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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Tropical Quarry Garden Birthday Treat

Just recently my dear friend Di took me out for a surprise for my birthday. She had packed up a fabulous picnic lunch (pic to follow) and off we went to The Quarry Gardens in Whangarei.
This is a subtropical garden on a huge scale developed by mostly volunteers over the past 17 years from a deserted quarry site, a few minutes drive from the city centre.

That's Di at the Whangarei Quarry Gardens

The Dam at the top of the Whangarei Quarry Gardens

Old concrete structures beautifully planted out

Strange tropical fruit - please tell me if you know what it is

Look at this fabulous lunch - I'm so spoilt!

The Quarry Gardens are well worth a visit. They are free to visit and open every day. There is a cafe being built there, due to open in Spring (October here). They have a wedding garden and sometimes open days with music and stalls.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" - Books I Love

The Wave 

Photo taken by my friend Dianne while we sat on the beach a few weeks ago

“The waves broke and spread their waters swiftly over the shore. One after another they massed themselves and fell; the spray tossed itself back with the energy of their fall. The waves were steeped deep-blue save for a pattern of diamond-pointed light on their backs which rippled as the backs of great horses ripple with muscles as they move. The waves fell; withdrew and fell again, like the thud of a great beast stamping.” 
― Virginia WoolfThe Waves

The waves around here are about to become huge. We are awaiting cyclone Pam - with waves estimated to be at 8 metres.
The positive spin? - I am looking forward to collecting lots of seaweed next week - there hasn't been much lately.
A local extreme surf competition has been postponed until Monday, by which time the surf will be definitely extreme!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

It's a good time to read books (any excuse really).

I was excited to find Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" in our local library recently, having read accounts from others as to how this book changed their lives. 

The book follows a year in which the author and her family move to a small farm in the Southern Appalachians, USA, where they undertake to live as locavores  - probably before this was trendy (first published 2007).
I loved reading this book, it just sat well with me. It was about seasonal eating, which must be so much harder in climates where it snows in Winter, but they managed by preserving food and learning what could be bought locally.
They grow as much of their own food as possible, cooking from scratch, not buying processed foods.
Eldest daughter Camille has contributed pages of insight and recipes.
I've come away from it determined to try making the 30 minute mozzarella cheese.
We don't have poultry and most likely never will, but I loved the chapter about their turkeys. 
I hope this book continues to inspire thousands more people.
You can click on this link for the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle  website

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Visit a New Zealand Beach Settlement

This week saw Derek and I celebrate our birthdays - on the same day which makes it double the fun.
I have strongly encouraged him never to work on his (our) birthday, so every year we make a point of going off to play and enjoy the day.
This birthday started with a spot of fishing off a little landing built in a pohutukawa tree over the river. We decided that we felt quite Huck Finn, but didn't catch any fish. 
Tea and scones (and Derek)

Next we went to Schnappa Rock restaurant at Tutukaka Marina for lunch (a favourite spot).

Schnappa Rock Restaurant - Tutukaka

Then by late afternoon we were swimming at Matapouri Bay.

Matapouri Bay - Northland, New Zealand

Baches, Matapouri.

I particularly love the top two baches - having painted them, and sold both paintings. I feel I know them really well.
I have many memories associated with Matapouri, as my family had a little bach there when I was young, although not as picturesque as the ones I have photographed.

Pebble Beach, Matapouri

A little found beach treasure

A walk to the far end of the beach, then across a little cutting brings you to a pebble covered cove.
Matapouri is approximately 40 minutes drive from Whangarei, on the East coast of Northland. There are probably 150 residents, which swells to thousands over the summer. There is just one beach shop.
On this beautiful Autumn day there were a handful of other people there. Nice spot huh?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

KohuKohu and Beyond

Last week we made a little trip to one of my favourite places in the North of New Zealand - Kohukohu, Hokianga. At one stage this sleepy little river village was one of the biggest towns north of Auckland, in the days when the river was used for transportation of timber. Milling was the main industry then, with dairying being next. Unfortunately a lot of the historic buildings have been lost to fires over the years. The current population is approximately 150.

Hokianga Harbour from Kohukohu

And looking back at Kohukohu
Historic wooden buildings, still lived in, Kohukohu

Derek had work to do, so I went for a village wander with my art stuff. As I meandered up the hill, I could hear the sound of the children in school performing Kapa Haka (Maori song and dance). It echoed through the village as I walked, like a beautiful soundtrack.

Masonic Hall in foreground, Lavender Cottage (B 'n' B) behind

The main way to get to Kohukohu, other than a long drive, is across the river from Rawene by car ferry. For our return trip we raced to get to the ferry landing in time - just to see the ferry pull out, almost fully laden with vehicles. We watched, thinking we would have a bit of a wait, only to see the ferry stop, then reverse back in to pick us up. Only in the Hokianga, we thought, would that happen.
I've put in a few photos from other little villages on the way home, I hope you enjoy them.

Cute little handcrafted caravan spotted in a craft shop

view from the craft shop/cafe window, Rawene

Colourful paint work in Rawene

Derek chatting to the store owner and a customer in Waimamaku 

Not a lot going on at this petrol station, Waimamaku

Cool little Op shop and cafe next door, Waimamaku

"Tane Mahuta" (Giant Kauri tree) in Waipoua Forest, with Derek in foreground to give some perspective

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

In Which We Visit A Beautiful Garden

Today's post is brought to you by the sound of cicadas chirruping in the background, the perfume of frangipani flowers and the taste of white sapote and passionfruit that I'm having for morning tea. I'm sorry I can't share those sensations with you, but I have some visual treats in store from a visit Di and I made to my friend and newly-retired-ex-colleague, Agnes.

Agnes grows these beautiful frangipanis

They live in a frost-free area - frangipani tree, shell ropes
How about this for a spot to have morning tea!

My best bud Dianne up the white Sapote tree gathering fruit
I bought myself a couple of pineapple plants to try

Garden statue carved from a punga fern trunk

Agnes is from Samoa, so her garden is like having her home island around her.
White Sapote is a soft sub-tropical fruit, with a creamy texture, like that of an avocado, but sweet. I have seedlings and a place to put them.
I'm going back in hibiscus-pruning time to get cuttings galore. We aspire to a garden like Agnes's, but hers has been in for 26 years, so we have a way to go.
Isn't that some garden!