Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Judith's Place 11th-19th January 2011

Judith’s Place 11th – 18th January 2011

We met Judith at the hairdresser’s, she is one of the stylists there and gave both Mel and I a great haircut. During the process we all got to chatting about many things, our travels and life here in Takaka. We explained that we would really like to spend some time in the area as Golden Bay appears to have much to explore of interest to us. There are stunning beaches, nice walks, lots of alternative shops and café’s and some lovely people. We also spoke about the possibility of getting some paid work in the area and how we hoped to WWOOF until we could find some jobs. By the end of our conversation, Judith had very kindly offered to take us in, explaining that her 98 year old villa was on the market and that there was a bit of gardening which needed doing to help improve the overall impact of the house to potential buyers. In truth, there is very little which could improve what is a most remarkable property. It has superbly proportioned rooms and a mature garden which has been a delight to spend time in.

We arrived with our bikes the next morning, having made the short trip round the corner from the backpackers. We stepped in through the delightful front garden, passed the wisteria, grape vines and pink, climbing roses towards the open front door. Judith has mentioned that she would be at church and that we should find out way into our room and unpack. She had left strict instructions for us not to do any work and to just relax in the sun, but you know Mel and I. After putting our stuff in our massive, high ceilinged, French style colonial bedroom with double doors leading our onto the front veranda, we made our way down the garden, set on a ¼ of an acre, through the small gate, passed the fruit trees to our place of work; the vegetable plot. There, over the coming days we would build new compost heaps, weed vast areas of ‘wandering willy’, buttercups and other small weeds, whilst being attended by the delightful Liquorish, Judith’s cat and 7 bantam hens, all of whom were delighted with the constant flow of fresh worms and open soil for dust baths.

Judith is lovely; she is really cruisey, great conversation, a brilliant cook and an all round good egg! We have enjoyed some good laughs, wine and food together. On that note, Mel has started noting down some of the recipes we have collected over the years from all the people and places we have visited. There are a few to add from this stay such as rice and peanut burgers with home made coleslaw salad, topped with peanut sauce. We have also been introduced to a new form of potato, originally grown by the Maori. It is extremely dark purple and very starchy, as versatile as our own, but with a more dense texture. Mel has cooked the delicious dessert that Terrance gave to us back in Taupo, though she attempted to make it with non-dairy additives which meant it lacked a little richness, though it was still yummy. This was on top of a delicious Banana cake she baked as a treat a couple of days before. I am such a spoiled husband!

Judith has a daughter named Scarlett who is spending time at a friends somewhere in the surrounding area and we have been lucky enough to meet her and her two dogs; Beck and Rip (both greyhound/pig-dog cross siblings) on a couple of occasions. Judith has lots of visitors to the house which has also been nice. Pat, Gaye and various other members of Judith’s extensive social network have been in and around the house. Pat is a really nice guy, well travelled and full of hilarious jokes about his time spent in England as a window cleaner. He is now a trained teacher of English as a foreign language. He is the brother of Gaye who has been kind enough to offer us some paid gardening work here which will be undertaking for her over the coming week before heading back to Nelson this Saturday. We have also managed to find some more WOOFing at another of Judith’s good friends; Theo. Theo is a mature lady with a lot of land (over 200 acres). She has been a dairy farmer for many years and when she moved to her current plot in 1959, she began planting the most enormous collection of trees and landscaped gardens. There is much to be getting on with there. We popped round for a chat the other day and she showed us her prolific citrus trees, all of which have benefitted from a special type of organic feed. A few years ago, it turns out; Theo lost a lot of lambs during the early part of the spring. Instead of wasting those lambs’ corpses, she placed 5 round the base of each citrus tree. This has clearly impacted on the crops since, as they have rich foliage and abundant fruits every year. The lemons are delicious!!

