Arnold River Ramblings http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs Living the good life on New Zealand's West Coast Sun, 30 Apr 2017 09:48:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 Saving a Hydrangea http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/saving-a-hydrangea/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/saving-a-hydrangea/#respond Sun, 30 Apr 2017 09:48:06 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=3016 This was the first hydrangea we planted. Subsequently we planted flaxes and some trees sowed themselves nearby. The hydrangea had been swallowed up and had almost disappeared. I was reminded of it every week or so when  I emptied the … Continue reading ]]>

Happy in its new home

This was the first hydrangea we planted. Subsequently we planted flaxes and some trees sowed themselves nearby.

Camouflaged by flaxes and trees

The hydrangea had been swallowed up and had almost disappeared. I was reminded of it every week or so when  I emptied the compost. Finally, last week, I decided it was now or never to rescue the scraggly shrub.

On its way

The little ride-on mower trailer comes in handy for all sorts of jobs. This load contained a bag of compost, a planting spade, fork, fertilizer, 1.3m crowbar, knee pads and other tools as well as the shrub soaking in a bucket of water.

Prunings

I wasn’t able to dig the plant up without damaging the roots so about 80% of the top had to go.

Resting on a bale of pea straw

The hole was dug and the plant was just about ready to go in.

Stones come with the territory around here

Because the little shrub needed some TLC, I dug a large hole and removed the stones now piled up on the right. Over a half bag of compost (20+ liters) filled the void.

Ready to grow

All tucked up under pea straw, the hydrangea is ready to rest up over winter and start growing in the spring.

 

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Red Roses for Cliff on our Anniversary http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/red-roses-for-cliff-on-our-anniversary/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/red-roses-for-cliff-on-our-anniversary/#respond Sat, 29 Apr 2017 09:14:59 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=3009 April 24 would have been our 27th anniversary. We decided to get get married the day before Anzac Day so we’d always have a day off the next day. Once we retired every day was a holiday but the date … Continue reading ]]>

Red roses for Cliff

April 24 would have been our 27th anniversary. We decided to get get married the day before Anzac Day so we’d always have a day off the next day. Once we retired every day was a holiday but the date made it easy to remember.

Because of a long spell of bad weather over the whole country I was lucky to get the last six red roses in Greymouth. A special on red roses at the supermarket had been advertised before Anzac Day but was withdrawn due to no flowers available. Cliff’s roses came from Courtyard Florist, a small recently opened shop in Greymouth.

Flowers from Cliff

Cliff loved surprising me with flowers. When we had TypeShop he would often go out on an errand and return with a bouquet. He’d get them for occasions or just because he walked by a florist.

Cliff’s flowers change weekly now

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Memorial Tree for Cliff http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/memorial-tree-for-cliff/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/memorial-tree-for-cliff/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 07:44:25 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=3000 Our good friends Patty and Alex, who live in Italy, wanted to give me a tree to honor Cliff’s memory. Patty spoke to the owner of our local nursery and decided a Japanese maple would be a nice choice. They … Continue reading ]]>

Cliff’s beautiful tree—planted on his birthday.

Our good friends Patty and Alex, who live in Italy, wanted to give me a tree to honor Cliff’s memory. Patty spoke to the owner of our local nursery and decided a Japanese maple would be a nice choice. They have a beautiful shape and Cliff loved the color.

Clare meets Cliff’s tree in December

Two cards from Patty and Alex

Because December is summer here, it was the wrong time of year to plant a tree. It stayed at the nursery until mid March when the weather is better for planting.

The spindly looking things jutting out from the tree are new branches with bud ready for spring.

Digging a hole

This isn’t actually where the tree was to go but it shows what we are up against when digging a hole for any reason. This stone is about 1.5 times the size of a rugby ball. The crowbar, essential for breaking up soil and stones around here, is in the background. There were plenty of stones in the maple tree’s hole ranging from large grapefruit size on down.

My view from inside the house

Japanese maples are hardy but don’t like wind which is a problem around here especially summertime in the afternoon when the wind roars up the valley from the sea. This spot was chosen because it is sheltered from that westerly wind by the house and from the easterly wind by the shed and shrubs. I think the tree will be very happy there.

Thank you Patty and Alex for a wonderful gift.

