Sunday, August 31, 2008


Today the sun shone and the wind blew, so we packed a picnic and went to Karekare to see the waterfall. After all the rain the waterfalls are gorged and overflowing. What is usually a delicate trickle was more of a rapid.

On the way we stopped at the Titirangi craft market and browsed through the hundreds of little stalls. Quite an eclectic mix of folk there - must take photos next time.. there were even morris dancers!
Then, on to the black sand beaches and clambering over the dunes we discovered the path had become a lake.

Lots of kite-flyers on the beach because it was low tide and The Sentinel (sea-rock) was almost reachable as the tide was so low. The sun shone - note the sunglasses!

We bought some sweet treats at the bakery and gorgeous coffee at the restaurant 'Elevation' (one of the best views of Auckland from their balcony).

All in all, a good day!

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Lake Wakatipu

Lake Pukaki

Lake Penn

Glacier Valley

Look what you're missing!

Friday, August 29, 2008


The word 'tips' originated in the English Coffee Houses of the 17thC.
If you wanted prompt service and a good table at the cafe you put money in the box labelled 'To Insure Prompt Service'!!

The word coffee comes from 3 words used in the 17thC 'coava', 'cova' and 'kahwah'

The most severe punishment for drinking coffee was being sewn into a leather bag and tossed alive into the sea.

Cappuccino is an 18thC word that we now use for a type of coffee. It came from the Capuchin order of friars in Europe. They wore, as part of their habit, a long, pointed hood called a 'cappuccio' ( this was the colour of the coffee) The first use of this word in relation to coffee was in 1948.

October 1st is the official Coffee Day in Japan.

Beethoven was a coffee lover and used 60 beans exactly, for each cup he made.

Johann Bach wrote a piece of music called the 'Coffee Cantata'.

Honore de Balzac, the famous 19thC French writer, drank 40 cups of coffee a day.

Voltaire drank over 50 cups!
Perhaps coffee is a 'think drink'!

We have the 'Mad Butcher' what about...

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Well, coffee originated as a drink over 3000 years ago! In Ethiopia..
Who would have thought that a berry that was discovered by a herd of goats would be the single most important ingredient in the world’s most popular drink?
It was originally drunk only at ceremonies, but then was used a medicine in the 9thC and in 1454 was popularised by Mufti of Aden who ordered it to be served at mosques throughout the country.

However, it was banned in 1511 become it promoted unacceptable behaviour and people were executed if it was found in their possession!
Money changed all that - once a tax was imposed on it and it became a economic factor it became popular again. When coffee was believed by some Christians to be the devil's drink. Pope Vincent III heard this and decided to taste it before he banished it. He enjoyed it so much he baptized it, saying "coffee is so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it." GO the Pope!

By the mid 16thC wealthy folk even had a kahreci ( a coffee steward) in their homes. Their sole job was to make coffee for their employers and visitors - I want one of those!
Of course, the English didn't approve when it arrived at their shores.. Opinion ranged from it tasting like " fresly ground soot" to "the essence of old shoes" ( but then they DO like their tea)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Every hour of every day millions of cups of coffee are swallowed by caffeine addicts all over the world, made by a myriad of coffee devices..
I like my coffee latte style, in a bowl, made from arabica beans freshly ground and served with the minimum of froth, in a bowl..

Coffee is taken very seriously here in NZ and the cafe culture is firmly entrenched.
Despite the fact that Starbucks (YUK!) has managed to infiltrate the scene, wonderful, aromatic varieties of coffee can be found in the most unlikely places here.
Since it has become a passion of ours since we moved here, and our friends have given us a coffee machine, I was inspired to discover more about this drink!

The reason we love coffee is due to the magic molecule caffeine ( a 1,3,7 - trimethylxantheine ) see why I love it?
Below is a caffeine molecule for you to marvel at!

Did you know that once you drink coffee, the caffeine appears in your bloodstream 5 - 15 minutes later? And that it takes six and a half hours for half the caffeine to be eliminated? One cup a day will do!

More to follow!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008


In 1894 a group of scientists, lead by Sir Algernon Thomas, succeeded in persuading the Auckland Council to preserve 3,500 acres (14 km²) in the Nihotupu area of the Waitakere Ranges as a bush reserve.
In 1895 the national Government vested the land, as a "reserves for the conservation of native flora and flora". Giant ferns, looming trees, flowering bush..

These Ranges now contains about 39,500 acres (160 km²) and we spent much of our first year exploring them, because we lived 'out West'
There are a series of 'frames' at beauty spots, which highlight natural scenes and views. Whenever we see one the girls demand their photo be taken. It's a lovely idea and limits the tourists to one area but also makes you look twice!

They have a motto: " take only photos, leave only footprints" and we have walked, tramped, slid and collapsed at some breathtaking places!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Jessica & Estelle in their ball dresses

Sophia and her friend Cc

Jessica with best friends Carys and Estelle

Well, the weekend was rainy, but busy!! Sophia had her social on Friday night and a sleepover. Jessica had a masquerade ball on Saturday night and a sleepover. Two very tired bunnies and not a lot of homework done.
Oh well, the excitement was overwhelming!
There was the dress to be bought, then the shoes, the makeup and the hair to be done and all the dithering & nail varnish and jewellery to choose, and for Jess the masquerade mask to make. I'm sure it never took me this long! And there were the boys to discuss...

