Zesty Mumma's Words

A life lived without passion is a life half lived

Archive for the tag “ageing”

The Great Ocean Road – A Road Well Visited But Always Surprising

Thirty years ago I drove a quiet back road from Port McDonald in South Australia over the Victorian Border to Port Campbell and on through to Torquay so we could be on hand to watch the Bells 25th Anniversary surf comp. By the way when I say I drove that wasn’t exactly the case, Craig my ex did all the driving, I didn’t get my license for another decade, but I’ll leave that  story till later.

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So back to the story, I called it a back road but it was in fact the Princess Highway and  the Great Ocean Road, which most people have heard of even if you don’t live in Australia. In those days it was little more than a country road but the scenery was no less amazing.

On that occasion we got to the Twelve Apostles (now it is 8 ½ Apostles) late in the day then drove on through the night, only stopping somewhere near Lorne because we sadly hit a Tawney Frogmouth Owl. Sleeping in the back of our 1968 Holden Kingswood Station wagon with stainless steel mud flaps and white metal venetian blinds was very squishy. We had a cat, my brother, surfboards and luggage but when you’re young you just handled it.

What I didn’t I didn’t realise until I recently travelled the same road with two friends (but from the opposite direction) was that because it was night on my previous trip I had missed out on so much.

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The Torquay stretch is actually a well worn path for me. When we arrived thirty years ago our stay extended to about three months so I got to know the area quite well. Since then I have travelled back on a few occasions, my son was a pro junior surfer so surfing comps at Bells were a part of my life. It hasn’t changed a lot in all those years. A few more shops, but not as many as you would think, more houses but not much else.

Bells Beach however was as mesmerising as ever, the pure power of the waves demands respect. On the day we were there a rescue helicopter had landed on the beach just before we pulled up in the carpark, I never found out why but I can only imagine. Standing at the lookout staring out to the horizon you can’t help thinking about the massive waves that are generated in the Southern Ocean and propelled at the Australian coastline. Dark and ominous it is easy to feel the icy embrace of water that originates in the Antarctic.

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The trip from Torquay to Lorne along a road that hugs impossible cliffs and runs beside exquisite sandy beaches  is only about an hour drive in distance. However, there are numerous places you will want to stop so it should take you  quite a bit longer. We stopped for a late lunch in Lorne, very pretty  but I found it a bit too commercial.

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Our next two nights were spent in Apollo Bay and gladly a lot different to Lorne. It is a lovely little town, with beautiful beaches, a great boat harbour and amazing pub meals, really huge. Most importantly it is a perfect distance from the Apostles. Stay the night, then make your way to the apostles the next day. On the way back visit The Otway Lightstation and get more that you bargain for. The road to the lightstation is about 12 kilometres and the only place in Australia I have found that seems to be riddled with Koalas, no joking. They were hanging out of the trees everywhere along the road. The koala in the picture is literally only two metres above the ground.

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The light station itself is fantastic and full of history. The most famous of the light house keepers had an amazing wife that cared for shipwrecked people and others in wretched situations. Commended for her spirit, she was described as being the “nicest of all women having only nine children” beat that all you earth mothers, lol. Who would ever describe someone as ONLY having nine children. Times were definitely different one hundred and thirty years ago.

 

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Dunedin is Not a Sunny Place – But Who Needs Sunshine for an Interesting Holiday

Dunedin is not a sunny place, but having said that, it is quite possible that the Scottish Farmers that were the founding fathers of the city probably thought it was in comparison to what they left behind in Britain. To put this in perspective when you are planning your trip, the average maximum temperature in January is 18.9 degrees Celsius where as Sydney (also in the Southern Hemisphere) has an average maximum of 25.9 for January. Trust me, this is not a place you plan on visiting for a beach holiday

But here in lies a certain amount of contradiction. The photo below is taken at a beach on the eastern side of the Otago Peninsular. During my first visit I sat on a log eating my lunch, the warm sunshine super heating me through my jeans (it was November and the only sunny day during my three days in Dunedin (the other two being drizzly and cool) and I was overwhelmed, as I often am, by the desire to swim. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t been in the ocean for a few weeks or the beach looked so much like home that I just had to try it.

