Local Heart, Global Soul

January 7, 2013

The Icing On the Blogging Cake is Very Sweet Indeed…

Filed under: Blogging & Writing,Kids and Family,LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One thing about blogging and following other blogs is that over time you learn about other people around the world, how they live, their interests,  travels both near and far and sometimes a little bit of magic happens along the way and you build up a relationship with the person behind the blog.

In my own experience this comes about because they take an active interest in your blog, they comment often and visit every time you post.

Generally we follow each other’s blogs because of shared interests like family life, cooking, travel or photography.

We all lead very different lives but there are threads woven into each of them that are shared connections and we can relate to these in each others blogs.

After getting to know these people better, sometimes we chose  few of these people to surprise with a few gifts that are local to us but definitely exotic to someone else on the other side of the globe.

I’ve just received not one but  two of these gifts this weekend and wanted to not just say a BIG  Thank You  to the senders but also tell you about the treats new to me (and possibly to you too!).

The first parcel (photo above) arrived from blogger GH from “Noodles with Butter”  http://www.noodleswithbutter.blogspot.nl/ and contained some beautiful postcards of the region she lives in, a Christmas card and newsletter (not pictured for privacy reasons due to photos of her daughter on the front), two key-rings, herbal tea, two packets of apple chips, some fruit bars,  some chocolate bars and a little plastic bag that contained some Washington Rain which made us giggle.

Last year we decided that when we travelled we would pick up a very little bag of sand or stones from beaches we have visited and I have an old printers type box that has lots of little compartments that we aim to slowly fill, this bag of rain is destined to join this collection.

Our kids love the dried fruit strips, which we call fruit “roll ups” after a favourite New Zealand brand of the same. (the USA version about three times the thickness of the New Zealand version but they are both delicious!)

My eighteen year old oven is currently dying a slow death and it’s temperature gauge is terminally ill so in recent months I’ve been looking for a new oven, one with a specific feature that’s proving hard to find: one that starts in temperature at 30 C instead of the usual 50 C, because then I could use my new oven as a dehydrator and make things like home-made fruit roll ups and beef jerky.

The second parcel (second photo) is from Tracy from MilkayPhoto http://milkayphoto.wordpress.com/  and the contents include Reeses peanut pieces and peanut butter cups, granola (a.k.a. museli where I come from) some marshmallow fluff, jif  peanut butter, some home-made rhubarb and strawberry jam, an amazing array of specialist salts.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Danish Viking Smoked Sea Salt and Vanilla Salt sound particularly  tasty and  whilst I can’t partake due to my mushroom allergy, Himself loves mushrooms and is very much looking forward to trying out the Porcini Salt. There  are candy covered coffee beans (Himself pricked his ears up and grinned a lot at that one), some Tomato Jam, parsnips (I’d mentioned that they used to be hard to get here, but they are more easily available especially in the last year), some Crisco, a sort of baking butter.

There’s bacon spread (we giggled about that one because it sounded rather a strange product  and will look at the website provided on the label for some interesting ideas to use it with) and a vanilla chocolate sweet called the Charleston Chew which it is recommended both by Tracy and on the packet to place in the freezer and then break the frozen pieces to eat.

Since I read that earlier I placed one packet in the freezer and we shared one of the two strips with the family last evening… a total hit! Had I left our children alone with the other two packets, even unfrozen I think they might not  have been there when I came back, such was the popularity of this one!

Being a prudent parent I omitted to tell them that there was a second strip in the freezer … I think that Himself and I can quietly enjoy that one by ourselves LOL. Naturally we haven’t tried everything in both the packages yet and will very much enjoy rationing out the treats, although I predict that the sweeter items will disappear very quickly. A huge Thank You and big thumbs-up to both GH and Tracy !

