Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Awesome Day

What a difference a day makes!  We awoke to a dry, if grey, day and after breakfast headed to the Fox Glacier to make the most of it with a walk to the terminal face. 
Awesome is an over-used word here in NZ but I'm going to use it a lot today.  The glacier was awesome, blue ice, massive and the river tumbling down was also blue in places and with chunks of ice in it.  The surrounding mountains were sheer and dark with water falling from them.  Very impressive. 
After a rather yummy steak that Al cooked for lunch we decided to make the most of the dry day with a trip out to Lake Matheson - the famous reflective one.  We were not disappointed. 
We walked through wonderful rainforest with waterfalls and tiny gardens made of mosses and ferns, great birdsong and hardly any people.  There were awesome views of the glacier and the surrounding mountains although the tops of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman themselves remained in the clouds.  We walked all the way around the lake and then got back to a nice cup of tea and a calorie-free slice of cake, enjoyed outside the cafe with views of the mountains.  The sun did peek out - warm enough to be out without coats or fleeces - but not enough to drive off the high cloud.  Truly a great place.  As before, photos to follow.
We're off to Wanaka tomorrow, quite a long drive with the promise of some more awesomeness, particularly the Haast Pass.  We hope your rain also clears up.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

From North to South

We finally have access to a computer albeit at $1 for 10 minutes so I'll have to type quickly - please forgive any typos.  We are on the West Coast of South Island now, in Fox Glacier (the village, not the lump of ice although hopefully we'll be going there in the morning).  It is absolutely pouring with rain although it's not chilly.  We have a great room at the hostel here, it has a big picture window so it's like sleeping in the rainforest!
We've been up to all sorts of great things since I last wrote and I have quite a few pictures to add when that is a possibility - not today, sorry.  We had a great time in Taranaki - it's the sticky out bit partway down the west coast of North Island.  We met up with Brian and Jo which was great although Jo is fed up with the hassle of teaching - don't we know about that - and hoping for a different job.  We also met up with some wonderful quilters that I got to know through my quilting blog.  I'll write all about that over on Online Quilting but I just have to say here what a fantastic time we had with Debbie (and Ian) and with Michelle (and Stefan).
We headed southwards, stayed in a wonderful hostel overlooking the sea in Paekakariki and then got the Interislander ferry to Picton on Sunday.  More quilting-related activities followed - a meeting with Yvonne (and Gary) and then a fantastic evening with Yvonne and the Picton Quilters who were hosting a group from Australia.  More photos will appear on Online Quilting asap.
Yesterday we visited the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, a fantastic rock formation with which we were very impressed - even though the tide wasn't high enough for the blowholes to be doing their thing.  We also had a walk through the wonderful rainforest to the beach near our hostel - quite mysterious and magical but a bit full of bitey things!  I also managed to twist my back so now I know how Al feels all the time.  Apart for the journey down State Highway 6 today we are taking it easy, just food stops (remember the Cafe de Paris in Hokitika Did & Saz?  We had brunch there today, 10/10 French Toast-style crepes for me, full breakfast for Al) and sightseeing from the car.  The rain has been very wet for the first time on our holiday, other times have been showery and then cleared.  I suppose it is to be expected on the West Coast - it's a bit like Cornwall or West Scotland - and things don't get so green and lush without rain. 
The plan for tomorrow, back permitting, is to walk to the terminal face of the Fox Glacier.  We will be in Te Anau in the Fjords over Easter and I hope I will get more internet access then.  In the meantime, lots of love and hugs and Happy Easter to you all in anticipation.

Monday, 22 March 2010

A Little Bit of Gorgeousness

Here are some photos of that hand dyed fabric I bought at the Pasifika Festival last week:

I'm heading off towards South Island, NZ in the morning and I'm making a few days stop in Taranaki on the way.  I'm very excited (and a bit nervous) as I'm going to be meeting up with some fellow bloggers.  I'll take some photos and post about our meetings as soon as I can, watch this space.

Friday, 19 March 2010

What I Did On Friday Night

Another lovely, sunny day in paradise and after a good evening spent sewing I'm up early and off to visit friends in Tauranga.

I started my Friday Night Sew-In sitting on the verandah in the evening sunshine so I thought I'd get a photo taken to promote a little envy in those of you in the wintery Northern Hemisphere, although I understand there are definite signs of Spring around and that you've been enjoying some warm days in England at least.

