Thursday, January 24, 2008

Remnants of Christmas

Took a trip to Invercargill, about 100km away the other day to see what it was like. Just as described in the guide books - a service town for the large rural community with few attractions other than those needed by the surrounding population. I guess they don't spend their time drinking coffee or eating out when they go into town, more like buying essentials for their farms and robust clothing to protect themselves from the harsh climate. Though the town did go to the expense of putting out the Christmas decorations last December. They look so strange and out of place on this side of the world in the sunshine. There were a couple of pieces of interesting architecture and a wonderful park, but i shan't be visiting again without good reason.

Am still busy on the farm, harvesting garlic and preparing again for the market - a bit of everything that is ready, all cleaned and bagged up ready for sale on Saturday. Looking forward to the 4.30 start to get it all set out before the crowds arrive, take away tea and another bacon buttie to get the day off to a good start.

Spent yesterday afternoon planning the next part of my journey, booking accomodation and transport and working out the most exciting places to go. Suffice to say i have a good fortnight of adventure coming up in the Catlins, Doubtful Sound, Queenstown and beyond. keep watching or get your atlas out to see where i get to and what it's all like.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


My new home, in the green caravan with the main garden in the distance, looking back to the farm and tomato plants in the glasshouse.

Its going from one extreme to the other, weatherwise. Yesteday it reached nearly 40 and today not even 20, though it did pour with rain today. Still, plenty to do with everything here growing at a huge rate.

Oamaru photos

Slightly out of sequence, but more photos nevertheless. Oamaru architecture, the view from my home there and some of the local wildlife, gannets and seagulls. It was too dark to photograph the penguins and flash is not permitted.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Going Organic

There was a huge farmers market in Dunedin on Saturday morning, probably 35 or 40 stalls selling everything from the farm and quite a few other organic goods. Had a great bacon buttie for my breakfast and went to meet Shaun from Wairuna Organics to hitch a lift back to the farm where i now am.

Shaun and Pia have a 3 acre organic farmstead that provides them with a wonderful lifestyle and a pretty good income from what i saw at the market. My home for the next week or so is an old green caravan, parked in the middle of an established apple orchard, quite close to the kitchen and with the most wonderful view of the vegetables, marching in straight lines up the field opposite. Beyond a wooded area and then out onto rolling hills way off into the distance. It's great to see quite so much space and the light in the evenings as the sun sets sets the landscape aglow.

There is plenty of time to check out the view as most of my tasks so far have been out on the vegetable fields. Weeding three rows of carrots that you can only imagine how long they are, dissapearing up over the brow of the hill like one of those neverending walks to an ellusive summit. Then back down again, this time hoeing between batches of the most wonderfully colourful lettuces and stir fry leaves. On to the cabbages and broccoli that run in the same straight rows. I'm promised a change of scenery tomorrow, with tomatoes, courgettes, squashes and pumpkins, cucumber and herbs.

Free time spend swinging in the hammock under the apple trees reading, exploring the local village and discovering what is over them there hills up past the woods. Probably just some more hills.

You can probably imagine what the meals are like, all freshly harvested veggies, meat from one of their recently slaughtered cows, sheep or pigs, milk from the pet cow all plentiful, home made and organic. i think i may be here for a while. Maybe you should go and eat something, i am, i've made myself hungry just writing about it all.

Friday, January 11, 2008

evening view of the sun over the bay, christmas day surfing trip and the lovely flowers, seen enough of them for a while!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oamaru in 2008

I spent yesterday evening watching rare blue penguins coming ashore behind the derelict rail goods yard by the harbour. The penguins are not particularly rare, but to see them adapting their lives to suit the remnants of industrial endeavour in the heart of a town is quite unusual, they scuttled up the beach and breakwater, had a quick breather before heading off to their nests under old warehouses and grain silos for a noisy reunion with their partners as it got dark. Back in the 50's the town tried to eliminate them due to the smell, but they are now well protected and numbers are increasing well.

Oamaru is a small town 1/3 down the east coast, built round a natural harbour and rather grand for its size. I am here for a week, helping sort out a garden at a rather smart B&B overlooking the town. Weeding and planting in the mornings and exploring the area on foot in the afternoons. Rather quiet compared to my previous location, but with plenty to do and see a good change. Unusually, most of the old town is constructed of stone, (there were no trees for construction) individual buildings taking on the appearance of ancient Rome or paris or London with huge pillars and grand fascades and entrances appearing much older that they really are, it makes a refreshing change from the usual low wooden frontier style buildings that line the main streets of many other smaller New Zealand towns.

Its definitely rural here. After watching the penguins and briefly chatting to some of the other watchers, i walked home through the centre of town at just gone 10.30 and in the 20 minutes it took me to get up the hill, saw two cars and no one else about at all. Pubs and restaurants had long closed and the town was definitely closed till the morning. Still, with the sun streaming in through the windows of my room from dawn, the daylight hours are definitely the best ones to enjoy when out in the sticks.

Another couple of days here then further south to Dunedin and maybe a bit of town life for a few days. We'll see.