Thursday, 29 November 2012

Air New Zealand And An Unexpected Journey

What Fun!

This new Hobbit air safety video was the first thing that greeted me on my long trip home via Air New Zealand, (four flights and forty hours door to door - Nelson, New Plymouth, Auckland, Hong Kong, London).  I so enjoyed it and am hoping to see the first of the trilogy of  'The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey'  in the UK when it first appears in our cinemas on December 14th.

"The Hobbit"
J.R. Tolkien

Chapter 1

An Unexpected Party

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

My Favourite Day

Going Home


The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.”~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Going home

What a lovely holiday I have had with my family in sunny Nelson, and now I am so happy to be going home to the rest of my friends and family, and especially to Mr Whizz Kid. I do hope that you have enjoyed coming along with me and seeing some of the delights of Nelson, South Island, NZ.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Founders Heritage Park Village

An Historic Delight

Founders Heritage Park Village is an authentic historical village in Nelson, NZ, which recreates and depicts the site as it was in the 1800s. The park is fully set out with a village green, lake, shops, church, station, fire station, village pub, brewery, windmill, and all other amenities as they would have been back then. Many of the buildings are original, although some have been moved here from other parts of the country. Some are replicas and all are in an excellent state of repair due to the diligence of the local council.

The amazing thing about this village is just how lively it is. The brewery and pub are flourishing, the bakers sells wonderful breads, the village hall holds parties, dances and shows, the station has a small train working hard at giving local rides, the village green has regular fetes, festivals and pageants and the charming little shops house art galleries, jewellers, dressmakers, and other local craftspeople. Although a tourist destination it is foremost a working village with wonderful ameneties used by the locals freely on a daily basis.

This charming building, Rutherford Cottage, is a replica of the childhood home of  the famous chemist and scientist  Sir Ernest Rutherford  who later went on to gain the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and was knighted in 1914. He spent his later life in England. This pretty cottage is now the art studio of  Lori Davis  who gives painting and drawing lessons in this building.

It truly is one of the most lively places to visit and a perfect history lesson for one and all. Friday night is designated a family occasion with the pub holding a BBQ and pizza evening and 'Mother's Night Off'' while the children have art classes, climb in the playground or play on the village green. The weekends are given over to shows and festivals (I attended a 'Growables Fair' with a flower show, hippie festival, and lots of magical world food delights and also a 'Craft Fair' which displayed local talents. The foods and music at these events are superb and the relaxed atmosphere not experienced anywhere else I have ever been.)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Infant School Twilight Gala

Reach For The Stars
"Toro Atu Ki Nga Whetu"
(The School Motto)

Fun And Freedom While Learning
A Home-Made Gala

Te Kakano Pakeke


Schools in NZ have a wonderful ethos. The children have fun and freedom while learning. Their education system is one of the best in the world, yet their methods are seldom copied and are to our (UK) eyes liberal and strange.

The first noticeable thing is their dress - most schools have no uniform other than a sun hat ... the first time I saw this on a school notice "shoes are optional but sun hats are mandatory" I was shocked ... but in fact the children seldom wear shoes but ALWAYS have a sun hat on! (Must mention this freedom extends to the teachers who often wear t-shirts, shorts, flip flops - and always hats!)

The next most noticeable difference is the way the parents are welcomed into the school rooms at any time and are milling around the class looking at the childrens work each morning and afternoon. The school is considered an asset for the population and no line is drawn between staff and parents.

The school playing fields, adventure playgrounds and school swimming pool and changing rooms are also open to the public at any time that they are not being used and are a real community asset. The children come and go at leisure and it is wonderful to be able to use these local amenities freely, particularly during weekends and school holidays.

My grandson's small infant's school had a gala this weekend and I was astounded at the sheer amount of help and involvement organised and given by parents. It was held at twilight as it is too hot during the day to be out in the sun. Here are a few pics of what can be done in a small rural school with the active help of parents who are very involved. Families here in general are rather poor and incomes are very low so everything is done on a shoe string. In particular I was totally amazed at the amount of wonderful home baking provided!


Tone Def

All the foods, stalls and entertainments were provided by the parents, pupils and teachers at this cute little infant school, and a superb art exhibition took place in the school hall.  It was a great evening with lots of cake!  And yes ... there were crowds ...  but I thought it not appropriate to photograph them!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Morrison Street Cafe Gallery

Award Winning Cafe Gallery
Morrison Street Cafe

I have visited New Zealand many times over the last ten years and always pay a few visits to this wonderful cafe gallery.  Morrison Street Cafe  is in central Nelson and draws crowds from tourists to locals who come for the wonderful food and to see the new local art exhibitions. This place has got just about everything right and has actually won awards for the last eight years naming it the best cafe in the region. If you check it out on Trip Advisor you will see that my gushing recommendation is not out of place. Why are all cafes not this good?

Excellent coffee

Firstly, the coffee is excellent and the food and drinks of the highest quality. Everything is baked daily on the premises and displayed with great attention to detail. Snacks and meals are beautifully presented and delivered by attentive staff. The place is friendly and totally informal with mixed areas of seating and masses of quality papers and magazines to browse ... and the walls are covered in art! The exhibition changes every three weeks and is always exciting.

Local school children's art

Serving station

Casual seating areas

Good home baking

Yummy cakes

Brilliant breakfasts

Good simple food

The outdoor eating area (usually in the sun) overlooks the weekly market and a 'Fashion Island' of tasteful shops and cafes. Iced water is always available and local wines, beers and soft drinks are quickly delivered. They even produce a cookery book and recipe blog to enable you to recreate your own favourite recipes.

