“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Thursday 30 May 2013

Our trip to the South Island, New Zealand...Part 3

So where were we?
Ahh yes...I remember now we where in Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand, having a great time although it does seem quite some time ago now. 
As with our North Island trip we were so lucky with the weather with sun filled days but the nights were quite chilly. As we wondered around the town looking for somewhere to eat we found this fantastic Pizza and Spaghetti House tucked away down a little side street. We knew we were in for a good night due to the laughter coming from within, heat blasting out from the open fire, an atmosphere like that of a UK type pub and the aroma of pizza wafting through the premises. 
It was just what we needed...

Here's the blurb from the menu....
And here's our tasty pizza...Mmmm...smell that!

We can highly recommend this place if you are visiting but be warned you may have to wait for a table...but don't despair it will be worth it!

Now I' m aware of how many photos I have of our visit so I think I'll just let you sit back and relax flicking through a few. The photos don't do the scenery justice but at least you can see what 'Middle Earth' looks like.

I took the photo below from our window using the panoramic option and have to confess it was my first time but I'm quite pleased.
Not bad waking up to that view eh?
Maybe I should at this point mention the fantastic Pounamu Luxury Apartments where we stayed because the apartments had everything we needed to make our stay relaxing and enjoyable.
That view was so special and I found myself gazing at it for hours just watching the light and weather conditions change. It truly was inspiring. There was always something of interest.
I was also surprised to receive a gift upon our arrival for reserving our booking through their website instead of through an agent. 

This view was on one of our day trips and I couldn't help myself...I wanted to use the panoramic option again. I mean those huge expanses needs this size screen to fit it all in!  

The photo on the left below is of the Shotover River. This is where we felt the fear but did it anyway!
Well hardly, but it was a great experience jetting along virtually clipping the cliffs and performing 360 degree turns at break neck speeds...all great fun!

The bridge over Shotover River has quite a history.
The graceful bridge is a tribute to a WW1 nurse - and also a miner who refused to give up on honouring her memory. Edith Cavell was a British nurse. She was executed by German soldiers in 1915 for assisting 200 Allied soldiers escape into the Netherlands from German-occupied Belgium. There was an international outrage at her execution and the Allies proclaimed her a martyr.
Despite her wishes simply to be remembered as "a nurse who tried to do her duty" her actions inspired people worldwide. 
One such person was John (Jack) Clark, a miner who lived in a sod hut above Arthur's Point Bridge. His official request to have the bridge named after Edith Cavell were declined, so Jack took matters into his own hands. On the day of the bridge opening in February 1919, he painted "to Cavell Bridge" in large red letters on a sign visible to all of those coming to the ceremony.
To ensure the name stuck, Jack then painted "Edith Cavell Bridge" on the bridge itself. By the time that the paint had faded away Jack got his wish and Edith Cavell had her lasting memorial!

Here's an old photo of Jack...

                                                                  ....and Edith Cavell as a young woman.
The Shotover River where the bridge is located is in the Otago region and as the name correctly suggests the 75 kilometre-long river is fast flowing...
We do have photographic evidence that we actually did this ride, but I'd rather not show them if you don't mind! We were a little damp and windswept after it and my hubby wouldn't want you to see him like that! LOL 
But don't fret you will see the Bungy Jump later!!!! (gasp)

We spent a few days in a beautiful quaint old gold rush town called Arrowtown which was about a 20 minute drive from Queenstown. 

(photo courtesy of http://www.arrowtown.com/)
Arrowtown is built on the banks of the Arrow River, once a rich source of gold in the 1860's and now a sophisticated, multi-cultural town. It's also recognised as the walking and biking centre of the Wakatipu and many walking trails and cycle tracks of the area either start or finish in the town. 
We had a wonderful walk along the Arrow River...

On the day that we arrived in Arrowtown there was a festival and a scarecrow competition, which had all the children very excited. Later in the week the scarecrows were displayed at various points around the town.
Whilst the judges made their difficult decision as to who would win...we sat and indulged in an afternoon tea with warm scones, jam and cream at the Stables. 
(seen below on the top right photo) 

How quaint is this Pharmacy? In fact all of the buildings were like this. The current museum used to be the old bank...it was fascinating to visit but I did ensure that we would only stay two hours maximum. If you've not heard before my hubby loses track of all time in a museum and has to read every notice and bit of information available. 
I've got photos but I'm aware of how much of your time I've taken already...so I'll leave them out for today. 

Let's get away from the town and just breathe in that clear air....
How about that for a sky?

