Local Heart, Global Soul

September 27, 2018

Robert Falcon Scott, As Sculpted By His Wife…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is the statue of Robert Falcon Scott, the Antarctic explorer who lost the race to be first to the South Pole and who, with his team of men, perished on the ice.

The statue was damaged in the 2010/11 earthquakes and after breaking in half needed extensive restoration.

In these photographs Scott is missing the staff that he was holding in his right hand. What makes this statue especially notable is that is was sculpted by his wife, Kathleen Scott, in Italy in Carrara marble and it bought out to New Zealand after the end of the First World War.
Wikipedia tell me that;

“The inscription on the plinth, which is one of his last diary entries, reads:

‘I do not regret this journey, which shows
that Englishmen can endure hardships,
help one another, and meet death with
as great fortitude as ever in the past.”

The inscription had become illegible by 1922 and a separate marble plaque with this text was installed at the entrance to the reserve. Another plaque lists the names of the five men who died.”

The link to the Wiki page shows both the broken statue and it in it’s original state, with the staff in his hand. (it looks more “complete” with the staff in my opinion).

I’ve taken multiple views of the statue for my artistic inspiration files.

Wikipedia / Robert Falcon Scott / Statue / Christchurch / New Zealand
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Statue

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 20, 2013

Step-by-Step Indian Cooking Lesson: Lemon Rice (A South Indian Speciality)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Lemon Rice 

2 Cups (260 grams) Basmati Rice (for best results use Tilda): for approx for 4 persons.
2-3 Tablespoons gee or oil.
½ teaspoon asafoeitida (hing)
1 Tablespoon split black gram (urad dal)
1 Tablespoon slip gram (chana dal)
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ Cup peanuts (ie approx 6 Tablespoons)
15-20 curry leaves
5 Tablespoons lemon juice (or lime juice) from fresh lemons or limes.
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 Tablespoons (unsweetened) desiccated coconut (if available freshly grated coconut is preferred)
Salt (to taste)
2-3 chilies, cut in half (optional)

We learn from our teacher:  “Fenugreek  comes from an aromatic Mediterranean plant that produces long pods that contain  oblong brownish coloured seeds. The seeds have a slightly bitter taste and are roasted and ground and used as a flavouring in curries. The leaves from the plant (often sold as “methi”) can be used in salads, and both fresh and dried leaves are used in Indian cookery. The seeds and leaves have a strong aroma.”

I also wanted to know more about “slip gram / chana dal” and more specifically,  if these were  maybe just a different names for split peas.  On the “Yahoo Answers”website I found an excellent answer that tells me the diffeence between Chana Dal, Yellow Split Peas and Pigeon Peas:

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Chana Dal
The native variety of Indian chickpea is called Desi Chana. The mature seed has a seed-coat that is rough brown.

Due to its color, it is also called Kala chana. India is the largest producer and consumer of Desi Chana. Decorticated split Desi chana is called Chana Dal. Chana Dal is yellow in color.

Yellow Split pea
This is the fully mature green-pea that has been dried. In Hindi, green-pea is called Mattar. The deorticated ‘dried split pea’ is called called ‘Peeli Mattar Dal’.

The yellow split pea looks like like Chana Dal. Yellow split pea is cheaper than the Chana Dal. It is illegal but some manufactures mix the two seeds to produce lower cost ground flour called Besan.

Pigeon pea
The pigeon peas are only second to Desi Chana in consumption in India. The seed-coat of the whole seed may be red, or brown. The whole seeds are deorticated and split and called Arhar Dal or Toor Dal. Some of the toor Dal is coated with castor oil for preservation

All the three decorticated split seeds look yellow. The chana dal is more rounder and smaller. The Arhar Dal is flatter. The Mattar dal is about same as chana dal but lighter pale.”

I understand that people around the world have different access (or not) to specialist ingredients and therefore since I have quite a few recipes in this series I will also shortly be running a competition where you  are  invited to make a comment on getting to know these genuine Indian recipes.

One lucky winner will then receive a small parcel of the more specialist items so that they can make and enjoy these recipes at home as well. Watch this space!

Method:

Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water and pour into a microwave container (or Pyrex container). Add four cups of cold water (important note: always use the same cup for measuring the rice as well as the water) . Place in a microwave for 20/21 minutes at 900 Watts.