I'm working on a quiltlet for my trip project, this one is based on North Island, NZ and I'm using fabrics I bought at The Country Yard near Whangarei in Northland where I also bought a lovely selection of Aurifil threads.
The Country Yard (above) is in a great setting and is a very friendly quilt barn.  There was a quilting group there when I visited and several people also popped in to buy, show and tell.  These are the Aurifil colours I bought for starters and I have to say I am really enjoying using them.
I'm hand sewing and the thread is really smooth through the fabric and doesn't seem to tangle as much as other threads I've used.  I've not brought my beeswax with me so the threads are being tested au naturel!

This is what I got done on Friday night - I came inside soon after the photo (it's Autumn here, with cooler mornings and evenings) and settled down in my dressing gown with some yummy things to eat including Whittaker's chocolate peanut slab and a whole 1 kg punnet of apricots that were a bargain at about $6, plus a couple of bottles of lemon, lime and bitters!
Two adapted log cabin blocks (why the colours look different from one photo to the next I don't know, I took them about 30 seconds apart) and I am going to applique a nikau palm silhouette on top in dark green Fossil Fern fabric.  I've cut out the templates as you can see but I need to buy some of that iron-on double sided adhesive that I saw being used on Simply Quilts this week - my BiL found it on the Sky Living Channel for me and has been recording it, what a star.  Nikau palms are only found in Australia and NZ, here's one:
They're quite iconic trees here and used in a lot of designs.  The young shoots can be eaten and Captain James Cook wrote of doing so, they're called miko.  I'm glad I went for the chocolate and apricots though!
I had a lovely Friday sew-in and now I'm off to look at what others got up to - it's such a great feeling to know this is something happening all over the world, thanks Heidi and Bobbi.

No Weather?

We just want you to know that the Weather Pixie has a server problem and will apparently be back as soon as possible! 

We didn't want you to think that we're hiding the fact that it's getting more and more Autumnal here!  The mornings and evenings are quite cool but it's still getting up to about 21C during the day - although the sun didn't actually come out today!  You can check on this weather map in the meantime.  Yesterday was a bit unusual according to the weatherman and it was only 3C overnight in Christchurch, golly, that's almost frosty.  Actually I went out in bare feet to put the washing on the line and my toes got decidedly icy yesterday morning.

When the pixie is back I'll set her to South Island where it'll be quite a lot cooler anyway - like going up to Scotland in October.  We leave Terry's on Tuesday to head southwards, catching up with some old and new friends on the way which we're really looking forward to. 

We then have about a month in South Island and I hope I can get access to computers to share photos of what promises to be stunning scenery with you.  I'm thinking I really should have brought a small computer with me (yours would have been ideal Sara...), it's easy to get a wireless connection but not so easy to actually find a PC although we've just found out that the libraries here provide free access if you can get the local students to move over. 

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

March's Friday Night Sew-In

I'm joining in the Friday Night Sew-In again this month - this week, Friday 19th March.  Pop over to Heidi's to find out more and join in.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Quilters' Meeting

I have had an amazing day today, I met up with a quilting friend that I had previously only known via the internet.  Katrina is part of a small group of quilters called The Global Piecers formed as a result of Fiona Marie's Great Global Christmas Swap and today I met her!  Of course we had to decide on a good place to meet - how about a quilt shop?!  Here we are admiring a lovely Kiwiana wallhanging in Cushla's in Devonport.  We got along brilliantly, did some shopping (of course) and then had a great brunch together.  These are the things that tempted me:
And this is a lovely heart that Katrina had stitched just for me:

Sunday, 14 March 2010

South Pacific Delights

Something totally different for you to enjoy today!  I went to the Pasifika festival in Auckland yesterday which celebrates the communities and cultures of the Pacific Islands.  As well as music, dancing and yummy food (pineapple pie anyone?) there were lots of lovely crafts including these gorgeous tivaevae which I am very inspired by.  I did treat myself to a length of hand dyed fabric from the Cook Islands which I will share soon.

Mothering Sunday (UK)

Happy Mothering Sunday Mummy.  Here's a beautiful frangipani flower for you.  It's not Mothering Sunday here until later in the year, May I think.

Today we have done something rather different - we've been to the local vintage steam railway!  We were driving elsewhere when we had to stop for a steam train to cross the road (you know what I mean) and so we decided to track (sorry) it down and see what was going on.  We had two 12km rides, a look around the workshops and a good lunch from the station cafeteria.

Later this afternoon we spent a lovely time at the Whitangi Waterfalls, where there's a great swimming hole - we were assured by the local children who were diving down the waterfall into the pool.  No, we didn't try it but we did enjoy sitting in the sunshine watching the water and listening to the birds and cicadas.  Bliss.