But wait a minute you can't visit Queenstown without doing a bungy jump can you?
 AJ Hackett pioneered this crazy adrenalin activity and this is where the madness began at the Kawarau Bridge back in November 1988.
So did I do the jump? Before you scroll down...what do you think? 
Did I or didn't I?

I'm not that stupid so in the interest of all my blog followers I sent in my substitute so that I could report back to you on the whole experience! 
I made a few critical requests as I set up my video...No backing out once I pressed play, no squealing, no flinging arms or legs...and a swallow dive please with neatly folded arms once at the bottom of the jump! 
No biggies really...it worked like a dream...in fact I ruined the video with my giggling and saying "OMG he's done it! I didn't think he would".
So if you want to check out the details here's the link http://www.bungy.co.nz/
He was even presented with a t-shirt as a momento giving all the details ie height of drop etc. I on the other hand nearly purchased one that had a chicken on it with a pair of scissors and the cut rope!

Don't ask me why but my hubby decided he wanted to get dunked at the end of the jump, as if the drop wasn't enough. 
There's a choice...it's not compulsory. 
The guys in charge take your weight and work out how much rope to give you (or elastic or whatever it is that has you dangling). 

..And that's where I think I'll call it a day today...
Thanks so much for joining me on my trip today...I hope you enjoyed it.
See you again soon

Wednesday 29 May 2013

What's on Your Work Desk, Wednesday....WOYWW #208

I've picked a very special week to revisit WOYWW (What's On Your Work Desk, Wednesday) because this week it's their 4th Anniversary! 
I haven't visited the gang for so long that I'm actually surprised I remember what to do! 
Since my last WOYWW I've visited the South Island of New Zealand, my son has celebrated his 21st Birthday, my studio has disappeared, my laptop has died and I'm about to leave Melbourne FOREVER!
It's quite a list isn't it....but thankfully my art has kept me sane....or as near to sane as I can be.

So here's a look at my desk.... 

Well I use the term desk loosely because yep, I'm back to creating on a dining table, although in this case this table isn't ours. This table is a rental and along with a few other pieces we've gone with the minimalist look. 
We've packed all of our own worldly goods and they are sailing across the globe as I type. Hopefully they'll arrive at the same time that we do. Well that's the plan.   
There's one thing that strikes me with our new minimalist home and that is if it's not here then it doesn't need dusting or cleaning leaving much more time for art! Yay!

Unfortunately due to all of this craziness, I'm not able to participate in the WOYWW anniversary ATC swap, even though last year I decided that I'd definitely be involved. But there again I thought I'd still be settle and not about to take part in our own BIG swap...on house move number 12!!! 

So maybe you should check out what's going on over at Julia's Stamping Ground and see more desks. It's a lot of fun and everyone is so friendly and supportive.  
Congratulations Julia on your 4th Anniversary and to everyone in the WOYWW gang.  
Have fun everyone 

Friday 24 May 2013

Autumnal Tree...APR #58

Today is rather a strange day...I'm in a new venue for sending my post. 
I've come to a local library and I must admit it's a little strange. 
It's the first time that I've sat and used the communal computers and I'm just thinking is it impolite to wipe all of the keyboard with antibacterial sanitising wipes before I begin? 
I normally have the radio playing when I'm blogging but here the tapping of the eight keyboards is deafening!
I've played footsie with the chap across the desk from me...the girl next to me is constantly chattering about everything and anything not working or going to plan, she's even muttered that heaven forbid they've let a small child onto one of the computers to 'play'! 
There's another chap who seems to have lost his chin whilst he concentrates on the screen and I'm now trying desperately to relax my own face...which isn't an easy task I can tell you! 
OH NO..he's now decided to pick his nose! Surely not :(
Oh please...it's like when you see a terrible sight but you just can't stop your eyes from revisiting! Yuk!
Now I wish I had used the wipes! 
I'm getting a little concerned about the chap sitting next to me who has slumped over the desk playing solitaire...he hasn't moved for the past 30 minutes! I do hope he's not peeking at what I'm writing.
Oh we're okay his time has just ran out and he's off...phewph!
The child playing on the end desk is accompanied by his Grandmother by the way and he's having a great time pressing every button on the keyboard because Granny just tells him..."I don't know darling...just press anything and see". Well it works for me :D
So with all of these distractions I nearly forgot why I'm here...
Oh yes...it's to post my entry into the lovely Jenn's The Artist Play Room. 
I've missed so many weeks what with gallivanting around New Zealand's South Island, plus packing up our belongings for the big move,  so I'm thrilled that I've actually got something to enter. I'm thinking that I will add colour because let's face it autumn is all about colour...but that will have to be later.
The only trouble is that I've already sent most of my art equipment away already, but I suppose I could add to my collection and purchase the colours that I need...they could always go via airfreight later.

