Monday, November 30, 2009

Week 48: How does your garden grow?

Here's a sight you won't see everyday - Him Outdoors doing some gardening. This mainly means planting some herbs and repotting the lemon tree. My friend, Cara bought me an 'English rose' for my birthday. I am notorious for killing plants but have put this one by the front door to remind myself to water it.

Other things found in our garden include a wood carving, some wild pansies and a cat.

Blue skies, bright sunshine and surrounding hills make a great backdrop to all this activity.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Week 47: The Price of Development

Friends of mine used to have a house at Atley Downs (between Arrowtown and Queenstown). They were surrounded by fields and their nearest neighbours were about a mile away. They sold the house and the land about seven years ago. The area has been subdivided to (literally) an inch of its life. Box-like houses crowd the dirt and abut the road. It's ugly.

But the burgeoning post boxes which adorn the entrance are quirky and reflect the personality of the residents, while their strict formation hints at the stifling conformity within. All shapes and sizes, they resemble the eclectic participants in some ghastly line dance in which they must stick to the rules shouted out to them and curtailing their individual flair - a lot like the body corporate which controls the development.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week 46: wine and fun in the sun

Last weekend, armed with my new polariser and visitors from Wellington, we set off on 'our' wine tour. We always used to take visitors to these vineyards when we lived here previously, and nothing much has changed. Chard Farm still has a lazy idyllic feel to it and rests perfectly under the Otago sun.

They do some bubbles now - named CO2 (as in Central Otago as well as the obvious) to commemorate their 21st birthday. Made from their pinot noir and chardonnay 2005 vintages, they are very tasty, so we bought some to take home, along with a bottle of the fruity, spicy, minerally pinot gris.

The one new addition is Lola, a sculpture made by Lee van der Geest from old chardonnay vines. She was commissioned to celebrate the inaugural Tour de Wakatipu bike race earlier this year. The mountain bike race winds through some wonderful scenery and finishes at the winery - having done a similar thing (but on a road bike) a couple of times around the Marlborough vineyads, I can imagine no better spot to finish a long day in the saddle.

We were too late for lunch at Gibbston Valley but we got a wine tasting tray and a cheese platter and happily sat in the sun nattering and matching our cheese and wines.

At Peregrine we enjoyed chatting with the young lady behind the counter - who had a curious mixture of a Kiwi/Irish accent - about who made the best chocolate. No such debates about the wine; we bought a couple of bottles of Karearea Pinot Noir.

Petra loved the purpose-built stage in the shape of a bird's wing where fashion shows and events are held. She pranced about doing her best Patsy Stone impersonation (which is frighteningly good). I admired the dilapidated farm buildings and the old wine-making paraphenalia. Something for everyone, then!

This photo is cheating slightly as I didn't take it. Him Outdoors bounded out of bed one sunrise telling me the sky was very pretty. I told him I was sure it was, but he knows I don't do mornings, so he took a picture as proof. He's right; that's almost worth getting out of bed for.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 45: The bard and bicycles

We headed out one evening to take some promo shots for our forthcoming show, Shakespeare on Location.
It was serious business, of course, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun!

The next day we popped up the Crown Range to watch the cyclists in the Tour of Southland come by. I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of adorable Arrowtown nestled beneath the hills.
Here was the stage winner, Jeremy Yates. I like the concentration on his face and the way his image is distortedly reflected in the wheels of the motorbike. The top three riders (Aaron Strong and Pater Latham) are some way ahead of the pack, snaking up the switchbacks of the hill.

In the bulk of the field there is grim determination and grimaces of pain - that's a tough climb at the end of a long ride in the sun.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week 44: Happy Halloween!

At Jo and Grant's most excellent Halloween/birthday party, there were witches and pirates and characters from Willow and Harry Potter. I think we scared the children who arrived trick-or-treat-ing.

Of course the food was all themed (and delicious), from the fabulous Jack-o-lanterns carved into peppers, to the bread baked in the shape of a broomstick, and the plated corpses, made from kumara bodies, potato heads, carrot and asparagus limbs, coleslaw brains and chilli innards. The strategically-placed kidney beans were a particularly nice touch.

And, naturally, there were Halloween games. The young and the foolish (yes, that's Him Outdoors) participated in the apple bobbing, while others looked on in bemusement.

The wrapping the mummy game was fun, and a totally frivolous use of toilet rolls. One blindfolded person had to mummify their partner with much resulting hilarity.

After all the games and food, we sat by the fire and told each other scary stories. 'Twas the bewitching hour, after all.

This tale clearly didn't score very highly on the scary-o-meter. But good fun was had by all. Thanks and many happy returns to our fabulous hosts.