Where two oceans meet… New Zealand

We decided to stop at Paihia despite a disparaging opinion in the Lonely Planet NZ book. It suggests going to Russell, because it is prettier. Although it is pretty, we found Paihia pretty too and more vibrant. Plus it had a good craft beer pub. (Haha)

Paihia is a bustling village and significant, due to being the gateway of the Bay of Islands. It is an attractive and well set out village with an array of shops, cafes, restaurants and a barbers that is not open when it says it is! Yes, hubby is desperate for a haircut.

However, on the plus side, the village has, according to the sign, the most scrumptious ice scream establishment for the last 18 years. As I discovered, if you ask for a one scoop cornet, you are given a two scoop cornet and it is huge although considered ‘small’. Oh dear, I only wanted a small ice cream. Nevermind haha. Crikey, it was tasty.

A splendid sea view from the craft beer pub called Thirty30 Craft Beer bar is always very much appreciated. We both devoured the most delicious seafood chowder with thick brown bread. After this bowl of deliciousness, and a long day touring, I had an early night.

Before our road trip, the next day, we popped along to Waitangi Treaty Grounds to view the giant Maori sea faring vessel. The vessel signifies the founding of modern New Zealand. It is a certainly an interesting experience to explore this part of New Zealand.

We then drove towards the famous (top of New Zealand) Cape Reinga. This is where two oceans meet; the Tasman sea and Pacific.

As we were travelling to Cape Reginga, I booked a room at Awanui about 50km away. Must mention that our traveller mobile has been a great success for booking last minute accommodation as we tour around NZ. This village turned out to be a quiet place which looked a bit wild west but the motel was great, Large room with bed, lounge area and kitchen. The owner left a box of chocolate almonds for us. They didn’t last very long. Of course, I fell for the ‘last room available’ note on the internet. Only three other lots of residents were staying and they turned up late. My panic to book turned out to be unnecessary although it was a Saturday so you can’t be too careful.

The drive to Cape Reinga took about 80 minutes and was worth the trip. Great scenery, little traffic and not a cloud in the sky. Always helps when you have sunny weather, don’t you think?

Cape Reinga is an important area because according to Maori legend, this is where a person’s spirit comes after death and departs for their eternal home. We found many wooden boards explaining historic facts relating to Cape Reinga, as you explore the site, which makes the climbing and walking even more worthwhile. As you walk around this magnificent area it is compelling to look at the panoramic views where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean come crashing together.

The solitary iconic lighthouse is also a serene and spectacular vision and is said to be where the point of the colliding oceans swirl together. Amazing!

Well worth a visit and the historical details are interesting. Also, the area is a recognised home to many threatened plants and animals such as the tiny orchids and endangered flax snail.

Thanks for stopping by 🤗 .

 

Melbourne – Highlights

Botanic Gardens

I decided I wanted to visit the botanic gardens. Every city on this trip seems to have one and they all seem to be very different so you don’t get bored.

These gardens were designed by Director William Guilfoyle in 1873 with the premise of providing sweeping lawns, curving pathways, lakes and hidden vistas. The area is beautiful and centres around a volcano which influenced him during a visit to New Hebrides in 1868. The volcano is depicted with ‘lava’ flowing down (with circular paths), exotic plant beds, coloured pathways flowing from the crater and volcanic basalt rocks scattered throughout the site.

The ‘crater’ is quite surreal because it serves as a large pond area but, get this, the shrubs slowly move in the water. It was quite weird looking at the shrubs and then realising they are actually moving. All very clever.

Victoria Food Market

One of the highlights of Melbourne was the Wednesday evening food market. It is brilliant and just across the road from our flat.

When we first arrived we feared it was going to be empty and soulless. How wrong we turned out to be. It was packed full of food stalls from around the world, craft stalls and phenomenal music sets.

The standard of music whether in pubs or busking is superb in Melbourne. We’ve seen many musicians throughout our walks, pub and café visits.

