Australia, Gardening

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

If you have stopped here for information on the Carnival, you may be disappointed. I missed the Carnival of Flowers itself, so there are no pictures of the annual parade, but what I did see is stunning floral displays that are the dominant feature of this event in Toowoomba, a large country town, about an hour’s drive west of Brisbane, Australia. I arrived two days after the festival officially concluded. By the looks of the displays, the flowers are quite oblivious of the carnival’s end date.

The city of Toowoomba sits atop a mountain range and is blessed with cooler temperatures and rich volcanic soil, perfect for horticulture. The major horticultural event, The Carnival of Flowers, draws thousands of visitors to the city’s generous parks and gardens.

Whilst the historically wealthy country town has monolithic bluestone churches, funky alleys and quirky street art, it is the stunning floral display in late September that draws most of the region’s visitors.

Laurel Bank Park

Amongst neat and tidy lawns and prolific flower beds at Laurel Bank Park, on Hill Street, you will find plenty of seating for those who need a rest from taking a multitude of floral camera shots that one is apt to do given the spectacular displays.

Displays of Tulips, Poppies, Foxgloves and Hollyhocks take me back to memories of Denmark or The Netherlands, albeit without the rainy weather.

This is Australia, remember. The continent where it forgot how to rain!

Like many parts of Australia, Toowoomba has experienced, for many years, a severe water shortage. This has resulted in the Gardeners, at Laurel Bank Park, adopting stringent water-saving strategies and switching to growing more water-tolerant plants in order to maintain the floral displays to the expected standard. It seems that they have succeeded in their quest.

Topiary elephants, seals and the Leaning Tower of Pisa add a fantasy element to the gardens. Can you guess what this topiary represents? It is rather Australian and Danish!

Toowoomba Botanic Gardens

Cherry Blossoms line the Toowoomba Botanic Garden’s at Queens Park. The entry path offers the visitor a visual explosion of multi-coloured Ranunculus, inviting you to explore more of the gardens. The pathway then opens to rows and rows of flowering beds with daisies, violets and pansies.

It seems one lonely tulip bulb missed the memo.

Snapped at the right, or perhaps, the wrong moment. Street photography in Toowoomba can be surprising.

I have so many questions about the man’s pickle. Not a sign of a picnic basket or lunch box anywhere. Where was he keeping it? So random and fun!

There is so much our country towns can offer us. We only have to look closer, before lamenting we can not travel outside our own borders. This is another of the country towns that offer unique experiences, similar to Amandine Lavender farm at Bargara, near Bundaberg, which I posted about recently.

logo
blogging

Lavender

Farming and rural communities are doing it tough in these times. Most of us recognize that.

You will be be delighted and surprised at the hidden gems found in many country towns and rural areas that were formerly overlooked by the overseas obsessed traveling public. Amandine Lavender is one such gem near the central Queensland coastal town of Bargara.

Those seeking a safer alternative to traveling overseas can not only support farming communities by making a day trip but also include rural towns, as holiday destinations.

Amandine Lavender Farm, Seaview Road, Bargara.

Around four hours drive north of Brisbane, Australia, or five minutes from the famous Turtle Rookery at Mon Repos, you will find Amandine Lavender farm, along Seaview Road at Bargara. See how the lavender is grown and utilized into a vast array of therapeutic and beauty products on sale at Amandine’s gift shop. Online ordering is coming soon.

Formerly a family sugarcane farm dating back 3 generations, the falling price of sugar encouraged the owners to diversify into growing lavender and developing a new business venture. The owners have transformed a pretty potting shed and garden into a flowering lavender paradise.

Amandine Lavender Products

The lavender product range includes soaps or oils, sprays and creams as well as soothing lavender sleep and relaxation balm, excellent for tension headaches, which I carry in my handbag at all times. Old favorites like sachets of dried lavender for pillows, wheat packs, or to hang in the wardrobe to keep pesky moths away from one’s clothes, are also on offer.

At Amandine farm, you are encouraged to pick as much lavender as you can carry in your hands, to take home with you. Enjoy the relaxing scent of freshly cut lavender in your own home for days after your visit.

Then when the flowers started to droop, cut them and hang them upside down to dry out. They can them be used as dried flowers or sprinkled in sachets for the wardrobe or undies drawer. Lavender foliage can be trimmed and used for propagating new lavender plants.

