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NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 14 November 2006 | Views [1567]

November 1-6

We eaten a lot of great meals while we've been in NZ and while at Ian and Louise's.  When we were in Aukland that first week I got addicted to kebabs either lamb or falafal with yogurt and sweet chili sauce.  I've eaten more meat in the last two weeks than I've eaten all year!  Ian's parents have a farm and we had some of their cows.  Jon and I went to a potluck after a meeting for a conservation group Ian and Louise area  part of to protect the Thames coastline where we had steak and sausages,salads and Ian's tastey pancakes with Feijoa jelly and butter on them.  Oh and the amount of butter we've eaten - whoa.  Thank goodness we're either biking or working on the house, otherwise I wouldn't be fitting into my clothes (again) and it would be like France all over again!  The mussle chowder Ian made last week is unforgetable and there's talk that he's going to make mussel fritters before leave (here's hoping).  We had a really good beef stew that Louise made last night with veggies and bread and butter.  Kiwi's are in season and are really good, we usually have them with our morning or afternoon tea or lunch.  We've been having muesli and Weetbix for breakfast or (my favorite) porridge with dried dates, broken up banana chips and plain yogurt on top along with tea and toast with peanut butter.  The porridge is the best - we're totally addicted.  We've also become addicted to Vegemite.  Yep it's true.  Served on toast with butter you just put a scraping on top for the salty/yeasty/tastey goodness.  Love it.
We were in Hamilton the other day sorting out citizenship issues for Louise and Jon and I checked out an internet café.  We met for lunch at an Indian restaurant and it was really really good.  Jon and I don't have much experience with Indian food so we watched as Ian nogotiated his order and then followed suit.  I had goat meat in a tastey sauce.  I've never had goat before.  It was good, tender but with little bones which were slightly annoying but didn't take away from the overall goat tasting experience.  We also got a samosa which was good but then again, it was deep friend, so of course it was going to be good.    Jon and I looked like the ultimate tourists with the world's largest bumbag - they'r not called Fannypacks here like they do back in the states since fanny meanes 'vagina' in New Zealand as well as England.  We walked into this coffee shop which was a little hoity toity but he guy behind the counter - I think he was one of the owners because the elderly woman behind the register wouldn't have anything to do with us and was more interested in the nicely dressed couple that didn't end up buying anything.  Anywho, this man, who was beautiful and was obviously of Maori decent asked if we wanted coffee or something to drink.  Well, since we asked...
I looked at the drink menu and just had to ask about a few drinks that I wasn't familiar with:
Short/long black and short/long white
All the other espresso/coffee drinks I recognized.
A Short Black is a shot of espresso.  A Long Black is, essentially an Americano.  A short and long white is a shot of espresso with steamed milk but without the foam as with a latte.  You learn something new everyday.
Well, it turns out that we got the mussel fritters made by both Ian and Louise.  We had the most amazing 16 days.  I can only hope to remember half the things we learned while there. 
On our last full day off we got a ride from Ian to Coromandel which is farther north along the penninsula since he was substituting at the elementary there that day.  We left with the boys at 10 minutes to 0800 in the pickup with the bikes and boys in the back while I rode with Ian in the front.  It was proving to be a beautiful sunny day albeit windy but so what else is new.  We parted ways with Ian in the school parking lot and after unfolding our bikes we promptly began riding on the wrong side of the rode.  We hadn't gotten 10 meters when the fact was pointed out to us by another of the school faculty.  That was a little embarassing.  Funny how we'd been so used to riding on the other side of the road and yet it's so obviously engrained to ride on the "right" side of the road, meaning the right lane, we did it without thinking.  Sheesh.
Coromandel is really very quaint, a small town that isn't completely touristy and everyone knows just about everyone else.  Nice cafes, a good selection of art galleries and not too many kitschy gift shops, a good selection of bakeries.  Dark clouds were threatening, the wind had picked up and it was pretty chilly outside.  This wasn't really the ideal weather for riding and we had some serious hills to climb on the way back home.
