Tag Archive: christchurch

Afghans are tasty

One more sleep and then it's Christmas! Exciting! And then on Boxing Day we're off on the train to Greymouth then setting off on a bit of a cycling adventure down the West Coast and (hopefully) eventually back to Christchurch. Even more exciting! Although I probably should pack...

Ever since our tandem arrived we've been doing a lot of riding. At the end of October we did our first randonneuring event with the Kiwi Randonneurs, a 400km loop from Greymouth to Greymouth in a day (via Reefton > Springs Junction > Murchison > Westport). Quite possibly also the last time I ever ride that far in one day! I mean, all the beautiful scenery down the West Coast from Westport and it was in the dark! It would make a beautiful two-day ride though. Anyway, we survived and it got me pretty keen for some cycle touring.

About half an hour into the 400km Greymouth ride. Photo by Shane Davidson.

Tuesday evenings are normally time trials along Old Tai Tapu Rd with the Canterbury Time Trial Association. It's pretty cool 'cause I definitely wouldn't normally want to ride for 16km along a flat course as fast as I can. That just sounds like torture! We are the only tandem there but there is a trike and it's always fun to see the pro riders with their skin suits, aero helmets and swanky time trial bikes. Some even bring some pretty fancy wind trainers to warm up on first. At the start of December each year there is also the hill climb time trial from the Blue Duck by Motukarara to just past the top of Kennedy's. Perfect conditions this year saw us with a new PB which will be ridiculously difficult to beat!

Along with the usual rides we also had a fun day out riding on the Peninsula down to Little Akaloa and round the bays to Okains Bay with the Emilys. EW and I then dragged ourselves round a 6-hour rogaine the following day...you've got to make the most of summery weather when it's here!

Clockwise from top left: the big green monster chilling at Okains Bay, Little Akaloa - many steep climbs ahead, EW shows us just how steep Okains Bay Road can be, top of Okains Bay Road - yay!

There's been various orienteering events, the Mountain Bike Orienteering Nationals, the Wedding of the Year (!), the Vegetarian Expo (so much delicious food! I love it!), book groups (so many awesome books, so little time) and so much more.

Early December was the National Rogaine Champs which was held in the Nevis Valley. I was racing with EW and it went pretty well apart from a few terrible controls!! I could write more here but I've already written enough and it's on my AP log so if you're interested you can read that here.

National Rogaine Champs map - you can almost make out our route if you squint hard enough!

And of course it wouldn't be Christmas without the annual Christmas Rogaine!! 3 hours of good times blundering around in the bush in the mist!

Christmas Rogaine madness.

Yesterday I was intending to head back out that way on my run but I wasn't feeling all that great so instead I ended up looping back from the Kiwi and having a bit of an explore. It was supposed to be sunny but as you can see below, ummm, the sun hadn't quite managed to get itself together so instead it was misty and drizzly.

The Port Hills are awesome.

And now back to Christmas. The tofukey just recently came out of the oven all ready for tomorrow and last night I found myself cooking yet another batch of cookies. I don't think I've ever cooked so many batches of cookies in such a short space of time!

The tofukey in various states of preparation.

Last night's cookies: a couple of New Zealand classics with afghans on the left and peanut brownies on the right (both adapted from the Edmonds Cookbook).

Merry Christmas! Here's hoping the typical Kiwi summer storm doesn't hit whilst we're riding (or is that just too optimistic?! It is the West Coast after all) and the little earthquake we just had is just a lone ranger.

There's no such thing as too much cake

It's that time of year, the time when I get to eat lots of cake and feel a little bit more wise (you know, every birthday you're another year older so surely also wiser as a result!).

Thursday we had a farewell (for me even though I'll only be gone a month!) and a birthday celebration (also for me but for the 2 other workmates with early August birthdays too) which meant I had to make a cake! It was pretty late on Wednesday night when I started making the cake so went for something simple, the East Coast Coffee Cake from Vegan Brunch, except I made a lemon cornmeal version which I've done before. It went down well.

Work got me the usual delicious vegan sandwich they get me (made specially by the bakery for me) while the others had the usual savouries and club sandwiches. A salad sandwich might sound a bit boring but actually these guys (whoever they are) make a pretty good one.

I may have eaten a little bit more cake (with delicious coconut yogurt) for dessert that night...!

Friday, after work and a nice little walk with M, we headed out to the Beat Street Cafe on Barbados Street for more delicious food. I ordered their Big Warm Salad with tofu (so so good) for my dinner.

They don't have a vegan dessert on the menu but they do make a damn fine beetroot chocolate cake which they served with berries and chocolate sauce. I gather this is not normal but I'm sure they'd do this for anyone who asked. They also had a delicious looking vegan brownie but I can never turn down cake!

Then Saturday dawned ridiculously summery hot (despite still being definitely winter here so it was awesome!) so we went biking along the tops and round the bays and eventually ended up in Lyttelton to check out the new vegetarian cafe there, The Shroom Room.

