Friday, 27 November 2009

Catherine and the Chocolate Factory

Today I took the time to tour the Cadbury Chocolate Factory in Dunedin, NZ – it’s gotta be the most popular tourist event in the city, and probably the country. The first 10 minutes of the tour are self-guided and I did find most of the display pretty interesting, although the space allowed for the number of people involved is rather crowded. It’s a pretty kid-friendly tour. The thing everyone loved the most in this section of the tour was the vat of liquid chocolate being mixed.

Everyone becomes readily humbled as the tour begins – wearing a hair covering (and a beard and moustache covering if you qualify) is required so everyone looks pretty ridiculous. No jewelry, photos, or even watches are allowed during the tour, as well as all of the other usual banned technologies. We toured around the factory and watched chocolate “buttons” coming out of a machine, as well as chocolate chips. Most of the ingredients are all in big vats and there really isn’t much to see. The whole world of Easter eggs is emphasized – this is what Dunedin produces between July and January for the Australasian market. I don’t remember enjoying a Cabury crème egg as a child. Some children on the tour received pretty large hollow chocolate eggs. Free chocolate bars were given away throughout. The neatest part was watching a bucket that held one tonne of liquid chocolate being dumped into a funnel – it splatters quite a bit! I did pick up several chocolate treats for my buddies back in Kaslo. I just taste tested them and I think they are pretty gross – too much of that Cabury crème egg idea! Maybe it’s just the reaction after having Thai green curry for supper.

Laundry Revolt

This may sound like an unusual post for a blog with a name like The Clothesline. Have you ever felt that your laundry was out for murder?? That’s how I felt this p.m. as I attempted to hang clothes at Kaka Point, South Island, NZ. The wind was so strong that sleeves and legs made steady assaults on my person – I really did feel that the laundry was out to “get me”. I’ve got to say something for NZ pegs, however – they work in a strong wind much better than anything I’ve ever seen in Canada. Plan to bring a few back as a souvenir from my trip. Gotta love these campgrounds with laundry facilities, which always include a clothesline, of course. Even our campervan came equipped with a clothesline and about 20 pegs – gotta love NZ laundry.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Let There Be Light ….and Wind!

Last week I was fortunate to catch this view of Mount Cook and its reflection in the lovely Matheson Lake. We got up early to do that – we’d had a cloudy day when first entering the mountains, but that night skies cleared and the views were mighty fine. I actually prefer Mount Tasman from this angle – it’s the big peak on the left in the picture.

Have had interesting light views for several days. Fiordland is AMAZING and in our one day of sun had lovely hikes and fantastic views. The mist lifted a little out at Milford Sound so we could sort of see it. The falls coming off the mountains on the way out (at least on a rainy day) doesn’t match anything we have in Canada.

This a.m. we had several lovely rainbows amongst the clouds around Lake Te Anau as we travelled south. When we got back to the south coast the wind reappeared – we’re wondering if the salt water here is called the Pacifc Ocean or the Tasman Sea. Not sure if we’re brave enough to cross the strait to Stewart Island tomorrow – it will depend on wind and fog. I’ve had fun in another kitchen with absolutely wonderful light coming in the windows. The operator of the campground tells me this has been the windiest spring he has ever known in this area – and it puts the Canadian prairies to shame.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Retro Holiday Park

Camp at Rapahoe on Tasman Sea

Smelling sweet peas as I write this and look out at this amazingly powerful sea! I’m hoping for a good sunset and perhaps a chance to see the night sky and maybe identify the Southern Cross. My host doesn’t really know where to look for its appearance in the sky.

