Restaurant review…Aamazing River View in Marloth Park…

The sunset changed second by second, each scene more beautiful than the last while at Aamazing River View Restaurant last night.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Ms. Bushbuck and her baby stop by every day, sometimes on several occasions.  The baby certainly has grown over these past months.

Before we begin our review of Aamazing River View Restaurant overlooking the Crocodile River and Kruger National Park, it’s important to mention the word “amazing” is spelled with two “a’s”.  Secondly, we must mention we were not “comped” or provided with any special pricing for this review and story.

We’d been to this restaurant a few times since we returned to Marloth Park on February 11th but had only stayed for drinks, later heading home after the sunset to make our own dinner. 

The reserved table was beautifully set.

Aamazing River View has the best views of the Crocodile River and the tall banks along the river in Kruger National Park to be found anywhere in Marloth Park.  Plus, after last’s night dining experience we will undoubtedly return on many more occasions during our remaining months in the park.

Comfortable indoor and outdoor dining is available on two levels.

With a guaranteed stunning sunset on clear or partially clear evenings and the potential to see big game or even the Big 5 if patient and diligent, there’s nothing quite like this special location.

Tom’s pork ribs and chips which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Over these past few months, we’ve noticed some negative comments about this dining establishment posted on Facebook, some actually “hateful” and disarming.  This always shocks us.  If one doesn’t care for a restaurant why not address the issues with the owner and/or management, sharing one’s concerns.

Why bash a restaurant even if you’ve had a few less than desirable experiences?  It’s our responsibility as consumers to let a purveyor know we aren’t satisfied with the quality of their products and services, rather than spewing hateful comments online for everyone to see.

My plate of succulent grilled calamari steak with a vinaigrette dipping sauce was delicious.  I’d definitely order this again.

Doing so ultimately has the tendency to reduce the number of customers and in the process makes it more difficult and costly for management to make necessary changes to improve the quality of their food and services, if…that’s the case.

We were thrilled to be seated at a comfortable booth with excellent views of the Crocodile River.  When staying to dine, guests can reserve a table with views.

But, at Aamazing River View, last night, without a doubt we had an excellent meal; hot and delicious with the freshest ingredients with exemplary service comparable to any we’ve experienced in Marloth Park or in any dining establishments we’ve experienced throughout the world.  Literally, nothing was wrong nor could we even suggest a change or two.

The restaurants in Marloth Park are all casual.  No fancy attire required!

However, in speaking with management (Elaine) and the owner (Andre), they expressed genuine and heartfelt appreciation of their customers and are open to suggestions if a situation occurs that requires attention.  This should be the case with all restaurants and often is.

However, there’s a faction of people out there in cyberspace that prefer to spew their negative comments online rather than deal with their concerns face-to-face to the appropriate management.  This may damage the future success of a business with the potential to steer other customers away. 

A sunset is always more stunning with a few clouds on the horizon.

Last night’s experience at Aamazing River View only spurred us on to get the word out that local Marlothians need to band together to support local businesses. 

Holiday rentals, restaurants and shops are vital to the financial success of this special community.  In essence, property values are enhanced by the success of every aspect of Marloth Park; the success and harmony of restaurants and shops; the management of holiday rental; the health and well being of wildlife; the removal of alien invasive plants; the control of speeding on paved Oliphant Street and all dirt roads for the safety of the wildlife and humans; the ability to maintain a peaceful and quiet environment to enrich the quality of life for the animals and the humans who reside herein.

What a sight to see while looking toward Kruger National Park across the Crocodile River.

We encourage all of our local readers to give Aamazing River View another try or visit them for the first time. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the view, the food, and the service. And then, if something isn’t quite as you’d expected, quietly and respectfully express your concerns to management.

We’re disappointed to see Facebook become such a place for vitriol and hatred by some individuals. We use it to stay in touch with family and friends while we’re so far away. But, over these past few years, we’ve seen it become a resource for bashing, hating and hurting others.  Why?

What a sunset.  This looked like a bird to me.  Do you see that?

I’d love to see more cute and outrageous animal videos, along with photos of family and friends, and recommendations for the good, the great and the excellent.

Today, we’ll post excellent comments about Aamazing River View on Facebook and TripAdvisor.  Give it a try and you may also do the same.

Happy day!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2017:

Our waiter took this photo of us on our 26th anniversary of the day we met at this same location, now a different restaurant.  For more photos, please click here.

Exploring Palermo on foot…New discoveries…Winging it!…Making plans for New Year’s Eve…

Painting on the wall outside a sushi restaurant.

Dining is a bit challenging here in Buenos Aires.  As we mentioned in earlier posts, most restaurants don’t open until later in the evening, long after we’d prefer to dine.

This is where we dined last night, San Serrano Deli & Drinks.

As a result, each evening we’ve taken off on foot in search of a new restaurant to try, hoping after a few weeks we’ll settle in with a week’s worth of favorites, to which we’ll return for memorable meals. 

Guest started filtering inside when it was hot outdoors, although many patrons dined at tables near the busy street.

The most difficult part of the challenge is my way of eating.  If that wasn’t an issue, it would be fairly easy.  Thus far, all I’ve eaten has been one form or another of a Caesar salad with chicken which has been fine with me.

We stretched our necks to read this menu on the wall.  After a while, a server brought us menus.

Last night was no exception.  But, this time, we wandered further away from our hotel to find another spectacular trendy neighborhood that sent us reeling with delight.  It was the most charming area we’d seen to date. 

Tom passed on beer and opted for bottled water.  Tap water isn’t served in any restaurants since it may not be safe to drink.

After looking at a number of potential spots for dinner, we decided on a busy deli and bakery.  The fact the restaurant was busy was a good indicator the food may be good since we’ve seen others opened at the early hour of 6:00 pm with few patrons.

Tom’s burger with ham, eggs, cheese and beef plus, fried potatoes.

Although service was slow based on the activity, we were fine, especially when we were handed the menus that included English descriptions.  However, based on my dietary restrictions, the server asked an English speaking server to assist to ensure the modifications I required.  It all worked out wel

My grilled chicken salad with grilled tomatoes.

As for tomorrow’s upcoming New Year’s Eve, we’ve met a lovely couple from the UK who are staying at this hotel and who was also on the recent cruise with us. As it turns out, the hotel is not planning a party so we’re planning our own party. Margaret and Con are planning to dine with us in the hotel and enjoy some food, wine, and champagne.

Gated property.