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Cliff’s Birthday—March 23 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/cliffs-birthday-march-23/ Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:47:51 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2986 Cliff always loved his birthday. He used to say that March was the best month because it was when he was born. August was the second best month—you can guess why. We both hoped he would have been able to … Continue reading ]]>

Getting right into his birthday cake.

Cliff always loved his birthday. He used to say that March was the best month because it was when he was born. August was the second best month—you can guess why.

We both hoped he would have been able to celebrate this, his 74th birthday, but sadly it was not meant to be.

The simple, temporary, white cross.

Cliff wasn’t even around to celebrate Christmas last year. He was buried on December 12.

December 23, 2016

However, he did get an early Christmas present of a drone. He used it quite a few times over our property at Arnold Acres and really loved flying it.

This cemetery shot was taken on the drive back from Hokitika after I picked up my sister Jane from the airport. She is at the back left and I’m right behind Cliff’s grave with the small white cross.

The permanent headstone, with room for my name.

It wasn’t easy, but I wasted no time in picking out a permanent headstone. Polished black stone might seem unusual but because of the West Coast’s high rainfall, moss would grow on natural stone and this black stone is the hardest, most durable available here. Most have gold writing but I thought that would be too garish for Cliff.

Fresh flowers for Cliff’s birthday

I take Cliff flowers every week but today was special so he got all new flowers, some from our garden—the orange dahlias and sprigs of rosemary which are hidden in this photo but will last, some from a new florist in Greymouth “Courtyard Florist”. These are the gerberas and dark red leucadendrons in the back. I’ve planted a leucadendron and will plant more cutting flowers in the future.

A beautiful spot.

Gladstone Memorial Park is the most beautiful cemetery I’ve seen and it is only about a half hour drive. The Tasman Sea is on one side and beautiful native bush (forest) is on the other. Peaceful and well kept, still, it is hard to believe that Cliff’s body rests there—far, far too soon.

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New Flag http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/new-flag/ Fri, 11 Nov 2016 01:55:44 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2979 2016-11-08-08_flag7The strong New Zealand sun has been fading our flag ever since we erected our flagpole in September of 2015. Last month we sent away to The Flag Shop Ltd for a replacement. In fact, we bought two just to … Continue reading ]]> 2016-11-08-08_flag7

Spot the difference.

The strong New Zealand sun has been fading our flag ever since we erected our flagpole in September of 2015. Last month we sent away to The Flag Shop Ltd for a replacement. In fact, we bought two just to be prepared to change it in another year or so.

Raising the new flag.

Raising the new flag.

We were lucky to have a sunny afternoon when we changed the flags. The old one will go to our local Vinnies op shop where someone will be glad to pick it up for a dollar or two.

Ready for another year.

Ready for another year.

For the first six months or so we raised the flag every morning and took it down in the late afternoon. This year it started to rain in May and barely stopped until August. It isn’t much fun to have a flag ceremony in the rain so we left it in the shed. Now we leave it out all the time, it’s the sun that fades it, not moonglow.

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Roasted Garlic Cloves http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/roasted-garlic-cloves/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/roasted-garlic-cloves/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 09:00:56 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2965 Almost ready to eatIt’s time to plant garlic. Every year we select the biggest garlic cloves from last year’s crop to try to improve our yield. We break up the biggest bulbs and select the fattest cloves. That leaves a lot of cloves … Continue reading ]]> Almost ready to eat

Almost ready to eat

It’s time to plant garlic. Every year we select the biggest garlic cloves from last year’s crop to try to improve our yield. We break up the biggest bulbs and select the fattest cloves. That leaves a lot of cloves that don’t measure up. For several weeks before we want to plant we enjoy roasted garlic cloves with a steak or piece of salmon.

Here’s how we do it.

2016-06-26-16.02.51Select the reject cloves and chop a little off of the root end. After getting tired of odd tasting oranges, we now have a special cutting board for garlic and onions.

2016-06-26-16.02.59The excess papery garlic skins are placed on a paper towel to make clean up easier.

2016-06-26-16.03.50Then the cloves, with their inner skins still attached, are put on a generous sheet of aluminum foil.

2016-06-26-16.04.35Drizzle a teaspoon or two of olive oil over the garlic.

2016-06-26-16.06.24Toss the oil and garlic with your hands until well coated (good for your hands too!).

