Wednesday, August 30, 2006

One for Gromit

Well I couldn't quite last the entire 6 weeks until tasting my first ever Cheddar - I succumbed with just 3 days to go!!

It's still young at 6 weeks but I needed to know that I had the basics right. It tastes lovely, albeit immature. Slightly zingy already and a really lovely aftertaste, almost goats-cheese like.

I have another one on the go which is only a week old and I'll be cloth wrapping that one in the traditional manner and saving it until December. I was very happy with the natural rind that I achieved on this one, just brine washing and turning every few days, so if the cloth wrapping is too fussy I'll go back to natural. In the next few weeks I'll be getting my first 10 litres of raw milk (unpasteurised) and shall be making another cheddar and a hopefully a blue, but I need to sort out some storage now that the house is heating up.

Unfortunately I shan't be able to sell my cheese until I can get in to a registered kitchen (bloomin' regs) so for now it's for family and friends only....

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mud Plug

Today was our first visit to a Mud Plug. Wendy, Dazza and Luke came over and we all headed off into Sheffield to try and find where the event was being held. Helen's first guess was the Show ground but all we found was a footy match. Dazza said he thought it was a few Km out of Sheffield so we headed back out of Sheffield towards Waddington only to find it was a stones throw from our front door!

By the time we got there we could already see a sea of parked cars, 4X4s and pickups, the local paper later reported that over 750 vehicles full of spectators turned up to watch the 50 vehicles that had entered. This was one of the biggest events to happen in Sheffield in a while.

A Mud Plug appears to run like a Motorbike trials event where you have to drive through sections without hitting posts/markers and you are scored on how well you do but to be honest, nobody we found knew for sure. We picked a spot near a steep bank that dropped off into a deep muddy swamp and waited for the first nutter to come through.

This part of the course did not look easy. Many failed to even get up the bank to the start of the section, more just sunk into the swamp needing to be pulled from the swamp by one of the huge tractors that were on hand. The odd few, highly customised monsters flew through with ease to great cheers from the crowds of people.

I was a great way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon; we will certainly be back for the next one.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

It's Snow Fun

Warren here!! This weekend was the first weekend since we moved to New Zealand that I planned to venture onto the slopes for some fun in the snow. My board was treated to a full pamper earlier in the week, everything was set and ready to go.

Or was it?

The weather reports were getting worse as the week went on and now it looked like the resorts would be closed due to a massive Nor'Wester that was due to hit Saturday morning.

Saturday morning came, a quick glance out the window revealed clear blue sky and no wind. I checked the Mt Hutt webpage and it was still reporting the resort closed but said check back at 9am for an update. Tick... Tick... Tick... the page is updated and its good news, the resort is open.

Craig, a fellow Brit, and I load up and head the hour up the road to Mt Hutt. It’s the first time I have been along the access road to the resort but at least we could see the road, normally it’s covered in snow and ice. The Kiwi's are not big on crash barriers even when there is 14Km of road where the edge of the road is a drop 100's of feet. This is not a road for the squeamish.

The good news is that the slope is not packed, looks like the weather reports put many off.

After the short ride of the quad chair its time for the first run of the day, and also my first run in a few years. From the top of the slope you are greeted with a stunning view of the Canterbury planes with sprawling fields all the way to the sea and the Rakaia snaking its way to the coast. I am starting to remember why I love being in the mountains with views like this.

A quick look down the slope shows what looked fluffy from the chairlift is actually more like hard pack ice with a thin layer of sluff on top, bugger.

Time to start the first run... It appears that while your body does remember what it should be doing to snowboard it turns out that initially its more a caricature of what it should be doing... splat, nothing like a face plant on ice to wake you up.

After a few shaky turns and the face plant it is starting to come back to me and I feel more confident letting the board pick up speed. After a few hours the ice is starting to melt a little under the beating sun and the surface starts to soften up. By the end of the day I am back up to speed and even feel confident enough to hit a couple of jumps.

The day flew past and before we know it the sun was no longer on the slopes, the light went flat and another day on the hill is over. It's then just a short trip back to catch up with the girls to see how their day has been.

Meanwhile.. just one hour away, back down on the Canterbury Plains in Waddington...

Kate and I nursed our hangovers from the previous night whilst sat on the deck eating "frish iiggs" collected that day (they had all stayed the night before to ensure the boys got up the mountain early but, despite our best efforts (honest!), the boys didn't hit the sack until 1.30am and Kate and I, well.. err, Kate and I nearly saw 3am!!).

The weather was gorgeous and blooming hot - we grabbed the thermometer and stuck it on the table... 28 DEGREES and it was only 10.30am! And still winter!

Kate had bought the kids swimming cozzies and I dusted off my jandals and we hopped in the car and drove to the Waimakariri Gorge (2 mins down the road) so the girls, and Summer, could cool down in the river. It was at this point the girls found out just how cold the Waimak's water is!

A cold beer later we decided to go for lunch at Jo Seager's new cafe in Oxford - the kids had their own little "lunch plates" which were brilliant and consisted of little rabbit-shaped marmite sarnies, polenta fries, an iced bun, dried fruit, carrot sticks, little cheesey/bacony toasts and chocolate milk - all for $7 !! Iiigs Benedict for the ladies!

The boys returned home buzzing at 4.30pm and we sat down to lasagne and a pav! What a great day. And tomorrow is to be the Sheffield Mud Plug and Wendy, Dazza and Luke are coming over in their suped up Pajero (complete with new winch and snorkel - wahey!!).

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