Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Foodie Penpals April 2016 reveal

Yes, it’s that time again! In April, I was paired with two people from England. I sent a parcel to Evette who blogs at Bizzimummy and received one from Jess. I pretty much told Jess to just surprise me as long as there were no peanuts, so she put together a box of her favourite treats. The first thing I saw when I opened the box (after taking out Jess’s note, of course), was this:

Chocolate

The little After Eight chocolates were eaten as soon as I’d taken the photo!
I was happy to see Jaffa Cakes because I love them and hadn’t had any in ages. I was nice and only ate two of them, saving the third for Jan.

Next came more chocolate:

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We ate the M&Ms while watching some TV on Saturday. The Milky Way I had all to myself😉

The next item took me right back to my student days!

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They became my oh-so-healthy lunch on Friday.

Next up was stuff to drink:

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The Wispa Gold hot chocolate was very yummy! I may have to buy more when I’m next in the UK.

Finally, at the bottom of the box were two packet mixes:

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I can’t even remember the last time I had Angel Delight!

Here’s everything all together:

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As for what I sent… Evette told me she likes chocolate, crisps and cake and prefers ready-to-eat foods over ingredients. Here’s what she got:

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Not the healthiest of parcels, but all very yummy.

If you’re in Europe, you can find out all about Foodie Penpals and sign up here. You can see more examples of parcels that people have received in the Facebook group.

I can’t wait to see what my May parcel brings!


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Central Otago wine and scenic tour

NZ-wine

Continuing with my New Zealand posts…
The day after our Milford Sound trip, we had a wine and scenery tour booked with New Zealand Wine Tours. The “Pinot Paparazzi Tour” includes wine tasting and three vineyards, lunch, a visit to an aroma room and many stops to admire the scenery. The wine bottle labels above are the only photos of wine you’ll see in this post, since I drank the wine rather than photographing it😉 Those bottles are the two we purchased to bring home.

Our first stop was just outside Queenstown, for a look at the view. Jake – our guide and owner of the company – did tell us what we were looking at, but I’m an idiot so I don’t know any more.

I think it’s safe to say the scenery was stunning anyway!
Some photos from our next stop:

I can at least tell you that we took the Crown Range Road, so that’s where all these photos were taken from. I just don’t know what we’re looking at!

Next up was a stop at the Cardrona Hotel, New Zealand’s oldest hotel. Very quaint looking. I also took some photos of the surrounding buildings.

Once we’d explored the hotel, it was back into the van and on our way to the first winery of the day! While we were driving there, Jake asked us all about our wine preferences so that he could choose which vineyards to take us to in the afternoon. There were four of us on our tour, but there can be up to seven.

Jake described Rippon to us as “the vineyard with the best view in Central Otago”. It looks over Lake Wanaka, and the view truly is stunning. Here, I’ll show you:

As you can see, it was a cloudy day. The view is already stunning, so just imagine how much more beautiful it would look with the sun shining! What a place to work!

I think we tried six wines at Rippon, all of which were tasty. I liked the Gewürztraminer best.

Our next stop was lunch, which we had here:

Hahahaha!

Lunch was a meat/cheese platter, served on a wooden stand that was originally part of a wine barrel. I wish I had taken a photo! (Bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger!). The food was included, drinks were extra. I chose a rosé wine that our tour guide recommended and it was delicious! (8 Ranges Rosé if you’re interested).

Once we’d eaten, we went into the aroma room, which is also at The Nose. All around the room there are little pegs? Pins? (I don’t know!) infused with a different scent – ranging from strawberry to coffee, from apple to violet, from peach to leather. A poster above each of the sniffy things tells you what you’re smelling. We first had to go around the room trying to guess each scent before looking at the post. I managed to identify quite a few of them. The we tried out our aroma identifying skills on two types of wine – The Nose Pinot Gris and The Nose Pinot Noir. Jake told us there were no right or wrong answers – if you think you can smell something, then that’s what you can smell – but he told us the most common answers that tour groups give for each wine. It was a fascinating experience!

Sniffing done, it was time to move on to the afternoon’s wine tasting. The first place that Jake had picked out for us was Aurum Winery. On the way there, Jake explained to us about their Amber Wine, which is incredibly unique! It’s made using traditional techniques. The grapes are fermented in their skins and strained through muslim cloth. It’s almost like a red wine, but not (so hard to explain… it’s not really like a rosé either – as I said, it’s unique). We tried some other wines, and also got to taste their port which was very nice! It was a hard choice between buying the Amber WIne or the port, but the amber won just because it’s so unusual.

