many and varied reasons

Of all the many and varied reasons guests come to stay at Dry Paddocks I thought you would like to read about this one, as it is quite different from the usual weekend escape, celebration or time out stays, and it is topical at the moment with the world climate change conference taking place.
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Our lovely guests who I am referring to, live in Singapore and they have recently booked their seventh visit with us for next year.
They love New Zealand and just keep returning.
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        Why do they keep coming back to us? they come to run around our property……………….. yes really!!

They enjoy running on grass, there is no traffic, the air is clean and it is so peaceful. In Singapore they said there are 3 or 4 months of the year where they cannot run and being outside is a health risk the air quality is so poor. We were surprised, it had never occurred to us maybe we should include it in our advertising?  Air quality, something we take for granted where we live, but many others aren’t so fortunate.
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 Lichen, we have lots of it……… on tree trunks, fences and anything wooden. Lichen only grows where the air is clean, it is like the canary down the mine. It is extremely sensitive to any pollutants in the air, so if you are somewhere where it is growing, breathe deeply, for you are inhaling good clean air.

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We go about our daily life blithely drinking clean water, breathing easy, pulling vegetables out of the garden, collecting free range organic eggs out of our letterbox from our neighbour………..this is our just how we live.
Sometimes it takes others from overseas to make us realise, that we have so much to be grateful for .

 

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Art in a garden

It’s been a huge weekend in the valley. It always is at this time of the year. The Culverden fete is the one to kick everything off. It is always held on the last Thursday of October, followed by Art in a Garden at Flaxmere in Hawarden, plus the Amberley A&P show on the Saturday.
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What more could you want on a warm sunny spring day than to spend it in a NZ garden of National Significance listening to  the Nairobi trio,  with a chilled glass of Waipara wine wandering around appreciating sculpture, paintings, ceramics, jewellery and much more.
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Flaxmere where it is held, is the garden of Penny Zino.  Large in scale, and forty nine years in the making,  it is breathtakingly beautiful with all its spring colour, and it provides the perfect backdrop for a huge variety of sculptures. At other times of the year the garden is open by appointment.
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Yesterday, Sunday was the last day for 2015. It runs for three days, with different workshops held every year. Efficiently organised with an army of helpers it runs like clockwork. A stream side café, where you can rest, imbibe or nibble on picnic lunches, and listen to music provides welcome shade on a hot day.

                                                                The sculptures and the landscape are the stars……………..
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                                                                                            from the bold……………
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                                                                                        to the subtle………………
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                                                                                          the colour co-ordinated……………..
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                                                                       there is something to inspire everyone…………………..
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If you have never been before, mark it in your next years calendar, it is definitely worth a visit.
It has been a little quiet on the blog for the past weeks, so if you are still reading………..a very big
thank you I do appreciate anyone who reads about our life here in the Waipara Valley.

 

 

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spring has sprung

Ah spring………….the weather may be crazy all over the place but spring you are definitely here.

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The grass is racing away, the days are noticeably longer and daylight saving starts this coming weekend.

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It is such a hopeful time of the year, as I walk under pink and white branches laden with blossom in the orchard.

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I am dreaming of the fruit I will pick. This is before the reality of summer droughts,  Nor’West winds  and pecking birds, but for now everything seems possible.

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You can palpably feel the energy outside. The first of the season asparagus are recklessly poking their heads up, and the shaggy heads of the Van Sion narcissus are blooming their hearts out in the orchard.

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Every time I go and pick some Rosemary it is a buzz with bees covering the blue flowers.

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The mint looks like a mini forest of fresh green stalks.

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So for today it’s all about the wonders of spring down here at Dry Paddocks I hope elsewhere  in the southern hemisphere you are enjoying spring too.

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spring colour

While the spring bulbs are dazzling us  and the  blossom is ethereal and elegant against the sky, this is a plain jane  time of the year for the vegetable garden. It is pretty bare and well a bit boring……well mine is.  The winter veg have mostly finished and its too early for new spring seedlings.
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I think that is why I swoop so enthusiastically into the rhubarb patch gathering up large armfuls because the red stems are just so colourful  and tender at this time of year. It is my favourite breakfast fruit dish in spring.
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I know a lot of people don’t like using rhubarb because they think you need large quantities of sugar to sweeten it, and as we all know we should be limiting our sugar intake. But, shock horror,  I don’t use sugar with rhubarb, I cook it just with fresh squeezed orange juice.
I fill a baking dish with rhubarb cut into about 6cm lengths bake it in the oven with the zested rind and juice from 2 oranges,  until it is just soft but not falling apart. I often add frozen raspberries after it comes out of the oven, from our summer harvest which adds more intense rich ruby colour to the dish.
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Guaranteed to make you smile while you  are eating your favourite cereal in the morning. I make this a lot for guests at this time of year
and it has converted many a non rhubarb eater. Try it love to hear what you think.

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My other colourful stalwart at the moment is purple sprouting broccoli. A little lemon zest, some garlic and olive oil,  a quick sauté in a pan and it’s ready. The colour is wonderful and the little florets are just as pretty as flowers in the kitchen.
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What is in your vegetable gardens that is giving pleasure at the moment? Do tell I need some inspiration.

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