Saturday, 31 December 2011

LaDeDa it's New Year

Happy New Year!!!

I hope you all had fabulous New Years eves. I spent mine covered in mud.

I went to a festival in Martinborough which is about an hour away from Wellington. I went with an American girl, Catherine, and her brother and boyfriend. We had an amazing night even if we did end up covered in mud.
A little bit muddy
Arriving in style at the festival
A good look, I think you will all agree.
 It is funny watching people at festivals, we are paying for the privilege to be herded round like cattle walk around in mud and spend a ridiculous amount of money on expensive drinks. I met some amazing people last night; chatting to random's is always funny. I few of highlights were: watching a man dance in a field of mud wearing a wet suit, seeing how many people would fall in the mood (I'm evil I know) and just generally watch happy(drunk) people dance like crazy in what can only be described as a giant mud bath. 
Catherine and I, not looking too muddy at this point.
Dancing in the mud wooooo.
Catherine and I with one of the random people we started chatting to.
I dropped my camera in the mud, woops the lens cap no longer opens fully.
Not quite as glamorous as Kate Moss, haha, but not too bad for 2am covered in mud
A creative way to wash the mud off, in a feeding trough.

Walking back through Wellington this morning at 11am in a pair of shorts muddy jacket and muddy gum boots (welly boots) certainly got me some funny looks.

I wish everyone a fabulous 2012 and hope all your dreams come true this year.Wow I'm getting soppy in my old age :)

Thanks for reading the last three months, come back in 2012 to see how i'm getting on.

Katie x.x

2011 what an amazing year.

2011 has been a year of amazing changes for me. So many times this year I have been out of my comfort zone and in doing so have had so many great adventures.  I found this app on facebook that allows you to use photos from throughout the year and create a collage.

From the top left- 1. Packing to come to New Zealand. 2.Hot water beach, New Zealand. 3. Saying goodbye in London. 4.One of many trips to scotland to see my niece and nephew. 
2nd row left. 5. Bristol friends. 6. Green man festival. 7. fun at the park with my brother and his family. 8. Berlin with Audrey and Earl. 
3rd row left - 9. Hong Kong, 10. Hong Kong. 11. The All Black win the rugby world cup. 12. New friends in wellington
4th row left - 13.Amazing hikes with Jimbo in the Peak District England. 14. Birthday camping in Wales 15. Summer job, Sidcot. 16. Breathtaking scenery New Zealand.

Lets hope 2012 will be just as fun.

Thanks for reading,

Katie.x.x.x

Friday, 30 December 2011

Goodnight Kiwi

I was just sat in my living room finishing up for the night and getting ready to go to bed when this animation came on TV. I thought it was really cute, it is by a TV chanel saying goodnight end of programing.




Goodnight everyone,

Katie .x.x.

Rain, Rain, Go away!

As you can tell from my title we are not having the most amazing weather here in New Zealand. Since the 27th we have had bad weather and today we have had none stop rain.
The rain has put a bit of a dampener on things as I have two weeks off work and had planed to go away and spend a relaxing two weeks at the beach whilst the hotel I work at is closed to functions. I decided not to go to the south Island as planned as who wants to spend time at the beach in the rain. And I am sure you are all getting as fed up of seeing my green raincoat on photos as I am.

Today's rain day was not too bad, I had a lazy morning reading a book. Followed by a trip to the TEPAPA museum in Wellington, a perfect place on a rainy day. I managed to catch up on drawing and also made some bread. Something I like to do every now and again. I find it relaxing, calming, it puts me at ease. Wherever I am in the world I can make a loaf of bread cover it in hot butter and feel happy :-)
Is this going to be me??
Now I have a slight problem with the rain for tomorrow night as tomorrow is New years and I am supposed to be going to a New Years Eve festival in a field in Martinborough which is about an hour away from Wellington. This will be great if the weather miraculously improves, if not eeeek HELP!!!!

This got me thinking what do you wear to New Years eve in the rain hmmmm.


.........or maybe I will look like this, :)




 Keep your fingers crossed for me that I won't look like a drowned rat.