Popular Afghan biscuits

A happy lunch here introduced me to Lamb Borek, a filo pastry filled delight originally from Turkey but apparently now popular throughout middle eastern countries. It is a simple dish to make and oh so delicious. Here is the recipe ...

                 Lamb Borek


Filo pastry
Minced lamb
Lemon juice


Fry the minced lamb in a little oil
Add the finely chopped parsley, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and mix well
Continue cooking until well browned and dry
Add lemon juice to taste
Add the beaten egg and again mix well
The mixture should now be dry and slightly spiced
Now add more finely chopped parsley
Season well

Lay the filo pastry out  - each sheet should be folded into two
Place meat mix on pastry and roll and fold into a thick cigar shape
Tuck all ends in well and put on baking sheet with join underneath
Brush with melted butter and bake until golden and crispy all over

I have purposely left out quantities as this can be adapted for number required.
A vegetarian option can be made in the same fashion by substituting feta cheese and spinach for the meat and adding chopped sun dried tomatoes.
I served these with taboulleh and hummus and with a mango chutney

Very chilled cafe culture
Artist unknown
Via google

Friday, 23 November 2012

Ta Mokos

Body Art Of The Maori

European settlers to NZ first remarked on Ta Mokos (the Maori term for tattoos) in the early 1800s. When agreements between the settlers and the Maori tribes were signed it was noted that the distinguishing marks on the Maori tribesmen's faces were copied on documents as a form of signature. These unique marks were used instead of written words by the Maoris who at this time were illiterate yet needed to be legally identified.

Maori mokos

Maori mokos

Not only were the faces of men heavily tattooed but also their bodies were marked at certain rites of passage letting others know of their position within the tribes and also their life experiences to date.

Women were less heavily adorned, and only on their faces, lips, and jawline, which was considered the only appropriate place to be touched by men other than their husbands. Their facial tattoos were a mark of status within the tribe.

The male tattoos were considered to make the men more attractive to women and also symbolised them as fierce and ferocious warriors not to be messed with.

Most Maori men and are now heavily inked over their whole bodies - although for women still only on arms, legs and faces are the marks visible. (Not sure about their bodies!)

It was rather difficult to take photos of the designs I saw because, as you know, I do not identify anyone on my blog unless specifically agreed or they cannot be identified by the pic  ...

A typical spiral design
Via flickr

Women with facial adornment
Via flickr

 "Taia o moko, hei hoa matenga mou"
(Inscribe yourself, so you have a friend in death)
A Maori saying. 

File:Haka for Lord Ranfurly 1904.jpg
Tattooed Maori performing a Haka war dance in 1904
Via wikipaedia

The heavily inked Maoris looked terrifying when facing apponents in battle and particularly so when performing their war dance, The Haka, something now carried forward by their New Zealand Rugby Team,  The All Blacks, before every match.

The Haka
(Ka Mate)
Ka mate, ka mate! ka ora! ka ora!
Ka mate! ka mate! ka ora! ka ora!
Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru
Nana nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra
A, upane! ka upane!
A, upane, ka upane, whiti te ra!
'Tis death! 'tis death! (or: I may die) 'Tis life! 'tis life! (or: I may live)
'Tis death! 'tis death! 'Tis life! 'tis life!
This the hairy man that stands here...
who brought the sun and caused it to shine
A step upward, another step upward!
A step upward, another... the Sun shines!


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Cable Bay - Rotokura

Bringing Communication To NZ

Cable Bay got its name from the first cable to connect NZ to the outside world. Until the 1800s there was no easy way to connect this isolated area to the rest of the world., then in the late 1800s a cable was laid connecting the North Island to the South Island, Australia, and eventually to the rest of the world. A telegraph company was established here in 1876, which enabled business in this part of the world to flourish. Communication now took only four days instead of the previous six months for letters to arrive by sea.

Cable Bay

Previously the area was known by the Maori as Rotokura, which translates as Red Water and refers to the red reefs off shore. The Maori still live within this area but are now superceeded by the many immigrants and early settlers.

This area is now a small settlement and nature reserve with a stunning sheltered and shingle beach. It is fairly isolated yet ony twenty miles from the city of Nelson. There is an extensive area of natural bush land still owned by the Maoris and also a large Maori burial site across the bay from Pepin Island. There is also a three hour walkway for tramping, and a marine site for snorkeling and kayaking and a magical nature reserve. A few farms dot the surrounding hillside with only a narrow winding hillside road connecting them to civilization, there being no shops or anything else in the vicinity.

Looking down on super beach

I love this place with its clear blue waters, seals, dolphins and birds and with beautiful gorse and wild flowers along the way. It is quite common to be the only person on the beach.

Across to Pepin Island

Blue seas

Blue skies

Native vegetation

Map via google

Superb isolated spot

The Maoris now know this area as Wakapuaka and the road leading to the bay is now noted as Wakapuaka Road, although I am told that early settlers, finding the Maori language rather difficult, locally called the area Hokeypokey ... a name still remembered with New Zealands favourite ice cream, vanilla with honeycomb broken throughout.

Via NZ foods

Hokey Pokey The Easy Way
  • 5 TBS sugar
  • 2 TBS golden syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • Vanilla ice cream

Bring sugar and golden syrup to the boil slowly in a large heavy saucepan, stirring all the time as it will burn easily.
After it starts to foam up, simmer gently over a very low heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally and still watching it carefully.
Remove from heat and add baking soda quickly until it foams up and pour at once into a greased pan or onto a piece of aluminium foil with the edges turned up.

Break it into bits when cold and store in air-tight jars.
Be sure to save all the crumbles so that you can top your ice cream with them to make Hokey Pokey Ice-cream.