During the evening, I enjoyed a pork dish from Nepal and it was delicious. Also, had a cookie, ice cream sandwich which was incredible. Sat and looked at this amazing vista of Melbourne and sculpture, as I was devouring it.

National Gallery of Victoria

Yes, of course we had to do the arty bit on the Southbank. Always a good gig especially when some of the art is focusing on surrealism and pop art.

This particular exhibition concentrates on the reasons why Surrealism, and precursors Dadaists, transpired. After the First World War, the movement flourished during the 1920s rebelling against authoritarian control whilst exploring varied art forms.

Influenced by Sigmund Freud’s controversial theories of dream analysis, they invoked irrational logic through their art whilst disparaging society’s values through perverse films, paintings and views. The idea is to liberate the unconscious through an interpretation of imagery.

Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel produced the ground-breaking film Un Chien Andalusia in 1929. Man Ray experimented with photography to project ghostly images and Max Ernst experimented with grattage art, by rubbing pigmented paper or canvas thus producing new artistic techniques.

These exhibitions included Andy Warhol Self-portrait no. 9 who is supposed to be one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century. His influence was profound and included television and music and he may have been the inventor of celebrity culture? The weird and strange portrait was produced just before his death in February 1987.

The iconic Pop Art is thought to be the antithesis of industrial and commercial culture as mass production took shape. The work exemplifies significant change in society and depicts a world of mechanised aesthetics connected with advertising and marketing including labels, magazines and posters.

An interesting mix of furniture and clothing design elements also are displayed in the Designing Women exhibition which includes product design, fashion, digital and architecture innovation and show cases works from significant diverse and creative fields.

Well worth visiting the gallery and it is worth noting that Julian Opie is exhibiting if you enjoy his simplistic work.

Elegant Enclave walk

This is another walk suggested by a friendly man in the tourist office. It is fundamentally a nose around the posh part of Melbourne looking at East Melbourne’s architectural suberbs and encompasses elaborate iron work, classic columns and lofty verandas from the Victorian era. Great fun and you enjoy a walk through the lovely Fitzroy Gardens too. In fact, that was the best bits because it includes Cook’s Cottage, the Fairies’ Tree by sculptor Ola Cohn and the sweetest Model Tudor Village. The Model Village was presented to the City of Melbourne by the citizens of Lambeth, England in appreciation of gifts of food. How lovely.

Also, of course you can wander around the pretty gardens and fountains too. All very enjoyable.

Final thoughts…

Melbourne is many people’s favourite Australian city and I must say I can see why. It is FUN, musical, creative and vibrant. The tram system is ingenious if a little perplexing for the tourist. Can’t really understand why you need to drive in this city and the traffic is pretty horrendous. Unfortunately, I find the mix of old and new a little annoying because I like modern and historical architecture but it is all mingled together and this is a shame. Most cities have old and new areas which, for me, is preferable.

However, I have enjoyed visiting Melbourne and loved the creative vibe of the city, the friendly people and amazing landscape.

 

Progress, lunch recipe and why go low carb?

Progress

Yes, I’ve devised another recipe using canned lentils. Progress with my health and fitness plan has been good. About 3kg loss and 2kg is body fat, so I’m quite pleased with the progress.

As I’m going away to Maastricht for a few days soon, I’m trying to be very good. We are going away with the offspring and the other half’s and will probably consume many meals out. On the plus side, usually walk everywhere and a bike ride has also been suggested. Hopefully, this will help and it will be enormous fun.

Even on holiday, it will be possible to not go completely off the rails and to be honest, I feel so much better at the moment, and more energised too. Really hoping to keep this up.

Why low-carb?

While the food plan I’m implementing is low fat, it is not my main concern. Sugar is. Low fat products tend to have sugar in them so apart from a little low fat cheese, they are best avoided.
Studies now indicate natural fats are fine. With the low carb plan, you decrease sugar and starches so your blood sugar stabilizes and levels of fat storing hormone insulin drop. Also, find you are satiated, thus lessening the need to eat and causing weight loss.