I had a delicious lunch of toast and hash browns with lots of delicious fried veges and salady stuff (yep, I'm good with descriptions).

And of course more cake was consumed...their vegan chocolate raspberry cake was amazing and quite possibly wins the mini cake competition of the last few days of eating!

All that food did make the final relentless climb up to the Kiwi pretty difficult though! But worth it.

It seems vegan cake is doing quite well in Christchurch at the moment. The Lotus Heart makes a pretty fine cake. Then there's the Beat Street Cafe and The Shroom Room and I also heard from the waitress at Beat Street that there is a lady who makes several kinds of vegan cakes to sell at the Riccarton Bush Market which we haven't ever been to...but you can bet we'll be going once we get back!

Floods of yoghurt

This week marks my 3 year anniversary of moving to Christchurch and despite how crazy it has been it was definitely the best decision I could have made.

It's definitely been a 'different' experience though. I never thought I would be sent home from work or have the day off for earthquakes, snow and flooding (fortunately not all at the same time!) but there you go! This year has been the year of far too much rain resulting in pretty bad flooding across many parts of the city and, since we live by the river, it has been an interesting experience to say the least.

Somewhere under all that water is a road on either side of the river!

During the biggest flood, in March, we couldn't get out our driveway (well, we could if we'd really had to but it sure didn't look like fun). Fortunately we are high enough that the flooding doesn't affect our house but it's still pretty scary.

In more tasty news, I have just discovered a new vegan coconut yoghurt at my local supermarket. Doctors Choice Bio Yoghurt, a local Christchurch company, makes a dairy-free coconut yoghurt and it's really delicious!

Seriously, if you see it I recommend trying it. Although I suspect it might only be stocked in the South Island at the moment.

Since I've been gone...

In the thick of that season there were few things more magical than ice - the blocks that emerged, impossibly, from the back of a wagon, steaming not with heat but with cold, the unmistakeable stomp of the iceman conquering the stairwell, gleaming blocks of ice piled on his broad back like enormous melting diamonds.
- Wickett's Remedy by Myla Goldberg

So I appear to have been gone from here for quite some time. Oh dear!

Since I’ve gone so long I thought I would give you a little insight into some of the things that appear to have gotten in the way of blogging lately. Basically, life in the south has been filled with many adventures.

There has been lots of running. I like running, especially in the hills. One day I will take the camera with me and show you all where I run every week. It's so beautiful here! And with more tracks slowly opening up again (after being closed for SO long because of earthquake/rockfall danger) there are more places you can safely go.

There has also been heaps of riding, especially since M bought himself a mountain bike and I upgraded. The best part about where we live is that you can go mountain biking straight from home without having to drive anywhere and there a lovely big hills to ride up and along on your road bike. I can't wait for summer and not needing to defrost after a ride though!

Anyway, below is just a little snapshot of some of my favourite adventures we've had so far (i.e. the ones where we have taken a camera!)...

Oceania Mountain Bike Orienteering in Central Otago
Back at the start of the year, when it was warm and summery (which seems like a lifetime ago since now buried in winter and the weather outside today is particularly unpleasant) we had several days of mountain bike orienteering in Central Otago. It was fabulous (mostly) and I seem to have become addicted to mountain biking since returning home.

Sprint the Bay 2012
There has been plenty of orienteering happening this year to distract me and Sprint the Bay was one of the events we traveled to. Basically it is 3 days of sprint orienteering on various maps around the Hawke's Bay region. There was a nice big group of us from Southerly Storm up there to represent the South Island.

Exploring the West Coast
I'd never been to the West Coast of the South Island so M and I went to check out a bit of it. We stayed in the cutest little house right on the coast at Granity and explored a lot of the historic mining sites near by. The highlight was exploring Denniston and getting to see the incline used to cart the coal down from the plateau. It has to be seen to be believed. It was also the first real test of my new bike. I think we're becoming very good friends!

Orienteering Nationals 2012
Easter equals the National Orienteering Champs and this year it was up in Auckland so I got to have a little trip home at the same time. 4 days and 4 very different maps and getting to see people I hadn't seen in a long time made for a lot of fun (and lots of sand in our shoes and socks).

Mountain biking at Craigieburn
We spent ANZAC Day with friends riding in the glorious sunshine at Craigieburn. Beech forest and incredible views made this a pretty cool day, even if the riding was rather scary in places. Hooning along the Hogs Back track down into Castle Hill at the end was an awesome way to finish a long day in the saddle.

TWALK
TWALK...THE event of the year. 24 hours of madness in the wilderness with a bunch of friends whilst wearing silly costumes cannot really be beaten. As an added bonus, our team won!

Exploring the Mackenzie Country
What does one do when there is a long weekend? One goes on an adventure of course! For Queens Birthday we took our bikes for a few days of riding based out of Tekapo. Arriving in the late afternoon we had a beautiful ride along the Richmond Trail above Lake Tekapo as the sun was slowly setting. We got back to the car just before dark! Another day we rode up (and up and up) to the Omarama Saddle and pushed up the Saddle Ridge track even further where it was freezing and there was snow across the tops. We were far too cold to take pictures by that stage!

