that can be enjoyed in our city and at Blossom Cottage!
First of all, we have some exciting news: We are one of only six Bed & Breakfast Spirit of Hospitality Finalists in NZ and, if that isn't enough, Tripadvisor has also awarded us with the Certificate of Excellence 2012. The last two years have been fun, exhausting and a real learning curve and it is great to have it recognised, as it means we are probably doing most things right!
The giant, swirling wave called LIFE swept me away with all its chores and responsibilities and I have just resurfaced. It’s a shame we let ourselves get so carried away with the mundane, daily activities so that there’s never really time to reflect on the small things in life or to smell the roses.
Luckily, the guests at Blossom Cottage have done just that and have immensely enjoyed the large, deep hot tub, outside shower, our quirky animal family, the beautiful views, the comfort of the cottage and vibrant Rotorua.
We have had couples here for a romantic getaway, friends who have come for a relaxing, fun-filled time and families with children who have come to enjoy the Luge, Kiwi Encounter or the lions at Paradise Valley Springs and, of course, the endearing, but naughty animals at Blossom Cottage!
One of these families was a family from Canada, who came with their children to enjoy the Maori concert, Rainbow Springs and all that Rotorua had to offer.
A week before our Canadian guests arrived, one of our lop-eared bunnies gave birth to six bald little sausages, so you can imagine the visitors’ joy when they met these tiny bundles with their eyes just opened on the day of our guests’ arrival!
Of course, Keano, our donkey, was there to meet everyone, gently galloping after our new guests in the hope of obtaining a juicy carrot to crunch on. He was allowed into the main paddock where the bunnies and hens reside and where Teddy, the cat, does his morning gymnastics with our courageous bunny, Treacle, who had, once again, escaped from his hutch.
We did have to punish mischievous Keano the other day, though. I had fed the bunnies with their special pellets, put the lid on the container and had gone to town. When I got back, I discovered that Keano had managed to take the lid off the container WITH HIS TEETH and had eten half the pellets, about $8 worth of rabbit food, while I was away! He was sent off to the other paddock to sulk and think about his well-needed diet !!
Our bunnies are not just confined to their hutches at Blossom Cottage. They have a large play pen set up on the grass, where they can stretch their legs, nibble at the grass and play with the young guests who can enter the play pen through a special door.
As for our hens, even though they are free to roam all parts of the neighbourhood, they always seem to get to the main house or through the fence at Blossom Cottage to deposit a little ‘gift’ (ahum, yes, you know what I mean!) for the guests at the doorstep. At the moment their overcoats of feathers are looking glossy and healthy, but a few months ago the hens were molting and sprinting around the paddocks looking decidedly featherless and goose pimply!
Enough of our animal antics. I want to tell you about the attractions in Rotorua that are free of charge and really worth a visit. One of these is beautiful Hamurana Springs near Blossom Cottage, where you can feed the ducks and trout from the bridge, walk through the Redwood trees along the stream to the spring, throw in a coin and make a wish and have a picnic on the grassy verge when you get back. For those of you who are a little more adventurous, the bridge near the entrance is a popular spot to jump off into the glistening water. (Summer would be the appropriate time to attempt this !)
Another interesting spot is Kuirau Park, right in the centre of town. It is a fascinating park with its hot water springs, mud pools and steam wafting into the air. The Saturday Market is also held here each week with its hot food, second hand goods, cheap fresh vegetables and music. This is a perfect place to soak your feet in the foot pools or have a picnic in the sun, but keep an eye on the children at all times.
The large playground at the lake end of town is also a great spot for a picnic while enjoying the views, the black swans and Mokoia Island. If you drive for 5 minutes towards Government Gardens, there is another playground for younger children with grassy areas and a big shady tree to picnic under when the weather’s hot.
Government Gardens is stunning with its historic, beautifully manicured gardens, impressive Tudor-style building built in 1908 and the Mediterranean-style Blue Baths built in the 1930s. There are plenty of benches and grassy areas for a picnic and nearby is also an interesting walk, which starts at the lake front and passes Sulphur Point, a steamy, thermal area.
My favourite place, though, has to be Kerosene Creek, a place I used to visit as a child. It is south of Rotorua and you can reach it within half an hour from Rotorua city and, set in native bush with a hot water stream, waterfall and pool, it is an idyllic spot to have a soak or a picnic. Nearby, is also a place called Hot and Cold, where a hot stream and cold stream meet. I have never been there, but have heard that it is also worth a visit. One word of advice, don’t put your head under water and always take your valuables with you when you leave the car.
As for Blossom cottage, most of the renovations have been completed. Last week we painted away the dull grey exterior with a cheerful yellow colour. Our cottage has undergone quite a metamorphosis over the last couple of years: the queen bedroom has been enlarged, a laundry built, the deck has been extended and a new roof built at the front door. On our website, you can see a guest’s photo of our cottage in its early days, looking quite plain and grey, but thanks to a lot of time and energy from the whole family, we have got the exterior of Blossom Cottage looking a lot more inviting.
The open air shower has also been installed and is great to use before and after a soak in the hot tub. You can enjoy its steamy warmth while you watch the breeze playing hide and seek in the breathtaking countryside, while listening to the birds chirping or admiring the full moon. Quite romantic!
That’s all my news. Before I go, here is a recipe for Spicy Indian Soup to enjoy on those chilly winter evenings.
SPICY INDIAN SOUP
Put a little oil in a pan, add a 2 tsp of ground coriander, 2 tsp of cinnamon, 2 tsp of tumeric, 2tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp of cumin to the hot pan. Gently fry the spices without burning. Add 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, zest of 1 lemon, 2 chopped carrots, 1 large chopped potato and fry for 5 minutes without browning. Add 3 tins of chopped tomatoes, 1 litre of chicken or beef stock and simmer for 20 minutes. When the vegetables are just cooked, add salt, pepper, a little brown sugar, 100ml of cream and warm through.
*Add more or less of the above ingredients to suit your taste.
*You can eat it as a vegetarian soup, but I add prawns, chicken or bite-sized meat balls for the meat lovers in our family.
*Serve with lemon wedges, a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander.
* Add less stock and serve with rice as a curry. Delicious.