Outside the tasting room is a beautiful garden:

As we were leaving Aurum it started to rain, and by the time we reached our final stop – Chard Farm – it was chucking it down! This place was a lot busier, so instead of the people there doing the tasting with us, Jake collected each bottle from them and provided the explanations himself. Again, we tasted some very nice wines and even managed to find some red wines that I like! Jan’s favourite was the last wine we tasted, but I didn’t like that one so we purchased the one you see above. Overall, Chard Farm was where we tasted our favourite wines of the day – I liked all the white wines and 2 out of 3 red wines (and I don’t usually drink red wine!).

This was another vineyard with a gorgeous view, but since it was raining heavily I didn’t go and seek it out. Here’s a photo from just outside the tasting building:

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You can see how green it is, at least.

If you happen to find yourself in the Central Otago region of New Zealand and you like wine, I can highly recommend New Zealand Wine Tours! Jake is an excellent guide (and I’m sure his other guide is great as well!), very knowledgeable, the aroma room is unusual and interesting, and having the afternoon vineyards selected specifically to meet your tastes is a really nice touch. This wine and scenery tour is just one of the available options – there are also ones that focus more on the wine. Basically, if you’re going to do a wine tour in Central Otago, go with New Zealand Wine Tours.


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Friday letters

It’s the last Friday of April today! How?! Why?! Surely it hasn’t really been an entire month since we flew back from New Zealand?!

This week has been looong. I spent all of Wednesday being convinced it was Friday. Clearly it was not! It really is now though, which means it’s time for some letters!

Mailbox

Dear postman. If you have something you want me to sign for, here’s how it works: you ring the bell, I answer, you speak! I am not coming down unless you tell me who you are and what you want!

Dear weather. Cycling between sleet and bright sunshine every half hour is just weird, even for April!

Dear godson. Your mammy keeps posting photos of you on Facebook and I’ve decided you’re getting far too big. It’s going to be ages before I can see you again so I’m going to need you to stop growing up now, okay?

Dear cross stitch. I have lots of ideas right now! I just wish I had the time to implement them.

Dear children’s books. I’m amassing quite a collection of you. Now all I need is a child to read you to…😉

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have an amazing weekend.


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25 Get to Know Me Questions

Today I want to something slightly different. I’ve done similar things before (like an A to Z of Me), but it’s been a while and I think I’ve acquired a few new readers since then (hi new readers!)

I spotted this particular set of questions on Ellie’s blog, This Country Girl’s Journal, and since she asked her readers to join in, I thought I would.

Baby me

Does anyone recognise this person?

1. What is your middle name?: Ann. It’s my grandma’s name and was also the name of a great grandma I never met, but I’m not sure whether my parents named me after either of them or just picked it because it’s such a middle-namey kind of name (seriously, I can think of at least 8 people with the middle name Ann(e)!)

2. What was favourite subject at school?: English for all the reading and Food Tech because I’ve always liked food😉

3. What is your favourite drink?: Tea! Soft drink probably Dandelion and Burdock. Alcoholic changes regularly.

4. What is your favourite song at the moment?:  My all time favourite song is Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler, closely followed by Landslide by Fleetwood Mac and Desperado by The Eagles. Right now I rarely listen to music, but when I do it’s Sister Hazel more often than not, so I’ll say my current favourite is Change Your Mind by them.

5. What is your favourite food?: I hate this question! How can you expect me to pick just one?! Potatoes, garlic, sweet potato, cheese, pumkin, Yorkshire parkin, cottage pie, Sunday roast, Swiss chocolate… I’m hungry now!

6. What is the last thing you bought?: Books. Always books.

7. Favourite book of all time?: Again, NOPE! You cannot expect me to pick just one book! But, since you said all time, I’ll only include ones I read more than 10 years ago that have stuck with me. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, So Much to Tell You by John Marsden, Each, Peach, Pear, Plum by Janet and Allen Ahlberg.

8. Favourite colour?: Red

9. Do you have any pets?: Sadly, no. I want a dog, but in Germany I thought it was unfair with us both working full time and in Switzerland you have to do a course and get a certificate before you’re allowed to own one! Then there’s the small matter of getting permission to keep one in the flat…

10. Favourite perfume?: I don’t know. It was Liberte by Cacherel, but it’s been discontinued.

11. Favourite holiday?: Well, New Zealand was pretty amazing, but so were Taiwan and Madeira. EDIT: I’ve just realised this was probably originally American since I changed all the “colors” to “colour”, so “holiday” probably means like public holiday. In which case pancake day, because who doesn’t like a day devoted to pancakes?

12. Are you married?: No.

13. Have you ever been out of the country, if so how many times?: Out of which country? I was born in England but clearly don’t live there now so umm… stupid question😉.

