Saturday, 10 November 2018

Second photo post to bring me up to date - a trip to Sydney

Last weekend (2 - 5 Nov) David and I flew to Sydney to see the lovely Kirsty.

On board after a couple of hours in the Koru Lounge. Time flew in there, assisted by a couple of G&Ts for David and 3 chardonnays for me. Plus nibbles...
We stayed about 700 yards from Kirsty's flat, in the Urban Hotel in Newtown, . It used to be the RSL. It has a large atrium complete with tropical plants that are watered from on high, so not a place to sit, but certainly very cooling to look at when in the midst of a Sydney heatwave (38 degrees the day we arrived).
A pre-theatre chardonnay. Kirsty had very wisely arranged for us to go to the musical The Book of Mormon  on Saturday afternoon - the wisdom was two-fold: 1) we escaped the heat of the day in an air-conditioned theatre, and 2) the show was very irreligious and VERY funny. At intermission, David heard two sets of people organising rides home immediately, as they were not enjoying it at all. Must not have read much about it before purchasing tickets ...

A pre-theatre G&T for a grinning Mr McD, with reflections.

After the show we walked and walked to catch a train back to Newtown. In this upmarket shopping centre we saw a lovely shirt that I would have bought for David (at Rodd and Gunn). But even with 30% off it still would have cost $160AU and that was too much, esp for a pensioner ...

A few different architectural styles in the downtown area.
On Sunday morning and selfie: Mother, father and daughter: xxiixxiixxii
We went into the city on Sunday morning. After walking around The Rocks area, and down by the waterfront and under the Harbour Bridge, we had tea, sandwiches and scones at a little cafe, then back to the Museum of Contemporary Art for me while David and Kirsty sat outside people-watching. I went to the David Goldblatt photgraphic exhibition. He's a South African photographer whose work tells stories. (He died in June this year.) If his exhibition comes to an art gallery or museum near you, do go and see it. Very moving stuff. Mostly it's photos of people, but not all ...
This is not well photographed by me, but it really struck me as a commentary on apartheid-era South Africa.
Coming in to Wellington, David was checking speed, height, direction, ...
Approaching landing in Wellington
That flat piece of land is the airport. It rose up in an earthquake in the 1840s I think.
And when we got home, this is what one of our rhododendrons looked like. It's not visible in the photo, but I think the wildflowers that have self seeded several times in the last 3 years, are starting to sprout again! They are lovely, but the cornflowers do rather overwhelm everything else and inhibit other growth. I am probably going to have to be ruthless and pull them out.

First photo post to start to bring me up to date ...

My cousin Gordon and Sharon's dogs in their usual place and doing what they do best all day ...
Gordon's Harley. It lives in his office indoors. His other bikes live (more properly) in the garage ...

Dinner with Tim just outside Reading before we left the UK. It was great to catch up with him, even though only for a couple of hours.
Pre-take off champagne in Singapore Air's business class. Where was David? back in Economy - his choice, please note!

Dinner on board with chardonnay, of course ...

Clearly I have had a haircut!
Back in Paraparaumu, in Jan's Cafe down at the beach. We came out without money or cards and had breakfast on tick - as regular customers they knew we would be back!

The best eggs benny anywhere are to be had an Jan's Cafe! And we rank them wherever we try them.
Breakfast at Jan's was undertaken after we had been to have a look at the Kia Sportage. Several days later we picked it up. You can see it is taller than me, and it's red!!!

And it looks very smart in the driveway at home.

We had dinner for 14 at Cafe Rata when Bruce and Gary arrived back and I made this fabulous double layer chocolate cake - really simple and extremely yummy. I meant to take a photo before I cut it in half but forgot in the heat of the moment ...

Very yummy strawberries to accompany it, plus a lovely lemon cake made by Diane.

A lone sparrow came at first to eat the sliced pineapple, but then ...

... the flocks arrived. There is also a lamb bone there that got pecked very clean in short order!

Scones (cheese ones and lemonade ones) had to be made for the tradies ...

This is part of the team installing the ultra-fast broadband around the country. They were working in our street, so needed to be fed to show our appreciation.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Tall, red with blue

We have a new car! It is a beautiful red Kia Sportage which I purchased from an unexpected inheritance from an unknown (to me) cousin who died intestate and with no spouse, partner or children. Thank you, Jack - I do wish I had met you.

David saying goodbye to the trusty Toyota Corolla

The shiny Fiery Red Kia Sportage

David is taking an inordinate amount of time getting out of it - it has lots of attractive technology that he is in charge of ...
We have done about 30kms in it so far but it has been happily resting in the garage over the long weekend.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Bread and butter pudding with lemon curd

Sorry, Carol, you asked for the lemon recipes and I didn't think this one was - doh!

Bread and Butter Pudding with Lemon Curd.