 I've also another drawing (not in my journal) which I had hoped to post here, but unfortunately the usual daily business got in the way and it's still got some work needed. 
I've taken photos at various stages because I love that when I see other artists work broken down to show their techniques. Hopefully I'll be able to post that drawing soon. I'm quite excited about it.
In the meantime, I'll let my fellow 'puter people carry on...
Hormonal female next to me is still muttering...slump man has returned bring with him a rather odd odour (which I'd rather not dwell on) Happy feet across the desk is still tap dancing...and I seem to have missed the child leaving...maybe he's off for a nap now that he's been overstimulated. Oh yes and the chinless wonder has now found a tricky piece of skin near his thumb nail that seems to be putting up quite a fight!  
And so there you have it...today's post!
But before I head off for a well earned tea break, let me give you the link for the APR so that you can check out what the other artists have been submitting this week.
I can't believe I've been blogging for nearly two hours without a cuppa. Unthinkable! 
I'm off....have a fantastic Friday everyone and an even better weekend whatever you have planned. 
Have fun! 


Tuesday 21 May 2013

A Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY ~ Tuesday 21st May 2013

Outside my window...There's a big empty space where our alfresco dining table and chairs plus loungers used to be. I should explain if you haven't visited here before that we are in the process of moving back to the UK, so all our belongings and worldly goods are sailing home as I type. 
All that remains outside this particular window is the bricked in BBQ and a few potted plants. I've still got a few herbs and strawberries in pots but they'll be adopted next month. Thankfully there are lots of plants in the garden so we aren't devoid of greenery.
Unfortunately all the trees in and around our plot are still losing their leaves. This makes it a constant battle to keep them from falling into and worse still sinking down into the depths of the swimming pool.
The magpies are very vociferous this morning. They've been in deep discussion with each other since first light. I can't help but wonder what they could possibly be saying to each other.
Muffin is also sitting with her nose in the air...making sure nothing passes her keen sense of smell. She doesn't seem to have noticed all of our belongings have disappeared. She's still got her bed and her bowl for her mealtimes so everything is hunky-dory in her world! Bless...she has no idea she'll be going on a long journey soon ^..^         

I am thinking...where oh where can my reading glasses be? Last week they dropped into the pool but I managed to fish them out but on our dog walk on Monday morning I went out with them but they didn't return. I'm going to walk the same walk tomorrow in the hope that by some miracle I find them. This would be incredible because as I mentioned all the leaves are still falling so they are probably well disguised by now. Thankfully I've got a spare pair otherwise I would be in trouble!

I am thankful...that the English Football Premiership season has finished. No more 2, 3, 4 or 5am disturbed nights due to the boys getting up to watch their team play 12,000 miles away/
They'll be able to actually go to the ground and watch them play live! 
The last match was played last Sunday night and at 3.00am there was an almighty loud roar from the lounge. As you can imagine I thought the house was coming down and woke in a cold sweat instantly...as you can imagine I will not miss that!  

In the kitchen...there is none of my usual cooking equipment. They are all within in a 40ft container on sailing on their way back to the UK. It's amazing that I don't seem to remember this fact numerous times a day! I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a particular cupboard or drawer to find something I need only to stare into a large void! Don't get me wrong we do have a few rental things but it's only the basics. 
Some meal preparations have been a trial but so far I've managed. 

I am wearing...A warm fleece to snuggle into...leggings and Ugg slippers for cozy toes (and a thermal vest...but that's just between you and me..shhh...don't tell anyone else)   

I am creating...I've got a little surprise in the making, although I haven't actually got to start it yet! I won't say anymore because I'll hopefully show you later this week. It's perfect in my mind...I just need to get it out onto the paper...tomorrow may be the make or break of the idea. 

I am going...to try to maximise my last few weeks here in Melbourne. I'm not going to think that once I leave I'll never come back because as I've said before...never say never! Who knows? ;D

I am wondering...what it will be like to return to our family home. The one that we haven't lived in for so long. I think generally it'll all be good but obviously they'll be a transitional period where everything will be topsy turvy. I've got lots of plans which I'm looking forward to...one being that I can set up a completely new art studio...oh my heart does a little leap just at the thought! 

I'm reading...Fractured by Dawn Barker
Fractured is an intensely powerful story about a family torn apart by a terrible tragedy that pivots on the events of one day, all the pieces of the jigsaw gradually fitting together as the story builds to its devastating and inevitable conclusion. 

