Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Pancake Day

My belly is full of pancakes and sugar and lemon juice (fresh from the lemon tree in our garden).
I am content.
And I can totally recommend THIS recipe.

Happy Pancake Day!

Monday, February 23, 2009


We got back this afternoon from a few days at Lake Taupo.

It all started when we couldn't get tickets to see Billy Connolly in Palmy because they had sold out. I did a quick search and discovered there were tickets left for the Taupo show so we decided to make a weekend of it.

We drove up on Saturday afternoon which was pretty rainy and miserable. We could hardly see the mountains from the Desert Road and then we got stuck in a bit of traffic due to an Iron Man contst which had people running from Turangi to Taupo (crazy people!). But we arrived in the end and checked in to our hotel about 10 minutes north of Taupo - the Bayview Wairekei Resort. The hotel was lovely. We went for a swim that afternoon and Graeme attempted to teach me to play squash (for those that don't know I am hugely unco-ordinated) which was heaps of fun! Then we had dinner at the resort cafe that night.

On Sunday morning we headed out to Huka Falls which were just down the road from the hotel. They were spectacular. We went for a walk up the track both ways but didn't go too far because I was not wearing "suitable" shoes. But we went just far enough away from the crowds and got some lovely photos. This photo was taken from the bridge right by the carpark so it was swarming with tourists!

We also went to the Honey Hive and took a drive down to the Prawn Farm (although we didn't go in) before heading to town for some lunch. We also managed to fit in another swim that afternoon before getting ready to go into town for dinner before Billy.
We miscalculated our time though and ended up only able to have starters for dinner because we needed to leave to get up to the Events Centre on time. (Yummy starters though - the most amazing onion rings and rosemary & feta pizza bread at Dixie Brown's - must go back some time to actually try their dessert cocktails!)

Then came the show which was fabulous. This was the second time we have seen Billy Connolly live (the first time being at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow in 2005 before we left for NZ) and he didn't disappoint. I had heard him tell some of the stories before (in DVDs, TV shows etc) but they were still funny and he added lots of other details in as well. I was also pleased that the zoom on our camera allowed me to take this shot...

He was definetly worth the money and the huge wait we had in the carpark when it came to leave!

This morning we visited the Craters of the Moon before leaving Taupo. It's a site of geothermal activity and involves a 45 minute walk around a site which has lots of steam and mud pools and 'craters'. It stunk of rotten eggs (due to the sulphur but thankfully it wasn't quite as bad as Rotorua!) but was worth a visit.

Then came the drive home (which normally takes about 3 hours) which was better today with no rain. We stopped in Taihape on the way back for coffee and cake and made it home for 3pm.

This afternoon we've been unpacking, sorting through the photos and got some food in (cupboards were empty!). And tomorrow it's back to work for both of us. After having 11 days off I think I may be inconsolable come tomorrow morning!

Hope you all had a good weekend too!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Yucky weather

I wrote this post on Sunday 15th February and had to save it as a draft before I could finish it. I am only just getting round to finishing it and posting it - sorry for the delay! So please bear in mind this post doesn't relate to this week.
What a week.

The rain started on Tuesday and we had a ridiculous amount of rain in a 2 hour window which meant the city's drainage system couldn't cope and there was a lot of flooding.

Had I stayed at work all day and not ventured out until after 5pm (as is the norm) it probably wouldn't have affected me. Once the rain slowed the drains started to work and by the time Graeme got home he said the roads were fine.
But I had a meeting in town at lunchtime which I couldn't miss. So I ventured out. Got to the meeting and was lucky enough to get the park right outside the door. Still managed to get soaked running in though. Meeting went well.

Then I decided to do the banking and some stationery shopping before heading back to the office. When the parking meter took my money and didn't give me a ticket that's when I should have realised I would be better off hibernating. Luckily I spotted a traffic warden across the street so marched over to them (I should point out here that I was wearing flimsy sandals and a skirt because the day had started off nice!). The traffic warden wrote down my number plate and let me off for 10 minutes when I explained what had happened and that I didn't have anymore money. Then as I stepped back to go in the bank my foot landed in a puddle about 2 inches deep....yuck!

