Thursday, 11 February 2016

Sunshine, Garage Projects and Chocolate Bars

I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth. I guess it’s probably something to do with my formative years coinciding with the end of sweet rationing. Most food was pretty bland in the fifties (though we didn’t know it) and when Pat Boone sang about “Tortillas and chilli peppers” in the hit song “Speedy Gonzalez”, a few years later, I thought he was singing in a foreign language, which I suppose he was really.
Roger finds the Whittacker's Peasnut Slabs irresistable
I mention this because although much of the chocolate one buys in New Zealand is different to that in the UK (evidently Cadbury’s, who have a factory on the South Island, use buttermilk rather than cream as it doesn’t melt so quickly), but there is one confectionery that both of us cannot get enough of. We are both fans of Whittacker’s Peanut Crunch and our daily sojourns to the Countdown Supermarket always end with the purchase of one to eat on the walk back home, plus a bag of mini bites in the store cupboard in the kitchen.

The ground floor is at last beginning to look like a studio flat. We have a settee and a nice reclining armchair to match – our TV was delivered a couple of days ago, and James, our son-in-law, redesigned the room after the furniture arrived, moving stuff around, and I must say it has given us a lot more space. Naturally, the grand kids want to come and play with the recliners, and although Livi understands they could easily break, I am not expecting miracles, so we will have to see.

Livi tries on Erica shoes as she watches "The Jungle Book". Pat, meanwhile recovers from pulling a muscle in her back. The room is slowly taking shape. Another very hot afternoon.

The weather has been amazingly sunny and hot over the last week or so which is not that typical of Wellington. I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but we have taken advantage of it, and the long evenings. I have been out in garden, cutting and slashing at the undergrowth. Pat has been concentrating of the area around the large patio outside our French windows. We can now see, and easily reach the play-tree-house, and my next project is to lick it into shape, over the next few weeks.
After a week of slashing back the undergrowth, we reveal the play house, my next project, currently taped off as steps are rotten. Livi wants it painted blue.
Last weekend was a public holiday in New Zealand. Waitangi Day remembers the date of the treaty between the Maori and the British in establishing the modern-day New Zealand. The weather was great and we spent Monday morning on the beach at Scorching Bay, a 20-minute drive away, around the bay. The previous night James and myself had made the short walk to “One Fat Bird”, just around the corner from us, which describes itself as a `British-style pub with a Kiwi twist`. It’s really nothing like a British pub, but they sell some very interesting beers, many brewed in the local area.

Our "Garage Project" tasting tray at "One Fat Bird"
Last Sunday a local brewery called “Garage Project” took over nine of the taps for a day, and we did our best to try them all, though the one with a chilli kick, was difficult to finish on our sampling tray. I have moaned long and hard, in previous blogs, about the cost of beer over here, and it was no different on Sunday night, with most of the beers weighing in at over 5% and, my favourite, `Garagista` came in at £5.50 for what is a little less than a pint. You certainly need deep pockets to drink around here.
James kicks off the tasting

The 15 taps at "One Fat Bird" (For my beer drinking mates)
Our days and weeks are beginning to get some structure to them, which is good for Erica and James, who have busy working lives, and for Livi and Ben, who are not used to us being around. Livi has been quite cool with me, but I knew she would take some time to come around. Over the last week or so, she has mellowed, but I have to tread carefully with her. Mum has taken over the shopping and the washing, and I have mainly cooked. It seems to be working pretty well, and the idea of turning on a tap and hot water coming out instantly, and not having to think when I need to empty our loos, hasn’t worn off yet. It’s quite a big house, and we are not used to having this much space.
We entertain our first guests this weekend, when Sue and Geoff are coming through the city. I worked with Sue at John Lewis, and her and husband Geoff, often came on our overseas trips. We are really looking forward to seeing them again.

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