Local Heart, Global Soul

September 26, 2012

Sydenham Bakery: History With Cream On Top…

Filed under: FOOD,HISTORY,NEW ZEALAND,Reviews,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Welcome to my retroactive journal documenting our tour of New Zealand, this secton of which was made in January 2012.

Yesterday I explained the personal memories that form my connection with the Sydenham Bakery  in Christchurch New Zealand.

Now I’m back inside and looking at many familiar New Zealand bakery items.

Yes, we are back to drooling over photos of amazing displays of food … but come on, before you berate me: that’s not new on this blog is it ?

More memories flood back as they always will when you remember iced buns or anything filled with cream and the childish sticky fingers that just needed licking after eating, or the dusting of icing sugar that I managed to spill down my front … this one still being as bad a habit now as it was then, and sadly I need to confess that I’ve also extended this particular bad habit  to other foods like pasta sauce (who am I kidding?… if I’m honest…anything with sauce!) and soup as an adult.

The founder of the bakery, John Kuipers came to Christchurch from the Netherlands at roughly the same time as my Father did…

… they came for work opportunities on the other side of the world and plane fares were so expensive and sea journeys took so long that it was more or less seen as a one-way ticket with little or no prospect (before the advent of cheap long-haul flights) of ever returning to the Netherlands.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Their new lives in New Zealand were  therefore  “make or break” and they worked hard to make their businesses work.

There was a study done a while back in New Zealand on why Dutch immigrants of this time made such a high percentage of successful businesses… and apparently it was partly this “there’s no going back” attitude and also the simple fact that people who are prepared to emigrate so far from home into the unknown, are in general already the type of people who are willing to take a larger amount of risk than their peers.

The ingrained Dutch Calvinist work ethic probably helped too LOL.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of supporting and promoting smaller local businesses, which are also often family run establishments and since I also love local history, here’s a dollop of both in one hit… for me finding both together is like the cream on the top of the cream bun… it makes the whole experience even more delectable.

I talk to Celia about the business and notice there’s a nice display about the history of the business on the wall… I couldn’t get close enough to get really good detail but here’s the text (reproduced with permission).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was 1958 when John Kuipers left Holland to start a new life in Christchurch, New Zealand.

He arrived with 30 pounds  in his pocket and a determination to pursue his love of baking.

After working in Linwood bakery for two years, he realised his dream of owning his own bakery, purchasing the Sydenham Cake kitchen at 458 Colombo Street on 1 September 1960.

The cake kitchen has previously been known as “Matthews” and had opened back in 1910.

John began in 1961 with a little money and a big loan. Turnover in the first week was 120 pounds a week and withing four weeks it was up to 240 pounds a week.

With one shop assistant, Connie Sharp and a part-timer in the bakehouse, Beverley Brewer, John worked long hours starting at 2 in the morning and finishing at 5 at night.

Hans, John’s son joined the staff in 1978 and Paul MacGibbon began as an apprentice in 1982. The following year, with the bakery bursting at it’s seams, John purchased the present site at 424 Colombo Street.

Tragedy struck in 1985 when a fire took hold and completely destroyed the bakery at 458 Colombo Street. With 24 hours the staff were operating from premises at Sandyford Street and within 18 months a new bakery was set up at 424 Colombo Street and business returned to normal.

In 2002, at the age of 65, John decided it was time to retire and Hans took told of the reins. Paul then joined Hans in partnership in 2008.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So… This is “Front of House” as far as the bakery is concerned.. but I have a treat in store, because I get to go ‘out the back” where the best of the action really is…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 21, 2012

MeadowPark, We Are Back Again…

We’ve arrived back in Christchurch again to spend time with family and friends and sort out last minute things before we leave New Zealand. We would have liked to head back to the Hidden Haven B&B  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/new-601/

but Rae and Pete have family visiting from Australia and their rooms are full. Since family should always come first we don’t mind and head to another favourite accommodation spot of ours, Meadowpark. https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/new-post-98/

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We manage to book a ground floor unit  (in the different block to our last New Zealand trip’s rooms) and since I want to take photographs and sort out clothes, Himself takes the kids out from under my feet  to the swimming pool.