Snow Day!
Of course, what is winter without a snow day! I didn't believe snow was coming but that morning it was pouring with rain at our house so I dressed up in my wet weather gear and rode my old mountain bike to work. The closer I got the colder it got and the rain started to turn into ice and then snow flakes. By the time I reached work I was riding through snow drifts. It wasn't long before we were all sent home again! That night was the regular Wednesday night run in the hills and it was crazy because we didn't even need headlights as the snow seemed to light up the sky.

Riding in Rotorua
Last month we flew up to Rotorua for a few of days of riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest. The first couple of days we competed in a weekend of mountain bike orienteering events but we stayed extra days to explore the forest. It's like mountain bike heaven in there! Some of these adventures have not been so fun though. M and I have just recently returned to our flat after nearly 2 months living out of boxes at friends’ houses while EQC (the earthquake commission) “redecorated” it. That was not fun. Sigh. But now we are home and slowly unpacking again. I really should get a move on with that since I have some very exciting visitors arriving this weekend and it would be nice if the house looked somewhat, well, less like boxes and chaos.

There have also been lots of adventures in the kitchen but that is a story for next time...

Family time

It would be easier to stay annoyed with him if he didn't seem so genuinely concerned for her safety.
- The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

I totally meant to post last week but, well, time slipped through my fingers. Not really that surprising if you'd seen my week/weekend.

Anyway, my parents came to visit us at the beginning of February which was very exciting (and stressful at the same time). They spent two weekends with us with the week between spent walking the Banks Peninsula. While they were with us we took them up into the Port Hills to show them the places we haunt in the evenings and weekends. We also drove over the hill to Governors Bay for a spot of lunch at She Chocolat. We had to wait forever for food but it was delicious. Plus the chef is always open to recreating something deliciously vegan.


We also went to check out the Re:START mall. For those of you who don't know, the Re:START mall (where the Cashel Street mall used to be before the February 2011 earthquake caused much of it to be demolished) consists of shops made from shipping containers refitted as retail premises. It's actually really cool. I love the bright colours and the innovative and creative feel about the place. It definitely exceeded my expectations (plus I bought marzipan chocolate so what's not to love!).


This was actually the first time I'd been right up to the fences surrounding the red zone and it had an eery, unsettling feeling about it. I kind of expected tumbleweed to come rolling across the streets and perhaps a man on a horse to appear (a bit like some apocalyptic Western or something). Generally we avoid most of the earthquake damage and carry on with life as usual (life as usual does include not even noticing damage or demolished buildings and cracks in the road...it's like it just washes over you after a while).

I haven't felt an aftershock in a while but I've learnt you can't get too relaxed (especially after the ones on 23rd December which found me climbing up in the ceiling checking to see what had happened to our header tank after water was coming down through the hot water cupboard).

The ancient history decorated in tinsel

It was all about health, of course. It was a conspiracy. Why did they never find a vegetable that was bad for you, hey? And what was so wrong with onion gravy anyway? It had onions in it, didn't it? They made you fart, didn't they? That was good for you, wasn't it? He was sure he had read that somewhere.
- Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Oh man, it’s been a LONG time. So long that I can’t even remember everything that’s happened! I was trying to go through all my photos and it all got a bit much! I can’t believe it’s already two thirds of the way through February. Where is the year going?

I know it was months ago but the easiest place to start seems to be Christmasy stuff. Christmas time basically involves lots more cooking, baking, eating, socialising and all that kind of stuff.

The weekend before Christmas M and I travelled up to Auckland for the annual family get together. To start with we proceeded to eat our way around some of my favourite places in Auckland (as well as catching up with some of our favourite people) including lunching at Cosset...


No, I didn't eat ALL of that! But what I did eat was delicious!

We then had to devour lots of food at the family Christmas party that evening. I'd made my tofukey which always goes down well. It's nights like this that make me miss being back up in Auckland with my family. My aunts and uncles are like second parents and my cousins have become brothers and sisters.


Pancakes for brunch at Revel were the perfect way to recover from the food coma of the night before (okay, that's not strictly true but it seemed like an awesome idea at the time). They were buckwheat pancakes served with rhubarb...delicious.

Christmas eve was all about singing carols in the park whilst trying to keep the candle from blowing out (which we failed at miserably!).


Christmas itself was spent at M’s family’s house where we got to eat potatoes that were dug from the garden right before our very eyes and I ate peas straight from the pod (11 peas in one pod - apparently that's good luck).


I made tofukey and Christmas pudding (which was served with soy cream and fresh berries) for everyone. I love Christmas food. Christmas cake was also made...I think I might need to make another one now so we can enjoy it at all times of the year.


All in all I think it was quite possibly the best Christmas I've ever had. Yay!

Join me next time when I dive back down into the deep archives of time since my last post and find some other exciting things to tell you about! I promise it won't be far away.