Saturday, 28 February 2015

Welcome back

I feel like I've been away for a week.
I've been here but not really here. 

A recovering patient from the car accident I was in seven days ago.
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Friday, 27 February 2015

Raining, cat and dogs (yep that's right)

We have a rare commodity falling on us as I write this blog post - it's raining. 

After a very long dry summer it's quite nice to see a drop of the wet stuff but I think we're only seeing a passing storm front and then we've got sunshine coming back in for the weekend (and our official start of Autumn on Sunday).

However this afternoon I'm quite happy to sit in my home office and listen to the passing thunder and heavy rain as I do some work. I have been joined, as per normal, by my furry friends who also seem quite happy to be inside while the rain does its business.

There is another cat who's absent from this photo (I have a feeling she might be on my bed) but we have here:
Einy (My son's dog whom we are doggysitting), Jess, Meer and Pip.
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Thursday, 26 February 2015

A sad day for a car

I am a woman in mourning.

Following a traumatic car accident last Friday (on which a long and cathartic blog post is brewing - addition on 17 March, the post is now written and you can find it here), my beautiful little car has today been announced dead and gone.

Repairs are uneconomic and it is therefore a total loss.

This means no doubt that I will be out of pocket when it comes to replacing it (thanks so much for that Mr Tourist Driver who ran a stop sign) and even further out of pocket when it comes to taking out future car insurance policies (Woah I'm SO grateful for this Mr Tourist Driver - see all the favours you've done me).

Don't even get me started on my own wellbeing - today I'm just mourning my car.

I'd only owned it ten months and I feel like we were just getting to know each other.

I won't show it in it's sad and broken state, so here it is the day after I purchased it.....

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
My little Peugeot 206cc cabriolet

Yes, before you say it - I do realise it's only a car and at least I'm here to tell the tale. Priorities.

However - it's still a little sad - and I'm more than a little mad.
But ..... deep breathes....

Goodbye beautiful car - thank you for looking after me when I needed it most.
Your airbags and seatbelt did the trick wonderfully, and I have the bruises to prove it.

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Are you doing this?

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
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Monday, 23 February 2015

Find design inspiration in Hamilton Gardens

We are very lucky to live close to the world famous (yes - really and truly) Hamilton Gardens and regularly pop in to visit one or more of their amazing, and expanding, collections of gardens.

Most recently I was particularly taken with some of the plants I saw in the glasshouses of the Victorian Flower Gardens.
Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
KiwiAnnisons at Hamilton Gardens

There is an impressive central greenhouse with a black and white tiled floor and on either side of this building there are two further greenhouses - both featuring exotic plants bred for colour and curiosity.

I won't show myself up by trying to name anything -
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Thursday, 19 February 2015

A bit of musing about museums

I thought for today's post that I would share something which I published exactly three years ago - yes it's a bit of a cheat to go back to my old posts on the Kiwi Blog Bus - however I was thinking about museums after a brief mention for the Waikato Museum in Shopping-recycling-and-bit-of-rant so enjoyed a good read of this old post that features a truly amazing museum. 

Please click here to read more about How I almost lost my husband in Gisborne

and if you're keen on museums yourself, you could also have a look at Muse in a museum which starts by telling us:
muse– (verb) to be absorbed in thought– (noun) an instance or period of reflection
I'll leave you now to do your musing :)
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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Preventing pantry problems

So the other day I had a bit of a rant about packaging and recycling and mentioned how I like to shop for loose fill groceries that I can store in my own containers and not contribute much, if any, waste to the landfill. 

Recently, while I was unpacking my groceries, I got into a bit of a tidy up of my 'pantry' and thought I'd share with you some photos of the kind of thing I was meaning. 

Firstly - I have to get the facts straight - I don't actually have a pantry as such at the moment. 
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Which are you?

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Satisfying spuds

We've planted potatoes every year since we arrived in New Zealand in 2008.

I think this was started by the fact that the house we bought, just six short weeks after landing in the country, had a little veggie plot in the back garden and the potatoes were just ready in time for us to dig up and eat for Christmas lunch.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
Flashback to December 2008 digging up potatoes in the garden of our first house in Cambridge

One year after this and the little Miss, then just a cute seven years old, entered a potato growing competition held by the local DIY/Garden store and even won a prize for her potato growing efforts!
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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Hamilton by river

The Kiwi Annisons are not great sports fans (nope, not even rugby - shock horror)  but one thing we do like to do - and should remember to do more often - is enjoy a spot of kayaking. 

