have once again welcomed many new guests to our beautiful corner of the world.
The animals have settled down after the stress of being moved continually and the noise from the machinery while we were landscaping. Our female duck is laying eggs and, after having about 8 stolen by a hawk, she moved and found the perfect spot to create her nest behind a small shed in the paddock. Guess who is baking fluffy, delicious cakes and omelettes with these delectable eggs?
Unfortunately, we lost Poppy, our donkey, a couple of weeks ago. She died of old age and was 25 years old, but it doesn't make the loss any easier. Max and Bindi will definitely miss her, as the three musketeers got up to a lot of mischief together.
Speaking of mischief, I rushed out early one morning to open the hen-house and collect the eggs, when I heard a loud 'crunch' sound coming from the donkeys' paddock. To my dismay, Bindi, our feisty female donkey had snapped the post holding the gate to their paddock and......... off they went into the next paddock, Max galloping away first with Bindi following closely behind, salivating and smacking their lips at the thought of a delicious, leafy breakfast, as they headed for my newly-planted hedge. Can you picture this: a not so fit, pyjama-clad woman, hair sticking up like Rod Stewart's hair on a bad day, frantically running around the paddock, trying to coax these two insolent characters back into their own paddock! After what seemed like eternity, I managed to lure them back with all sorts of goodies, shut the gate and secure it with a couple of Rene's leather belts (No, Rene was NOT happy with me using his fashion accessories as a gate latch, but what choice did I have??)
Enough of our monthly Blossom Cottage Animal Antics. I would like to tell you about a few interesting attractions in Rotorua. As you may know, Rotorua is the mecca for mountain biking and there are tracks for all levels and ages at the Redwood Forest or Waipa Forest. You can bring your own bikes or rent them, so there is no excuse to not get out and enjoy the scenery and fresh air.
Another fascinating place to visit is the Wingspan Centre, where visitors are able to view a museum area and aviary before being entertained by a demonstration of the age-old art of falconry. These free flying falcons are passionately described as little spitfires and, outside in the paddocks, they will impress you with their fast flight, steep climbs and stoops.
For the little ones, Playtopia is the place to go. It is Rotorua's indoor adventure playground with rides, bouncy castles, inflatable slides and much more. The Aquatic Centre with its children's pool and two larger pools, is ideal for all ages. The Agrodome with the sheep and dog show and farm tour is great and, last but not least, Paradise Valley where you can observe the lions being fed and, if you are in luck, you may even be able to pat a lion cub.
Next door to Blossom Cottage, only a one minute walk away, is The Farmhouse. You can experience this magnificent working farm while horse trekking over the rolling open spaces and through beautiful native forest. The panoramic views of Lake Rotorua and Mount Ngongotaha are spectacular and all ages and abilities are catered for. The experienced staff are extremely friendly.
If you have time and would like to relax in Rotorua city, why not spend a couple of hours at the Rotorua Library. They have two levels crammed full of books and comfy couches to relax in while reading.
Last but not least, I would like to tell you about some of the excellent restaurants in Rotorua. One of my favourites, situated in Eruera Street, is Capers, a family restaurant. They have won many awards over the years. Lime is a fresh, modern cafe near the lakefront with delicious food and an upmarket ambiance. The Fat Dog in Arawa Street is young and funky and has various pieces of art displayed throughout the restaurant and a colourful, quirky decor. Zippy Central in Pukuatua Street has a retro feel about it and the food is tasty and affordable. The Pig & Whistle is situated in Tutanekai Street in a beautiful 1940s building. The portions are enormous and the food is hearty and delicious. As you can read, there is no need to go hungry while roaming around fascinating Rotorua city.
It's time for me to have some lunch but, before I go, here is a delicious recipe for Raspberry and Yoghurt Loaf:
Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Place 1.5 cups plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 cup caster sugar and 2-3 tbsp lemon rind in a bowl and mix to combine. Add 1 cup frozen raspberries or your favourite fruit and stir. Place 2 tsp vanilla essence, 3 eggs and 1 cup of greek yoghurt and half a cup of oil in a bowl and whisk. Add to the flour and mix until combined. Pour into a 10x20cm loaf tin lined with baking paper and bake for 60-70 minutes. Turn out on to a wire rack after 10 minutes and dust with icing sugar. Serve with cream and lemon curd.
Bye for now!