Thanks for reading,

Katie, x.x.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas in New Zealand

Merry Christmas everybody, I hope you have all enjoyed the festive season.

I mentioned on my last post that a New Zealand Christmas is different to those back home. This year has been very odd for me I have not decorated a tree, I have not done any baking I only truly got into the Christmas mood on Christmas eve and that was because I kept up a tradition from back home of wrapping up presents and watching Christmas movies. I did this at work getting the tables ready for Christmas Lunch :)


A perfect summers Christmas Day.
Christmas Day Blue Sky
 I woke up on Christmas day with the sun blazing and the start of a 25 degree day, it was stunning. I popped my headphones in and headed into work listening to Christmas music along the way. Yup thats right I ended up working Christmas day this year, serving lunch to a 100 people. I have worked Christmas Day before in the UK back when I was at University so I did not mind too much. Plus I had no presents to open on Xmas morning so working helped me not dwell on this too much. Work went very quickly with everyone in festive spirits. I met some lovely people when serving who made the day extra special. The key highlight was an English family of mum and dad and two little girls who were truly such a happy family they could not help but put me in a happy festive mood. I had arranged a secret Santa of sorts with the staff during the week so once all the guests left we had a quick sit down over a glass of wine and opened our gifts which everyone did pretty well out of.
Christmas Day at the Wellesley

Cousin Gina with her husband Dave and daughters Emma and Laurel
After finishing work I went to join my cousin Gina and her family who had kindly invited me over for Christmas dinner. I had a great time at there house being able to relax and enjoy some delicious food and good company. Whilst at Gina's house I Skyped home which I found hard work. The internet connection was slow and there was too much noise, I think this upset my mum but hopefully she understood that it is hard to skype when it is like that. I also upset my mum a little because I had sent everyone a hamper for Christmas with thought out gifts inside but nothing had been sent to me, I did not expect anything but because I had sent them something I think it upset my mum.




Boxing day I spent at the beach enjoying yet more stunning weather followed by yummy home-made chicken burgers. A fun day.

So my conclusion after my first Christmas away from home. I prefer Christmas in England. My Christmas was lovely but not really Christmas for me. The fact that I worked so much before Christmas and on Christmas day perhaps did not see me enjoy a southern hemisphere Christmas as much as I might otherwise. I am now ready for summer and excited to enjoy this part of the year in New Zealand.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thanks for reading,
Katie, x.x.

Monday, 19 December 2011

It's Christmas......... honestly!

Courtney Place, Wellington. No traces of Christmas.

A store window, with a cute and fun Christmas display.


Christmas here has not had the normal build up that I am used to in England. The streets and shops don't have the same feel to them as back at home. I went out on a walk today on a mission to find Christmas and I found it very hard to find any traces of it at all. The fact that it is summer does not help this. As who wants fake snow and fir trees in their houses in the middle of summer.

When out on my walk it actually shocked me the lack of signs of christmas there was.  One of the main streets, Courtney Place, there was nothing no lights, no trees, no tinsel.  I actually only found one street that showed any signs of Christmas, Lambton Quay.  It had Wellington's Christmas tree and a department store had made an amaxing effort with their windows.  They had created santas work shop with sheep making the toys, cute.

Perhaps they get it right in New Zealand and focus on the important parts of Christmas. Spending it with people important to you, your family and friends. Its not about all the trimmings, I have thought in previous years that people seem to get caught up in buying people gifts they do not really need; getting into debt in the process.
Wellington's Christmas tree 7.45 pm notice the beautiful blue sky in the background.


Work colleagues at our Xmas party.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the week turns out. I wonder if they get more excited in the week before Christmas. I shall be working Christmas day which surprisingly I am not too bothered about. The people I work with are lovely and have started to become friends so it will be nice to be with them for a small part of the day. Yesterday was the staff Christmas Party at our managers house, here are a few photos of the people I work with.








 Thanks for reading, hope your all getting in the festive mood for christmas.

Katie, x.x.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas Cards



My Christmas card design
I have been busy finishing writing my Christmas Cards this afternoon. A little bit past the deadline for them being in England on time. (sorry anyone who gets a late one).


