Saturday, December 31, 2011

51: The Catlins

Him Outdoors was able to get cover for a couple of days between Christmas and New Year, which meant we could get away. Still on crutches, I can't hobble too far, so long walks were out of the question, but I did want to see the sea as it alwyas has a beneficial effect on my mental state, so we headed down to the Catlins.

The Petrified Forest at Curio Bay is impressive, and even if I couldn't clamber down to the slippery rocks, I could photograph them from above and enjoy them with an icecream in hand.

And this is Porpoise Bay where the curve of the bay and the sloping sand makes a great spot for family play, or for bathing an injured calf muscle in the shallow waves.

Slope Point is the southernmost point of mainland South Island and, although we visited on a perfectly clear and still sunny day, the angle of the trees proves that this is rare.

The lighthouse at Waipapa Point was built after New Zealand's worst civilian shipwreck. In 1881 the SS Tararua was shipwrecked just off the coast with the loss of 131 lives (all but 20 of the people on board perished). At a result of the inquest, the Court of Inquiry recommended that a lighthouse be built here and also that lifebelts had to be provided for every passenger on board. This came into force in 1882 and still remains as a legacy of NZ Maritime law.

The lighthouse itself is gorgeous, and the setting sun in the overcast sky produced a band of light that seemed to work its way down the cylindrical body. I couldn't help but take lots of photos!

This wee cemetery at Tararua Acres marks the site where some of the bodies are buried. It's a peaceful spot to rest lulled by the sound of the waves, the lapwings and the sheep.

I was able to do a short stumble of a walk around Waipohatu Forest (the sign said suitable for wheelchairs so I reckoned I could limp around the half hour circuit), with its beautiful greens and cooling earth smells.

I love the unfurling fronds of ferns, so took several photos of those too - particularly these ones which look to me as though they are standing around having a meeting. I can't help but wonder what they are discussing!

Monday, December 26, 2011

50: Merry Christmas

We went out with a couple of good friends on their boat on Christmas Day. We cruised around Queenstown Bay and headed down to Cecil Peak where Howdy Neighbour did a spot of water ski-ing in the calm water. Him Outdoors and I drank Old Mout Boysencider - very festive!

Merry Christmas from Me and Him Outdoors

Saturday, December 17, 2011

49: Speights Gold Medal Nails

In loving tribute to Scooter, I painted my nails as best I could with the three stars and drank the drink he swore by (in more ways than one). I can't stand the stuff, but he was a good mate, so what can you do?

Scooter's pint in the Speight's Ale House

Gold Medal Nails

Saturday, December 10, 2011

48: Girls' Weekend in Sydney

Here's the group of girls at Queenstown Airport, ready to go away for a weekend in Sydney and looking dangerous already.

The view from the rooftop terrace of our YHA in the Rocks (No, you don't actually have to be a youth to stay there) is quite special, even if there is a crane in the way.

Dinner at Churrasco, a Brazillian style barbeque with all-you-can-eat meat. The waitresses bring round platters of beef, lamb, chicken, steaks, sausages, ribs, pork belly, deep-fried cheese balls, roasted pineapple, chunks of courgette, and many more delicacies.

You have a little two-sided card which can say 'Yes, please, feed me more' or you can flip it over to say, 'Not just at the moment, thanks, I'm stuffed!' The chicken hearts were outrageously tasty, and we had jugs of red sangria to wash it all down. Yes, one poor girl had to wear a special princess crown as it was her birthday, but she wore it well!

Bright and breezy the next morning, a dozen girls set off for some serious shopping - scary aren't they?

Meanwhile, as I was on crutches, I thought it best not to be too active or stray too far so I hung out in the Rocks for the day.

And I had Mad Alice who elected to stay with me and 'look after' me. Another scary concept!

After negotiating a number of steps, we were exhausted and in need of breakfast. Fortunately we stumbled across Guylian, a Belgian chocolate cafe, which does fabulous cappuccinos. We shared a slcied tropical fruit platter which was terribly healthy and cleansing, so we strayed a little with a couple of fresh baked pastries each served with a decadent bowl of chocolate dip.

We were now fortified to do some hopping and shopping of our own through the Rocks Market. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were plenty of people meandering through the streets and the stalls.

Between us we bought bright summer skirts, a handmade fringed suede shawl, Aboriginal artwork, Sydney-themed Christmas tree ornaments, a fun fascinator with a hummingbird in a flower, and a bracelet made out of orange peel and seeds. It's like that game of 'My aunt went to Paris...'

A quick refreshment break of iced tea with supposedly anti-oxidant properties. Mad Alice is already wearing one of the skirts she bought.

This sculpture by Bud Dumas in Playfair Street is called First Impressions (1979) - the three sides of the sandstone monument depict the soldiers, convicts and settlers, whose history comes alive in this area.

These fragrant mobiles are made out of dried seed pods of a variety of plants. They clack and clatter in the wind and they smell divine - cardamom, orange peel and cinnamon bark combine to make a fabulously yuletide scent wafting on the air.

Of course, there is not a hope of getting these back to New Zealand. The stall-holder overheard me say so, and she chipped in with, 'Don't even dream about it!' So I took photos and deep breaths, and left them behind.
By now my leg was tired (not to mention my triceps - it's tough hobbling about on crutches!) and was feeling thirsty, so we popped to the Australian Hotel for a pepper kangaroo pizza and a pint of Little Creatures Pale Ale.

Some of the shoppers returned with their swag.

We went out to the theatre to see a fantastic production of Richard III, and then relaxed and debriefed with our duty-free bubbles. We didn't see the signs about not drinking in our dorms until later - oops!

The view the next morning from the terrace was strangely similar but different. A massive cruise ship had pulled into the harbour and as I sat drinking my coffee, I could the football being played on their giant TV screen!
Once again, Mad Alice offered to spend the morning doing nothing much with me so we caught a taxi to Circular Quay and had breakfast (and a glass of Prosecco -well, we are on holiday!) at the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar.

We took a trip to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which had many marvellous paintings and some boxing kangaroos... All too soon it was time to pack up all our new belongings and come home.