For Step-by Step photos of how to easily do this in your microwave click on this link: https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/new-1118/

In the meantime, heat the gee (or vegetable oil) in a deep frying pan (Wok pan is ideal)

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

To the hot gee add the peanuts, fry for a few minutes, remove, drain and keep to one side.

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

To the same gee, add the split black gram (ural dal) and slip gram (chana dal)…

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) and fry for approx. 3 minutes until the dals change colour to a light brown.

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then the mustard seeds, leave for about 30 seconds…

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Take some curry leaves from your frozen stash…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Stir and add the curry leaves and the chilies (if using).

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the asafoeitida …

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now add the fried peanuts and stir as they cook for a further few minutes…

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now you are ready to add the cooked rice…

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Fold the spices through the rice…

 (photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then add the turmeric powder…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then salt (sorry, not pictured) and lemon juice. (or you can use lime juice if you prefer).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Stir well and garnish with grated coconut or (unsweetened) desiccated coconut.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Serve hot.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Teacher’s Notes: Serving tip: Can be served with most vegetable preparations.

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100306031707AAv6pZE

Kiwi’s notes, I was undecided if I liked this recipe or not. I love the flavour but the crunchiness of the Dal’s in the recipe means it might take a few goes to get used to the texture.

My fellow class-mates loved it, so as usual this is entirely personal preference. I have the added difficulty that Himself is not a fan of citrus flavours and would therefore love Lemon Rice if there were no lemon (or lime) in it and that Kiwi Daughter has a severe peanut allergy so I can see that I might be eating this one alone at home. (I loved the peanuts and the lemon!). I am fast liking the idea that plain white rice can be so easily transformed and take it from me, there might be quite a few photos but this is a really easy recipe to make!

June 19, 2013

Step-by-Step Indian Cooking Lesson: Green Beans (South Indian Style)

Filed under: FOOD,INDIA,Indian Cusine,PHOTOGRAPHY,Recipes — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Green Beans (South Indian Style)

1 large onion (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10-12 curry leaves (fresh ones that you then freeze and use as required)
½ cup grated fresh coconut (or dessicated unsweetened  coconut if fresh is not available)
1-2 Tablespoon lemon juice
2-3 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 green or red  chili (optional)
Salt (to taste)

This is an amazing recipe  and one of my personal favourites from the course.

One thing I learnt from our teacher is that she believes that dried curry leaves loose most of their flavour in the drying process, so she believes people should buy fresh and then keep them in the freezer.

I have some fresh curry leaves  that I forgot to put into the freezer for about 1o days  because the kids covered up the bag on the dining room side board with some junk that I then didn’t shift because I have a chest infection and have been in bed rather than doing housework.  On the plus side I noted that they don’t dry out very fast at all,  so if you can’t get them locally then I think it should certainly it should be fine to get them on-line and stash them in your freezer as soon as they arrive.

I found it really interesting that no water at all is needed when cooking the beans, they kind of just steam themselves when the lid of the pot is on. I hate pouring vegetable vitamins down the sink with the cooking water so this is a recipe that probably keeps a lot more of the vitamins  in the beans. Yum! As usual, lots of step-by-step photographs to guide you through the process… enjoy!

Method:

Wash, string and dice the green beans into small pieces.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Heat the oil in a pan (or small wok) …

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then add the mustard seeds …When the seeds begin to “crackle”add the curry leaves…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just a dozen or so curry leaves from your freezer stash…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the chopped onion,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then the chili (optional) and stir for a few minutes using a medium flame.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the green beans…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then the salt… (no, not the entire contents of this bowl, just a teaspoon!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then cover and cook for 5-10 minutes using a medium flame until the beans are cooked but slightly crunchy.(Note: it’s not necessary to add any water!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the grated coconut and lemon juice, mix well and serve.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our Teacher’s Notes: Serving tips: French beans can be used unstead of green beans. Can be served with rice lentils and roti (Indian bread).

March 16, 2012

Lake Grassmere is Best Taken with a Pinch of Salt…

Filed under: LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you are driving northwards from Christchurch to Picton, about 40 km (approx 25 miles) south of Blenheim you will suddenly come across a flash of pink or bright white (or both) on the landscape.

