20 November 2011
Summer is well on its way and it's only a matter of time before Christmas is upon us. I've planted a vegetable garden and it's not looking too bad for a first attempt. I'm sure the gifts of chicken droppings from our 17 hens must be the secret recipe for a thriving garden!!!
We have had some great guests at Blossom Cottage since I last wrote. They included two lovely Dutch couples who stayed for five nights and, as I write, are travelling through our beautiful country. They were the Lems brothers with their wives and they brought a sense of fun and happiness with them. They would visit me regularly at the house or ask my advice on the many attractions in and around Rotorua. They even came to the door one afternoon with a very annoyed looking Crumpet, our lop-eared bunny, who had gone to visit our Dutch guests and was discovered on the cottage deck enjoying the sunshine. Luckily, Crumpet is very tame and after his frequent escapes, returns to his hutch for a snack of rabbit food and a good night's sleep!
Our hens get up to mischief on a regular basis as well, ending up at our house, which is out of bounds, to deliver some 'fertiliser' at the front door and beg for scraps of anything on offer. I had also seen a couple of hens near our house, sneaking into our garden and then, finding a hole in the fence, returning back to their side of the property 15 minutes later. Our egg supply had been quite low lately and my suspicions were confirmed when my daughter came into the house with a pile of eggs that she had found in a makeshift nest in the bush near our house! Our hens have four comfy, straw lined nesting boxes in their hen house, so it is beyond me why they would want to lay them elsewhere. We have talked about giving them a fenced paddock to scratch around in, but they just look so happy roaming the area, often ending up visiting the Farmhouse Horse Riding business next door!
I have to tell you about an attraction in Rotorua that I knew nothing about until a few weeks ago. It is called Pure Cruise. I was lucky enough to be invited by Pure Cruise to spend the afternoon sailing on the yacht Tiua on Lake Rotoiti, enjoying tapas, cool drinks and feeling the wind and sunshine on my face, while relaxing in one of their comfy beanbags on deck. It was just magical, with sparkling water, breathtaking scenery and, for those who wanted to soak away any stress that had not already been swept away by the lake breeze, a relaxing soak at the Manupirua hotpools. The staff couldn't do enough for us and it was a day to remember.
If you're not into sailing, a walk on one of our many tracks might be your cup of tea. One of my favourite walks is the Lake Okareka Boardwalk, which takes you around part of Lake Okareka and has views of the lake on one side and rural views on the other side. Our children always enjoy this walk as there is information on the wildlife at regular intervals, seating for those of you who need a breather, an enviromentally friendly toilet and plenty of trees to climb for those who are agile enough. It is a return walk and takes about 1 - 2 hours depending on whether you are related to Speedy Gonsalves or not. We usually take Oma with us for the walk and then picnic on the grassy hill after our walk, enjoying the views of Lake Okareka, but there's also a covered seating area on the walk, which overlooks the lake.
People have often asked us why we converted the cottage into a Bed and Breakfast. When the Qualmark assessor asked the same question, my answer was that we wanted to make people happy and, if we were looking for somewhere special to stay, Blossom Cottage is the sort of place we would like to stay at. If you don't want to read the following and just want to find out where you can fly through the air in a harness, screaming, ignore the next few paragraphs!
Blossom Cottage is a combination of the three things we love the most: meeting a variety of people, vintage interior design and cooking. Rene and I have met many people on our travels and seen a bit of the world: Rene lived in Japan for 3 months and travelled through Australia, I travelled through Africa for six months, spent time on a Kibbutz in Israel and after meeting Rene, lived in Holland for many years, visiting various countries in Europe on our holidays. Paris would have to be our favourite city and Greece one of our favourite countries.
I have always loved antiques and collectables, something I probably inherited from my mother, who, at the local White Elephant stalls would change from a reserved woman into a slightly aggressive, experienced bargain hunter, elbowing her way through the crowds to be in first and then happily coming home with her bounty!
We can be found sourcing bits and pieces in antique and second hand shops: vintage crockery, fabric, old suitcases, picture frames, old music sheets and kitchen paraphernalia. When I see something I like and it has a certain patina or a couple of dents or a faded, vintage look, I am swept back in time and it conjurs up its past life and history and the object always has a story to tell. Sometimes, with a lick of paint or a bit of fabric, we convert it into an original piece for our home or the cottage. All these pieces are an eclectic mixture, but they seem to come together as a whole. That's what gives a house character. The photographs at Blossom Cottage are full of history and some are more than 100 years old. Someone once said: 'Marianne, none of your furniture matches'. That is my intention. If I wanted them to match, I would buy everything new at a furniture store!
Now, the third passion, cooking and baking. Here is a recipe for Hummus, which was given to me by my special friend Janine, who only lives 5 minutes from Blossom Cottage. Janine sells delicious, organic products from her home including vegetables, fruit, nuts, flour, milk and feta, and she brought the hummus and crackers to my house one afternoon for us to enjoy after an hour in the sauna:
JANINE'S HOMEMADE HUMMUS
3/4 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight), salt, pepper, 2 garlic (crushed), juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp mint, finely chopped, 2 tbs tahini (optional).
Drain chickpeas, place in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until soft, add salt towards the end of cooking. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of liquid. Place peas in a blender with garlic, lemon juice, oil reserved liquid, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until you have a soft, creamy texture and check the seasoning. Delicious on crackers or bread!
My second attraction in Rotorua is called Agroventures. They have many unique experiences for those of you who like an adrenalin rush, but I have chosen these two: Rotorua Bungy, where you jump from a 43 metre Bungy Tower, attached to a bungy cord. The second experience is Rotorua Swoop, where you and two others are winced 40 metres high, a rip cord is pulled and you swoop 100 metres through the air at 130 kph. Not for the faint hearted, but it will leave you with a real sense of satisfaction.
That's all for now. Next time I will tell you more about our local attractions, Blossom Cottage's animal antics and I will give you a special Christmas recipe, which even our children's school bus driver asked for a couple of years ago. All will be revealed next time!