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Archive for 'New Zealand'

Baldwin Street, World’s Steepest Street #travel

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Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand is recognized by Guinness World Records as the steepest street in the world. It is 350 meters in length. The lower end of the street is covered in asphalt while the steepest and top end of the street is concrete instead of asphalt. During hot summer days the road used to melt and run down the hill. Concrete proved a better solution. It is a residential street and a mecca for tourists. The locals must get tired of tourists wandering across the street!

Baldwin Street and its steepness came about by accident. The street plan for Dunedin was developed in London, England with no regard for the terrain or consultation with those living in the area. The world’s steepest street is the result.

Each year a local confectionary company drops round candies at the top of the hill, racing them to the bottom as a fundraising event. A girl died after attempting to race down in a wheelie bin. Other stunts have been attempted over the years, some resulting in arrests.

With limited time, I walked halfway up. That was enough for me. Smile

Goat Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand #travel

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The Goat Island Marine Reserve is a popular destination with locals, especially during the summer months. It’s north of Auckland and is the closest place for divers and snorkelers to experience marine life. The reserve, which is 518 hectares in size, was created in 1975 and officially opened in 1977. New Zealanders are keen on fishing and stocks were becoming depleted but the numbers have bounced back due to the reserve. Now, big schools of snapper swim close to the shore. The day I visited, the snapper swam around our legs. There are dozens of other species, including my favorites, the pretty blue maumau.

For those who don’t wish to scuba or snorkel, there is a glass bottom boat that takes tourists out and around part of the island.

The island, known as Goat Island, was called this because sailors left goats there as a source of food. The goats have long gone and the island is now the domain of birds.

If you’re in the area, take a picnic lunch, pack your togs and go for the day, or better yet, stop at the Matakana Farmers’ market for some lunch supplies.

A visit to Goat Island Marine Reserve is a fun day out.

Once in a Blue Moon #freebook #IARTG #paranormal

When I wrote the first book in my Dragon Investigators series, the subject of the moon came up—at least for the hero. The moon plays a part in the hero’s life that creates huge problems. A blue moon doubles the stress. It seemed obvious, then, for me to use the moon in the title, and I named my book BLUE MOON DRAGON.

So what exactly is a blue moon?

There are several definitions.

1. When the moon is blue in color, which is very rare, it is often due to dust or smoke in the sky.

2. If there are two full moons in a particular month, this is called a blue moon. The next one is due on Jan 31 2018.

3. Each season has three full moons, but when there is an additional fourth moon, the third of the full moons is known as a blue moon.

Definition 2 is the one that most people refer to when they speak of a blue moon.

Source: EarthSky

Blue Moon Dragon, the first book in my Dragon Investigators is currently free. Grab your copy at any time from 5th to 9th June at Amazon.

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Grab your FREE copy here.

The Giant’s House, Akaroa, New Zealand #travel

Some more photos from the Giant’s house, a photographers’ dream.

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Giant's House Piano

Hubby playing the piano out in the garden. It was French cafe music!

A view of the Gian'ts House Garden

Giant's House Topiary

Vegetables and flowers combine with sculpture to create a fun vista.

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Flowers at Giant's House

If you’re ever in this part of the world, I highly recommend a visit to the Giant’s House.

The Giant’s House, Akaroa, New Zealand #travel

The Giant’s House was build in 1880 and is made of native totara and kauri timber. The house was originally owned by a bank manager. Artist and sculptor Josie Martin purchased the house and has used the gardens as her artist canvas and created a wonderland—a fun place for both children and adults to explore. It is also a bed and breakfast.

Here are a few photos of the gardens and sculptors.

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The sculptures are whimsical and colorful and highlighted by the different plantings.  I’ll be back later in the week to post more photos of the Giant’s house. It’s a photographer’s dream!

The White Heron or Kotuku

While the white heron is common in Australia and parts of Asia, we’re lucky to see them. They are considered rare in New Zealand. The Maori called them kotuku and their white feathers were highly sought for decoration. It is known as a graceful and beautiful bird and is featured on the New Zealand two-dollar coin.

We have a resident kotuku in our area. He or she hangs out at the local pond where he wades and fishes for fish and eels. We never know when the heron will be at the pond, and it disappears for months at a time.

Here are a few photos taken during one of the kotuku’s visits.

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A beautiful bird. Have you seen one before?

Rangitoto, Auckland. The Youngest Volcano #travel #newzealand

This year we’ve had lots of overseas visitors, which means we’ve been reacquainting ourselves with the sights around Auckland.

The city of Auckland is built on on a field of volcanoes, and Rangitoto Island is the youngest one – a mere 600 years-old. The island is pest-free (a big deal for our native bird populations) and is a short ferry ride from the central city.

The fascinating thing is that the silhouette of Rangitoto looks the same, no matter which part of the city you’re viewing it from.

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These photos were taken on different days, from different parts of the city.

We didn’t have time to do the walk to the summit, but if you visit Auckland for a few days, I highly recommend it since the walks are easy and the view back to the city is beautiful.

For more information on island walks and details of travel to the island check out the Rangitoto Govt site.

Fiordland, New Zealand #travel

Fiordland is the largest National Park in New Zealand and at 1.2 million hectares (3.1 million acres) is also one of the largest in the world. It is an area of wilderness that stretches from Martin’s Bay in the north of the South Island to Te Waewae Bay in the south, and from the lakes of Te Anau, Manapouri, Monowai and Hauroko. It contains 14 fiords, some of which reach up to 40 km inland.