We had looked at our budget and had had a serious reality check about our spending habits.  Now that we were at our final destination/country, how long we would be able to stay was directly related to how much money we had alloted which is really how it was from the beginning we just kind of slacked off on minding the budget for the last, oh four months or so.  Now that we had established an exact budget, which was thoroughly depressing, we were determined to stick to it which meant only need to have purchases, not nice to have.  This made me a little cranky and I told Jon this who was not too sympathetic, and why should he be really, the budget simply was what it was...
We walked our bikes up and down the main street of town which didn't take too long since there is only one intersection but a suprising number of bakeries and cafes considering the size of the town.  It was getting cold and so we decided to take shelter in a café and share a seafood pie.  It was tastey and I got to have a coffee after all.  We spent two or three hours there.  Long enough for Ian to join us during his lunch hour from school which was a nice surprise for all of us.  Jon and I were in deep discussion about the lay out for our cabin when he joined us and we were able to bounce ideas off of him which was really helpful.  Earlier, a man asked us if we were building our home and we explained that we were just designing it and he gave us  his business card.  We went onto explain that we, unfortunately, were not building in the area to which he left us with a bit of advice on where to place the hot water heater. 
It did shower a bit while we were in the café and by early afternoon it was time to start heading back.  The clouds still looked a bit ominous but we had to get home sometime.  Ian had asked what he should do if he saw us on the way home.  We told him to just keep on going and we would meet him at home so now I was really really hoping it wouldn't rain!
We had been warned about the hills on the Coromandel Penninsula and not  a single person lied to us.  There were some doozies on the way back home and that didn't even include the 2.67km to get from the main road to the house which had some serious hills of its own.  Luckily the sun was out and the scenery was spectacular and for every steep hill there was an equally steep downhill which was gratifying.  But it was the getting up the hills.  There wasn't much shoulder to speak of but there wasn't much traffic either and by this time we were about as unphased by closely passing vehicles as we are likely to get.   Oh, my gosh.  The bikes were great - I was dying and as always Jon just kind of cruised along (how does he DO that and still manage to eat as much Nutella as he does?!).  I've found that certain words really help expel that last little bit of air from the lungs in order to take as deep, albeit fast and still relatively shallow, breath when at maximum exertion.  Words  and phrases like:  "Gawd this is steep/endless"
"This S*%ks."
Said on a regular basis while pedalling up these killer hills seemed to help and so I'm sure I'll be using them frequently throughout the trip.  We'll see how it goes. 
We made it all the way to the mailboxes at the end of the road before Ian caught up with us and we walked the rest of the way to the house as our cool down.  It was Friday evening and there was still work to be done.  The little lambies had to get their tails docked and the mails had to get testicles rubberbanded - and we got to be a part of it!
Ian and Louise said we could opt out but hey, when was the likelihood that we would ever be able to have such a hands on experience like this again?  OK, pretty likely since we were in New Zealand but just in case.
Now, I really didn't know what was involved in docking tails and Louise and Ian said the lambs weren't really traumatized but for maybe the first hour or so after the event.  All I could picture was little lambs running around with a bloody little stump of a tail which made me a little hesitant. 
First things first though - we had to round them up.  The lambs and sheep have free reign over a pretty large part of the 32 acres of land.  We teamed up and to be quite honest I don't know how the four of them do it by themselves (not that Jon and I are experts but it seems like the more people the better).  Ian went "...the right way round" which is a phrase that always kind of confused me when I heard it in the past but now, I totally understand what it means.  Lou and I teamed up with Connell and came from the road side, climbing over the fence while Jon and Jordan when straight down the middle, meeting up with Ian to go down to the valley, back up again on the  other side and then funnelling them all through to the teeny tiny paddock Ian had fashioned the day before.  Before long we were all either clapping or holding our arms up doing our best to impresonate a fence to herd the sheep into the paddock.  It worked and seemed only too easy which Lou assured us that sometimes one can end up chasing sheep and lamb all around the fields.  Once penned in there was one tiny little lamb who was able to escape by squeezing through the fencing.  I was safely on the outside with the camera, recording for posterity while Jon was in the thick of it.  He was the closest so it was his job to grab that little lamby who became the first volunteer to have it's tail docked.