Lentil Stew Recipe

The latest recipe is filling and healthy. The lentils are from a can and very quick to prepare. I dry fried an onion, paprika, herbs, ground pepper with a pint of vegetable stock and then poured in the lentils. Pop a lid on and let it simmer for half an hour (at least) to become fairly solid.

I prepared some roasted veggies including sweet potato chips and just for a change, cauliflower. When the veg is nearly cooked pop in some cherry tomatoes and sliced mushrooms. Makes a good, wholesome meal. You can freeze the leftover lentils.

Lentils,

Onion (half at most)

Paprika, herbs, ground pepper

Veg stock (1 pint)

Initially, I made the mistake of using a whole onion, but this recipe is better with just half an onion.

Also, I’m not nutritionally trained, but enjoy reading about health and am just blogging about my experiences. I’m thinking of doing a course on nutrition soon.

Thank you for reading my blog and I welcome any comments, likes and follows.

 

 

 

Source:

https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb

Healthy eating plan, beans and cous cous…

I’ve started a fitness plan because of the expanding middle haha. The gym, I attend, is running a course and so I’m tracking what is eaten. The app to track food is called Fitness Pal and is very good for recording what you are eating, drinking and any exercise. I’ve decided to cut out bread, rice, pasta and potato so my diet is on the low carbohydrate side. This is to curb appetite, hopefully. All the obvious stuff, such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits, processed food, etc. are banned. When eating out, may have some of the above although will try to avoid where possible. I’m also trying to cut down on alcohol, which is really hard.

Low carb diets are controversial, but recent studies indicate weight loss and improved health. The best way, in my view, is to be sensible. Still eat sweet potatoes, swede, carrots and copious amounts of other healthy green veg. Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms are suitable for this sort of plan. When hungry, fruit and nuts are the best snacks, although it is hard if you want chocolate.

My dodgy time is around 4pm. By this, I mean it is the time I’m hankering after food. To help with this, lunch is consumed after 1.30pm and even later, if possible. Dinner is around 6.30pm and this does help stop the ol’ hunger pangs a little. Sometimes, fruit and or nuts are consumed in the evening, but not too often. I’m keeping to around 1400 calories a day. This is quite high for me, but feel is sensible and will stop some of the hunger. Will update on my progress and do join in if you want? My plan is at the end of this post.

I’ve been sorting out my kitchen cupboards and now see some foodstuff that I’d forgotten about. I know, exciting times! Anyway, I’ve recently discovered and devised a couple of lunch time meals. Admittedly, the first one isn’t low carb, but delicious for a quick lunch.

Cous Cous Bean Salad.

Make cous cous by adding the boiling water and mix. Then add basil green pesto, beans (your choice, I used mixed salad beans). Add a few pine nuts and or pumpkin seeds. Chop up some sundried tomatoes. Add lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and mixed herbs. This makes a great lunch which is filling and healthy. Afterwards, you can add what you like such as boiled egg, ham, advocado, etc.

Cous Cous

Basil green pesto

Beans

Pine nuts and or pumpkin seeds

Sundried tomatoes

Lemon juice, olive oil and mixed herbs

Bean Cous Cous…

The next revelation happened during the recent Cotswolds trip. We stopped in a B & B and the proprietor offered us homemade baked beans for breakfast and as they were so delicious, I decided upon my return, to copy and make my own. This is how I made them…

Chop carrot, onion and add tomatoes, onion, puree, stock, herbs, garlic, pepper and splash of treacle. Boil and blend, then add the beans. Cook in oven for about an hour in a casserole dish.

As you can see, I had sliced avocado, roasted mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and low fat cream cheese with the beans and even though I say so myself, the meal was surprisingly delicious and filling.