Today, as soon as we upload the post, we’re taking a taxi to a big supermarket where we’ll purchase wine, champagne, liquor for Tom, and food we’ll share with our new friends on New Year’s Eve and hopefully again on New Year’s Day.  What a perfect plan for what may have proved to have been another meat and cheese holiday.

Lingerie shop.  There are many of these in Argentina.

Eating all that meat and cheese on Christmas Eve and day didn’t agree with me so at least today at the market we’ll be able to purchase some vegetables, salad and a variety of foods suitable for the special event.

Sullivan’s Irish Pub, on a corner in the neighborhood we discovered.

The hotel will allow us to dine with our own food and drinks in the otherwise quiet dining area.  It should be a good night especially when we hit it off so well with Margaret and Con.

Historic building we see each time we head down Gorriti road.

That’s it for today, folks.  We hope your plans for the New Year include exactly what you’d prefer, whether a quiet evening at home or a festive celebration of the upcoming New Year.  May it be a safe and satisfying holiday!

Decorated tree in the neighborhood.

Have a lovely day!

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Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2016:

This ÿear in review photo” was posted on this date a year ago.  Tomorrow, we’ll do the same, posting favorite photos of us throughout the year.  In this photo taken in 2016, we were on the Mekong River Cruise and tour in July, stopping at the Kampong Cham temple in Cambodia. For more photos from last year’s recap, please click here.

Wow! An outstanding evening in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires…What an exciting deal!…Wine lovers, take note…

Monogrammed cloth napkins and plates were awaiting us as we were seated at La Cabrera last night.

When searching online for possible restaurants in the area, over and over again La Cabrera popped up in our searches.  This was one of the few restaurants open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, offering pricey fixed price menus at a cost of US $104.25 per person (ARS 2,000, with a recent exchange rate drop since our mention in a prior post).

Tom ordered a local beer while I had a Malbec.  Wine lovers; see our notes below notes below.

With an added tip based on La Cabrera’s purported good service, we could easily have spent US $300 (ARS 5,756) for each of the two holiday nights, especially with added cocktails since Tom wouldn’t have been interested in the included wine offerings. 

Based on our perception of the high cost of dining at La Cabrera, we didn’t give it much thought although we passed it and it’s second restaurant located on the same block, many times during our walks through the busy district.

These side dishes are complimentary at La Cabrera. 

Yesterday, while checking the menu on their website hoping to discover their regular (non-holiday) prices (which weren’t posted online), I stumbled across this ad below:

The La Cabrera ad states, in Spanish in small print above the word “Happy,”  that happy hour is daily between 6:30 and 8:00 pm.   Getting there by 6:15 pm is a must or one may not get in for this excellent benefit.

Before dinner, we decided to find a local pharmacy to purchase some over-the-counter items for the upcoming Antarctica cruise, also buying enough for the first few months in Africa as well.  We were impressed with the “caged” pharmacist’s ability to find everything on our list in the tiny space.

Roasted garlic in the finest of olive oil.

As it turned out the Farmacia which closes at 8:00 pm, was within a block or two of the restaurant and we decided to head there first before walking to the restaurant.
 
When we arrived at La Cabrera at 6:15 we discovered a queue of a dozen people waiting outside to take advantage of the “happy hour” pricing as well.  We found our spot in line and waited along with the others as several more diners arrived during the waiting period.  By 6:40 pm, they started letting us “bargain hunters” enter the restaurant to quickly be seated in a relatively tight space.

A woman sitting alone next to us ordered this huge steak and devoured the entire thing.

No more than five minutes after we were seated, they started turning people away.  Most locals take a two-hour siesta between 2:00 and 4:00 pm and they usually don’t dine until 9:00 or 10:00 pm or later, a little too late for us. Such an early seating is unusual in Buenos Aires.

As early birds awakening by 6:00 am at the latest each day, we’re usually sound asleep by midnight.  Going to bed on a full stomach is something we aren’t interested in doing, nor do we like to wait that late to dine, usually our only meal of the day. The “happy hour” concept works especially well for us. 

This was my entree, a Caesar salad with grilled chicken (no croutones) to which I requested avocado.  They added one and a half small avos and to my surprise, I consumed the entire dish.  It also included a lemon mayonnaise dressing (not bottled) on the side.

As we’ve walked the restaurant-lined streets of the Palermo Soho district over this past six days, we’ve noted dozens of restaurants where we’ll never be able to dine when they don’t open until 9:00 or 10:00 pm.  However, we’ve been able to find enough restaurants to suits our needs that open by 6:00 or 7:00 pm.

After last night’s stupendous experience, not only in regard to the good food and service but, also the highly cultural event, we certainly look forward to returning to La Cabrera several more times during the “happy hour” period.  As a footnote, this restaurant is certainly worth visiting in the later hours at full price for those who prefer to dine later in the evening when the pace may be more relaxed.

To reach my required 60 grams of protein each day, I added this egg and red pepper dish, cooked to perfection.  This alone would have been a big enough meal for me with its four eggs.  Good grief.  I ate the whole thing as we took our time and dined at a leisurely pace.

We’d heard prices are high in Buenos Aires and in most cases they are.  As a result, we budgeted US $100 (ARS 1,886) per day for meals while staying in a hotel for over 30 nights.

Last night’s meal, including wine, beer, and generous tip totaled US $46.23 (ARS 871.70) after the 40% discount.  Wow!  Subsequently, we’re averaging only US $34 (ARS 641) per day, keeping in mind that we only eat dinner out.  This amount includes the food we’d purchased at the mini-mart for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when we weren’t willing to spend the above mentioned high prices for the fixed priced menus on those two holiday nights.

Tom ordered the barbecue ribs which was the equivalent of an entire slab with these three sauces.  He ate all the juicy tender meat and left the sauces.  He’s not a “sauce” kind of guy although he can be quite saucy at times!.

Tom eats a light breakfast of coffee, hard boiled eggs, ham, and cheese (pastries, fruit, and juice are available for others) in the excellent Prodeo Hotel which is included in our nightly rate.

The food at La Cabrera was over-the-top fresh, hot, delicious and beautifully presented on sizzling platters.  Both of us couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more and look forward to a repeat performance in the near future.  Next time, I won’t order so much food since I’m still stuffed this morning.

This wasn’t a full-sized bottle of Malbec but contained two large glasses.  I had one glass and the waiter provided the cork so we could take the balance back to the hotel with us!  See the notes below on Argentinian Malbec as compared to French.
“Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec (from this site)
Blog » Wine Tips & Tricks » Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec

France is the place of origin of Malbec, but Argentina is now home to nearly 70% of the Malbec vineyards of the world. Thus, your very first taste of Malbec could have been from Mendoza, Argentina. There is a dramatic difference in taste between the two regions and this is because Malbec really shows how terroir affects the wine.

