Monday, 3 September 2012

Here's to a very exciting decade ahead

"Come, come," said Venables. "I really can't go along with this modern playing down of th evil as something that doesn't really exist. There is evil. And evil is powerful. Sometimes more powerful than good. It's there. It has to be recognised - and fought. Otherwise..." he spread out his hands. "We go down to darkness."
- The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

About a month ago someone (oooo, that was me, pick me!) had a very important birthday (well, all birthdays are important, but some are more important and exciting than others). And what do birthdays always call for (well, in my world anyway)?


Why yes, that is a dirty concrete floor. Thank you for noticing.

CAKE! The chocolate cake from Bhakti Cookti Bookti in fact. It was so ridiculously rich and chocolatey that we had to eat it with ice cream lite licks hokey pokey is the BEST!). Not exactly surprising considering it basically has an entire large block of chocolate in the icing!

After the usual wintery Wednesday Night run (basically a group of us meet up on a Wednesday night to go running in the Port Hills together) M and I tempted everyone back to where we were staying to help devour the cake. Cake is pretty much the perfect post-run food right?


The cake is filled with delicious jam as well as copious amounts of chocolate icing. Yum!

In case anyone was concerned (although I can't see why) M and I did actually eat some real dinner which even included vegetables!


Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie and Olympic rowing. Perfect!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Brothers and memory lanes

Three little bears.
One with a light.
One with a stick.
One with a rope.
A spooky old tree.
Do they dare go into that spooky old tree?
- The Berenstain Bears and The Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain

I am still here! So is my American brother and his wife so I am a bit busy at present. High on chocolate and peanut butter fudge right about now whilst we gallop down the twisting, turning memory lanes of our childhoods.

Back soon.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Since I've been gone...

In the thick of that season there were few things more magical than ice - the blocks that emerged, impossibly, from the back of a wagon, steaming not with heat but with cold, the unmistakeable stomp of the iceman conquering the stairwell, gleaming blocks of ice piled on his broad back like enormous melting diamonds.
- Wickett's Remedy by Myla Goldberg

So I appear to have been gone from here for quite some time. Oh dear!

Since I’ve gone so long I thought I would give you a little insight into some of the things that appear to have gotten in the way of blogging lately. Basically, life in the south has been filled with many adventures.

There has been lots of running. I like running, especially in the hills. One day I will take the camera with me and show you all where I run every week. It's so beautiful here! And with more tracks slowly opening up again (after being closed for SO long because of earthquake/rockfall danger) there are more places you can safely go.

There has also been heaps of riding, especially since M bought himself a mountain bike and I upgraded. The best part about where we live is that you can go mountain biking straight from home without having to drive anywhere and there a lovely big hills to ride up and along on your road bike. I can't wait for summer and not needing to defrost after a ride though!

Anyway, below is just a little snapshot of some of my favourite adventures we've had so far (i.e. the ones where we have taken a camera!)...

Oceania Mountain Bike Orienteering in Central Otago
Back at the start of the year, when it was warm and summery (which seems like a lifetime ago since now buried in winter and the weather outside today is particularly unpleasant) we had several days of mountain bike orienteering in Central Otago. It was fabulous (mostly) and I seem to have become addicted to mountain biking since returning home.

Sprint the Bay 2012
There has been plenty of orienteering happening this year to distract me and Sprint the Bay was one of the events we traveled to. Basically it is 3 days of sprint orienteering on various maps around the Hawke's Bay region. There was a nice big group of us from Southerly Storm up there to represent the South Island.

Exploring the West Coast
I'd never been to the West Coast of the South Island so M and I went to check out a bit of it. We stayed in the cutest little house right on the coast at Granity and explored a lot of the historic mining sites near by. The highlight was exploring Denniston and getting to see the incline used to cart the coal down from the plateau. It has to be seen to be believed. It was also the first real test of my new bike. I think we're becoming very good friends!

Orienteering Nationals 2012
Easter equals the National Orienteering Champs and this year it was up in Auckland so I got to have a little trip home at the same time. 4 days and 4 very different maps and getting to see people I hadn't seen in a long time made for a lot of fun (and lots of sand in our shoes and socks).