2016-06-26-16.07.03Fold up the foil and place the packet in a baking tray in case it leaks. Cook at 180°C (roughly 350°F) for about 20–25 minutes or 200°C (400°F) for a little less.  If you don’t want to heat up your oven for this, a benchtop oven works well.

Almost ready to eat

Almost ready to eat

Open the foil packet and let cool for about five minutes—the garlic is hot after being baked.

Squeeze out each clove and put on a serving dish or directly on plates.

2016-06-26-18.35.27The end result—the extra caramelized parts are from being cooked at a higher temperature than usual and added to the already great taste.

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Fresh Cranberries http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/fresh-cranberries/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/fresh-cranberries/#comments Sun, 26 Jun 2016 08:51:55 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2953 West Coast cranberriesUntil a few years ago fresh cranberries were almost impossible to buy in New Zealand. That changed when Wild Ruby Cranberries planted their first crop in 2007. Even so, it was a pretty good secret until recently. Harvesting is weather … Continue reading ]]> West Coast cranberries

West Coast cranberries

Until a few years ago fresh cranberries were almost impossible to buy in New Zealand. That changed when Wild Ruby Cranberries planted their first crop in 2007. Even so, it was a pretty good secret until recently. Harvesting is weather dependent and once harvested they sell out fairly quickly.

One day recently we snapped up a small punnet of fresh cranberries at our local New World grocery store. The first thing we did was eat one—one only, not a handful. Their taste is described as bitter, tart or sour—and they are. They are also rather dry, almost hollow in the middle with tiny little seeds. Not many people would like to eat fresh cranberries but they shine when added to baked goods. We were lucky to buy almost the last five kilograms of  Wild Ruby’s 2016 crop.

Cranberries have about 4% sugar. Craisins are very popular but they have approximately 70% added sugar. Reduced sugar Craisins have about 32% added sugar.

 

Ready for chopping

Ready for chopping

Cranberries are almost perfectly round and about 20mm in diameter. They are too big to use whole but chopping them is like trying to chop gum balls. Our first attempt had them rolling everywhere—we found them days later in the oddest places.

Inside a cranberry

Inside a cranberry

This shows a cranberry’s cavity and tiny seeds.

Chopped in a food processor

Chopped in a food processor

Our second attempt at chopping them was in a food processor. That’s supposed to work well but ours were frozen and we probably put too many in at once. Some were barely touched and others were chopped into tiny pieces.

We decided that the best tactic is to cut each one in half by hand.

Cranberry pancakes

Cranberry pancakes

We weren’t going to let the oddly chopped cranberries go to waste—we added them to our pancakes.

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

After cooking you’d hardly believe the cranberries were sour to start with. They added a refreshing tart but not bitter taste to the pancakes.

These are our famous 1/4 cup mini pancakes. Smaller pancakes mean we can have more!

Cranberry, pumpkin, chocolate chunk muffins

Cranberry, pumpkin, chocolate chunk muffins

This recipe started out as pumpkin, chocolate chunk muffins. We couldn’t resist added some fresh cranberries to the mix for this batch.

Cranberry, pumpkin, chocolate chunk muffins

1  3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup cocoa powder (optional)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon molasses, golden syrup or treacle (optional)
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup pumpkin purée

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF) Position rack in center of oven. Grease two six-hole muffin pans with cooking spray.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cocoa powder (if using) together in large mixing bowl. Stir in cranberries.
3. Combine eggs, sugar, water, oil, molasses or syrup in a separate bowl. Whisk to blend. Stir in the pumpkin purée,  it’s okay if it is a little lumpy.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until well blended. Do not over beat.
5. Scoop batter into muffin pans, bake for 22–25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
6. Cool in pans for a few minutes, remove and cool completely on racks before serving or wrapping for storage. These muffins freeze well but are always best after cooling on the day they are baked.

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Aoraki/Mount Cook http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/aorakimount-cook/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/aorakimount-cook/#comments Tue, 31 May 2016 08:54:21 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2916 Our lucky day.May was our rainiest month since living on the West Coast—672mm to be precise. Even the natives were sick of the rain. We gambled on the weather and drove to Mount Cook. On our second day even the mini snow … Continue reading ]]> Our lucky day.

Our lucky day.

May was our rainiest month since living on the West Coast—672mm to be precise. Even the natives were sick of the rain. We gambled on the weather and drove to Mount Cook. On our second day even the mini snow man enjoyed the sunshine.