Both these blogging friends have excellent blogs which I can highly recommend visiting. Of course I blog because I love writing and taking photos and because it’s an on-line journal of all of our Life’s adventures, but the icing on the cake is that I also get to meet some brilliant people from all around the world. And the friendships I have made show just how sweet that icing is…

September 5, 2012

Mother Nature is in a Thunderous Mood, but For Us the Sun is Shining…

Filed under: Blogging & Writing,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next morning is like the day before… dark, gloomy and pelting down torrential rain.

Luckily the company of our friends puts the sunshine into our day and even though we’ve been here almost two days, it’s like the hands of the clock have been in fast forward and the time has flown by.

There has been some family conflict in our friend’s close extended  family and a falling out that looked for a long time like it might become permanent, but after a chance remark by Himself and a chance recollection of one of our friends,  the two of them hatched a plan to use our presence as a possibility to break some ice whilst we were there…  either the opportunity would be welcomed, or not, but it was worth a try.

Amazingly the opportunity was snatched with both hands and the response was far better than we ever could have imagined, as a gift was given to us far in excess of anything we expected. It’s not a gift for our own use but one that we are to pass on at a later date …but the very fact that there was a gift at all (let alone the amazing one  that was given) was a sign that clearly they were open to the first tentative steps of bridge building.

It’s not to say that the way forward will necessarily be easy from now onwards, because there is a lot of hurt that will need much time and ministering to heal, ….but we left with not just tears of leaving loved friends but also ones of relief  and big smiles that a little ray of light has opened up in what was looking like a dark situation.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself and I were not the instigators, but we were the instruments and  fortunate to be in the right place at the right moment just as the various parties were willing to take a tentative first step.

It teaches us that no matter how hard a situation might seem, that it’s never hopeless and an olive twig is sometimes better than an olive branch as it shows a gentle shy willingness that can be gingerly reciprocated.

If  testing the waters with the twig is successful then it opens the way for more twigs and bigger branches later on and we can only hope that things can be positively built on from now on.

Just as Nature has sunshine and rain, we as human beings  experience emotional, physical and psychological squalls  in life too. Sometimes they are little storms, sometimes they are hurricanes, cyclones or tornados that rip though our lives, cleaning us out and leaving us to start again or to say Thank You God that we emerged bruised but more or less unscathed… life is  a roller coaster and for better or worse we ride it’s ups and downs as best we can.

We leave here therefore as part of these emotional events, and head towards the Inter-Island Ferry with hearts far lighter than the day is turning out to be… Mother Mature might be in a thunderous mood, but like the little bird busy dipping under the waves as it fishes for breakfast in the choppy harbour, our hearts have feasted on a large dish of hope and sunshine this morning.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 23, 2012

National Icons: I think Our Flag Should have a Silver Lining!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our visit to the small North Island town of Otorohanga,  known as the “Kiwiana”  town of New Zealand has prompted some delving into explanation and history of some of New Zealand’s best loved icons.

Cyathea dealbata” is the botanical name for a much loved New Zealand native plant:  the silver tree fern or silver fern. It’s also well known by it’s Maori names, Kaponga or Ponga . It got it’s common name in English due to the distinctive silvery undersides of the fronds of the plants after they are several years old.

In 1888 the New Zealand Native Rugby Team visited England and had adopted the silver fern on a black background as part of their uniform, the tradition stuck and was in due course taken up by various sports teams. In 1900 the fern leaf became a widely used trademark within the meat and dairy export industries.

The Secretary of State for Colonies approved the New Zealand Government’s proposal to substitute a wreath of fern leaves for the laurel wreath on the Governor’s Ensign in May 1908 to mark the occasion of New Zealand obtaining Dominion status and this wreath was in regular use until about 1935.

In military circles it’s use has also been widespread,  having been used as a distinguishing badge for New Zealand military formations, particularly during the Second World War, and was also used to mark the graves of New Zealand servicemen in overseas countries.  It appears on the New Zealand one dollar coin,  is used both commercially and by Government and many New Zealand sporting teams have incorporated it into their sporting team logos and/or names.