Anna and Tony Patton seem to have it all, great career, a loving marriage and now a beautiful new baby son, Jack. But six weeks after Jack's birth, he and Anna go missing and Tony is plunged into a nightmare. As he desperately searches for his family, it becomes clear that he has been overlooking just how hard life came be with a newborn. 
I obviously don't want to give too much away except to say I read this book with a few days! I've passed on my recommendation to a few people and so far every one of them has reported back that they couldn't put the book down. 


About the Author:-
Dawn Barker

Dr Dawn Barker is a child psychiatrist who works with families affected by mental illness. She grew up in Scotland, and studied Medicine at Aberdeen University. In 2001 she moved to Australia, completed her psychiatric training and began writing. She has published non-fiction articles on parenting and child psychology for various websites and magazines. Fractured is her first novel. 

I am hoping...that Mufftypup has a good flight and sleeps most of the way so that she doesn't fret. It's certainly a long way for a little pooch to travel all alone. I'd love her to be able to sit with us and I know she'd love to meet all of her fellow passengers. I can just visualise her walking up and down the aisle seeking as much attention as possible.

I am looking forward to...seeing all of the members of my family. I haven't been home in three years so there's a lot to catch up on. 

Around the house...There are empty rooms. As I mentioned here we have shipped our own furniture back to the UK in the hope that it will be there ready to welcome us when we return, so in the interim we have rented furniture. It feels like we are on holiday yet again! It's amazing just how inventive I have had to be...especially with flowers. I realised that I didn't have a vase to put them in, so I recycled interesting plastic bottles by cutting the tops off! I have to say I'm so pleased with myself as they have worked brilliantly.  

A favourite quote for today...

One of my favourite things...(I always have difficulty with this one because I've got so many favourite things) It's difficult to think of something else as I pop another chunk of chocolate into my mouth...whilst finishing the best book I've read for some time so other than the obvious chocolate and books I think I'd have to say my family and friends. 
I'll be so sorry to leave the friends I've made since being here in the land of Oz, but I will treasure our friendship and hopefully with the internet's help I'll be able to stay connected. As to my family it will be wonderful to reconnect with them and get back to where we left off! 
A few plans for the rest of the week:  Work, rest and play but not necessarily in that order...it still appropriate! : D

A peek into my day... 
We are having fantastic autumn weather here in Melbourne and I'm making sure that I appreciate it! 

 So that's it for this week; I hope you enjoyed your visit and if it's your first time reading my daybook entry, I hope you enjoyed it.
Don't forget to pop over to The Simple Womans Daybook and check out the other day book entries

Have a fabulous week and hopefully the sun will shine for you....keep smiling!

https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511763.gif I hope to see you again soon...Have a wonderful week everyone...whatever you have planned.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Bienvenue a la Maison de Maitre.....French cooking and language course

Before the madness started of packers, containers and generally not being able to find anything because everything has either been moved or shipped off, I had a fantastic gift from my hubby which was to attend a French cooking and language course. 
It took place on a Sunday morning and I have to say it was quite nice to drive through Melbourne whilst the traffic was so quiet. I know realise that there are some parts of Melbourne that I still haven't seen yet! 
There wasn't much activity on this particular peaceful Sunday morning I have to say...except for the odd car, joggers and fitness fanatics, dog walkers and yawning Dad's accompanying far too energetic, enthusiastic kiddie-winks to the park! Along with the obvious benefits of holding the course on a Sunday, in order for everyone to be able to attend, there's also no parking restrictions and plenty of spaces near to hand. Yay!

Bienvenue a la Maison de Maitre....

« Convier quelqu’un c’est se charger de son bonheur pendant toutle temps qu’il est sous votre toît.  » Brillat-Savarin 1826

«To invite someone is to take responsibility for their happiness for all the time that they are under our roof.» Brillat-Savarin 1826

Greeted at the door of La Maison de Maitre by Maggie Brocher (one of the Directors of Corporate Language Communications Company) I was also greeted by the fabulous waft of garlic and Madame Chantal Moritz busy with her preparations for the delights ahead. 
Chantal is a French chef and language tutor, who has a passion for French cuisine and an ability to teach simple French cooking skills in the French language. 
It was a delight just to listen to her friendly chatter. 

Born in Paris to a family of French chefs, Chantal followed the family path of cooking good honest country cuisine. She believes that "cooking should not be overly complicated simply by choosing fresh seasonal products at their best using local ingredients and adding the personal touch and lots of love".

