B&B  Blossom Cottage - Rotorua New Zealand 

wrapped, the tree decorated, stockings have been hung and the children are excited about the holidays, the sunshine and spending time with their friends.

We have a new addition to the animal family: a donkey by the name of Keno, who is taking a vacation at our property and who belongs to our lovely Irish neighbour, Eamon.  The donkey is called Keno, loves being patted and, if he had his way, will eat anything, including carrots, apples and bread!

I want to tell you about a lovely spot not far from Blossom Cottage.  It is the Hamurana Reserve opposite beautiful Hamurana Springs. (If you have not read about Hamurana Springs, see Newsflash 11 October 2011).The reserve is situated next to the lake and there is a playground for the children, BBQ and a huge grassy field ideal for sports or a picnic.  Close by, you can jump off the bridge into the icy Hamurana Stream.  Very popular with the locals on a hot summery day and parental supervision is advised, as the road can be busy.

For those of you contemplating a visit to Blossom Cottage, we have the following to keep you amused during your stay.  For the children: Keno the donkey, 16 quirky hens, Teddy the cat and our lop-eared bunnies. Also, plenty of toys, dressing up clothes, dvds, books, board games, a trampoline and plenty of paddocks to run around in and scream! (The neighbours won't hear you, anyway!)  For the whole family: table tennis, soccer gear, football table, hot tub, sauna, outside hot/cold shower, large deck for reading and sunbathing, BBQ, stunning views, birdsong and serenity.

That's all from me but, before I go, here is the recipe for a delicious Dutch almond pastry, which my Dutch mum has been baking for more than 55 years, after emigrating to NZ in the 1950s.  She passed the recipe on to me. 



1 cup ground almonds, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, grated juice/peel of 1 lemon, few drops of almond essence, store bought roll of flaky pastry, glace cherries, candied peel, icing sugar and lemon juice (extra), holly.

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and add more rind/juice, sugar or eggs to taste, ending with a stiff paste. Cover and put the almond paste in the fridge for a day or two. Roll out a piece of pastry to 40 x 12 cm. One roll makes two almond pastries. Lay some almond paste along the edge of the longest length of the pastry, leaving a bit of pastry at either end. Wet the three other sides of the pastry and roll the pastry over the almond paste to make a roll, pressing down the ends. If you prefer, shape it into a ring. Brush with some beaten egg and bake at 220 degrees for about 20 minutes. When cooled, decorate with lemon icing, glace cherries, candied peel and holly. To serve: slice and eat cold or, better still, cover with a little silver foil and heat in an oven at 150 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Enjoy the festive season!