(NB all quantities are approximate as I don't measure anything for this as it depends on the size of the pan I am using and how many people I am making it for. 

Spread raisins or sultanas in the base of an oven proof dish (at least 8x8"[for 4 people] or bigger for a larger group). Cover with sherry or port to soak and leave for an hour or so.

Butter slices of brioche or a sweet kind of bread**, and then spread thickly with lemon curd.

Make a custard by beating together 3 eggs and about a cup of milk as well as 1tsp of good quality vanilla extract and 1tbsp of sugar.

Put the bread slices in the dish, stacking them so the tops are all visible. Then pour over the custanrd mixture. Sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of demerara sugar over the top and leave to soak in the fridge for an hour.

Bake at 180 deg C for about 30 minutes until the custard is set and the top is crispy.

Serve with whipped cream or icecream.

** Brioche is hard to get in NZ so I use a Sally Lunn that I remove the icing from first.  Any white bread would be fine and if it's not sweet then add a bit more sugar to the custard. I also think a fruit loaf would be quite nice.

Away you go ... Let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Derek's limoncello recipe

Derek’s Limoncello

1.5 litres strong alcohol
4 cups (900 gms) sugar
5 cups water (1.250 litres)

Peel lemons with potato peeler, trying for as little white pith as possible. White pith is bitter in the drink. Put as much lemon peel to alcohol in a non reactive vessel (glass Demi John?) as possible or you can afford. I think at least 20 lemons for this amount of alcohol. More if you can do it. Leave alcohol on the peel for at least 2 weeks, stirring gently occasionally.
You know you've got all the goodness out of the lemon peel if it goes pale & "snaps" when bent.

Make a syrup by boiling water & sugar
Mix with alcohol

If you can add more lemon peel (I am not sure what he means by this so will ask and report back) after first lot is done then your limoncello will be that much more lemony.

I juice the lemons after peeling & freeze the juice. (I did this, and as we don't have an ice-cube tray  because the fridge makes ice cubes, I used a couple of muffin trays covered in Gladwrap - clingfilm to people outside NZ. This morning I will transfer the little blocks to a plastic bag.)

If limoncello is cloudy after taking out the lemon peel, strain thru an old fashioned paper coffee filter.

Just so you know, Derek's limoncello is amazing and much more lemony that any commercial one I have tasted. Once it's ready, put it in small bottles, and keep it in the freezer, like you would vodka. Hide it under loaves of bread and other stuff that has sat in the freezer unused for ages, as otherwise it will be consumed at pace ...

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Just so you know ,,,

... we are home and we are fine.

We are coming out of (hopefully) an obsession with all things US political - we have to be coming out of it, or otherwise the depression it engenders in us would sink us without trace. There'd merely be a large puddle of tears remaining.

So, we are home in Waikanae and it was lovely to come back to our nice wee house.

We have had Rob around doing some gardening and that encouraged me to buy lettuce plants (baby cos and some floppy leafed things) and some tomato plants. I have also valiantly (because I absolutely HATE doing weeding) cleared around the lemon tree. I was inspired to do so, in spite of it being an anathema to me, by the fact that there are about 8 lemons on it - the first ones we have had. So I thought I'd better treat the tree with love and care.

Not much going on socially at the moment, although we have been to Grahame and Joy's for dinner (yummy beef stroganoff [by Joy] and lemon curd bread and butter pudding [by me]).

On Friday I am cooking dinner for 15 people - Bruce and Gary are returning from the UK that day, so the dinner is to celebrate their return, as well as ours. It is also meant to celebrate Clair's return from her mammoth solo cycle trip down the west coast of the US from Alaska to Mexico, but having travelled unscathed, she has returned to Paraparaumu and caught a cold! And the woman has a conscience and won't come out socialising if she is bug-ridden. A good and noble sentiment, but we will miss her!

It's spring here at the moment and the weather is very spring-like - when we got home on 5 October, we had several days of beautifully sunny and warm weather. Then it cooled off. On Friday last week we had a southerly storm - consolations to adhere to:
  1. it was worse in Wellington
  2. it was not Florence or Michael the hurricanes which have battered the east coast of the US - all because god isn't happy with gays apparently, according to some mad preachers over there ...
  3. it was not the heavy storm and rainfall with fatalities in the south of Framce
  4. we were warm and dry in the house - not on the boat, and not in the motorhome.
One morning David told me it had been 1 degree C outside and he'd had to close the bedroom windows I tend to leave open ...

Yesterday David and I along with our friend Jane went to see the movie (documentary) called RBG - about Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the Supreme Court Justice in the US. She is an amazing woman. Let's hope for two things for a start:
  1. the Democrats win back a majority in Congress and the Senate come 6 November (if the repugs gerrymandering and voter suppression haven't squelched any chances of that), and
  2. RBG survives and keeps being an amazing Justice until after that time so she cannot be replaced by any rightwing repug nominee.