How to Grow Your Own Lavender

Amandine has self-guided propagation activities in their garden potting shed but you can always grab an information leaflet and try cultivating lavender, at home.

When to Pick and Trim Lavender

Spring flowering lavender should be cut in Spring whilst the winter flowering forms should be picked in autumn in order to take advantage of the best time to grow lavender from existing plants.

Cultivation of Lavender

Cut a leaf tip of lavender, about two inches, or 5 -8 cms long, dip the end in a rooting powder (available from nurseries or larger supermarkets), and place in a good quality potting mix. Water it in, then cover and seal with a plastic bag, setting it aside for a few months.

After several months, you will be delighted to find you have created new lavender plants of your own, at no cost.

Lavender plants do prefer a dry soil; they don’t like to moist ground for too long. That is why they prefer coastal climates and have not problem tolerating windy conditions.

Conveniently, these are the conditions we have at the home by the sea. I will be potting out some more of these hardy and highly perfumed beauties soon.

Lavender is the plant the keeps on giving.

Amandinelavender.com.au

Opening hours may vary due to Covid. Ring ahead to check.

logo
blogging

Overcoming Frustration

“Patience is a Virtue and I need more of it – NOW!”

Have you heard anyone say that recently?

  • Did you ever feel frustrated when someone pushed ahead of you in a queue?
  • How do you feel when someone takes longer than expected to do a simple task at work, or doesn’t complete it in a timely manner despite repeated requests?
  • What if your kids or partner refuse the food you have laboriously prepared and cooked all afternoon, only to raid the cookie jar later that evening?
  • Has someone walked all over your newly mopped floor in muddy boots?
  • Has your final attempt at resolving a bureaucratic problem been quashed by uncaring authorities?
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Frustration

Frustration is an intense emotion we feel:

  • when our needs aren’t being met at the time we expect them to be.
  • when we feel trapped.
  • when we are not listened to.
  • when our efforts are not respected or appreciated.

The Instant Gratification Society

How do you react when you waiting for an answer to an urgent email?

Are you someone who responds by sending a follow-up SMS text asking for an update? If they still don’t answer immediately, do you call them directly?

We have come to expect a fast resolution to our needs and experience frustration if that or some other achievable goal is thwarted.

Do you want to know a fact you have forgotten? Google will end our frustrations quickly and efficiently. There’s no need to rack our brains anymore. What does that teach us? That we can quickly solve our own problems?

Society has groomed our vulnerabilities and we now expect a rapid response to our wants and needs.

If we invest more time and effort than we think justified in reaching a goal, the resulting emotion is often frustration and impatience.

Patience is a coping skill we need to navigate a world where gratification is instantly demanded.

How Does Developing Patience Help?

Developing more patience in frustrating situations can improve health and free us from feelings of stress and anger.

However, patience doesn’t mean you will become a people-pleaser or dishonour your personal boundaries, which I posted about last week, but rather it gives you the power of waiting, watching and knowing when and how to act, in order to build compassion between individuals.

  • Patience helps you to be kind and compassionate.
  • Patience improves your health and wellbeing
  • Patience lowers your stress
  • Patience frees you from feeling angry emotions
  • Patience enhances self-respect by staying centred no matter what
  • Patience develops an eye for details

Showing patience offers us extra moments of time in which we can choose how and when to respond to a given event. This may avoid that detrimental knee-jerk emotional reaction. Challenging situations can be dealt with more flexibly.

Practising Patience in Everyday Life

Start out small and practise patience regularly. The following ideas may help:

  1. Practise letting someone go ahead of you in a queue.
  2. Deliberately choose a long supermarket queue. Use that time to practise long slow breaths in your busy day.
  3. Drive the long way home and listen to a podcast or relaxing music.
  4. Actively listen to exactly what is being said/requested by others. Rephrase their request back to them to double-check for understanding. This helps to put your frustrations aside in order to focus on solutions to the problem you are trying to solve.
  5. Let a provocative or controversial comment slide.
  6. Know your weaknesses and avoid letting them become your hot buttons or triggers.
  7. Build your self-discipline by creating new habits and leading a less complicated life. Studies show that people with self-discipline are generally happier people.
  8. Challenge your perception about willpower. Recognize that it is normal to feel frustrated, but believe in your ability to choose to direct your energy in a different way.
  9. Turn your attention inward until your needs are met. This is a good way of practising a form of meditation until you receive the gratification you are searching for.