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After changing in to my swimmers I made my way down to the shore, the squeaky alabaster sand ran through my toes as I walked. The same clear blue Pacific Ocean water that I had known for most of my life rolled in lovely shore breakers towards me, I was feeling very positive.

When the first wave touched my toes it was a bit of a shock. Like little needles really and very, very, sharp ones at that. By the time the water had reached my calves I think my legs were about to change from fire red to vivid purple and I ran from the water just like all the “cold-a-phobes” I’d always bemoaned. I did eventually manage to get to the point of lying in the water, but the moment the wave rolled over my back I was out of there, never to return.

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But the Otago Peninsular is a visually splendid place. The road hugs high cliffs most of the way around and presents amazing, “to die for”views, which doesn’t take too much imagination to believe to be quite possible. Such is the height of the hills on the peninsular, one minute you can be driving along admiring the view and the next thing you are driving through low-lying cloud as thick as any London pea soup fog.

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Things were no different on my second visit to Dunedin. The gothic nature of many of the churches and other buildings seems extremely fitting in respect to the weather. Otago stone is a renowned building material in New Zealand and has been used extensively in and around Dunedin giving the entire city a solid, stoic feeling. One of the best things to do really is looking at the architecture, built on incredibly steep hills this can be quite a physically demanding thing to do, but fantastic “old everything” is everywhere.

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If you like good food, make sure your visit includes a Saturday. The farmers market held at the world famous train station (also made out of Otago stone) is an awesome place for breakfast. You also have the chance to wander round the station, which really does deserve its notoriety. My second visit also coincided with the Thieves Alley Market, which sees the Octagon (centre of the Dunedin CBD) and surrounding streets closed for the day. On this particular day many of the Artisans from Christchurch were there and it made a fabulous market.

I stayed in the Manor House Backpackers on my first visit and it was fine, great old house close to the Octagon. Unlike the place I am too embarrassed to mention (Penny Backpackers) on my second trip and would advise you to avoid like the plague.  One of my fondest moments for the first trip was watching “500 Days of Summer” with an American Girl, two German Girls and a Chinese Student at The Manor House. The American and I may have been the only ones laughing but you knew the other girls got it they just weren’t as loud as us.

I have watched that movie many times since then and I always think of Dunedin. It helped me realise that a good chick flick can break down even the biggest language barrier.

Tips and Extras

• Port Chalmers, where the cruise boats dock has some interesting quirky shops and is a nice drive, well worth the trip, and good coffee.

• Also visit the entrance to Port Otago

• The Otago Gallery in the Octagon is great art gallery.

• Dunedin has the best op shops

The Catlins – Home of Elephant Seals, Waterfalls and Kind People who Know How To Dance

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Alex Mclean was an hard working, yet interesting man who loved music and dancing. Extremely generous to his family, donating a whole farm to a brother that had been badly injured during wartime.  He lived a quiet rural life tending for his animals and farm during the day. At night he read and created exquisite handmade violins. He never married but cared for his sister who lived alone on an adjoining property. It was noted at his death that he was ” a kind man who danced a mean jig.”

So said the plaque dedicated to Alex McLean at the entry to the waterfall named for him, Mclean Falls, in the hinterland of the Catlins. PI knew I’d like the  Catlins long before I went there or heard about Alex Mclean,  but I didn’t know why.  I knew the beaches were white sand, I knew it was south of Dunedin and North of  Invercargill but that was all I knew. What we found was an unspoiled, beautiful, wild and windswept land, way off most tourist maps but well worth the little bit of effort to get there.

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After leaving Queenstown we headed south to Invercargill, a large sprawling town at the bottom of the island. It reminded me of an old gold town, wide streets and impressive stone buildings, but it was obvious it’s heyday was long past. It took approximately two hours to make the trip to Invercargill but we chose to stop another half hour further further on at Bluff.  Many of you may not have heard of Bluff or the famed Bluff Oyster, I hadn’t until I went to NZ the first time. Unfortunately I can’t tell you if they are as good as legend has it cause their season only runs for a brief few months from about late March and as it was mid February I was a little early.

