Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Two Knitting Projects, plus Tripping Around

Why stick with one knitting project when you can have two going at the same time?  Actually, I’ve got a third, but I haven't started that one yet, can’t be too greedy, can I.  I've been knitting away on my second project from time to time for a change in pace.  This one is a little boy’s baby/toddler jumper, using up some spare wool I had at home.  Because it is small,  I’m knitting the back and front at the same time.  I’m almost at the front neck shaping so I’ll work on them separately from now on.  Robin did ask me why I was knitting these two colours together.  The answer, because I want to use up the odds and ends of my wool.


Little boy’s jumper

We are still enjoying our South Island holiday, stopping here and there for a few nights, and having a good look around.  Moving on to Twizel, we stopped at another “photo stop” sign overlooking Lake Pukaki.  These stops showcase some amazing views, so much better to stop safely for photos in an off road area, rather than try to get a shot out of a moving vehicle.   This one had a huge car park, plenty of room for those towing caravans, and there were cars, campers and another caravan ahead of us.  Just look at that glorious view, with Mt Cook (Aorangi the cloud piercer) looking back at us across the lake.


View across Lake Pukaki

In the afternoon we stopped at High Country Salmon café for a drink, what a busy place, heaving with visitors.  Many of them were purchasing fish food to feed the salmon in the pools, this was a real favourite with children.   After my coffee I helped out the local economy  and bought some salmon from the fish shop to take back to the caravan.  Have I mentioned just how much I love both fresh and smoked salmon?


High Country Salmon

The next morning we packed a picnic lunch and set off to see the clay cliffs near Omarama,  up a long dusty drive on  an unsealed road to reach the car park.   The cliffs are on private land  protected under QE2 Covenant, and there is a charge of $5 per car to go in the honesty box as you proceed through the gate.  The information board explains that these eroded cliffs are formed by the active Osler fault line which continually exposes the clay and gravel cliffs.  Wind and rain has eroded into the canyon walls, producing gravel debris which has been washed out during flash floods.  The debris has accumulated in alluvial fans that slope down to the Ahuriri River.


The clay cliffs of Omarama

It was a stinking hot day, and crowds of people were slapping on sunscreen, hats, and setting off up the track.  After a good look around, and taking some pictures, we returned to the car with the windows wound down, and ate our picnic lunch.  But not before we asked one of the friendly visitors to take our photo for us in front of the info board.  I’m sure I heard him mention “how cute” –  we are a bit old for cute, I would have thought!


In front of the clay cliffs

We were reasonably close to the settlement of Omarama so decided to drive though and check it out.    This place seems to be thriving, the Wrinkly Rams café was full of customers, they offer a Merino sheep shearing show as well, and we noticed plenty of other cafes and pubs doing very well too.    No wonder the sign for Omarama features a Merino ram.  Merino wool is a bit pricy but wonderful to knit with, and is used in high end knitwear.


Omarama town sign

The next day took us up and over the Lindis Pass which links the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago, crossing  a saddle between the valleys of the Lindis and Ahuriri Rivers at an altitude of 971m.  Stopping at this sign at the top, we were now in Central Otago. 


At the top of the pass

At Cromwell I just had to take a photo of the famous fruit sign, the huge  1.7 tonne apple, pear, nectarine and apricot landmark, designed by Otto Muller and completed in November 1989.    Cromwell  has a well-earned reputation as the fruit bowl of New Zealand. The ideal climate makes  Cromwell’s cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums  sought-after by high-end export markets, supermarkets, and visitors who call in to buy from the local growers. As we did, buying a box of delicious peaches, and a bag of new seasons apples, then queuing up with other eager customers to buy  a “real fruit” ice-cream.    Absolutely delicious – there is nothing better than an ice-cream on a hot sunny day!


Giant fruit sculpture in Cromwell

We had a big bag of laundry to do too, so off we went to find the local laundromat.  Round and round and round it went, al last it was done.  Holiday or not, some chores still need attending to.


Always plenty of this to do

Time to move on again the next morning, to head down to Lumsden, starting with a drive through the steep and  winding Kawerau Gorge.   There is a new bridge across the gorge now, built in 1963, but the old historic 1880 bridge has found a new life when   the bridge became the site of the world's first commercial bungy jump. A.J. Hackett set up operation on the bridge in 1988, with people testing their limits by leaping from the equivalent of a 10-storey building held safe by just a giant elastic band around their ankles. No, not us, we are not that crazy!

