Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Eve

Slightly earlier for us on this side of the world than it would be back in the UK.........

Have had the most incredible few days. Christmas day was a ball, starting with a huge slap up breakfast on the terrace for 14 of us, with bucks fizz, freshly baked croissants, bacon and eggs, pancakes and more. Exchanging gifts then, for those that wanted, off to the beach. Spent a good part of the day enjoying the surf with several others from the house, the boys are really good surfers now so headed much further out into the bay, how exhilerating to catch what felt like huge waves right out in the sea. Am so glad that i left my bodyboard here last year as it's getting loads more use..... and allows more people to enjoy the waves. Chilled for a couple of hours in the late afternoon sun before returning home to a massive Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, went to bed fat, full and glowing from an amazing day.

Glen and Lauren, the Canadians had a car, and we spent a day touring round the area, stopping off at all the tourist spots to clamber through the bush to scenic viewpoints overlooking secluded bays and tracts of native forest, watch cheese being made at a local factory, with the obligatory tasters, wander round Akaroa, the local town, with its recently rediscovered historical French connections and take a miriad of photographs.

A day out in the harbour fishing was so much fun and we came back with enough fish for several big meals, some of them look familiar but they have different names, Mokie, Blue Cod, Red Cod, Snapper, all delicious but none as good as the huge crayfish that Michael, the younger son, came home with after a days diving with some friends. Two cray fed eight of us really well, they were massive and so so tasty. He also brought back Paua and mussels from another trip, these can only be caught when snorkelling, to conserve stocks, and are often 8 + meters deep so not the easiest things to catch. They also hang on pretty tight.

The other Helpx people have all moved on now, and my hosts John and Julie headed off this morning for a couple of days away, leaving me house sitting for the New Year. I have a good book and a beautiful view, plenty of food and drink and a good pub just down the road so should be just fine.

Looking forward to a couple of days chilling before i head off into the nearly unknown, and a market garden further down south to learn about herb and salad production and sample a bit of the good life for a bit.

So, farewell 2007 and a big Hello to 2008. Hope you all enjoy the celebrations welcoming in the New Year and hope that all comes good for you in the coming year. Big love to you all, see you next year. S

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Two more days of picking

then it's time off to party.

Christmas preparations are coming on a treat here. The living room is full of boxes and packing materials for flowers and either we're out in the fields picking Leucodendron flowers, down in the basement grading them and packing them into boxes eating or sleeping. No, its not that work orientated, the family and paid workers do far more than us helpXers and are somewhat more tired than us too.

Have read a couple of good books whilst the weather has been wet, if it rains overnight, which it as done several times, we have to wiat till the plants have dried off a bit before we pick so we get a free morning then work into the evening so tend not to go out.

The other helpers are great, a Canadian couple, late 20's librarian and sculptor who are having time out for their honeymoon and a bit of an adventure, are sure that they are so so different to people from the USA, but i don't see it myself, Adam a young lad from the UK, near Lyme Regis, full of jokes and amusement. Two individuals from Japan and one from Malaysia, they find the language and cultural differences quite different but more involved a time goes by. A good interesting mix of folk with plenty of interesting conversation and discussion as well as plenty of fun.

We'll sort Christmas in a couple of days once the last flowers have been dispatched, everyone has some thought on what they want to contribute so it should be good. We may even go as far as getting a Christmas tree, though its hardly worth it if the weather picks up and we spend all day outside in the warm.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Through the jet lag

I've just spent a few minutes reading the first entries of this Blog from last year and i'm a bit stumped as to what to write. Hopefully i'll get into the swing of writing again before too long.

Have been in New Zealand for about a week now, it seems loads longer and obviously a lot more familiar the second time round and feels really great to be back. So far i'm following the same route and am back picking flowers until Christmas. John and Julie are such great hosts and everyone seems to fit in as part of their family. 2 canadians, 2 japanese and 2 english helpers here this season, along with several local paid helpers that come and go as necessary.

I'm through the strange experience of jetlag where everything seems fine until you reach the end then it becomes hugely aparent that the last few days have been spent in a vague confusion. Thankfully all over now and my brain has returned to its usual useful state.

The weather is much much better than last year, much warmer and sunnier than previously although we have just been through a day of Devon drizzle and wet. It allowed us all a day off from picking and a bit of a break. Visited the South Island Art Gallery in Christchurch, only to discover that a high proportion of the exhibits are european and the instillation art is similarly obscure to those back home, still, it was a good afternoon out and saved getting soaked. The museum was much more interesting without jetlag (last visit) with historical displays of maori arrival through european discovery up to near persent day. A huge collection of Antarctic items reclaimed from early explorations and plenty of other random stuff.

Off to pick flowers again now. Catch you all soon.