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We  only had an overnight stay in the area but if you had the time could easily stay a  longer stay. The beaches are great with some long stretches, perfect for walking and two lighthouses worth viewing. There are also lovely rainforest tracks leading to magical waterfalls and breath taking views.

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 At Papatowai  Beach we even found a great vegetable garden in  someones front yard with a sign offering free veggies to pick. Unfortunately we didn’t see any Elephant Seals on the beach, only this sign.

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I fell in love with the Catlins and I think Alex Mclean as well (unfortunately he died in the 1940’s).

Off to Dunedin

Tips

* go to the antique shop in Bluff – really good value

* Stay at the McLean Falls Holiday Park

Functional Dysfunctionality – Families Where Would We Be Without Them

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Families are complex and I don’t think there are many people  on the planet would disagree with that. Just navigating the intricate labyrinth of internal relationships can be a mine field and can make your mind bleed at the same time; brother sister, mother daughter, husband wife, father son, then lets add aunts, uncles etc etc to the mix. I believe that most of our families work on the basis of functional disfunctionality.

Which brings me to my mother, Monica, a spritely impish woman in her seventies. She is incredibly active, still playing tennis and riding her pushbike many times a week, looking after grandchildren and great grandchildren on a regular basis and walking everywhere she can. Born during the Second World War she lost her father while he was a soldier in the British army. Her mother, having four children, had to find work and placed three of those children in an orphanage. Like so many of the children of that time loss was just part of her life and just like the English do so well, she just got on with life.

As you would imagine security to my mother is a very important thing. She doesn’t understand the waste she sees constantly in society today. People have far more disposable income than ever before but use it far less wisely. I tell you all this to explain what happened on my first trip to New Zealand and Queenstown in particular.

Even before we left Australia, in the planning stages of our trip, my mother told me that the main thing she wanted to do was visit Milford Sound. It wasn’t a trip I had envisioned for myself but as the tour guide I knew I would have to find out a little bit about about it. The first part of that trip saw us spend ten days in the North Island before taking the ferry to Picton. We stayed in Wellington for a few days, where I picked up some brochures. When I read the price of the trip I knew I would have to be skilful when breaking this news to my mother. After dinner the night before we left I sat down next to Monica, who was happily watching the television, drinking a cup of tea and nibbling on chocolate, perfect I thought, her heaven.

“So mum” I say, carefully as you go, “I’ve been looking up about your trip to Milford Sound”.

“Yes,” I could tell by her tone she was excited; phew I thought this is going to be easy.

“Well from what I can see, you take a bus from Queenstown all the way to Milford then on to a boat ……” I went through the whole scenario with her.

“This trip here” I held up the first brochure. “Is $159 NZ” I heard a squeak come out of her mouth but I ignored it thinking I could finish her off with my secret weapon.

“But look at this one, it’s on special for $144,” who could argue with that I thought. Monica that’s who, I think she nearly had a coronary.

“Oh that’s too much I can’t afford that,” Mind you this is the same woman that wouldn’t hesitate to buy a $200 dress if she really wanted it.

Eventually I had to let it go cause there was just no reasoning with her and the argument was getting heated. Even the fact our exchange rate at that time gave us $1.25 NZ for every $1.00 AU, could not sway her.

On the South Island things calmed down and I didn’t mention the trip to Milford again. A couple of days before we arrived in Queenstown out of the blue my mother says.

“I think I will do the trip to Milford Sound, I was just being silly.” I remained calm; I’d kind of expected this about face. Generally it is just the unexpected that people react to, when their brain has time to process the information they’re usually ok. So I didn’t say too much, not wanting to gloat.

“That’s good mum, I know you’ll enjoy it”.

“We’ll see,” she said ominously.

The day we arrived in Queenstown was a cool day, so once mum was settled with her cup of tea I went to reception to use the Internet. Deciding that I probably needed to book the trip to Milford while I was there I made it for Tuesday, two days away.