“Like everything else that brings progress, the greatest struggle is always within ourselves.”

Entrepeneur.com

Go through your life practising patience with grace, and avoid pent up anger or frustrations.

Something to Ponder About

sunrise photography
blogging, Mental Health, Philosophy

How to Please People

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

Jim Rohn

Do you like to Help Others?

We are encouraged to help others according to the religious and social conventions of our world. Doing so, promotes joy in others, a sense of, ‘loving kindness,’ in our interactions with others and community.

But,

where are the boundaries between helping others and neglecting our own needs in order to please others?

People-pleasers typically have low selfesteem. They overdo it on kindness and helpfulness because they feel a need to prove their worth. They’re uncomfortable with conflict and negative emotions, so they work hard to always keep their partners happy, with no concern for their own feelings.

Psychology Today

This statement goes a little far in finger-pointing, and it could incite feelings of guilt in the person who aims to please. But I take their point on the fundamental issue.

So how do we achieve that balance between helping others and not hindering ourselves?

I think that it’s a learning process for some of us.

People pleasers hope that saying yes to everything asked of them will help them feel accepted and liked. However, no matter how nice they are, some people won’t like you for no good reason.

Why not?

Who knows?

Do you like every person you meet?

Kindness or Pleasing Others?

Many people-pleasers confuse the act of pleasing people with kindness. When discussing their reluctance to turn down someone’s request for a favour, they say things like,

“I don’t want to be selfish,” or “I just want to be a good person.”

Consequently, they allow others to take advantage of them.

https://www.psychologytoday.com

It is impossible to be all things to all people. Trying to be that person will just stress you out.

Some people-pleasers have a history of maltreatment and somewhere along the way, they decided that their best hope for better treatment was to try to please the people who mistreated them.

Psychology Today

Some People-pleasers seem to spend a lot of time walking on eggshells and neglecting their own boundaries to keep a significant other happy*. For these folks, people-pleasing becomes a habit and a way of interacting with family, friends and other people.

*NB. If this tips over into an abusive relationship, professional help should be considered, at the earliest opportunity.

What You Can Do to Break a People-Pleasing Habit

  • Start by saying no to a small request or take a stand for something you truly believe in.
  • Express your real thoughts and opinions to something small or less significant.
  • Validate the other person’s right to a different opinion before calmly stating your own.

Check to see if this works for you.

A positive or neutral response to this, from the receiver, may help to build confidence in one’s own ability to be more aligned with the true self.

Any adjustments in this communication might mean re-phrasing your words without acquiescing your own beliefs. Validating other people’s right to their own opinion, whilst calmly stating your own, may also be helpful.

“I get why you would think that and it would be nice if I could see it your way/agree with you, but right now, I see it/think differently.”

“The Number 1 reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbours.”

– Napoleon Hill

Hallingdal Golfjellet- sheep
blogging, Mental Health, Photography, Travel

Friendly Friday Challenge – Quiet Places

The world can be a stressful place at times. Often there is a need to step back and re-energize our tolerance to stress, pressures and worries.

Certain places in the world can be restorative to our spirit. These places may be somewhere in your own region, in your own street or even in one’s own backyard or a quiet city street.

Such ‘Quiet Places,‘ may bring solace and a settling of the nerves.

norway
Dalen, Norway

In the year of Covid confusion, I re-visit quiet places in my dreams. Photo archives bring those memories to life again, if only for a transient moment, in the present time.

Like the time, I stayed up in the mountains of Norway..

Or on the banks of the Tauber River in Germany.

light

I am drawn to locations by the water, presumably due to the calming effect of the waves gently caressing the shoreline.

What about you?

Where is your ‘Quiet Place?’

Create a Friendly Friday Challenge ‘Quiet Places’ Post

To join the challenge, simply add a ping-back link and a Friendly Friday tag to a new post, then come back here to leave a comment with the published link, so visitors can find you and visit.

If this is your first challenge contribution, there is a full set of instructions on how to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge on my blog header.

Friendly Friday will at StPA, in two weeks time. In the meantime, next Friday, you can discover the next prompt at my Friendly Friday Challenge Co-host’s blog, The Sandy Chronicles.

blogging

An Invitation to an Old Friend

Since I moved to a Home by the sea, I have had a beautiful friendship with a young wild bird who lived in the area. Recently, you may have read how I had to end the friendship with this wild bird. You may also be wondering what happened since then.

