B&B  Blossom Cottage - Rotorua New Zealand 

their own secluded hot tub and the eccentric animals.

Not to mention the breathtaking views of mountains, pastures and forest.

Here are a few fun-filled attractions that may interest you.  A great place to visit for young and old is 'aMAZEme', which is a 1.4km hedge maze.  They also have a small animal enclosure, adventure play area and a refreshment cafe.

What about learning the world famous Haka?  You can learn to perform the Haka in a few easy steps and it is fun, educational and empowering.  You will learn all the words, actions and postures and have your own Moko design applied to your face. Become a Maori Warrior dressed in traditional warrior clothing and cloak.  Learn the true meaning, purpose and history of the Haka.  Men, women and children can participate and it is fun for all.

For those of you who, like me, enjoy spending hours searching for pre-loved, vintage or art-deco goods and clothing, what about spending the day on an Antique and Second Hand Trail.  Leave Blossom Cottage early and make your way to Paeroa, the Antique Town of New Zealand, to visit many shops offering antique crockery, beautiful clothing, kitchen equipment, furniture, silver cutlery and so much more. These vintage goods are housed in beautiful historical buildings, all with a story to tell.  If you have time, visit a few more towns in the district, such as Te Aroha and Waihi, where you will find more vintage stores.  At the end of the day, make your way back to Blossom Cottage, have a relaxing soak in the hot tub and crank up the barbeque for a delicious dinner, while looking out over the rolling country hills.

If you plan on visiting Whitianga on your travels, I can highly recommend a great little restaurant that I recently visited while on holiday.  This fine dining restaurant, housed in a lovely character home, is called Motu Kitchen and it has it all: ambience, fantastic service, passionate staff and the most delicious food that I have tasted in a long time!  If you have something to celebrate or you just feel like being pampered from start to finish, then visit Motu Kitchen in Mill Road.  It is well worth the money spent and you will not be disappointed.

On to Animal Antics. Our animals are well and thriving.  Well, most of them are thriving.  Treacle, our adventurous lop-eared bunny, who enjoyed galavanting through the paddocks and doing morning gymnastics with Teddy and Cloudy the cats, passed away recently.  Holly, who gave birth to many of our young lop-eared bunnies and who was more than 20 years old, died of old age.  We still have Holly's daughter Shadow Mist, our male bunny Ash and a new addition to the family, Charlie, who is a white male with dark smudges around the eyes.  Ash has escaped the confines of his run a couple of times and has been mistaken many a time for a small puppy dog by our guests!  Occasionally, Ash has paid our guests a visit at Blossom Cottage, chomped away at the cottage parsley and lettuce or dug ankle-breaking holes in the meadows, much to the dismay of non-suspecting guests and family members on the property.  Cloudy, our cat, who was rescued from a drain after being discarded with her siblings by her previous family, gave us a big fright a couple of months ago.  She appeared at the door covered in blood, scratched from head to toe and with what appeared to be a broken tail.  Luckily, after spending a couple of weeks indoors, away from our neighbours' vicious cat or a cat-hating possum, her fur grew back and her tail took on a life of its own again, after hanging limp and dragging forlornly along the floor.

The hot weather has produced an abundance of fruit and tomatoes and I have been bottling my own chutney, made from my mum's neighbour's apples and plums. Here is a delicious recipe, which can be made with any fruit of your choice.  It is delicious with cold meats, cheese, quiches or pies.  I discovered that you can easily make it in your slow cooker without splashing the kitchen walls and benches or burning the bottom of the pan.  If you want to do it the traditional way, no problem at all.

Plum Chutney

1 1/2 kilos dark, firm plums, 1 cup raisins, 1 large white onion, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 3/4 cup cider vinegar, tsp cinnamon, tsp dried coriander, tsp curry powder, tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.  Adjust the ingredients to your personal taste.

Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, put the lid on and turn it to 'High'. Cook for a couple of hours or until the plums and onions have softened.  Then take the lid off and let the mixture reduce to a thick consistency for a couple more hours.

Pour into sterilized jars and try not to eat the chutney for at least a month until the flavours have amalgamated. Not an easy feat! 

I also have mountains of curly parsley in the garden and have just found a recipe for Parsley Pesto.  The recipe is as follows:  3-4 garlic cloves, 100g parmesan cheese, 100g parsley, 100g pinenuts (I use walnuts or almonds as they are just as tasty and a lot cheaper), 250 ml olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper.

Put all the ingredients, except for the olive oil, salt and pepper, into a food processor.  Pulse until chunky or, if you prefer, process a bit longer for a smoother consistency.  Add the salt and pepper and the olive oil and process again.

Pour into sterilized jars, pour on extra olive oil to cover the mixture.  It will keep for a couple of weeks, but make sure it is topped up with the olive oil.  Delicious in soups, on meats, as a dressing on salads and on pasta.

Must go.  Will catch up soon.

Marianne