Haricot beans

Onion

Garlic (clove)

Large carrot

Veg stock

Passata and some tomato puree with some boiling water (about 1/2 pint)

2 tins tomatoes

Paprika, salt, ground black pepper

Chili powder

Optional treacle

Bay leaf (optional)

Home made baked beans with sliced avocado and blob of soft cheese…

 

Sum up

  • Low carb – Cutting out bread, rice, pasta
  • Track what you are eating
  • Lunch is consumed after 1.30pm and even later, if possible. Dinner is around 6.30pm
  • 1400 calories per day
  • Prepare and cook healthy meals

 

 

Ref.

https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb

London, photography, food and shopping…

Chinatown, London

We caught the train to Charing Cross and walked towards The Photographers’ Gallery, just off Oxford Street. Yes, this was a ‘photography exhibition’ day out. Arrived to find a queue outside and duly joined the end of it. A group of people strolled up and walked straight into the building. Voicing my concern about why we were queuing, my daughter, Chris retorted, ‘Because we are British’ and walked into the gallery. The queue dissipated and we went to the first floor and started enjoying an exhibition about cross dressing. Yes, you read that correctly. Initially, the plan was missing it, but we were enticed by the historical element of the photography. Absolutely fascinating.

Me, looking at the photography at The Photograpers’ Gallery…

Cross-dressing

The exhibition is taken from the archives belonging to the collector Sebastian Lifshitz from the period 1880 – 1980s in Europe and the USA. The apparel and behaviour noted was traditionally observed in members of the opposite sex and often an expression of freedom and transgression. Both men and women wanted to deviate and explore different identities to rebel against mainstream society.

The Anti-Feminist Backlash

My curiosity derived from of the period of the forbidden pictures. Not only that, most of the interest was the cross dressing of women. The emancipation of women compelled them to dress as men in order to propel themselves into a male environment and temporary liberation.

According to the exhibition, Alexandre Dumus first coined the word in 1872 to describe the emerging women’s rights movement.

Feminism

What is particularly remarkable, is the reference to feminism. According to the exhibition, Alexandre Dumus first coined the word in 1872 to describe the emerging women’s rights movement. Women were accused of endangering the social order. Some professions became available to women but most were forbidden until the 20th century.

During the 19th century, women started to wear comfortable clothes at college. This was to embrace the new educational opportunities. They were even photographed in suits and smoking cigars whilst socialising. The photography is mesmerising because it is so unexpected. Europe had yet to see this new liberating cross dressing behaviour and it must have challenged the strict code of conduct of the period. Every generation thinks it breaks new behavioural ground, but of course, most of it has already happened.

Also, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 exhibited ground-breaking photography exploring visibility. Loved the black and white elements of contemporary photography and really worth a look.

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 exhibited ground-breaking photography…

Lunch

After this excitement, we walked towards the Getty Images Gallery (just off Oxford Street) which had a cafe nearby suitable for lunch. I had located it online, Ethos Restaurant, and thought it would be somewhere different and, as it is a vegetarian place, an unusual option.

Ethos, the interior which is amazing…

Cannot tell you how impressed I was with this place. The decor is innovative and the food beautifully arranged and delicious. You help yourself, then go to the counter where they weigh the food and you pay by weight. All very clever and efficient. We were very impressed.

Veggie food – buffet style…

Next stop, was a look around the Getty Images Gallery. This was unexpectedly small but captivating. Again, the focus is on women, but in a more creative, modern way. The exhibition is called ‘The Female Gaze’ and a response to current events. It encapsulates women and is focused on recent sexual harassment scandals, marches and campaigns.

Getty Images Gallery…

The exhibition is called ‘The Female Gaze’ and a response to current events.

After this, we wandered around Oxford Street and enjoyed looking at the new fashions. I bought a couple of vibrant, cotton shirts for myself and during this time we went back to Ethos for cake, drink and a break.

Cake break!

Later wandered around the Oxford Street area, stopped for a glass of vino, as is necessary on these trips and then made our way to the french restaurant which was booked for 5.15pm because nothing else was available. Now I have frequented the restaurant, I can see why.

The restaurant is called Brasserie Zedel and is superb.