This is Lake Grassmere, a natural lagoon covering 17 square kilometers.

It’s right on the coast, separated only by a thin strip of beach, it has no natural inflow and is geographically in a location where strong warm winds predominate and rainfall is low.

The lake is also naturally shallow and has a high salinity, making it ideal for the production of sea salt.

Before salt production began here the lake was often muddy in winter and very dusty in summer and it was during the summer months that natural deposits of salt were found.

In 1943 this prompted salt production on a larger scale and in 2005 Lake Grassmere produced half of New Zealand’s domestic salt production.

However due to the demand for salt from industry (notably the pulp and paper mills and the freezing works) New Zealand still has to import half  it’s salt requirements from Australia and the Caribbean.

The lake has been divided into seperate ponds suitable for solar evaporation, sea water is pumped in and moved between the ponds over several months and as evaporation takes place the salinity increases and crystalised salt forms.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The salt at the end of the production is white, but during the evaporation period algae (Dunaliella salina) living in the brine take on a red pigment known as haematochrome due to the high salt concentrations.

This phenomonon also accounts for why the highly salty Red Sea is so named.

As we drive past we can clearly see the agae’s hue from the road and then flashes of white of the salt piles.

I took the photos from the moving car so reflections in the glass window maar the view somewhat, the colours are more intense in real life.

I don’t know how often I have driven past here in my life… I’ve lost count, but it’s always been a place that intrieged me and it’s taken me until now to do some research and find out more.

I cetainly never realised that salt production here accounted for half of New Zealand’s domestic needs.

No doubt, many Kiwi’s like me have driven past it often, completely unaware of  the significance of Grassmere’s small hive of industry because it sits almost in the middle of no-where but is actually an important player in it’s niche within the New Zealand economy.

… or maybe they do, but they take it with a pinch of salt.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Background information source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Grassmere

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)

May 28, 2011

There’s No French Toast in a French Breakfast…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bonjour! Join me as I take you on an adventure to  France… …yesterday evening we arrived in Chartres, just south of Paris.

We have  managed to get past the Paris Ring road with comparatively few delays and been spat out the other end back onto the  main motorway south. I will sing  praises of any French government who can ever make as direct as possible motorway that would by-pass the Paris Ring road.

Presently if you wish to avoid it, the alternative north/south routes involve either going through Rouen,  adding a full 120 kilometers extra to your journey or taking the smaller provincial “B’ roads (or in the French case: “N” roads) which are slow, often single laned, winding and often already congested with everything from trucks to tractors wishing to avoid the toll motorways.

We are pleased to have left the Parisian morning commuters  behind us and to be past the half-way point of our journey.We have an excellent night’s sleep and are looking forward to breakfast in France.

Once again I am surprised and delighted to see that the level of service here is so much better than I would have expected. Maybe it was because I was on crutches?  Possibly,  … but  to be honest, judging from last evenings reception and room service experience I rather think that the management here have invested in some good staff training which the employees have actually taken to heart.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr., typical six year old,  is adamant that a novelty plastic spoon picked up in a Birthday party gift bag last week (and currently sitting filthy in the back seat of the van because after he ate yogurt with it  soon after we started out yesterday) is the only spoon he wants to eat this mornings yogurt with. He’s adamant he wants the yogurt too.

Himself  leaves the hotel dining room to retrieve it from the van and get it washed, so I’m alone in the dining room supervising what the kids are wanting to put onto their plates. I’m pleasantly surprised when staff offer to carry glasses of orange juice for me and offer to fetch anything that we might need bringing to the table.

They were an excellent help and made the whole breakfast procedure run far smoother than it otherwise would have and  they were even friendly and seemed completely happy to be of help too!  Bravo!

The kids do well with breakfast and in fact after the delight of the service I was rather surprised when the only thing that let this place down was the cooked part of the breakfast menu. Sorry, the bacon was only just “ok”  and those scrambled eggs and sasuages really were not palatable at all.

It wasn’t only Himself and I who thought so either, Little Mr has recently taken a shine to scrambled egg but refused point blank after the first mouthful. I don’t blame him, none of us found ours nice enough to persevere with.