Mountain biking at Craigieburn
We spent ANZAC Day with friends riding in the glorious sunshine at Craigieburn. Beech forest and incredible views made this a pretty cool day, even if the riding was rather scary in places. Hooning along the Hogs Back track down into Castle Hill at the end was an awesome way to finish a long day in the saddle.

TWALK
TWALK...THE event of the year. 24 hours of madness in the wilderness with a bunch of friends whilst wearing silly costumes cannot really be beaten. As an added bonus, our team won!

Exploring the Mackenzie Country
What does one do when there is a long weekend? One goes on an adventure of course! For Queens Birthday we took our bikes for a few days of riding based out of Tekapo. Arriving in the late afternoon we had a beautiful ride along the Richmond Trail above Lake Tekapo as the sun was slowly setting. We got back to the car just before dark! Another day we rode up (and up and up) to the Omarama Saddle and pushed up the Saddle Ridge track even further where it was freezing and there was snow across the tops. We were far too cold to take pictures by that stage!

Snow Day!
Of course, what is winter without a snow day! I didn't believe snow was coming but that morning it was pouring with rain at our house so I dressed up in my wet weather gear and rode my old mountain bike to work. The closer I got the colder it got and the rain started to turn into ice and then snow flakes. By the time I reached work I was riding through snow drifts. It wasn't long before we were all sent home again! That night was the regular Wednesday night run in the hills and it was crazy because we didn't even need headlights as the snow seemed to light up the sky.

Riding in Rotorua
Last month we flew up to Rotorua for a few of days of riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest. The first couple of days we competed in a weekend of mountain bike orienteering events but we stayed extra days to explore the forest. It's like mountain bike heaven in there! Some of these adventures have not been so fun though. M and I have just recently returned to our flat after nearly 2 months living out of boxes at friends’ houses while EQC (the earthquake commission) “redecorated” it. That was not fun. Sigh. But now we are home and slowly unpacking again. I really should get a move on with that since I have some very exciting visitors arriving this weekend and it would be nice if the house looked somewhat, well, less like boxes and chaos.

There have also been lots of adventures in the kitchen but that is a story for next time...

Friday, 9 March 2012

Family time

It would be easier to stay annoyed with him if he didn't seem so genuinely concerned for her safety.
- The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig


I totally meant to post last week but, well, time slipped through my fingers. Not really that surprising if you'd seen my week/weekend.

Anyway, my parents came to visit us at the beginning of February which was very exciting (and stressful at the same time). They spent two weekends with us with the week between spent walking the Banks Peninsula. While they were with us we took them up into the Port Hills to show them the places we haunt in the evenings and weekends. We also drove over the hill to Governors Bay for a spot of lunch at She Chocolat. We had to wait forever for food but it was delicious. Plus the chef is always open to recreating something deliciously vegan.


We also went to check out the Re:START mall. For those of you who don't know, the Re:START mall (where the Cashel Street mall used to be before the February 2011 earthquake caused much of it to be demolished) consists of shops made from shipping containers refitted as retail premises. It's actually really cool. I love the bright colours and the innovative and creative feel about the place. It definitely exceeded my expectations (plus I bought marzipan chocolate so what's not to love!).


This was actually the first time I'd been right up to the fences surrounding the red zone and it had an eery, unsettling feeling about it. I kind of expected tumbleweed to come rolling across the streets and perhaps a man on a horse to appear (a bit like some apocalyptic Western or something). Generally we avoid most of the earthquake damage and carry on with life as usual (life as usual does include not even noticing damage or demolished buildings and cracks in the road...it's like it just washes over you after a while).

I haven't felt an aftershock in a while but I've learnt you can't get too relaxed (especially after the ones on 23rd December which found me climbing up in the ceiling checking to see what had happened to our header tank after water was coming down through the hot water cupboard).

