Back to reality – Month 3

We still don’t have jobs sorted. It takes a little longer than previously thought to get jobs at our age.

So we drink coffee…..

Another double espresso

And eat food……

Homemade scallion (…american recipe) pancake, fried, for breakfast.

Watch Radiohead’s set from Glastonbury for the zillionth time……

Thom doing his thang………

Have some gin at St Paul’s bar

Very posh gin and tonic…..for that read expensive.

And manage to survive another month in Birmingham.

Back to reality – Month 2

This is the boring month we knuckle down to find work ….. but still find time to have a blog post full of food and drink!

We get to explore Birmingham and our new surroundings.

Birmingham canal walk

We were still on the lookout for coffee….

And great food…..

Braised ox cheeks a la Glynn Purnell

But we were also enjoying cooking our own meals, trying to recreate food we had whilst away.

Chairman Mao pork with chinese pickled cucumber

Dumplings were first on the list. We cheated by using premade dumpling wrappers but the results were pretty impressive!

Dumplings…..need I say more?

We had a Swedish open sandwich party to say thank you our Finchfield hosts.

Swedish open butties…..on black bread from the Lithuanian deli near our flat!
Massive home made burger
Grilled cod on saffron risotto

Back to reality – Month 1

This is the fun month.

After being greeted in person by my parents at the airport…..

IMG_20170505_122158855_BURST000_COVER
They have never been so happy to see us!

Catching up with the family…..

Getting lots of hugs from my nieces

And friends…..

A beer in every picture…..nearly

And more friends….

Ladies that lunch……with wine, obvs.

…..we were completely integrated back into English life.

.

Guy after a hard weekend socialising with his friends

It is funny how you both look forward to coming home but also don’t. The thought that the freedom of travelling is coming to an end and you are back to your old life is always difficult. The excitement you have at making all the plans for leaving builds up over a long time, there are many hours spent on the internet, booking trains, hotels and more, packing up the house, selling all our worldly goods on eBay and more than few leaving parties which means it is all so exciting. The booking of a flight home and knowing what you are coming back to is different.

We had a lovely week at my parents in Stroud. Our walks down the canal were wonderful, and made us realise how beautiful this country is. The weather was amazing, those sunny spring days filled with sunshine, blue skies, wildflowers and hope, made us both truly happy to be back.

Our daily walk down Stroud canal had these views…….
……..and these wildflowers

We then had a couple of weeks staying with some friends of ours, and, amazingly, we were still friends a few weeks later. We enjoyed many a (late night) BBQ and more than a few drinks in our stay in Finchfield.

Sardines waiting to be BBQ’d, it would be dark before we ate them!

Flat hunting in Birmingham was depressing at times but we soon found an apartment in the centre of town and were excited to be starting a whole new way of living, city centre living, with no garden, or even terrace, for me to look after!

Not our flat but it is Birmingham Library and this is only 5 minutes from it

Moving in was a trial but we abused the good nature of our mates and roped them into helping. I doubt they will be as willing when we move out as the logistics of moving into a secure apartment, with key fobbed doors and lifts that didn’t work meant it was a sweaty day. We bought them beers to compensate.

3.5.2017 Waiheke Island

Our last day has arrived and we are sad to be leaving this wonderful travelling lifestyle.  The thought of getting a flat, jobs and facing reality is quite a shocker, but on the plus side, it will be great to see family and friends again (and not be eaten alive by mossies).

Our terrace

We have toast, butter, honey and coffee on the terrace. The amaretto was a welcome addition as heads were a touch sore from last night.

Caffeine, and more, pick me up

Our day was quiet.  We blogged, diaried etc.

We ate fish and chips by the seaside.

All food groups are covered here

Went for a walk on the beach.

We had ice creams.

I left Guy on his own in the wine shop tasting wines, he maxed out the credit card.

I cooked meatballs and couscous for dinner.

We watched our last night of kiwi tat TV. 

Tomorrow we get our flight home and arrive on Friday, we are being met by Mum and Dad at the airport, which will be lovely. We are spending a few days with them before heading up to Wolverhampton to see friends (and get a flat and jobs…..).

We will update this blog occasionally with exciting things we do in our lives, dumplings we eat and our next adventure, whatever that will be. 

2.5.3017 Waiheke Island vineyards

Our last day visiting vineyards starts with a coffee, obviously, accompanied by toast, lashings of butter and honey all on our little terrace. 

We then count mossie bites and compare them. Who knew the mossies on this island we so desperate for Roberts blood? Guy wins the most bites and for once we are happy to be going home to a mossie free haven.

We do a bit of strip shopping up and down Oneroa high street then we set off walking up and down the winding roads to the 2 walkable vineyards on this island of 31 vineyards, Mudbrick and Cable Bay.

View from our terrace

Mudbrick is a stunning setting, overlooking the islands bays and Auckland in the distance, set up high, it looked very Cotswolds to us. The prices of $20 for a premium tasting of 4 wines was steep, none of which were particularly great or worth the huge price tags, eg $89 for a bottle of Syrah. No extra tastings were given, portions were small, it was all very corporate. 

View from Mud brick
Auckland CBD in the distance

Next was Cable Bay, $10 for tasting and you only get that price taken off if you buy 2 or more bottle of wine. Again, this is much pricier than anywhere else we have experienced, we are thinking there is a posh tax on this island and we are thankful we aren’t going to any more vineyards here.

So, final scores on doors for NZ Vineyards visited is 33 and we have tasted over 275 wines. 