The fruit, yogurt, pastries and rolls were however well up to the standards we have come to expect when in France, so we didn’t leave hungry at all, and the individual tea-pots are something that we have never seen before in all our French travels so well done there too.

I don’t usually start my day with hot chocolate but the French do it so well that it’s become a habit of mine each time we are there now and this does not disappoint: served in the typically French style: a wide mouthed cup/bowl sans handle  and truely, it is a divine way to start your day.

Who needs “French Toast” when you have this? (for the record, I’ve never seen French Toast on any French breakfast menu, …ever.)

(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)

Shortly after breakfast we are packed and ready for the road again…  I would highly recommend the Novotel Chartres, it’s clean, comfortable, good value for money and the grand bonus: the friendly Staff have made us keen to repeat the experience.

May 27, 2011

Hotel Review: Just South of Paris …Novotel Chartres

Filed under: Accomodation,FRANCE,Reviews — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In continuation of yesterday’s post we are searching for a hotel on the south side of Paris.

Now Paris is a very big city and we could see various signs for all the major hotel chains as we passed though on the ring road but since the intention was to get past Paris’s traffic nightmare at that point and not get deeper into it, we refrained from taking any off-ramps at the time.

We  know from experience how bad evening traffic in Paris can be… and Himself and I know only too well how much worse morning traffic can be in Paris too, having foolishly found ourselves standing still in it for almost three hours a year or so earlier.

The good thing about motorways is that there are few exits and entrances and you can cover large distances at greater speeds resulting in a smoother journey.

The bad thing about  motorways are that there are few exits and entrances and you can cover large distances whilst still looking for a place to sleep.

Consequently we were in  Chartres before we finally saw signs that major accommodation sites were available without having to drive a further 20 kilometers off the motorway and back.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We wanted a Family room and since rooms in Europe tend to be tiny because the land is expensive, thought that we would have more luck with this if we went to a larger chain brand name.

There were several, side by side and  first one we went to was fully booked ( it was now 9:00  in the evening) but the securely gated one next to it was a Novotel and after Himself had made a few enquiries at Reception he came back to the van: we had came up trumps.

The room has a double bed for Himself and I and a double pull out sofa bed for the kids to share. They put us on the first floor and there is a lift, so I have no problem getting to the room.  There’s a bath in the bathroom with a shower over it ( not always a standard item in European rooms also due to the room sizes being small, so this is bonus).

Whilst Himself and the kids are dealing with bags I contact room service and order hot chips (fries) for the kids and a Caesar salad for us and it arrives promptly, chips hot and with a smile. We are impressed. The French  (like the Dutch) have sadly never been renowned for their “service with a smile” mentality, so this is a very welcome change.

Our small bite is tasty and satisfies the rumbling tummy problems within the clan. A short while later, teeth brushed etc both kids  are tucked up and fast asleep in the fold-out bed. The bathroom is behind the lighted panels next to the bed and the toilet is separate.

Himself and I are tired after the long drive, I’ve tried to keep my foot elevated on the extra front seat in the van but it’s not comfortable all the time so I have to put it down part of the time. It’s swollen up considerably and after taking some pain relief, a good night’s rest is inviting.

We all sleep brilliantly, and in the morning the kids enjoy a bath… we have two massive showers at home but no bath so this is a novelty they love.  A look out the window in the morning light gives us an idea of the view we missed last evening.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Refreshed we head off to breakfast…

February 24, 2011

Quakes, Christchurch and a Cookbook…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since I’m at home and not mobile and my foot needs to be kept raised,  my  revised morning routine of recent months is to check email on the laptop,  sit and chop veggies for dinner on a board on the bed and of late, do the exercises my physiotherapist has given me to do.

Depending on sleep (or lack of it) and pain relief  required I usually  catch a nap and later settle down to catch up on my favourite bloggers blog posts.

Since the Christchurch earthquake though, I have been totally focused on Christchurch, I can log into live-streaming news , look at the bigger Newspapers  for on-line reports and have been making calls and emails  to friends and relatives that I couldn’t get hold of yesterday.

House damage amongst them ranges from minimal to total write-off… the magnitude of what has happened is still to set in, the aftershocks, some as big as 5 on the Richter Scale are deeply unnerving.

