March 2, 2010
On the morning of our beach evacuation for the potential tsunami we ended up at a takeaway (café) around 8:30 A.M. having a coffee and watching the news. The first waves hit Gisborne on the eastern coast around 9:20 A.M. Thought waves were predicted as high as 1-3 meters they weren’t this severe. We decided to stay away from the beaches this Saturday (Feb. 28) and rang up several SERVAS hosts in Blenheim. I haven’t really explained that we are members of this international host organization that promotes peace and cultural awareness world-wide. We have the opportunity to stay with the people of New Zealand during our travels here and will host others when we are settled once again. Fortunately for us we connected with Bob and Christine and had a fabulous two-day visit. Though they’d just returned from a two-week holiday and were still unpacking they gladly opened their home to us. We arrived mid-morning and directly had tea with biscuits (cookies) and green grapes just picked off their vines. After a visit and being shown around it was soon time for lunch where we had an opportunity to try venison salami (there are many deer farms in New Zealand) and it was quite delicious. We happily offered to help with the yard work they’d planned on doing and Gregory did the majority of the lawn mowing with Mike finishing things off and I pulled some weeds after getting our laundry started.
Our hostess Christine is a fiber artist and does felting using primarily wool but also other fibers such as silk. Her business is called Felt Good, which I thought was quite clever. She graciously offered to let Gregory and I each do a project so I made a purse and Gregory did a wall hanging. We found out that wool has scales on it therefore when you overlap wool in opposite directions, add a bit of water and wool wash, and do a bit of smooshing with your hands, the fibers grab one another and make an almost indestructible fabric. Christine showed me how to make a pattern from bubble wrap for my purse and after layering the darker Gotland wool (and smooshing) we flipped the bubble wrap over to do the opposite side and again to add the lighter Corridale wool on top. Each time water and wool wash are added with lots of smooshing. The edges of wool that overlap the bubble wrap are wrapped around to form the edge of the purse. Once finished layering the wool, the whole piece is covered with plastic, smooshed some more and then rolled in the plastic along with a towel. This roll is worked back and forth using pressure and the fibers continue to bind together. Gregory’s piece was a bit more straight forward as a wall hanging but once he had is base layer of dark Gotland wool he added bits of colored wool creating a designed wall hanging. As art lovers ourselves Gregory and I were just in heaven and made pieces that we will treasure for a lifetime.
Blenheim is on the Wairau plains in the Marlborough region, which is famous for its vineyards. The countryside is quite picturesque and Blenheim is “one of New Zealands sunniest towns, boasting over 2500 hours of sunshine in 2008”. (AA Visitor Guide 2010). During our visit we had an opportunity to sample some Sauvignon Blanc to accompany a delightful dinner of blue cod that was caught and prepared by our hosts. Award winning Sauvignon Blanc varietals are produced in this region as well as sparkling wines, pinot gris, gewurtztraminer, riesling, chardonnay and other white wines. Pinot Noir and other reds are produced here but whites are predominant.
Upon our hosts recommendation we visited Highland Estates where Gregory enjoyed walking up and down the rows of grape vines and climbing the observation tower to view the miles and miles of vineyards and surrounding mountains. We met some Canadians while we sampled the 2008 and 2009 sauvignon blanc and the pinot noir. We congratulated them on their Olympic hockey win and wished them safe travels.
At Bob and Christine’s house we watched the final ice skating exhibition of the Olympics while we enjoyed a gorgeous pavlova with raspberry sauce. Pavlova is a traditional New Zealand dessert. They fed us like kings during our entire visit including a barbequed steak dinner, salads with fixings fresh from the garden, homemade bread and homemade raspberry jam. The beet root (beets) from the garden were also delicious. We’ve only been in country about a week and my pants are already getting tight!