Such is the strength of feeling for the silver fern logo and association, that New Zealand Sports teams that use the silver fern as their logo include: the All Blacks (Rugby Union), the Silver Ferns (Netball), All Whites (football) … note the All Whites play in white and not the New Zealand traditional black due to football rules that state that black is the colour reserved for the strip of International  referees. The silver fern is still however incorporated into their white uniform, The Tall Blacks (Basketball), The White Ferns (women’s cricket), the Black Caps (men’s cricket), the Black Ferns (women’s rugby), the Black Sox (softball).

As a Kiwi I love the humour in the semi harmonised names of the New Zealand national teams, that incorporate the black strip and the silver fern as much as possible into their teams to cement their inclusion in the national identity.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

With the present (official)  New Zealand flag looking very much similar to it’s Australian equivalent,  and debate that has raged for decades as to the relevance of having the UK’s union jack incorporated our flag when the days of empire have long since departed, campaigns to replace the current official flag with a more modern one relevant to New Zealand have come and gone.

Personally I’m an mega-ardent supporter of the Silver Fern flag with it’s black background becoming the national flag of New Zealand, but each time it’s come close to making it into reality, the argument that we can’t  forgo a flag that our ancestors so gallantly fought under has persuaded the powers that be that the old official flag should remain as the status-quo.

My reply to that argument is that the silver fern was already a well known and loved emblem when these ancestors fought and died for our country, our silver fern emblem is on their graves and they fought and died for the ideal of democracy and not just  for the preservation of the United Kingdom.

(Also compelling evidence  is the fact that the vast majority of  these  New Zealand war graves are not found in the United Kingdom but rather in places like the France, Turkey, North Africa, the Pacific,  and Asia.)

The British Empire is gone,  Britain transferred it’s economic allegiances from New Zealand to the EU long ago, it’s Royal Family do nothing for New Zealand except for running up vast bills for the Kiwi taxpayer whenever they visit, New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth, but what is that actually worth in this day and age? In reality it means precious little.

Naturally you can clearly see my republican leanings: New Zealand came of age decades ago, I sincerely believe that our flag should too.

March 14, 2012

The Evidence Puts Little Mr. Against the Rails…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr. and Kiwi Daughter got talking about the train on the Kaikoura Coast last trip here, where I managed to stop and video one coming out of a tunnel  and racing past us.

Himself then mentioned that so far on our journey north we haven’t seen any  trains at all and we start an informal competition to see who might be the one to see a train first.

My challenge is to photograph one for Little Mr. who’s ademant that I “probably won’t be quick enough anyway” …

humph…charming isn’t he?

To prove that he is wee man of little faith I keep the camera ready on my lap and hope that the train doesn’t pass in any place where the road and track take different paths.

Close to Blenheim I am finially rewarded and after a frantic fuss getting the lens cap off in a hurry (Duh) I manage to get shots of the little freight tain coming towards us.

WHO said that Kiwidutch was slow on the draw? …No No, my son… I have evidence to prove it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 13, 2012

The First Milestone in The Journey…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today I’m interrupting my virtual tour of our New Zealand adventures to talk about the idea of getting around to doing something that you always wanted to do but maybe never quite got around to.

Me, I have a list, (a very long list) and all of the “to do’s” on it were in grave danger of gathering up a thick layer of dust and deep  regrets at the end of my life.

It’s not that work and family life aren’t fulfilling, necessary, fun or that I “need” more to do,  it’s about finding a slot in the busy rush of daily “needs” for a a small but nagging “want”… or two …or three if you can manage it.

I’d like to manage more, but one “want” is what fits into my life right now.

It arose because I am a very creative person but slowly but surely that part of me got squeezed out when two children got added to the mix of marriage, home and a full time job.

I had photo albums in limited volume in the days of film camera’s but once digital arrived on the scene I suddenly found that I had enough photos on my computer to give my hard-drive a siezure and that once we had flicked through them, gave them a folder and a file name they pretty much never saw the light of day ever again.

