Budget Cooking At Ally’s Castle

Hi folks I hope you are all staying safe and keeping well during this Coronavirus Crisis. I was tested because I had some of the symptoms and also have a low immune system, lucky for me the result was Corvid-19 NEGATIVE.

The supermarket shelves are looking empty. I did manage to buy a Silverside/Corned Beef which I plan to slow cook tomorrow.

Today I fancied a meal of Lasagne. I couldn’t buy any beef mince at the shops. I remembered I had a small amount of beef pieces in the freezer for a stew so I minced them up.

I got out the large electric fry pan, browned the mince in a small drizzle of oil. I then added the following;

Chopped up leeks and celery Grated carrots and sweet potato A tin each of diced tomatoes and Mexican three Bean mix 2 cups of cooked lentils. I also added some powdered corriander, turmeric and roasted cumin. I am not keen on too much spice or chilies. I then added enough water to cover and then simmered it for 45 minutes.

After it was cooked I tried a small bowl of it……yummy. I then made a white sauce, added tasty cheese and nutmeg and then layered it into a dish ready for the lasagne. I had the oven preheated at 180 degrees and then cooked it for 30 minutes.

While the lasagne was cooking I put the remaining mince mixture into one person serve freezer bags.

The lasagne is ready and smells delicious.

I can assure you it was lovely, I had two helpings 😋😋👍🙂 and there’s plenty left for tomorrow or to freeze .

Indian Shop

Supermarket shelves are empty. I managed to buy Lentils, Chickpeas, Rice and some spices at the local Indian Shop….I am feeling blessed 🙂

I have never cooked Dhal, it’s been on my bucket list to do and now I finally have the basic ingredient.

I am now researching recipes for making dhal that are too complicated.

A dear little aged Indian lady customer said to cook rice with the Dahl.

Paua Shell Fish

I made mention in the final part of my holiday blogs about a house with paua shells on the walls.

Paua is the Maori name given to three species of large edible sea snails,marine gastropod molluscs which belong to the family Haliotade, known in the United States and Australia as Abalone and in the United Kingdom as Ormer Shells…Wikipedia.

I have fond memories of eating Paua Fritters when I lived in New Zealand. Sadly I didnt find a Fish and Chip shop near my brother’s place that had them on the menu.

Ally’s Holiday…Part Three…Final

I spent two weeks in Christchurch staying with my youngest brother Alistair. Because I live in Australia I cannot get to visit often so I tried to do much as much as possible while I was there.

Alistair attends the Salvation Army, we went to a service on a Sunday morning which was enjoyable, great to catch up with old friends. After church we went to Subway for lunch and had the Sunday special – pork.

On Sunday afternoon I visited a childhood friend. Lois and I have known each other since 1954. We sat and reminisced about the past and our families, many have passed on, there’s not many of us left. We have always had a special bond.

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Six days into my holiday I got sick. I developed a nasty head cold, dry cough , sore throat and my asthma flared up mildly. I couldn’t take Cold & Flu Tablets because of my current cardiac medication. I used saline nasal spray, lozenges and Panadol which was helpful. I have been checked and do not have the Coronavirus.

I laid low for several days trying to get better and also not wanting to pass the head cold onto others.

With two days left of my holiday I made the effort to get out and about again knowing it might be years before I could revisit. Neither of my brothers were interested in the activities I had planned. I managed to get the motivation and energy and planned to visit the Canterbury Museum, Botanic Gardens and go for a trip on the Gondola.

Canterbury Museum


The Canterbury Museum always has something interesting things to see. I spotted a feature that has been there for as long as I know ….. a Christchurch Street…. the main attraction is a horse which I managed to get a photograph of it and tried to include me.

I also found Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House. A New Zealand couple’s shell-adorned home living room, now on display at the Canterbury Museum. For 40 years Fred and Myrtle Flutey decorated their New Zealand home with thousands of paua shells that Fred had collected from the nearby beach. The shells quickly became the defining feature of the house , turning the couple’s home in Bluff into a celebrated tourist attraction.(I gathered this information from google). The photos were taken by me at the museum.