Ideal for a family, there’s a double bed in the living/ kitchenette area and two sets of bunks in an adjoining room next door.

The toilet and shower are accessed though the second bedroom,  which might be a worry having to walk past the kids when I need to make night-time  use of the privy, but both our kids sleep like little rocks so that’s not a problem in our case.

We’ve stayed some five or six times here since the kids were born so they know their way around  and run off like homing pigeons in the direction of the playground after their swim, and after half and hour they come back to the unit with new little friends in tow.

It turns out that there are quite a few families here at the moment who’s insurance companies are using MeadowPark as  four to six week temporary accommodation whilst major eathquake repairs are carried out on their houses.

The children from these families see quite a few  tourist kids passing though and quickly seize on ours with delight because our bilingual kids speak English. Once we’ve made acquaintance with the parents of the other children and discussed with the kids the limits of where we want them to play, we see them scooting past like butterflies every now and again until their stomachs bring them home to roost later on.

Let’s look around our accommodation…

(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 5, 2012

Season’s ….Greetings

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When New Zealand’s Pākehā (pronounced ‘par key har” = New Zealanders of European descent) settled in New Zealand they bought with them and adhered to the traditions they had been familiar with “back home”.

These were not just things like the fashion of the day, religious traditions, methods of farming, ways of speaking and social structure, but also their traditions concerning food.

Many things were “transferable” and in fact improved because New Zealand had better weather than northern Europe, thus longer growing seasons and a variety in the climate that allowed for many different crops in various parts of the country.

That’s why still today, Otago in the south of the South Island is as famous for it’s apricots (and other stone fruits), Blenheim for grapes and wine, as Te Puke is for Kiwifruit, Kerikeri for oranges/grapefruit, Dargaville for kumara and Katikati for avocados are in the North.

Local Maori introduced  Pākehā to vegetables like kumara (a very specific tasting variery sweet potato)  and thus began the fusion of cooking style that’s popular in New Zealand today and which is still evolving.

Back in my Grandparent’s day it was totally unthinkable for anything else to be on your Christmas Day menu than a full roast with all the trimmings. It was just what everyone “did”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The big problem was that the New Zealand Christmas falls not at the start of winter per the Northeren Hemisphere, but at the start of a Southern Hemisphere summer.

December in New Zealand can be roughly compared to May in northern europe…

…weatherwise it’s an unpredicable month and there’s a fairly equal chance that it’s a temporate 17 C where a jersey (pull-over) is needed or a sweltering 28 C were everyone is happiest in tee-shirts and shorts and kids are running around with home-made water pistols made out of old, cleaned detergent bottles on the front lawn.

If it was the latter, then Kiwi families up and down the country literally sweated over a hot stove to get the roast onto the Christmas table and then found themselves sitting in front of a heavy meal of  roast meat, or turkey, potatoes, parsnip, carrots, pumpkin, onions, peas and gravy, and often followed by a dessert of trifle, custard etc.

Such fare is of course true winter food and delicious as such, but it’s rather heavy going if the temperature you are eating it in is closer to 30 degrees.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

During my lifetime I have seen a noticable shift in the New Zealand Christmas menu…

…mostly gone are the roast parsnips, carrots and pumpkin, there may or may not be a leg of lamb or a turkey etc but more often (at least in our circle of accquaintences) it’s being replaced by ham, regular or smoked chicken served cold, salads of many various sorts and lighter desserts like the famous New Zealand Pavlova.

New potatoes are boiled with sprigs of mint and not roasted, our freshly shelled peas picked just two days ago have been boiled and are on the table and there’s not a tankard of mulled wine in sight.

