Welcome to my tales of cookery school, food and travel

The first 30+ posts of this blog describe my experiences as I complete a nine month cooking course - the City and Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Art. I did this after I moved out of full time employment and it was purely selfish - I love food, cooking, eating and drinking. Subsequent posts are about, food, travel and adventures.

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Pride comes before a fall, but then we're on our way

This old adage proves to be true as we depart on our recent trip to Europe. Our source of pride is that we have, for once, taken my own good advice and packed only hand luggage for our month long trip.

our prideful hand luggage
Our fall comes at airport screening - as it has for so many before! The h-g's son, whom we are visiting in Dubai has asked us to bring some of our home grown honey so we have packed up a kilo for him. And yes, it really is just honey, not hash or meth or crack. Airport security, however, declares it to be a "liquid, fluid of gel" and therefore as dangerous as drugs or explosives, and immediately confiscates it. 

The h-g doesn't cope well and expresses his frustration (I know, this is usually my job, right?) He wants to go back and check in his bag. Uh uh, you have to physically leave the country before you can come back.  The choice is eat it there (not even that fat little Winnie the Pooh could eat a kilo of honey at one sitting) or it will be binned. The lunacy of this is that if we had ten 100 gram pots of honey dutifully sealed in a clear plastic bag it would have passed with no notice.  

The incident reminds me I need means to amend rule 5 to include "don't get pissed off at airport security"

It takes at least two glasses of Veuve Cliquot in the Emirates lounge before the h-g calms down.

And so we depart......a coupe of days sweating it out in Dubai to catch up with the boy and his gorgeous wife, a couple of days in Frankfurt - why not? we've never been there before and it has an enormous Euro sign!  I'm not sure which star stands for Greece - probably none of them seeing it was late in, but quite possibly first out.  Perhaps we'll find out, as that's where we are headed after a couple of weeks in Croatia - land of my Grandad.

Frankfurt also has lots sausages - and potatoes - and cabbage.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Abel Tasman National Park - by boat

You don't need to venture far in New Zealand to find stunning scenery and empty landscapes.  We must never forget that our backyard attracts millions of people who save furiously so they can travel thousands of kilometres to experience what we find within a few hours.

I'm reminded of this when the hunter gatherer and I take our boat across the width of Tasman Bay to Abel Tasman National Park in April earlier this year. The park is the home of one of New Zealand's Great Walks, the Abel Tasman Coast Track

It was Easter 1989 when I first walked the track with a group of friends. Looking back and comparing those faded photos with the views in 2015, the landscape has changed not at all.  Despite carrying all our gear and having to put up tents every night and cook over a fire, it looked like paradise in 1989 and it looks like paradise 26 years on. 
aptly named Sandfly Bay- base for a camping and kayaking expedition
Twice since that initial trip I've returned - another camping trip, but this time kayaking along the coast, and another kayaking/walking trip where we enjoyed the luxury of a hot shower and cosy bed every night. That's the biggest change over the years - the development and abundance of tourism providers plying all manner of accommodations, walking, boating, kayaking and combinations thereof. 

Day trips or multi day adventures across golden beaches and through beautiful native bush 
make for a memorable experience, particularly for the mostly European tourists we met. We
had no need of huts or campsites as we were at home on the boat, but were pleased to see 
the Department of Conservation huts very well maintained and the campsites equally as tidy. 

We wiled away a few days walking, finding off-track gems like the idyllic Cleopatra's Pool, a natural swimming pool set amongst huge boulders made smooth by the years of river flow. 
Cleopatra's pool - this must be Mark Antony

Tidal estuaries snake up river valleys and we take the dinghy to explore these too, finding ourselves under swing bridges that carry walkers across the rivers.  At low tide walkers can cross the sandy expanse, shortening the trip. 

The Torrent River estuary - we had taken the dinghy up here at high tide

There is a seal colony in the marine reserve off  Tonga Island, which is nowhere near Tonga the country. Pups chase each other , slipping and sliding across the rocks and diving under the dinghy.  There are probably 20 or in the nursery pond but not many mums to be seen.

Further along the coast the vast Tasman Bay curves around Separation Point and becomes Golden Bay, but that's a venture for another day.

Writing this, as I did, in Dubai, sitting inside and insulated from the 38 degree heat outside, pondering how the Arabs build ski slopes and waterparks in the middle of the desert, I remind myself to appreciate how lucky we are.
Split Apple Rock near the junction of Tasman Bay and Golden Bay