The fact that a wild bird could be so trusting as to voluntarily come into my house and sit on my dining room table, without fear, should have been a real compliment and I began to think I shouldn’t be angry at him. He was just doing what he could to survive in a suburban environment.

If truth be told, I was as fearful for his safety as I was for mine when he began fluttering around inside the house. And no, he didn’t drop any messages anywhere nor knock a single item over in his flurry. What dexterity!

Old Mate, as I dubbed him did come back the day following his tour of my abode and he sat outside on the fence singing for me to bring him his regular treats. I ignored his pleas. I did feel mean.

The next week went by and Old Mate didn’t visit me at all. I heard him but never saw him.

Yesterday, I heard him in the neighbourhood.

I relented.

I placed a piece of ham (his favourite), on the fence for him. It was still there the next day. Was this a sign he was gone for good?

I had to admit I still wanted a relationship with him but wanted him to respect that he could not enter my house. I would meet him in the yard.

Today, he arrived again and so I extended an invitation to him and his lady partner and offered him ham from my hand. He took it willingly.

We are friends again.

Birds are wonderful creatures.

#Socs

helnaes
blogging

Hometown Conversations

Sønder Felding
My 7th Great Grandfathers house Sønder Felding

Hometown – Home – Hjem

What does it mean?

There is that trite saying – “Home is where the heart is,” but that saying means little to me. My current hometown is a relatively new one, at the Home by the Sea.

Origins

Whilst my blogger colleague, Sandy has lived in many different places in many countries, I have lived in just four cities my entire life, and all four in the same country, Australia. Three in the same state. Yet it is a different country on the other side of the globe to me, that captures what most would recognize as a feeling of home. Home: that warm fuzzy feeling of sanctuary one gets when they hear that word.

I never felt that feeling in any of my previous hometowns and don’t like to dwell too much on them, much less write about them. But there is one place that I felt completely relaxed and ‘hyggelig,’ and that was the time I spent in Denmark. Danes have such a knack for creating a comforting, cosy atmosphere in their homes that they invented a unique word to describe it. Hygge.

Growing up in Australia, I actually knew very little of Denmark and even less about the town my family came from. I had seen a photograph and read a book in 1995, but that was pretty much all. The pictures in that book were a revelation and they entranced me. From that moment, I was on a mission to figure out how I could visit that magical place and my family’s hometown.

Arriving in Denmark

I longed to visit Denmark and I’d waited and saved for years. Despite this, it seemed both corny and surprising that when that SAS aeroplane, I was seated in, touched down on the tarmac of that longed-for country, I had a strong sense of relief wash over me, a sense of coming home. Could I put that down to wishful thinking and finally reaching my goal? If so, why was I so utterly surprised at the extent of this overwhelming feeling I couldn’t get out of my head? Being there at that moment, just felt right.

From Tower Ribe Cathedral Denmark

DNA Memory and Research

Some think there is more to DNA memory. That you can remember certain things through the generations and heredity.

Animals such as mice, have been able to pass on useful environmental information learnt during their lives to their offspring two generations hence, even though it was not in their original DNA. This appears to occur after a traumatic event.

Scientists have conducted studies with roundworms that indicate they can ‘remember’ information for up to 14 generations.

Don’t you think that is fascinating?

That a Grandparent or ancestor might learn a vital piece of information in their early life and you, as a grandchild or descendant might express, feel, exhibit or react to, a certain stimulus in the same way as that Grandparent might have done?

This may be what happened when I visited Denmark. Whether it was DNA, or the expression of a gene with a particular leaning towards certain environmental factors, or something else. I can’t say.

Marienlyst

Do you have a longing to a certain place? Is it your home or is it another place in the world?

Join the Conversation with Sandy and Amanda on your hometown.

Australia, blogging

Ending a Friendship

Recently at the Home by the Sea, I met a new friend. So that he can remain anonymous, I’ll call him, ‘Old Mate,’ (as we sometimes do in Australia).

Most people who met Old Mate, thought him brash and cocky, but I was utterly charmed by his youthful exuberance. He’d entered my world uninvited and I’d welcomed and even encouraged him to visit me whenever he liked. “My door is always open. Come over anytime,” I told him nonchalantly.

Perhaps that was my mistake? I can be naive about such things.

Being a good neighbour, or so I thought, I’d offered him food and refreshments whenever he rocked up. He really did like that. So much so, that he brought his partner over to meet us. We were chuffed.

