23 October 2011



Sam and I arrived in Thames on Monday.  Thames is at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula, known for its history rich in gold mining.  So far, Thames is our favorite little town in New Zealand.  The little shops lining its town center are eclectic and quaint, and the conifer-coated mountains springing up around it remind me of Colorado.  Perhaps it was because of the street market today, but the whole town has a great community vibe that we both appreciate.

We've been staying with a wonderful couple, Patrick & Christiane, who have made us feel at home and who have a great attitude about HelpX.  Patrick's parents live in the adjacent house, and they have both been very kind as well.  Some of the work has been hard, but my shoulder and arm muscles are feeling the satisfied burn of being used for something other than slouching at a computer, so I am grateful.  When you can't go to the gym, dig a ditch!

The food has been excellent and full of flavor, and we have been able to contribute to the meals as part of our work.  I've missed cooking & baking!  Today I made a leek & chard tart and a large salad for dinner, and hokey pokey cookies* for dessert, using a recipe from Christine, our host on the alpaca farm.  Hers were better, but I'm sure mine will get better with practice.  Christiane made a delicious dressing for the salad using fresh herbs from the garden.

*The cookie recipe at the link isn't exactly the same as Christine's, but it's close and it explains kiwi "hokey pokey."

Lots of fresh chard to use in the garden.  Over here they call it silverbeet.

Their house is down a quiet road outside of the city, surrounded by birds of all kinds.  I've seen a family of California quails, tuis, eastern rosellas, a silvereye, a pheasant, a kingfisher, and many more that I've heard but can't identify.  The birdsong symphony is yet another reason to love this place.

Tui eating lunch

Upside down tui
A tui feeding in a kowhai tree upside down.

Tuis have a very interesting song.  Listen to it below:
Tuis (audio from the DOC website)

California Quail
One of the many California quails living on the property.  I never knew how fast they move!

This photo was caused by condensation on the camera lens, but I liked the way it turned out.

Thames flower bed

Sam made plans to meet up with Richard, an online friend, who lives on the Coromandel Peninsula. We called him when we first arrived at Patrick & Christiane's to find out where he is located on the peninsula, and in a funny coincidence, he lives just down the street. We went out together for a pint a few nights ago, and tomorrow the three of us are going gold panning. The next blog post might be titled Eureka, so wish us luck!

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