Finding back “that photo I just know I have somewhere” was a nightmare, because photos from entire trips were bundled together in no particular order and took ages to sort.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Moreover our children started to be of an age where they “kind of remembered” some parts of their travels but got a bit hazy on the rest: I wanted to give them something to jog their memories, put a time-line into their travel adventures and a narrative that would fill in the gaps years or decades after the events.

I have chemical lung damage and asthma and have reached an age where I’ve been shocked to see some of my contemporaries lives cut tragically short though accident or sickness, have felt keenly that Life is short and that I should always remember to sieze the day.

On occasion when my health is more negative than positive I am reminded of my own mortality and wish I’d written more things down for my kids, should ever unexpectly, the worst should happen.

I realised that starting a Blog could be a way to combine many of these ideas and feelings, with the added bonus that I could share our travels, adventures and recipes with family, friends and anyone who wanted to join in the fun.

Local Heart, Global Soul was born: I started to write, with no plan as to how much I would write or how long for and basically I’ve just bumbled along ever since.

I’m not someone who Blog’s for stats, I’d continue to write as I do even if I knew that my kids would be my only readers, but that said, it has been encouraging to see my statistics grow and it’s been even more amazing to get so much positive feedback.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We tend to live in a society that never misses a chance to “remind” us when we are doing something wrong but appears to often forget to let us know when you are doing something people like, so each and every comment is very very much appreciated.

I am lucky to have a small but dedicated following… to each and every one of you who visits, Thank You!

Since today is the very special milestone of my 1000th Blog post I’d like to pass on the encouragement.

I try to read lots of Blogs… I don’t have a lot of time to comment much so I’m guilty of mostly being a “lurker” but I do try when time allows.

Sadly it’s not possible to list them all, so please please don’t be disheartened if your blog isn’t on this list.

Like seasons there are some blogs that “speak” to me at any given time more than others.

With things like Versitile Blogger Awards I understand that I’m “supposed” to tell you some things about myself, but I’m going stick to my usual unconventional ways and rather just mention in passing that if you want to get to know me, then you already have a handy reference of 1000 blog posts that will tell you a lot about the way I consider myself to be a Local Heart and Global Soul.

Be as nosey as you like.. LOL, read them all!

So in no particular order here are a few fellow bloggers who I hope you might like to drop in on… I hope you enjoy their posts as much as I do.

Mikey  http://invisiblemikey.wordpress.com/ always manages to single out deep truths and presents them shapened up with wit and amazing insight. He often expresses thoughts that I wish I had said myself but I’m more than delighted that he beats me to it because he does it so much better than I could ever hope to do.

Pie’s  http://pienbiscuits.wordpress.com/   posts are exactly as pastry should be: Morsels of deliciousness, with the buttery crispness what comes from being baked in dry wit, and the flaky crunchy softness that tickles your taste-buds and leaves you wanting more than just one bite.

Tracy at  http://milkayphoto.wordpress.com/ is the photographer I wish I was… but I’m realist enough to know that she’s light years ahead of me. I’m a detail fanatic and clearly Tracy is too. Her photographs will bring a smile to your face any day of the week.

Tilly Bud is the Laughing Housewife… http://thelaughinghousewife.wordpress.com/ I like her style when it comes to looking at the world with a smile… the difference between us is that she is able write humorously on purpose, whereas I tend to do it by accident.

Raymund http://angsarap.net/ dishes up recipes and photos to die for… but actually many of them are very healthy and will do me a world of good. I have a “want to make this” list of recipes from his blog that’s getting ever longer by the month and he inspires me to try new taste ingredients and combinations. YUM!

Sara at  http://sarsm.wordpress.com/ delivers truth, frustrations and mirth about daily life in all it’s raw positive and negative glory with wit, insight and a profound sense of deep love and family values. Like many of the bloggers on this list she’s one of my growing family of kindred spirits.