I sent some home-made ones over a week ago but had not had the time to make any more. So today I had to buy some cards. Sorry anyone that gets a store bought card.

In each card I also put a photo-montage of me over the last couple of months. It seems a very American thing to do, but I thought my family might appreciate seeing what I have been up to.
 
 
 

Christmas in New Zealand is bizarre, I think I am used to Christmas brightening up the long winter months.  The festive lights make the early dark nights and cold a little magical. Here it does not get dark till 9/10 so the lights don’t have the same effect.  Christmas trees seem odd in the middle of summer. Seeing pastel colours and summer clothes in shops contradicts the snowy scenes in shop windows.

It is my mission this Saturday to show you all  a summer Christmas, keep posted for the update.

Thankyou for reading,

Katie .x.x

Sunday, 11 December 2011

75 hrs

Awful photo, but me at work.
Sorry everyone for not posting this week I have had a mamouth 75 hr working week, I have been taking advatage of getting as many hours as possible before the work dries up over Christmas. 

I am finding the work easier now I have got used to being on my feet again for so long.  I don't seem to moan as much which is good. 

The people I am working with are lovely and I have been out with them a couple of times now.  Which is nice after being at work for hours, getting chance to unwind before it all starts again the next day :)




I will take some photos next week of the hotel I am working at. It is a lovely old building, very small and quaint.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Earthquake

Yesterday I felt my first earthquake. Not a huge one, but it was a weird feeling. I was sat on the toilet at the time, hehe. Not the best place to be caught when there is an earthquake but you can't really plan these things. The earthquake was 5.7 in magnitude I have been told this is not very big, it did not seem to bother the people I was serving at the wedding. My house mate told me after wards that glasses fell off tables and shelves at the bar he was at.
New Zealanders are taught from a very early age what to do in an earthquake, but for people like me from the UK and other non earth quake country’s its a little bit daunting. Fingers crossed Wellington/ New Zealand have no more, it's horrible to see what has happened to Christchurch. I have a horrible feeling that one will happen when I am walking through Mount Victoria tunnel and it will cave in on me. Sometimes I think my imagination is a little bit over active.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Katie's Paella

 

On my last night with Gretchen and Chris on my otago road trip. I made Paella as a thankyou for taking me on their trip. 

I first made this dish about three years ago. Since then it has been one of my favourite dishes to both make and eat. I love how a dish can bring back memories, this is certainly one of those dishes with a new memory to now attach to it.

Here is my recipe if anybody wants to give it a try.


Paella (For four people)

Ingredients
One chicken breast – bite sized pieces
One large Chorizo sausage or two small chorizo sausage – cut into chunks
Pancetta or 3 rashers of bacon
1 large onion- finely chopped
1 Red pepper – seeded and cut into large chunks
1 tsp of chilli flakes
2 Garlic cloves - crushed
Paella rice- one and a half cup
1tbsp of paprika
Half a cup of white wine
Juice of a fresh lemon
1 ½ pint of chicken stock
Pinch of Saffron
Handful of fresh thyme or 1 ½ tbsp of dried thyme
Four tomatoes, cut into chunks or one can of chopped tomatoes
10 mussels
10 cooked prawns
Frozen peas- two handfuls (I don't use)
   .............................................................................................
Step One Prepare all of your ingredients as stated above. 
Step Two- In a large pan/wok. Use one tbsp of olive oil, fry the chicken, chorizo and pancetta. Until crisp and brown.
Step Three – Remove the meat from the pan using a slotted spoon allowing the oil to remain in the pan, place in a bowl.
Step Four – Fry the onion, red pepper and chilli flakes in the oil remaining in the pan. For 8 to 10 min until soft and golden. Add garlic for final minute.
Step Five – Add paprika and paella to the pan stirring at all times until the paella rice is coated.
Step Six –    Add the white wine and stir till the wine has evaporated.
Step Seven – Add the chicken stock, lemmon juice, saffron and thyme bring to the boil in the pan and reduce heat.
Step Eight– Add the chicken, pancetta, chorizzo. Cook for 25mins over a low heat with a tight lid on the pan.
Step Nine – Add tomatoes, mussels, prawns, peas(if using) cook for a further 10 mins.