For many families, enjoying the long summer break at Christmas also means that they may or may not be at home.

They might possibly be camping, or at a “batch” (holiday home) (a.k.a. A “crib” if you hail from Otago) where stove facilites could be limited.

Wither that was the origin of the Christmas Day BBQ or not will probably never really be substantiated but more and more Kiwi’s are enjoying a Christmas Day BBQ even if they are at home to celebrate these days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Christmas in New Zealand has definitely bcome a less formal affair. Of course there are still some people who still do the roast bird and all the trimmings but as far as I know from my own experience, most people will do something that’s a meeting in the middle, like roast meat (served hot or cold) and roast potatoes with salad.

Kiwi’s like to relax and enjoy the friends and family that have joined them and make the most of the weather.

Family Kiwidutch have been lucky enough to receive two invitations for Christmas 2011.

The first is from Rae and Pete at the B&B to join them for lunch and the second is with my Aunt and Uncle around the road for dinner as they already have a lunch engagement to attend.

We contribute to desserts and drinks and are treated to a wonderful time full of good company and food.

It’s a very different style Christmas Day than those we have in The Netherlands, but long hours of daylight and summer weather have quite rightly meant that Kiwi’s have adapted to celebrating the season according to the season…

One Christmas problem however appears to be the same no matter if you are in the northern or southern hemisphere, …the food was so delicious that despite our best intentions we all still ate too much. Look at this stuff…do you blame us? It was Christmas after all !

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 3, 2012

Step-by-Step Bread in Your BBQ!

Filed under: FOOD,Kids and Family,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My cousin “P” in Christchurch, New Zealand is a fellow Foodie. He’s got a large BBQ that has a close-down lid which he and his wife “G” use ..to bake bread!

Having proved his dough he asked Kiwi Daughter if she wanted to make some shapes before putting it in the oven.

She tried her hand at a plait (braid), a smilie face and a knot that didn’t quite knot. (or should I have maybe phrased that instead as a “knot that knotted not” ? )

Soon all the pieces were ready to be put onto the unglazed tile that was already pre-heating in the BBQ, then a lid went down and we let it do it’s stuff.

A very short time later, Et Voila! Freshly baked bread… very hot out of the oven… we let it cool a little and then dig in with “P’s” home-made dukka and some olive oil.

Kiwi Daugher wants to help me when I attempt to make bread back in The Netherlands. We will have to do some improvising since our BBQ doesn’t have a lid.

I forsee some tile hunting will be necessary too and maybe our oven will have to surfice, but watch this space for Kiwidutch’s first steps into bread adventures sometime in the future. Let’s see how Kiwi Daughter’s first efforts fared…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yum!!!

March 1, 2012

Christmas Lights… Southern Hemisphere Style!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The good thing about writing about this trip a short while after  the event, is that we get to have Christmas twice over!

… On one hand it might have been nice to have posted this in “real time” but reality is that there’s only so much you can get done in a day and after any activities  I really needed my afternoon naps more than I needed to be logging on and making blog posts.

My foot is healing well, and slowly but surely gaining back significant strength and flexability but since I’m still without mobility in the area directly below my toes, the crutches are still a frustrating but necessary evil. We tailor our days so that I can have time to elevate my foot, take pain relief and sleep after exercise and so far that’s working well.

My aunt and uncle tell us that there is a house a short drive away that has an amazing display of Christmas lights and decorations and that if we can keep the kids up long enough (it’s summer so darkness falls sometime around 10:30 p.m.) that we should go and enjoy the light show.

Actually they also mentioned that there’s an even bigger one around here somewhere but didn’t know the specific address.

We tried to follow their instructions involving various reference points, rights, lefts and straight-a-heads but since we have a well known penchant for getting lost, it’s hardly a surprise that in the end we gave up driving around in circles and were content with a visit to just one really well decorated house.