Kathy http://upwoods.wordpress.com/ lives on the wild side deep in the woods… great photos and a magnificant sense of humour too. A world away from my urban existance she lives like I would love to (but the jury is still out on if I could handle all that snow… probably not if I’m really honest, she’s a far braver soul than I am)

Matti lives in Finland  http://sartenada.wordpress.com/  and has even more snow to handle in winter than Kathy does… photos galore that let me travel to places that are real as yet only in my dreams… he lets me see how people live a very different lifestyle than I do in a beautiful but often extreme climate, Matti takes the sort of scenery photos that would make great postcards.

…another Matt lives half a world away http://bythedarkofthemoon.wordpress.com/ and is a special person is a very special family.  He’s into History and architecture too but it all takes a back seat to his first love: family life. Never more am I reminded of the truth that true family are the people that are special in your heart  and not necessarily those who you share a  genetic connection to.

Alison is a A Flamingo in Utrecht http://oranjeflamingo.wordpress.com/ I share her appreciation for European architecture, Dutch light, observations on the ever changing Dutch weather and quirky things to photograph. She’s another one who does photos better than I can… I try and take notes.

Lulu Lulu’s Musings http://lulumusing.wordpress.com/ come from a fellow Creative who can literally weave her blog posts together. Talented with a loom, and with many topics both at home and away, it’s fun to relax and browse.

Imported Kiwi   http://importedkiwi.wordpress.com/  moved to my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, built herself a clay oven and makes me drool with her recipes.  After exhausting hope that I could squeeze a clay oven onto a narrow apartment balcony, I now enjoy the next best thing: a virtual  clay oven experience that I aim to use as a practical reference guide when I either retire to a place with a garden or win the lottery, whichever comes first.

Since this post is about a milestone reached and the journey I’m on,  you will have no doubt worked out by now that it’s no co-incidence  that all of today’s photos are of roads.Here’s to all  Bloggers…  be your Blogs well travelled highways or tracks off the beaten path, here’s to writing, communicating, laughing, learning and making the world a smaller and more personal a place.

… and here’s to the next 1000 posts.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 12, 2012

Thanks to an Under Water Mountain Range…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now that we have seen some seals and taken a short  break…it’s time to  continue our journey northwards to Picton.

I took a few photos of Kaikoura when we passed through…   it’s little wonder that you can see references to whales and whaling here: because naturally the place is famous these days for its’ whale watching possibilities.

In other photographs I tied to capture the various hues of blues  and turquoise colours in the sea,  also a tell-tale signs that the whales are close by because the coastline here has some very special undersea geography that bring whale here in vast numbers.

If you were to set sail  east from Kaikoura and  ventured far far out into the Pacific ocean, you would eventually hit the Chatham Islands.

Now imagine a massive underwater mountain range, deep under the sea connecting the Chathams and New Zealand.  Basically this acts like an undersea wall, with very deep water on either side.

Plankton and other  microbial sea life get swirled around on the deep undersea currents and hit this wall, eddying up in a large circle and it’s this large whirlpool of food that brings whale here to feed.

The other piece of the undersea geography puzzle is that at Kaikoura the continental shelf  makes a sweeping dent from the Pacific  towards land, coming within three kilometres of the South Island so it’s possible to travel by boat the short distance from land and see whales in their deep water feeding areas.

What was one hundred years ago a whaling station for hunting whales is now a multi-million dollar tourist industry for whale watching.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The mountain range in front of us are called the Seaward Kaikoura’s…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

and the even bigger ones behind them are called the Inland Kaikoura’s…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kaikoura is also famous for lobster…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The camera doesn’t do it justice, you have to see it to believe it….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The top of the South Island becomes drier and the distinctive rows of grapes tell you that you are entering the famous Marlborough wine region … the road winds onwards and we follow where it leads.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 10, 2012

Touring in Style and in Sheer Terror…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are still at the Caves Restaurant (of yesterday’s post) just south of Kaikoura, in the South Island of New Zealand.