When I got back to our accommodation mum had found a couple of young backpackers to talk to so she was in a great mood.

Waiting till we were alone I said in the brightest voice possible, “ I booked our trip to Milford Sound.”

Monica nearly choked on the marmalade toast she was eating, “what did you do that for, I can’t afford that.” She proceeded to huff and puff, working herself into lather. I thought at that moment that my mother might have been suffering from either Alzheimer’s disease or Schizophrenia.

It was my turn to “WHAT” her.

“Excuse me. Didn’t you tell me the other day that you had changed you mind and wanted to go”?

“Oh, you shouldn’t listen to me,” to say I was flabbergasted at that moment was an understatement.

I won’t bore you with anymore details; needless to say it was very tense for a while. I did take the trip to Milford and had an amazing time, while my mother stayed in Queenstown. As I say families are not for the faint hearted, you possibly may need a PHD to understand them.

Haast and Beyond, with Whitebait for Sustenance

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Heading south to Haast, the last outpost on the West Coast, you realise just how stoic the early European settlers must have been to eek out a farming existence in that verdant land. The bush closes in thickly around you at times and the ever present, misty rain implies a prehistoric past that is still very much present. This trip was my second on that road and no different the first time I travelled it.

Whitebait is a delicacy you may not have heard about but is so important to nearly every New Zealander that a love of them is almost a prerequisite for citizenship. What is it I hear you ask, actually Whitebait are tiny little fish, much smaller that sardines with a gigantic head (in comparison to their body). Every single kiwi I have met has at least one story about going “whitebaiting” when they were young, much increasing its legendary status. As you approach Haast a small hand written sign on the side of the road advertising whitebait fritters can be seen, make sure you stop. The fritters are a simple affair, prepared and cooked on a make shift bench in front of you and consist of beaten eggs, whitebait, salt and pepper, buttered bread and sauce if you want but well worth it.

South of Haast is the truly wild New Zealand, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and onto Antarctica. The main road turns east at this point and heads up and over the Alps. If you don’t have a convoy of Motorhomes breathing down upon you make sure at some point you stop on the side of the road to marvel, slack jawed at the beauty you are heading toward. It is scenery that no amount of words I could ever say would do justice to.

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This road will take you all the way to Wanaka and on to Queenstown, it is quite narrow in places but that is never a problem because there just isn’t that much traffic. Once you are over the top it follows a route around amazing blue lakes. This is sheep country and very high so the vegetation is sparse. This trip we chose to keep going through to Queenstown but Wanaka is a nice little town with lots of accommodation. Both towns are quite modern and generally busy in all seasons. Winter bringing the skiers and late spring, summer and early autumn the travelling tourists.

It takes about an hour to get to Queenstown from Wanaka along the highest public road in the country. Just before you begin your decent into Queenstown you come upon gravel clearing on the side of the road. Make sure you stop at that spot, the view looking down the valley and into Queenstown is a must see. Late snow was still clinging to the hills around the valley on my first trip but this time it was late summer so it had all melted, still beautiful but the snow made it spectacular.

 

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It is a 300 km bus trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown and I took it the first time I was there. Unfortunately, the only trouble with that is if you’re on a bus tour you have to take 300km trip home that day as well. Actually I am only joking when I say unfortunately because the trip there was nearly as good as seeing the Sound. After Te Arnau the road takes you through vast empty valleys that had once been farmland but are now part of the National Park. The drivers are well trained and have lots of interesting local knowledge to bring the trip to life. It makes it a long day but not one you would regret. To get down to Milford you have to pass through a long tunnel. If you are a nervous driver you would be best to take a bus trip like me. I’m not a nervous driver but I was very glad I went on the bus.

My favourite thing in Queenstown is the botanic garden. After you walk through the garden there is lovely little French café down on the lake that finishes off the visit nicely. The walk up Queenstown Hill is also great. It starts at the end of some extremely steep streets but becomes less so once you are up about a third of the way.