An instant definition of ‘terroir’

Terroir encompasses all the regional factors that define the taste of a wine grape including sun, soil, the slant of a hillside, proximity to a body of water, climate, weather, and altitude. Terroir happens before a winemaker even touches the grapes. Any winemaker worth his/her salt will tell you: great wine is made in the vineyard, not in the cellar. Read more about Terroir.”

We won’t do another comprehensive post on this particular restaurant when we return during our remaining 25 nights in Buenos Aires. However, we will share some details of other restaurants we’ll visit along the way.  After the New Year holiday ends, we’ll begin sightseeing. We’re looking forward to sharing those details with all of YOU.

After we finished our meal, the waiter dropped off this “lollipop tree” encouraging
Tom to take some with him.  He did.

Have a delicious day, dear friends!

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Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2016:


The prior day while on a walk in Penguin, Tasmania, we spotted this White Faced Heron.  For more photos, please click here.

Oh, oh, we screwed up again!….Photos from the Sydney Opera House…

There are many interesting dining spots with exquisite views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge along the walk to the Sydney Opera House.

After all these years of meticulously planning our travels, we’ve screwed up once again; once for our current dreadful immigration status in Australia and again, my error only, on the night we’d booked tickets for the Sydney Opera House…I failed in carefully reading our ticket confirmation to discover it was on Sunday night, not Saturday.

This was Tom before he knew we’d arrived to the opera on the wrong date. The ship in the background is the Emerald Princess, a line we’ve never experienced.

I’d booked the tickets last April receiving an online confirmation which I’d copied and pasted into my online calendar placing it under Saturday, not Sunday.  If I’d reviewed it carefully lately, as I should have, it would have been easy to determine the tickets were for Sunday night (tonight), not last night.

The Opera Quay building along the walk.

Off we went with Bob dropping us at the Manly Ferry in the pouring rain with umbrella and parkas keeping us relatively dry.  We waiting for 15 minutes for the ferry and boarded for the 30 minute ride in rough waters due to the stormy conditions.

As we approached the Sydney Opera House we noticed almost everyone had a camera or phone in hand.

Upon arrival at Circular Quay in Sydney, the sun had peeked out and we walked for 20 minutes on the esplanade along the bay to the opera house.  Climbing the zillions of steps to the entrance, we found our way to the ticket office where our tickets were awaiting us.

There’s no doubt that after dark, these tables will be filled with diners.

Alas, we were informed the opera for which we’d purchased tickets didn’t occur until today.  We were one day early.  Oh, my.  Mr. Overly Grumpy reared his ugly head for about 10 minutes while I racked my brain as to how I could possibly make such an error. 

Bennelong Lawn, Royal Botanic Gardens is located next to the Sydney Opera House.

I could have made all the excuses in the world such as not feeling quite well yet, the immigration thing, the missing package from the US, and my sister’s recent possibility of recurring cancer (a scare, after all) that kept my brain flooded with worries during the recent cruise and since our arrival one week ago.

I was dressed to warm for ths humid weather.

But excuses always fail me.  I tend to leave them in the dust instead simply admitting my mistake and cheerfully, in my usual “overly bubbly” manner, move on.  Mr. Grumpy was having none of that.  For 10 minutes, he was rather annoying. 

Visitors sitting on the steps of the Sydney Opera House enjoying the view.

Suddenly, I suggested we make it fun that we were already in Sydney and enjoy the amazing area and views of the bay, Circular Quay, the Opera House and the people watching.  “How about it we go to dinner, have a drink, smile and have a good time?” I asked.  He was game.

Moments later we were seated in a lovely restaurant, Searock Grill, with mouth watering smells wafting through the air, ordering a beer for Tom and a wine for me, while the mood became uplifting and cheerful.  After all, this was no big deal in the realm of things.

Grilled chicken salad with tomatoes, radishes and sprouts with a side or garlic aoili.

I apologized for my error.  Tom apologized for being “overly grumpy” and we ended up having a great time.  Today, we’ll return to the Manly Ferry to give it another try.  This time, we’ll take the local bus to the ferry since Bob isn’t available. 

Tom’s double filet fish and chips. He ordered ketchup on the side for the chips.

We plan to dine early again, before the 5 pm opera, since its less crowded in the restaurants and lately, with my condition, dining earlier rather than later seems to serve me well with less discomfort into the evening. 

Tom’s beer, Great Northern Brewing Co. was named the same as one of the predecessor railroads he worked for many moons ago.

Oddly enough, we’d like to return to the same restaurant today after we’d read menus for every restaurant along the esplanade.  Yesterday’s restaurant,  was  easily able to accommodate my diet with a delicious grilled chicken salad along with with a satisfying plate of fish and chips for Tom, photos of which are included here today.

Ferry arriving at the wharf.  There’s a constant flow of ferries heading to and fro many areas around the bay.

Based on the early arrival time, we were allowed the benefit of the lunch menu pricing and our total bill with one glass of beer, one glass of wine and our two meals totaled AU $50.60, US $38.92!  The same items were priced about 40% higher after 5 pm.  That works for us!

This is the pier where we boarded our past six cruises with hopefully, one more to go with  immigration situation hopefully resolved.

After dinner we enjoyed the leisurely walk back to Wharf #3 where with only a short wait for the next ferry. Back at our cozy house in Fairlight, we settled in for the remainder of the evening, watched a few shows and dozed off by 11 pm.

Happy face back on…

We’ll be back tomorrow with the results of our second foray to the Sydney Opera House, hopefully getting it right this time!

Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, March 19, 2016:

The beach in Opunake, New Zealand, one year ago.  We’ve experienced plenty of rainy weather in our world travels.  But, we try to take it in stride and make the best of it.  As indicated in today’s post bad weather doesn’t prevent us from planned activities, although we may not venture out if our plans are open.  For more details, please click here.

Review on Huon Valley holiday home with many photos…Two days and counting.

View of a small portion of the Huon River from the lawn of the rental in Castle Forbes Bay.

None of today’s photos of the property we rented for six weeks in the Huon Valley are ours.  We “borrowed” them from Anne and Rob’s listing on AirBnB, found here.  We’d have taken photos but with packing in full force, the house is somewhat cluttered.
In 48 hours we’ll have arrived at the Hobart International Airport for the less than two hour flight at 10:10 am to Sydney.  Shortly after 12:00 pm we’ll arrive in Sydney and take a taxi to head to the Overseas Passenger Terminal in the Sydney Harbour. Once again  we’ll embark on another cruise in the South Pacific.
 

