HAPPY EASTER! (belated in New Zealand)

Today is a beautiful morning! Image I’d love to hit Cape Kidnappers ( a beach) but Kieran’s back and ankles are sore so driving and walking would not be good for him. So maybe i’ll walk up to the stoney beach again. Pity I can’t drive. Colleen said if Kieran’s busy later with PhD applications she might drive into Napier and we can go check the place out! She’s SOOOOOO lovely! She’s left me a biscuit recipe because I’ll be doing nothing for the next while so that’ll keep me busy!

So… not much has happened since. We’ve been picking the “Jazz” apples and I think we’re improving! We managed to pick 8 bins on Monday finishing by 4:15pm, 7 on Tuesday and 5 on Wednesday! (less on Tuesday and Wednesday because there weren’t much apples left to pick from the rows so we didn’t bother pushing it out and kill ourselves. Thursday was JUICE PICKING! We picked Granny Smiths because they were hit by the frost bad… apparently. For those of you who have never picked before, it’s pretty tiring! Because imagine, with juice picking you don’t care for the colour or the size of the apples, you literally have to strip all the apples off the tree. Juice picking isn’t worth as much either! $20 per bin! So it’s like a continuous to the tree, pick the carrier bag full of apples.. to the bin… empty heavy bag.. to the tree. If you’re using a ladder.. up the ladder..pick the carrier bag full of apples… down the ladder carrying heavy apples…to the bin… empty heavy bag… to the ladder… move the ladder… up the ladder and it goes on and on! Pretty much non-stop because you don’t have to be careful with it.. You see an apple, you pick it.. simple as that! So to make it worth while, you’d really want to be picking FAST! Or as fast as you can.

Tip: grab a bunch and strip the bunches with two hands so loads pop off in one go.. and if you can’t, always pick with two hands! (The always pick with two hands can be applied to  fruit picking as well).

So we managed 15 bins on Thursday! You can just imagine how fast we were going seeing as the best we can do so far with apple picking has been 8! So much easier when you just strip and not have to worry about colour of the apple! But we slowed down miles towards the end (we were literally FLYING at the start!). Because we picked pretty much double the amount we normal would have picked our bodies were not used to all the work load! So when we got back to the house we were knackered! Pains all over.. and then we had to do it all over again the next day! But we only had so much we could pick which as finished our row and the other side which was a half row.. so we got 9 bins out of that… but Friday seemed like the longest day ever! We were SOOOOO slow because our bodies were not giving into the work we were making it do. But it was fine once the day was over, because we were going to have a 3 day holiday! Well.. long weekend to be exact!

So Saturday, the kids came over and Kieran and I arranged a little easter egg treasure hunt for them. We hid the eggs and with them was a clue and when they got to the last one, they got the prize! A massive bar of Cadburys choclate!

An example of a clue.. This is the very last one before the ultimate prize.. we made it a bit hard because … let’s be honest, we didn’t want them to win…

Just kidding!

“Red or White,

Ghostly, without a fright,

I’m hidden away

Somewhere with no light!”

Can you guess where that might be??

So yeah, they call those massive Cadburys chocolate bars “chocolate case”…. Like how they call flip flips “Jandals”… weird I know…. just kidding! Wouldn’t want to offend anyone reading this! I LOVE NEW ZEALANDERS! 😛

Yesterday was a lovely day! We had a lovely Easter here in New Zealand. I made hot cross buns (without the cross because making the buns was time consuming enough!) and we had them after lunch! They were delicious! Colleen makes a very tasty bread using a clay bread pot!

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Here’s the ingredients for the hot cross buns! Hope you like it! I got it from the good food website, but I altered it quite a bit… because we just didn’t have the ingredients or the time! So here is my altered version of it:

It takes about 2-3 hours to prepare (with all the proving/waiting for the dough to rise!) and 10-15mins to bake! I’d advise to read through the method first before you begin! 🙂

The next time I make these I’m going to try put steps 6 and 7 in with step 3! That should cut 1hr off the preparation time!

