, family harm. Now here’s the question: how do we put a fence at the top of a long-drop cliff rather than an ambulance at the bloodied bottom? She goes on to say that “This book is a journey, a slice of life memoir of shimmering images from my long resounding memory, now given hard edges into story”

She tells of a childhood, often happy but always overshadowed by her father, a bullying patriarch.  Then to married life in a fairly remote part of New Zealand with an abusive husband, several young children and little or no contact and/or help from anyone in the neighbourhood. She doesn’t dwell on the abuse, both physical and mental, but she does talk about how her mental health has been affected for many years since that time. 

This is certainly not an easy book to read. It takes us through various times of mental illness, lost loves, and broken families.  Unfortunately writing and publishing this book has caused an estrangement with her daughters which seems incapable of being mended.

The daughters feel that in telling this story, my friend has opened her family life to the world. And they feel that their lives will now become conversations for many people.

 I am now in awe of this woman; What she has been through and how she has come out the other end as a totally caring, helpful friend.

It’s a book well thought out, giving an honest depiction of her life up to this stage.  She still suffers from the hurt but with help, is coming to terms with what has happened. 

The dedication reads 
For my mother, Silvia. Mum, how I wish you’d lived much longer. I was only twenty-six when you died. There wasn’t enough time to absorb your wisdom, your laughter and your myriad skills. You told me of Saint Augustine, who said ‘Hope has two beautiful daughters – their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.’

JB October 6, 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

IF and Inner Peace

11.00 pm and I am supposed to write a post today. As you know, my alter ego Chris and I, write on alternate days.

But what to write? On and off during the day Rudyard Kipling’s stirring  Victorian Era stoic poem IF has been running through my head. Then I remembered writing a blogpost playing on/with this poem way back as a new blogger in 2012. So with little time left in this day, I will reprint it here –

Inner Peace: 
If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat plain food every  day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved  ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and  blame without resentment,
If you can conquer tension  without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
…Then You Are Probably  ………
The Family Dog!    

JB Wellington, NZ
September 8, 2022