We drove alongside beautiful Lake Wakatipu for some time – the name means “place where the demon lies”.  According to Maori legend the curiously shaped lake was created when a giant demon captured the daughter of a Maori chief and took her to his home in the mountains.  After struggling against a strong north-easterly wind, the demon lay down with his head near Glenorchy, his knees at Queenstown, and his feet at Kingston.  The girl’s lover crept up to sleeping demon and set it on fire, and its body burnt deep into the earth.  All that remained was the beating heart within a gigantic trench which gradually filled with water to form an enormous lake in the shape of the demon.  We pulled off the road at a photo stop to capture some snaps of this beautiful lake.


Lake Wakatipu

Lumsden, our stop for the night, used to be a major railway junction with lines departing to all four points of the compass. Sadly those  days are long gone now.  The  railway station is now preserved as a tourist information centre, and there are some heritage trains on display.  Lumsden welcomes freedom campers and the  railway station offers free parking for caravans and motor homes, sinks available for dish washing, toilets, fresh water and a dump station.


Who doesn't love an old train

Set up in the former station waiting room was “Five Finger Crafts”, a cooperative craft shop stacked full of all sorts of interesting things. Yarn, knitted hats, scarves and socks,  crochet, baby dresses and bibs, woodwork and even painted stones!  I purchased some home made jam, and hand made chocolates.


Craft shop at the station

Poor Gemma got into a bit of strife at the cap.  She was minding her own business, happily outside on her lead, underneath the caravan in thee shade, when I heard a lot of hissing and growling going on.  There are two cats running loose from the bus next door who obviously got close and upset her, so I gathered her up and took her inside our van.  According to the rules,cats as well as dogs must be on leads outside.  It took Gemma a while to settle down, and I was upset that she couldn't enjoy the sunshine in peace outdoors, because others don't abide by the rules.


Robin comforting Gemma

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Mountains, Lakes, and a Sheep Rustler

There is plenty to see on our South Island trip, and we are slowly moving on.  The scenery down here in the South Island can only be described as majestic, with the Southern Alps thrusting up like a backbone, down the length of this island.  So what have we been doing?  We spent a couple of  days in Fairlie, home to the famous Fairlie pies.  Yes I know, our holiday does seem to focus a lot on food.  But that’s half the fun of being on holiday, isn’t it.


We knew the pies were popular but I couldn't believe my eyes.  Here it was, mid afternoon on a Sunday, and queues of people went waiting to get into this shop and buy their pies.   Peeping inside the door and there must have been another 30 queuing inside the shop.  Opening  as a tiny family business in 2010, this business has grown to be one of the best known and most awarded pie-shops in the country – Fairlie Bakehouse.  After years of working in high-end hospitality, trained chef and owner Franz Lieber set out to create a retirement job for himself. He never imagined he’d be producing around 2,500 pies a day and end up working with a team of fifty.  We bought four pies to take away the following morning, one each for lunch, and two to freeze for a future meal.


The famous Fairlie Pies

Fairlie is part of the Mackenzie District, named after Scotsman James Mackenzie, who came to New Zealand seeking a better life in the 1850. After working as a shepherd, he took up a lease of land in Southland, and the lease required him to stock the land with sheep.  James Mackenzie used his knowledge of a mountain pass known only to the local Maoris to spirit away 1000 sheep in the dead of night from a station near Timaru.  Soon caught, he managed to escape and his theft took on a degree of notoriety because he had stolen the sheep from one of the wealthiest settler families in Canterbury.  He was finally caught, convicted and sentenced, recommended for a pardon, and sailed away from New Zealand shores.  His ability with his dogs was highly admired and the statue in town pays tribute to James Mackenzie and his dogs who pulled off the daring sheep rustling over the mountain pass.  Most view him as a folk hero, rather than a dastardly sheep thief.


James Mackenzie and his sheepdog

The following day our first stop on the journey was the quaint little settlement of Burkes Pass, named after Michael John Burke, who discovered the passageway leading into the Mackenzie Country in 1855. This was an alternative route to the Mackenzie Pass which  James Mackenzie, had used to take his sheep into the Otago goldfields.

The historic village of Burkes Pass is home to Three Creeks Shop, an eclectic collection of old buildings, old cars, memorabilia everywhere, and a tiny coffee cart.   Everyone seems to break their journey here, and its easy to seem why.  The place looks so fascinating, just like stepping back in time.  We had a good look around at the interesting old buildings,  inside the general store, and bought a coffee each to go. 


Interesting old shops at Burkes Pass

Lake Tekapo was our stop for the next two nights, in a camp surrounded by pine trees and on the edge of the lake.  A very pretty place indeed.


