I spoke to the lady who owns the blueberry farm just up the road and she said that she had discovered a bush with blueberries the other day! They normally bear their fruit in January and February during our warmest months. But, then again, the weather could still turn and deliver storms, torrential rain or even snow.
Speaking of blueberries, while staying at Blossom Cottage during the summer, you must visit Annie. Her blueberries are delicious and, if you are looking for a fun day out with the children, you can pick blueberries to your heart's content. Annie also sells frozen and ready-picked blueberries packaged and ready to take home. Much fresher and cheaper than the supermarket variety. Personally, I enjoy picking my own, surrounded by farmland with the sun in my face, imagining how delicious my blueberry muffins are going to taste during afternoon tea!!
A lot has happened since my last News Flash. Blossom Cottage has been closed for the last month, as we have been landscaping the grounds around the cottage. We have decided to plant hedges, arches with climbing plants and, eventually, beautiful heirloom fruit trees, which will bear delicious walnuts and fruit for all to pick and enjoy. Of course, as we all know, Rome wasn't built in a day and we have to be patient and first create a wind-break with the hedges before planting trees. By nature, I am not patient by any stretch of the imagination, so it will have to be one step at a time, I'm afraid, but I can already see the big picture in my mind! At the moment, a lot of blood, sweat and tears is going into clearing the grounds, sowing grass and calming down stressed animals who have been caught up in this enormous project.
Our three darling donkeys managed to escape while work was being done and fences had been removed for easy access to all parts of the property. They took a little tour down Sunnex Road, sniffing here and nibbling there, before being shunted back to their paddock. The next day they made their way to the Blossom Cottage garden, which is out of bounds, and ate five small trees and my newly-planted, just-starting-to-look-good rosemary hedge, which I had lovingly planted four months ago.
Due to all the disruption, our hens had made their way into our garden, the only place that is out of bounds for them, as they can roam anywhere they like. I thought Teddy, our cat, had made his way into the house but, to my surprise, here was Myrtle, our hen, feeling completely at home in our laundry, clucking happily while pecking from Teddy's food dish!! We sent her packing before Teddy discovered this feathered female fiend stealing his lunch!
Our kitten Cloudy has probably been the most disobedient of all. We have a large box of lego in a corner of the room just in case we get young visitors. Well, Cloudy thought the box of lego looked decidedly like a kitty litter box and was busy scratching at the lego when hubby called out, " Quick, get her out of there!" As Cloudy was suspended in an intriguingly acrobatic position, ready to water and fertilise the clean, colourful and unsuspecting lego, I managed to whisk a surprised Cloudy away and out the french doors, instructing to do her 'gardening' in a more lady-like manner outdoors! Of course, most of the deed had already been done in the lego box, so a quick google search revealed some excellent advice on how to wash and dry soiled lego. Who was appointed this tedious task? Yours truly, of course!
Enough of our animals' antics! I recently took a reservation for two lovely ladies from Australia, who will be arriving at Blossom Cottage in the next week or so. They told me that they wanted to visit one of the Maori concerts in Rotorua and take a boat trip to White Island for a guided tour. I have to be honest and say that I had never heard of the boat trip, but I knew that there were helicopter flights. When I mentioned this, they asked me to book the helicopter instead, as it sounded fantastic. Indeed it is, with a spectacular helicopter flight and guided walk on White Island, an active volcano. The steaming crater lake, active volcanic vents and sulphur mine complete this surreal experience and, when present, the sighting of dolphins in the Pacific Ocean over which you fly is the icing on the cake.
Another great experience in Rotorua is fishing, whether it is trout fishing, fly fishing, on land or on a boat. I got in touch with a couple of trout fishing businesses to enquire for my guests. Their passion is fishing and they thoroughly enjoy making your fishing experience perfect. When I asked what would happen if no fish were caught, they almost scoffed at me, so I presume that they know exactly what they are doing! I will never insult them by asking that question again! Most fishing trips are about 3 hours long, but their hours and rates vary, depending on the needs of their customers. The fish that the guests catch can be taken back to Blossom Cottage, cooked on the barbeque and eaten for dinner.
Speaking of eating, most of you have probably heard of Skyline, which can be reached by gondola and takes you up to the Luge and Skyline Restaurant. You can enjoy a lunch or dinner buffet complete with magnificent views of Lake Rotorua and Mokoia Island. Above Skyline is another restaurant called Aorangi Peak, which also has spectacular views and delicious meals. Aorangi Peak can be reached by car and is an enjoyable drive with glimpses of the city and lake below as the road twists up to the top of Mount Ngongotaha.
My recipe for Tomato Galette is below:
Form a large circle out of a piece of flaky pastry. Prick some holes in it with a fork and bake in the oven at 190 degrees for 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and it press down flat.
Fry 4 tbsp tomato paste, 3 tbsp of blended sun-dried tomatoes with two cloves of garlic and one large finely chopped onion. Cool slightly and spread on the pastry disc. Add some slow-roasted vine tomatoes that you made earlier, lower the temperature to 170-180 degrees and put in the oven for 5-10 minutes to heat through and crisp the pastry.
Take out of the oven, sprinkle with basil, coriander or parsley.
To fancy it up a little, you could add some olives, anchovies or pinenuts before putting it in the oven.
Bye for now!