The night is warm, it’s now well dark and the festively dressed gentleman owner is outside to welcome people who are loitering on the footpath  wanting to look but a little unsure if they should proceed further onto the property.

He assures us that we are all welcome to come up the side path and up to the front window to see it all.

Amazingly many parts of the display are mobile, the little group of deer at the back of the property gently sway their heads, the santa and snowman see-saw actually moves like one, and the myriad of little houses etc that are displayed in the front windows have combinations of winking or changing colour lights, skating, walking or turning figures, and even one with four tiers with trains of decreasing sizes going around on each level.

Around the roof of the house, along the fences and in the trees there are lights, lights and more lights.

I took photographs but they really can’t communicate the amazing atmosphere that was generated around this garden, Christmas music poured softly out of the door of the house and it was lovely.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

To be honest, Christmas decorating of this type is only just starting to catch on in the Netherlands, in recent years a few people go all out, often using the limited space that their balconies provide and but mostly people decorate simply or not at all.

We have a set of little lights that we can tape to our front window, and yes you can set them to flash annoyingly, disco style, but we prefer the slow colour change setting.

I’m in two minds… I like the fact that our lights and others like them bring a little cheer into a dark and cold winter street…

…some of the decorations inject a little brightness and  humour and as a parent the game of  “spotting” these lights in house windows or balconies is brilliant for distracting grumpy, fighting children who are sitting in the car, tired out at the end of long days of whirlwind of pre-Christmas events …but sometimes when the various bits are thrown together they can look a bit disjointed and tacky.

I like “tat”and “kitch” sometimes but in severe moderation… and I can never quite put my finger on why I might like one decoration and say  “ooh, that’s sweet” and then go “um, maaaybe not” or “over my dead body” to the next.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Like most things in life, personal preference is everything.

Most of these bits and pieces are cute…but maybe the piled up soft toys (I didn’t take a photo) or the parachuting Santa were a step too far?

One item tried to be cute but looked a bit strange to me… a blow-up Santa inside a plastic blow-up ball, it as supposed to be a snow-globe, was plugged in and there were zillions of tiny polystyrene balls being blown around inside it …

…but I thought it looked like Santa was trapped inside a plastic bubble since you could hardly see the tiny balls and they certainly didn’t show up in my photos.

All in all though this was an amazing display and I loved it, the atmosphere was really magical and people were stopping and coming for a look from far and wide.

I talked to the owner of the house and he said that it took weeks and weeks of preperation, but that when he saw the smiles on people’s faces it was all worth it.

I certainly appreciated his hard work… the photos don’t really do it justice… it’s magical!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This Santa is huge! (it’s tied to a fence that about 1.8 m / 6 feet tall)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Parachute Santa…

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I think these are kitch… but cute. What do you think?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 29, 2012

Harrington’s … Can Jingle Our Bells Any Time…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So, what have we been up to in the days before Christmas 2011?

We’ve been busy sorting out things on the Christchurch property we own,  Himself has been painting a new fence that’s been built just before we arrived in New Zealand, and it’s been taking longer than planned because that turned out to be far taller and longer than we first thought.

(just proves how useless Himself and I are at judging measurements on paper plans and envisioning the finished article)

It was at least two to three days work and at the end of day one Himself arrived back at the B&B  tired after spending the day with a very large pot of undercoat that appeared to reduce very little even after a hard days painting,  announcing that he was looking forward to a slap-up  meal, and early night and a bright and early start the next day so that he could paint all day and actually feel like progress was being made.

At the time he said this, he was painting on his own and it was starting to feel like he was going to be spending his whole holiday just painting.

Fortunately after the undercoat was finished, a very welcome reinforcement arrived in the form of my Cousin “P” and together they got the second coat of paint on the fence at a professional speed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This post is therefore a restaurant review by the family of a tired and hungry amateur fence painter.

Our eatery tonight is called “Harringtons” and it’s a combination business that includes a bottle store, (alcholic beverages/off licence) a cafe and a restaurant.