View of the property from the river.

So far, including Wednesday’s cruise, we’ll have sailed on six cruises in the South Pacific in this past almost two years.  With one more cruise remaining at the end of April, in 54 days we’ll sail from Sydney to Seattle as we make our way back to the US. 

We’ll have 40 days between both cruises during which we’ll stay in a property in Manly, very similar to this house in the Huon Valley where one area is occupied by the owner and another full apartment with all facilities constitutes the rental portion.

I’ve sat on the sofa while Tom lounges in this red chair, both very comfortable.  See dining table and chairs in the background

Oddly, when we lived in Trinity Beach, Australia beginning on June 11, 2015, we stayed in yet another similar property whereby we lived on the fully equipped main floor while the owners occupied the second level.

Overall, we prefer to live in a single family home for the added privacy but with costs so high for rents in Australia, these types of situations have been our only sensible option.

That’s not to say that any of the owners intrude upon our privacy in any manner. They have not.  They’ve been kind, helpful and available when needed.  Anne and Rob, our landlords for this property have been exceptional, making many efforts to ensure we had a pleasant stay and undoubtedly, we have.

Plenty of amenities and gadgets are available in this kitchen, making cooking a breeze.  When I needed an item, Anne quickly provided it, such as a big mixing bowl, baking pans, hand blender.

The property is in perfect condition with no obvious repairs, painting or replacement needed.  Everything works.  The furniture in the living room has been comfortable especially when we’ve spent more time staying in due to my recent illness during these past six weeks than we may have spent in other areas. 

Previously in Penguin, Tasmania when I wasn’t as ill, we were often out and about, walking, exploring and seeing the local sites and points of interest.  Here in the Huon Valley, we’ve only done as much exploring as our 100’s of photos indicate, not every day but at least once or twice a week.

The view when sitting on the sofa in the living room which includes lots of games, books, and decor items. 

The house is well equipped with suitable dishes, flatware, pots and pans, kitchen utencils and gadgets.  Even the cupboards contained a variety of teas, spices, oils and other products, similar to those in Penguin.

The bed is comfortable along with the bedding.  A poor quality or flimsy sheet pillows and blankets situation can totally ruin an otherwise comfortable bed.  But, here, the bedding was of the utmost quality, the pillows comfortable, the covers suitable for a variety of weather conditions.

We’ve kept our luggage in the second bedroom which is located on a lower level.

Anne and Rob invitied Tom for his first fishing-on-the-ocean experience which he thoroughly enjoyed leaving us with enough fish filets for a few meals. We coated the filets in beaten eggs and coconut flour pan frying them in coconut oil, our favorite way to eat fish.

The availability of fresh produce plucked from the abundant garden was a huge perk we’d never expected.  I was particularly thrilled when I was able to make salads using celery, cabbage and greens from the garden.  Tom, who’s favorite vegetable is green beans, enjoyed them with many meals.

Seating on the veranda.

The Wi-Fi here, although tricky over te first few days of our arrival, ending up working well for us.  With the 400 gig allotment each 30 days, at night we were easily able to stream HBO’s Game of Thrones entire six seasons.  On only a few rare occasions did we have to await the return of the signal when it slipped away momentarily.

Although we watch little TV, we’ve been able to check out local and some world news from time to time.  During the day when we’re in, we may have news on in the background but neither of us pays much attention. 

It has been delightful to have fluffy robes to use while here as shown in the second en suite bathroom.  Both bathroom have heated towel racks but we’ve never used them.

Right now, snippets from the Academy Awards Red Carpet event is on.  The  awards show will be broadcast live from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm.  Since we’ve seen none of the movies, we have little interest in the awards show itself.

The grounds and the pool are beautifully maintained by Anne and Rob, who are also retired, spending considerable time working and maintaining the property. The views of the Huon River is breathtaking as shown in a few of today’s photos and many photos over the past weeks.

This is the master bedroom which now has a sofa by the windows. 

We’d highly recommend this property to any travelers.  For information, click here and they’ll respond quickly.  Also, feel free to contact us with any specific questions that perhaps only a renter would experience. 

Thanks to Anne and Rob for an extraordinary stay at your lovely property.   We’ve already written positive statements in your “guest book” and over the next few days, post reviews online.

The master bath has worked well for us.

My single suitcase is already packed with the exception of the items I’ve been wearing the past few days.  Tomorrow, Tom will pack his clothing while I pack the third bag with miscellanous items we’ll collect from around the house.

Tomorrow, I’ll briefly report on my condition after today’s final contact with Dr. Angela Retchford in Geeveston.  On departure day in two days, we’ll include the total expenses for the six weeks we spent in the Huon Valley.

Have a pleasant day!

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Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2016:
Tom was excited to see this Minnesota State Trooper vehicle when we toured AmeriCarna in New Zealand last year on this date.  How ironic!  For more photos from the car show, please click here.

We figured out how I became ill…See our many photos below in the second half of this post…

 
Views across the Huon River.

There’s no doubt we’re running low on photos.  Having been increasing ill over these three months, I wasn’t feeling well enough to go sightseeing once we arrived in the Huon Valley, five weeks ago.  I’ve barely been well enough to do much of anything. 

Tom’s makes the bed, does the laundry, washes the dishes and helps make dinner.  The cleaner comes once a week leaving us with not much more than tidying up after ourselves. 

I had mentioned that I wouldn’t continue to discuss this health issue.  This was prior to having a diagnosis anticipating that our readers would tire of my whinging.  But, now that I have the diagnosis of Helicobactor Pylori (the bacteria that causes ulcers and gastritis, we both felt it was important to share this information for other travelers. 

These conditions may become prevalent for travelers to certain countries and after eating certain foods.  After all, to the best of my knowledge, I may only have exacerbated this condition while living in Bali for four months. 

These comments are by no means intended to criticize or berate the two lovely cooks, the property or the digligence of the owners or managers.  They were very conscientious to ensure our visit was safe and sanitary. 

 
Rolling hills in the Huon Valley which apprently were bright green in the spring, before we arrived.

However, certain climates with ultra high humidity and rampant insects and ants may be a breeding ground for illness.  Also, one never knows the handling conditions when purchasing produce, fish, meat, chicken and eggs from vendors in farmer’s markets which we’ve done regularly.

