B&B  Blossom Cottage - Rotorua New Zealand 

These are frequently asked questions and the answer is: we love meeting and spoiling people.  Of course, running a Bed and Breakfast is hard work: there are mountains of washing and it's a challenge to ensure every guest has a perfect time. Each guest has different expectations and some can be pretty high expectations. On departure, I always ask my guests if there is anything that can be improved on, and they have given us such fantastic ideas. One of their ideas was to extend our deck to wrap around the cottage to the hot tub. We have done just that, and by doing this we have created a larger entertaining area and seating area from which to enjoy the breathtaking morning sunrise. Thank you Mr Eldering!

We have had a lot of interesting guests, many who leave a permanent impression on our lives. One of these couples was a couple from Switzerland who stayed with us for 10 nights.  They put our new deck to good use by using it for their morning exercises and then having a relaxing soak in the hot tub before taking an open air shower with views of the mountains and bush.  What a way to start the day! They spoiled our children with Toblerone chocolate bars, brought all the way from Switzerland in their suitcases, and hugged us on their day of departure.  What more could you want, to see your guests leaving happy?

Our animals have enriched our lives as well and not one day is the same.  Our new addition to the family, Amber, our lop-eared bunny, is pregnant.  She has prepared her bed with the hay we have provided and some additional fur that she has plucked from her tummy. The baby bunnies will have a toasty warm home!  We have been keeping a good eye on the weather, as we lost 6 new-born bunnies in December due to a rainstorm, which soaked the bunnies' homes.

Keno, our donkey, has been up to mischief again.  He has been competing with the hens for their feed, stealing the bunnies' food and gets very jealous if the attention is given to any of the other animals. We store Keno's carrots in a small shed in the paddock and he knows exactly where to find them.  The other day I heard a banging noise, like someone using a hammer. It went on and on and eventually I went out to find out what on earth was going on! Well, there was Keno, attempting to open the shed door, which kept slamming shut before he got the chance to snatch a delicious, crunchy carrot from the box! I had to take him to another paddock and shut the gate, so that I could get on with my chores without Keno ''the builder'' distracting me every five minutes! Of course, he was very put out and, every time I passed him, would wheeze and bray in protest!

As well as Blossom Cottage guests, we have also had our relations staying with us in our home.  There is so much to see in Rotorua and there wasn't a shortage of places to visit.  One of my favourite places is Lake Okataina.  A lovely place to swim, jump off the jetty, enjoy the sun, take a walk or even go fly fishing, if that is your cup of tea. On the way to Lake Okataina, you drive down a narrow, bush-clad road which, to my knowledge, hasn't changed since I was a young girl growing up in Rotorua. It is a bit off the beaten track, but that in itself gives it its charm.  There is a lodge, where you can enjoy some refreshments, but we decided to take a nice bottle of wine and cook our own hamburgers on our portable cooker. The ground overlooking Lake Okataina is slightly elevated, so we had our lunch at one of the picnic tables and admired the awe-inspiring views of the lake and native bush while eating our food. After lunch, we enjoyed a walk through the Okataina bush. Our relations had the perfect day, and so did we! 

For those of you who, like me, love spending time in antique and second-hand shops, Paeroa is the place to be. I haven't counted them, but there must be at least 10 or more of these shops scattered around the main streets of Paeroa.  Much more fun than buying your bits and bobs on the internet, and the character buildings in Paeroa are worth seeing too. Make a day of it, visit the many antique shops with their pre-loved pieces, have lunch there and then come home with all your treasures.  Easy to do in a day and you will be back at Blossom Cottage in time for dinner and a dip in the hot tub!

I have so much more to tell you about the activities in Rotorua, our interesting guests and mischievous animals, but it will have to wait until next time.

Here is a delicious recipe for Marmalade Cake, which I invented when I needed to use up some marmalade.  It is moist with citrus undertones and I served it to the family as a dessert with cream and a dusting of icing sugar. If you don't like marmalade, just bake it with the lemon rind and juice.

Marmalade Cake

3/4 Cup Oil, 1 Cup Sour Cream,  2-4 Tbsp Lemon Juice, 1-3 Tbsp Lemon Rind, 2 Eggs, 1 3/4 Cup Caster Sugar, 2 Cups Self-raising Flour and 1 Cup of Marmalade

Whisk everything with a hand whisk in one bowl except for the flour. Sift the flour over the liquid and whisk again. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees, 35-45 minutes. Turn down to 170 degrees if the cake starts to brown too quickly.

Note: You can dust it with icing sugar or thinly ice it with a butter lemon icing. If you bake it without the marmalade you could drizzle a mixture of sugar and lemon juice over the warm cake. Take care not to dissolve the sugar, as it keeps the texture crunchy. Happy baking!

Talk to you next time!