The restaurant is called Brasserie Zedel and is superb. What luck we had, that day, with the eateries. This place has a large dining area and when we arrived it was not particularly busy. By the time we left, it was packed which is always a good sign. We had Beef Bourguignon, which was divine and lemon meringue for sweet, also splendid. The food and ambiance is beautiful and I shall certainly return.

We had Beef Bourguignon, which was divine..

During the day we took copious photos because it was such an brilliant day. Our travels took us all over the West End, including Piccadilly, Oxford Street and around the Charing Cross area. Can recommend this day trip to anyone who loves London and photography, as I do.

Piccadilly area…

Finished the day with a bottle of wine and a hilarious, merry natter at a pub called The Chandos, near our station. What a fabulous day it was. Nothing like a day out to cheer yourself up. We chatted and laughed about everything and cannot wait for our next day out.

Walking towards the pub and Charing Cross Railway Station, London…

Musings about December…

After my rant about the festivities, I had a wonderful holiday and feel quite refreshed. However, now realise some motivation is required to move forward any projects, etc., planned for this year. Funny how you tell yourself ‘after December, I’ll do this, that and the other’ and now it’s here, finally, one needs to make some decisions about life! Trying not to panic haha.

After the family gathering on the 25th Dec, which was a hoot, we went to Sheffield Park Gardens on Boxing Day and had a saunter around the lakes, decorated Christmas gardens and woodland. We took a picnic lunch, because, and I must plan this better, we had so much food left over. Next year, I must remember to prepare less food. I really didn’t need to bake those lemon cakes, and quite so many mince pies. Do you do this?

When in the car for a coffee break, the heavens opened and it poured with rain, so as it was 1 o’clock, we had our lunch. It was delicious and I’ve decided to start taking picnics more often because it’s so much less hassle than queuing up with the crowds and over paying for something quite ordinary.

We ventured back around the gardens and I concentrated on taking some photos with my new camera, the Nikon D3300 which was great fun. The place is beautiful even in the winter. The trees expose their structural form and reflect over the lakes. Having recently done a photography course, I was rather chuffed with the results and hopefully will improve during 2018.

We explored the 250 acres of parkland which dates back to the 18th century and you find yourself pausing and admiring the view of copses of trees around the hills. It is a wonderful place to explore, reflect and admire the parkland, streams, meadows and woodland. If you haven’t been, I can highly recommend a visit. A relaxing and serene environment where you feel you can get away from it all.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

The next day, I took the borrowed dog, Oscar, for a long walk. It was quite windy and the sky was incredible with an amazing sunset. Really enjoy our walks and I’ve got to know many woodland and field walks in the area.

On Thursday, 28 December, we visited family and enjoyed a trip  to the pub for a couple of beers. I drank a very hoppy Dark Star, Hop Head. The Land of Liberty in Hertfordshire, is a CAMRA pub and always has an exceedingly splendid selection of beers.

On Friday, 29 December we went with my son and girlfriend to see the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. I cooked a beef casserole which was delicious and made a change from turkey. The film was brilliant and wonderfully produced. To be honest, I found it a little long, but I did enjoy it.

“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda

Mistakes are inevitable. They hurt. They’re hard. But we learn from them. Lift someone up after a misstep with this quote from Yoda.

On Saturday, we met my husband’s brothers for a few beers and a meal in London, Bakers Street. We met up in The Volunteer a pub near Regent’s Park. It seemed funny, because I used to drink there when I worked in the area many years ago. Someone then told me that people don’t drink during the lunchtime anymore. This I find hard to believe. Although, judging by the amount of suits in the pubs during the evening, I assume evening drinking is the new trend? Anyway, the food was good and I tried to have something healthy so opted for a Verdure and then Seabass for my main course. Very pleasant.

On Sunday, we were rather relieved to have ‘a day off’ which is a little ironic as it was New Year’s Eve. We stayed in and enjoyed some beer and watched the BBC drama ‘The Miniaturist’. It is about a new, young wife who is given a doll’s house for a wedding present. The exquisitely made contents, which she mysteriously receives, appear to reflect the Brandt family’s hidden secrets. The drama is majestic and creepy, but quite enticing. The photography of the Amsterdam canal house is extraordinarily clever. In fact, you feel like you are watching a Dutch masterpiece.