The area is known for rain. It rains over 200 days each year, which makes the waterfalls spectacular. The heavy rainfall creates a permanent freshwater layer above the sea water within the fiords. The freshwater is stained by tannins that cut down the sunlight and restrict marine life to the top 40 meters of water depth.

Whales and dolphins frequent the area, along with little blue penguins and fur seals.

We cruised up the coast and visited Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound. The scenery is simply stunning, and my camera got a real workout.

Dusky Sound

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Entry to Milford Sound

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One of the many waterfalls that tumble down the steep sides of the fiords into the sea.

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As you can see from this photo, Milford is spectacular with tree-clad cliffs and waterfalls. Captain Cook and many of the early explorers sailed right past Milford Sound, not realizing the existence of the fiord.

There is one road in to Milford Sound. By car it takes about 2 –3 hours via Te Anau. The bus ride is about 4 – 5 hours. Access is available by plane or as we did on a cruise ship. Some people walk in via the famous Milford Track, which is a four-day walk.

If you’re ever in this part of the world, I highly recommend a visit.

Recipe: Kiwi Crisps

Last Saturday I made some biscuits (that’s cookies to those of you in the US) and I took them out to my father’s farm on Sunday. Last night, my sister rang.

Sister: I’m sending those biscuits back to you via courier.

Me: Why?

Sister: I’ve eaten three, and I’m not meant to be eating sugar. They’re very moreish.

Me: *laughing* I’m so sorry! I didn’t think.

Sister: It’s only three. I’ll start my diet again tomorrow. Only another 20 kg to go.

My sister has lost a lot of weight already since visiting a dietician. Her new sugar-free diet and increased exercise has made all the difference. I’m so proud of her.

Anyhow, here is the recipe for the troublemaking biscuits – Kiwi Crisps.

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Ingredients:

4 oz butter

2 Tablespoons of castor sugar (2 oz)

2 Tablespoons condensed milk

1 1/2 cups plain white flour (6 oz)

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 oz dark chocolate chopped

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 350 F (175 C)

2. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

3. Add the condensed milk and mix well.

4. Stir in the chocolate.

5. Add the baking powder and the flour and combine well.

6. Line a tray with baking paper.

7. Roll the dough into small balls. Place on tray and flatten slightly with the heel of your hand.

8. Press down with a fork. To keep it from sticking to the dough, I dipped my fork in a cup of warm water.

9. Bake for approx 12 minutes.

10. Cool on the tray for a few minutes, then remove to cool completely.

Shelley’s Notes.

1. I used dark chocolate chips and they worked perfectly.

2. The recipe said to bake for 20 minutes, but in my oven this was way too long. I cooked mine until they turned color slightly because I prefer my cookies crisp, but around 10 – 12 minutes should be okay, depending on your oven.

3. These biscuits have a caramel flavor, thanks to the condensed milk, and sprinkling the biscuits with a hint of flaky salt would give them a salted caramel taste, although I haven’t tried this yet.

As I said, these biscuits are very moreish, and it’s difficult to eat only one. Now, my question for you. Are you able to stop at one biscuit/cookie?

Behind the Scenes: Summer Encounter #Kindle #Romance

Summer EncounterA few years ago my husband organized a golf trip to the Gold Coast of Australia for members of the local New Zealand RSA (Returned Services’ Association). I’m not a golfer, but the lure of sunshine, half naked lifeguards on the surf beach, great shopping, and the chance to relax and do a little writing was all the incentive I needed. I packed my bags, ready to tag along.

Most of the group was a lot older than us, although I hasten to add, very fit and lively and definitely switched on. Our group consisted of couples plus three elderly bachelors. We called them “the boys”.

On the first day we arrived late morning and checked into our holiday apartments. We lazed around, deciding to meet up in the bar later that evening before going out to dinner in a group. The three boys were in the bar when we arrived for drinks. We purchased beer and wine and sat down outside to enjoy them while waiting for everyone else. The boys had already been out exploring.

“We’re going to the Burleigh Bowls Club for dinner,” one of the boys said.

“Yes,” another agreed. “Cheap meals. The beer is a good price as well.”

We nodded.

“And,” said the third boy, “There’s a dance at the Bowls Club tonight.” He paused to waggle his eyebrows. “We’re gonna grab us a granny!”

We roared with laughter. Not terribly P.C., I know, but I still grin each time I think of the three elderly men going off to the dance.

The next day, while the others were out playing golf, I pulled out my laptop and started pondering about what to write. The phrase “grab a granny” popped into my head and refused to leave. I decided to blend fact with fiction and write about a woman on a golf trip meeting with a younger man. Of course, the phrase “grab a granny” was in the story, although it wasn’t in relation to my heroine. I called my story, Grab a Granny.

Of course, the title Grab a Granny isn’t terribly romantic, so after consideration, my story became Summer Encounter.

Believe me, ideas are everywhere!

Shelley

Here’s the blurb for Summer Encounter:

Sophie Walker is on holiday in Australia when a hot and handsome cutey kisses her right in the middle of the Burleigh Bowls Club. The man fires slumbering sensual fantasies and sends her hormones swooping. Sophie wants to take a bite before she realizes it’s Isaac Shepherd—one of her daughter’s ex-boyfriends. Chastened, Sophie tells herself to forget the younger man, but it seems the attraction is mutual.

Sunshine. A hot, young stud. Steamy sex. The perfect recipe for total relaxation until the end of the vacation looms and Sophie doesn’t want to let Isaac go.

Purchase or Borrow at Amazon

Gold Coast Beach

Gold Coast Beach

Taking in some sun on the Golf Course

Taking in some sun on the Golf Course