We arrived and asked if it might be possible to get a table… I had my doubts since all around us were tables with “reserved” signs on them, and we did not have a reservation, but due to the fact that we wanted to dine so early we could take a seat.

Himself looked at the menu and opted for the “Rump Steak Special”, which consists of a 200 g piece of rump steak, done to your liking with salad and chips for just $12,–.

I went for beef nacho’s and the kids opted for fish and chips and chicken nuggets and chips which they amicably decided they wanted to share equally between them.

We also ordered a garlic bread to share and were not dissapointed when our meals arrived. Delicious!

It’s family friendly food done really well, and served with a smile. Actually we made our waitress laugh because I immediately detected a familiar accent when she lead us to our table and asked for our drinks order… without checking but taking a risk, I ordered my meal in Dutch instead of English and once she got over the shock she confirmed my suspicions and replied in Dutch.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Turns out she is from the Fremish area of Belgium and since we entered the restaurant speaking English she had no idea that we spoke Dutch. She is on a working visa and got a job waitressing here a few months ago. We chat about her experiences in New Zealand so far and she said it was really relaxing to be speaking her native language again, even if just for a little bit.

After we had done justice to our main courses, the topic turned to dessert. For me there was only one option: the New Zealand national dessert, Pavlova.

Himself and Little Mr. headed straight for a selections of ice-cream but Kiwi Daughter had been looking longingly at the large display cabinet full of cakes and slices ever since we had arrived so chose Lolly Cake instead.

I asked permission to take photographs and was told that if I wanted a giggle I should be sure to see the Christmas Song that the owner has rewritten the words to (*) , down the back by the pool table.

It was worth the walk… actually it was a little bit of a shame that it was so tucked away from the diner’s tables because I thought it was inspired. Try it out yourself to the tune of “jingle bells”… I bet you smile.

Everyone enjoyed their desserts but I have to say that the prize for the most photogenic dessert was mine by a country mile … it’s a photo you just want to reach into with a spoon.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One day when pressing matters of fence painting and early risings are not on his agenda, Himself would like to come and taste test more of Harrington’s beers, They make some 20 of them, many of them award winning.

Today he had to make do with one beer with his meal since he’s the designated driver for the duration of my foot recovery time.

We have a host of appointments to go to in the next days but if we have time then Harringtons would be on the list for a return visit.

Every member of the Kiwidutch family left feeling deliciously full and everyone enjoyed their meal.

If you too have fussy kids, you’ll know that that’s a restaurant success in anyone’s book.

p.s….(*)  a short explaination of Kiwi terms:

bush = native forest
ute = utility vehicle (pick-up truck)
yummies = delicious food
boot = rear compartment for car baggage (trunk)
singlet = a tight tank top worn by men
sunnies = sunglasses

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 28, 2012

Jackson’s Seriously Good Pies at Cookies and Cream…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is Kiwidutch’s account of my recent travels  to New Zealand.

We were there during December 2011-Janurary 2012 and I arrived back in the Netherlands with a laptop bursting with jottings and more photographs than I thought my hard-drive could handle.

Now I’m busy making order of it all and taking you on a guided tour of our adventures.

So, before we were rather rudely interupted by a cluster of large earthquakes …we had spent the morning of 23rd December picking peas with friends.

Afterwards they had some family appointments to keep and I needed a rest back at the B&B, but before that Himself and the kids remembered that breakfast had been some time ago and in spite of eating a ton of fresh peas, they were hungry.

Two days earlier when we had gone on a failed raspberry hunt, but ended up pea picking here for the first time we made a serendipitous discovery.

It came about because Himself had bought one tiny plastic container of raspberries before leaving the raspberry place … and once Kiwi Daughter had custody of them in the rear of the van they didn’t stand a chance.

She offered to share with me, but since I heard Little Mr.  giggling I was quick enough to ask first how many were left?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Four” she said… then a muffled with her mouth full… “mmmn …thwee.

