Thursday, July 27, 2006

No more blues....

What is it with Kiwi's and their love of blue paint? Every single house we've lived in or owned here (which is three) has had a room entirely painted in blue - a vivid, yet dark, blue. The sort of blue that makes your eyes bleed and blood freeze. The previous two houses we were in it was at least limited to the bathroom, but here they'd gone mad and decided the entire lounge should be blue. Yuk!

But that all changed this week, we are finally "Kiwi blue" free.

Our bedroom was a pukey pink and the kitchen-dining-mezzanine area was a funky 70's wallpaper which had been partly covered with another awful pastel colour so that had to be painted over too.

The painters were so old that I felt guilty that they were up and down ladders all day - sometimes stopping to warm their arthritic hands on the coal stove!! But they did a fabulous job and finished the lot in 2.5 days!

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Say Cheese!

Well, this is my first attempt at making cheddar cheese! I spent about 4 hours yesterday making it from scratch (10 litres of farmhouse milk, rennet, culture, big pans and a lot of patience!). I removed it from the press today (above) and will brine it and store it. This one I intend to test/eat in 6 weeks time. I'm making two more this week - one I will leave to mature until when my folks arrive and the other I will (try) and keep for 18 months.

I learnt this craft on a one-day cheesemaking course run by NZ's famed cheesemaker and author, Katherine Mowbray. The course was held at Langdales Winery just down the road from us in West Melton. It was a great day and I met so many interesting ladies (no men turned up!) from all walks of life - there were geologists, food writers, artists, chefs, hoteliers and even a lady from Zambia who used to run a huge cheese factory there...

We learnt to make feta, cheddar, ricotta, haloumi and mascarpone! Now I need to find a local dairy farmer who can give me 10litres of raw milk at a time!

Can't wait to taste it along with our wines which have now been racked off and are clearing nicely!

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Meet the New Gals...

Here's Queenie and Q-Tee! They're half Silkie, quarter Australorp and quarter Barred Rock pullets and are due to start laying in spring.

Why those names? Because I thought that with the others being the 3-P's (Penelope, Prudence and Priscilla) I could then say, when asked what I do, that I mind my P's and Q's....

.... well I thought it was funny!

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hola Padre!

Which, translated, means "Hi Dad". He is in Mexico City on business for a few weeks (he's only just back from Prague!) and big hugs to my Mum who's been left behind in sunny, and relatively sparsely populated, Findon! The figures? About 18.5 million people in Mexico City (2nd largest city in the world behind Tokyo at 25 million) and about 18 people in Findon... including cats.....

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

In the Bleak Midwinter...

What a lovely Sunday we're having. Our hens started laying again today - well, one of them did - perhaps they know we're picking up 3 more next week and think their days are numbered. We had a cooked brekkie on the deck, faffed around the house and I'm now about to settle down and do some writing, Warren is outside burning off the remainder of the garden rubbish in Oscar's amazing incinerator contraption and the two dogs, Bonnie and Summer, are belting round the grounds after each other. Bliss!

The Wintersweet tree (it's gone past being a shrub!) in the main garden area is flowering and the smell and sight is glorious, especially on a beautiful winters day like today!

Shame I can't post the perfume... or bottle it!

Not exactly a bleak midwinter.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

For Flax Sake....

Today was the day. After a few weekends trying to save our flax-monsters we had to bite the bullet and have them removed - mechanically! My "bread knife and axe" method was working but would have taken me months and months to get them cut down - and I would still have been left with loads of tubers in the ground.

So, we called on Dave and his Bobcat to come and do the deed.

Here's a couple of "before" pics:

And here's what it's like now..... the pic below is the same location of the one above it (taken from different angle - I was standing by the round window when taking pic below).

The place looks like WW3 has begun, but we've re-landscaped in the past, and having seen the rubbish coming out from under the flax, plus the sheer weight and density of the plants, it's defintely been a task worth doing and it'll look fantastic once we've planted it all up again.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Little Brother is Watching Us...

My little bro, Mike, sent me a pic of our house, taken from Google Earth. They must have been doing some work on it since I last looked as we are now in high res!! Scary really - must remember to do my hair when I feed the chooks!

Here's how it looks on Google Earth (it's basically the whole triangular bit - you can even just make out the lines of the vines on the left and the grass tennis court)!

And whilst we have our heads in the clouds, here's a stunning shot taken on 12th June when nearly the entire South Island of New Zealand was covered in snow.

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