Serve with Salad.

Enjoy,
Katie

Friday, 25 November 2011

Otago Road Trip - Part two. Queenstown, Wanaka and Oamaru


Hey there, welcome back to the Otago Road Trip. I left part one in Gore getting ready to head to Queenstown. 
 
 Road trip route- 
  1. Dunedin - Mon 14th – Thur 17th November
  2. Gore – Fri 18th November
  3. Queenstown – Sat 19th November
  4. Wanaka Sun 20th – Tue 22nd November
  5. Oamaru Tue 22nd November

Incase your new to blogger, if you click on a photo that will enlage it. I take so many photos I don't have the space to put them all as large on here.
Saturday 19th November


Kingston flyer
We began the journey on Saturday aiming to meet the Kingston flyer on our way to Queenstown. The Kingston Flyer is a old steam train maintained and run on an old section of the track between Kinsgston and Fairlight a 14km trip. Chris (one of the people I was on the road trip with) is a bit of a train enthusiast, so Gretchen thought it would be a great opportunity for him to go on a Kiwi Steam Train in a lovely setting. We met the train in Fairlight and Chris hopped on there. As I had already done the Overlander a couple of weeks ago I was quite happy to do the drive between Fairlight and Kingston and meet Chris at the other end.
I really enjoyed seeing the train. I love history for any place and I'm finding it particularly interesting whilst being in New Zealand, as their history is so young in comparison to England. I got slightly carried away taking photos of the train, but the sun was out and I couldn't resist.

Queenstown- 
From a petrol station on route. Breathtaking!
After picking up Chris in Kingston we continued on our way to Queenstown enjoying stunning scenery along the way. I had heard many things about Queenstown over the last couple of weeks. The main things I had heard where, 'you wont want to leave once you get there, it is stunning, the bars are great'. So I was expecting a lot from Queenstown and I have to say I was not disappointed.
It was stunning from the moment we started driving around Lake Wakatipu. seeing the mountains still with snow on it was spectacular. As soon as I got out of the car I was busy taking pictures, taking advantage of the gorgeous weather.

   
















 
We went for a delicious lunch by the lake, of fish and chips at a bargain of $10 amazing. Followed by a little wander around a little craft market. Gretchen and I then went up the SkyLine Gondola, this is cable car that takes you up to Bob's peak an amazing and spectacular view point over Queenstown. With our amazing weather we could see for miles, and the best thing was we could see it all without putting too much strain on my foot. Chirs decided not to go up on the Gondola as he does not trust things that just hang from a cable, haha.


 Views from the top of the Gondola skyline.
Gretchen and I on Bob's Peak.

Once we were at the bottom again we had a quick wander around some shops. I was really impressed with all the bars, restaurants and shops in Queenstown it is defiantly a place I will come back to when I return to the South Island. If I am still here in the winter, perhaps I will come back for the ski season. 

A quick stop for a photograph on our way to Wanaka.

Back on the road again we made our way to Wanaka our home for the next two days. One of Gretchen's friends had very kindly loaned us her stunning house in Wanaka for three nights. Driving around Otago was constantly breathtaking as I have mentioned, it's truly impossible to capture it through taking photographs. The roads will take you across flat fields, up steep windy roads and all the time you will be wowed by the setting you are in.

Dinner on Saturday night


   




Sunday 20th November
Wanaka 

On Sunday we woke up to aweful weather, a perfect opportunity to have a lazy morning (much appreciated I have to say) We then went for a drive into the Mt Aspiring National Park unfortunately when we got half way we could not go any further into the mountains to our destination. The rain had got very heavy and we had to cross a ford. As our car did not have 4x4 setting we did not want to risk it driving through and end up getting stuck. However we went to Albert Town, a very small town set on a river. With a nice walk to enjoy. I decided to use a walking stick at this point (hence the pictures with me looking like an old lady) as I was still suffering from my stupidity of my sprained ankle. Chris and Gretchen continued on the walk a little further than me. I took the opportunity to rest up and do a spot of drawing.




