Tuesday, 31 March 2015

There's nothing quite like having a leek

Last weekend saw me out in our veggie garden harvesting some of our produce.
(aka trying to tame the wilderness that was once our veggie garden)

It's fair to say that I'd let things slip a bit lately and it didn't help that I'd definitely been a bit over zealous a few months ago when I was planting out tomato seedlings.

So for the last month or so, the walled veggie garden has been an area that no-one has gone out of their way to visit. It would have involved major preparations for a expedition battling through overgrown greenery and overweight exploding red bombs eager to leave their seedy mark on you.

However, with the headaches from my car accident now being more less than more, I felt up to an adventure and ventured out into the undergrowth (or should that be overgrowth) to do some good. 
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Who's watching?

It's quite odd writing a blog.

You sit in a room and type messages and stories, choose relevant and interesting photos and then hit that small word that means so much; publish.

And then that's it.
Your words have gone out into the world.
The whole wide world too.

My blog stats tell me it's currently viewed most in New Zealand but recently there's been a large jump in viewers from the US (hi there!) and third in the list is the country of my birth, the UK.
And if you're interested the most recent new county to appear on my flag counter is Denmark (Haj!).

I'd love to know more about the wonderful people that read my blog so please take a minute to flick me a message. (I also need to know if the comments section works properly - so go on, give it a try!)

I've noticed that a couple of videos I loaded recently didn't appear very well formatted through Blogger, so I've decided to just go with You Tube from now on. If you're interested in following my You Tube Channel directly you can see it here  but otherwise it just means all future video clips will be linked nice and tidily like this....

So that's it for today - please do get in touch and let me know if there's anything on the blog not looking right or working for you.

I'd really appreciate the chance to tidy up everything before more countries join our party :-)

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A little bit of Tudor

We live in the North Island of New Zealand. One of the youngest countries in the world.
Yet just up the road from us we can go and see a Chinese Scholar's garden themed on the 10th - 12th century Sung Dynasty; an Indian Char Bagh Garden with a Persian carpet of flowers; or most recently, a 16th century styled traditional English knot garden.

Yes, I'm once again talking about the wonderful, and internationally acclaimed, Hamilton Gardens. You may remember I've mentioned them once or twice before and I did promise that I'd be following up with a post about their latest garden to open to the public: the Tudor Garden. 

We first spotted it a few days before it opened to the public when we were kayaking down the Waikato River and caught a glimpse of the impressive stone pavilion. 

A week or so later we duly made our visit and here are a few photos to show you how they have manage to create an aristocratic little corner of Olde England right here in the heart of the mighty Waikato.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
The stone pavilion is based on the pudding house at Montacute House in England
A pudding house would traditionally be where the family retired in the evening for their sweet course of dinner: fruits, marzipan and sweet spiced wine

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Monday, 23 March 2015

How long do you cradle your empty cup?

I had to spend time in a cafe this morning.
It was not hard to do.
And I should point out, it's not that unusual a place for me to be found.

Although I've been trying to wean myself off coffee lately (or least lower my intake) I do love a good flat white.
For anyone that doesn't speak Kiwi a flat white is an espresso with warm milk but little foam.
It's kind of like a small latte with a punch.
(I await to be corrected here by someone with infinitely more coffee knowledge than myself).

My cafe visit today was a forced one - yes my arm was literally up my back - as I had to 'waste' some time while the locksmith looked at cutting a key for my car. 
Incidentally - this didn't work out and it looks like I'll have to be spare keyless for a while as I'm not prepared to pay $500+ to order one through the car dealer - any suggestions welcome.

So I went prepared with some reading material and sat at the window and people watched for a bit.

The sun was out (it's New Zealand - it usually is) and it was another glorious day.

The minutes ticked by and the cup was by now well drained of its caffeine infused liquid.

And this posed a question I thought I'd put to you all....

How long do you feel comfortable sitting in a cafe cradling an empty cup?

Would you re-order your drink or get some food if you wanted to occupy your chair for longer?
Or do you feel fine taking up seat space and squeezing every last drop out of that cup?

At what point have you extended your welcome?
Throw your thoughts at me -  and anytime you want to buy me a coffee I'll take that too!

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
How long do you cradle your empty cup?

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Thursday, 19 March 2015

Much room for mushrooms

I cannot say I know anything about mushrooms other than I love to eat them.