One last vineyard stroll

Guy also has a foldable pocket wine guide that he will bring out when tasting wines back in the UK so he can identify the plums, dry canned peas etc flavours in each variety of wine. You have all been warned. 

Rare photo of Guy looking happy AND drinking Rose

A walk home was undertaken in the sunshine via Alison Park.

Great park name

We stop for lunch at a beautiful setting of Wai restaurant. It is great food, but the wine is expensive, nearly the same price for a glass as a meal, but we still have some as we won’t get this opportunity soon. 

Chicken livers with Pedro Ximenez sherry sauce

Colcannon with corned beef

The afternoon is spent blogging, drinking wine and telling our mates we are drinking wine for the last time before we come home (we can’t do it tomorrow as we can’t face the 17 hour flight with a raging hangover).

Our favourite kiwi chardys

Dinner is sausages and couscous.

Guys sausage presentation

We watch more tat TV and drank more wine and listened to some Bon Jovi, just to annoy Guy.

29.4.3017 Day Cycle to Napier

Todays adventure is cycling to Napier, 20km away. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt entirely in the style of the times, Art Deco, which we both love. We had fond memories of it last time so we looking forward to visiting it again. Plus, we have been lucky enough to be invited to a wedding which is being held in the Electric Cinema in Brum, so it was a great opportunity for me to get a dress for the big occasion. 

Red beaked birds

We started off cycling along the train tracks and through light industry, not as photogenic as we were hoping. We stopped for a coffee and almond croissant. Cycling is ace, it means you can eat whatever you want! 

Shipping container coffee and croissant break

We finally got to the ocean front and had a beautiful cycle along it for about 9km. The waves were crashing down, repeatedly, the driftwood was everywhere and Guy was in photography heaven.

Pacific coastline

We parked up in Napier and went for a small snack at Hapi, an inspiring cafe with loads of gluten free, vegan, veggie and other dietary foods.

Hapi cafe

The city wasn’t as photogenic as we remember. The high street seems to be the same as everywhere else filled with Farmers, UniChem, Hannahs, etc. We managed to find some gorgeous shop fronts to photograph and I got a dress and head piece for the wedding!!! Result. 

We spotted a fish cafe on the seafront and settled down to some stunning green lipped mussels and calamari at Hunger Monger.

Calamari
Picking mussels from a shell

A walk was required to settle stomachs before we cycled back to Hastings avoiding most the light industry views this time. 

Fish art

A slight detour on the way back and we were at Vidal cellar door. More wines were tasted.

Another photo of me at a cellar door

Dinner was a vegan lasagne, salad and roasted tomatoes, delicious.

We sat around chatting to our hosts and housemates, sharing a bottle of wine, the rest of the evening. We even played the card game, Monopoly …….and lost. 

29 miles cycled today.

28.4.2017 Hawkes Bay Wine Tour

Another day on the bikes so we had a non vegan breakfast on our way out of Hastings. I actually wish it had been vegan after we had tasted the plastic hollandaise sauce and slimy packet salmon. 

Cute tea pot with marshmallow balancing on top

Hawkes Bay is set up for cycling, there are routes all over which are flat and go via the many vineyards that are around the area. We feel it is our duty to utilise this facility.

Now that is the kind of signpost I like to see

Our Air BnB hosts also rent out bikes so we utilise this facility and get 2 bikes and rode to the vineyards.

The scenery is very different to Blenheim, more distant craggy ridges rather than distance rolling hills. It is much closer to the ocean (the Pacific to be specific 😂) which is massively exciting for us Midlanders, and as many orchards as vineyards which at this time of year the trees are dripping with their red and green fruits and are quite stunning to see.

This sign caused a snigger

First vineyard is Black Barn, a boutique vineyard which doesn’t export, even past Hawkes Bay! The setting is stunning, it is set up on a slight ridge with views all around their vineyards.

View inside Black Barn
View of fig tree lined path outside Black Barn

Next is Te Mata Estate who have ‘since 1896’ on all their marketing, however in asking the cellar door lass for more information she simply repeated that they had started in 1896. Oh well. The building was fabulous.

How photogenic is this???

Next was a recommendation from Black Barn, Aka Rangi vineyard, a very boutique one, set in an old disused church, it was the most atmospheric tasting we have had so far. The Chardonnay was so good we bought one.

Wines and beards but no hipsters in sight

There were even old cars full of weeds on the driveway, you don’t get more atmospheric than that!


Now we needed to do a long (ish) cycle to the coast and up the shoreline which is rugged, filled with driftwood, discarded sea detritus and lots of dark grey pebbles of all different sizes. This is my favourite kind of beach, the white sands are nice but the rugged beach is so much more appealing to me. I like my men like my beaches……😂

Tree trunk swept up on beach

We get to Clearview Estate vineyard and cycle in for the largest tasting so far, 14 wines and one comedian! The lass on cellar door was entertaining and we thoroughly enjoyed the tasting. 

What a winning line up

We stayed for a platter of local produce, included smoked mushrooms, marinated green lipped mussels, mozzarella with basil oil, hams and olives. 

Another winning line up

On our way home we passed all the savvy types in their campervans, sat out enjoying the sunshine and possibly a good book, and / or a glass of wine. This will be us in a few years time, we hope.

Living the dream

A long ride back along the raised cycle path and we were ready for our dinner of vegan lasagne, roasted tomatoes, pasta and tomato sauce.

Me, ahead, again!

It was delicious and we had a lovely evening chatting to the other people staying here.

32 miles cycled today according to Google and the onboard navigator, maybe Google is correct then?