Today, the 18th of January is a very wet and miserable day, much like the day we endured on or way up to Farewell Spit last week. The difference today has been that we are not forced to spend the day out in the elements and we can enjoy a rain free, warm and cosy day catching up with blogs, emails and watching films on our computer. In fact, it has been quite exciting to see the weather forecast on the news, we have been warned that 2 cyclones are passing our way and they may produce a great deal of rain and wind. Watch this space.

A few days ago Mel and I hired a car to head back to Nelson and collect our stuff which we had left at Tahuna beach campsite. It was nice to collect our bag and to go and collect our new cycle panniers from the post office which had been sent down by Bruce from 'Adventure Cycles' in Auckland. We didn’t linger in the town for very long as we wanted to travel round a bit before coming back to Takaka.

We visited a few beaches and drove on some nasty unsealed roads, the sort of stuff we wouldn’t have had the chance to do on the bikes. It was a nice day. Once we arrived back we decided to give our cycle trailer to Judith. She needs something for running into the town and back to so shopping etc and we no longer have any call for it with the new panniers. It is good to see it going to a good home and I’m relieved to not have it dragging me back down the steep hills of the south island.

Near the town of Takaka there are some Limestone rock formations, one of which is know as Labyrinth Rocks. On Sunday Mel and I went for a long cycle ride to explore them. A couple of days previously we had been shown another, similar area of rocks when Judith had taken us on a ‘Ticki-Tour’ in Pat’s car (‘Ticki-Tour is the name given to a trip visiting somewhere or something). That evening Judith had showed us some of her favourite areas of Golden Bay. Some limestone formations called ‘The Grove’ were the most memorable for me. For those of you who have seen or visited the Temples at Angkor, you will be familiar with the crumbling ruins which are slowly being enveloped by the buttresses of trees and the many thousands of years of weathering thereupon the ancient structures. The limestone boulders and cliffs of Golden Bay are similar in appearance, though not built by man, but by millions of years of natural weathering of the rocks. There are pathways through the rocks which are augmented with palm trees, vines and wild birds. Deep greens, set off brilliantly by the different shades of rock and the dim light which was somewhere above the canopy. At ‘The Grove’ we walked up to a stunning lookout, through the boulders and cliffs and towards the lowering sun which we could see at the end of a path. Up the steps we climbed until eventually we walked out and saw what seemed like all of Golden Bay, from the mountains to our left, stretching round passed fields painted golden and green by the evening sun and out into the Tasman Sea which stretched away to our right. We could feel the warmth of the evening sun, still strong despite it being past 8pm and we took the time to breath deeply on the softest of summer evening air and take a couple of photos to help preserve the memory.

 The ‘Labyrinth Rocks’ we visited on Sunday were different in that they were mostly on the same level and had been characterised by the inclusion of many different plastic action and fairytale figures, all of which had been placed strategically on the rocks near every turn. It truly was a Labyrinth, it took Mel and I a long time to find our way out again.

That Sunday we also cycled back to one of the Bays which Judith had shown us on our drive. It has been called ‘Cornwall Haven’. It was too windy to sit in the sun, so we took a couple more photos and went for coffee on an old fishing trawler in the port. It is a novelty to drink a coffee on a fishing trawler, and even more of a novelty to drink a coffee on trawler which was at one time owned by the famous Frenchman; Jacques Cousteau.

It was a nice way to top an interesting weekend which had also included a visit to ‘The A&P Show’; a 114 year old tradition in the mould of our agricultural shows at home. There we saw all sorts of old collectable steam driven engines, classic cars and farm machinery, as well as well as prize winning farm animals, food stalls and sheep shearing competitions. We stopped to watch one of the sheep shearing competitions, naturally won by a Scotsman by the name of Stewart who finished a good minute before the other two pretenders. There were also wood chopping competitions with the usual muscle bound, beer gut laden men, carrying their axes around, but when we watched it was in fact the ladies tournament. There was a really mature looking woman who must have been in her 70s or 80s and she was ripping this log apart with serious skill! Good old New Zealand women eh?!

Anyway, I better go as Mel and I are cooking dinner this evening, we are attempting a chickpea salad and some Thai style veg.

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