Got to the bank and had problems there but all fixable. Then I went stationery shopping and everything got soaked as I tried to load it into the car. But I was done in town and could head back to the office.
That's when it got worse! I couldn't turn down some roads because they were completely flooded (see shot below) so I kept turning hoping for a road that was less flooded.
The worst part came when I pulled up behind a minivan and a car pulled up behind me and we were all trying to turn left. There was a council worker in the road measuring the flooding and he told the van to go the over way.
So the van started reversing....
I put the car into reverse and looked behind to see the car behind me in the exact same spot. I looked front and the van kept reversing (at this point I was swearing). I lent on the horn but not quick enough to stop the van before it hit me.
And the driver behind still hadn't moved! Then he had the cheek to reverse pull out and give me a dirty look as he went past!
So the van pulled forward and up a drive to do a u-turn and I turned also. I had to get out of the car to check the damage in inches of water (I was absolutely soaked at this point). Luckily there was hardly any damage - just some scratches so I waved the minivan driver on when he stopped to check.
I was okay but in panic mode at that point. I rung Graeme and said I was going home and not driving again so he could either get a taxi home or I would go to his work then and there so he could drop me and have the car. He chose the taxi option.
The water went down pretty quickly once the downpour let up which was good. It's pretty much been raining on and off since then which is a wee bit depressing though!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lovely long weekend

It's been a fabulous 3 day weekend! Very relaxing and I managed to get a few things ticked off my to do list as well.

After being away last weekend the days all seemed to merge into each other and after an 11 day working week I was soooo tired by Thursday night. I felt that all I had been doing was sleeping and working for so long. But I'm pretty much recovered now.

On Friday we went into town and did a bit of shopping (including a visit to the new discount Dymocks store where I picked up Tales of Beatle the Bard for $11 - bargain!) and then took a wander through the Square to see the Waitangi Day celebrations. I couldn't resist a photo of the NZ flag given the occassion and also talked Graeme into taking a fabulous shot of the Clock Tower.

On Saturday we caught up with friends over coffee after a cruisey morning.

And today (well, I'm sure you will be as surprised as I was that I did this!) we cycled to the swimming pool and went for a swim! It was lovely. It's been way too long since we'd been to the pool (especially considering I have pre-paid swims so we don't have to pay) and we are committed to going back soon - hopefully next weekend.

Our neighbour was away for the weekend so we were dog sitting too. It's lovely to have 2 dogs and I was trying to convince Graeme we should make it a permanent number but he wasn't so sure after all the play fights and barking in the middle of the night! Oh well.

This week is a 4 day week for me as well. I am off on Friday then all of the week after and don't go back to work until Tuesday 25th February. I have some annual leave to use up before the end of the month. Plans at this stage are to scrapbook, walk the dog, go on some bike rides, pay a visit to some wedding photographers (and possibly florists and maybe even some cake tasting) and have a bit of a clearout at home. Plus blog some more! So you might hear from me a bit more often over the next couple of weeks.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Back Home

It always feels so lovely to come home after being in the big smoke.

Auckland's okay and I would certainly recommend it to anyone visiting New Zealand but it's not home.

I flew up to Auckland on Thursday afternoon and got home yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. I had a great few days...I was working but it's a great part of my job - welcoming volunteers into New Zealand and showing them the sights.

I was very brave (or stupid...I can never tell the difference!) and drove in Auckland for the first time...not only that but I was driving a 12 seater mini van (also for the first time) and I am pleased to report no crashes or even scrapes. I had to drive on the wrong side of the road to get in a supermarket carpark and then had a couple of minutes panicking that the van wouldn't go under the height barrier but it all came right in the end...phew!
We did the usual sights and despite already having hundreds of photos from Auckland attractions I still took more!
The top photo is the Auckland sky line taken from Devonport (my first visit - it's really cute and reminds me of little English coastal towns in the middle of summer holidays) and the second photo is taken from the Sky Tower looking down.
As well as seeing the usual sights, me and my boss also took a stroll round Viaduct Harbour to see the Louis Vuitton boats....we were also lucky enough to be in the same bar as Brad Butterworth (although some New Zealanders may deem that unlucky from what I've heard!) but didn't get close enough for photos or autographs.

So a good weekend but very tiring - I was up at 5am on Friday and 5.30am on Sunday and didn't sleep all that great knowing I was away from home and having to be up early.
We have a 3 day weekend coming up though so I will have plenty of time to relax at the end of this week. It's Waitangi Day. No plans at this stage other then relaxing and hopefully enjoying the sunshine.

Have a good week :-)