Thursday, November 26, 2009


We went to the Stoneleigh Sculpture in the Gardens today. Every year the Botanical Gardens displays twenty New Zealand artists and Sophia makes sure we see each and every one - so, I thought you could share our experience...

Here you have 'The Teenage Text Bunny' (we liked the tortoise logo on his shirt) apparently he's a typical teenager, brought to the gardens by his 'olds' but he doesn't want a 'bar' of it! The girls thought it was funny!

Then there was this one called 'Intensified Rain'. It was actually quite pretty when the sun shone through and which gave us some ideas for what to do with our cut-glass dishes..

They didn't seem to realise that they couldn't hide behind it..

but then, neither did I.. this one got two of our votes, as you can tell!

This one, is in typical New Zealand style - it's called 'Water Tanks' (which is exactly what they are!)only, they have somehow become 'art' and cost $15,000 each!

Greg liked this one - I suppose it was functional!

Here we have 'Listen and Learn' and we could hear the bells ringing before we saw it. This was a 2.9 metre high bronze work in the shape of a bell, with bells hanging from it.

Next was slightly unbelievable.. the mound of grass the girls are irreverently standing on was our next sculpture..'The Land is Slowly Liquid' and price was on application!

This is Todd Butterworth's masterpiece 'Wedge,Skew,Splice' which looked a bit like an out-of-kilter Toblerone.

Apparently Mr Butterworth likes bees and repetition - as you can see..

This was different, it's called 'Screen' and, since it was windy while we were admiring it, it was quite spectacular. And it only cost $3000 for your garden!

"It is based on the human figure" says the artist (can you see it?) A snip at $25000!

'Ancestral Light' was made out of macrocarpa, so it looked like stone, or bone - Henry Moore inspired methinks..

Now, here was a weird one.. 'After The Flood'

"The Sacred Grove' was recognisable, and we liked his 'Big Rock Dog' last year..

It was dedicated to Geoff Park, in his memory.

And here you have my least favourite, but then I've never looked at clowns the same again since Stephen King! The sculptor, Richard Wedekind is an "earth scientist" when not sculpting (what is that?) This is $8500 and called 'Bread & Circuses'.

This one was an optical illusion and changed shape as you walked around it.. 'Ascension' got one of our votes. We then picnicked on strawberries and sage paninis stuffed with fresh salad and feta. Nice day..

Sunday, November 22, 2009


This was one of my Birthday presents! (Thank you Jon!) A day out at the Auckland Seafood Cooking School.
It began at 10 am and I arrived at number 22 ready to cook.

We were greeted by white-aproned staff and seated on red cushioned chairs and served with a glass of wine.
While we gathered - there were about 30 of us, the chef appeared to meet and greet us - it was Peta Mathias - and we looked at seafood recipe books on display.

Once everyone had checked in we were guided to the demonstration room, where Peta cooked the meal for us that we were going to cook for ourselves later - you can imagine the concentration.
In between cooking the 3 course meal - this was smoked oysters in batter, pesto and gruyere paste on bagels and whole salmon roasted in rock salt with herb stuffing - she regaled us with stories about her cooking travels and her views on men!
She has written the famous book 'Can We Help it if We're Fabulous?' and her recent satire 'Just in Time To Be Too Late - why Men are Like Buses' is now on my must-read list!

Once the hour demonstration was finished and we'd had question time we were ushered into the cooking room, where we were in teams with one hour to cook the same meal!
You've never seen a Team work so well! Boning the salmon, making the stuffing and creating the rock salt mound was hectic.. at the same time we were making batter and chopping vegetables, peeling asparagus and blending the soup.

I grabbed the pestle and mortar and pounded the paste, covered the salmon with salt, made stuffing and peeled and chopped until my head was in a whirl and I was ready for my next glass of wine! All the time there were sous chefs at your disposal, clearing away bowls and supplying items - cooking with no mess and an instant assisstant (my idea of heaven)

We paused to eat our starters at long tables set up for Christmas, with shining glasses and a goodie bag on each chair, of foodie items and recipes.
There were two selected wines, one for the oysters and a second white chardonnay chosen to go with the salmon. We all got quite tiddly.

Then it was back to check on the salmon, serve it out and eat with the chef who came and gave her considered opinion of our efforts. We were all quite proud of our end product (there were 5 of us - 2 sets of mums and daughters & me) except that we think the cornflour was in the soup by mistake..oh well!
What a lovely morning! She runs a cooking trip to Marrakesh next year - I'm sorely tempted!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


This was the view from the balcony this morning!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

WOODLANDS Historic Homestead

We were on our way up to explore Hamilton, when we came across a little brown sign saying 'Historic Homestead'. Because it was coffee time, we stopped, drove up the long gravel path, and discovered a hidden treasure! Almost "national trusty!"

It seems that, in 1864 the Crown confiscated a tract of land, and 98,000 acres of that land were bought by the Piako Swamp Company, who drained it..
By 1902 there were herds of cows and sheep and most of the land had been converted to pasture...
The land was subdivided (no-one would buy the lot for $1 an acre) and sold off...

The Homestead was built..

After WW1 it was sub-divided between the sons of the owning family..

During the Depression it became a Relief Camp for suffering families..
I like the fact that in 1941 300 Army horses were sent there to recuperate..In 1976 the property was bequeathed to the Presbyterian Church..
In 1988 15 acres were made into a 'historic site' and this is the Homestead that we visited..

The house itself is built out of kauri wood and no-one knows who the architect is..
It has a waterwheel and is a rare surviving homestead of that era - you have to remember that 125 years is HUGE here!

It's the closest to a National Trust property that we have discovered here - so we thoroughly enjoyed our visit!

The gardens had little Monet style bridges and hedged walkways, there was even a lake.

The rooms had Victorian era furniture in and the dining room was all set out for tea. There was a musty cellar and croquet lawn - must remember to bring the girls here for a picnic in the summer! Have to find a croquet set though, and dress up as Alice!

The chamber pot was a nice touch; we're talking history here!

They do weddings and parties here, it's a beautiful backdrop..scones and tea in the gardens afterwards! lots of climbing roses and manicured lawns.. then we drove on to Hamilton to explore.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Sophia and her friends went off for the day to the Armageddon Expo at the Events Centre in Auckland. I wasn't quite sure what it was (doesn't sound good, does it?!) only that it involved 'dressing up' as a character and that Sophia was going as Johnny Depp (there's a surprise!)

Some of the amazing events included the biggest pillow fight ever in Auckland; 'See if Your Stomach can Handle the Eating' competitions, film screenings, zorbing in a pool a roller derby, live music and a Masquerade Ball. Sophia's friend went as Will Turner (which you can tell from the facial expression!)

Of course, there was a 'Meet The Twilight Stars' table, which proved popular!
I need to find a Team Edward T shirt for Christmas!