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Arrowtown is a quaint little town about 5 km from Queenstown, It is renowned for cute little stone cottages and other old buildings but it is heavily commercialised and really not my cup of tea. Having said that I had a venison pie at the local bakery was the best pie I have ever tasted.

 

Tips

  • Top up your petrol take at Haast.
  • Try Pine Lodge for budget accommodation. The room I had on my first visit was spotlessly clean. I booked it on a last minute booking website and managed to get a twin room for four nights for $200 NZ.
  • There are two supermarkets in Queenstown – a smaller one right at the end of Shotover Street in the CBD. The second, a large New World, is just a few blocks over, just out of the CBD.
  • Unless you know you have a bargain I wouldn’t really buy any souvenirs in Queenstown, very overpriced and all made in China.
  • The bus trip to Milford costs around $150 NZ

The Wild Wild West of NZ’s South Island

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When I was seven I used to wait for my mother to finish the weekly grocery shopping. Not in a park or a library but in a milkbar. Every Saturday morning, I would take my twenty cents pocket money, order twelve cents worth of hot chips and buy an eight cent strawberry milkshake. Sitting on the soft black vinyl swivel stools at the long bench I savoured every chip that crunched and melted in my mouth, feeling very grown up. To this day I love chips, in particularly Fish and Chips, and thankfully so do New Zealanders.

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Hokitika, a small town south of Punakaiki, abut half an hour from Greymouth. It is known as the home of Greenstone, but I would like to award it with another title. It has the best fish and chip shop on the west coast, with awesome chips. That’s lucky for me, right? Well it also has amazing homemade mussel fritters and of course local fish, so whatever you do plan to have lunch at Hokitika. There is lots to see and a good stop before you head south on the two hour trip to the glaciers.

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The strip of land between the pounding waves of the Tasman Sea and the foothills of the Southern Alps is very narrow. As the moist water laden clouds hit the land they travel up and over the mountains, dropping their cargo as they go. So make sure you have a raincoat while you are there as it is wet much of the time.

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The lush vegetation that results is wild and dense, with a definite prehistoric feeling. There is so much timber washed into the sea that the stony beaches are littered with tonnes of twisted grey driftwood. The glaciers are a must to see. We stayed at Franz Joseph but took the trip to Fox Glacier, which has a good viewing area after a nice walk. This was one place that I was grateful to have the thermos cause it was raining and cold by the time we got back to the car.   * Next week – on to Queenstown

Crocs Rule – Even When You Don’t Know They”re There

The truck rattled and jumped over the patchwork of crusty potholes on the narrow dirt track. Only three months before the vast grassland that stretched out before us was covered by a huge inland sea. Even though it was August and Southern Australia shivered in the clutch of winters icy grip, the sun in the Northern sky was as potent as a furness.
Cattle grazed peacefully on the abundant vegetation, you could easily be excused for thinking you were in the African Savannah. Water Buffalo, native to Asia and complete with giant black horns, viewed the intruders with suspicion.
My father was in his element, he had been given the job of recording all mechanical equipment and parts at an iron ore mine in the Northern Territory. The mine was being liquidated so his job was virtually autonomous, no one telling him what to do. A Londoner by birth he had taken to life in the tropics like a pig to mud. His pale white Anglo skin had miraculously turned the colour of tanned leather with in weeks of his landing in Australia and it was now impossible to tell by looking at him that he hadn’t always been here.
We were heading to the Mary River to fish for the famous Barramundi, a legendary fish in size and flavour. I had never seen landscape or vegetation like it before. I spent many years telling anyone who would listen about this park like paradise that I had seen. Apparently in later times other people felt the same as me and it is now the Mary River National Park.
We spent a great day fishing and exploring the river bank. Dad and his mate caught some unbelievable fish so it was well worth the trip.
Latter in the day my friend and I wandered further along the bank following the paths that I now know had been made by the cattle. We reached a place where the bank dropped to a low muddy tributary. The trees changed, instead of being tall and majestic they became low and tangled. Taking a moment to decide if we were going further the decision was taken out of our hands, a sound I had never heard before froze me to the bone. A blood curdling, deep, rumbling, growl began.
It may seem strange now that I didn’t know what it was or that we didn’t even think that there were salt water crocodiles in the river but the fact is they had been hunted to almost extinction by the mid 70’s. Steve Irwin was a kid like me and his famous cry “Crocs Rule” was an ungerminated seed in his brain.