Some are lucky enough to still have electricity and water and because of this are cramming friends, workmates and family into their homes, since whole swathes of the city are without power, water or sewerage lines.

Many are packing up and leaving town, they can’t sleep,  the aftershocks in the dark are even more terrifying than the ones in daytime, their kids are traumatized and young and old alike are shaken more than just physically after every aftershock.

The effect of these can not be underestimated… the New Zealand News at 6.30 am local time  told me that there had been 15 large aftershocks since midnight … …little wonder that  people don’t get much sleep.

Air New Zealand is laying on $50 flights out of the city to the North Island, embassies are helping tourists replace travel documents lost in buildings collapsed or too unsafe to return to, businesses everywhere are helping if they can.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hospitals in Christchurch have treated more than 1500 people with more minor injuries, and the central hospital alone has about 200 more seriously injured, plus those in intensive care…

But one message from family and friends is clear,  locals are rising to the occasion and gladly stepping up to help.

My cousin, trained in rescue and with medic experience was packing his gear and heading into the city centre to offer to assistance in spite of  reaching his own home for the first time after the quake only two hours before.

The university students have risen up just as they did after the September 4th Quake and are being directed by Civil Defense in residential neighbourhoods, helping elderly residents with heavy lifting of fallen cupboards, wardrobes, shelves etc and armed with shovels, digging out the mud and silt from houses and roads of both friends and strangers inundated by  liquefaction.

Liquefaction is where the quake pushes the water- table upwards though the deep layers of sand and silt…   the force makes it erupt through grass and even tarmac via miniature volcano-like structures ( approximately 6cm / 2 inches across) .

Last time my Uncle and Aunt had more of these tiny tell-tale cones in their back yard than they could count. Each of them spewed out large volumes of watery mud and silt, which first floods and then leaves a muddy residue that dries out leaving a mass that sets  like concrete.  In the September quake it was deep enough to flow through their house, it blankets streets, blocks drains,  imprisons vehicles.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The students came  last time with shovels and wheelbarrows and started digging and clearing…  this time the numbers of students are swelling again to match the 10, 000 strong that came out to help in the last quake.  I know that the manager of the Hanmer Holiday Homes is in the local fire brigade…they were in Christchurch yesterday and took a shift with the rescue workers in the Pyne Gould building. They pulled out survivors and also recovered some who sadly did not survive.

The Singaporean soldiers who were already in the South Island on joint military exercises are now helping with the central city security cordon. more than 600 specialist  workers have arrived or are arriving from Australia, USA, Taiwan, Japan, UK and elsewhere … and Kiwi’s will welcome their help with open arms and heartfelt gratitude.

So… why is there a cookbook in today’s post? Well, yesterday I mentioned the old Edmond’s Building, iconic not only in Christchurch but also throughout New Zealand.

The Edmond’s Company used to make just Baking Powder but these days make more products too.

Edmond’s also made a cookbook and it’s estimated that there’s a copy in every New Zealand household. My mother told me once that in the ’50s or ’60’s Edmond’s gave away free copies to couples when notice of their marriages or engagements appeared in the newspapers,  I’m not sure or not  if indeed she got her copy that way.

I watched the Edmond’s building be demolished with great emotion, just as now I watch my home-city fallen with even greater emotion.. but one thing we have in common is that the Edmond’s cookbook lives on even though the building is gone… strong in spirit, and with it’s well known “Sure to Rise” motto.

Christchurch has been hit by natures wrecking ball, the painful process of facing up to the catastrophic damage is only just beginning to dawn on shocked faces and broken hearts as they stare at the long long hard haul of recovery.

Just as I know in my heart that no one can ever rebuild the iconic Edmond’s building, I am realistic enough to also know that the rebuilt Christchurch will never be the same face of the city to my children as the one I fondly grew up with.

There are only 4 million people in New Zealand but take a look at volume of the print runs of the Edmond’s cookbook…  popularity comes in the strangest places and love for our treasures endures…

One thing I can be sure of though, The people of Christchurch, of Canterbury and of New Zealand will do what it takes to live up to the iconic spirit of the Edmond’s  motto…    Somehow no matter what it takes, with a little (or in this case, a lot) of help from their friends, they too will be  …”Sure to Rise“.

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