It’s a warm day and we’ve elected to sit at one of the tables outside in the shade of the building and therefore we can people-watch and vehicles and people come and go.

Families pile out of station-wagons, 4×4’s  or minivans piled high with camping gear, some cars are towing caravans or boats, older couples drive clean, scratch free and very tidy looking sudans, some young guys drive a hatchback that has a hatch half tied down with rope to accommodate the surfboards sticking out of the back, motorcyclists in leathers pull in…

One bike roars in with a passenger on board… as they dismount I see it’s a couple an they go inside for a meal.

The bike catches my eye… a sheepskin seat cover… and one that looks seriously comfy ! On the hot day in leathers it must also surely be about 300% more comfortable on than a sunbaked vinel seat… so Cool on so many levels!

Then a family towing a boat pull in… if you are sharp eyed you’d see the Ruldolf the Red Nosed Reindeer stuck onto the bow of the boat.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Well his head is at least… Where’s the rest of him? Ouch let’s not go there, it might be wiser not to know.

Christmas Day was just a few days ago so clearly Rudolf has skipped the North Pole and come down-under for a Summer holiday.He looks happy.

I do have an evil thought however that I’d looove to sit in the back seat of their car and take a snap out the back to see what Rudolph looks like on the front of the boat on the open road at 100 kilometres an hour.

It ain’t happening of course because it’s not our car and because this car-sick Kiwi hasn’t got a hope of looking out any back window whilst travelling at speed without turning nasty shade of stop-the-car-NOW green.

Yep, you know I have a warped sense of humour…

Fortunately I only think this about soft-toys and wouldn’t dream about it if it concerned a real animal so I don’t think that’s a criminal offence. At least I hope not.

I have however worked out that the most likely cause of Rudolph’s red nose is most probably due to his serious over-consumption of alchol because he’s scared witless about this very boat ride.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 9, 2012

“I Really Must Stop There One Day”… and Today We Did.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You must have a place that you have passed by regularly during your life and each time you do, you think to yourself  “I really must stop there one day and take a look around”.

Often you have this thought when circumstances conspire against you: time contraints or simply not convienient stopping point at the time.

Ever since I was young I’ve wondered about this place. It’s located on State Highway 1 on the south side of Kaikoura not too far from the aerodrome and it was the landmark that told us that Kaikoura was almost literally just around the corner so we could check off a chunk of the journey to Picton as done.

It’s called The Caves Restaurant and is set back a little off the busy road, and since the Kiwidutch children were starting to complain of hunger as we got near, I decided that this would be as good a time as any to finially park up and finially satisfy my curiosity as to what the place was like.

If I’m honest, the fact that Kiwi Daughter announced from the back seat a few minutes earlier that she “was busting” also helped fuel the spur of the moment decision.

We pull in and once the pressing matter of finding the littlest rooms were taken care of, we decide that maybe a lunch break would be a good idea too.

To Kiwi Daughter’s delight there is the standard familiar warmer-cabinet in the corner, with sasuage rolls and meat pies inside it … so naturally our arms didn’t take a lot of twisting as we each chose a favourite and went outside to a table in the shade outside.

Little Mr. spied the dreaded chicken nuggets and scored a “yes you may have some” by the simple logic that since the rest of us were indugling in a unhealthy pie lunch that I couldn’t very well turn around and say he couldn’t have something that’s even less healthy like nuggets and chips without being a total hypocrite.

It was only a matter of junk-food by degrees of junk after all. Pastry is hardly health food (but boy, I wish it could be).

We use the reasoning that once we are back home there wil be no pies to consume, so a pie binge now be somehow acceptable and the more we thought about this, the more reasonable the thought became.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Anyway, we are on holiday and are not holidays are for treats and bending the rules? The more we thought about that, the more reasonable a thought that became too.