We used to kayak quite a lot when we could go travelling in the Kiwi Blog Bus. After a disaster pulling a trailer with our toys on, the hubbie made a large rack for the roof of the bus and we thereafter kept the kayaks on the roof so they were always with us, ready for when we came across a spectacular kayaking spot. There are many in New Zealand including; Patua, Snells Beach, Simpsons Beach, Lake Tarawera to name just a few.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
Our starting point - the boat ramp at Narrows Landing

But right here on our doorstep, we also have the mighty Waikato River and three weeks ago - on the long Auckland Anniversary weekend - we finally got around to taking a trip we've talked about for ages. A small amount of vehicle juggling was well worth the effort. It meant we could start our trip upriver at Narrows Landing, Tamahere and travel quite easily with the current to Hamilton and just beyond the CBD to the Beerescourt area and a lovely little reserve where we could easily beach the kayaks and get them back to the vehicle waiting there.

The weather was stunning and it was most pleasant to be traveling on and through the cool waters in which you could easily trail your feet until you'd cooled down enough on. My only regret about the whole trip was that I actually didn't put on quite enough sunblock and didn't take any with us. It's amazing how much the water reflects the sun and bounces back at places you never thought to smear sunblock on!

I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story -
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Friday, 13 February 2015

Super sweetcorn

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

Tonight we had corn on the cob with our dinner.

We had it last night too.

And yes, we may just have it tomorrow as well!

But I'm happy with that.

Our sweetcorn crop is ready and it's pretty hard to beat eating fresh corn picked just moments earlier.

Sweetcorn has to be the winner of the whole paddock to plate thing - it just zings with freshness when you eat it fresh from picking. Just a quick boil in a pan and chomp - you're away. Juice dribbling down your chin as you munch away at the cob working your way along it like a typewriter.
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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Shopping, recycling and a bit of a rant

As I wrote about in an earlier post (The Three Rs) we are big fans of recycling.

You may also have gathered by now that we grow a large amount of our own food.  We currently have most of our veg requirements sorted with the full kitchen garden and the potatoes, corn and pumpkins in the front field - plus a constant source of fresh eggs from our chooks.

I don't eat meat but the hubbie gets given a lot of home-kill from friends and colleagues. There are several cuts of meat in our freezer that he's looking forward to roasting up soon!

We're not out and out 'greenies' though and definitely cannot claim to be self-sufficient. We usually go out a couple of times a week to pick up the necessary groceries. I find we get less waste, and often find better buys, when we shop this way - rather than one huge supermarket shop every week or two.

I'm a careful shopper. Not tight (well... a bit squeaky!) but definitely - and proudly - thrifty.

I spend my money carefully, looking for the best buys while steering away from over-processed foods. My usual shopping companion, our daughter Miss 12, has picked up my thriftiness skills and habits, and delights in being able to track down a better buy than something I've selected!

However I have for a long LONG time detested the
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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Why I'm grateful I was a child of the 70's

I grew up on the other side of the world to where I live now.

My childhood was spent, and very much enjoyed, living in an English village set in the middle of the Lancashire countryside.

We had a pub, a church, a primary school and a shop that sold sweets, ice creams and trinkets to tourists passing through.

I lived there from the age of two years old, up to when I left home as a young adult, so it really is the place of my childhood - and thankfully the timing was great too!

Is there really any better time to have been a child than in the seventies?
Maybe everyone is bias towards their own childhood era, but I cannot imagine a more relaxed, wholesome, friendly, and easygoing timeframe than that which I grew up in.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki AnnisonAnd we did grow up, but at our own pace with no rush to leave childhood behind.

We 'played out' most nights after school, racing up and down the street on an assortment of bikes, go-carts and scooters.

There was a wide range of kids that lived nearby and all ages got along with each other and joined in the games the best they could, the little ones just had to go into bed earlier (with much complaining done about it!).
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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

You say tomatoe I say tomato

It's gluts all round at our place. 

As well as suicidal plums we have tomato plants bowing down under the weight of their loads. Screaming to be unburdened of the vine ripened tomatoes that have grown too large and heavy to be held air bound any more. 
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Monday, 9 February 2015

Meet Luscious Luisa she's just plum

It's raining plums at our place.

Large ripe fruits from our avenue of plum trees are throwing themselves to the floor and there is a sweet aroma in the air as many of the bounty burst open when they hit the ground and expose their juicy yellow flesh.

The plum trees in our orchard are a variety called Luisa. They produce what has to be the juiciest, sweetest, largest plum you've ever eaten. 

Personally I would say that the taste and texture of them, but not the shape, is very similar to that of a nectarine.

Apparently the variety was discovered and developed right here in the Waikato. Score!

The trees easily seem to produce bumper crops of this exceptional  long and heart-shaped plum with a yellow skin that is just touched with a blush of red. The plums firm flesh is also yellow and is just divinely sweet and juicy - you cannot help get juice dripping down your chin with this baby!