14. Do you speak any other language?: German (but not Swiss German!). A tiny bit of Spanish. Individual words in a few other languages.

15. How many siblings do you have?: A sister and two half brothers. My brothers are not related to each other.

16. What is your favourite shop?: I… don’t think I have one? Maybe TK Maxx.

17. Favourite restaurant?: I don’t knooooow. I did like Bratar in Karlsruhe, but favourite? Hmm. We went to a lovely restaurant in Basel recently – Safranzunft.

18. When was the last time you cried?: I’m not sure, but I’m willing to bet a book was involved!

19. Favourite blog?: Oh, lots. Kezzie‘s, Holly‘s, Charlotte‘s…

20. Favourite movie film (sorry)?: A League of Their Own, Dogma, Clue, Edward Scissorhands. Sorry, I’m useless at picking just one of anything.

21. Favourite TV shows?: E.R. (still and always!), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (hmm, need to watch it again), The Big Bang Theory, Farscape, Blackadder.

22. PC or Mac?: PC

23. What phone do you have?: An ancient BlackBerry. It was a gift.

24. How tall are you?: 5ft 6 – I think.

25. Can you cook? Yes! I love cooking, but not when it’s just for myself.

Did you learn anything new about me?

If anyone else decides to give this a go, let me know – I’d love to come and have a read. You can see Ellie’s answers here.


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Switzerland, one year on

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I have to interrupt my recapping of our New Zealand trip to make a very important announcement…😉
Today is exactly one year since I moved to Switzerland!

Regular readers will have been following along with my adventures from the start, so in the interests of not boring you (any more than I have to) I’m going to make this a very brief recap in numbers.

So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve been doing for the past year:

Times swum in the Rhine: Once – I’m a bit of a wimp!

Fasnacht events attended: Four(ish)

(Swiss) places visited – 16 (Fribourg, Lucerne, Mount Pilatus, Sissach, Liestag, Olten, Mariastein Abbey, Papilorama (butterfly park), Engelberg-Titlis, Bottmingen, Bern, Zurich, Lausanne, Arlesheim, Laufen, Allschwil)

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Lucerne from above

Friends made – possibly 1? I haven’t heard from her since we had coffee though.

Meetup.com events attended: 10 (that’s almost one a month. At least I’m kind of making an effort)

Chocolate bars consumed: More than I care to think about…

Visitors shown around Basel: 17 (that’s more people than I showed around Karlsruhe in 8 years of living there!)

Times I’ve had to remind myself that I actually live in this beautiful place: At least once a week!

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Look at it though! So pretty.

All in all, you could say living in Switzerland agrees with me (but not with my waistline… why must the chocolate be so tasty… and the cheese… and the Rösti!). I definitely do not regret deciding to take the chance and move here. Now if somebody could just tell me how to make friends as an adult (a socially awkward adult who fails miserably at small talk and is scared of people…) that would be great!


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Queenstown Gardens

Because we had come back from Milford Sound by plane, we were back in Queenstown relatively early. I had to charge my camera first since it had died on the plane back, so while it was doing that we went to the convenience store to pick up something to drink then made use of the free wi-fi in the hotel lobby (note to anyone considering staying at Novotel – you get 1 hour of free wi-fi per day in the lobby; wi-fi in the rooms has to be paid for! Remind me which century we’re in?!). We weren’t ready for dinner yet having bought quite a bit of food in Te Anau to eat on the Sound cruise, so we decided to go for a walk and ended up in Queenstown Gardens. What follows will include many pictures of plants! I couldn’t help it – so many of them were so different to what I’m used to!

I spent way too long trying to get a decent picture of these birds, which I’m fairly sure are Paradise Shelducks. They just didn’t want to stand still!

The one with the white head is female and the male has a black head. Shelducks form long-term pair bonds, often life-long (aww!) and tend to hang around as couples. Driving around, we would often see a male and a female Shelduck standing in a field somewhere!

In the rose garden, I took far too many photos, mainly because I was trying to play with my camera’s macro setting. Here are a few:

I love the kind of multi-coloured pink/orange ones! They looked so pretty.

The gardens are on a little peninsula, so once we got round to the other side we had a view of a different part of the lake – a part without lots of boats on it (the side where we had entered from is where all the touristy boats are moored). The view there was stunning, especially with the way the evening sun was hitting the mountains.

Back round the other side, a few more photos had to be taken before we finally decided to head off and find something for tea.

There was also a Disc/Frisbee Golf course in the gardens, so we decided to come back and play on our final afternoon in Queenstown. We hired our discs from a place in town for $5 for five hours, but the Internet tells me you can also hire them from the ice rink, which is in the park.