I have no idea what the ideal growing environment is (I would have thought damp and dark) but we seem to be cultivating LOTS at our place at the moment. This is a surprise to me as although the Waikato can be quite damp and humid at times - we're just at the end of the hottest, driest summer on record. There have been some rain storms lately so perhaps it was enough to make the seemingly dry ground, wet enough for a fungus party. Who knows?!

The only thing is I'm too scared to try and eat any!
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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Why New Zealand needs to act NOW to stop overseas visitors causing car accidents

I was going to call this post something witty like:
What's black and blue, and can go from 70 to 0 in one second? (PS answer = me) however it just doesn't seem appropriate...
My bruises are a whole range of colours but not a bit of black or blue.

Yes, I was unfortunate enough to be in a car accident a few weeks ago (see also - A sad day for my car - and my body is not keen to let me forget this.

Thanks to my beautiful car's seatbelt and airbags, I was lucky to be able to walk away from a car accident that could have done so much worse. I cannot spend more than a few seconds thinking about the range of 'could-of' scenarios - that's far too depressing, self-indulgent and maudlin.
But they are there, all the time, lurking at the back of my mind, waiting for an opportunity to jump in.

The accident is still very fresh and I won't go into all the little details other than to say that when travelling home from Tauranga on a beautiful sunny day, you may believe you are safe to drive down the main state highway without thinking that a huge SUV could suddenly cross the road right in front - oblivious to your presence - having driven through a side road intersection, failing to stop and give way, and straight across the highway into the path of your car.

This obviously comes as a bit of a shock.

To the car - which was previously travelling at around 70 km/h but upon hitting a large solid object is stopped suddenly, clenching its seatbelt and projectile vomiting three of its preciously hidden airbags. The damage from the impact is instantaneous and as well as the smouldering fumes from the airbags (my god that stuff stinks) the highway receives a sudden gush of the vehicle's bodily fluids from somewhere under the crumpled and broken remains. 
And to the sole occupant - who one minute was singing away to the 'Hits of the Eighties' (Madness - 'welcome to the house of fun' to be precise) and then, with only a split second of warning, was hit. Hit physically by airbags and other parts of car, and hit mentally by a rush of adrenalin and then later, the shock - which seems takes as long to heal as the bumps and bruises.

As I sat shaking in my car trying to take in what had just happened, and feel if the nose that stung so much was still attached to my face, I realised I was now facing in a different direction and the car that had pulled out in front of me was already moving away. I was instantly enraged but then saw they pulled into and stopped in the foreyard of a garage located over the road. There was a haze of some steam, gas or vapour coming from my car and through it I then saw my heroes (cue dramatic movie scene music).

The beautiful people that stopped what they were doing and came running to my aid had so much care and concern on their faces and I instantly felt like I was surrounded by friends. Mechanics from the garage came running over, a truck driver who had been driving in the other direction, another passing driver and an off-duty fire officer. I remember one of the mechanics reassured me that the smoke was from the airbags - I think I was panicking that the car was going to explode (a few movies to blame for that one!).

Every minute of that sunny Friday afternoon is still etched in my mind but I won't go through all the details, the short of it is the police and ambulance arrived (I believe the occupants of the other car were not injured) I was attended to in the ambulance before being taken to hospital, and the wonderful policeman got on with his job.

It turned out the other driver was Chinese, in a hire car, and due to leave the country the next day.

He probably did too, but not before he had to pay a fine after the police gave him a ticket for dangerous driving/failing to stop and I believe he had a mighty amount of dollars to pay to his hire car company for his insurance excess.

The witnesses all agreed that the other driver had pulled straight out from the side road without stopping to look (he really couldn't have missed me if he did - I was right THERE!). My husband arrived at the scene to help take care of things and once he'd seen me, they took me off to hospital for some thorough checks and x-rays. Unfortunately, I didn't get chance to thank my amazing heroes - they all did a little something to help physically or mentally put me at ease and they were wonderful.

The shock really hit me as I was in the ambulance en route to the hospital and let's say medication was definitely required, but most of all I was bloody furious at the other driver! How dare he??! How dare he spoil my Friday? Spoil my car? Cause a lot of inconvenience to all these people? How dare he risk my life by not paying attention?

Just lately there have been a lot of stories in the news about fatal accidents caused by overseas visitors. A four-year-old girl was killed the day after my accident when a Chinese tourist allegedly crossed the centre line and wiped out the car coming in the other direction. Last week an American tourist drove into the path of a truck, killing his wife and two friends.