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
Pip in our orchard during the Spring
We discovered Luisa plums this time last year when we experienced our first crop - the breed has a specific two week period every year when the fruit decides it IS ready now, and will wait no longer on the tree to be picked thank you very much.

With the bedroom window open I lay in bed on a sunny Sunday morning and listened to the soft thump of each plum as it decided it was time to take the plunge from the safety of the shady branches and plummet to the ground below.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
It must be February - the plums are beginning to fall

By lunchtime we had a carpet-lined orchard ranging from pale yellow to blushed cherry red.

And there's no keeping up with these things - we salvage the best, and those not tasted by birds, from the orchard floor, we pick up undamaged not yet ripe fruit to store until ripened, and we rake and sweep up the rest... repeatedly.

Raking over the whole area and then turning around to see another spread of freshly dropped fruit is quite disheartening - it's like Tim Allen in Santa Claus the movie when he shaves a freshly grown bushy Santa beard, wipes his chin, looks in the mirror - and it's back!

Then there's the deliberation of what do you do with several hundred kgs of plums!

Last year we tried a bit of everything: plum jam, plum sauce, plum liqueur, plum wine, plum crumble, plum pie, plums in salad, plums in casseroles... you get the point.

One of the best decisions was to let a wine-maker take a large amount of the plums to try and see what he could do with them. The answer turned out to be a very nice, sweet almost sherry-like wine which we understand was one of his best sellers at the farmers markets he attends. We of course got a good number of bottles of wine back for ourselves - good deal!

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
Real wine! Made from our plums!

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
Meer Cat helping me pick plums

The wine guy has been today and filled his van. It limped off down the street, completely laden after they'd spent hours picking plums. So later this year we'll get to try the 2015 batch of Luisa plum wine. If you're in the Waikato / Bay of Plenty area - look out for our wine man selling it at your local farmers market - I recommend you try it, I can tell you it came from somewhere awesomely sweet :)

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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Waitangi weekend

A belated happy Waitangi Day to all Kiwis out there -whether you are in New Zealand now or living overseas, I hope you had a peaceful and enjoyable day.

Waitangi Day was on Friday 6 February and for a lot of people it meant a day off work and the chance to have a long weekend/ get to the beach / go fishing etc. Of course there's a lot more to it than that - and this year many celebrated the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - New Zealand's founding document.

A couple of years ago we made our first visit up to Paihia and Russell where we learnt a lot more about the Waitangi Treaty and the early days of New Zealand. Flick over here to read my post about our trip to the Bay of Islands in the Kiwi Blog Bus.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing - have a great weekend!

To those in New Zealand who get to enjoy another three day weekend (for many of us it was only Auckland Anniversary Day the other week!) then I hope you're having a blast doing something that makes you happy - whether it involves travel, food, friends, family or possibly all of these :)
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Friday, 6 February 2015

Sorry. But here's a horse.

I'm not able to bring you a full post for a day or two as my computer has packed a sad on me and I'm limited to posting via my phone. Which as good as it is, just doesn't really allow for lengthy text input - purely because I get impatient and end up wanting new fingers or to throw the phone through the nearest window.

The PC issue will hopefully be remedied later this week and full service will be able to resume. In the meantime I'll just be loading the occasional snap or short message. 

So to start us off, here's a picture of Ted our Christmas horse. I haven't updated you for a while but he's doing well. Still likes eating that grass stuff but as the paddock is getting sparse with the dry summer he looks forward to an evening walk all the more. 

Still not sure if he's a true miniature horse like we were told... He seems too big! Perhaps a Cob? 

Any equine readers have an opinion?
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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Sodding Cape Gooseberries

I could probably be classed as an 'accidental gardener'

I know no latin plant names
I just know what I like and I try and grow it
And I learn by my accidents

This year's accident has to be my sodding Cape Gooseberries
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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A crusading challenge...

We have just taken on a new project.
Yes - that's another one to add to the list.

Our 1970 Crusader Caravan renovation project

If you're interested in caravans, or small spaces aka George Clarke, then you might want to follow the progress of its renovation via the KiwiBlogBus.

Join me over there now to read more about this latest purchase!
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Peanut butter anyone?

I think this just about sums up our dog Jess...

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

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Monday, 2 February 2015

Journey to vegetable heaven

Our little lifestyle block has always had lots of potential.
It just needed a bit of a shake up but now we're slowly making dreams become reality.

The vegetable garden is a prime example. 
With around 5000sq.m of land in which to choose where to place our future produce store - it was certainly a topic we had to debate... for about 2 minutes.

The perfect spot was
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The Kiwi Good Life blog and social media pages are run by Vicki Annison (aka KiwiVix)