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Meet Diana: teacher, poet, children’s writer and superb cook.

Diana moved to Epsom Village only nine months ago, but she’s settled in so well that it’s obvious that the environment fits her like a glove. She picked Epsom Village because of the location and proximity to her friends and also because it’s independent living: “You can join into everything, or you can be completely apart. There’s happiness amongst the people and friendliness, and a lot of people who had interesting lives.”

Diana spends lots of time on the charming terrace outside her apartment with views over Mt Hobson and Mt St John.

Diana is one of the most active, social and friendly members of our community, and she volunteers her help every time she can. At the beginning of September, the Village organized a “Take the Plunge” event to welcome spring, with some brave residents jumping into the pool which was only slightly heated.

The residents added some fun to the plunge dressing up with costumes or onesies, with Spiderman being the first one to jump.

Diana was not brave enough to take the plunge, but she was the Village’s saviour when she brought a big pot of her delicious Wellness soup to the event. The participants were very grateful to have a heavenly bowl of soup to warm up after the chilly swim.

Diana’s soup can be cooked in the slow cooker and frozen so it’s a really handy recipe for the long winter months. You can find the full recipe at the end of this story.

Cooking is not the only thing that Diana has mastered over time. She’s a lady of many talents, but writing is definitively her main love. Diana worked as a teacher for more than 40 years. Around 2004 her sister set up a company to publish Readers, the books that junior school children use to learn how to read. For Diana it was a “natural progression” to get involved in her sister’s company and start writing books for children. “I love my job, I don’t get enough of it, it’s a passion!”

When she writes children’s books, sometimes Diana is given a subject to write about and other times she writes from her own experience.

Diana has written a large number of Red Rocket books, stories that are a great success in New Zealand and overseas, specially among the American market. Diana’s most popular book is “First to the top”, the story of Sir Edmund Hillary’s climb of Mount Everest. “It happened in 1953 so of course it’s an event I well remember, but now we need to teach it to our children because it’s a vital part of our history”.

Lately Diana has also been experimenting with poetry. She’s a regular contributor to Epsom Village’s newsletter, where she publishes poems about Village life and all the events and activities organized there.

Diana is another of our busy and happy villagers, who likes to live life to the fullest.

WELLNESS SOUP RECIPE

Celery, 3-4 stalks, chopped.

Onions, 2 medium, chopped.

Bacon, 2 rashers, chopped.

Chicken stock, 1 cube, dissolved in a cup of hot water.

Saute these ingredients in the crockpot of the slow cooker, in a knob of butter or olivani. (15 mins or more)

Potatoes, 3 med, chopped

Carrots, 3 med, chopped

Boil these ingredients in a separate pot, in 3 cups salted water.

When the vegetables are softened; about 10 mins cooking, add them to the crockpot soup base, with a teaspoon of dried tarragon. Add an extra cup of hot water.

Stir the soup and taste it for flavour.

Continue to cook for 20 mins until bubbling in the crockpot.

Serve immediately, with a garnishing of fresh parsley or basil.

A slice of crusty bread goes well with it.

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