Archive for January, 2012
As we join a line of cars at the entrance to the Sarau Festival and realise this yearly event is much more than we expected. And it starts at 3pm on a Sunday – very relaxing – going through to the evening. The display tents and foodstalls are thoughfully spaced so we’re not rubbing too many shoulders or walking at a snail’s pace to get to from one attraction to the next. A large stage is set up for the musicians and people have already tagged their seats on the haybales provided.
Plenty of stuff for the kids to do. Makes me smile when I see adults patting cows and sheep – there’s a child in all of us I guess.
Chances are, if your German forebears came to New Zealand between 1842 and 1869, they landed in Nelson. The Sarau Festival History Marquee contains a really interesting display of early settlement in the Moutere Valley. As Michael fires off a barrage of questions at the stallholder, it occurs to me that many German tourists would find this fascinating. Names like ‘Bensemann’, ‘Heine’, ‘Schroder’. Here’s a very interesting gentleman demonstrating a wood-chopping device. No decapitated toes here then.
The foodstalls are offering good quality food with a bit of sophistication. I help myself to some unfemented applejuice which Michael assures me is good for the digestive system. Next morning, I’m reaping the benefits (if you get my drift). There’s fresh raspberries and cream, filled cones of BBQ shrimp with salad, German cheesecakes, homemade preserves and cheeses, local wine and fresh pizza made in a real outdoor pizza oven. Michael get’s kinda weird around food..yes, this really is his last chance to eat again…ever! Then after gorging himself silly, he worries about having missed something. Honestly, some people!
This festival is celebrated with produce grown in the area and I can tell you from firsthand experience, it’s a great afternoon out. Those ancestors would have been proud. I can hear them clinking their glasses and raising a toast to this cheesecake.
We almost miss the turnoff into the Fossil Ridge Winery, as the midday sun is making us squint. “There it is” I bellow. Michael applies the brakes, sending up a cloud of dust and stones into the air. Yet another grand entrance. We get a few looks from patrons milling around in the carpark but they quickly lose interest (that is, until another incident later on). Wow, this little winery is GORGEOUS! SERIOUSLY!
So many beautiful dining areas to chose from. We can have our lunch on the second level fronting the beautiful lilypads and the stream below, or stay on the first level which gives a view of the majestic vineyards stretching out into the distance.
We choose a table near some very quietly spoken tourists. Michael’s not too keen. “Is it reasonable to expect the whole place to ourselves” I ask. He actually stops to consider this. Really. We place our order at the counter and than step down close to the stream. We just love those lillypads and at this time of year, they create such a thick carpet of foliage. Ready for your closeup Mr Nees?
The staff at Fossil Ridge genuinely enjoy their work – a good sign. I sit back and observe howe they deliver food to the tables. There’s something about their posture that speaks of pride in what they do.They know the salad is crisp and fresh and that the fish came in just this morning. Then again, who wouldn’t like working here?. The menu is small but well balanced with platters, country lunches, salads and desserts.
We’re sitting at a table catering for six people and it’s a prime spot. We note a few resentful glances coming our way from larger groups wanting to sample Fossil Ridge wines. Ok, we’re ready to explore more of the vineyard anyway so we vacate our table and take a stroll. We’re treated to pictuesque scenes that remind Michael of the gentle rolling hills of Germany’s Allgau area, near the European Alps. I’m thinking ‘biscuit tin’ Italy. You be the judge:
Before heading off home, we pay our respects to Dusty, the resident Fossil Ridge Winery dog. No one comes between Dusty and his bone so we keep a respectable distance by using the zoom. Just before leaving, we see one of the staff making a beeline towards us. Have we left something behind? No, quite the opposite. The problem was, we hadn’t left anything behind. Forgot to pay. “I thought you paid”…but didn’t you…? why didn’t you say…? All this taking place in front of the amused staff. Don’t worry she says, you’re the second person this afternoon. We sheepishly make our way back to the restaurant to settle the bill. Wonder if Dusty had anything to do with raising the alarm?
Sprung out of bed today and that’s when the ‘spring’ became a ‘crunch’ – I’d forgotten about my Achilles Heel injury. So I limp to the window and view a cloudless sky – ahh, the perfect day to visit an outdoor Art Show at the beautiful Queens Garden in Nelson City. Off we biked for the 12km ride from Richmond, but not before the usual false starts: “have you checked the doors”?, “Did you turn the lights off”? Several re-entries into the house and my nerves are frayed. Finally we’re back in the saddle, hurtling down the bike track that will take us to Nelson. On arrival, we discover the Art show is located in a beautifull leafy grotto within the magnificent Queens garden – a perfect blend of light and shade beside a bubbling brook. Michael wanted to take a photo of me and a cute little pig and what does that tell ya?
There’s nothing elitist here. It’s kinda typical of these smaller exhibitions that everyone is free to mingle, chat and view the art without being pressured into buying. So much talent from people of all ages- people like 83 year old Fergus McEwan, a retired farmer who has found woodworking a great way to occupy his time. He makes beautiful solid wooden toys for kids (and adults) and I just love his adorable “My Treasures” Rimu Boxes. And hopefully you can get a glimpse of Judy Brown’s beautiful outdoor mosaic mirrors in the background of this photo.
The artists are also having a great time and believe me, they love a good chat. Being the sociable beast that I am, I’m loving the sheer pleasure of yakking it up with the locals. New Zealand’s Art scene really ‘hums’ in the Summer months and it’s such a great affordable gift option for travellers wanting to take something special to the folks back home – something real and authentic. Here’s me enjoying the sights.
The bike home wasn’t quite the energetic burst I’d planned, but isn’t it a great feeling to know that you’ve done something fabulous with your day. Time to get the icepack on that blasted heel!
Our 2012 year has started with Michael immersing himself in the art of good bread-making. Yes, the master of the house (snigger) has became a whirling dervish in the kitchen and has actually produced very good results. Although I think Michael may have had other things on his mind when he created this particular masterpiece.
New Zealand is a gourmet paradise. By that i don’t necessarily mean pretty but tasteless foamy thingies. We’re big fans of quality cheese & meat platters and these can be had at many of wineries and cafes. Sometimes is just by chance you find a good one. A few years back, we visited a winery restaurant in Havelock North (near Napier) with the intention of having lunch. It was bitterly cold morning and we couldn’t wait to warm ourselves by the fire in the restaurant. We were stunned to be told that the restaurant would not open for another 10 minutes – no invitation to come in and sit by the fire! We voted with our feet and wouldn’t ya know it, we came across the Te Mata Cheese Factory in the same vicinity. Lovely experience. We shared a beautiful platter served by friendly staff. Looks inviting..and it was.
In April, we’ll be packing the laptops and heading down to Queenstown – a gorgeous Autumn month to be down South. Many beautiful food platters to be had in this region, especially when you team it up with a wine tour. Hopefully, we’ll get to do a tour with the Appellation Wine Tour Company – always 5-star accolades from our clients – so why should we miss out. One of our fav boutique vineyards is Northburn Wineries – here’s one of their platters.
Ok, let’s wrap this up by saying that New Zealand has had it’s fair share of sorrows, but let’s not forget the triumphs of 2011 and those to come. What’s the ‘wish’ order again…? Love, peace (those two are intertwined I think) health & prosperity for all – hope I got that right folks – a Happy New Year to you and me,the citizens of this beautiful world.