We often hear of infectious disease as a result of bagged lettuce and other produce purchased in the US and other highly developed countries in traditional chain supermarkets where one may easily assume everything is safe to consume, only to discover it is not, in some circumstances. 

When looking back and discussing where we’ve been these past few years and when in fact this illness may have started we reviewed many of our past posts.  Most of us carry the H. Pylori bacteria which may be activated over a long period of time, often exacerbated by certain conditions.

Sailboat on the Huon River on a cloudy day.

When we received the disgnosis a few days ago, we both racked our brains trying to recall when, in fact, some of these symptoms began.  Without a doubt, the symptoms started with an outrageous and uncomfortable sense of fullness after eating a normal sized meal, once we arrived in New Zealand where we lived for three months on an alpaca farm.

Most of our meals consist of medium sized portions of protein, one or two cooked vegetables and a salad.  Eating none of this foods should or previously caused any intestinal distress. 

Previously while in Fiji, where we spent three months living on the island of Vanua Levu we literally cooked every meal.  During this period we didn’t consume a single portion of seafood when we’d discovered all local fish was caught close to the shore.  See this photo below and our post from December 29, 2015 for our mention and fears of eating fish in Fiji.


Photo and caption from December 29, 2015:  “We’d been warned against purchasing locally caught fish when its often caught close to the shore where bacteria is heavy in the waters from sewage disposal.  As a result, we never purchased any fish during the past four months (in Fiji).  I’m looking forward to cooking fish once we arrive in New Zealand.”  Eventually, I did eat the fish.  See text below for details.

At the end of the three months we left Vanua Levu to fly to Viti Levu where we stayed for one additional month.  This was during the busy holiday season that we dined out a few times, once on Tom’s birthday on December 23rd and again on Christmas Day.  On each of these occasions I ate shell fish and/or squid both of which meals were consumed in a five star hotel. 

Here’s my dinner on the night of Tom’s birthday in this photo below with more seafood.  Here’s the link to that meal:

My fresh plate of food on Tom’s birthday on December 23, 2015.

But, here’s the one that tops it all from Christmas brunch December 25, 2015:

This is what I ate for Christmas brunch at the five star hotel in Vanua Levu, Fiji; baby octopus all of which are caught close to the shore.  Please see this link for these facts.  Those heads were a bit tricky to chew.  I ended up eating four of them, less one head, never giving it a thought since we were dining in an upscale environment.

Once we left Fiji on January 4, 2016, we cruised from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand where we lived on the alpaca farm for three months. It was during this period the bloating symptoms began, most likely the onset of full blown H. Pylori.

On January 11, 2016, I posted this story with a seafood photo on a cruise, here again exacerbating my condition by eating bottom feeding, caught-close-to-the-shore seafood.

This is the entrée I ordered for four evening meals in a row on the cruise to new Zealand, seafood on a bed of cooked cabbage and vegetables.  Here again, more high risk seafood.

How many times did I mention the risks of eating seafood caught close to the shore which is often infected with a wide variety of bacteria, including Helicobactor Pylori?  More times than we can count. 

Any yet, foolishly, I continued to eat squid and bottom feeding fish which seems to be the biggest culprit in causing my illness as shown in these photos. At the time, I made the assumption that dining in upscale restaurants and aboard cruises would eliminate these risks.  How wrong I was!

Today, as I experience some side effects of the massive doses of two different antibiotics, one of which includes 2 grams  (2000 mg) of Amoxicillin per day, twice the recommended dose for strep throat or penumonia.   The other antibiotic is Clarithromycin at 1 gram (1000 mg) per day.  The third drug is a PPI (proton pump inhibitor) always taken in combination with these two antibiotics is intended to reduce the acidity of the intestinal tract during the treatment and for two months thereafter (by continuing the PPI).

The course of treatment ends next Monday at 7 pm.  Thirty six hours later we’ll board the cruise in Sydney.  I can only hope I’ve learned something here:  that the cosumption of squid and other close-to-the-shore and bottom feeding fish will now be forbidden in my diet, eliminating one more of the foods I’ve enjoyed over the years. 

We’re grateful for our almost 1700 daily posts.  Through researching our photos, we were able to piece together why, when and how I developed this bacterial infection.

However, no food(s) is ever worth a serious health condition of any type.  We hope this post may have provided some insight into what may be recommended to eliminate from one’s diet while traveling.  One can never be too cautious, a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 22, 2016:

These foals in NZ were hard to get close for more detailed photos when they’re very shy  If you click on this link, it will take you to last year’s post where, if you scroll to the bottom on the page, you’ll see a hysterical horse photo we’d taken in Hawaii.

Perpendicular Deli, Espresso Bar, Restaurant and shop… A “not-to-be-missed” stop for tourists and locals…

 
Talk about friendly people in Penguin!  Karen and Daniel, owners of Perpendicular are the epitome of Australian (and Penguin) warmth and kindness making every patron walking through the door feeling as if this special spot could easily be a second home.

When Terry, our new friend and landlord told us about Perpendicular Deli, Espresso Bar, Restaurant and shop, located off Main Street, only a short walk from our vacation home in Penguin, Tasmania, we couldn’t resist making a visit.

 
Karen and Daniel, both Australians, the thoughtful, creative and friendly owners were quick to share their story of dreaming of owning a business in this quaint oceanfront town. 

Perpendicular Deli, Espresso Bar, Restaurant and Shop is located off Main Street in Penguin, Tasmania at 7 Arnold Street (behind the big bargain bottle shop). Note the penguin on the roof!  Easy parking is available in the lot as shown and on the street.

During this past year, they’ve made their dreams a reality with hard work and dedication, a customer friendly design, easy to access location and the finest of food products and amenities. 

 
In the process, a casual, French inspired café, barista and restaurant was born to further the dining needs of the residents of Penguin who’ve had few dining establishments in this small town of a population of approximately 4000.

Casual dining area in Perpendicular!  Breakfast is served from 6:30 am to 10 am and dinner  is served from 5:30 pm six days a week.  Perpendicular is closed on Wednesdays.  Call with questions:  0416 462 162 or (03) 6437 2659 or email Daniel at: daniel@danielmarks.com.au

Penguin attracts tourists from all over the world for its beautiful beaches, water sports, quaint persona and habitat for the small Fairy Penguins.  When tourists arrive in a community, having a variety of dining establishments becomes a must.
 