Clearly she was enjoying them a lot, so she got to polish off the rest.

This sudden lack of summer fruit spurred me to ask Himself to pull over at the next road-side place so that I could buy some to take back to the B&B with us.

This is how we ended up in a car park that by happen-chance also featured a little coffee kiosk called “Coffee and Cream”.

It took me a little while to buy apricots, peaches and cherries that I intended to go in for, as well as the cuccumbers, apples and tomatoes that I ended up adding to my basket, so when I got back to the van it was no surpise to find that our little natives were rather restless.

Little Mr had spotted an ice-cream sign by the little coffee kiosk and was practicing his best pleading face, and Kiwi Daughter had spied something else … pies for sale!

Now, these are not  pies in any dessert sense of pies (at least not in the North American sense of what a “Pie” might be).. these are savoury pies and the fillings of these in New Zealand are traditionally things like: steak, mince (ground beef), bacon and egg, or chicken.

The filling is usually either  a puff or rough puff pastry case, topped with a pastry lid and a Kiwi Pie  is an excellent treat when you are eating on the fly.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As luck would have it this kiosk  turned out to have a range of gourmet pies… so there were also fillings like venison in the range.

Himself bagged one of those and the rest of us opted for steak or mince and Himself grabbed a coffee and we opted for water.

Well, what a revelation! As you might imagine there are pies and there are pies… quality varies as do prices. These were not the cheapest but they are amazing, definiately some of the best I have ever tasted.

Himself too was very impressed… and to his amazment and delight he even got a European style coffee that was decently strong to go with it. Yum!

The lady behind the kiosk counter was festively attired and super friendly.

After we finished our pies we headed back for the ice-cream that the kids had been promised and told her that we loved the pies… she was really pleased and even more pleased when we said we would be sure to return.

And return we did, two days later on the 23rd and about three more times during our time in Christhurch before heading up north to see more family and friends. The lady remembered us and was delighted we kept coming back…

To add to the delight of our taste buds there were also a selection of  oh la la ( …very) sweet treat: , cream buns and a caramel sort of choclate slice that I strongly suspect that Himself has secretly fallen in love with.

We indulged and wow, if you are going to take the plunge and indulge then be sure to indulge like this…. deliciously decadent!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 26, 2012

A Weird Day of Extremes, Slithers Past…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is a continuation of yesterday’s BBQ post.

The Christchurch, New Zealand kids we are visiting have a stream running past the end of their back yard, and they often paddle in it, canoe on it etc.

One thing the kids like doing is feeding the wildlife… and apparently the most interesting wildlife are the eels.

A favourite way the family like to thoroughly use every part of their chop bones is to put them onto the stream bed and watch the eels come out to pick them completely clean.

You  then retrieve the bare bones afterwards and put them into the household rubbish container.

The Kiwidutch kids listened to this story with wide eyes… their faces a mixture of excitement and apprehensive uncertainty as they thought about the possibility of feeding eels.

Of course we had just polished off an ample supply of lamb chops, so what better moment to test the theory and educate the Kiwidutch kids?

Our friends’s daughter waded in and put the bones into a good spot in the stream and the rest of us all got as close to the edge as possible without falling in to see who could spot an eel first.

Fortunately for me I could cheat and sit a decent distance away and use the zoom lens on the camera instead. You know me and accident prone… let’s not tempt fate here.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It took only a few minutes for the first eel to appear, the Kiwidutch kids were suitably impressed and started pointing out more ‘eels’  in the shimmering and shaded water.

Several of Little Mr’s ‘eels” were exceptionally stationary and looked for all the world like river-bottom sticks, but that mere detail didn’t seem to deter him from the excitement of his “discoveries”  … and he finially looked a fraction more relaxed after this afternoons earthquake meltdown, so I certainly wasn’t going to be the Mama to  pour cold water on his “eel” finds.