The Bun:

  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 50g butter
  • 7/8g sachet dried yeast. (If you have fast-action or easy-blend yeast, you can skip step 2 and just mix it in in step 3!)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • egg , beaten
  • 75g sultanas (you can use a mixture of currants, raisins and sultanas if you wish)
  • 50g mixed peel
  • apple , peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

The Cross (optional, without the cross it’ll look like normal buns! Still tastes great! :P)

  • 75g plain flour

The Glaze

  • 1-2 tbsp Golden syrup

Method

  1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature (see tip 1 below).
  2. Pour the sachet of yeast into a wide cup or small bowl and mix the honey in well. Then pour in 1/3 of a cup of WARM water (not boiling because that will kill the yeast!). Leave for about 5-10 until a foam forms over the mixture.
  3. Put the flour, salt, sugar into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture, the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well until you have a sticky dough (see tip 2 below).
  4. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead, pushing the dough with the heel of both hands and then using your finger tips to fold the dough back on itself. It will probably stick on the table or area you’re kneading on so just use some flour to stop it sticking everywhere! Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic/ bouncy.
  5. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent (40mins – 1hr).
  6. With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, apple, cinnamon, mixed spices and nutmeg and mix with your hands in the bowl.
  7. When the fruits and spices are mixed in, tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough, making sure everything is well distributed.
  8. Leave to rise until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting crusty. (40mins-1hr)
  9. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece). You can weigh them out or I just did it roughly by eye.
  10. Lightly flour one or two baking trays lined with parchment. Roll each piece into a smooth ball and arrange the buns on the parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to rise/ expand for 40-1hr.
  11. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.
  12. For the cross miix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses (see Tip 3 below).
  13. Bake for 10-15 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
  14. Pour in a few tbsp of warm water enought to melt the syrup and add a few more to make it a bit water/ runny consistency (it makes brushing easier and less sticky!). Now brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

Tips

  1. you can speed up the cooling to hand temperature by putting it into a cold water bath (not ice!)
  2. Pipe the crosses over the buns slowly so that the paste ‘hugs’ the curves on each bun.
  3. Brands of flour can differ, so you might need to vary the amount of liquid. If your mix is dry and crumbly, add a splash more milk to bring it together.

Hope you enjoy making these buns and let me know how it goes if you decide to make them! Off to do more baking now!

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2 year Anniversary and amazing starful night sky…

Today is our 2 year anniversary and we’re spending it in New Zealand! 😀 2 years fly when you’re having fun! Today is a nice day so we’re going to try hit the beach!

Last night was amazing!! We went out to the Jacuzzi/ Spa and it was real windy and chilly that our faces were not heated by the steam from the pool of water! The stars…. whooooh…. speechless. There really are no words to describe how beautiful they are… but I’ll try! The was so bright so the stars close to it wasn’t visible apart from the really bright stars… then on the other side, there was like a path of little stars with big stars sprinkled on top of them. The big stars if you look close, its like there’s a black piece of paper with needle punched holes… and then they twinkled!

I also saw a shooooooooting star last night!! SOOOO COOOOL! I wore my glasses last night so I could see the stars clearer and see the tinier stars which I can barely make out when I’m “glasses”less. And because there were some chilly winds, they didn’t fog up! One of the best star sightings I’ve experienced apart from Wicklow. Wicklow has amazing stars too! 🙂

Well, we’re going to have toast now, so going to blog later.. just wanted to say how AMMAAAAZING the stars were last night! I tried to take a photo, but unfortunately my camera isn’t as amazing so the pictures were simply put… crap… turned out as a black canvas. I got the moon though, so I’ll leave you with that.

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Yes I know it’s still crap… but that’s all I got, so take it or leave it.

 

Our first experience of rain…

So our first week back on the apple picking scene and Kieran is back from Tauranga! Apple picking is definitely not our forte! DEFINITELY NOT! So yeah, I don’t think we’ll ever apple pick after this experience if we can help it…. why? Because we are shadoodles at it! So on Monday we managed to pick 6 bins… these apples are picked based on colour! We had to pick apples which have 60% red colour on them..so Kieran and I were SuPER careful to pick the right ones because we know the people who own the orchard and want to do a good job… so we only got 6… other people picked more than us and some of the bins… oh you should have seen them… barely any red in there, mainly greens! But the thing is, they’ll get paid for those bins. Even if they are CRAP! Which is the annoying thing because if Kieran and I just picked absolutely everything off the trees, then we’d be able to get more bins no bother! But the owners won’t get paid for the apples because they’re useless!