After visiting the museum I ventured in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. I could go on a guided tour in an all-weather electric shuttle which takes approximately 50 minutes. I decided to walk and take my time, there are numerous places to sit if need be.

I have visited the gardens many times in the past, my main interest was to go to the Rose Garden in memory of my dear Mother who passed away March 28th 2009. I offered to take a photo of a couple that were also on holidays, we did a barter because they then took a photo of me.

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I have decided to add a lovely photo of my belated Mother.

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After visiting the beautiful rose garden I spotted some stunning Dahlia’s that were in fill bloom.

I then visited the Conservatory building which is also filled with plants. I sorry I cannot tell you what all the plants are except to say they are enjoyable to look at.

Christchurch has a river …the Avon River , its flows for ever. A lot of tourists go Punting on the Avon which is an iconic attraction. Each Punting tour is approximately 30 minutes with informative commentary. I actually did a video of some Punting, unfortunately the system wouldn’t let me download here.

On my last day I decided to take a ride on the Gondola . I was exhausted my previous day out at the museum and gardens and still wasn’t feeling well. The weather was good and not too windy so away I went. I hopped on a Tourist Bus in the city centre and travelled 15 minutes to bottom of the Port Hills. The travel brochure promotes the Gondola ….Take in the spectacular views from the Gondola’s top station. Gaze over the sparking cityscape of Christchurch, across the plains to the dramatic Southern Alps, at Banks Peninsula and Lyttleton harbour formed in a sunken volcanic crater, and past the beaches and Pacific Ocean to the distant Kaikoura Peninsula.

At the top there is a Souvenir Shop, a café and observation deck, and a hop on board a Time Tunnel tour about the history of Christchurch, or you can even venture out on one of the many walking tracks available.


I thoroughly enjoyed my ride on the Gondola, 360 degrees views really are amazing.

I found some more photos to share:

The Christchurch Wizard – The Wizard of New Zealand QSM is a New Zealand educator, comedian, magician, and politician. Back in the 1970’s I used to take my children , sit in the Christchurch City centre and watch the Wizard. After visiting the museum I spotted him by the Art Centre and asked if I could take a photo .

The next photo is of Columbo Street which is the longest road in Christchurch. The photo was taken by me from a crossing above the road heading to a famous old shop Ballantynes Department Store.


Even though I wasn’t feeling 100% I did enjoy my visit to Christchurch, great catching up with my brothers and friends.

Ally’s Holiday 2020 – Part Two

Before I continue about my holiday I should disclose some family information.  I had 3 siblings, I was the second born.  I cannot say we had a happy childhood and this was because our father was physically and mentally abusive to us.  Mum was a quiet little soul and probably too frightened to say anything to defend us.  My sister Heather was three years older than me, she lived a troubled life and like me was always on the run to get away from our father. Heather passed away of kidney failure four years ago.   The third born was Donald, is now 68 years of age.   Donald has always had a nervous disposition, speech impediment and abused by our father. Donald found a friend in the bottle, was kicked out of home before the age of 20.  Never permanently employed, has been on a invalid pension since about the age of 25, lives alone in a council flat. Diagnosed as being an Alcoholic in his early 20’s,   was sober for about 40 years then started drinking again. Donald has type two diabetes, has a personal carer that visits his place twice a day to apply compression stockings, a cleaner comes once a week.  Donald is a good cook, does all his own shopping, and regularly goes out for coffee at cafes.

On the second day of my holiday Donald phoned at 7.30am to stay he was going to the podiatrist.   When I hopped on my bus to go to the city Donald as was the same bus, he didn’t recognise me, hadn’t seen me for four years plus I have stopped dying my hair.  That evening Donald phoned to say he had bought some steak and mushrooms pies and would be round for lunch tomorrow. He refers to Alistair as ‘the boy’, he asked me if the boy would be home because he had bought a pie for him too.

