Sunday, June 28, 2009

Winter Solstice madness

Every year our office has a winter solstice party called the Poultice. It involves a quadrathlon around the bay over to the small aquaculture site for some refreshments and then back to the office for a party. The quadrathlon starts with a kayak down the bay, followed by a bike ride to to Mahanga Bay and then a run back to the office and finally a walk around the carpark and buildings. There is also an indoor quiz and other shananagans! Each year there is a theme - this year it was Shakespeare - who wrote a line

So we organise team and dress up - half the fun is in the costume making and dressing up. We were The Scottish play witches - with beards! My friends little daughter Neve, kept telling us that grownups don't dress up and was quite stunned by our messing around - although she was very happy to inherit her mother's witches outfit afterwards!

Anne-Laure and Jo getting dressed in our witches outfits. (Neve in the middle is wearing one of the party hats)

Brodie's Beer-ded Bedlams - Sadie, Becka, Jo, Niamh

Some people twist the theme ......

Shake-your-spear - Sam, Trevor, Amelia, Michele

Many different types of vessel used for this leg down the bay. Canadian canoes, open top surf ski's, outriggers, home made wooden boats, and our Betty - probably the most conventional of the boats.

This year I did the bike leg and flew around the course on my broomstick

Bearded witch Helen on broomstick!

I'm sure you all knew I was a witch.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cheese making

Well Wellington winters are cold, wet and windy - doesn't really inspire outdoor activity and weekends also seem to coincide with the southerly storms. So you come up with a few different ways to keep entertained. A few weeks ago I did a cheese making course with my friend Barbara. I have always thought that cheese making would be really tricky and that is why no one really does it other than commercial enterprises. Anyway it turns out it is not so tricky and only requires a couple of ingredients - milk, citric acid/culture, rennet, salt (to taste at the end), and a few pieces of equipment - big pots, cheese cloth and most critically a thermometer. However it does require patience and confidence - something we would not have had if we hadn't seen it done in the course.

So finally Barbara and I had a free weekend when the weather was foul - so we got together to make some cheese - three different types of cheese - feta, mozzarella and ricotta. For our first attempt at making cheese it was very successful. We made all three cheeses in about 3 hours. Other than the feta the other two cheeses are ready straight away. So we made dinner of spinach and ricotta canneloni and we tried some mozzarella for an entree. I am not sure that it costs any less than buying the cheese - it cost us about $30 for 14 litres of milk and we made 4 slabs of fetta and 4 balls of mozzarella and 250g of ricotta. However, it was really fun and a huge sense of satisfaction and the cheese even tastes like it should. I think this might have to become a regular event over the winter months. I have several friends ask if they can join in the fun next time.....

Will take some photos of the cheesiness next time.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tip Track

Thursday, Bec and I got up stupid-early and went for a ride up the Tip Track on the way to work. Helen stayed in bed and slept in. I was out of the house by 7:00AM to meet Bec and the bottom of the Tip Track at 7:30AM.

It was probably the coldest morning we have had this year. A southerly had been blowing all week and the skies actually cleared Wednesday night. This meant that it was about 5°C (41°F) when I left the house. Down in the valleys there was frost on most cars and some lawns. In some places there was quite a lot of fog as well.

The sun hadn't risen high enough yet so we started the climb in the shade. This isn't necessarily such a bad thing as it is pretty steep and you get pretty warm just from the exertion of trying to ride up it. It didn't take long before we were high enough for the first rays of morning sun to hit us. We could then see the harbour completely fogged in with the top of Mount Victoria just poking through.

Mount Vic just poking through the clouds.

The view across to the Orongorongos was amazing! Island Bay was completely fogged in. The highest point on the skyline in Mount Mathews, which we climbed back in March.

Island Bay and the Orongorongos

Bec had to be at work a bit earlier than I expected so we had to boogie down the hill and didn't get a chance to ride a couple of the better singletracks up on the ridge. Oh well, next time!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mount Holdsworth

After a few weekends of terrible weather we decided we needed to get out of Wellington - even if it was only for a day. So when the weather forecast was for no rain or southerly gales we decided to take a chance on a day walk up Mt Holdsworth. Bec has not been walking in the Tararuas yet - so this is one of the nicest day walks as the track is in good shape and not too steep/muddy/rocky/rooty. It has been quite cold lately, so we were all dressed and prepared for bitter cold and wet. As it turned out, we got sweaty as it was a bit muggy on our ascent.

Aaron, Helen and Bec at Rocky lookout - with Mt Holdsworth behind (under the clouds)

As we got up to Powell Hut, at the tree line, we started to see patches of snow. After lunch at the hut we headed up to the top of Mt Holdsworth and there was a lot more snow, and the temperature definitely dropped a couple of degrees. It was, however, surprisingly calm, cloudy - with no views to speak of, but the sun did try to break through a couple of times.

Near the summit

On the edge

Mount Holdsworth summit trig and the sun (well sort of)

We got back to the car park at 5pm, a little tired and sore. The walk is about 17 km and over 1000 m of ascent/descent. We had a nice dinner in Upper Hutt on the way home - it was great to get out of the house and do something... needless to say we will spend the rest of the weekend recovering.