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Well, doing my reseach on our latest venture to White Island and I've discovered that it is an active andesite stratovolcano, bit of a mouthful! And it's privately owned.The full Māori name for the island is 'Te Puia o Whakaari', meaning 'The Dramatic Volcano'.

It is New Zealand's only active marine volcano and the most accessible volcano on earth, attracting scientists and volcanologists worldwide as well as many tourists. Here are the first tourists to visit! Visitors nowadays wear hard hats & gas masks!

They tried doing sulphur mining there, but in 1914 there was a lahar, which killed all the workers (the only survivor was the camp cat, Peter the Great.)There was a major eruption in 1981 which altered the island’s landscape and decimated the pōhutukawa forest. So now, Rangitoto is the largest pohutukawa reserve.

The large crater created at that time now contains a lake. We'll be going there!

The last eruption was on July 27, in 2000 which blanketed the island with mud and scoria and a new crater appeared. That doesn't seem so long ago, does it?

Friday, August 22, 2008


We're going to White Island next holidays!
White Island volcano is estimated to be between 150,000 to 200,000 years old.
It was named White Island by Captain Cook, the first European to sight it. This was in 1769 and as he noted in the Endeavour’s log book, “We called it White for as such it always appear’d to us”. Cook, however, did not come close enough to realise it was a volcano.
Europeans did not land on White Island until 1826. The first man to do so was a naval officer, turned missionary, called The Rev Henry Williams, who sailed there aboard a schooner. Williams described the scene:

“We walked round the crater, which presented an awful sight. Its surface was nearly on a level with the sea. One of its sides having fallen in, we had easy access. Steam and smoke were issuing from all parts of the island and to the very summit. There were several small lakes of boiling substance, and on the right a large body of smoke with the upmost fury rose up from the regions below. We examined this awful sight as minutely as we dared but from the intolerable stench of brimstone and the lightness of the surface over which we had to pass, we deemed it not prudent to remain long, fearing suffocation from the one or precipitation into some boiling cavity from the other. As the whole island was composed of sulphur, being blackened with the smoke gave it a ghastly appearance.”

I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Zorbing - what is it?
You've probably seen it in 'The Amazing Race' or 'Gladiators' or even 'The Prisoner'?
It is "the practice of humans travelling in a sphere, generally made of transparent plastic, usually for fun." Why would you do it otherwise?
It is, of course, a New Zealand invention.

Sphereing or 'globe-riding' is held on a gentle slope, allowing the rider to roll downhill,spin head over heels and arrive at the bottom all tangled.. for fun! Which is what the girls did, in Rotorua ( the first zorb site which opened in 1994) They chose hydro-zorbing though, and all three of them in one zorb - talk about pushing their luck. Warm water was poured into the zorb, they climbed in at the top of the hill, and then rolled down!! They took part in the newest verb to be added to the dictionary, 'zorbing'.

A zorb is made of thick, transparent but strong plastic. The inner and outer balls are connected by hundreds pieces of rope, which keeps the balls turning together.
It is actually two separate balls, both made of flexible plastic. The outer ball is around 10 feet in diameter. The inner ball, which can accommodate one to three passengers, is about 7 feet. This leaves roughly 2 feet of air to absorb the shock for the riders as they make their way downhill.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


For my kiwi readers, let's just make it clear that I'm following the wondrous successes of Britain, along with the NZ ones.
British Olympians claimed eight gold medals in their weekend in Beijing.
It was the best weekend in Britain's Olympic history!
Team GB rose to third place in the medal table with their 17-medal haul, adding four silver and five bronzes to their tally for the two days.
It has been described as the greatest weekend in British Olympic history.
Who are the brilliant Brits who won medals?
Rebecca Adlington set a new world record as she clinched her second swimming gold medal, with victory in the 800m freestyle. She finished 2.12 seconds inside the previous world best. Two golds for her!
Great Britain won the Olympic title in coxless fours for the third successive Games after a thrilling late surge, gold for them!
Andy Hodge, Peter Reed, Steve Williams and Tom James came from three-quarters of a length down to beat Australia and win gold.
Bradley Wiggins dominated Saturday's track cycling, pedalling to gold.
Chris Hoy blew away his opposition to earn gold in the keirin. Nicole Cook got gold in her track race.
Britain produced in a surprise silver in the keirin, Ross Edgar stealing in behind Hoy.
Steve Rowbotham and Matthew Wells got bronze in their double sculls final.
Chris Newton in the cycling team - earned bronze with an impressive performance.
Steven Burke, won bronze in his race.
Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson, Britain's Yngling crew, took gold in Qingdao.
Ben Ainslie, raced over the line in first place to win the medal race and the gold.
Britain's men's lightweight double sculls, otherwise known as Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, were the golden boys of the GB rowing squad.
Britain's first ever lightweight rowing gold.
Rebecca Romero gained gold in the track cycling. Her teamate Wendy Houvenaghel automatically picked up silver.
Jamie Staff,Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy reeled in gold in the team sprint and set a world record!
In the rowing, the men's eight earned a silver in a closely-fought race. Katherine Grainger and her quad scull crew won silver and were distraught.
Gymnast Louis Smith earned himself a bronze. It just goes on...!!!