Staying at Lake Tekapo

Gemma was very interested in the duck family waddling around outside.  Why oh why isn't she allowed outside to chase them, she is wondering?


Look at those big birdies, Mum

There is nothing prettier than the historic Church of the Good Shepherd on the lake side, built of stone and oak in 1935.  Sadly the church is not now open to visitors, which is a shame, but the grounds are open.  There was a wedding taking place, such a picturesque place to get married.


Church of the Good Shepherd

This is a lovely view from the lake shore by the church, looking out to Mt Cook.  When visitors were allowed inside the church, this is the view which would be framed by the church window, making such a pretty picture.


Mt Cook, view over Lake Tekapo

With all this moving around, and sightseeing, I haven't been doing too much handwork.. A little on my stitchery project, but not enough for a photo.  My navy knitting is slowly growing I’m pleased to say. Not too bad, as I had to undo it all recently.  With hot days, and such beautiful scenery out of the car windows as we drive along, I haven't been doing a lot of knitting in the car.   Every little bit helps, doesn't it.


It’s growing slowly

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Moving Around and Stitching Time

Where have we been since we last chatted?  Moving on from Christchurch we traveled south to Ashburton, a nice straight drive down SH1, and we drove over the longest bridge in New Zealand at 1.7km over the Rakaia River, another braided river.  What is a braided river, you may be wondering? A braided river consists of a network of multiple shallow channels that diverge and rejoin around  braid bars.  This gives the river a resemblance to the interweaved strands of a braid.  This part of New Zealand, Canterbury,  contains 60% of the braided  river habitat in New Zealand.


Driving over NZs longest bridge

Just over the bridge is the Rakaia Salmon statue on the side of the road, the icon of the small town. The  giant salmon statue stands 12m high and symbolizes  the good fishing in the Rakaia River.


The giant salmon of Rakaia

While in Ashburton we decided to go on an adventure, and explore the Rakai Gorge.  We made a picnic lunch, filled the thermos, and made sure we took along the sun screen and insect repellant too.


Ready for a picnic

Originally we had thought we hadn't been this way, but when the scenery started to look familiar we remembered we had done this trip way back in 2012.   Stopping at the lookout gave us wonderful views of the river, and since we were last here, a beautifully carved Maori Pou had been erected.  This tells the story of the Taniwha of Raikaia.  According to Maori legend a taniwha river monster lives in the Rakaia Gorge.  His efforts to block the north west wind led to the narrowing of the river, when he brought down huge stones and boulders to halt the progress of the north west demon and imprison him


Maori Pou

Then we returned to the Rakaia River for lunch, driving down onto the river bank to enjoy the wonderful views and people watch.  Some were frollicking in the river on their boards, others were walking along, still more were putting their boats in the river and departing with a hiss and a roar.  The bank across the river had rows of  different colours laid down,  always interesting to consider how these occurred. 


In the Rakaia Gorge

On the way back we stopped off at Methven for a look around and an ice-cream.  This is an interesting place as it is on the edge of the Mount Hutt Ski Field, so in the winter this is very busy indeed.  It was such a hot day we had to eat our ice-creams quickly to beat the melt efect!


Stopping for an ice-cream

Then we moved on to Geraldine, to the  Peski Pop (park over property) which is a favourite of ours.  We had been in contact the previous day to ensure there was room for us, asked for a non power site, and had been given a site number.  And there it was, with our name, an envelope for the fees, and an information sheet.  The grounds are beautiful in this Pop, graceful sweeping lawns, flower gardens and mature trees full of happy tweeting birds.  And best of all, there is a washing machine available, so I certainly made good use of that.


Staying at Geraldine

It was so nice sitting out under the shady awing, in the late afternoon and early evening. relaxing with a cool drink to hand, while finishing off another of my small Noah’s Ark stitcheries.  All the while the many birds were chirping away in the trees. 


Finished the Kangaroos

No visit to Geraldine is complete without stopping at Barkers, which is a big part of this small town.  Starting off as sheep farmers, for over 50 years the Barker family went on to process fruit  into an array of jams, preserves and drinks.  But the shop wasn’t where we remembered.  Several years previously, the company purchased the former St Mary’s Church Vicarage on the main Geraldine road, a category two listed heritage building, and transformed into boutique accommodation.  And adjacent to this is the Barker’s new Foodstore and Eatery.  First we went to the store, had a few tastings and purchased several items to take away.  Then we sat in the lovely airy café and had a drink each, a milkshake for him, and a coffee for me.  Believe it or not, it was so hot and muggy we really didn't feel like eating anything!