With Chantal and Maggies friendly personalities plus the French music helping to set the scene, it soon enabled all of the 'foodie' and amateur gastronomes to relax and mingle whilst having a cuppa. 
Always a good start in my book!
I didn't really appreciate quite what was to come during the course because not only was it to have audience participation, there was also to be a three course meal with wine! 
This part was a total surprise to both me and my hubby.
He was at home expecting his Sunday Roast later that day......oops back to the drawing board sweetie!

As we sat down at the dining tables all 17 enthusiastic wannabe's took it in turns to introduce ourselves to the group. I know that can be terrifying to some people, but this part was in to be in English...the terrifying French version was to come in between the main course and dessert! 
Don't worry Chantal was so gentle and encouraging that we all survived...even the ones who nipped to the ladies in the hope that they'd miss their turn!
Nowadays I do try to taste everything and anything, realising that I can't possibly say I don't like something if I haven't tried it first. But when I realised what was to be come I nearly fell at the first fence!

Yes I know I should have expected them...but I didn't. 
Just a little detour here to explain that when I first got married....years ago...I wasn't much of a cook and so took myself off to a cooking night school. Why I chose a Cordon Bleu cooking course I don't know to this day because how many times do you need a Black Forest Gâteau when you arrive home mid week after a tough day at the office. See I told you it was years ago...BFG how retro is that? 
It would probably be a deconstructed version today!
As part of the course (run by a very cute chef I should add) we were introduced to snails or should I say escargot. I desperately wanted to decline but as I say he was cute and very persuasive. He explained that I should try one and if I didn't like it then that was okay, at least I'd tried and I'd never have to have one again! 
Well I'll skip over the gagging and baulking details...but suffice to say I didn't like them!!!! So I vowed I wouldn't need to have them again...EVER!

But then enter Chantal....
Now being a woman she was switched on and had already anticipated the reaction of many in the room, so she disguised them by wrapping them in beautiful pastry parcels. We were all able to watch the whole process from our seats on the overhead TV. 
We also had the amazing aroma of the sauce which was reducing on the stove. 
So here are the little darlings....

Apologies for the poor quality of my photo below because the light wasn't the best for taking photos!

As you can see I made a polite attempt to eat them, but really only moved the parcel around the plate taking a tiny piece of pastry to get the essence of the dish. I hope Chantal isn't reading this but if you are Chantal I apologise because I wrapped them into my serviette to take home a pressie for the boys. What a laugh I had when I told them that in fact they weren't tough mushrooms as they thought but escargot!
As I mentioned earlier this course was audience participation and we had all entered our names onto a white board to volunteer to help on a particular part of the meal. 
I decided to help with the main course and was set to chop and prepare the vegetables for roasting. Again I couldn't help myself as I began chopping crazily like the top chef's do, but without going near the veggies. It was priceless to see everyone turn to look with a gasp at my efficiency until they realised I hadn't chopped a thing! I know simple things and all that...but it was a giggle.

On to serious stuff...the main course...
Poulet Moutardier / Chicken with Mustard Sauce 
This dish was so simple but so tasty. The roasted veggies (potatoes, tomato, onions, aubergine, courgette, theme, salt and pepper and probably lots of other veggies that I'm forgetting but you get the idea) cooked so easily in a large oven dish and looked so attractive. 

After a civilised glass of wine...either red or white (French of course) then Chantal began the language exchange that although struck me with terror initially was actually fun. 
And so onto dessert...one again apologies for this photo...I certainly haven't done it justice here.

Lemon tart accompanied with chocolate mousse and raspberry coulis. This certainly was a quick recipe and didn't actually bake in the oven. Perfect when time is of the essence, but I have to admit I don't think I could change from my own favourite recipe...here it is if you'd like to try it out...

Here's Chantal and Maggie at the end of the day's course...obviously even though it's hard work it's very rewarding and enjoyable for everyone. Thank you ladies for such an great day...good wine, fantastic food, pleasant surroundings and meeting new like minded people. Magnifique! 

If you would like to take a look at the details of future courses then click here....La Maison de Maitre

Et Bon appétit!

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Change is in the air.....