Travelers staying in holiday homes with cooking facilities usually have little interest in preparing complicated time consuming meals.  Those staying in hotels often seek a local and inviting venue that enables them to dress casually, enjoy delicious meals in a relaxed environment and be on their way to sightsee and engage in water sports and other activities. 

A comprehensive display of oils and condiments befitting cooks of all experience.

Perpendicular totally fulfils that objective when either local residents or tourists are seeking quality foods to enjoy onsite or to takeaway for a fast and convenient meal, delicious with the finest of ingredients Perpendicular has readily available.

 
After days of cloudy skies, this morning we stopped at Perpendicular to take an additional outdoor photo.  When we’d previously visited Karen and Daniel before Christmas the day was dark and cloudy. 

The deli case includes a variety of meats, cheeses, olives and more.  On the top shelf of the refrigerated case noticed the huge chunks of homemade nougat candy.  That was a tempting!  The shelf above the refrigerated case contains an array of sweet treats and other gourmet items.  Prices are very reasonable for the quality products.

This morning, rushing to return to complete this post, we drove as opposed to walking to Perpendicular.  Once Tom parked the car so I could take the outdoor photo we’ve included today, I decided to pop in to say hello and to purchase the olive oil based feta cheese Daniel had mentioned on our prior visit. 

Terry explained that Perpendicular carries the exact same Caraway Cheddar we’d
 purchased by mail from the Pyengana cheese factory. Almost a month ago we stopped at the cheese factory on our road trip from Hobart to Penguin purchasing one block of this cheese.  Once we were settled we called Pyengana to order a 10 block supply by mail.  Now that we know Perpendicular carries this brand, we can purchase it locally at Perpendicular.

Today for our main meal, I’m making myself a jumbo prawn salad with chopped hardboiled eggs, olives, tomatoes and cheese.  Of course,  I knew the perfect cheese for such a salad would definitely be a quality feta.

After we returned home, I opened the package of feta cheese for a taste and my taste buds soared with delight.  I can’t wait for mealtime!  Tom, not a big fan of salads with meat (except taco salad), will have grilled steak with prawns, a side salad and veggies. 

A superb barista section prepares a wide array of coffee based beverages for the most finicky of espresso aficionados.

We’re excited to have found Perpendicular Deli, Espresso Bar and Providore and look forward to stopping by a few more times for meats and cheeses during our remaining two weeks in this amazing town of Penguin.

 Happy New Year’s Day to our friends on the opposite side of the International Dateline!  For us, the holidays are over and its another “wonderful day in the neighborhood.”    
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Photo from one year ago today, January 2, 2016:

The pool at the vacation home in Pacific Harbour, Fiji was pristine being cleaning three times a week. We spent many days during the one month stay on the island of Viti Levu (the main island of Fiji) lounging outdoors.  For more details please click here.

Mother Nature says goodbye for now on our last full day at the villa in Bali…Romantic notions…Villa review…

This favorite photo bespeaks the beauty of this West Bali location and the divine pleasure we experienced daily overlooking the pool and the sea.

 “Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This morning’s sighting on the beach.  Wow!  Was that intended for us?

Early this morning, shortly after 7 am as the sky began to clear after a rainy night, we stepped outdoors to see this rainbow.  There was a smaller second rainbow at its side although faint and hard to capture in the photo.

Was it Mother Nature saying goodbye to us in those short few moments when it was visible?  It disappeared in less than a minute as the trade winds between us and Java wafted away the awe inspiring view.  We could easily have missed it.  Tom called that rainbow “safari luck.”  It was the first we’d seen in Bali.

Although mountains in Java obstructed the final setting of the sun, we were able to capture a portion of its beauty. 

In a romantic way we believe it was intended for us.  Many of the intense pleasures of traveling continuously revolve around “signs,” coincidences and optical illusions perceived in our minds as having a special meaning.

Some vacation rentals lend to the perception of romance more than others.  Today, we wanted to share a few romantic notions we experienced in the Beach House West Bali where we’ve lived for the past almost two months.  It’s truly been a lover’s Paradise and a traveler’s dream come true.

View from the second floor veranda at low tide.

This special property could easily serve well as a vacation home for a family with its four large bedrooms each with an en suite bathroom with two additional water closets on the main floor, one intended for staff located in the garage and another other in the large foyer/dining room.

We didn’t use the expansive second story at all where two of the four bedrooms are located including a living room and enormous veranda with views we captured in many photos. 

Creepy looking sea crustacean that “borrows” this shell for protection.

Common in many countries, steps and stairways are often constructed without a full railing  Also, the riser of each step is much higher and different than we’re used to which could easily result in a fall if not paying the utmost of attention when taking each step.  This may not be ideal for seniors. 

Not previously posted Praying Manthis reflection on the edge of the infinity pool.

As a result, we opted to stay on the main floor.  Besides, we prefer to hang out on the main floor where all the action is!  For two or more couples or a family, this type of arrangement could be perfect.

The kitchen, which we only used for making coffee, refilling our iced tea and a bit of prep on Sundays when the staff is off, didn’t attract much of our interest with the two Kataks on hand to prepare our delicious meals. 

Tom took this photo of an enormous grasshopper yesterday.  Each day we rescued many that were drowning in the pool.

With a comprehensive three-meals-a-day menu for guests, even the pickiest of diners can find options they’ll enjoy.  The only restriction is that everyone at the table must order the same menu items (except breakfast) with a few exceptions as described below, although they may chose to swap favorites among themselves at each meal.  It’s explained verbatim (rough English translation) as follows in the menu:

“All dishes are made by the staff themselves of local fresh ingredients. You need as a companion during lunch and dinner, to match the dishes on each other.  It is therefore not possible to opt a individually dish for lunch or dinner! This applies to both the appetizer, main course and dessert. From four people, you can choose a second dish.  Breakfast can be chosen individually except bubur ayam (a Balinese chicken dish).”

Here’s our link for Part 1 of the villa’s menu.
Here’s our link for Part 2 of the villa’s menu.

Workers harvesting rice.

Our special diet was easy for the cooks to accommodate especially when we only eat one meal a day. We requested our usual coleslaw salad, the stir fried veggies and a protein source. 

Each meal was prepared and seasoned to perfection.

Over the past three weeks we included an added one cup of cooked rice for Tom once we noticed he continued to lose weight even when it was added to his meal a few times a week.

Yesterday, Ribud cut the grass with a grass trimmer/weed whacker while one of the Kataks swept the grass into piles to be cleared. 

As for the cleaning and upkeep of the house and grounds…it couldn’t have been accomplished with more grace and ease, never making us feel as if our privacy was impinged upon.  Kindness, consideration and discretion was observed at every moment by the gentle and conscientious staff. 