Alistair and Donald are the complete opposites, like chalk and cheese.  Alistair is meek and mild, often very quiet and rarely argues, ignores people that bully him. Donald is opinionated, says what he thinks, criticises and often offends people.

Donald arrives for lunch the next day.  He uses a Wheelie Walker mobility aid which he brought inside onto the carpet in the lounge.  Donald goes and sits in the kitchen and says to Alistair ‘well have you boiled the kettle, I am thirsty”.   While having a cup of  tea Alistair and I get the lunch ready. We had decided to make it into a meal and had previously prepared potatoes, carrots and peas.

Donald watches on and makes several critical comments to Alistair such as ‘why have you got the warming drawer on, you don’t need to warm the plates, you are old fashioned, the peas are boiling over, turn them down and don’t put so much water in them’. (Alistair ignored Donald).    Alistair stands watches the pots on stove, while the pies were heating in the oven.  We enjoyed  our midday meal.

I can’t forget to tell you what Donald said me ……” I didnt recognise you on the bus yesterday” “I thought who is this hagged old woman getting on the bus, she looks like she is struggling, someone should help her”.    I never know whether Donald has a dry sense of humor or is being dam right rude. Anyway I laughed it off and told me that I really don’t need help. Donald couldnt leave it at that , he then said ” while you are a here you should use Heather’s old wheelie walker, its in the garage”.  I told him that my doctor and physiotherapist don’t believe I am not ready for one of those , he replied “what would they know”.

I knew what to expect before I went on my holiday.   Even though they are Kiwi’s I call it English Comedy ( that’s my secret), and it would make a great show.

The next day I went out in the evening with Alistair.   We travelled for almost 1.5 hours on a bus to Rangiora to attend a Community Dinner which Alistair attends once a month on a Friday night.

Prior to attending the dinner I had arranged to meet my friends Barbara and Owen that I hadn’t  seen for since Mum passed away in 2009.  They live in a rural area out of Christchurch and were happy to meet Alistair and I in Rangiora.  We had a lovely catch up a local Café .

Ally, Barb and Owen

After our coffee and chat Barbara and Owen gave us a lift in the car to the venue. That was real life saver because the weather has changed to cold, windy and wet.

The community dinner was put on by the Baptist Church and is for people with disabilities, $3 a meal followed by entertainment.  We enjoyed a light finger food meal with savoury and sweets with a cuppa.  Alistair doesn’t see himself a having a disability, God Bless his little cotton socks, he sees himself as a volunteer.  When it was time to say ‘grace’, Alistair calls out ‘QUIET PLEASE’…..it did the trick 🙂   Families and carers accompanied people with disabilities.   I saved Alistair a seat next to me while he was away helping, meanwhile I was in my element sitting at the table and helping with those around me.  I used to work as a nurse at a Psychopaedic Hospital, that was when children even with a mild disability were  placed in an institution away from society and often forgotten by their families.

After dinner we moved to another area and sat in rows ready for the entertainment. This part of the evening was thoroughly enjoyable. People were offered an instrument to play along with the music and singing. I took a mini Tamborine to play, others have triangles, little drums etc.  We sang Songs of Praise choruses, many of the people got up and danced.


I did do a video of the singing and dancing to share but unfortunately my computer won’t let me load it on.  Alistair kept working helping put tables and chairs away, you can see him in the top photo on the right.  The community dinner and singing was beautiful. They are having a dance in April.

Alistair and I have a mutual friend Beryl that attends the community dinner. Beryl’s sister Paula has an adult son that has a disability.  Beryl and Paula are members of the Baptist Church.

After the event was over Beryl drove Alistair and I to her place for a cuppa and cake.  Beryl is 78.  Her first husband Barry died of MS , her second husband died of Bowel Cancer,  her third husband is always away visiting his family.  Beryl is a good friend to Alistair.