Puzzling world
On the drive back to our house we stopped in for a quick cup of tea. One of the quietest tea breaks we have had. We stopped at puzzling world a place of illusions and puzzle games. As you can see by the photographs it kept our attention. Definitely a must do for anyone in the area. We did not pay to go in the maze or optical illusions, but the puzzles over our cup of tea and the toilets (yup the toilets) were enough if you don't have lot's of time or want to spend the money going into the paid sections.
Wanaka seemed like a lovely little town. Not as big or busy as Queenstown, because the locals don’t want it to be they want it to stay unspoilt. Wanaka does not have all of the gap year backpackers as they stop for a day and continue on to Queensrtown. I believe that its a good thing, as it gives it a little more grown up feel to the town. Wanaka has some excellent things to do in the area mainly if your an outdoors type person. Someone who likes walking and hiking would love it here. In summer I have heard being on the lake is great, when I was there in spring it was too cold and wet to go in.



Monday 21st November
Wine tasting at Mt Diffficulty

Mt Difficulty
On the last day of our road trip we had a lot of distance to cover to get from Wanaka down to Oamaru. We wanted to be in Oamaru by 7pm ready to see the Little Blue Penguin come in from a day at sea. We popped in on one of Gretchen's friends who lived in a stunning house on the top of a hill. She uses a programme called HelpX. She offers accommodation and food for four hours of work a day. I had heard of it before but it was nice to meet one of the hosts. Chris seemed rather taken with it and said it seemed like a great way to save money as you travel.  If your interested have a look here:  http://www.helpx.net/findhosts.asp?network=1

After our quick pit stop we continued on to Mt Difficulty vineyard. Otago is very famous for it's Pino Noir wine and we could not be in the Otago Valley without stopping at one VinYard. We did a brief wine tasting followed by some yummy tapas over a bottle of wine. I am still not very knowledgeable on wine but slowly learning what is nice.

Oamaru

Oamaru Beach
Our final stop before getting back to Dunedin was Oamaru, home of the Little Blue penguin. The little penguins nest in an old quarry very close to the town, at dusk every evening they come back from a day of being at sea to the mainland. We arrived around 6pm still with plenty of day light so time to have some dinner and explore the area. The town it self is very pretty and would be great to see it open. There are not many towns in New Zealand that have an old feel about them but Oamaru with its beautiful 19th century architecture does. Once it reached dusk we went to find our seats to get ready to see the Little Blue Penguins come in from a hard day of fishing. The penguins fish all day alone and meet up with other penguins and come back in to the mainland, in 'rafts' of about 10 to 20 penguins. Safety in numbers when returning to their nests on land. It was very funny watching the penguins arrive back, they do a lot of shaking, grooming themselves making sure there feathers are all good. And what seemed to me greeting each other. They then make there way up the rocky ramp and dash across a small path into a fenced off area containing there nesting boxes. I really enjoyed watching the penguins I was like a child, so excited. Another must do I would say for anyone in the area and a perfect end to the road trip before heading back to Dunedin.

Me and my new friend
I could not take photos due to flash, however I did buy two photographs.



Tuesday 22nd November
Dunedin
Dunedn Railway Station
Steepest Hill

Our last day of the road trip was spent in Dunedin. I wanted to go and see the railway station with its claim to fame being the best known and most photographed building in New Zealand; second in the Southern Hemisphere after the Opera House in Sydney. It was a stunning building I thought it odd that the building is not really used any more as a train station and only does tourist trips. We then went to see the worlds steepest hill followed by me cooking paella for Chris and Gretchen as a thank-you for a great week.



Thankyou Paella
My first trip down to the south Island was fantastic and helped to remind me why I am here and that is to see and experience New Zealand. As we moved around very quickly seeing lots in such a short time I started to make a list of things to do again next time I am down in the South Island and in the Otago region.






For part one click here:
http://whatkatiebriggsdidnext.blogspot.com/2011/11/otago-road-trip-dunedin-and-gore.html

Note to other travellers/ ex-pats:  
South Island is amazing, as is all of New Zealand. I would highly recomend both the Albtross and the penguins even if you are not huge animal/wildlife lovers.
If you want to do any adventure type things most places expect you to have a credit card to book on as they know they can get the money from it.  
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