B&B  Blossom Cottage - Rotorua New Zealand 

Time to enjoy a relaxing holiday, soak up the sun and get the family together for Christmas lunch or dinner. I am nowhere near ready and my 81 year old mum, three brothers and their families are congregating at our place this year, setting up their tents in the backyard, hoping to catch up on all the family news, eating a relaxing meal together at one long table and watching the children open their long-awaited gifts.

Blossom Cottage is full of guests at the moment and there are more to come, who will enjoy the hot tub, outdoor shower, large paddocks filled with mischievous animals and the romantic setting.  Those who come, enjoy the too-many-to-mention sights in and around Rotorua and then return to the cottage at the end of the day to cook a relaxing dinner on the barbeque or take in the country views with their favourite drink close at hand.

The Blossom Cottage animals are thriving.  Luke and Dora, the lambs, are growing big and strong, but still enjoy being bottle-fed by the guests, young and old.  Our duck, Quackie, sat on 7 eggs, but, one month later, only one fluffy, yellow chick appeared from the egg shards one morning just before Kallista and Nando left for school.  The nest is hidden under a large pine tree and, every morning, dad Quickie and mum Quackie take their precious bundle to the paddock for a bite to eat, prepared by Rene before his departure to work in the morning.  The youngster gobbles up the food and, as he (or she?) is so small, occasionally taking an unintentional dip in the breakfast bowl, coming up for air covered in chick crumble!  Quickie and Quackie take a swim in the trough and then the family heads back to the pine tree for a snooze, dad Quickie always on the lookout for the cats, Teddy and Cloudy.  The cats don't stand a chance and any attempt to turn the young duckling into a meal, is greeted by Quickie frantically flapping his wings and waddling full speed at the cats, hissing with open beak.  Cloudy and Teddy slink off, feeling stupid and then settle for their bowl of designated cat food instead!

Rotorua city is filling up with guests from all over the world.  They are spoiled for choice, as there is an abundance of activities to enjoy.  Here is a selection of the fantastic attractions on offer in and around Rotorua.

The Rotorua Duck Tours take you on an amphibious sightseeing and history tour of the Rotorua region.  Visitors enjoy the thrill of riding in an authentic WW11 amphibious craft, view spectacular scenery and 'splashdown' into Rotorua's pristine lakes.  Great for young and old.

Another way to enjoy our lakes is to take one of the many spectacular walks.  One of my favourites is the Lake Okareka Walkway, which takes you on a boardwalk along Lake Okareka, complete with stunning, picturesque farmland, hills and native forest. After your Lake Okareka walk, as you drive back to Rotorua city, stop at the beautiful Redwoods Forest and take a stroll or an energetic hike on one of the many tracks on offer.

Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland just south of Rotorua is well worth a visit.  Marvel at the power of the Lady Knox Geyser before taking a 2-3 hour walk past colourful springs, rising steam, hissing vents, plopping mud and sizzling earth.

End your day with a mouth-watering buffet dinner at Skyline Restaurant.  To get there, take the gondola up Mount Ngongotaha to the restaurant and, on your way, enjoy the panoramic views, Mokoia Island and Lake Rotorua. After your delicious, buffet dinner of New Zealand and international cuisine, return to your car by gondola, plunging into darkness and taking in the city lights while descending the mountain.

That's all my news.  Enjoy Christmas and New Year and have more information on the sights in Rotorua, the comings and goings at Blossom Cottage and a mouth-watering recipe in 2014!  Before I go, here is a fresh, summery salad to enjoy with one of your many barbeques during the holidays.

Use your favourite salad leaves, add finely chopped red onion, olives, some cooked new potatoes (bite-sized), hard boiled eggs,  (quartered), chopped flat-leafed parsely and crisp, cooked green beans.  Add a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, cracked pepper, mustard and yoghurt and drizzle over the salad.  You could add some anchovies and smoked salmon to give it a decadent touch.

Until next year,

Marianne