Today I went off to the supermarket to shop for the Friday dinner. So far I have made the chilli.

I have also commenced making Derek's limoncello - it is the absolute BEST. I have peeled 25 lemons into 1.5 litres of vodka and set it in the laundry pantry to steep/macerate/whatever for a fortnight. I will be counting the days until I can complete the process and then do the requisite taste testing. Stand aside, team! That is my job and mine alone!

Friday, 14 September 2018

Kindness and grumpiness in a period of less than 20 hours ...

And on Wednesday evening at Kilby Bridge while the four of us were eating the meatballs in mushroom and onion gravy (augmented with more mushrooms, a salad and pasta), a woman came past the boat looking a bit lost. She knocked on the window and asked if there was a David on the boat - 'yes,'I said, 'here he is'. It turned out she is Dale's wife - Dale of the horse rescue team. He had asked her to bring some ciders for David and flowers for me.
David with a couple of the gifted ciders - Julia claimed the one closest to the camera as it wasn't a fruit one ...

An orchid for me - how lovely!

Now how kind is that? Thank you, Dale, much appreciated! I gave Dale's wife the address of the blog, so I hope that she and Dale, Mark and Nigel have read about their good work!

Later I wondered why the horse had given up trying to stay in the water, and thought that maybe the big reverse thrust that swished water around its hind quarters made it think that the canal wasn't so benign after all. So if there was going to be any more swirling it had best be out of there! Do horses know the word 'benign'?

We moved on from Kilby Bridge yesterday morning heading for Fleckney. There are about 12 locks to climb through in a couple of flights - not all of them are close together, but they are certainly good to be using the bikes between. So David and Julia set off on wheels while Mick and I brought the boats along.
David on the folding bike - both he and Julia managed to get punctures in the same patch of towpath. Both fixed by Mick while we were in two separate locks - he's speedy gonzales at puncture repairs. He said Julia once got 6 punctures in a day - CRT must have been chopping but not clearing hawthorn bushes or brambles or something similar ...

At the first lock we caught up to a single hander and I asked him if he'd be prepared to let us through and our land-based crew would crack each lock for him as we left it - that would help him and would mean we could move along speedily. David and Julia were happy to assist him, and in some cases one of them waited for him, opened the gate, closed it and started filling the lock so he could climb up and finish off. That made his life easier and didn't delay us at all - mainly because David and Julia are very efficient.

All was going well until we came to Spinney Lock, where three things combined to cause hassles - in particular for me. Mick was in the lead with Julia at the lock, David was cleaning up at the lock behind us and emptying the lock for our single-handing friend. The lock we were approaching had a boat coming into it from above:
  • there were two boats in the lock above that whose skippers didn't want to wait to let us come through and hence only use one lock-load of water, but came down the lock with the result that the short pound was overflowing with water cascading over the lockgates in front of us before the boat got in and Julia could close the gates;
  • there was a boat tied up on the lock landing - AAARRRGGGHHH!!! And not only that, the boater had a mooring rope tied across the the path to the fence!!! That really riled me up, as it's the sort of thing that David would not see, especially while on his bike - if he'd ridden into it, he would have been tipped off. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
  • Mick managed to get in in front of him, but there was no space behind it for me to tie up, so I jumped off to hold the boat in to the shore (unable to tie up). However then the lock started to empty and I couldn't pull the boat in to shore, and what's more I couldn't hold it steady - it started moving backwards to where I could not get back on it. I had to call for Mick to come and help haul it in.
  • when he came up across the bridge yelling at me and asking what my problem was and what business of mine it was where he moored, the resulting altercation (almost all my own work - not my finest hour) was loud and forceful with him ending up throwing my water glass into the stern area of my boat and telling me I was a shit, telling Mick (as I steered out of the lock) that all women are mouthy but I was worse than most (probably not wrong there)
  • interestingly he had three explanations for why he was moored on the lock landing:
    • his engine was bust (David)
    • he arrived late the previous night and his hip was bad (me)
    • he arrived late and his back was bad and he hadn't woken till the first boat went through (that boat had set off from Kilby Bridge about half an hour before we did) (Mick)
      • so if he'd woken when the first boat came through (probably about 10.30 - not the crack of dawn by any stretch), what stopped him getting up and moving then? Was it perhaps because he lacks consideration for the rules and for other people?
So a raucous display - I could have handled it better, and I usually do. No excuses, and I must improve ... One thing I could have done was to stay well back from the lock and hover rather than getting off and attempting to hold the boat. I would still have been angry about the rope across at shoulder height, but would have been less stressed if I hadn't had to haul the boat back to the side.

Still hindsight is a wonderful thing, and at least I know that I don't scare easily, even when faced with a big angry shouting man.