Even though I hadn’t realised before that there may be crocs in the river, it only took me a moment to realise what that sound was and we ran back to our fathers as if our lives depended on it, which they probably did. The funny things was  I had actually asked earlier in the day if I could go for a swim and been told yes. I’m sure my father wasn’t trying to get rid of me.

These days crocs are known to inhabit most of the Northern Territory waterways but back then most people barely gave them a thoughts, how times change.

Gorgeous Gorges, Flat Rocks and lots and Lots of Water – the Trip to the West Coast NZ

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Motueka Valley Road, sounds magical doesn’t it, well it was. This is the route we chose to take from Motueka and eventually met highway 6 which took us to the West Coast. Don’t be deceived, despite the fact that I say we travelled on Highway 6, it is as unlikely a highway as ever there was. Mostly single lane each way  but  there are sections  that you will never forget. At the Buller Gorge the road actually cuts in under a cliff (it’s not a tunnel) and winds around a couple of corners like this. No joke, it is only wide enough for one car and you can’t see if anything is coming. There is no warning signal, you just have to keep honking your horn and hope if anyone coming in the opposite direction hears it. You feel like your in one of those reality TV shows “The Worlds Deadliest Roads”.

We had given a young German backpacker a lift earlier in the day but he only lasted in the car about fifteen minutes before informing us that he had decided he wanted to hike down to the river. I’m sure it wasn’t my driving that freaked him out but I’d hate to have seen how quickly he would have tried to get out of the car if he’d been with us when we went around the gorge.

The river side park where  we stopped for lunch was charming and I went for a swim in a mountain stream. It is amazing how many people stopped to stare, it seemed amazing to them that anyone would want go swimming. Before leaving Claire went to use the toilet, she undid her jeans and pulled them down, then lifted the lid to sit down. The moment she lifted the lid hundreds of wasps flew out of the bowl. Poor Claire she had to try and get out the door, while trying to pull  her jeans as she went and fell out the door followed by a swarm of angry wasps at the same time.

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The South Island’s West Coast is unique  due to the fact the Mountains run like a crooked spine  it’s full length. Being the west the sun doesn’t rise till later in the morning and the sky is covered in clouds ninety percent of the time. All I can say is it is a very moist environment.  We decided to stay at Punakaiki for the night.  We hadn’t booked anywhere so we took our chances. Arriving at the Punakaiki Caravan Park we paid for a cabin. which was $65 a night but it was awful. There wasn’t any linen, bare thin mattress, a peeling chipboard  bench and it smelt like it had been closed up for eternity. Needless to say we got our money back and went 1 km up the road to the Punakaiki Beach Backpackers, booked the last room (which was the same price) and was knocked out by the cleanliness of the place. Situated right on the beach and a nice walk up to the Pancake Rocks it was awesome. Clean white sheets, spotless well equipped communal backpacker kitchen and stunning views for about the same price. I would suggest you book though we were just lucky and got the last room, there were still travellers arriving after us that couldn’t be accommodated.

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view from the verandah of the backpacker

We walked up to the rocks after  unloading a bit of gear and will tell you that this wasn’t a place I had honestly wanted to visit. You know, ho hum, rocks by the beach, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The rock formations are amazing and the NZ national park have done a terrific job of making the area accessible for every type of traveller. Lucky for Claire there enviro toilets do not come with complementary stinging things.

Which brings me back to sandflies. The west coast is rife with them and again make sure you have your insect repellant.

It was late when we arrived back and the accommodation so we just cooked a simple meal. I had bought a few pack of vacuum packed indian style veggie dishes a few days before. These are so yummy and they only cost  a few dollars NZ. Mixed with a pack of pre cooked brown rice and served with natural yoghurt it was a great meal and it only cost in total about $3 each. The other nice thing about backpackers accommodation, they usually have a few herbs in the garden that you can add to your meal.