The house itself is in excellent repair, having been built four years ago and is continuously well maintained.  The recent falling crown molding we described in an earlier post is inevitable in this highly humid environment. 

Tom’s charging buffalo story of a few days ago will always be remembered.

Any deviation from perfection is addressed immediately and resolved with the least convenience to us.  As a matter of fact, any concerns are promptly and meticulously addressed to satisfaction.

Our only issue during these two months has been the quality of the wifi signal which apparently will be improved by the time we return, although over the past several days we’ve had an improved connection.  Gede promptly contacts the provider when we have an issue which may or may not promptly resolve the connection issues based on the circumstances.

Flowers were placed on the sides of the track as a Hindu offering for a safe and successful race.

For us, the most romantic and ultimately enjoyable aspect to this property (and also the property next door owned by the same party) has been the outdoors where we’ve spent most of our waking hours, beginning as early as 7 am, ending shortly before dinner when we shower and change to dine.

From the impeccably maintained infinity pool, the comfortable cabana, the multiple seating and lounging areas with hut-type umbrellas, to the chaise lounges we’ve used daily which are freshly “dressed” each morning with custom made fitted covers and over-sized fluffy towels comparable to what one would find in an upscale resort.

The buffalo race was quite an event!

In fact, living in this fine property is not unlike residing in an upscale resort with every possible amenity available at our fingertips.  Yes, there are some drawbacks mainly as a result of being so far from a bigger city:  no nearby restaurants (who needs restaurants with the fabulous cooks at our disposal?); less immediate sightseeing opportunities; limited supply of local grocery stores carrying few western type products; and, the often poor wifi signal.

Even vegetarians get tarter on their teeth.  He needs a cleaning!

There are always trade offs.  Over the past several days as our first round in Bali comes to a close, we decided we’ve been easily able to accept the trade offs while living in this fairly remote location. 

If this villa was closer to the airport, as most popular resorts appear to be, the price could easily be five times this daily rate.  End result for us?  A better “bang for the buck” and ultimately a fine property we’d never been able to fit into our budget. 

Buffaloes trying to keep their heads above water while cooling off in the river next door.

In our world travels, its imperative we decide which appeals to us more; quality of location or convenience.  In many cases, we opt for the quality  of the property at times sacrificing convenience, mainly since we stay so long.

The look on this monkey’s face made us howl with laughter.

A beautiful environment, often with a certain romantic appeal and its creature comforts and amenities are important to us over the long haul.  In Beach House West Bali, our expectations have been met as we anticipate our return in two months with even a greater degree of enthusiasm than prior to our first arrival.

As for tomorrow’s four hour harrowing drive to Denpasar where we’ll spend one night?  Its all a part of the experience.  Tomorrow, we’ll be back, posting prior to leaving the villa with the final expenses in Bali!  Please check back for the surprising details!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2015:

Scout Island as seen from Trinity Beach, Australia doesn’t look too inviting and isn’t inhabited.  For more details, please click here.

A great afternoon at Okurukuru Winery…Unexpected encounters…



Nothing is like crystal-like sparkles on the ocean on a sunny day.

With a dinner reservation for 7 pm last night at Okurukuru Winery and it getting darker earlier each night with fall fast approaching, we decided to change our reservation to a late lunch instead of dinner. 

The red, blue and black on these birds is an interesting combination.

It was a beautiful sunny day and spending time at the winery would certainly be more enjoyable in the sunshine.  We weren’t disappointed with our decision.  The views were breathtaking as we’d observed on our last visit when we’d only stopped by to check it out.

The menu was a bit tricky for me with most options including one form of starch, flour or sugar as a part of the lunchtime choices.  As a result, I selected a Thai Beef Salad while Tom went “hog wild” selecting a pizza with a huge bowl of fries on the side. 

There were four of these large birds playing in a garden.

The food was good although my salad with a suitable dressing was a bit dry.  Tom, on the other hand, took a doggy bag with the remainder of his fries which he ate instead of dinner which I’d offered to make along with the light meal I’d made for myself.

It was nice to see Tom order a beer.  He hasn’t had any drinks other than on the few nights we’ve dined out.

After lunch, we wandered about the massive facility taking photos, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the scenery.  As we walked along the veranda overlooking the vineyards, cows and the sea, we heard American accents from three people chatting at a table, two young women seated and one gentleman our age standing.

As we walked by it was irresistible to say hello which magically resulted in a lengthy conversation with Rachel and Regan, sisters originally from Texas and Ed, from Connecticut. Ed had happened to stop by the winery had also just met the young women after hearing them speak with their southern tinged American accents.

My Thai Beef salad, made to my specifications.

This is the first time since our arrival in New Zealand that we’ve met any Americans.  Don’t get me wrong, we don’t necessarily feel Americans have more to offer in conversation or friendship than citizens of any country, especially those with whom we can speak some degree of English. 

Tom’s Meaty Pizza.

Sharing commonalities with those from our same country or origin, elicits an amount of conversation of particular interest, especially, “What brought you here, so far away from the US?”

Of course, as often transpires, we encountered a coincidence of which we seem to expect when meeting other Americans.  You know, the “Kevin Bacon, six degrees of separation” thing.

Tom was especially thrilled with the big bowl of fries, too large to eat with a pizza but good cold later back at home.

As it turned out Regan and her husband, a physician, have been living in Opunake for many months on a one year contract.  Her husband is practicing medicine through a project that brings doctors to small communities throughout the world where healthcare is desperately needed. 

View of the landmark smoke stack and Sugarloaf Islands in downtown New Plymouth.

Coincidentally Regan is working as a volunteer at Everybody’s Theatre, which we visited and wrote a story only a few days ago.  See our story here.  Small world.

We got a kick out of watching these cows wander back and forth through the barren vineyards maneuvering through the stake, fertilizing the soil.

Rachel became engaged only a few days earlier at a romantic spot on the South Island for which we enthusiastically congratulated her. Her fiancé had headed back to the US a few days earlier while she stayed behind to spend quality time with her sister.

The expansive views from the Okurkuru Vineyard are lovely.

While I chatted with the girls, Tom and Ed chatted endlessly, obviously also having a great time.  This morning, Tom received a friendly email from Ed and we hope to see him again before he leaves within a week.

Another view of the pasture.

Finally, we were back on our way home unable to wipe the smiles off our faces, happy to have had a perfect day at the winery, a good meal, each other’s companionship, meeting new people and some exquisite country and ocean views interspersed with a few birds and cows, always a favorite.