The change in the weather here today has lead me to think of home.
Not the place I rest my head every night or the place I've enjoyed living in for the last few years but home...that place miles away...well 12,000 miles away to be exact.
The change in the weather is perfectly timed for our next trip.
Yes, I know I haven't even finished the New Zealand posts yet (which I promise I will) but this trip has been planned for some time now.
I just haven't got around to telling you about it yet.
Don't worry I'm giving you some time to get used to the idea because we don't depart for another month or so....beside I need time to get used to the idea myself.
And so...where are we heading next? Have you guessed yet?
I hope you're sitting down because we're off home!
To the UK!!!
Yes, finally after 24 years of travelling we've decided to call it a day and settle back in 'Blighty'.
There have been other destinations and possibilities discussed but we've decided to head home.
I have to admit I've so many mixed feelings over this next move.
Move number 12 can you believe!
Remember all of those packing boxes not so long ago....with move number 11 well they came back last week and in fact they even multiplied!

We've considered every factor to reach this big decision and had umpteen nights of being awake from 2am so it's not one that we have taken lightly...that's for sure.
 There are so many things that I'll miss but the world is a much smaller place with the internet and I have every intention of keeping up close and personal with all my Aussie connections.
One thing I won't be able to send back though is the light!
I now realise that the light in the Southern Hemisphere is totally different than that of the Northern Hemisphere...you'd think a world traveller would know that sort of thing but I hadn't realised just how different it can be and what a huge impact it can have on you.
I think one of the first purchases once I land might be to buy one of those bright light therapy lamps recommended by doctors as the first line treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just in case....
I've always remained positive on this blog and that's the way I plan to carry on...no matter what it takes!

At least with this move I know exactly what I'm returning to and that sits very comfortably.
We'll also have our daughter close to hand for the first time in years which will be perfect...I'll just have to remember the novelty might wear off if I'm a nuisance.
We also have every member of both sides of our family all living within a 10 mile radius of each other...although we'll have a few hours distance between us. 
I'm looking forward to moving back into the house that I loved and had difficulty leaving in the first place.
I never really got to know it...if any floorboards creak, wood burners and open fires plus getting familiar with cooking on the Aga again. I have wonderful memories of the 11ft Christmas tree that we brought into the hallway...and the bonfire night celebrations in the old ruined cobble stone barn which we call 'the folly'. Country Life here we come.....

Can you believe that this is my studio!
I feel rather sad looking at this photo, but it will be fine as I get to completely design a new one.
How exciting is that? Will you help me?
If you have any ideas and good tips then please just pop a comment below.
I only borrowed this one...it's been brilliant but it'll be fantastic to organise my own.
Here's someone who doesn't seem to be bothered by all the weird happenings going on...in fact I think she's loved having so many people coming just to see her!

One of the packers was so taken with her that I had to check where she was when he was about to leave because I felt sure he might have had her tucked away somewhere.
Oh yes...I should say 'YES OF COURSE SHE'S COMING WITH US'!!!!
How could we possibly leave her behind?
In fact she's been for her rabies jab today and amazingly enough seems to have forgiven me.

As you can see she wasn't much help with the early organising...it was all so very tiresome!   
But as they say....there's no rest for the wicked and let me tell you I must be extremely bad because it was an exhausting week.
That's one reason why my posts and visiting has been very sporadic of late to say the least.
Oh yes and the fact that my laptop died!!!

This was our 40ft container waiting for our worldly goods to be loaded...it seemed so huge but then we do have a lot of stuff and I did fret that we'd have to make the terrible decision as to what would fit in or what would have to be left behind.


And here it is...with everything in!
I can't praise the guys who worked on the packing enough...but maybe I should wait until we open up all the packages at the other end.  No seriously they worked like Trojans.
Two of the team were a father and son who had such a brilliant working relationship. The father had some incredible tales to tell and mentioned he'd been doing this kind of job since he was 13 years old. 

So now we have a minimalistic look about the place, with just a few rental essentials for our remaining weeks. It feels like we are on holiday again.
It's such fun to start to cook and go to get a favourite pan or utensil to then realise...doh...of course it's not there. Oh what fun I'm having having to improvise constantly!!!! :(

