Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kangaroos in Queensland

Big surprise on the side of the road just out of Brisbane. We've been a whole week in Oz and hadn't seen any kangaroos.  At last, there they were and I screeched out STOP to my bro', who was driving.  Bro' thought I was doing galah impressions (instead of calling out instructions).

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Another Eventful Woman

Loved meeting Heather, GM of the Sir Stamford Hotel in Sydney (with the Stamford Wombat).  Heather is a fellow Kiwi and is showing the Aussies how a top hotel should be run.

Adventures in Australia

I'm on a road trip in Australia with my brother.  We're calling on our many cousins and trying different foods and drinks.
Our rental car - Ford Falcon XR6 at Newcastle

Whisky tasting in Sydney

Wine tasting with Master Wine Maker and cousin Toni

Working off the calories each morning

Monday, June 03, 2013

The roast dinner challenge

My roast dinner
©Eventful Woman
I'm what's called 'an eater'. I've always been motivated by food and I can usually  get anyone to make a fabulous dinner for me, simply by being a genuinely appreciative eater.  All good cooks need great fans and I like to think this gives me a real purpose in life.

As a born and bred New Zealander I was brought up on roasts with lashings of gravy. I would mound my plate high and happily devour the lot, including crunching on any pork crackling. I was one of five children and my mother said she'd never seen a child eat everything with such finger-licking enjoyment.  Even the vegetables would be shovelled down with enthusiasm.

I was eventful right from my early days, with food fuelling my adventures and also acting as a homing beacon. No matter how far I roamed the scent of a good roast dinner would bring me running back to the table.

Until recently, I harboured a secret. I had never made a roast dinner. Well, why bother I thought, when I could just talk my way into eating them? If I kept on having adventures, then maybe my tales of 'derring do' would sufficiently entertain to keep the invitations coming. However, I could hardly 'buckle my swash' if word got about that a so-called Eventful Woman didn't know how to make a momentous roast dinner and was terrified at the thought of it. Domesticity is not my scene.

A good friend decided to take me in hand and protect my reputation. She promised to stand alongside of me, provide step-by-step instructions and would fortify me with wine along the way.  The company of a friend, wine and a roast lamb dinner was an unbeatable offer.

Coating the meat ©Eventful Woman
We started with her special coating. Not quite the '11 herbs and spices' from another famous recipe but the ingredients included oil, lemon juice, garlic, soya sauce, mint, rosemary. These were mixed together and then slathered over the leg of lamb.

The meat was placed reverently into the oven and we started on the veges. Far from being the No. 1 chef in this kitchen, I was relegated to galley slave and had to peel my way through several potatoes, kumara (sweet potato) and a pumpkin.

It wasn't until I had basted the meat a few times and had started to roast the potatoes in the electric fry pan that I was promoted to second chef. This meant that I was allowed my first glass of wine.

Making progress ©Eventful Woman
Several basting sessions later (of both the chefs and the roast), the meat was pulled out of the oven and set aside to rest. No rest for me though. I was given the task for gravy making, supervised by the No.1 chef. The gravy was made like our mothers had done for years, using the fats and crispy meaty bits in the bottom of the roasting plan and adding a paste of cornflour and water. The aroma was divine.

While broccoli was spinning in the microwave, I was finally promoted to No.1 chef and allowed to carve the meat. This involved one slice for the plate and one for me. The supervising chef worried that there wouldn't be enough meat for the diners, and I was demoted to waitress - only allowed to carry plates to the table but NOT eat as I went. Spoil sport!

At last all was ready on the table. TH (the husband) was summoned and told to clap appreciatively.  I thought he was a bit half-hearted compared with my genuine applause whenever I'm presented with a tasty meal.

Then we settled to the really serious task of eating. Tasty, juicy slices of roast lamb, a mound of roast and green veges and a river of gravy. YUM!

YUMMY ©Eventful Woman
It is always satisfying to achieve anything, but particularly when it is something that you've been putting off or has grown into a challenge.

My friend and No.1 chef provided me with written instructions and I'll be able to repeat my 'feat' again. A roast dinner will be just perfect for winter evenings at home with TH, in front of a blazing fire. Hopefully, the blaze won't be from the whole kitchen going up in smoke.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

What are your top 10 challenges?

Rock climbing in Zell-an-der-Mosel, Germany
We've all got things we want to do, right? But, do these really challenge us? It's great to have fun and a laugh - life has to be enjoyable. But, we should also take on challenges that draw us out of our comfort zone. We can all learn a lot from personal challenges, not the least of which is that satisfying feeling of achieving something hard and not letting it beat us.

I like adventurous activities like climbing rock faces or swimming with sharks. Many of my stunts are challenging but, because I like to take on 'dare-devil' stuff, I don't have to push myself too hard from of my comfort zone in order to complete them.

With my commitment to having an eventful life, I've decided to push myself out of a comfort zone that might surprise you - domesticity. While I'll happily take on 'heady heights' or sharks in the depths of the sea, the kitchen bench can hold terrors for me.  Yes, I can slap together a decent meal, I don't push myself to do more. 

So, tomorrow, I am taking on a personal challenge - cooking a roast dinner. Although I LOVE eating roast dinners, I have never stirred myself to make one. Yes, I know, to many of you this sounds boring and probably something you could do with your eyes shut. But, a challenge should be exactly that to the person involved. And, cooking a roast dinner will push me hard.  It is actually No.10 on my list of personal challenges to overcome.  I have already knocked off No. 4 (learn to surf) and No. 5 (learn to tap dance).  I'm still to take on the flying trapeze and performing as a stand-up comedian.  However, neither of those fill me with as much dread as learning to cook.