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Water, water, every where

“I’m glad we’re on the same page,” Sam said, and I felt relieved. But I was far from comfortable. We might be on the same page, but I wasn’t happy about reading it.
- Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris


So how did I spend the first part of my "summer" holiday (which feels like a lifetime ago now)? Well last Christmas M and I went kayaking in the Queen Charlotte Sound which was amazing so this year a group of us decided we were going to kayak in the neighbouring sound, the Pelorus Sound. The 4-day trip turned into a 5-day trip when the weather went from wet to wild and we were trapped (we did attempt to paddle back but it became apparent there was no way that was going to happen). The days were long and hard and I ended up very sick by the morning of the fourth day. It was quite an experience!


So much gear to pack!


The views are incredible in the Pelorus Sound. It's breathtaking.


Food...food is good. Over half the party was vegetarian or vegan so we all cooked together. When you're kayaking you can take heaps of stuff so we had tinned beans, heaps of fresh vegetables, wraps, tofu, pasta, wraps, rice...epic amounts of food. Turned out to be fortunate as we couldn't get back in on the last day and had to stay out an extra night.


So the boys decided we were going to portage (meaning carry the kayaks) over the bank. You can see that it wasn't exactly flat. In fact on the other side it was more of a sheer drop!


It rained so hard during the second night that our campsite was flooded out in the middle of the night and we had to (carefully) move our tents in the dark. By daylight the water was at least up to my ankles and deeper in places.


Awesome group of people and an awesome trip.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The ancient history decorated in tinsel

It was all about health, of course. It was a conspiracy. Why did they never find a vegetable that was bad for you, hey? And what was so wrong with onion gravy anyway? It had onions in it, didn't it? They made you fart, didn't they? That was good for you, wasn't it? He was sure he had read that somewhere.
- Snuff by Terry Pratchett


Oh man, it’s been a LONG time. So long that I can’t even remember everything that’s happened! I was trying to go through all my photos and it all got a bit much! I can’t believe it’s already two thirds of the way through February. Where is the year going?

I know it was months ago but the easiest place to start seems to be Christmasy stuff. Christmas time basically involves lots more cooking, baking, eating, socialising and all that kind of stuff.

The weekend before Christmas M and I travelled up to Auckland for the annual family get together. To start with we proceeded to eat our way around some of my favourite places in Auckland (as well as catching up with some of our favourite people) including lunching at Cosset...


No, I didn't eat ALL of that! But what I did eat was delicious!

We then had to devour lots of food at the family Christmas party that evening. I'd made my tofukey which always goes down well. It's nights like this that make me miss being back up in Auckland with my family. My aunts and uncles are like second parents and my cousins have become brothers and sisters.


Pancakes for brunch at Revel were the perfect way to recover from the food coma of the night before (okay, that's not strictly true but it seemed like an awesome idea at the time). They were buckwheat pancakes served with rhubarb...delicious.

Christmas eve was all about singing carols in the park whilst trying to keep the candle from blowing out (which we failed at miserably!).


Christmas itself was spent at M’s family’s house where we got to eat potatoes that were dug from the garden right before our very eyes and I ate peas straight from the pod (11 peas in one pod - apparently that's good luck).


I made tofukey and Christmas pudding (which was served with soy cream and fresh berries) for everyone. I love Christmas food. Christmas cake was also made...I think I might need to make another one now so we can enjoy it at all times of the year.


All in all I think it was quite possibly the best Christmas I've ever had. Yay!

Join me next time when I dive back down into the deep archives of time since my last post and find some other exciting things to tell you about! I promise it won't be far away.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Glaciers of wonderment

"We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them,"
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


M and I have just had the most fabulous long weekend in Mt Cook. So it's not food but it does have the word 'cook' in it. That counts for something right?! Mountains, adventure, sunshine, brilliant views...pretty much my perfect holiday! Mt Cook (Aoraki) is New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3754 metres. Although not particularly high as far as tall mountains go, it is supposed to be a difficult climb for its height. My eldest brother has climbed it twice that I know of. He’s pretty awesome! Neither of us are mountaineers so we were certainly weren’t there to climb Mt Cook itself (!!) but I had never been before which definitely needed to be remedied since it is a very special place for much of my family.






I didn't want to come home and I'm looking forward to my next adventure all ready.