Both Old Mate and his partner were talented singers and would regularly entertain us when they popped in. It was obvious they were planning to settle nearby and start a family. I was looking forward to sharing their world and continuing our wonderful friendship.

I had no inkling that Old Mate would take liberties with our friendship in a way no one else has done before.

It came to a head this week.

Jumping around on my Dining table was, to say the least, extremely unsettling, so I was forced to do something I’ve never done before: I told Old Mate he had to leave – ordering him out of my house.

He didn’t take my announcement well: becoming angry and flustered, making excuses to check out several rooms in the house, before finally agreeing to leave.

That was the final straw. I abruptly terminated our friendship.

I feel bad. I miss him, but it has to be this way.

My door is now closed.

logo
Coolangatta Australia
blogging

Friendly Friday – Anniversaries

September seems to be the month for it.

Wedding anniversaries, Relationship anniversaries, work anniversaries and special occasions.

I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised.

September is Spring in this part of the world and for those that dislike winter and cool mornings, it is cause for celebration when the earth turns towards the sun again.

Brides choose September for their weddings.

Do they do that in the North as well?

Weekly Friendly Friday Theme

Friendly Friday challenges you to look back on your own Anniversaries. Where were you last year, six years ago, ten years ago or more?

My photo archive indicates I am frequently found close to the water on my Anniversary.

The wild surf at Greenmount headland, at Coolangatta draws us in.

A surfer was taken by a shark right at this point, just two days ago.

A father in his 40’s who surfed here every day. He was rescued, taken ashore but paramedics could not save him. The shark, believed to be a Great White, left its tooth embedded in the bite mark on his surfboard.

On our anniversary visits, I rarely went in for a swim, preferring to walk in the shallows and then past the old Shark Tower monument, which was erected in the 1960s for lifesavers to use as an observation site.

From that point, I would follow the boardwalk through the pandanus trees around the headland.

  • beach

Even though we have nets to protect swimmers, the killer shark appears to have swum underneath the six-metre nets that line the shore.

The irony of the local name: ‘Snapper Rocks” Hotel and Surf Club, does not escape me.

Join in with the Friendly Friday Challenge

Add a Friendly Friday tag, to your anniversary post, including a pingback, or if that is confusing, read the full instructions on joining in with the Friendly Friday Challenge.

Please remember to leave a comment below as pingbacks don’t always work.

Next Friday, Sandy will have another challenge for us.

Happy Anniversary.

blogging, Cakes, Food

Dark Chocolate Brownie

I have been making a Dark Chocolate Brownie over at the Home by the Sea.

It is a quick and easy recipe that has some health benefits owing to the use of dark chocolate. These are more cake recipes posted previously for #Onecakeaweek

Are you tempted by any?

I will be making one cake each week and would love you to link up any cake recipes you have posted on your blog, so I have more recipes to try out.

From Enticing Desserts – Strawberry Mint Sorbet

From The New Vintage Kitchen – Lavender and Lemon Shortbread Cookies

From Pictures Imperfect – German Cheesecake with Quark

Queenstown
Travel

The Top Spots of Queenstown, New Zealand

Things to do in Queenstown

Queenstown’s idyllic waterside location means you are spoilt for choice of things to do and its compact size means you are never far from the spectacular lake, which is fringed by snow-capped peaks for much of the year.

Take a wine tour, cruise the lake, stroll through beautiful gardens, visit historic Arrowtown or take full advantages of some of the free attractions in the city.

Shopping in Queenstown

If you have spent an exhausting day skiing up at the Remarkables, rejuvenating your tired muscles with a bit of retail therapy may be in order for the following day.

Queenstown can be a fun town to sip coffee, eat, browse sassy shops and classy fashion stores, but you might have to pay at classy prices too. We succumbed to buying some travel souvenirs which were bound to be gifts, including one interesting wind-up ‘rude-finger,’ toy and were not sufficiently tempted by what we saw as somewhat over-inflated prices.

History of Queenstown and Maori Legends

Maori first inhabited this area, of New Zealand, in a search for food, greenstone, and the flightless Moa bird. Legends state that the giant Matau was burnt to death in his sleep after he abducted a chief’s daughter, burning a massive hole in the ground and melting the ice and snow of the surrounding mountains. This became Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu. The lake is a large “S” shape, exactly like a giant, curled up and sleeping on its side.