Getting a photo in the late evening light, with the dappled shaddows of the trees and the ripples of the water was harder than I expected but if you look hard I did manage to get some photos of (real) eels in the water.

One of our kids asked what eels were like to touch.. it was a general question, but before they knew it our friends daughter ran off and returned with a net, sprang into the knee deep stream and started enthuisatically chasing eels.

It took some doing but she had done this before and to the Kiwidutch kids amazement, suddenly with a whoop that denoted success, the net was handed back over onto the lawn and out wriggled a long, fat and very slippery black eel.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our children shrieked and took a quick step back, watching from a safe distance.

For some reason the eel than got a little disorientated and started to slither quickly towards a patio area away from the stream, and knowing that there was no good place for him to survive there our friend’s daughter proceeded to try and grab it on the run and get it back onto the grass.

More shrieks and giggles ensued before she was successful and our kids got to see an eel up close.

Little Mr. even summonded up enough courage to come over and touch it.

(yes I know… behold my wonderful photo editing technique LOL).

Since our children are apartment dwellers and we have no garden, they never really have the opportunity to get their hands dirty, so the wonders of nature are several steps removed from their childhood existence.

You can only dig in the sand of the sandpit of the local playground after all…. and there are no worms in that. These are the bits of the “Kiwi experience” that I hope our New Zealand trips will be beneficial in  filling some of the gaps in their concrete and brick cobbled  childhood so far.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr. is still very clingy and nervous,  close to tears whenever he thinks of the possibility of another quake, and still begging us to pack up, drive to the airport and come home to the Netherlands, …but at least we have managed to turn a very frightening afternoon into a less frightening evening and taken our minds off the scary bits for a while with great food, fun, good conversation and excellent company.

As luck would have it the next really decent aftershock  happened on the car ride home, and whilst Himself and I had our suspicions we said nothing  just exchanged simutanous looks.

Such are Christchurch’s now bumpy roads and due to the amount of insulation that the tyres provide  we wen’t totally sure if it had been our imaginations or not.

It turned out that we were not mistaken, there had been a 5.1 quake but the kids were none the wiser and we chose not to enlighten them now that they were finially less stressed.

Luckily too that both were so tired from the excitement and stresses of the day that they fell into a deep sleep back at the B&B and slept through a constant supply of long rolling aftershocks and short sharp jolts in the night that kept me awake as I typed a blog post about the day and messages to family and friends to confirm that we were ok.

What a day.. from the tranquility and laughter of this mornings pea-picking to the terrified screams and tears of the afternoon, and then the new experiences of the evening. New experiences all of them… and a lot to take in for a kid in a single day.

It’s been a long,  rather weird day of extremes, a hard day… The beginning and the end of the day were great, I just wish that the middle section of  it had gone by faster, slipped on by   … as slippery as an eel.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The water is beautiful, but hard to get decent photos of eels with this kind of light…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The theme of today appears to be “bravery”….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 25, 2012

Weird Science with Cans, Fish Tanks and Lamb Chops all Help with Bouncing Back…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The evening of 23rd December 2011, after a tumultuous afternoon full of tears, fears and children’s general earthquake meltdown, we decided to try and lighten the evening by going ahead with the BBQ that we had already planned with friends.

Little Mr. wasn’t keen on going inside their house, (well any house at that point, actually) but was enticed by the very down to earth and matter of fact attitude of our friends daughter and foster daughter.

We had a chat to both privately about our kid’s afternoon reactions and they were quick to tell us kind heartedly that they would be sure take great care of them whilst they were playing together and would be careful to make sure that they felt really safe.

We arrived as our friends were cleaning up the mess that the quake had once again given them… the most pressing had been the rescue of the family goldfish, the tank got shaken off the chest of drawers it was on and toppled onto the floor.