ANYWHO… so Monday we had lunch at the house because Kieran wanted a bit of a lie in so we didn’t have time to make lunch… but after lunch when we went back out into the orchard it was crazy hot! I was feeling delusional it was so hot! Couldn’t stop drinking water because I was sweating so much and the glare at the top of the trees made it worse! At dinner, Tony said it was 33oC out! Well it definitely felt like it! Kieran and I were practically melting even in the shade under the trees!

But then the next day it was temperate and raining the whole day…our first experience of rain in New Zealand… and apple picking was not a nice way to experience it first time. It drizzled a bit.. then stops for a few minutes, then it gets a little heavier… stops.. a little heavier again… and this goes on until it turns into heavy rain where you can’t look up because the rain water just gets at you. That day we only got 3 bins and finished at 1:30pm. Climbing up and down ladders, reaching for apples across the way, carrying bags full of heavy apples… we were risking our lives out there for a bit of extra cash! So we took it easy-ish, didn’t want to slip and fall or injure ourselves.. because that would be a silly thing to do. Spent the rest of our day just chilling in the house while the rain was clattering away at the windows. Fun times for all! No more work until next week now because the first picks for the Jazz is over and just waiting for the second batch to rippen up before we can pick them! Next week is going to be busy busy!

The only reason why I have so much time on my hands to update my blog is because Kieran and everyone else in the house has gone to play croquet!! It’s always about the croquet.. maybe I should start! Naaaaaaaahhhh… The stress of that!

So I’m now just sitting in the sitting room updating my blog, awaiting the adults to come home. I shall be cooking the next two days because I’m the only one who don’t play croquet. Wooooo..

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We went to see the movie “Oz the great and powerful” in Hastings cinema. $10 per person. I don’t know if I’d recommend it.. because it was only ok. So much build up and I felt a bit disappointed with it in the end. It was lacking that bit of something. Maybe I was expecting too much from it. But I wouldn’t see it again anyways.

It was freeeezing last night! I think after rainy days, it’s generally cold at night time because the sun goes into hibernation mode when there’s cloud! Ick! We watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets last night and we were wearing nice warm comfy socks! MMmmmm…

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More updates!

Sorry about not updating my blog… The apple-picking life is just so tiring that the thought of blogging is mentally draining.. but alas, here I am. 

So…. Since my last post, we have been up to nothing much… literally. The last of the “Royal Gala”s were picked and we were waiting for the “Jazz” apples to rippen. Kieran in the meantime abandoned me to go play croquet. *tear* But while he was away, I did learn to drive a tractor! I would consider myself a mean tractor driver… I can drive a super fast 15mph! It’s fun!

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Also got to try out the hydro ladas. Didn’t get to pick on one, but got to drive it to the shed! So I did have quite the bit of fun while Kieran was away!

Tony (the orchard owner, and Kierans friend) brought me out to the pack house where they sort and pack the apples! It was pretty cool and interesting to see how it’s done! They put the wooden bins into a tank of water so the apples float up from the bin and then there’s a current which brings them out onto a belt where they get sorted!

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There’s a little stone beach about 25 minutes walk from here and I brought the doggies out for a wee walk on the weekend that Kieran was gone! So much things I’m experiencing without him! hehehe.

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And on my way back I saw this sign which made me “chook”le a little to myself…

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Loook at all the fruits we picked!!

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I baked a really nice cobbler with the fresh peaches and blackberries! Omnomnomnom… tasty! I’ll put the recipe up sometime… just let me get it right first! 😛

 

Te Mata Peak!

