Monthly Archives: January 2015

Relaxed, Rested and Rejuvinated

The Summer of 2014/ 2015 will have to go down as one of the most memorable for at long last we are getting weeks and weeks of sunny, hot, calm days. At the end of the day it is vital and essential to ensure you get the holiday ‘feeling’ and it makes you enthusiastic to start back into work and look forward to what ever 2015 brings along.
For Christmas this year we had no children  – they planned, prepared, cooked and had fun with friends in Melbourne, Auckland and London.
PicMonkey Collage
Our 14 day break choice was the Marlborough / Nelson region – It’s only a good days drive away with a stop for our bread, salami, and Evansdale cheese lunch.

I thought a lot about the traffic on the road and how it has changed from the days our family towed the caravan from Dunedin to Tahuna camping ground in Nelson over 2-3 days .

Endless lifestyle buses which seem to have become an increasing popular method of living  a nomadic life for many of the older generation.

Four wheel drives full of children and towing large high sided trailers with bikes and canoes tied to all sides  – It  bought home to me how New Zealanders holiday with gear, ready for lots of sporting activities.

The usual caravans on the road at this time of the year – some I must say looked like the one we had back in the ’70’s ‘but many very sophisticated and ‘huge.’

For us it was the Alfa full of books, food and wine. Our holiday plan was to get away from the discipline of work and spend time doing ‘things’ in ‘our’ time when we felt like it.

From 3 days staying in a smart little architectural tin cottage on an Eco retreat in Blenheim – where we walked and went bird spotting – yes… not something I would ever have thought was for us -but we enjoyed  identifying heron, oyster catchers, spoonbills and the most exciting, a Glossy Ibis – We were told there is only about 12 pairs in New Zealand – How’s that!!PicMonkey Collage 2
Blenheim and the surrounding countryside is carpeted green with the straight lines of grapevines – the vineyards are prolific and even the brown dry grasslands of the hills are being taken over by the insatiable demand to grow grapes.

On the only wet day, we had a very exciting stormy drive over the never ending windy Takaka hill to Collingwood in Golden Bay . A first visit to this huge bay and the famous holiday spots of Takaka, Pohara and Tata beach.PicMonkey Collage 4

Our unique lovely cottage overlooked the tidal flats which changes its landscape hugely with every tide. A trip to Farwell Spit was always a must and in a large old Bedford bus driven by a character called Kirsten we left at 10.30. Returning at 6pm meant we had full day. Driving up the coast line past Pakawau and Cape Farewell we drove the 35 km along the beach in a sandstorm to the Lighthouse – this was once the home of over 20 people at one time – now the only inhabitants are the DoC and … … the Gannet Colony.PicMonkey Collage 5

This region is famous for its artists – and road side signs encouraging you to stop at anything from Pottery, Sculpture, Jewellery, Painting and then there was Blueberries, Vegetables, Candles and even Llama Poo!!

Cooking and eating simply, is fun when you get to choose from the local fresh ingredients. Our cottage had a lovely outside eating area where we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were surrounded by flowering pohutukawas and a prolific number of tui’s, bellbirds and woodpigeons flying and feeding off the abundant flowers. I now know what the Dawn Chorus is – Do you know how early those Tui ‘s start chirping ?- its well before dawn.PicMonkey Collage 3

We were advised to walk into the west coast beach of Whareriki – Being almost the first there, we had the beach to ourselves except for the inevitable seal / a family of 7 children arrived and ran up and down the sand dunes effortlessly – oh gosh we do remember that !!!

The last 6 days of our holiday was spent in Ruby Bay – Our friends house had chickens and canaries to feed plus turning on the various watering systems.. It was fun and of course you get rewarded with eggs and vegetables like courgettes (before they became marrows) and cherry tomatoes.
We couldn’t resist making the ripened red currents into jelly – in under an hour we had jelly all potted up.IMG_7142
The Java hut in Mapua  became a morning ritual for coffee before collecting the outstanding bread from Rodrigo’s – Swimming and beaches are what Nelson does very well and with a sun umbrella and salami and cheese to fill the baquette, we had many sunny days reading and watching all the beach activities. Stand up paddle boards seemed to be the most popular.

Our car was packed to the gunnels: from a case of Olive Oil , pottery, candles, lemons, limes and the odd antique shop bargain, to plants that we just had to have – although when I  spotted ‘Annabel’ Hydrangea at the local market in Wakefield on our way back to Dunedin  – that really filled the last little spot – (oh..  we had to have 3 ..)

It was a terrific two weeks and traveling back to Dunedin via the Lewis pass and down the inland route under the Southern Alps we reflected on making the decision to explore and rest up in another region of New Zealand. Although we have traveled this route many times everything changes – even the road – improvements in passing lanes and realignment of many corners.

We returned back revitalised and full of energy – Modifying  our garden to accommodate the new plants! and I don’t know about anyone else but I always have the urge to declutter when I get home from holiday – and use some of the ideas you have seen in someone else’s garden.

2015 is off to a good start – I am lucky because I get to enjoy summer weather on my tours this year in Turkey and Italy / France  and already  the tours are over half full.20140608-100213-36133273.jpg20140904-182447-66287231.jpg

Now it’s a chance to pick up with all our friends again – Find out how their holiday went? what fish they caught? where they went biking ? and what books they read?
Goodluck everyone – Make 2015 a good oneIMG_3212[1]

An adventure in Marlborough


It’s a days drive from Dunedin to Blenheim and departing at 10 am still meant arriving just after 6 pm. Plenty of time to absorb the Eco Retreat accommodation, take a walk around the estuary and try to recognise the wildlife – sadly very sparse on this rather chilly windy evening – however , the very friendly farm animals made up for it . imageimageimageIn our haste to ensure we had a quiet relaxing retreat we omitted to see there was no kitchen. Obvious really when we booked into a B and B .. A bit dumb but, hey made a challenge !!! What a great challenge and  thanks to Yotum  Ottolenghi’s  smashed broad beans with ricotta and the inevitable ham  we produced a delicious meal with beans from our garden, my cousins fabulous extra virgin olive oil and ‘yes’ cooking in a microwave.