Tips

* Make sure you arrive by at least 4.00pm as you want to enjoy Punakaiki cause you will probably head south first thing in the morning.

* As I mentioned in this story I went to an Indian Shop (Actually in Wellington before we left for the ferry) and  bought packets of vegetable dishes in vacuum pack. They were so cheap and no nasties like preservatives in them.  Have something quick to prepare is really important when you are getting back late, your tired and there are no shops around. This particular location is a little isolated so this rule definitely applied here.

 

 

Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry

I bought a Paneer Curry from a Vegetarian cafe the other day and got a little obsessed by the flavours. Below is my version, without the Paneer (Indian firm cheese). I replaced the Paneer with Tofu.

I call it Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry.

Ingredients
1 cup of raw cashew pieces
1 can of tomato pieces
250 gm tofu piece
1 cup of brown rice
2 medium sweet pieces
1/2 head of Broccoli
10 green beans
1 small geen capsicum
1 small zuccini
3 – 4 tablespoons Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Herbs and spices for curry
2 chillies
1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger
2 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon each of garam masala, cumin, turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and coriander

First things first
Soak cashew pieces for 1 hour by covering them with boiling water.
Partially drain, process to a paste and set aside.
Grate ginger and garlic. Chop the chillies and combine all the spices.
Heat oil in large pot and add the herbs and spices. Break them up with a wooden spoon as as they cook. Add diced onion. This should all be cooked in a couple of minutes, be careful not to burn them. Pour in the tomatoes stir and allow to thicken. Once the mixture has reduce begin spooning in the cashew paste, stirring continually. Allow the mixture to simmer slowly for about 5 minutes. Add a little water to loosen mixture every now and then. Peel and chop sweet potatoes (into approximately 2 cm square pieces) and slice tofu into cubes (1 cm pieces approx). Add 1 can of water,sweet potato, and tofu to the sauce. Bring to the boil then turn it down to a simmer for about 15 minutes.

Boil the rice and chop remain vegetables in small pieces. In another saucepan cover green veggies with the boiling water, bring to the boil and turn off the heat.
Drain vegies and mix with boiled rice.  Serve with the Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry.

For a variation you can add chopped fresh mint to the rice and veggies.

The Thin White Duke and the Changes He Made

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I posted this piece 1 year ago in tribute to an amazing artist.

Flawless skin, the perfect peaches and cream complexion and  eyes that peer sky ward, thoughtfully transfixed on the unseen, a hand gently brushes back flaxen hair. The misty film that covers the entire image helps manifest the far away feeling it tries to evoke.

 

Is this a work by a famous painter featuring a beautiful model you might ask? No it is in fact the cover art for “Hunky Dory”, David Bowie’s 4th album. Bowie himself was the subject of this picture. A work so significant in the world of music that it was voted by Time Magazine in 2006 as one of the top 100 of all time. First published in 1971 it was and remains an innovative and original collection of songs.

 

Recorded at the height of his thin white duke era, it is stylish and artistic but most of all energetic and engaging. A precursor to the glamrock style that invaded the British music scene in the early 70’s and eventually the rest of the world. It rises and falls in perfect precision, asking questions he has no answers for and describes in imagery the confusion that abounded in that post flower power time.

I discovered this album much later than it’s release date at a time when I was both the happiest and eventually the saddest I have ever felt. I am inevitably transported by this song in particular to a momentous time.  Whenever I am faced with big changes in my life I always find a place for it. So that is why I have chosen this album and in particular this song as my friday night music festival offering of this week.  For any of you who have never heard it the link at the bottom of the verse I have included takes you to a you tube post of the song.

Looking forward to paradise

ENJOY !

 

I still don’t know what I was waiting for

And my time was running wild

A million dead-end streets

and every time I thought I’d got it made

It seemed the taste was not so sweet

So I turned myself to face me

But I’ve never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I’m much too fast to take that test

Ch – ch – ch – changes

David Bowie – Changes

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