Pasifika Festival

Here are a few photos from the Pasifika Festival yesterday.  We had a great time, the atmosphere was superb and there was plenty to enjoy - dancing, music, food and crafts.  The last photo is of our lunch which was Tongaean pork with a noodly thing with "cow meat"  and a raw fish dish (tasty sauce but not sure about the texture of the fish, bit offally for me) and taro which is grown and cooked like a potato and was quite nice but would have been better with melted butter and cheese!!  We also had some delicious puddings - pineapple pie and then half a pineapple filled with ice cream, yummy and ideal on a hot afternoon.  Each of the Pacific islands had their own "village" and there were some lovely crafts to see.  I only bought one piece of fabric, a dyed piece from the Cook Islands, but could easily have been tempted by more.  It was lovely to see all the ladies in their floral headresses and brightly coloured clothing, a real boost as all the shops are full of black and grey here as Autumn approaches!  There were frangipani trees for sale, oh that I could smuggle one back through customs and have it thrive in Lincolnshire!  Definitely a good day out and I'm glad we finally got to Pasifika, this was our third try!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Relaxing back at basecamp

A much quieter day today and time to catch up with mundane stuff like the washing!  Actually it had the cheek to rain this morning so it wasn't so good for the washing but it is beautiful again now.
Glad to know there are signs of Spring at home at long last and Saz says there have been some lovely sunny days so that will encourage the flowers.  Autumn is coming along here with cooler mornings and evenings.  People are worried about us going down to the South Island (where it's only about 18C today) - will we have enough warm clothes?!  I think we'll be fine.
Tomorrow we are going up to the big city to the Pasifika Festival.  We've missed this on two previous visits to NZ as it's been too close to our flying home date.  Anyway, this year looks more promising.  It is a celebration of the various cultural groups that make up the Pacific nations and NZ and includes dancing, crafts and food.  I'll take my camera!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Photos - Northland

Hi everyone.  We're back at Terry's for a few days now and so I can upload some of the photos I've been taking in Northland.
We had a fantastic time, staying with Lyndsay and Stefano at Kahoe Farms where we stayed two years ago and it hardly seemed like two months had passed once we were back in "our" room and sitting on the verandah under the shade of our "lace" bark tree.  This is the view from our bed!  We had fantails, thrushes, turkeys with their chicks (no, not sure either, it's not Spring here although it is nearly Easter) and parakeets come to visit and there were cows and two donkeys in the fields.
We didn't going racing around once we got there, we simply enjoyed some time on the fantastic beaches, had a few lovely walks in the nearby forest, ate well and relaxed.  This was our lunch at the local winery - not bad eh?
And this is Stefano serving the aforementioned steaks, which were absolutely delicious.
Poor Annie got a cracked windscreen on the way there - they are repairing so many roads here it is amazing (I don't know if they have to use the money up before the new tax year or something!) but she ran really well and Al has now washed all the lime and concrete dust off that we accumulated on the unsealed roads.

The weather has continued to be fantastic - just one shower of rain after we'd had a morning on the beach and then a lovely, sunny evening to follow.

We met some really interesting people including Sue and Adrian and their sons, George and Oliver, who have been sailing around the world for seven years in a 38' yacht! Sue actually has an article in this month's "Boating New Zealand" about their time on Easter Island.  We also met the first ever people we've spoken to who didn't think much of NZ!  An English couple who didn't think there was "much to do" here and didn't think they'd be returning.  Well, I suppose they could be right, there's not a lot to do on beaches like these is there?
We stopped in a place called Paihia on the way to Kahoe and got the shock of our lives.  The main road was shut and there were diversions and no through ways and all sorts and loads of official looking people around.  I spotted an interesting looking craft market on the green but we didn't think it could be the cause of such chaos.  Anyway, we had a mooch around the stalls and people were asking us if we were "off the ship"?  We didn't think they were being rude but then we noticed some lady in shorts, a golfing-type top and one of those visor hat things with "Queen Mary II" emblazoned upon it.  We had chosen the same day to visit Paihia in the lovely Bay of Islands as this massive ship with about 3 000 aboard, plus crew!  Paihia will never be the same in our memories!  People were pouring off the lifeboats they use as ferries into the town in their hundreds.  Further queries about whether we were "off the ship" led to the answer, "No", through increasingly gritted teeth!!  We decided to give the place up as a bad job and get the ferry across to lovely Russell where we enjoyed relative tranquility and a yummy ice cream.  Here she is:
While we were in Kahoe we visited a nearby forest and had a lovely walk through the native bush.  We saw several kauri trees and while they aren't the biggest examples in NZ they were still pretty impressive.
We enjoyed plenty of birdsong and the ever-present noise of the cicadas and we managed to spot a tui - a gorgeous bird that we seem to see fewer and fewer of although we did see this one in the Native Bird Recovery Centre and it actually talks!  They are good mimics in nature, this one seems to have continued the practice in hospital!
As you can probably tell we are continuing to have quite a nice time :) here in New Zealand!  Love and hugs to you all, more soon.