Oh.  Is that all?
All that happens is that rubberbands are but at the end and after a week or so the tail just falls off.  This was much less traumatizing to watch than I thought and was a little relieved.  The lamb on the other hand was a little vocal about having it's tail wrapped in a rubberband.  Once she was set free her little contrite bleats were pretty cute and she kept giving Jon the evil eye.  Unfortunately, not all of the lambs were that small and those little guys are strong but once they were in the assumed position they looked rather resigned to their fate.  Since all of the sheep were herded to together is a super small area, poor Connell had the not so envious job of picking out the lambs amongst the sardine packed herd, lift them over the gate to Jon while Jon grabbed them, pulled them over to the other side without letting them escape, grabbed hold of the legs and unceremoniously plopped them on the platform for Ian to apply the rubberbands.  The poor things, both the lambs and the humans.  Once that job was done we left the herd in the paddock as the next day they would be sheared - another New Zealand experience for us to put under out belts.
Well the Shearer couldn't make it on Saturday so we spent the day liming the side of the house and getting our things organized to leave on Monday. 
Sunday was crazy busy as ian and Lou were expecting guests for lunch and the shearer who would undoubtedly arrive at lunch time.  We had to round up the sheep again as we had let them loose the day before since the shearing wasn't going to happen.  Luckily, it was just as easy as the day before.  We tried to tidy up the house as make it as child-safe as possible which is hard to do when you're in the middle of building your home but we did the best we could.  Jon worked on a rack for my bike that would allow for carrying more weight while I started packing the trailer.  The Shearer was doing the neighbors sheep first and by lunch time and just before the guests arrived it was time to shear Ian and Lou's sheep.  The Shearer was a great hulking massive guy.  You'd have to be to man handle these sheep.  I was, once again, safely on the non-sheep side of the fence taking pictures while Ian had Jon in the thick of it.  Jon had to grab the sheep around the front chest, but not the neck - didn't want them to choke, they tend to get more agitated when that happens, then grab the front legs while lifting them up, back and onto their rumps, dragging them to the platform to be sheared
Well, at least that's what it looks like what they were doing.  Things were going fairly smoothely until we were down to about four of five, the sheep knew what was up, they were looking at those on the other side of the fence, their naked herdmates.  At one point Jon had leaned over to pick up a sheep and another sheep took this as it's opportunity to use Jon's back as a stepping stone to get over the fence!
That took Jon by surprise.
Those hooves looked sharp.
Jon almost fell over which also would have been gross and I think this occurred to him has he contorted his body every which way in order to avoid hitting the ground.
Ian said he'd never seen a sheep do that before.
Poor Jon, he was visibely uncomfortable but denied any real pain.  How could he admit to being in pain in front of a sheep farmer and hulking sheep shearer?!
Ian and Jon took turns getting the remaining sheep.
We had a fabulous lunch with Ian and Louise's friends.  Polenta, Pumpkin soup, pesto on rustic toasted bread, salad from the garden, marinaded tofu and veggies and homemade muffins just to name a few of the delicious dishes.  It was a real feast!
Shortly after lunch Ian and Louise were off to one of the their many meetings.  Jon and I still had organizing to do in order to leave the next day.
We had this great plan:  we would sleep in a little bit and Lou would drive us to the end of the road where we would unload our trailer and bikes and start off on our journey.  Well, Lou got an early morning call to substitute teach so we were left to our own devices to pack up  and head out.  We said our final goodbyes to Ian and then Lou and suddenly, we were alone.  We slowly packed up, with some reluctance but also in anticipation of the continuation of our journey.  The sun was out and shining brightly.  Just as we were getting ready to leave we heard a car pull up into the drive.  It was the plumber who was expected the next day.  We had been hearing about Lou's plan for the first bath she would take once the solar water heater was hooked up and what trouble they had with getting a plumber out to their house - hot water was a long time coming.  Luckily Jon had helped Ian build the stand for the hot water tank and knew where and what needed to be done.  At one point Ian had shown me his every expanding file of owner's manuals in his file cabinet (I told him we had a similar one of our own back home) which came in handy since the plumber needed to refer to the solar  heater manual - I knew just where to look!  Initially the plumber was reluctant to do the work but there was no way we were going to let him go after hearing how much Lou was looking forward to a hot bath and what little was actually needed to be done to make it happen so we did what we could to help and waited around until the plumber finished what he needed to do.  We waited and waited.  Finally, Jon came up to me and said we should just go as the plumber, Peter, had told him it would still be another several hours of work before he was finished and would require a return trip the next day.  Satified that we had done all we could we set off down the dirt road riding down the steep hills and pushing the bikes up hill - it was a good warmup.  By the time we reached the end of the road we were ready to really start pedalling.  Jon was recovering from exerting his knee too much on a previous ride so we took it really slow for the first ten kilometers.  After that first ten we swapped bikes.  It was the first time I had pulled a trailer with a bike and it felt strange
"It's like it's tugging on the back of the bike."  - S
"Well, yeah, that's exactly what it's doing." - J
It didn't take long to get used to and before I knew it we were flying along the flat but curvy roads into Thames to stop at the Pack and Save grocery to pick up some supplies before continueing on to Paeroa where we would camp for the night.
Once we got into town it was determined that we would need a seat cushion for my bike seat if this trip was going to continue so I went to the bike shop and picked one out before buying groceries.  An hour later we were finally ready to leave.  It was early afternoon and starting to get a little overcast as we pedalled out of town.  The wind started picking up but we were happy to be on the road again.  The scenery was green and lush, traffic was ok, there was a pretty good shoulder going out of town.  There were lots of sheep, lambs, cows and calves - Ian had assured us that we would see many more during the course of our trip.  We were passed by a truck with a dead cow in the back.  I could see the rigor -mortised leg swaying back and forth as the truck rounded the corner.  That was interesting.
What was great about Paeroa was that the camping was free, what wasn't great was that there were no showers.  We sat around in the grass for a little while, the sun had popped out again but before long some really dark clouds started moving in - fast.
We got the tent up as quickly as we could.  It's still new to us so we're still a little slow to assemble it.  What was great though was that once it was up I was able to wheel the trailer right into the porch area while Jon folded up the bikes and tucked them into the porch area too.  Both bikes, the trailer, Jon and myself were all under cover when the rain really started to come down - you couldn't do that with a recumbent bike and our old tent!  We were able to have the back of the trailer open in order to finish unpacking, get our dinner as well as maps and books to plan the next day - the equipment is working out great.

Tags: Adventures

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