April Already

As I spent time putting my photos in collages today I look back on a few weeks with more settled weather after the unfortunate (actually horrible) summer. We have spent time doing some major cutting back in our garden and shifting those poor plants that don’t seem to like their home in the garden so go for a little trip to another space, hopefully more suited  to growing robustly and looking good. I think I have a ‘Buying Plants’ addiction and  I can always find a space for something new.  Of course I’m always inspired after visiting stunning gardens like “Maple Glen” , Larnach’s Castle and  Janet Blairs inspirational property near lake Hayes.

Living at St Clair in Dunedin, walking the beach and eating at our favourite local ‘Esplanade’Italian restaurant means its easy to stay in our comfortable environment. However,  I did play my once a year round of golf for the Otago Polytech fundraiser and entertained a group of Swedish Rotarians for a couple of nights . Plus, I have been involved in many fun events: Here we go …

Road Trip

Within a few hours drive of Dunedin we have a vast number of destinations all worthy of the “Day Road Trip” My husband Philip and I headed south along the coast heading for Kakapoint . Our first surprise was a sign on the side of the road just over the bridge at Taieri Mouth saying ‘ ‘Occasional Baker’ – fabulous delicious bread, little pies, biscuits and divine brioche scrolls ….plus a huge cake were spread on a table in baskets for sale under a sun umbrella. This is a must Sunday morning treat and perfect picnic food.

After Taieri Mouth we needed to head inland through Waihola and Milton and then back to the coast and passed some of the cutest real New Zealand iconic batches at Toko Mouth. Life looked simple here and apart from the Caravan club having a weekend gathering I believe this place would be very quiet. Kaka point is also on the coast but we needed to make another inland trip via Kaitangata and Balclutha, necessary to cross the Clutha river which has meandered its way from Wanaka.

If you want to see a village under revival then Kaka point is it. New subdivisions, lots of renovations, including the old school which is now a gorgeous Wedding Venue and a very busy pub and cafe all full  of tourists visiting Nugget Point and the old Lighthouse on this beautiful Sunday. Our pie was a delicious lunchtime treat. Sitting looking at the waves, it was the perfect spot for spectacular views of the southern coast and Kakapoint comes with a very lovely beach perfect for a long walk.

A quick rash decision found us heading inland once again. We decided we had enough time to visit one of our favourite gardens ‘Maple Glen’. We took the first sign that said Wyndham which sent us driving for the next 45 minutes on a  metal road, something our Alfa is not made for and didn’t like but, the farms and countryside were beautiful. A patchwork of multi coloured greens sat in front of the most beautiful native bush. Here was  a road we didn’t mean to be on and probably won’t be on it again but, was unexpectedly beautiful. As was ‘Maple Glen – now 42 acres of garden, complex plantings head away and down from the house and nursery, its extensive planting seems to be always growing. There were masses of Autumn crocuses in flower, draped around many ponds full of bog plants and drifts of huge trees underplanted with all sorts of treasures. This Garden of National Significance  is as good as it gets and could be anywhere in the world.



By 8.30 we were back at the Esplanade with our favourite neighbours Carmel and Mark eating pizza and enjoying a good Pinot  Noir. Great day. Very Memorable. Must do it again!!!

Dunedin Fashion iD / Central Otago Tour 

This was such a fabulous week I have written a separate post …

See next Post

Harbour Fish Oyster Night

The Cooper boys and soon their sister Rachel run the very successful Harbour Fish in Dunedin. Passionate about fresh seafood they operate fishing boats, sell and market seafood to restaurants, supermarkets, plus their own great stores in St Andrew St Dunedin and Queenstown. They know how to put on a good event and best of all they raised money for the Otago Rescue Helicopter . I love raw oysters and I have been hassling Aaron to have someone shucking oysters at the Harbour Fish every Friday afternoon. I am embarrassed to say how many raw oysters I ate last Friday night. With good wine and more food on offer they successfully raised $38,000 with an auction, which is a marvellous effort for the Cooper Family and their partnership with Vault 21 on the night.

Balclutha  Inner wheel ‘Look Good Feel Better’ Fundraiser Afternoon Tea

I was asked to talk about ‘Judith Cullen’ along with  ‘What’ and ‘How ‘did I get to do what I do….So over 50 women came to support the Cancer Foundation ‘Look Good Feel Better’ programme. I chatted about  all the ‘stuff ‘ I get up to and talked about my values of strong family, good food and my work ethic, ending with a powerpoint of my tour collage photographs. The Inner Wheel committee had turned a very ordinary hall to look like a tearoom, complete with white linen covered tables, set with china cups, saucers and plates and colourful posies of flowers. Tea was poured from gleaming silver teapots and a table groaning with the glories of afternoon tea food was very much enjoyed by everyone. From, little sandwiches, a huge variety of cubed squares, orange sponge cakes, meringues and little savouries. These ladies embraced the fundraiser aspects by buying raffles and our little ‘Dunedin Fonebook’  – which Michelle and I donated $10 per book for The hard work and initiative of the Balclutha Inner Wheel committee not only provided a special afternoon but made over $1,200 to aid women suffering with cancer to take part in the ‘Look Good Feel Better’ programme.


Cooking, Boiling and Baking

It’s a busy time of the year as Autumn fruits mature and all need dealing with. My friend Rebecca from Nelson sent down the best Red Capsicums, grown out side (they had so much flavour) and Tomatillos from her garden. (new for me) I turned many of the capsicums into a Red Capsicum, Tomato and Fennel soup and made a rather nice  Corn and Tomatillo Salsa to accompany roast pork. My shelves are filling up with Chutneys, Jams and Jellies  made from seasonal Red Currants, Raspberries, Apricots, Peaches and Plums. Im about to deal with Pears, Quince and Apples. The Quinces have been boiled and will be made into jelly and quince paste tonight. This year we had our first crop of Damson Plums and they made the best Plum paste ever, perfect with cheese.

My friend Hilda who has a gluten intolerance gave me this biscuit recipe  – the key is pressing balls of mixture in a tortilla press . It made the biscuits all the same thickness and their deliciousness means you can’t stop eating them.

1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds . 1/2 cup ground almonds. 1/4 cup sesame seeds . 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons linseeds, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons water.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Blitz until fine crumbs and slightly sticky. Gather the dough into balls . Place in a tortilla press lined with baking paper. it will make lovely rounds. score into quarters. Bake at 180 C for 15-20 minutes.Once Cool . Breakup and keep in a airtight container.

The best vegetable in our garden this year apart from the Florence Fennel has been Curly Kale . I have been making crispy Kale – perfect to eat by itself or as a garnish on vegetable dishes. Cut out the stalk of the Kale . Place in a baking dish on a single layer. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Bake at 200 C for 8-10 minutes until crisp. With such quality produce in your own vegetable garden meals require little effort and can be as simple as roast chicken accompainied with a  cherry tomato and avocado salad tossed in basil pesto.


So thats what I have been getting up to . My first Tour to Normandy and Scotland departs on the 15th May and the Italy / France tour is full. We have our Melbourne son Matthew and his partner Kara home for Easter and get to visit Hannah, Richard and Holly in April to celebrate Hannah’s 25th Birthday and give Richard and Holly a day in their garden planting a new hedge.

Lucky for us we love to live in a climate with four Seasons. Not only so we can change our wardrobes and have a reason to buy new clothes !!!, clip, trim and tidy gardens to be put to bed for the winter, but to eat and cook with a new range of produce and inspire lovely long slow casseroles suitable for cooler weather.

Good Luck Everyone and Best Wishes Judith