Sunday, December 30, 2012


As I write this we are experiencing the first thunder storm of the summer. Rain is pelting down and the spouting is overflowing. It's hard to believe that just a few hours ago we were walking along the banks of Silver Steam on the Taieri, enjoying a fine day.

The Taieri Plain is just south of Dunedin - a 15 minutes drive - and is mainly rural with sheep, dairy, and horse farms. There is also Dunedin's airport and one of our destinations for the day: McArthurs Berry Farm.

If there is one thing that speaks to me of Christmas and summer it is strawberries.

Christmas dinner is not compete without the pavlova lathered with cream and studded with the ruby red berries. And it's not just the pav. Strawberries grace the trifle and any other sweet concoction the festivities produce.

Today we bought two large punnets of strawberries that were picked only hours before. Bright shiny and gloriously sweet, I've a feeling they will be long gone before I can dream up a dessert for them. No doubt we will be making another trip or two to McArthur's before summer is over.

I forgot to take my camera but here is a photo I found of a portion of the Taieri Plain and Saddle Hill. The larger mound of this saddle is visible from many vantage points in Dunedin. It separates the plain from the sea and was named for its likeness to a saddle. Dunedin is situated off to the left of the photo.

The storm has now passed and the temperature is cooler; a welcome relief. We've been having a warm Christmas - a blessing as it often is cool and unsettled - and a very laid back time it has been. Lots of books to read, friends and family to visit with and this year the addition of two new pets, but that's a story for another post!

Whether you are basking in a southern hemisphere summer or rugged up and watching snow fall, have a happy and safe New Year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Today was the first day of summer holidays for hubby and we trotted off to the newly opened Toitu - Early Settler's Museum.

I posted about it's temporary closure whilst it was being revamped here.

My first impressions are Wow!!! Just Wow!!!

Now it is no secret that I love museums and I love history even more, so it was always going to be a hit with me, but this is the best experience I've ever had at a museum.

Leaving the spacious yet welcoming foyer - encompassing a cafe and the old steam engine, Josephine - we were welcomed by a large 3D movie of the beginnings of New Zealand. An old photograph (circa 1860s) was given the 3D treatment with the bonus of a moving tram. It was amazing to see a piece of our history come to life.

I could go on and on about everything I saw, but I think it will be much kinder to you if I just point out a couple of my favourite exhibits. I will be returning again (and again, and again and ....) so you will be hearing more from me in later posts, no doubt.

The first exhibit that wowed me was a replica of a wattle and daub cottage, built in the exact same way as it would have been in the 1850s. Heres an old photo that appeared in our local paper, the Otago Daily Times, which is what they used for inspiration.

 The end wall - far right - was missing and you could walk in the front door or enter through the side. It was furnished just as it would have been back in the day: rustic bed made from branches tied together, tree stumps for seats, a butter churn, hessian curtains, the family bible, and a sound recording of a mother and baby. And you could pick up and touch everything inside. I really felt as though I had been there.

The other exhibit evoked a strong sense of nostalgia. Dunedin had trolley buses until 1983 and the most memorable was the Tiger Tea bus. Here's a photo of it on one of its last runs.

  Thirty years ago this was the bus I caught to work! Entrance to this exhibit was via the back door of the bus and it was such a treat to sit again on the leather seats and rub my fingers over the wooden panelling. But even more exciting was that the front of the bus was a huge tv screen showing a film of a driver and passengers who conversed about topics circa 1980s and they were traveling along my old bus route!  It was just like riding that bus again, and yes, I shed a nostalgic tear.

The afternoon was finished off nicely with coffee and cake, whilst taking in the view of the Railway Station and the hills beyond. When hubby asked what I thought of the museum, my response was,  "I want to move in!"