Alistair and Berel

Thanks for reading my blog…..Part 3 comes tomorrow.



Ally’s Holiday 2020 – Part One

Hi Folks a few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going on a holiday. My holiday was a planned visit to see my two brothers. I did think about cancelling my plans because of the coronavirus but decided I would be alright.

Tuesday 11th of February I set off on my trip. I arrived at the Brisbane International Airport early afternoon. Checked in ready for a 3.5 – 4 hour flight across the ditch to Christchurch New Zealand. I took an Air New Zealand budget flight which meant I would arrive in the middle of the night. I had a safe flight, arrived around midnight. I preordered a super shuttle bus to transport me to my brothers place.

Alistair was waiting out on the council path and seemed excited to see me. We sat in the kitchen and had a quick cuppa before retiring for the night.

Alistair having his breakfast . 12/02/2020

Alistair at brekkie

Alistair is 63. He lives in the unit that my deceased parents owned , its still in my mother’s name and the public trust are in charge of it. Alistair was born with poor eye sight which cannot be fixed. If you can imagine looking through a straw that’s what Alistair has learned to live with. He is not considered legally blind, nor does he use a cane. Alistair was also born with Macroglossia – which is a medical term for an unusually large tongue. Severe enlargement of the tongue can cause cosmetic and functional difficulties in speaking, eating, swallowing and sleeping. Its uncommon and usually occurs in children. Alistair’s main problem is speaking and eating, he doesn’t appear to have problems swallowing and sleeping. I believe Alistair does have mild intellectual impairment. Alistair was educated at a special school only because the headmaster at the school where his siblings attended refused to have him there. Alistair has never had paid employment, he does voluntary work at a residential home for dementia – my mother lived there for 5 years. Alistair goes to the Salvation Army every Sunday morning, he plays indoor bowls , has many trophies, and currently is coaching adults with disabilities. Alistair has a nickname MOT – Minister Of Transport – he has a passion for buses and trains …he knows everything about them, even more than some of the drivers. Alistair has never been in a relationship, he lives alone and manages the best he can. The government provide a domestic cleaner for one hour weekly and a pension for him. Alistair manages well with cooking and care of his personal hygiene etc.

My abode for two weeks. The unit is set down a narrow driveway that has 4 lowset two bedroom unit and one highset at the back of the property.

On the first day after having a sleep in I went for a walk to the local shops. It was the summer season in New Zealand, the climate is cooler than Brisbane so I did remember to pack a cardigan. I found an ATM and got some New Zealand currently and did some grocery shopping. I sat in the food hall and had coffee with a cheese scone -yummy.

Day two I headed into the city on a bus to take photos for my blogging here on WordPress. Christchurch has got a wonderful bus service which includes the city and suburban areas. I went to the Metro Bus Exchange and got myself a Metro Bus Card, its a worthwhile investment.

In 2011 Christchurch had a massive earthquake. The Christchurch Cathedral which is in the center of the city and a national icon was tragically damaged. Even though I was not an active member of the cathedral it was part of my childhood and brings tears to my eyes to see the state it is in. There is currently controversy as to whether it should be rebuilt.

While in the city I adapted the role of a tourist. Because I do have problem with walking long distances I decided to travel around the city on a tram. $25 for a day, hop on hop off.

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I must say I did enjoy my ride on the tram. I hopped off in New Regent Street that has got the lovely display of colourful buildings and several quaint little cafes. I met my gelato friend there, he’s rather cute. When I hopped back on the next tram the driver directed me to sit where Queen Elizabeth 11 had sat many years ago. He said “you can be the Queen for the day ” and of course being the clown I am I played along with it and waved to all the other tourist and wished them a delightful day. I was also given a free pink rose for Valentine’s Day. I had a wonderful day. More highlights to come …..watch this space xo