Counting Down

Blogging is a wonderful thing isn’t it folks?   We all start our blogs off with  a certain outcome in mind, a certain reason for putting up those first posts and I wonder how many find those initial thoughts and intentions are changed or widened and deepened quite soon after that innocent and hopeful  beginning.  I bet none of us thought when we started out that what would really happen is we would build a community around our blogs, make new friends and sometimes even get to have real adventures with them.

In just two weeks two bloggers from the USA and one blogger from Canada will make their travel worn and weary ways to my little home in New Zealand for a celebratory reunion.

We all met through our blogs here on WordPress.

Alys from Gardening Nirvana

Born To Organize

Kelly from Boomdeadda

Laurie from Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

Image result for lifeonthebikeandotherfabthings

Three years ago we all gathered in Washington DC and met up for the first time in the flesh.  There was a core group, which included Julia from Defeat Despair, but we also got to meet and spend some time with other bloggers albeit briefly and of course there was Lisa from Arlingwords who toured us enthusiastically and knowledgeably around Washington DC – it was a fabulous time filled with amazing women!

You know, I got to see many amazing things on that trip – my first to the States – but the memories that stay most strongly with me are of the people.  My friends of course, and on one memorable afternoon, the many friends of one of those friends, but also left deeply etched into my impressions are of all the folk I encountered incidentally and accidentally and in passing.  Everyone was so NICE –  friendly, interested, well spoken, polite.  They all happily posed for photographs, took photos of us, for us and seemed genuinely pleased to meet someone with a strange accent from a little known place near (or in one case IN)  Australia.   Everyone said ‘Thank you!’ so convincingly I arrived back home saying ‘THANKyew!’ too.

Now it’s my turn to return the hospitality.  It’s a smaller group sadly, but still it is set to be great fun.  We will spend just two full days in Dunedin before travelling ‘up Central’ to the mountain plateau town of Wanaka which will be our base for nine days and from which we will explore the beautiful places all around the area.  While there’s an unending choice of things to do and see I believe there will also be some crafting time and jigsaw puzzling time and crocheting time.  We are having a very hot summer this year and currently the temperatures are the highest that have ever been recorded in that area  (I’m hoping that by the end of February they may have dropped a little)  so sitting quietly creating things might be all some of us can aspire to.

There will be more than just the four of us going on this little adventure.  My ED, Joanna and her partner Steven are driving down from Wellington to be part of the convoy that heads west into the high plateau.  My YD, Danella, recovering well with her mangled leg will also be coming, but not driving.  Siddy won’t be driving either, though his head will be out the front passenger window and his backside on someone’s knee at all times…….

An added extra will be the arrival of Alys’ husband Mike flying in from California for a couple of days as we wind down our time together.

It is going to be FABULOUS!

Before we go up country there will be a couple of days to explore Dunedin City.

There’s this fun trike/ motorbike that takes four people at a time up and around the hills of Dunedin to admire the views with ‘Experience Dunedin Tours’ This photo from their website experiencedunedin.com

Tours Dunedin.jpg

There’s a chance to check out the model for this proposal at the museum – this is my favourite plan ever for a city in this country  (Yes, there is no sound)  It has already progressed from being a thirty year plan to being possible in just six!  I may yet live to see it soaring majestically at the head of our beautiful harbour

On March 1st  we head up and west to the Lakes District and the heart of Tourism Capital  We are hoping to fit in a few fun adventures between exploring gold mining towns and tourist towns and wine and cheese tasting;  There will be barbecues preceded by margaritas and lake paddling accompanied by Siddy.  There might be gondola rides up the sides of a mountain, kayaking, bungy jumping or a more sedate visit to a lavender farm.  There might even be some adventure cycling for some fit folk………..  There WILL be wineries and cheeseries and lots of food.  There may even be some shopping.  Mostly there will simply be the chance to enjoy each other’s company – how fabulous is that?

We’ll keep you posted!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

Advertisements

Double Celebrations and a Holiday Retrospective

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and magical and inspiring holiday!

I certainly am – not only did I have the first holiday break in four years with both my daughters at the same time, closely followed by being extremely spoiled on Christmas Day [hint: I’m writing on it now 🙂 ] but also something really amazingly generous and wonderful and quite magical has happened for me, my readers and The Contented Crafter Blog altogether!

A few days before Christmas I received a sale notification from my Etsy Store and a wee note which said in part  Pauline, please don’t send this to me; I want you to use it for a give-away in the New Year………

You may well imagine, I was totally overwhelmed.  If I hadn’t already been sitting I would have sat – splat!  The donor has asked to remain anonymous and I [reluctantly] respect that.  Here is what is written on the Contented Crafter FB Page 

‘I am donating one of Pauline’s inspiring prints for her to use as a give-away. I’m choosing to remain anonymous because this is about her and her lovely work, not about me. I rarely give money to large institutions, but like to use a wee part of my income to support a variety of efforts that come to my attention. I love supporting people who are artistic, alternative, creative and more. Anyone making a positive change in this world deserves support. I hope all her readers and followers will enter to win this lovely prize. Good luck, everyone!’

