September 15, 2007

Summer again?!?!

Yeaaaah! Yeaaaah! Yeaaah! Yah! We just had the first day of balmy sunny summery weather and we had our breakfast on the deck outside!

Wouldn't expect this to last, but while its here, I'm not complaining! Well, except that I forgot the beach essentials (jandals = plastic flip-flops) and burned my feet today! The black sand in Western beaches has so much iron that it sticks to a magnet! Running on the beach barefeet feels like running on a hot tin roof...

Just couple of weeks ago the sun didn't feel warm at all...

But we finally checked if we can pack our bikes in the car and drove down to Woodhill forest, a mountain bike park west of Auckland. You pay 6 dollars entry and get access to well maintained trails in a nice fragrant pine forest. Yes, a pine forest. Locals consider pine trees as an introduced species as opposed to native. We enter pine forest and we think of home, so different from the scraggly kiwi bush. We've known about Woodhill forest for ages but just never got down to going there. We had a two hour leisurly ride there, Kaj going ahead and waiting for me while I made my way around the steep corners (also checking the map to make sure that we don't get lost in the wilderness :).

And our packet mee siam sent by Jo and Giul from Singapore turned out to be yummy! Good stuff!

Posted by gkligyte at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2007

Keep your Hands Off...

Our weather is slowly getting better. For example, tonight I am sitting in the kitchen with no electric heater on (probably for the first time this winter/spring!)

Kaj has been diligently checking weather and surf forecasts and during last couple of weeks we made a couple of trips up North to Te Arai Point, Pakiri beach and Leigh peninsula. This winter I didn't feel so adventurous, so mostly I've been just walking on the shore taking pictures.

Te Arai is one of the most magical locations in the whole world, I think. This stretch of the beach is still undeveloped, although already surrounded by affluent "towns" of newly built holiday homes. A few weeks ago we were horrified to hear that Te Arai is zoned to be developed. Plans are drawn to build 850 houses, a lodge/hotel, shops, offices, etc. It is only 1:45 hrs drive from Auckland, so no wonder that rich Aucklanders have been eyeing it for a while.

But we think that it is just not right. A few other people in Te Arai Beach Preservation Society also thought that it was wrong. If you are in NZ and have a special connection to Te Arai, please fill in the online submission (opposing the development) by 17th of September! We talked to a couple people on the beach and they said that it is not a lost case (yet!). So every voice counts!

It is crazy to see some of the new big/rich people's towns spilling onto the most beautiful beaches in NZ. The upsetting thing is also that in NZ there's no "everyone's right" to the land. Basically, if you own a piece of land, you can fence it off and no one has the right to "tresspass" it. Beaches are supposed to be free for public access, but if a 4-5km stretch of a beach is built up with private houses, you may be hard pressed to find a path to the beach without "tresspassing" somebody's territory. If you ask me, this kind of land ownership s**ks!

We've been talking with Kaj that it seems that NZ has a really huge income gap between rich and poor. And one thing that happens, I think, is that people loose their morale. There are still "honesty boxes" when you buy fruit from local orchards (probably with surveilence cameras!), but otherwise petty crime situation is in quite a terrible state.

For example, since we moved to our new offices (less than 2 months ago), we have been burglared twice. First someone broke in and took 4 Powerbook computers. Ok, leaving 4 laptops in an office, maybe its asking for trouble, right? Well, last weekend, they broke into our 3 separate offices, cut the chains and stole 3 desktop Macs that were locked!!!

Now this doesn't seem right at all! I don't think that I ever before lived in a place where I had to think about my stuff and its whereabouts all the time. Also I don't think I was ever leaving the office at night and opening the door next morning in fear that something has gone missing. Also locking everything properly and still feeling that things are just slipping out of your hands. Also leaving your house/car locked up and imagining a burning blue triangle around them, hoping that all the windows will stay intact with stuff still inside. It is so annoying!!! These people just come in and help themselves!

Anyway, on a lighter note, Kaj has been busy in the kitchen baking rye sourdough bread and karjalanpiirakkat. He cracked the rye bread recipe, I think! It took him 4 batches till he started getting the taste/consistency right. This bread doesn't use any yeast, Kaj managed to brew a real bread starter! Our oven is not that great, so I think it is a wonderful achievement! I always thought that making karjalanpiirakkat is very complicated, but Kaj got them right too! Nam!

And hopefull there will be more (and warmer!) surfing pretty soon.

And we still keep discovering unchecked corners of not far to reach quaint NZ towns, like the Leigh Sawmill Cafe that happened to serve the best poached egg benedict (with smoked salmon! nam!) that I have ever tried!!! They also have a microbrewery next door, so this place definitely will stay on our map!!

And there's a good chance that in the future our pastures will be even greener than they are today!

Posted by gkligyte at 10:18 PM | Comments (1)