I hope you'll join me on this new adventure because there's going to be lots to talk about and certainly lots to photograph. I'd love to have your company along the way :D
That's one of the things I'm looking forward to...showing you all the wildlife and visitors that I remember that used to call into our garden...I wonder if the pheasants, deer, badgers and buzzards still come to visit us?Not to mention the foxes and rabbits. I think there will be lots of fun and games plus challenges ahead as I want to create a veggie garden, plus I may even venture to own my own chooks!
Who knows....the possibilities are endless!
I'm trying not to think about the actual transporting of Mufftypup but at least she won't have to go into quarantine like last time. I couldn't bare to do that again. If you want to see what happened on Muffy's mission from the Middle East click here.
I also worry about how she will get on with the UK weather! I think she may well be an Aga magnet.
But I might have to fight her for that position....remember I don't like to be in temperatures below 16 degrees! She does have jumpers and coats already so that'll help, but I know she likes the heat more than the cold so I'm sure they'll be some antics ahead.
But I hopefully will be able to dispel some of the terrible myths about the UK weather...I've already asked that the thermostat be turned up in readiness for our arrival.
I have lots planned that I'd love to share with you...cooking, baking, gardening, setting up of the new studio, house and garden projects, plus all the historical tours and revisiting of so many fantastic places. We also will be exploring more of Europe now that we've been over this side of the world for so long.
So it won't be all about the weather ~ promise!
Although I suppose it'll be featured in there I'm sure...I'm just thinking what Muffy might think about snow! I can almost hear her now..."we are NOT amused'! ^..^
Just an additional thought.....
I'm aware that there are many people that are dealing with lots of changes occurring at the moment.
Friends have had family dynamics altered which have completely pulled the rug from under them...others have health issues that are making them adapt to their new limitations and restrictions...but there's also good changes that can occur. Some people hate change of any sort...and I must admit even though I've had many changes to deal with and coped, I do find it difficult initially to embrace them.
But I've been lucky that so far they always seem to work out for the good.
The important thing is how we cope with these changes.
Some changes might well feel horrendous and difficult to cope with at the time, but then who knows what lies ahead...the changes may actually be a blessing in disguise...I truly hope so.

I'll get back to our New Zealand posts soon and I've also been to a French Cooking and Language course which I want to tell you about.
Catch you again soon I hope...in the meantime have a great week...
I'm off to make the most of my last few months here...whoohoo!

Keep smiling and pass it on...someone may need it today

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Part 2 ~ Steam ship cruise to Walter Peak, New Zealand

Oh boy...what a week and we're only on Tuesday!
Well I've sad news today everyone....my laptop wasn't able to make it :(
I know I've always said I'd only be positive on my blog, so I'll try to be brave saying farewell to my dear friend. (deep breath) 
We had so many good times and knew each other so well...I can't believe the journey we travelled together. A real voyage of discovery but after five years (which I'm told is exceptional) it's time to 
face reality...it's time to move on....but I'll not rush into anything. I'll have a wee while to reflect. 

I'm borrowing a laptop this morning in the hope that I can bring you Part 2 of the New Zealand trip to the South Island. As I mentioned previously I was so close to posting this on Sunday before the tragedy occurred.

So let's move on swiftly...today we're off on a vintage Steamship cruise.

It's always difficult to get the shot that you want with so many flipping tourists around! ;D

Let me introduce you to a special lady...TSS Earnslaw.
She's 101 years old and looking really good for her age.
Just in case you are wondering (like I was)...TSS stands for Twin Screw Steamship!
Now you can wow your friends with that information.
The TSS Earnslaw is an integral part of Queenstown’s pioneering history and to this day a Queenstown icon. She was commissioned by New Zealand Railways to service the communities around Lake Wakatipu and launched in the same year as the Titanic, the TSS Earnslaw’s maiden voyage was on 18 October 1912. Soon known as The Lady of the Lake, she provided an essential link between the isolated farming communities along the lake and the outside world. At 48 metres long she was the biggest boat on the Lake and carried passengers, sheep, cattle, mail and supplies.
There's more information about this grande old lady below.

She makes quite a spectacular sight sailing across Lake Wakatipu with 'The Remarkables' as her backdrop! Especially when she gives a loud blast to announce her arrival/departure into the harbour.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, President Bill Clinton, and the Japanese Emperor and Empress among other famous people have enjoyed their TSS Earnslaw experience...along with ourselves of course.

Here are some details for anyone who might like to know more about the TSS Earnslaw...

Nearly scrapped in 1968 she was rescued and purchased by Real Journeys and put to work once again carrying passengers around the Lake. Since then the TSS Earnslaw has been painstakingly restored to her original condition – everything you see is pretty much like it was a 100 years ago. Today, the TSS Earnslaw is the only coal fired steamship in operation in the southern hemisphere, making her one of the most unique experiences in the world.
She's also featured in several movies including a cameo in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as an Amazon River Boat. Parts of the trawler SS Venture in Peter Jackson’s King Kong were inspired by her. Famous composer Ron Goodwin composed a piece of music inspired by the rhythm of the TSS Earnslaw’s engines.

So let's get down and dirty peeps...
Can you smell that? (cough...don't breath in too deeply). It was a chilly fresh day when we boarded so it was good to have a warm peering down into the bowels of the ship.
It looks like it was washing day too...if you look at the photo on the right below.

