Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas view


Views : top from the house, over one of the flower fields
Middle Hawkes Bay for mint surfing
Bottom acros the bay to Akaroa and Devauchelle

(double left click on photo to view it full screen (Dad))

The landscape is absolutely massive compared with our hills at home.

Am have left now and am waiting for my bus south to Dunedin tomorrow morning.

Guess my real travels are about to start now and i am well excited to be off, taking with me many happy memories of my month picking flowers and surfing and Christmas in the sun.

Pre and Post Christmas

At last, some photos for you.

Am proving to be rubbish at all this computer stuff. Spent ages the other day writing an entry and it has completely disappeared, guess i must have forgotten to save it.

Christmas was excellent, huge meal, roast turkey lamb etc on christmas eve, freeing up Christmas day itself for the beach, surfing and boat trip after a great breafast outside. had great fun surfing and out on the boat though no dolphins. Scenery along coast was magnificent.

Late nights of drinking and card games with my substitute New Zealand family here has been great fun.

Friday, December 22, 2006


whats been going on in here on my blog, it looks more exciting that what i've been up to. Who are all these anonymous comments from? Be good if they were signed off so we can see who they were from. The observation about 'The Piano' is very apt, and it has been a while since i've been up to anything majorly interesting. The village too far away from anywhere to really get out in the evenings or go into town, so we have been going quietly mad amongst the millions of flowers - leucospermums to be precise, in red (tango) orange ( harry chittock) and yellow ( high gold) - well, someone did ask!! most are off to Japan for their new year, the rest go to local florists. I did look for the Kiwi on the hills here, but aparently they are not found locally any more.
I will mention the kidnapper of my brother if (s)he reveals their true identity. Keep feeding him cheese and biscuits as he will need the extra padding for when he goes skiing in the winter but don't bother sending me his fingers, they are really cheap here and i already have several spare. Send them to the garden centre for the new puppy to play with, glad to hear all is going well back on the hill.
The surfing is coming along great - have bought a wet suit so as not to miss out when we all finish, which is now. Now just need some summer weather.
The last flowers were despatched yesterday afternoon and we are now preparing to party for the next week. On a trip into town to get supplies and stock up for christmas... vodka, brandy, christmas pudding, delicious ham......... then hopefully hit the beach or go out in the boat diving during the next few days if the weather improves. I forgot to bring the disk with my photos on, so you'll all have to wait a bit longer for illustrations. Sorry. Also running out of winter clothes as its so cold here - had the fire lit last night, coz it was needed. Thought it was supposed to be the middle of summer here. Still, it will be good when it arrives.
Still having a great time and looking forward to Christmas, and then moving on to experience something new.
Best wishes to you all.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

just like home

We are all sitting around indoors reading books and playing cards, and it's only 8.45am. The plan was to work from 8.00 so we had most of the afternoon free but it looks like Dartmouth outside. Thick cloud and rain, the mountains and sea view have all disappeared into the grey mist, its just like an english summer holiday.
Thats not the only similarity, we visited the local town, Akaroa, about 5km away. It is very beautifully set round a bay, with incredible views of the water and mountains, 2/3 of the property there are second homes or holiday lets, the vast majority of the shops are galleries or boutiques and the locals cannot afford to buy houses and there is very little employment apart from tourism jobs. We had a good walk round and a bit of a hike up into the hills to look at the view which was exhausting in the hot sun but well worth it. Have booked to swim with the dolphins in the bay next Sunday.
The gardens here have similarly planted, although quite often in a modern style to match the property they surround, many of the same plants - aparently the settlers brought loads of their favourites from home so its a real mix. Slightly warmer than home with huge geranium bushes, leucospermums and citrus bushes thriving in sheltered corners, even though it does occasionally snow here in the winter.
Yesterday we picked the first lot of flowers, half the quantity that we will be doing each day when we get going, just to get the hang of it all. Choosing longer stems, stripping the lower leaves off, stacking them on trays that are then transported down to the house where they are fumigated. We then stand round a big table and grade them into several sizes and they are stored in water until they are dispatched to market. Good communal work with plenty of chat and stories being told and explanations for those of foreign tongue. Though we are all having trouble understanding a local with a very strong accent who talks incredibly past.
Surfed again yesterday afternoon for the third time, am really getting hooked on it. having great fun.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

living in a volcano

Well, i guess i should explain. I am on the Banks Peninsula, off the coast of the south island just south of Christchurch. The whole area is the remains of an extinct volcano that has collapsed and since been eroded by the sea.
My hosts, John and Julie, and their son David live on the steep side of an inlet overlooking what was the centre of the volcano, a small pointed headland sticking out of the middle of the bay. Steep sided valleys in green, dropping down onto a large sheltered area of nearly inland water.
Got here on the the bus from Christchurch arriving an hour and a half later, we stopped on the way for several photo opportunities, the coach driver gave an amazing commentary all the way.
Dropped my bags in the hall of the house and headed straight out with David and another couple of visitors to the beach to surf and swim for the afternoon. Sea was rather cold even in borrowed wet suit, though soon warmed up in the searing sunshine. Saw seals on the rocks and one of the others saw a dolphin. Not to worry, aparently they're about in the bay all the time. Think i'm gonna like living here for a while.
There are going to be 6 or 7 extra helpers here when they all arrive, at the mement we are 5, 2 french, 1 swiss and 1 american, and all getting on well, doing a viarety of tasks in the mornings and heading off to the beach, to walk or just chill and read a book for the afternoon. We all eat together in the evenings with the family which is very welcoming and enjoyable. The big flower pick doesn't start for a week or so, so we're doing all sorts of other things.
John is hugely passionate about native flora and fauna and has bought a large swathe of valley which he is single handedly returning to native bush. Raising plants from seed and establishing them on the slopes. Also trapping introduced animals such as possoms and rats that prey on indigenous wildlife of both plant and bird variety. We have already helped with transplanting seedlings and clearing round young plants that have been in the ground a year or so. No photos from here, have the slowest connection in the world, but very kindly for free!