Our Twelve Days of Christmas Part 4

Fri 6 Jan 2017 13:43

Our Twelve Days of Christmas. Part 4

All good things…………

After so many days ‘off’ it was time for me to do some cooking on day ten of Our Twelve Days… An elderly, softening banana found itself chopped up in pride of place inside a banana cake made using an ordinary sponge mix of 4:4:4 and two eggs. (Butter:sugar:flour in ounces and eggs) As we were having fish for supper I prepared a white sauce ready for having the egg yolks added at the final stage of cooking and since blueberries are plentiful here and not so in the UK a crumble was called for.

I have taken to making the crumble mix separate to the fruit content of this dessert as the soggy uncooked underneath layer of crumble I find neither appealing nor digestible. Also the crumble mix can be baked to crunchy dryness the day before, reducing the labour time on the day of a special meal.

So while stirring, mixing, rubbing in and beating I reflected on the rich days we had spent with Charly and Tom. The pink collared goat in the tree, Julia’s Glaswegian dialect telling stories of little people and a wizard on a New Zealand hillside and the wetsuited, masked couple in the water around one Poor Knights Island whom Charly addressed thinking they were Rob and me, “Say cheese,” she asked and to their kind credit they repeated,

“Cheese” before she realised her mistake and they all laughed.

Rob and family returned from their town exploration in time for a drink before we all went into town for a sushi lunch. Another new experience for us to try. It is an opportunity to narrow down one’s future choices of the little uncooked fishy delights. I don’t think I’d go for uncooked seaweed again as it is ‘bouncy’ and quite hard to chew, but some of the fish mixes and the prawns on skewers and quick fried in tempura batter were delish.

Pictures taken witnessed us at work over our plates, lest there is any future reluctance to take part in this type of cuisine. In fact there are lots of sushi bars here that are open most of the time and very busy with visitors and local customers, a healthy trend and option.

On our penultimate day, day eleven we packed a picnic and headed for the hills, the pretty and windswept hills around Busby Head and Smugglers Bay to be precise. It wasn’t a long trek, like the one Rob has threatened me with across the Tongariro National Park I told you about, (nightmares!) but it was as picturesque as everywhere else around here. We looked across to Marsden Cove, New Zealand’s only oil refinery, where Zoonie had sailed into the marina next door for the Customs clearance and first few windy days here. Seems ages ago now.

Offshore are dotted numerous islands making nice targets for the many local day sailors and their craft to head for. Second World War batteries, once armed, lay witness to times when fear of invasion was the mood, but on this day a young family sat in one, the children making monkey sounds so they could hear their echoes.

We had hoped for a swim before lunch as we thought with the bay facing Eastish we would be protected from the SW wind, but ‘no’ it powered in, chilling the air so that although the water was a pleasant enough coming out of it into the breeze was goosebump temperature. The clothes stayed on and the sandwiches came out. Walking back over the neck of the peninsular that we had previously walked around brought us to a very windy top. Posing for pictures while sitting on a little wooden bench clinging on to our partners in the full force of the wind we looked like Wallace of Wallace and Grommit with our face skin flattened back by the wind giving us broad, shiny teeth smiles!

You may remember that back in 2011 Christchurch on the South Island had a severe earthquake and one of the many buildings raised to the ground was called The Suk Jai Thai. The family came north to Whangarei and have been producing fine Thai meals ever since. Gail and Tony introduced us to the place after the Quarry ‘A Choired Taste’ performance so we took Charly and Tom there.

They were busy, busy, busy, rushed off their feet in fact. Isn’t it always nice eating in a place that is popular for obvious reasons instead of being the only customers and wondering why? Our rice waitress was new and in training, for which she got our complete sympathy, “You’re doing a great job” as she flicked another spoonful of sticky rice onto our plates.

Tom loves rice, so she kept flinging from her elaborately engraved aluminium pot, to our delight. I loved the barely cooked crisp vegetables in a tamarind sauce with prawns. It took longer to choose our dishes than eat them as all dishes were in the usual beef, chicken, prawn or vegetarian options with many house sauces.

All good things come to an end don’t they. My granny used to say, as we left her after our regular yummy Wednesday after school tea of cream cheese and castor sugar brown bread sandwiches, wagon wheels, freshly squeezed orange juice or cold milk and the rest, “If you don’t go dears, you can’t come back.”

On our twelfth day we were off just after 4.30am once more with the dawn still just an idea over the horizon we sped south on empty roads, veils of mist floating ghostly over fields and in the valleys, my keeping the windscreen clear by playing with the knobs and dials. Another bulb gone somewhere judging by the orange warning light on the dashboard. “Repco” I said to Rob, for a replacement bulb later.

Charly and Tom were off back home to prepare for moving into their new house once the building company finished it off and stopped messing them about. Likely their next visit will be when we are in South Africa at some time in the vague future.

Back in the car park Rob fitted the new bulb and checked to see why one of the rear seat belts would not house the buckle. Pulling the seats forward he found a lot of broken window glass and one of the fragments had lodged itself in the slit of the seat belt housing. It wouldn’t come out, like a fish down a pelican’s throat, so he rammed it further in, beyond the reach of the buckle and bingo one working belt.

On New Year’s Eve we wandered slowly around the Hatea Loop chatting with Wayne and Barry in the Artisan Market on the Canopy Bridge before scratching the ears of a piglet, with the longest random eyelashes, in the small animal enclosure. The evening of the dying year we chose to spend munching popcorn while watching the last six hours ever of Downton Abbey, taking us through a spectacular burst ulcer, blood flying everywhere over guests at a rich dinner table, a wedding and birth, (but no deaths,) in short order and so engrossing we forgot the bottle of bubbly that had been cooling in the fridge.

The magnificent series finished and it was past 2.00am here that’s 1.00pm back home in the UK.

A Happy New Year Dear Readers.