Looking around the food cabinets I let out a little gasp… something I haven’t seen for many a year: grilled sasuages that have been cut open along the top and stuffed with mashed potato and topped with cheese.

My Gran used to make these as a kid treat, but her’s (and my mother’s ones) always had beetroot on the top (where these had tomato) but Gran’s version probably weren’t the standard recipe because my mother was allergic to tomatoes.

I didn’t take one because I already had my pie out of the warmer and it was on the tray that Himself was paying for at the till but I do admit I was sorely tempted and now that I’m reminded of them again I may just have to make some here at home in The Netherlands…

…(for old times sake you understand) …and for the kids…. ok, I can’t pull the wool here can I?  there will be one in there for me too … gotta test out if those childhood memories were as good I as remember them to be.

Actually I have to confess that at a certain time of my life these were pretty good after-party-got-the-raving-munchies food from the local take-a-way and they tasted brilliant, but there is the distinct possibility that maybe their flavour (and my memories) were just a tad enhanced by the amount of alcohol I had consumed at the time.

We ask directions to the place where we want to see baby seals a bit further up the coast and the staff are super friendly in sorting out where it should be (and finding the right unmarked bay on our map) and our lunch was tasty so win win.

Well amost… the only thing that I thought let the place down a bit were the conviences…they could have been a bit more modern and a tad cleaner. I know that lots of people probably swing in to this place to just use the loos and the staff were busy in the cafe/restaurant so maybe we went into them at a bad moment when things weren’t quite up to scratch, …well at least I’m hoping so.

The weather is more than decently warm so the kids twist our arms for an ice-cream in a cone and as usual even a small ice-cream in NZ is triple the size of the tiny expensive Italian Ijs we have at home so with ice-cream dripping down their hands in the heat, … the one and only (terrible) photo I manage to get tells me that goodie-gumdrop and orange choc chip are the flavours I will be wiping off the back seats shortly…their face tell me that they don’t care, our two little piglets are in ice-cream heaven.

p.s. The word “eftpos” in the first photo means “electronic funds transfer at point of sale” and tells the public that they can pay electronically here with their bank pass.

p.s. The word “eftpos”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 7, 2012

Honing Our Survival Skills… Before Packing Bags and Upping Sticks…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One thing we appreciate a lot is spending time with family and friends in New Zealand.

For our kids, it’s more than just a chance to catch up with a cold drink, a cake, BBQ bread or biscuits (cookies), it’s often also a chance to play in a real garden, a treat since we don’t have one at home.

At my cousins’s place in Christchurch there are more interesting bits and bobs to take in, explore and have adventures with than an excited Little Mr. can manage to fit into an afternoon, but to give him credit, he did try.

Cousin “P” counts mountaineering as one of his many talents and could very seriously give Ray Mears and Bear Grylls a run for their money when it comes to survival skill knowledge so when Little Mr. spied some timber, sticks and rope, Cousin “P” was only too happy to teach him to set up his very own improvised bivvy.

Now I’m not too sure how much of the work Little Mr. did, because they were busy for quite a while… but even if he wasn’t the main architect he was very involved as “project supervisor”.

He even tried it out for size and helped “P” dismantle it all completely afterwards. I loved the finishing touch of the “campfire” just outside the door. This is where our kids get the opportunity to get their hands dirty, a chance to be like Kiwi kids instead of like the Dutch city kids they are the rest of the time.

Santa had given “G”  (my cousins wife) a set of specialist garding tools for Christmas yesterday and to my amazment Kiwi Daughter took a shine to a trowel-like thingy that has a spike-thingy attached to dig out weeds that have long roots.

It’s sure to have a proper technical name but sadly I have to confess that my gardening knowledge extends roughly as far as knowing the difference between tulips and roses and if you can’t grow it to eat it, I get distracted quick anyway.