Record of May’s rain from Cliff’s program.

A visual record of May’s rain from Cliff’s rain gauge program.

You can see, we’ve had a lot of rain! In fact, it was the most in a month since some time in the 19th century. Each bar can reach to 150mm but we really hope we never see that.

You can’t get there from here.

You can’t get there from here.

Well, actually, you can but not in a direct route. The shortest distance by road from our house (top left) to Mount Cook is 497 kilometers of winding road. We could drive straight down the coast (that road is fairly windy too) to Bruce Bay, a distance of only 262 k, but there is a major snag. You can’t get to Mount Cook from the West Coast. There’s a little problem of New Zealand’s tallest mountain range in between. A tunnel would be nice.

Mount Cook, early in the morning.

Mount Cook, with a hint of morning sun.

I’ve lived in New Zealand for 30 years and Cliff for twice as long. This was our first visit to Mount Cook although we’ve seen it from the other end of Lake Pukaki a few times. It’s 50 kilometers on State Highway 80 to Mount Cook Village.

The foot of a mountain close by.

This part of the Mount Cook range seemed to spring up fully formed.

We could almost touch the mountain across from our hotel room at 760 meters elevation.

A walk before breakfast.

Working up an appetite for breakfast.

The weather was cold and rainy with a few snow flurries on our first night—just enough snow to put a pleasant coating on everything the next morning.

Another picturesque view.

Another picturesque view. Everything looks magic with a light dusting of snow.

On the Governors Bush Walk in Mount Cook Village.

On the Governors Bush Walk in Mount Cook Village.

The Hermitage at Mount Cook.

The Hermitage at Mount Cook.

The original Hermitage dated back to 1884. This is not it—the original was a 12-bed “cob” building. This one is the third incarnation built in 1958, added on to several times and is now a 217-room combined hotel, motel and chalet complex.

For the past few years The Hermitage has advertised a winter special. We’ve thought about it before but the long drive put us off a little. This year we decided to go and picked the weather forecast which, for once, was accurate. The Hermitage is full of bus tours in the summer and shoulder seasons but not in winter which accounts for their yearly specials.

Mt Tasman

Mt Tasman.

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park has the tallest mountains and biggest glaciers in New Zealand. The glaciers cover 40 per cent of the park and there are 19 peaks over 3,000 meters high. Mt Tasman is the second biggest at 3,497 meters.

A bridge on the hooker Valley Track.

A swing bridge on the Hooker Valley Track.

There are three swing bridges on the Hooker Valley Track which leads to Hooker Lake at the base of Hooker Glacier.

It’s not easy to keep the tracks in good order.

It’s not easy to keep the tracks in good order.

This helicopter was likely delivering shingle or some other track maintenance material.

Another bridge …

Another bridge …

… or maybe the same one from a different angle. Like the mountains, swing bridges are photogenic.

Clare on the bridge.

Clare on the bridge.

In summer you’d probably never get a shot on this track without many other walkers — a good reason to go in the winter.

Mount Cook

Mount Cook.

The weather is changing all the time and the mountains look different around every bend.

So here’s another one!

So here’s another view!

Stocking Stream day shelter

Stocking Stream day shelter.

This rustic shelter is about 2/3 of the way up to Hooker Lake. If the weather had turned we’d have been glad to see it for more than just a photo op.

Clouds moved in fast

Clouds moved in fast.

The birth of a scree slope.

The birth of a scree slope.

Scree slopes are a feature of South Island mountains. Broken rock gradually moves downwards, making it difficult for plants to grow on the scree. This is the first time we’ve seen one emerge from a big crack in a mountainside. There were some small waterfalls and creeks running down.

Another necessity courtesy of DOC.

Another necessity flown in courtesy of DOC.

When we first saw the helicopter we thought it might have been flying one of these porta-loos in or out for maintenance.

A short time later, another cloud formation.

A short time later, another cloud formation.

Mount Cook in the background.

Mount Cook in the background.

All along the track a young Japanese man was photographing his girlfriend, or maybe his wife. At another bridge I asked if I could take a picture of both of them. They reciprocated for this shot.

Hooker Glacier behind Hooker Lake.

Hooker Glacier behind Hooker Lake (the gunmetal gray is the lake in the foreground).