We pulled into this place this afternoon and met a somewhat older woman who is our host – I’d say she’s in her 70’s. She and her husband have this land by the Tasman Sea and they obviously are collectors of some sort. There is stuff everywhere. We have a lovely site although we do gaze at other camper vans in our same lot. It’s been such fun to explore the kitchen, commonly used by patrons here. It’s got huge banks of windows and has been so bright during our day of off and on sun. This is true in spite of the fact that I don’t think the windows have been washed for at least a decade. In the “common room”, one end is where the washing machines are located, and the other has an area of couches and several book shelves. Alas, nothing really up my line in book selections to be found. The room is quite littered with plants of the cacti, spider plant and succulent variety and they climb past the windows. The spiders love them it’s quite obvious and webs appear on nearly every pane of glass. One hanging plant has been dead for several months. There are bits of Christmas garland hanging from pipes in one corner – these are old decorations, not something getting put up early for this year! Chess players would adore the old-fashioned chess set on the dining table and there’s a darling little wooden rocking horse sitting under a table. By the way, the dining tables are covered with rather heavy, somewhat stained (but laundered) table cloths. Very British! It’s bright in spite of it all. I’ve had a hankering for an oven cooked meal for a few days now. We do have an “oven” but it’s really only a grill and will work with some dishes in a pinch but I haven’t tried it yet. This kitchen has not one but two ovens found within creaky old stoves. However, they worked and I made a wonderful mac and cheese to fill our stomachs tonight. Smelling it cook was a sensation I needed very much. While it cooked I took the time to cut some sweet peas (asking first, of course) and have the most delightful bouquet at my elbowside as I type this. There is one bicolour of pink and white that I have never seen before. I also had a chance to browse through the NZ Gardener magazine and copied two apple recipes to try back in Canada. Dave has just returned from the showers in the kitchen building to say that he thinks the building was probably an old school – it does have that appearance in a way. I hope to accompany this with some pictures.

There’s a sign in the kitchen that our host has spring onions and rhubarb and available for FREE so hope to check that out before we leave tomorrow.

Update: We left at 8 a.m. this morning as I was anxious to start my next coastal walk to the next town and no one was about so I missed the onions and rhubarb. We did manage to see the Southern Cross – our host told us to look for a kite in the western sky – that worked.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

More Observations of New Zealand....

Observations, November 7, 2009

After nearly a week here I’ve made some observations such as the following:

There is still home mail delivery here. The postal box needs to be out on the road or sidewalk, and there are some colorful post boxes. Glad to see that this hasn’t become a thing of the past in this part of the “empire”!

The birds are amazing. I’m still adjusting to waking up in the night and hearing lots of birds chattering in the night. We bought an inexpensive book in Devonport (2nd hand) to give us an introduction and it isn’t nearly good enough, but we’ve observed quite a few new species and so many are amazingly colourful. We love the NZ goldfinches and even though the myna birds are a nuisance (we hear), they are lovely and behave exactly like NA robins. Even sound the same.

The house plants that we grow in Canada appear to grow on the roadsides here. I’m most amazed at osteopernum showing up in the ditches. Impatiens, datura, pelagoriums and monbretia simply grow anywhere. The grasses are lovely, too, and since this is a place with lots of wind it looks very attractive. Enjoying the NZ flax, too! I think my favorite plant has to be the Norfolk Pine, however – always loved the one growing at the Mendel Art Gallery in S’toon. They are so symmetrical and majestic. Today (nov. 7) we saw a 2000 year old kauri tree – most impressive.

Getting reacquainted with lefthand driving – hmmm. Dave seemed to adjust within about 6 hours of driving, I’m continuing to have my issues. The roads are very windy and narrow and the camper van is a bit unwieldy in my opinion. My down shifting needs work. I usually drive on the roads where we can’t go much more than 50/60 kmph so I don’t have to go too fast. I laugh at all the road works. It’s pretty much continuous. There are constant warnings about the shoulder being closed – but there really isn’t a shoulder on any of the roads anyway. Unlike BC, there are very few warnings about a flag person up ahead -–just be prepared. The “works end” sign is very frequent – 500m further down the road is another project that’s underway. Guess it’s a sign of spring – even in a place that doesn’t really get winter.

Updates - Nov 10th, 2009 - New Zealand

Some highlights this week – written on Nov. 10 evening

Trip highlights after 10 days in NZ are for me the following:

Cape Reigna where the Pacific and the Tasman Sea meet – had a lovely walk there and a swim in a beach on the Pacific side in that region – a stunningly gorgeous place.

Going out at Whangaruru Bay looking for kiwi. The DoC campground attendant told us to go out at dusk on the trail to the top of the rise and sit quietly and listen. We didn’t see any kiwi and we may have heard some, but we did hear SO MANY interesting sounds – another amazing thing to do here. So far, we’ve seen two dead kiwi in the middle of the road. Dead possum count is too high to bother with – dead possum are also known as NZ speed bumps.

Heading out to East Cape (most easterly point in NZ) and the place where the sun rises first in the world for anyone who cares to watch it, a friendly NZ woman informed me today. At Tolaga Bay, walked out to Cook’s Cove, a two hour hike from the campground. So lovely to be back with fence stiles, hundreds of sheep and a superbly blue coastline to admire.