I thought I'd take a couple of shots of the thingy's that help to keep her moving.
So we're full steam ahead...

You can visit the engine room and see its giant steam engines at work which is really quite an experience...and I don't know a thing about them...even though I kept nodding prefusely whilst my hubby went through the whole process!
I must admit I did feel slightly guilty watching this chap working so hard to provide all of the passengers onboard such a wonderful afternoon.

You can also view the collection of historical photos in the mini-museum, check out the bridge or even join a sing-along with the pianist. I kid you not....

(Apologies...this post is putting up a fight too. I'm trying to tweak but it's not happy. It won't do as I say...which is really annoying to say the least) The quality of this photo is terrible but at least you can see I wasn't joking...he's there playing away with passenger's singing...having a fine time! I hasten to say we just noted all of this and moved on. Well...we didn't know the words! ;D

The cruises depart regularly throughout the day and we chose the afternoon trip for ours.
You can choose to do a cruise only, or a cruise, combined with a visit to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a guided farm tour, horse trek, barbecue lunch or evening dining. We chose the farm tour with afternoon tea. All very civilised and it wasn't hard to visualise what it might have been like back in the era of steamships.

Here we are arriving at Walter Peak jetty...with a loud toot from the funnel...

Situated on picturesque Lake Wakatipu’s south-western shores, the farm is the perfect place to spend a relaxing few hours. The Farm Tour itself is a wonderful interactive experience for the whole family with something to keep everyone entertained and happy.
Here's someone else for me to introduce...Gordon our guide (and Bess his sheepdog although I can't understand why I haven't a photo of her...maybe because she was constantly busy and on the go?)
Gordon was really interesting and so knowledgeable.

The rural host will meet you after you disembark from the TSS Earnslaw (which might not necessarily be Gordon as there are a few hosts) and depending if you are having the BBQ lunch first or just the farm visit they will take you on the walking tour of the farmyard. The first stop is the holding pens, where you can help feed the sheep, deer and even get up close to the Highland Cattle.

Aren't they adorable and I have to say not what I expected to see...

This stunning stag was very vocifious and strutting his stuff when we arrived...but his female companions didn't seem to be impressed. They've heard it all before probably.
Here are some other residents that you can feed...this was a big hit with all the little kiddywinks...

Afterwards Gordon led us over to the shearing shed where we watched Bess rounding up sheep from the hill paddocks. I was mesmorised and looked on in awe as she followed every command from Gordon without hesitation! I'm thinking Mufftypup needs to spend some time with Gordon and Bess ^..^
And so after rounding up the sheep we were entertained by Gordon shearing a sheep. Although I've seen this numerous times it's still amazing to watch.

I've have the whole shearing process on a video but won't attempt to put it on here with the way things are going!

There's also a spinning demonstration plus a shop for the shopaholic fix...

(I'm not sure I'd like him peering down on me...)
As you can imagine by now we were ready for afternoon tea...so a gentle stroll through the lakeside gardens to the charming Colonel’s Homestead for a traditional high country morning or afternoon tea of scones and pikelets. I've got more photos of this house but I'll have to add them into future posts....maybe Part 3 if I can keep sane enough to give it a go.
The Colonel's homestead was stunning and had perfect views of the lake and surrounding landscape that matched an excellent afternoon tea setting. We'd ordered sun with ours which added to the whole experience.

In earlier days the farmer must have been very successful because the homestead even had it's roof tiles transported from Italy! As you do....?

Here's some random snaps... Who knew Bambi lived here?

Just look at that grass! The house is built in a Scottish style and how perfect to have a view of the lake and mountains daily. The gardens were gorgeous and the perfume nearly knocks you out...hence this busy bee making the most of the abundant blooms.

Each time I look at the view...I just have to stop and stare.

Here are two views that shows how the scenery can change so rapidly depending on the time of day.
The photo on the left was taken on the way out to Walter Peak and the one on the right was on the return journey...late in the afternoon.

And so without anyone really being aware we were rounded up and put back on the ship ready for our return journey. ;D

A fantastic entertaining day and well recommended for anyone who visits Queenstown.

Poop poop...(that's the ship by the way...although it could reflect my sentiments after struggling so much with this post).
So onward and upwards hopefully...maybe there will be Part 3 or maybe not? It depends if I can stay sane in the process.
I certainly hope that your week is going well...have fun and I'll hopefully see you again soon.
Apologies for the layout ~ which I can't look at...I can't even get the writing to sit in the centre. ARGH these little things get to me which is sad I know...but hey that's me
I'll just smile and wave...smile and wave :D
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