water the paddocks and gardens. Yesterday was the first day of spring and the sun came out to warm our bodies and energize us. The weather has even been warm enough to entice early buds on our shrubs and trees and our daffodils were out weeks ago, showing their bright, yellow heads for all to see.
We have had many happy visitors from places as far away as United Emirates and Japan. The guests at Blossom Cottage have soaked in their private hot tub, washed away life's stress under the romantic outdoor shower and enjoyed breakfast while the morning sunrise glowed on the deck.
Our animals are healthy and happy. The hens are laying plenty of fresh, free-range eggs and the ducks, bunnies, cats and even the donkeys, Bindi and Max, have been behaving themselves. We have two additions to the family: two young lambs, a black one called Dora and a black and white lamb called Luke, both less than two weeks old. Their mothers had triplets and unfortunately Dora and Luke were rejected and came to live with us. Luke spent a couple of days in our home, wearing nappies (yes, nappies and no, your eyesight is not failing you!) so that he wasn't confined to a cardboard box, until he was strong enough to spend more time outside. He even sat on the couch with Cloudy the cat and husband, Rene. Very cute! Our days have been filled with bottle feeding these young rascals with lots of assistance from our young (and old!) guests at Blossom Cottage, who love to help out when it comes to feeding the animals.
Now something for the adults: I want to tell you a little about Volcanic Hills Winery, situated at the base of Skyline Skyrides. You can meet the charismatic wine makers, visit their winery and see how the wine is made. Take an exhilarating gondola ride up to the Volcanic Hills HQ to the tasting and wine sales room, which is situated at the top of Skyline Skyrides. There is nowhere else in the world where you can enjoy a wine tasting experience with a 180 degree view of stunning city and lake views. You can even buy your favourite wine at Volcanic Hills and take it with you to your buffet dinner at Skyline. While at Skyline, take a ride or two on the Luge, race down the hillside and take the chairlift back and do it all again. Great for young and old.
If you prefer beer, try the beer from Croucher Brewery with its award-winning beer, run by Paul Croucher. His craft beers have won many awards and accolades and are sold at Brew, Croucher Brewing's own pub, situated in Tutanekai Street. Relax with friends or family and enjoy a great pub meal with a glass or two of beer. Coffee Stout, Raspberry Pilsner and Croucher Patriot are just a few of the Croucher craft beers on offer.
Why not try horse riding while staying here. You won't have to go far, as The Farmhouse Horse Riding is right next door to Blossom Cottage. They cater for all ages, even young children, and are experienced and friendly. Depending on your ability, they will have the right horse for you.
The awe-inspiring thermal wonders of Rotorua and surrounding areas are well worth a visit. Spend the day at Kuirau Park, Whakarewarewa, Te Puia, Waiotapu or Waimungu and visit our geysers, colourful formations, hot pools and bubbling mud.
For a great Maori cultural show, visit Te Puia, Mitai, Tamaki, Whakarewarewa or Matariki and prepare to be entertained. Enjoy our fascinating Maori culture, the music, traditions and hangi meal.
I hope that I have given you some great sightseeing ideas while you're are staying at Blossom Cottage. Before I go, though, here is a delicious recipe for Roast Pumpkin Soup:
Without taking the skin off, cut three large onions, a whole head of garlic and a squash or pumpkin in half, drizzle with oil, season with garlic salt, cracked pepper, fresh thyme and put in a large roasting pan.
Roast in the oven at 180 degrees until tender.
Scoop out the pumpkin and squeeze out the onion and garlic, discard the skins and put in a blender. Add 2/3 chicken stock, 1/3 cream and blitz until smooth. Taste, add a little runny honey and taste again. Check the seasoning.....and then enjoy!
Variations: You could add sweet potato or carrots. Use coconut cream instead of cream.
Garnish Ideas: toasted pumpkin seeds, garlic croutons and crispy bacon pieces for a bit of crunch. Chopped, fresh herbs, a good dollop of sour cream or orange zest.
What to eat it with: toast your favourite bread or bake your own with pumpkin seeds and spread it with herb or garlic butter.
Enjoy the pumpkin soup and I will be back again soon with restaurant ideas, attractions, a delicious recipe and animal antics!