No-one ever accused me of being green-fingered. I love flowers but no one in their right mind would leave any in my care as I rely on the “when they are lying down on the ground looking severely pathetic” method of remembering that they might actually be, at that stage severly begging for water.

I used to get allocated the job of weeding as a kid, a job I liked because of the instant gratification of seeing progress. It did however mean that no one ever showed me the basics of learning to grow stuff, …my parents did that with my sister as she complained a lot about doing weeding.

Now I watch as Kiwi Daughter happily digs out weeds with said gardening gadget and makes steady progress as small mound starts to pile up beside her. Curses for us that our balconies at home only get late afternoon sun … pity, because learning to grow something together might actually be fun.

Once we have prised our offspring away from the tree-house in the garden, it’s time to head back to the B&B… we have a car trip to get ready for … so it’s quite literally time to “up sticks”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Suspicious signs that serious gardeners may be close by…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 6, 2012

Transformed From Cinders in a Shopping Bag to the Belle of the Ball…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Some people have more natural talent for a particular thing in one little finger, than most of us could hope to ever to have or learn in a lifetime.

My Uncle and cake decoration definitely fall into this category. … and I mean the talent bit, not the hope to learn bit.

I am a detail fanatic and I could very happily spend hours perfecting a drawing or an embroidery piece but this talent doesn’t appear to be in any way shape or form transferable, at least not to any of my home-made cake decoration efforts so far.

My Uncle on the other hand. has the hand, the eye and the vision of the finished product down to a level that even some professionals can only dream of.

He does these for a hobby and lucky indeed is anyone who gets a Birthday cake from him as he’s a genius with piped icings, flowers and basically all things fondant and icing bag.

Himself and I had been visiting before Christmas to drop off the fresh peas we had shelled and since we were also invited for dinner we took around a shop-bought pavlova towards dessert too. It ended up not being used that night because they had made other delights especially for us, so I told them to put it in the cupboard for another day.

When we left that plain Pavlova on their kitchen bench in it’s protective plastic supermarket box I had no clue that when we would see it next that it would have undergone a transformation akin to the proverbial Cinders in rags one moment and the stunning Belle of the ball the next.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Photogenic doesn’t even start to do it justice does it?

This is what I’m going to call “Artiste Culinaire” … Pure stunning, amazing,  stop-you-in-your-tracks Artistry. This is New Zealand’s national dessert at it’s most stunning.

I won’t embarrass myself by telling you how many photographs I took of this.

(sigh) Even now, posting the photos, long after dinner, I starting to think of how many eggs we might have in the fridge and how we may need a Pav on our menu very soon.

Worse still, I’m even having that thought having made a Pavlova only last Saturday for guests.

Actually the second-hand Kitchen Aid that I scored for a song after a chance remark to a lady who’s family was transferring back to the USA last year, did most of the work for me and I was delighted to not have to stand for ages on one leg in the kitchen with my little hand-held electric beater…

…but I had tried a new recipe last Saturday and whilst it wasn’t a flop at all, it was a perfectly smooth fluffy Pav.

Yes I know Pavlova is supposed  to be fluffy, but I like the fuffy ones that have the addition of the chewy caramel bits just around the inside edges and last Saturday’s recipe didn’t give me that at all.

Any Pavlova aficionados amongst you will know exactly  what I mean.

So.. I’m on the hunt for the perfect Pavlova recipe… and since my bargain of the year Kitchen Aid machine makes it so easy I may even give a new recipe a go this week. Kiwi Daughter has expressed an interest at having a go at making one of these on her own too… so maybe I’ll just hand her a recipe, take step-by-step photos of the process and critique the result.

We have plenty of friends who will be only too glad to help taste-test and to take part in the review process too… in the meantime we can all enjoy the amazing talent of my Uncle and dream that we could produce anything remotely like this.

Well, maybe YOU might be able to, but me? ….Ha!  I’ll be seriously realistic…  Dream On Kiwidutch!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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