I have been promised I will also learn how to make 'the best ever' roast potatoes and also an amazing chocolate pudding.

Watch this space!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Thinking woman's trip home

Homeward bound (©Eventful Woman, 2013)
It was a long, hot, 8-hour drive home from Wellington to Auckland.  The Rover performed well, apart from a rumbling exhaust.

It was a long haul and easy for an eventful woman to get bored. TH can normally provide sufficient distraction with his scintillating conversation and wit but even that was a push for 8 hours.

Fortunately, at around the half-way point, we were enthralled with the glorious sights of the volcanoes Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe on the Desert Road.

Mt Ruapehu (©Eventful Woman, 2013)

Ruapehu with Ngauruhoe in the distance
(©Eventful Woman, 2013)

Mt Ngauruhoe (©Eventful Woman, 2013)

Tirau had less-enthralling but still interesting enormous dogs

Dog-shaped Visitor Information Centre at Tirau (©Eventful Woman, 2013)

The New Zealand Transport Agency also helped while away the hours with their helpful signs and billboards on route, which urged us to think about various things. Find out what got Eventful Woman thinking, including where TH proposed marriage:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Finish line highlights

Final car show in Hagley Park (© Eventful Woman 2013)
We did it! We drove from Auckland to Christchurch in a classic 1966 P5 Rover, MkIII, coupe. Not once did our Rover or our MGB team mates 'fail to proceed' (what we call breakdowns). There were a few niggles, like our chuffing exhaust, but nothing that stopped us.

Our thanks to our team mates (Brad & Dad and Sir & Madam) for their help and support throughout. We have the greatest respect for Sir and Madam who made the entire journey while topless - that's the car I'm talking about!
Sir and Madam in the topless 1964 MGB (© Eventful Woman 2013)
The finale dinner was a dress up affair and everyone looked as splendid as the cars. Brad easily scooped the prize for being the youngest driver, which was presented by The British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell.
Youngest driver, Brad, with Her Excellency, Vicki Treadell
 (© Eventful Woman 2013)

Brad with his prize (© Eventful Woman 2013)
Three generations of MGB owners: Brad's Dad, Brad, Brad's Granddad
(© Eventful Woman 2013)

The three generations in their MGB's also got honourable mention - Brad, his Dad (Grant) and his grandparents (Sir Alf and Madam Rosie). In fact, Brad bought his MGB GT from his Granddad.

Mayor Bob Parker made a stirring speech about resilience and the importance of celebrating life and all good things, especially as that night (22 February) was the second anniversary of the horrible and destructive Christchurch earthquake.
Mayor Bob Parker (© Eventful Woman 2013)
The GREAT British Car Rally raised funds for four charities:
British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell was auctioneer at the finale dinner. (© Eventful Woman 2013)
While the full total of funds raised is still to be calculated, over $5,000 was raised during the auction at the finale dinner.

We had one final car show on the day after the finale dinner. Christchurch turned on a great day, there was with music, balloons and ice creams. Mayor Bob Parker arrived in his MG and the local British cars swelled the ranks.  There was more gawking and drooling from appreciative locals.

For more photos of the cars:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cruising to the other side

The ferry cruising in to dock was a welcome sight
(© Eventful Woman 2013)
I was grateful I wasn't topless - either the Rover or myself - when we lined up for the Wellington to Picton ferry on Thursday. Two hours of scorching heat with no shelter is not ideal for either face or paintwork, but there was plenty of conversation with our rally companions to pass the time.
Everyone had a good yarn while waiting for the ferry
(© Eventful Woman 2013)
At last the ferry arrived and we were waved on board. Parking was tight and I was grateful we were mainly with fellow ralliers, who took care not to crash open their car's doors into the other vehicles squeezed alongside.
Eve admiring the view (© Eventful Woman 2013)

The sailing was beaut - blue skies, flat seas and all of the promise of an exciting drive once we docked.
Heading for the South Island (© Eventful Woman 2013)
Many Picton locals stood on corners to enjoy the spectacle of nearly 100 GREAT British cars unloading and then roaring past on their way to Blenheim.

More blue skies greeted us the next morning. The weather on this rally has been sunny and warm - not one day of rain.

The breakfast that awaited us at Drylands Winery was spectacular - bacon, sausages, mushrooms, hash browns, croissants, fruit, cereal, OJ and plenty of tea and coffee. Several South Island ralliers joined us at this point and there were different cars to gawk at.
Mk I, Zodiac Station Wagon (© Eventful Woman 2013)

A mini-sized mini (© Eventful Woman 2013)

Our MGB team mates (Brad & Dad and Sir & Madam) have been a great hit with the British High Commissioner, Her Execellency Vicki Treadell, because she had also owned a MGB in the past.
From L-R: Sir Alf, Madam Rosie, HE Vicki, Brad's Dad Grant, Brad (© Eventful Woman 2013)
All too soon it was time to leave the Drylands Winery and I reluctantly waved goodbye to the bacon. The Rover was 'fed' more 95 octane and we were on our way to Kaikoura. Of course, we stopped on the coastal road to "oooh" and "aaah" at the seals and their gorgeous pups.
Seal pups, so cute (© Eventful Woman 2013)

I'm sure this seal barked "Wow, look at that fab Rover." Is that a seal of approval? (© Eventful Woman 2013)

Find out what happened in Kaikoura: