rugby-mania tornado that ripped through our country and saw New Zealand win the Rugby World Cup!
We have been busy getting Blossom Cottage up to scratch for the summer season. Due to weeks of rain the laundry, although accessible, is still in an early stage of transformation. We are proud to announce that the sauna on our property is ready to be enjoyed. It's a short walk from the cottage and, by torch light, can be an adventure in itself. It is totally private, with a changing area, shower and seating. Our steamy, Scandinavian sauna with its aromatic essential oils, will relax you, relieve aches and pains and give you the opportunity to talk, reflect or read some gossip magazines to catch up on some trivial but, nevertheless, interesting celebrity news!
Our animals are thriving on our property but, sadly, one of our much-loved, egg-producing hens passed away recently. Our cat, Teddy, still gets up to mischief and, early one morning, when all inhabitants of our home were reluctantly making a weak attempt at rising, out of the corner of my eye, I saw some movement outside. Teddy was gallivanting through the garden with his partner-in-crime, Crumpet, one of our lop-eared bunnies! Crumpet had escaped the confinements of his cage and, together with Teddy, was taking part in some morning rough and tumble on the dew-laden grass outside our kitchen window! They looked so cute, as they sped after each other, hiding amongst the shrubs and then returning to the grassy patch to give me and the chirping birds an early morning aerobics demonstration !!!
We are looking forward to meeting many interesting guests this season and have had enquiries from all over the world. A family from Australia has booked Blossom Cottage and will be visiting our beautiful country soon. They were interested in the volcanic flights that leave from the lakefront by helicopter or plane, so I decided to visit Volcanic Air Safaris and find out what was on offer. They have many exciting flights including flights to Orakei Korako, a geothermal wonderland. There is also a flight by helicopter, which lands on White Island's rim and includes a guided walk of this active volcano. Some flights also include a jet boat ride. This is a good way to get a bird's eye view of Rotorua and the surrounding areas.
Another place I would like to tell you about is the Okere Falls Store. Many years ago, this cafe used to be the local dairy in Okere Falls. I vividly remember going there during the hot summer after school. We would swim in the strong current and my brothers would dive off the bridge and afterwards, dripping wet, we would buy an ice cream cone at the dairy on the way home! It has been totally transformed and is now a funky cafe with delicious coffee, cakes, savouries and a deli shop. There is an outside area and inside are squishy, comfortable couches to sink into while you take in the European feel of the place. The cafe is only a short drive from Blossom Cottage and, if you are in an adventurous mood, lunch can be enjoyed at the Okere Falls Store after a couple of hours of mind-blowing white water rafting on the Kaituna River across the road!
That's it for now. I am off to cook dinner but, before I do, here is a dessert that my friend, Wendy Bishop, made for me years ago. I have been making it ever since, it is a family favourite and really easy to make.
Caramelised Apple Pastry:
Roll out some store-bought flaky pastry, fold it so that the edges are slightly raised and put it on a baking tray. Prick the pastry with a fork and scatter a thin layer of store-bought bread crumbs on the pastry to absorb the apple juices. Peel and slice some Granny Smith apples and lay them evenly on the pastry. Put the tray in a 220 degree oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, turning the temperature down a little if it is too hot. By hand, whisk a tablespoon of water with 6 tablespoons of apricot jam and warm it in the microwave. Whisk again and brush or pour over the apples. Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the apples caramelised. Dust with icing sugar and eat with marscapone cream or vanilla ice cream.
1 October 2011
We are happy to announce that we have heard back from our assessor and have retained our Qualmark 4 Star Grade. Of course, this does not mean we can sit back and take it easy.
Since our assessor's visit in July, we have been busy. One of our guests suggested extending the deck around to the hot tub and that is just what we did and, while we were at it, decided to build a porch at the front door to protect the guests from the elements while they were making their way into the cottage with suitcases or belongings. As husband Rene is a busy man teaching Physical Education at Lynmore School in Rotorua, we decided to ask Jos Gebbink, a Dutch builder with extensive experience, to do the renovating for us. It looks just fantastic and it has given the outside a sense of space, and it also provides more room for outside entertaining. We were so pleased with what Jos had done, we have also asked him to complete the laundry area that we had started a few months ago.
Blossom Cottage is situated in a beautiful, private part of our property, with views of Lake Rotorua, Mokoia Island, Mount Ngongotaha and plenty of rolling hills and trees. One evening, as there were no guests, we decided to take a dip in the hot tub before bed. In the span of an hour we saw a shooting star, enjoyed the full moon throwing its light on the surrounding paddocks, saw Teddy the cat chase a hare, saw a hedgehog taking a stroll and listened to the sounds of cattle and owls drift our way in the night air! Magical.
A few weeks ago we decided to take our children to Off Road NZ to try some of their rides. I thought that my husband would be driving the vehicle on the Bush Safari and that Kallista, Nando and I would be passengers, but no, it was not to be.....I had to drive my own car! What an experience! We drove through bush, pot holes, a scary, dilapidated bridge and even down a steep slide with branches clinging to the sides of the car. Just when I thought my heart could not take any more stress, we also decided to do the Monster 4x4 Thrill Ride. Well.............I think I scared off all the birds in the bush and the ones that were brave enough to stay, were deafened by my screams. Of course, my children and husband kept their cool and thought Mum was just being silly. We arrived back safely and I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Ian, the owner, and his crew were friendly, professional and made sure our day was an unforgettable one!
Another place I want to tell you about is Hamurana Springs, only 5 minutes from Blossom Cottage. I have happy memories of visiting Hamurana Springs, as a child, with my brothers and cousins in the 1970s. I recall finding a tiny, baby thrush on the bush walk, with the other children looking on enviously. I even remember arriving there for a picnic and, 5 minutes after arrival, my brother looking for trout from the grassy verge and, to my mother's dismay, falling into the icy water. That was the end of our day out! You can still visit Hamurana, but the swinging bridge has long been replaced. Take some bread with you and, from the bridge, see the ducks and trout compete for the tasty morsels. There is a lovely walk through the redwood trees along the edge of the icy blue, pristine water, and you can also visit the original spring with the lookout platform, where people throw a coin and make a wish. Enjoy a well-earned picnic on the grass after your walk.
That's all for now. I am off to have some lunch but, before I go, here is another one of my favourite recipes:
Buy six chicken thighs with the bone in and skin on. Gently lift the skin and fill with a mixture of grated lemon rind, lemon juice, chopped coriander, chilli powder, oil, crushed garlic, grated ginger, salt and pepper. Brush the chicken with a little oil and place in an oven dish at 250 degrees, so that the skin gets nice and crisp. Turn it down a little if it is too hot and cook for 20-25 minutes, turning once or twice, but ending with the skin up so that it stays crisp. Enjoy the chicken with your favourite potatoes, vegetables and a salad.