Barkers of Geraldine

I also visited the cheese shop and after sampling a few tastings, came away with several delicious fancy cheeses.  These will be nice with some crackers for afternoon tea.  Next was a visit to the local Quilt Shop, the Pin Tin.  Such a lovely shop, full to the brim with fabrics, knitting wool, and a large selection of panels.  I was after some new stitchery designs, but sadly the owner didn't seem to stock any of these, so I came away empty handed.  A shame really, as I do like to support quilt shops when I travel, but didn't want to buy something I didn't really need, just because I feel guilty.


The Pin Tin of Geraldine

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Christchurch - Earthquake City

We have moved on to Christchurch, mainly to catch up with my son Michael, and also to see what changes had been made since our last time here in 2018, when the city was still in recovery mode.  On February 2011, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake caused severe damage in Christchurch and Lyttleton, killing 185 people and injuring several thousand.  This earthquake occurred on a shallow fault line close to the city, and the shaking was particularly destructive.  The earthquake brought down many buildings damaged in the previous earthquake in September, especially older brick and mortar buildings,  and two-thirds of the buildings in the central business district were subsequently demolished.  Many residential properties were so badly damaged that they were levelled, and roads and water pipes also suffered substantial damage.   The Anglican Christchurch Cathedral in the centre of the city was another casualty, and after years of wrangling, the work has only just begun on the repairs.


Work has finally begun on the Christchurch Cathedral

We arranged to meet up with my son Michael for lunch  at the interesting café/restaurant/wedding venue, The Sign of the Takahe, which I had heard about.  It was so nice to see him again, and as you can imagine, there was plenty to chat about. He mentioned he can’t believe he will be turning 60 in another couple of years.  To be truthful, I can hardly believe I’ll be turning 80 two months after  he turns 60!


It was interesting to find out about this building, which looks just like a small castle.  Built in the Gothic Revival style by Harry Ell, it is one of four historic rest houses constructed for those walking the scenic tracks in Port Hills.  With a beautiful medieval style interior built to impress, even a set of armour standing by, and lovely gardens, no wonder this building is much in demand as a wedding venue.  The other three buildings in this chain of rest houses are The Sign of the Kiwi, The Sign of the Bellbird, and the Sign of the Packhorse.



Sign of the Takahe building

As we had been  so impressed with the beautiful Sign of the Takahe building, we decided to visit another of the Harry Ell’s rest houses the following day.  This time, The Sign of the Kiwi, high up on Summit Road, now another café.  Up and up we drove, wondering if we would ever reach the summit.  We finally arrived, and  walked up the steps into another beautiful stone building – there were plenty of customers inside.  This café advertises “The best date scones in town” and the certainly were.


“Rest a Whyle”  inside the Rest House

The views up so high on Summit Road are amazing.  There were scores of crazy cyclists around, zipping down the road by the café, and then along the cycle tracks in the hills.  Some of these cyclists stop off at The Sign of the Kiwi Rest house for a cool drink, ice-cream, and comfort stop, so the vision of Harry Ell is alive and well.  That’s two Rest houses we have tracked down, perhaps we will try and find the other two next time we stay in Christchurch.


View from the top

I’ve been working on my knitting over the last couple of evenings since I had to unravel the back of the jacket I was working on.  Now I have finished the rib band and have just started on the stocking stitch, so that makes me happy.  That’s a good start.


Starting over

Another thing which makes me happy is that cherries are still available, and so much more reasonably priced than the ones I purchased just before Christmas.  I love cherries, Robin doesn't so I get to eat them all!  They seem like such a luxury item to me, and I usually have a small helping most days, yummy.


Cherries at lunch time

On our last day in Christchurch we spent time with Michael again.  On the way out to his home we drove over the Memorial Ave flyover  which features a four-legged arch, curving gracefully 27m above ground level, with its two main beams crossing directly above the carriageway.   The design symbolises the Southern Alps and the braided rivers of the Canterbury Plains. 


Interesting arch over the bridge

I had a little gift for Michael – he  is a very keen photographer and I thought this cushion was just right for him.  Did he like it?  I hope so, he said he did.


A gift for Michael

After a very pleasant afternoon together it was time to say our goodbyes and head back to camp.  But not before another obligatory photo.


Here we are again

Our time at Christchurch has come to an end.  I’m happy that we spent some time with Michael, and visited some new to us places.  Tomorrow we pack up and get on the road again, driving south to Ashburton.