As we pulled into the narrow road to our temporary home on the farm, we turned to each other with that wonderful sense of joy we always feel each time we behold the precious alpacas, as many approached the fence when they saw us return.

The view at an overlook on the drive out of the Okurukuru Vineyard on the winding road.

Today, very cool and cloudy, we’re headed to town to shop with multiple stops on our “to do list”, another simple activity we thoroughly enjoy each week.  May the simple activities of your day bring you joy and purpose!

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Photo from one year ago today, March 10, 2015:

The orchids in Hawaii are amazing.  In this post, we were preparing for a houseguest, my sister Julie who came for a much needed vacation.  For more details, please click here.

Birthday dinner in another fabulous New Plymouth, New Zealand restaurant…

View of Mount Taranaki while on our way home last night after my birthday dinner.

Thanks to our family, friends and readers and our thoughtful landlords, Trish and Neil, for the wonderful birthday wishes I received in the past 48 hours.  It means the world to me and I appreciate each and every acknowledgement.



Returning home last night, we found this pretty plant from Trish and Neil on the doorstep.  Wow! 

How is it possible that the relatively small city (compared to many other major cities in the world) of New Plymouth, New Zealand with a population of over 74,000 including all the farm and surrounding areas, has such great restaurants as far as we’re concerned?

Sure, we’ve only dined out twice.  But, when perusing the list of 126 restaurants reviewed in the area, we see a general consensus of overall quality food even in many of the more out-of-the-way casual establishments.

A table was set for a large group at the Orangery.

Last nights choice for my birthday dinner was The Orangery located in the Quality Hotel in downtown New Plymouth.  A 20 minute drive from the farm, the scenery along the way is so breathtaking the drive is over quickly. 



The restaurant was cozy with comfortable seating and arrangements.

Nothing in the town is hard to find with clearly marked road signs with well laid out streets.  There’s a number of one way streets but Tom’s learned to navigate the area with ease often surprising  me as to how well he’s learned his was around.


Tom was looking forward to bread!

As a passenger I pay little attention to how we get to a specific location than the interesting scenery on our way.  Last night’s drive to town was no exception.  Before we leave “home” Tom takes a quick look at an online map, finds the location and without hesitation finds our destination.  His innate ability to find most locations always adds to the ease of our travels. 


Wearing the same clothes as in many photos.  I’ve noticed little holes forming in this top and sadly must say goodbye soon.  Does this mean I get to buy something to replace it? Tom will cringe at the thought of going to the mall.

Of course, I’ll give him credit for having a great sense of direction when I’m totally inept in this area.  I can get lost in the grocery store.  Its not that I’m not capable.  Its merely a matter of paying attention.  With a short attention span, I really have to focus to find my way anywhere. 



This serving cart was rolled to our table in order for Denise to make Tom’s entrée tableside.

Luckily, as a couple, we fill in the blanks for one another even when dining out:  Does he want to eat his salad or vegetables when he’s focused on the potatoes, meat and bread?

At The Orangery last night, although we ordered different main courses, he supplemented my lack of starch, sugar or grains by handing over his salad.  As usual, with no premade salad dressings work for my way of eating when they’ve been made with soy or vegetable oil, which I don’t consume. 


Diane fired up Tom’s Steak Diane Flambé using Pernot and white wine while I took this shot. 

I usually order a cup of full fat sour cream to which I add my liquid sweetener (which I carry in my pocket in a tiny bottle), salt and pepper for a delicious tasting dressing I use almost every day.  I given up trying to find mayonnaise or salad dressing when all are made with soy,”seed” or vegetable oils, none of which I consume. 

Last night’s ordering was a little tricky when many items were made in sauces using flour, corn starch or sugar.  After handing the food list on my phone to our conscientious server she showed it to the chef, who suggested I pick out a protein source I’d like and he’ll make it befitting the list.


Tom’s main dish included a side of mashed potatoes (not shown here) and a salad which he handed to me.

The food was wonderful, fresh, perfectly prepared and served.  Tom ordered the Steak Diane Flambé served tableside with mushrooms, garlic, onions, mashed potatoes and a side of bread.  I order the prawns sautéed in garlic butter, a side of avocado in place of veggie and a mixed greens salad.  Adding Tom’s salad to mine I had enough to eat between the salad, avo and prawns.

Guess who ate this entire loaf of bread with special New Zealand butter?  I tasted the delicious unsalted butter.

The biggest problem for me when dining out is the prospect of leaving hungry.  Without bread, potatoes, or any starches, a portion of protein, salad and a small serving of a suitable vegetable may not be substantial enough to fill me up. 

Based on the fact I don’t eat any more often than once every 22 to 24 hours due to my commitment to a ketogenic, (LCHF – low carb, high fat, moderate protein) intermittent fasting way of eating, once I begin eating the one  meal, hunger kicks in.  Its funny how that works.


My fluffy dish of sour cream and sliced avocado.  Tom’s huge bowl of mashed potatoes are beside his plate.

As it turned out the meal was satisfying and I left feeling comfortable, not too full.  Tom, on the other hand was stuffed and uncomfortable.  Its funny how that works.

We had a very pleasant dinner in the lovely décor of The Orangery heading home before dark when we were able to take the above main photo of Mount Taranaki.  Upon driving up to our cozy temporary New Zealand home, we noticed a beautiful flowering plant with a card from Trish and Neil wishing me a “happy kiwi birthday.” 


The combination of Tom’s salad and mine created an ample portion.

These thoughtful owners have made this experience on their alpaca farm a memorable with their “over the top” consideration and kindness.  We couldn’t be more grateful.  When I wrote a heartfelt thank you email, I promised to diligently care for the blooming plant to ensure they can enjoy it later when we must leave it behind when we fly to Sydney on April 15th.

It was a happy birthday in many ways; hearing from loved ones, many messages by email with more wishes on Facebook than I can count.  Tom’s sweet message on Facebook, a public declaration of his love, also warmed my heart. 


My prawns sautéed in butter were cooked perfectly and well seasoned.

This morning we left before 9 am to head to the Farmers Market Taranaki for eggs and produce including a trip to the grocery store.  Thus, the late posting today.  When we returned “home” we spotted Miss Jessica looking our way from the paddock.  Yes, its a good life in New Zealand…a very good life.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2015:

A year ago today we headed to Waimea Canyon but the “vog” was so thick we couldn’t see a thing.  For more details of our Kauai overnight road trip, please click here.