Quick thinking and even faster action saw the girls save the fish, now all that remained was to clear up the sodden books on the bookshelf, dry out the wall and carpet and general cleanup of everything that had been displaced by the shaking.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Outside the Dad of the family was cleaning up by the garage door… there had been a neat stack of full soft drink cans sitting between a sturdy wood cupboard and the spare fridge-freezer and multiple cans  exploded, somehow the force of the liquid ripped the can open around the tab line and everything blew out under pressure.

What was particularly bizare was that although the concrete garage floor was a mess with various overflowed soft drink puddles, the cans themselves looked completely undented on the sides , and expect for the obvious damage near the tabs there was no evidence that that they had been squashed or even slightly dented at any point at all.

I’m supposing that the speed and force of the vibrations though the ground must have been enough to jiggle the contents to bursting point as no other logical explaination fits.

The cans had been neatly stacked between two solid objects and maybe because they lacked the space to allow movment in any direction except “up”, all the energy was concentrated in that direction? Hmm who knows, and stupidly  I forgot to take any photos of the cans but it was certainly some of the strangest earthquake damage they had seen so far.

The Kiwidutch kids were pleased to help out with the fish tank drama and relaxed visibly before dinner. The reassuring words and gung-ho attitude of the host girls,  did wonders as these Christchurch kids  brushed off fear completely ( publicly at least) and just got on with life.

I’m really proud of them because they are living in a house with some horrendous cracks in the walls, foundations and ceilings. In fact part of the house has sunk and is breaking away from the rest of the house and with each cluster of bigger aftershocks it’s getting worse.

In spite of this they are living in a zone classed as “Green”(deemed fit for repair) but massive repiling of their house will be necessary as well as other damage repair and there is now a battle between CERA and their Insurance company as to who is liable for what, so the whole situation is really stressful and there is little hope (realistically) of a quick solution.

They have every right to be completely and utterly stressed but are soldioring on as best they can whilst  they wait for the repairs to begin.  I’m amazed they re handling it as well as they are.  I’m not altogether sure that I would be.

When we talked about what we fancied on the menu several days ago, the subject of lamb chops came up as a suggestion from us. We then learned that the price of lamb has gone up considerably  in New Zealand recently and it’s been a shock for our lamb loving friends, so it’s been religated to “treat” status.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m afraid that when I heard the prices they mentioned I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud … and when I told them what we  paid for lamb chops and leg roasts in The Netherlands they were truly horrified. (between double and triple the price)

We therefore  very happily arranged that our contribution to the meal would be lamb chops and when we arrived with three trays of them they almost fainted… “we will never manage all those” they said… but they were sooo good, from BBQ to table they didn’t stand a chance as  we lamb-chop deprived diners enjoyed every last one of them.

Kiwi Daughter was now more relaxed and wanted to go on the trampoline, she took turns with the other girls but Little Mr was still in scared limpet mode so we didn’t push him to participate.

The Dad of the house then said to Kiwi Daughter, lets do some tricks on the trampoline together.. she was a little nervous at first as they had to bounce in complete synchronisation… he held her left hand with his right hand and when they got to a decent height he gave her a big boost with his arm on the up-bounce an she flew up really high. He was of course still hanging onto her hand so she was in no danger of flying off anywhere.

Once she mastered the technique of the synchronised bounce , she even managed to dare to reach out with her other hand on the big up-bounce to touch the fronds of the punga tree above.

I’ve managed to master the art of exceptionally bad photo-editing to show you a shot of the up-bounce trick without actually showing the participants. No, they aren’t ghosts, even though Kiwi Daughter’s face did a good impression of one earlier in the day during the more frightening moments.

In fact earlier in the day she was so scared she felt physically sick… I’ve made a new word for this phenomonon… I told her she had a “bellyquake”.

It’s nice to see her trying so hard to be brave, and finally letting out a few squeals of delight as she managed to touch the tree above… kids are nothing if not resilient, and Christchurch Kids have had to be more resilient than most since September 2010. Bravo to them all.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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