Thankfully my accident left no-one seriously injured and therefore did not make the news but I am one of many involved in accidents with overseas drivers that do not get included in these news reports and stories. Somewhere on somebody's desk I suppose I will be a statistic but how big will we allow this figure to become before we do something.

The Government have since announced they are urgently going to take action to make some popular tourists routes on the South Island safer with extra signs and lines on road etc. This is a great step - but I believe there is so much more that can and should be done. Many tourists arrive at the main airports of Christchurch and Auckland wishing to drive to our popular beauty and interest spots (which are not all in the South Island) and the very minute they are on the road they are a potential danger to all other road users. The huge weapon they have in their hands does so much damage to life after their bad judgement, inattention, or just general lack of knowledge of road rules.

I urge you all to sign this petition or let me know if you have any other suggestions as to what can be done. I believe everyone needs to help make New Zealand's roads a safer place, not only for those that live here but for the tourists themselves.

If you are reading this as a current/future/potential visitor to New Zealand who wishes to drive on our roads - please do not be offended. You are just one of many hundreds of thousands of visitors to this beautiful country (which you really do need to come and see) who wish to do it at your own pace. We too did a similar thing when we holidayed here from the UK many years ago and hired a campervan. But please understand that no matter how good your driving skills are in your own country, here you will be driving in a new place, on roads that are not like your own, with other traffic around you that may not be what you're used to, driving to places that seem much further away than they looked on the map, and possibly on the other side of the road to what you're used to.

Would it really matter to you, or deter you, if you had to take a test or some instruction before you were given the keys to a vehicle to drive on our roads?

I don't really believe it would matter if it was slightly harder to hire cars here and I certainly don't think it would damage our tourist trade. I really wouldn't complain if I landed in a foreign country and before giving me the keys to a vehicle they insisted I learn a little about how to drive in that country - I think I would be reassured and thankful for the assistance.

And to be blunt - If anyone really doesn't like it - then they are probably the arrogant, reckless drivers who think they know everything and we really don't want on our roads anyway.

It's almost four weeks since my accident and I can confidently say I am now on the road to recovery. The bruises from the seat belt were quite impressive and are now just wearing off to a putrid shade of yellow. I'm still having physio for neck, back, shoulder etc but mostly it's taken some time with the symptoms of concussion and its effects on my daily life which really came as a shock to me. As a newly self-employed marketing consultant I have to say it wasn't the best of timing (not that it would every be) and it was not only a huge hit to my poor little car (since written off) and health, but also to my finances.

But onwards and upwards from here. And I'm very grateful that I still am here.

Please help take a stand on this by signing the petition today.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Animals everywhere

We share our little place in the country with our beautiful, crazy pets - they seem to like it here as much as we do.

I've already introduced you to our two dogs: Jess and Pip, but we also have two cats (Sheila & Meer), a miniature horse called Ted, four rabbits and lots of chickens.

The lovely thing is that all the animals really get along with each other. The horse talks through the fence to the chickens; the kitten regularly visits the rabbits and rolls on her back next to their cage waiting for one to come to the side to visit her. Sure the dogs occasionally give chase on a cat, or the kitten will take a swipe at one of the dogs, but then that evening the cats will come and snuggle up with the dogs so I'm pretty sure it's all fun and games really.

As you can see from this short video clip, I was walking Ted recently and was joined by all the dogs and cats who wanted to come too! We had our son's dog with us at that time as well, so three dogs, two cats and one horse :)

They also like to cozy up on the sofa in my home office while I'm working....

It's a hard life eh?!
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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Meer cat it is then

The trial spelling period is over and it's been unofficially officially announced that our kitten/cat Mia is from now on and for ever more to be known as Meer. 

Just thought you might like to know. 

And here she is....

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Monday, 2 March 2015

Our new old toy!

My hubbie has recently acquired a new 'old' toy - a vintage, rusty, 1970s tandem bicycle.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

There's more rust on it than paint, many cables needed replacing and it only had one whole saddle remaining but after just a little love and attention he's got it up and running... or cycling!

Much fun has already been had just riding it around the garden with the dogs eagerly chasing.

As usual I have big ambitious plans and can already see it painted up to match our caravan (in it's future state not current!) and travelling with us to camp sites etc.

And for those of you that are already humming this... here you go:

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