It is a glorious day today, the sun is shining and there is not a gust of wind. A big relief after all the
gales and stormy weather we have had! I have returned from Europe, where I spent 3 weeks travelling in The Netherlands, Belgium and France with my mum and brother. Our main objective was to help my Dutch aunt celebrate her 90th birthday in style, but we took the opportunity to visit many picturesque villages, historical buildings and spend time in romantic Paris. My brother, Robert, my mum and I back-packed most of the time and visited all the sights by foot. Not bad, considering our mum is 80 years of age but, then again, she is fitter than the average 50 year old!
While I was away, Blossom Cottage was filled with many happy visitors, who came to enjoy our rural setting, private hot tub and visit the many sights in and around Rotorua. Hubby Rene and our two children pitched in to help clean the cottage, change the sheets and welcome our guests. All went well and everything ran smoothly. I am happy to be back and am looking forward to spoiling our Blossom Cottage guests! The experts say that we are in for a long, hot summer. Let's hope they are right!
I am always in awe of the attractions on offer in and around Rotorua. I have so much to tell you, but can only touch the tip of the iceberg, so here goes: I would like to start off by telling you about The Farmhouse Horse Riding, which is only a minute's walk from Blossom Cottage. They are wonderful, with experienced, friendly staff, who will find the right horse for your age and capability. I received an enquiry from a family the other day and they were interested in celebrating their daughter's 4th birthday at Blossom Cottage and wanted to spend some time horse riding at The Farmhouse. Luckily, The Farmhouse also caters for young children and can arrange for extra staff to assist.
Exciting news: The HOBBIT movie will be out soon! While staying at Blossom Cottage, it is an easy 45 minute drive to the fascinating set of The Hobbit in Matamata or, if you prefer, take the special bus from the Rotorua Information Centre. You can be back at Blossom Cottage in the afternoon and in the hot tub with a glass of bubbly and some nibbles by early evening!
We have a new attraction in Rotorua called Canopy Tours and Rene decided to try it out the other day. This tour is in the Mamaku bush and takes you on a tour high up through the native trees and bush, taking you over bridges and platforms, while you whizz through the beautiful forest on flying foxes. The guides also educate you on the animals en fauna. It is about 3 hours long, great fun, very informative and the perfect way to overcome any fear of heights in a safe, enjoyable environment.
I have some guests arriving in December, who do not have time to visit the Waitomo Caves and asked me if there were any glow worms in Rotorua. My first instinct was to say no, but that evening Rene came home and said that he had spoken to a friend, who happened to mention that there are glow worms at Okere Falls, where many white-water rafting adventures are enjoyed by visitors on the Kaituna River. It is only a 20 minute drive from Blossom Cottage and it costs nothing to walk in the forest and enjoy the glow worms. We will definitely be going there one evening and will keep you posted.
Recently, we travelled up to the top of Mount Ngongotaha by gondola to have dinner at the Skyline Restaurant. The views of Mokoia Island and Lake Rotorua from the restaurant are spectacular and the gondola ride back at night is breathtaking, with the city lights twinkling up at you as you make your way down. We were pleasantly surprised at the facelift, or should I say, tastelift, that the Skyline Restaurant has undergone. Their new chef, Fred Kreutmeyer, has done wonders and a metamorphosis has taken place: the reception area is now in the restaurant instead of in the lobby, the food was creative and delicious and presented beautifully. We will definitely be back and will recommend it to our guests.
I cannot end my newsflash without bringing you all up-to-date with the animal antics on our property: wild ducks and sparrows are still making their way into the hen-house to steal the hens' pellets. Our new donkeys, Poppy, Bindi and Max have settled in well and have had their manicures done by a local farrier. The donkeys regularly treat us all to a symphony of braying, which would put any operatic society to shame. Teddy, our cat, has featured in a well-known magazine posing as the handsome cat-version of Justin Bieber. The hens are still making their way into our garden to scratch up my newly planted vegetables and have been seen delivering little parcels of fertilizer to the front door. Tragedy struck when a cat, our cat?, managed to get into the rabbit hutch in the dead of night and remove two newly born baby bunnies. (They are now living a life of luxury in bunny heaven). While the hutch was still open, one of our tame male bunnies called Chimney because of his black coat, and who lives freely in the paddock, made his way into the hutch to have a rendezvous with Holly, the departed baby bunnies' mum. Lo and behold, within a couple of weeks, four new-born, bald sausages with ears and feet were found in a warm nest of fluff, plucked by Holly from the fur on her abdomen. As you can see, out of tragedy sometimes comes joy!
Speaking of joy, I want to tell you about one of our guests who truly inspired me. Accompanied by her boyfriend, my guest took the plunge and went skydiving with Nzone in Rotorua. Even though she was terrified and felt the fear, she did it anyway. Arriving back to earth safely, she was ecstatic and told me that it was thrilling, exhilarating and tremendous fun. Nzone is well worth trying and an experience you won't forget in a hurry.
That's all my news, so here is my Newsflash Recipe. I am a chocoholic and this is just delicious. This recipe was given to me by a French friend, who moved to New Zealand the same year we came back to live in beautiful Rotorua. At the time, her boys, Kallista and Nando did not speak any English and the children immediately became friends, communicating silently until, over the months, they mastered the English language.
Claudine's Chocolate Muffins
125g melted dark chocolate, 125g melted butter, 200g caster sugar, 5 eggs (split), 125g plain flour, 1tb black coffee.
Mix butter and chocolate with an electric whisk, add caster sugar, slowly add one egg yolk at a time, add sifted flour and fold through the mixture. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl and loosen the mixture with a little egg white. Then add the rest of the egg white, folding the mixture carefully.
Spray muffin tins with oil and pour in the mixture. Bake at 150 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Bon appetit and until next time, when I will update you on our animal antics, inspiring people, local attractions and one of my favourite recipes!