So we had our day off yesterday (Sundays are apple-picking free days!) and we decided to head up to Te Mata Peak! It’s easy to get to and well worth the drive up. You can go up it via the nature trails etc, but driving is the fastest and sweat-free route to go! You can drive up to the very top so it’s great, because after 6 days of apple picking we weren’t ready to hike up a massive mountain! It was a beautiful day so we we had a wonderful view! There were clouds creating shadows over the mountains, the mountain formations were pretty cool too, similar to rolling mountains? I really enjoyed it anyways! People para glide there too! They have wooden planks where you can take off! Kieran and I were wondering what they were for for ages… because NO WAY could it be for mountain bikes.. because the wooden bridge like planks curved downwards at the edge of the mountain and after that it was a straight down! You’d be pretty much committing suicide off your bike if you tried cycling down! But they DO have a mountain biking track you can go down from the peak! It looked pretty dangerous but Kieran said that cycling down the mountain would be cool and fun, so if you like mountain biking, Te Mata peak would be a nice place to go… but don’t forget that you’ll have to cycle up (and its not a short cycle up either! Long and steep!)!!

Kieran got some nice photos on his camera because mine died… So no panoramas, but still beautiful shots!

Enjoy!

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The apple picking life!

It is VERY HARD! After the first day we had very sore shoulders and back! Well maybe just tired… actually not maybe.. we WERE tired! They pay by bin here so a 411kg bin would get us $30… and on our first day we picked 4 bins… We were thinking this was a BAD idea! You do get better though! The second day we picked 6 bins and the 3rd day we picked 7! We are improving everyday! If you stick to it you do learn to pick better. Our personal best so far is 8 bins! If you’re wondering what a bin looks like, here you go..

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It’s a very dirty job… as in you get filthy! So if you plan to do apple picking, bring old clothes that you plan to throw away after because you won’t want to wear them again! They will smell! Kieran wasn’t sure whether he was tanning or whether it was dirt the first day his legs got very dirty and dusty!

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Peaches are easier to pick! We picked 3 bins of peaches ($45 per bin) and even though it was easier to pick it took us long to pick a bin (about 2 hours) because the leaves were turning yellow so some of them were hard to find.. and also because we weren’t used to picking peaches.

Though we are lucky that we are staying in one of Kieran’s friend’s place because they own the orchard and have a lovely house. We are staying in their loft with our own shower and toilet, so after a hard days work at least we have hot showers… Also another plus side is they have a Jacuzzi/Spa in their back garden so when the sun goes down and its a bit cooler outside, Kieran and I chill out in the spa and relax our muscles! When it’s night time, it’s beautiful outside because the skies are mostly clear and you can see all the stars so clearly! It’s pretty amazing! I think the night time spa really makes up for all the hard work! 😛

The stars are different to the ones in Ireland so that in itself is pretty cool!

Finally some decent internet…

So I apologise for the lack of update. We have left Nelson almost 2 weeks now and we got the intercity bus from Tahunanui to Picton, to get the ferry out to Wellington for one night and then onwards to Hastings!

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The scenery was very nice and we went by Havelock which is apparently famous for its green lipped mussels! I kinda wanted to get off and eat some before Picton! 

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When we got to Picton we had a while to wait before we board the ferry so we had a wee wander around the town. We found a museum called “Museum” but had no idea what was in it… Didn’t want to pay $10 to find out!

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Picton Foreshore was where we ate food and it was very pretty! We were also very lucky that it was a beautiful sunny day! Bit windy, but can’t complain!

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Another thing I learned was that they don’t use the word flip flops here, instead they use Jandals. I went into a shop and asked where their flip flops were and they looked a bit confused… then I was like.. “Sorry.. I mean Jandals!”

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And we’re on the ferry!

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The view on the ferry was simply breath-taking! I really wanted to do panoramic shots but it wasn’t possible because I was on a moving ferry! Still got some good shots though!

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That’s another ferry coming the opposite way!

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We were playing monopoly because it was quite tiring standing and watching the view. We got sick of it.. Ha! Nah, we sat by the window and played with the view in front of us and a nice pint of Max Gold! Rather pleasant!

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It was SUPER windy outside! That’s Wellington in the distance I think!

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And that’s the route for the ferry!

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We went down to the kids play center… It looked fun but we weren’t allowed play because we were too tall. Only kids small than the pirate was allowed to play. 😦