We were so pleased not to have to go out, we couldn’t even be bothered to go to our local. Rock and Roll. Strange how we go out all year round, but stay in the one night most people go out!

After all that, although I am against dry January, because it does harm to the pub industry, I do feel I need a break from alcohol and rich food so will focus on feeling better with some exercise and fresh air, etc. More on that in the next blog posts!

So another year over and onwards and upwards. Happy New Year everyone!

Andy xxx

 

Rochester Dickensian Festival, celebrations, musings and updates…

Remembering what Christmas is about…

Christmas, which annoyingly starts earlier and earlier in the UK, is not always about being happy, joyful and full of glitz for many people. It can be a time of childhood memories, sadness and grief. Everyone, has someone they have lost and miss and unfortunately, for me, it seems a time when I remember missing family. Probably, most people feel like this, don’t they? If someone is not embracing Christmas the reasons could be some of the above and not because they are horrible. Unfortunately, the irritating commercialism, which starts after summer, doesn’t help. It is a reflective time and I think we must all remember this and be aware that not everyone is happy and joyful at Christmas all of the time. Personally, I enjoy it when it finally arrives but hate all the stuff before December. Does any of the above resonate with you?

Dickensian Christmas Festival…

Once I spotted the ad for the ‘Dickensian Christmas Festival’ it went in the diary. I’ve been feeling fed up and eager to have a day out. It is a wonderful occasion when folks dress up as Dickensian characters and partake in various activities which starts off with the morning parade.

After the parade the characters wander about amongst the crowds and mingle. Some perform mini plays, magic, readings, dances, singing and photo opportunities. Also, there are various activities aimed at children, such a Punch and Judy. It is a wonderful and great way to immerse oneself in all of these English traditions.

The parade was an exciting affair, led by the Mayor of Medway  and starting in the High Street onwards into the Esplanade and continuing up Castle Hill before finishing on the Boley Hill Stage. A fantastic site which is a brilliant festive occasion for everyone from the surrounding communities.

We enjoyed some delicious mulled wine and a mince pie, then later on, for lunch, we succumbed to a juicy burger. It was great fun to spot all the Dickensian characters and the day flew by.

CAMRA Christmas Meal…

Last Sunday, we had our CAMRA Christmas meal which was a great success. This was partly because the wives turned up and I was able to have a good natter. My only complaint, was that I didn’t like any of the beers because they were all dark, so I had wine. The establishment didn’t have any craft beers either and this surprised me, because even my local has and I think they are missing a trick. Anyway, the food was excellent and delicious and this was followed by a jolly singsong of Christmas carols and a visit by Father Christmas. The Father Christmas was very authentic I must say! After this excitement, the village tree was lit with much fanfare. Another excellent day!

Updates

The presents have now been wrapped, cards delivered so now it is time to concentrate on food. I shall try and locate the Christmas pud which is in a cupboard somewhere and at least two years old! This is the last one of the batch of puddings, so I will have to do some more next year. For the actual day, I will make some mince pies, a chocolate squidgy roll and a cake or two. Busy times!

Yes, you’ve probably guessed it, the fitness thing is not going to plan at the moment. Having said that, it could be worse. I’ve stopped eating rubbish and not drinking too much. Also, I’ve really enjoyed some invigorating walks around the surrounding countryside with the borrowed dog, Oscar.

The gym has been used four or five times a week so I don’t feel too fat but can see the weight is not dropping off either. From January the 2nd it will be all systems go though. I promise.

Promoting the blog – Instagram

My latest social media effort has been with Instagram which is fun particularly as I’m interested in photography. Photos are being posted most days and I am beginning to receive some interest now. It seems better than Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest but I will keep you informed. So do follow me if you are on Instagram.

Enjoy the festivities everyone and thank you for reading my blog, liking and commenting which is much appreciated.

Andyxxx