Antique Quilts

I've just been staying in Northland NZ for a few days at an amazing backpackers' that is on a dairy farm.  It has been in the Johanson family for generations and I enjoyed looking at these quilts that were in the farmhouse and thought I'd share them.  (I stayed at the same place, Kahoe Farms, two years ago and have put one of the quilts on my blog before but I'm sure you'll enjoy seeing the others).  Some of them were really worn and fragile but they were "proper" quilts, by that I mean that they'd been made with leftover and recycled fabrics - a lot of curtaining and heavier fabrics and some blanket instead of our brand new fabrics and wadding that we like to use now.  They seem to have been used and enjoyed and to have stories to share of the people who'd known them (am I being too romantic?  I don't think so, it is how I feel).  Enjoy.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Northland Idyll

The photos will follow but we just have time to say hello while Stefano cooks our Kahoe Beef steaks!  We have had some great sunshine enjoyed on stunning beaches and just had to call in at the local vineyard.  Have also had plenty of time to relax - I've even finished a book, "Seven Summers at Valley Homestead"... gardening and NZ, if only the author quilted too!  The wildlife here is great, some lovely birds, and tomorrow we are going for a forest (bush) walk and hope to find tuis, we've heard but not seen them so far.  Steak is ready....

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Singapore Quilt


This is my Singapore quilt that I've been working on, inspired by Chinese New Year.  Obviously I haven't finished it yet - no quilting and I have only pinned the top and bottom binding to get the effect - but I thought I'd share it while I've got computer access which is variable while I'm travelling.  Below is a close-up of the top right section, inspired by my visit to Changi Museum and the Red Cross Quilts.

To The Sea


We went to Port Waikato after brunch this morning.  It's a lovely black sand beach and we planned to clamber over the rocks, looking in the rockpools and searching for dinosaur fossils.  Unfortunately we didn't think to check the tide times and arrived to see very few rocks and certainly no rockpools!  Maybe it was the end of the tsunami that made the tide particularly high!  Anyway, we spent a lovely while sitting in the sunshine, watching the waves and keeping an eye on two surfers who seemed to have swum a long way out in the hope of catching the ideal wave.  Rather them than me!


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Garden Visit

Al and I had a lovely day at the Botanic Gardens yesterday, strolling in the sunshine with stops for drinks and goodies to eat!  As Autumn is on the way here there was less colour in the gardens than on our visits last time (2008) but there was still plenty to see.  The roses were still wonderful, including my favourite 'mutabilis' pictured above several times.  There were massive hibiscus and lots of interesting autumn bulbs appearing out of the ground without leaves - like our own "naked ladies".  I thought the red carpet roses with the tree ferns in the background made an interesting contrast.  We also saw lots of birds including the lovely pukeko plus goldfinches (introduced from England), parakeets, lots of thrushes, silver eyes...There were several sculptures around the gardens, including this very exuberant lady. 
Today is our last day with Terry for a while and I'm not sure what access we'll have to the internet but you'll be in our thoughts - we hope the bad weather reports we are getting for Europe are not concerning you too much - and we'll post again as soon as.
Love and hugs xoxoxoxox

Monday, 1 March 2010

Hot and Dry

All safe and dry.  The tsunami was not as bad as expected and there has been no damage.  The death toll from the earthquake in Chile continues to rise, however, which I guess you know about.  It was very impressive to see how well the Civil Defence people are equipped to deal with such things but even so people decided to go to the beaches to take a look, daft or what?
I had a successful shopping trip with Jude.  It's the end of the summer sales here so I managed to pick up a few goodies at nice prices, even with the awful (for us) exchange rates. 
Today we have been supermarket shopping for our hostel "kit" - we take a good mix of muesli that Al makes, some teabags and fruit juice and some snack goodies with us.  Then we'll buy fruit and dinner ingredients wherever we are.  Actually at Kahoe Farms Stefano makes the most yummy pizza and pasta dishes to order in the evening so we may only need breakfast while we're there.
It's been a bit humid today as the wind has dropped but it's lovely this evening - nearly eight o'clock and I'm just sitting by the open window typing this and then I'm going out to the deck for a drink with Al.  I did some sewing this afternoon but find the needle gets a bit sticky in the heat - I'm only saying that to brag about the weather for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere although we hear from Ben that it's been warmer, 6C he said!  Life's not bad eh?  Love and hugs to you all.