Queenstown
Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu

The lake is a beautiful place to take a short cruise or easy stroll. You could even see the ducks that line the foreshore near the shopping precinct, angling for some crumbs of bread from passing tourists.

One of Wakatipu’s mysteries is the rise and fall of the lake by about 12cm (5″) every five minutes. Legend states that a Giant’s heart is impossible to destroy, and causes this rise and fall, while science says this is due to fluctuating atmospheric pressures. Across the lake from Queenstown, below Cecil Peak, a little island is visible only from a certain angle. Some say this hidden Island is the still-beating heart of the Giant Matua.

Facts about Lake Wakatipu

  • Max depth: 380 m
  • Area: 291 km²
  • Length: 80 km
  • Average depth: 230 metres (750 ft)

15,000 years ago during the last ice age, a huge glacier moving from the north-west carved out what is now Lake Wakatipu. The lake is relatively thin, but the mountains run straight into the lake, forming a deep canyon, 399m at its deepest point.
Lake Wakatipu is the second largest lake in the Southern Lakes District, covering 290 square km. At its widest point, Lake Wakatipu is five kilometres wide, and the total length is 84km. 

Wiki

Tourist Adventure Activities in Queenstown

Besides the tourist drawcards of skiing at Coronet Peak, Cardrona or The Remarkables which we had already ticked off our holiday bucket list, there is a list of high-intensity things to do in Queenstown. Ziplining, Bungee jumping and the Jetboat ride on the Shotover River is high on the thrill seeker’s list. None of which I am qualified to comment on. A thrill-seeker I am not. However, there is plenty of information about it on the net if you are interested.

The Shotover River flows from the Southern Alps and runs through Skippers Canyon and flows into the Kawarau River, just east of Queenstown. The best way to experience the Shotover River is on the famous Queenstown jet boat ride.

https://www.theurbanlist.com/nz/a-list/things-to-do-queenstown

New Zealand was brought to the forefront of adventure sport when AJ Hackett opened the first commercial Bungy jump from the Kawarau Bridge, 43 metres (141 feet), over the Kawarau River, just outside the Queenstown area.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Restaurant

The shopping precinct at Queenstown is small enough to walk around in a few hours, and if you take it in one afternoon, you can then walk to the Restaurant complex located up the very prominent hill, a short walk from town. There is only one hill in the town itself, which you can’t fail but see and it is not too far for most people to walk.

At the base of the hill is the Skyline Gondola which takes you to a mountain-top restaurant. Adjacent to the Gondola’s entry, is an Animal education centre where you can learn more about the flightless bird, the Kiwi. Spend around 30 minutes or so here learning about this elusive and rare creature.

http://www.skyline.co.nz/en/queenstown/dining/

Take the scenic ride up to Bob’s Peak to take in the scenic, panoramic views. You’ll be carried 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. Settle in for dinner at Stratosfare Restaurant.

There’s also the Skyline Stargazing experience, where stargazing guides lead you up Bob’s Peak where with telescopes, you’ll take in sights not visible to the naked eye.

https://www.theurbanlist.com/nz/a-list/things-to-do-queenstown

Inside the Gondola’s capsule, we chatted to a couple who were revisiting the Gondola after their first visit 40 years ago. And it is little wonder. The views from there are mind-blowing. This activity is an iconic must-do, when you visit Queenstown.

Surprisingly, we noticed a flock of sheep grazing underfoot, as we travelled upwards. But it was the view that again and again captured our attention. It got better and better with each passing second.

Stratasfare Restaurant Dining Experience

Our dinner package included a complimentary drink on the terrace where the full spectacle of the snow-capped range, that is The Remarkables, can be viewed.

Queenstown
Queenstown

Being winter, the weather was closing in and longer views of The Remarkables had to wait as the mountain range snuck in behind the incoming snow cloud. Thus, we had to be quick with photographs before they disappeared completely for the evening.

The buffet experience, which may well now be modified due to Covid, was in a word, spectacular. The very best seafood, salads, hot and cold meats, desserts and fine boutique wines accompanied the splendid and vast array of food. And you can of course, eat as much as you like. I seem to remember I did over-indulge.

*Check with the restaurant for the new Covid arrangements. The buffet may be full service.

Tourist should also note that you need to be prepared to wait a long while for the taxi cab back to your hotel on a Saturday night after returning below via the Gondola. There are few Queenstown Taxis and we jumped in a share ride after waiting 45 minutes with a very tired, young child.