Isn’t this the most amazingly unexpected, wonderfully kind and generous and Christmassy Spirited thing?  It’s like we have our very own Christmas Fairy!!

paulinekingblog.wordpress.com

paulinekingblog.wordpress.com

So we get another give-away 🙂  Which makes me happy – and you too I hope and one lucky person will get to choose a print, and I hope they will be happy too!

****************************************

And – as I discovered as I began this post – this is my 100th post – so, double celebrations!!  I’ve been blogging for a full 10 months already and so much has happened – not least the amazing people I have stumbled upon, so many of whom have become new friends 🙂

****************************************

We went to Queenstown to celebrate YD’s mumbley-mumble birthday.  It has to be said she is now older than I think I am.  Perhaps the Time Lord has been zipping around in his Tardis and completely destroyed linear time in favour of concurrent and eternal time [?]

Any-hoo…. it was a chilly morning when we set off with me as official back seat driver and the two lovelies up front

OnTheRoad1

Our road trip took us through some pretty amazing scenery and some of New Zealand’s early history too.  If you travel this route you will soon become familiar with the beginnings of European Settlement in this country.  Rich with gold, the hills are high and rocky.  Schist is piled precariously atop schist and always makes me think of some wild and ancient god such as Thor, haphazardly throwing rocks about.  The scenery will remind you of Greece, of Tuscany, of England – all in the space of five minutes.  The lakes are huge, one is man-made and a village was drowned to make it – and the colour is spectacular –  aqua waters shine out against stark brown hills..

It’s wild, it’s barren, it’s breathtakingly beautiful!

First stop was at a great favourite of mine, Lawrence where the original gold rush took place in the early 1860’s. Gabriel’s Gully is on the outskirts of town, but it was a bit too cold to do the walk.

We stopped for lunch in a pub garden in Alexandra, then pushed on to Clyde.

Clyde is in the middle of nowhere, high up in the mountain plateau.  A stunningly beautiful, stark, rocky, brown landscape with an aqua lake, a hydro dam and little picturesque villages that  could come straight from the English Cotswalds.

I snapped ED standing and staring

Jo@ClydeDam

Jo@ClydeDam2

What she was entranced with, and you can’t smell is the wild thyme.  Those dead looking clumps in the background are wild thyme.  This part of the high country, where the topsoil is thin and the bedrock is on the surface, grows wild thyme.  It goes from the waters edge up the sides of rocky cliffs, along the road side and over the hills.  It is abundant, it is dried, it is redolent and

I picked me some 🙂

We drove on, past the drowned town of Cromwell, stopped at Roaring Meg for a few moments and on to Queenstown.

We arrived about 4 pm – just in time to see the last of the beautiful warm summer days they had been enjoying.  But we were not concerned.  We settled into our uber posh hotel and enjoyed the view

Hotelview2

Queenstown nestles itself on two sides of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu  It is small, it is hilly and it is entirely a tourist spot.  Sam Neill calls this place home, Shania Twain built a ranch house on several hundred acres on the outskirts and there is scarcely a Hollywood star who has not spent at least two nights nestled up in any of the twenty or more ultra luxurious, inordinately expensive, privacy guaranteed hotels.

We settled for a very nice 5 Star and had a thoroughly enjoyable time with our discount vouchers and savings coupons and lets not forget the trusty credit cards!

HotelView4

It has to be admitted up front that we spent the better part of the next two days eating and drinking.  We wanted to stick with the theme – so it was mostly an endless array of delicious and extraordinarily fresh seafood and fine Otago wines.

We did make the trek half way up the mountain to catch the gondola that took us all the way to the top – vertically!  YD and I are okay with being in tiny little orbs that look alarmingly like a storm troopers helmet that sway about in the breeze and travel in a series of jerks and rushes.  Not so much ED, who began to sing ‘Soft Kitty, warm kitty’ in a tremulous voice – which just made us laugh even more.

The view was worth it.  This is what you see immediately below the space age viewing deck

Gondola wildflowers

The wilding pines and wildflowers are found all over the mountain sides around Queenstown and were looking particularly pretty.  [Wilding pines are self seeded and unwanted invaders in National Parks.  There is a huge push to handle them properly so that the native forest can regenerate and the wildings be stopped in their tracks.  When I first came to Queenstown 28 years ago, there were few pines growing up the mountain sides – now they cover them.]

Gondola View2

This is a panoramic shot taken by one of the daughters clever phones. [ 🙂 ]

Gondola View1

The view is quite stunning and we repaired to a small wine bar to admire it some more.

We chose a spot where we could see the storm troopers whizzing past and I amused myself by trying to take an arty shot.  You had to be really quick!Gondola wine2

Eventually I got this one and had to be happy with it or I couldn’t enjoy my chardonnay!

gondola wine3

That evening we celebrated YD’s birthday at a very fine lakeside restaurant where we ate copious amounts of fish, drank not quite copious amounts of white wine and took silly photos with ED’s new iphone to the amusement of the servers and several other tables of diners.

D's birthday dinner w PD&P @ dinner

The next day, Christmas Eve, we reluctantly packed up and headed back across the thyme covered mountain plateau to a cold, wet and windy home city and readied ourselves for an exciting Christmas Day.

Meet Esmeralda, my new, silver, ultra sleek, super fast Personal Computer.

Esmerelda

She has just finished her first successful  and very happy blog post 🙂

Thanks for coming by today and taking the time to read – I’m so happy that you did!  🙂