Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blenheim - Day 1

You may have noticed my absence, but I did take off out of Auckland last week to spend a week down in Blenheim with my friend Carol. She very kindly paid for my airfare down as she needed a drinking buddy, or an excuse to go round all the vineyards. I'm not one to turn down such an opportunity!!!

She also booked us into two garden tours - the famous Garden Marlborough - one evening christmas tour, and the Rapaura Garden Tour. I'll explain more about those later.

When we were doing all the bookings, I happened to have my friend Nikki with me, and she turned green with envy, so we booked Nikki for the week too. So she got a well earned break from her two sons, and I from my two pesky cats! (not quite the same I don't think!!)

Blenheim is in the upper east side of our South Island. Last time I had been there was when I was 15 (just a couple of years ago!!) I have relatives down there so I was able to catch up with them while I was down. However, I was shocked at the changes. Back when I was down (about 1976), Blenheim was main crop farms and sheep. I remember spuds, and corn mainly. Now? It's all grapevine. As far as the eye can see.

So - grab a cuppa and join me on my First day in Blenheim!!! You won't be disappointed - it WAS quite an adventure!!!

I should start with the plane. I don't know anything about planes - but I'm sure Henry will enlighten me on the name of this one. All I knew was that it was Small. Notice I spelt that with a capital S. Small. As in Tiny. Miniscule.

See? I told you it was small. One seat down each side of the plane. What concerned me was that as we landed and started going down - I was able to look straight out the pilot's window and gulp!!

I was very good though - I did not shut my eyes. Instead I got my camera out and took a few photos as we were coming into land. Firstly - flying over the sounds - that was amazing - looking at all the islands, and the colour of the water was incredible...

I only wish that the windows of the plane was nice clean glass - or better still - no glass at all - just open windows!!! I'd get better pictures!!

This is the Wairau River sweeping down the valley. On the left is the Richmond Ranges, and to the right is the St Arnaud Ranges. Beautiful isn't it?

And this is the valley all divided up into fields of grapevines! As far as the eye can see... I felt like I had been transported to France instead of Blenheim.

Here's one - just before we landed. By now the plane was caught in a cross wind coming up the valley which made for a rather hair-raising landing. I felt like the wind was going to flip the plane at any minute and that we would land upside down. I felt like applauding the pilot on landing.

Carol was there to pick us up with the Landrover to take us out to the Farm. We called into the supermarket on the way to pick up some bubbles. Then out to the Farm. Carol and Gerald moved down to Blenheim about 9 months ago and love it. They are currently renting on a farm block which is huge. They set up their luxury camper trailer for Nikki and I off the deck at the back door. Very luxurious accommodation and very comfortable. Gerald even built a ramp for me to make sure I didn't 'fall' into the trailer with my dicey balance - very very thoughtful of him.

Anyway we had lunch with nice bubbly then Tess the dog decided we should allllll go for a walk. So Carol, Nikki, Myself, Amelia and Logan set off wtih Tess for a walk over the farm. It started well.

Meet Tess 'I want my walk'. aka The dog. Border Collie. Loves the big outdoors. His sole career aspiration is to chase rabbits. And injure me. But we'll get to that later... Meanwhile - we started the walk...

Over the paddock then up this 'road'.

30 was our speed limit. Wasn't sure if that was 30mph, kph or steps per hour.

We had some friends join us briefly. Handsome creatures too.

Looking over to the Richmond ranges - what a view. And yes - that's snow up on the ranges - in November!! Meant we had very cold nights. I could so live there.

See up on the hill where all those trees are? Although I didn't know it at the time - that was where we were heading for.

So we started climbing. That's Nikki and Tess waiting for us - 'Hurry Up'. All my fault - I was busy taking photos. This is the part where in the last winter storm about 20 huge trees came down and blocked all access. I was in America at the time enjoying nice summer temperatures with no storms on the horizon at all.

It's obviously quite dangerous up here at certain times of the year. If you look at the top you can see the start of the grape vines. I guess they shoot birds, rabbits, pigs, trespassers, and anyone that doesn't vote for National!

The vines. This lot almost looks like a war cemetary with all the white boards up. But I think that it's white because it's been newly planted.

Tess waits for no one

This is looking through the vines over to the satellite. The area is known as Spy Valley. It was recently in the news because some idiots decided they didn't like such secrecy, so they cut through the one of the big white plastic domes, caused huge amounts of damage and many wasted dollars. So instead of two big round domes, we now only have one. There's a vineyard named Spy Valley Wines - very good wine too, and its just a bit further down the road. Free winetasting!!

Looking in the other direction - more vines. More mountains. More huge vistas.

Not far now Tess - Just up the top where the trees are. For some reason Tess stayed with me. I think she likes her photo taken.

There's Amelia walking through the vines. I'm not far behind with Tess. Don't know where the others are - they must have got bored with the photography!!

Ahh there they are. We're still climbing. Tess has abandoned me now - she got sick of being the model. No stickability.

Finally, we're at the top. And this is the house on top of the hill. Not sure if it's made from Timbracryl!! However, it's empty, and available to rent for $350NZ per week. (Which is about $170USD per week. It has about 8 bedrooms, I think I counted 4 bathrooms, a lovely swimming pool and a view to die for...

Imagine looking at that view all day? Superb. The second lot of pine trees before the spy sattelite is where we started from. The farmland will most likely be turned into grape eventually. The downside of the house? Well, although it's huge, and has a lot of land around it, and great views - it has a shingle roof that leaks in winter. And it's very cold up there in winter!! But as a summer escape - it would be ideal.

As the place was empty, we helped ourselves to lemons, limes and flowers..

Here are the theives. I recorded the evidence in my camera. Note that rascal behind the Lime tree? That's Logan!! He's very cute - has the most winning smile in the whole world. He'll go far. He's just like his Dad, but much better looking!!! Logan that is.

And this gorgeous young lady is Amelia. She's 11 going on 31. Has the sweetest temperament and smile. She's the spitting image of her mother. I'm not going to say who is better looking here, as I want to visit them again soon and need a place to stay.

Unfortunately, that was the last photo I took that day because... Just after taking that photo, while I was taking it, Tess decided to 'get in behind' without me knowing it. She was right up against my leg, but not touching me, and was lying down having a rest from all our walking. After taking the photo, I turned around, stepped on Tess, and did this kind of twist, falling forwards, hurting myself and my camera a bit. I lay on the ground for about 5 minutes too much in pain to get up. Eventually I was pulled up, but found it very painful to walk. Amelia and Logan went down the shortcut (straight down the hillside), and got Gerald to come and pick me up in the Truck (ambulance).

Tess is fine, she moved so quick. Very unthoughtful of her - as if I had fallen on Tess, I would be uninjured. Tess would probably have the broken hip!!

After getting back to the farm, the pain hit and the leg seized up - I couldn't put any weight on it. First day of a holiday Gah!! Oh well - it's not going to stop me from doing anything!!!!

Will write up Day two in a few days!!



I believe that's a Beech 1900D, a common feeder-airline aircraft seen all over the world.

Small? It's about 15 times the size of my Cessna 150!

david sunseeker said...

geeeze I've read the whole story above here now.Good on you for getting on with the holiday!
I remember those kaikora coast scenes and what a green and sunny time you had!

Anonymous said...

Hi Henry - thats small for me, although it's not the smallest I've been in, it's the smallest i've been in for the length of the flight.

We came back in something slightly bigger - two seats either side. Although I guess the number of seats would not tell you the type of aircraft!!


Anonymous said...

Hi David - It was a magic week. I'm definitely going back!!

Meet me at Cloudy Bay Vineyard!