Queenstown Bungee

Most people know by now that Bungy jumping (also known as bungee jumping), is where a long elastic cord is attached to the ankles or harness, and the person jumps off a large height into NOTHINGNESS.

The Bungee jump at the Gondola Peak starts 400m, that’s 1300ft, over the city, and you can choose to jump normally, or swing over the township, night or day. Not my choice, but it might be your dream. Or you can skydive!

Skydiving over Queenstown

The Queenstown area actually houses three different Bungy operations. Apparently the jumping-off platform, at the top of the Gondola, was moved around further on the mountain due to it being previously positioned above a graveyard. The inappropriate screaming of Bungee jumpers were rather disconcerting during burials occurring below!

Fun fact:
Bungy jumping was inspired by David Attenborough’s 1950’s footage of the land divers of Pentecost Island Vanuatu, who tied vines to their ankles and jumped off tall platforms as a religious ceremony to bring a good harvest.

Queenstown Luge Ride

More appropriate and adrenalin-packed enough for me was the Luge ride, which is really a modified go-cart, hurtling slowly down a pre-defined track. We had pre-paid for this activity and it was a little underwhelming even for my ten-year-old child. In addition, tourists should beware the Luge rides close at 5pm, so if you plan to do the Luge with your kids before dinner, arrive early or you may face long queues at the buffet restaurant.

Accommodation:
Mercure Hotel – Queenstown
This hotel is located out of the main shopping area, a long walk from the town centre, but wonderfully located right on the lake and includes some really pretty views out from the Dining Room window. The shame is that this dining room is only used at nighttime, when you won’t see much, except black water and a few nightlights!

Location

You will have to taxi to and from the main shopping and town centre, but the desk staff are helpful and the views are wonderful. Amenities include a gym, (with a stunning view), sauna and swimming pool which on account of the prevalence of rain in Queenstown, is often underutilized.

Dining

If you stay at the Mercure and want meals after hours, you can eat at the bar which offers light adult-orientated snacks or alternatively, order Room Service. I chose the cheapest item on the Room Service menu, which was Garlic bread and it came covered with a stainless steel warmer cover, that unfortunately had congealed tomato sauce, on the inner side.

This was reported it to the kitchen staff and on my departure, an error on the bill where I was charged incorrectly for two garlic bread opened the discussion for the congealed tomato sauce. The fee was promptly waived by Reception staff. This goes a long way to making a happy customer. Well done, Mercure.

stpa logo

Cakes, Food

Sticking with the Pudding – Sticky Date

Have you a particular dish that you know you don’t like, but have never really ever tried it?

Or perhaps you were once bitten, twice shy in regards to a particular food?

For me, that was Sticky Date Pudding.


I would swerve away from these dried out chewy concoctions at buffets and head straight for the chocolate mousse, pavlovas or berry desserts on offer. I am not really a fan of dates, anyway, unless they are in a Mocha Date loaf, one that I have made at home, myself.

Would you call that being a kind of food snob? Hand up – that’s me!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com


The thought that I was a food snob struck me in an idle moment yesterday, as I was adding the last of the brown sugar from its packet, atop my morning porridge.

As is my habit, I double-checked the information on the side of the empty brown sugar packet, prior to disposing of the packet, in case there was an interesting recipe that I might consider making.

“Oh.” I sighed with resignation, disappointed to see the suggested recipe was merely sticky date pudding. I tossed the packet aside to go in the rubbish.

Not interested in that, I thought.

Nevertheless, with the topic of pudding on my mind, I struck up a conversation with the M.o.t.h. (aka Man of the House).

“Do you like Sticky Date Pudding?”

“No, I don’t.” was his curt reply. “Never have,” he said, shutting down the topic fast.

I can only blame some kind of homemaker’s intuition that made me re-consider that recipe for sticky date pudding, or it could have been the brainwashing of those Zero waste bloggers.

I noted that cream was one of the listed ingredients in the sauce and making it would mean I could use up the leftover cream sitting in the fridge and not feel guilt at being wasteful.

Add to this, I do like to try new recipes and I had never made this before. I am making #onecakeaweek over at the Home by the Sea and a pudding would be a lovely addition to the theme.

What is the Health Benefits of Eating Dates?

Often maligned, dates are surprisingly good for your health. They may aid with digestion, improve bone health, lower cholesterol and are a tasty source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and fibre. Amazing, really.