Notice the dirty turquoise ice of Hooker Glacier as it joins Hooker Lake. This glacier is the source of the Hooker River which flows into Lake Pukaki. It is 11 kilometers in length (roughly 6–7 miles) .

The nearby Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s longest at 27 kilometers (17 miles) in length. It is as much as 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) wide and 600 meters (2,000 feet) thick.

Icebergs float down the lake.

Mini icebergs float down the lake.

To see much bigger icebergs up close it’s possible to take a boat trip on the Tasman Glacier terminal lake. We were happy to see some smaller ones from the shore.

A cairn mimics the mountain.

A cairn mimics the mountain.

In New Zealand, where there are small stones or rocks, there are cairns. This was the most photogenic one around.

Lake Pukaki in the distance.

Lake Pukaki in the distance.

The turquoise glacial lake appeared a few times on the trip back down to the village.

One final view, on the drive home.

One final view, on the drive home.

Maybe the best image was the last, taken from State Highway 80 somewhere on the drive down Lake Pukaki. With Mount Cook, there is no such thing as thinking you’ll get a shot around the next bend. By the time we turned north on State Highway 8 the mountain had completely disappeared.

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Make your own foaming soap refill http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/make-your-own-foaming-soap-refill/ Sat, 30 Apr 2016 08:23:58 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2900 Ready to use home made foaming soapFoaming soap dispensers work by mixing air and a thin liquid soap as the pump is depressed. Refills can be purchased and the manufacturers want us to think the correct brand of refill is essential to the pump dispenser continuing … Continue reading ]]> Ready to use home made foaming soap

Ready to use home made foaming soap

Foaming soap dispensers work by mixing air and a thin liquid soap as the pump is depressed. Refills can be purchased and the manufacturers want us to think the correct brand of refill is essential to the pump dispenser continuing to work. This is untrue. Any thin liquid soap will work—all you have to do is take a regular liquid soap and dilute it to about one part soap to three parts water.

It’s a bit fiddly to try to mix a new batch in the actual pump bottle. Follow these easy instructions to make up a large refill bottle of foaming hand soap which will last and last.

A good size bottle

A good size bottle

An empty vinegar bottle is 750ml in New Zealand which was just about the perfect size. A liter bottle would be even better.

Remove the label.

Fill 3/4 with water

Fill 3/4 with water

This bottle has convenient rings which divide it into eight parts but exact measurements are not necessary. As long as the refill has about one part liquid soap to three parts water it will work. I drew a black line with a marker to show the 3/4 mark.

Almost any soap will do

Almost any soap will do

Almost any soap will work. I wanted to use my pump in the kitchen so I selected a house brand dish washing liquid. You can use almost any pump soap but make sure it doesn’t have any grit or lumps in it such as are found in exfoliating soaps. Most shower gels will work too.

Slowly pour the liquid soap into the bottle that has already been filled 3/4 with water. If you pour the liquid soap in fast the mixture will foam up but will settle down after a while. Gently turn the bottle end over end a few times and it is ready.

The refill bottle

The refill bottle

Name your refill

Name your refill

I just used a marker to write the name on the bottle. Meths removes marker ink if you want to change the name.

The empty pump bottle

The empty pump bottle waiting to be refilled

Now that you have a refill bottle of thinned down liquid soap, fill the empty pump bottle to just below the mixing chamber near the top.

You can buy empty pump bottles for foaming soap.

Ready to use

Ready to use

Your refilled bottle will work just as well as the brand name refills and you can make your foaming pump soap out of your favorite liquid soap.

 

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Spinach and Chicken Sandwich http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/spinach-and-chicken-sandwich/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 06:51:04 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2894 Spinach and Chicken Sandwich We’ve almost stopped using lettuce, and even use spinach on our open face sandwiches. This is a typical Tuesday lunch: wholegrain bread, light mayonnaise, shredded chicken and baby spinach leaves sprinkled on top. To eat the sandwiches we just try … Continue reading ]]> Spinach and Chicken Sandwich

Spinach and Chicken Sandwich

We’ve almost stopped using lettuce, and even use spinach on our open face sandwiches.

This is a typical Tuesday lunch: wholegrain bread, light mayonnaise, shredded chicken and baby spinach leaves sprinkled on top. To eat the sandwiches we just try to grab enough spinach leaves to hold everything together.

The tomatoes are from our garden but not the carrots or the spinach. More carrots are on the way but they are slow growing.

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