If you have any idea what any of the plants in this post are (other than roses – I can recognise them!) please let me know in the comments.

New Zealand was my March trip for 2016’s redo of Take 12 Trips.

Also linking up for Monday Escapes:

Packing my Suitcase


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Trip to Milford Sound

I meant to continue my New Zealand posts earlier in the week, but things got a bit crazy and I didn’t have a chance.

Anyway… for our first full day in Queenstown, we had booked a trip to Milford Sound. We chose the coach-cruise-fly option, which meant we were picked up in a coach at 6.30 a.m., drove to Milford Sound (with stops along the way), had a cruise on the Sound and then had a scenic flight back to Queenstown in a teeny, tiny aeroplane. The option with the flight back is more expensive than coach both ways, but so worth it! By the way, if you choose to just do the coach option, definitely go with Mitre Peak Tours. I highly, highly recommend. (We booked through Milford Sound Flights, and the coach/cruise parts were run by Mitre Peak).

It was dark when we left, but after a while the sun started to appear over the horizon, so we begin this post’s image overload with my attempts to take photos of the sunrise through the window of a moving coach!

I tried to take more photos through the windows once it started getting light, but it didn’t work very well, so here are some from our first stop instead. I have no idea where this is! Somewhere with mountains…

I don’t even remember whether those photos are from before or after Te Anau, where we stopped to pick up more people and so those who didn’t have lunch included could pick some up from the supermarket there. Jan and I had a sausage roll and a coffee for breakfast there. And I took zero photos.

The next stop was at Mirror Lakes, which is definitely after Te Anau😉 In case you can’t guess where they got their name, here are some photos:

We then stopped at a little stream where our bus driver said we could fill our water bottles if we wanted. Again, I don’t remember where it was (because I’m an idiot), but have some photos.

The next stop was at the Cleddau Valley cascading waterfalls. Our bus driver told us that when it’s raining there are hundreds of waterfalls… everywhere you look, water is cascading down. It was not raining when we were there, but we still saw waterfalls. I can only imagine how impressive it must look in the rain.

Our final stop was at Karangahake Gorge.
Our bus driver told us that he recently found out all the other bus companies only have two stops – at Mirror Lakes and Karangahake Gorge. Apparently this is because people get out of the bus, have a chat, finally decide to take a few photos, have another chat, look at the photos, delete then and take more. So at every stop he asked us to please take our photos then get back on the coach so we could have more stops later. At Karangahake Gorge, he told us we could only stop there if everyone agreed to get round and be back on the bus in 10 minutes. As it turned out, the last person was back on the bus after 12 minutes. As our driver was pulling out he said “And that is how we get to make more stops than any other tour!” (Once again, book with Mitre Peak tours if you can – and hope you get Carlin as a driver).
I could definitely have spent more than 12 minutes at Karangahake Gorge, it’s so impressive! But don’t take my word for it. Check out the photos for yourself:

Yeah, I may have gone overboard with the photos… that isn’t even all of them! But if you think that’s a lot, wait until you see the ones of the Sound😉

Finally, at just before 12 o’clock, we arrived at Milford Sound! Our boat was waiting for us, and we had a two-hour cruise on the Sound, complete with commentary from the guide. I have no idea what any of the things we saw are now though (other than Seal Rock). Mitre Peak is one of the mountains, obviously, and the two permanent waterfalls are Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls, but I have no idea which is which! Supposedly whales and dolphins can sometimes be spotted following the boats, but we didn’t see any. We did see seals though, which was nice. Anyway, enough rambling from me, you’re here for the photos – yes?

There are a lot of photos, so I thought I’d split this into two. Part two = seals and stuff!

Before we started our cruise, it was pretty cloudy, so the bus driver said he assumed we’d be going back in the coach with him. It gradually brightened up throughout the cruise though, so once we got back he told us to go and ask at the Mitre Peak information desk. Our flight was indeed going, so we wandered over to the airfield to meet our pilot (whose name I’ve forgotten!). Guys, if you ever make it to New Zealand, you have got to do a scenic flight over Milford Sound!! I literally cannot describe how amazing the views were! Here, have some photos, but they can’t do it justice either. It’s something you really have to see for yourself.

(Try to ignore all the random reflections from inside the plane!)
Unfortunately my battery ran out before we got back to Queenstown so I have no photos of Lake Wakatipu. So you’ll just have to take my word that it was stunning! So amazingly blue.

So, to sum up, Milford Sound is definitely among the most beautiful places on the planet and if you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, you must put this on your list! It was an absolute highlight of our entire trip. I literally cannot gush enough about this place! Also, look how cute the seals are!

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