The umpteen health benefits of dates has made the delicious fruit one of the most sought after foods in the world of health and nutrition.

food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/10-dates-benefits-from-improving-bone-health-to-promoting-beautiful-skin-1258714

Critique of CSR Sticky Date Pudding Recipe

So, last night at the Home by the Sea, I made that CSR version of Sticky Date Pudding. Can you believe it turned out to be highly successful with the Moth and a completely delightful surprise for me. (Otherwise, it probably would not rate a whole blog post).

It was soft and delicate and there was not one sign of a chewy date, just a subtle fruity flavour with a freshly baked cake-like texture. The butterscotch sauce, which I was so wary of, initially, could be described as a creamy and buttery, ‘nectar of the Gods,’ with a molasses-like sugary flavour that oozed over the pudding, like velvet.

Why was I so tentative about Sticky Dates? This was not the same dried out chewy version of pudding, I always thought of, at all.

As you have surely guessed, I am now a convert, and the M.o.t.h. could not stop raving about it. In fact, so enamoured was he with this version of Pudding he was going back to the kitchen for a third helping, when I intervened suggesting he might like to keep some for the following night. (I was considering his waistline, of course!)


You can find the full recipe right now on my secondary blog- Home by the Sea.

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Do you have a food you disliked, or refused to eat, only to discover that, years later, it tasted way better than you thought?

blogging, Community, Motivational

Blog Conversations

Are all Bloggers would-be storywriters, in disguise?

Disguise

I had to think a little more about why bloggers are attracted to write in the first place?

Is it because we have a desire to express ourselves and communicate to others, using the written word?

Blogging is like a Facebook post on caffeine!

Writing Your Own Story

I believe the stories we, as bloggers, write are to entertain or inform. Whether that is a work of non-fiction or a completely fictitious story, it can be entertaining for the reader.

Mostly, for the reason that people ARE interested in the details of other peoples’ lives and happenings. If you are in doubt, just look at how many Reality TV shows are on TV.

It can be a levelling experience for us to be watching or engaging with others. In doing so, we also learn about ourselves, as well as the journey through life.

Attracting More Blog Followers

Sandy and I have been discussing the art of blogging and the purpose of maintaining a blog after WordPress kindly reminded me I had begun this gig, ten years ago! This revelation was, for me, a little embarrassing when I looked at some bloggers who had acquired massive followings, in that same period of time. [And I say this trying hard to not focus on that number that pops up in my sidebar or notification lists.]

I do not blog to gain more followers, but I have to be honest: I do look at that number for feedback. I question myself: Am I writing something of interest to another person? Was my post boring? Is anyone listening to what I am saying? Did I communicate that well?

Blogging Feedback

In our Conversation, Sandy mentioned:

I worried too that my blog wasn’t focused enough, that I hadn’t found my niche. The thing is, I don’t know my niche.

Sandy from Thesandychronicles.blog

From the comments on these posts, it seems many of us, including me, might have this niggling doubt that our blogs. We worry our writing is not focused enough to gain interest, that is, unless we are a committed food/photographic or travel blogger, who posts solely on the one chosen topic.

Then I thought about the fact that we DO have people visiting and taking the time to post a comment, so that seems to prove otherwise. Thus, I’d like to challenge this almost subliminal notion many of us have, that our blog should be more defined.

Does it really matter if our blog is diversified in its topics?

I have some followers that enjoy my Sunday quotes, others who only like and comment on the photographic challenges and still others who will presumably only read the art, or lifestyle, posts.

With just a single focus for blogging, I would miss out on, “chatting” to this wide spectrum of readers via their own blogs and the comments they make.

Each and every one of my readers bring, with them, their own individual opinions and thoughts, which results in a wonderfully rich tapestry of backgrounds and perspectives that can only be beneficial for me, as a writer.

The number and content of comments on our posts, are perhaps the real litmus test for any Blogger. Growing a dedicated Blogger community will never happen overnight. In the meantime, we can continue to hone our craft and have a lot of fun in the process.

What is it that attracts you to a certain blog?

Join the Conversation with Sandy and Amanda

This post is a part of a new series of CONVERSATIONS between Sandy and myself. Over the next little while, we’ll talk about a topic, compare notes, share Q&A and invite you to join in.

Do you have any topics to suggest for our Blogging Conversations?

Pingback to join in and write a conversation post.

Still in disguise