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  • Clare Teal -
    to them Incredibly some of these chaps can reach a wing span of up to 10 feet Here s the thing New Zealand is cram packed full of the most fabulous wildlife imaginable Once landed safe on the South Island we excitedly headed for Nelson we d been told it was a quirky arty foody sophisticated kind of place surrounded by incredible scenery and it is but these aspects were difficult to appreciate from our expensive motel situated on the noisy main road out of Nelson opposite the Tile and Slate centre grrr Forty miles up the road in Marahau we found the gateway to Abel Tasman National park Its NZ s smallest park but my is it beautiful We walked along miles of breathtaking coastline Instead of camping which many people do we caught water taxis to and from our accommodation The Marahau Lodge was fabulous with gardens full of the most incredible songbirds tui s and bellbirds mainly There were many finches and these really cool little dudes called silvereyes but I think my two favourites were the NZ pigeons nearly two foot long with a glorious iridescent finish and the purple swamp hen or Pukeko brilliantly blue black with bright red bills they fly very well but take offs and landings can be a little ungainly which only made me love them more From Abel Tasman we headed to Kaikoura on the east coast famous for it s sea life During our boat trip we saw between 200 300 playful and very small dusky dolphins jumping and somersaulting swimming rings round the mad people in wetsuits wanting to hang with them It was unlike anything I d ever seen As we were heading back Muddy spotted 5 orcas who apparently can turn off their sonar for hunting

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/now-to-south-island/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    or Mount Doom if you re a Lord of the Rings fan The Tongaririo Alpine Crossing is one of the country s most magnificent tramping tracks and believe me there are many 19 4km of much up ness and equal down ness Since planning our trip this hike had been no1 on our list of things to achieve so we booked a sunrise crossing which would involve walking the first 7km or so in total darkness wearing minors lamps upon our heads We arrived at the park in beautiful sunshine All three volcanoes clearly visible That s when the reality of our actions hit closely followed by a sense of mild terror and definite unease actually that might have been more to do with the state of the Youth Hostel suite we d booked That afternoon while Muddy read I studied the route on google map and saw the thin ridge near the summit we would have to traverse Muddy suffers from Vertigo but I knew how much she wanted to do the walk so I decided not to mention it as we d probably be doing that bit in the dark That evening due to unsettled weather our sunrise crossing was cancelled but we were advised to be ready for pickup at 5 30am I don t think either of us had slept more than an hour Catherine was our guide we boarded the minibus and met fellow walker Silke a young German estate agent working in Singapore The weather was horrible as were the bobble hat and waterproof trousers but the packed lunch looked good Weather on the mountain can change within minutes as a group of German youths found We were in thermals fleeces and full waterproofs they were in jeans and t shirts with no compass

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/new-zealand-iv-scary/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    to repeat Towards the end of our trip we got down to the task of releasing our latest record Hey Ho through EMI As a music platform New Zealand is relatively small but those artists who do make the effort to tour there are rewarded with grateful and enthusiastic crowds Most of the promo was carried out in Wellington it was pretty surreal meeting DJs who have been playing my records in New Zealand for 10 years A terrific city the most southerly capital city in the world containing it seemed to me more restaurants than people I could happily live there We stayed in the art filled Museum Hotel an imposing black building with an enormous golden hippopotamus standing guard somewhere around the second floor In 1993 the museum Hotel was facing demolition to make way for the brilliant National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa rather than allow that to happen to owner just had it moved across the street on a specially designed railway tracks after much planning the 120metre journey involving a 90 turn took less than two days and arrived in perfect condition less than 1cm out of line Our apartment was stunning containing two king sized beds a fully fitted kitchen with washer dryer a huge bath and separate shower for 130 a night and free wifi In fact we found all the accommodation incredibly reasonable from youth hostel to motel to hotel When I wasn t doing interviews we explored the city Te Papa is an amazing museum in which you could happily spend a whole day and all free of charge Cuba Street is where you ll find a good deal of the city s restaurants and tempting though it was to eat at Wellington s best Indian where lunch was 7

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/work-returns-but-in-wellington-2/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    It was actually a grumpy ostrich chasing startled cows round a field As you would expect we stopped to take photos when suddenly out of nowhere an old blue Japanese school bus swerved off the road and came to a shuddering halt narrowly avoiding Aloma s boot What the Judy Bill Who should pop out but mum and dad s old next door neighbours from Kildwick West Yorkshire Ey up chuck yells Judy followed by Bill get the chairs out I ll put the kettle on After a cup of tea and further plans to meet up we left the bus and headed up to gorgeous Paihia Our apartment boasted the best Island views in town and didn t disappoint Throw in a fridge full of fabulous food a pool naturally heated to 30 C and a tree full of the most incredibly advanced songbirds native to NZ the Tui and you have three very happy bunnies Despite the empty promises of delighted shepherds we wake to a grey and overcast sky The clouds are high they re going to clear soon and it s going to be a glorious day said Aloma Kiwis are obsessed with the weather not surprising as they re having the worst summer of about 70 years I d settle for one of their worst summers any year We drive two thirds of 90 mile beach to the highest dunes I ve ever seen Sand boarding is enormous fun lying on a body board and bombing down the sand dune although poor Muddy in a bid to avoid hitting a child had to stop earlier than planned when she arose from the board every inch of her freshly sun creamed face was thickly caked with sand in her eyes in her ears up her nose

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/new-zealand-iii/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    beautiful Pohutukawa NZ Christmas Trees to the right and the Firth of Thames to the left all in the glorious sunshine felt a million miles away from the current weather situation in England Our first destination was the town of Coromandel famous for Green Lipped Mussels which I very much wanted to try Our host Aloma and I order a dozen between us and laugh at Mud for ordering boring old salmon Green Lipped Mussels are enormous up to 24cm 9 1 2 inches and as you d imagine they re big business in NZ not only financially but famed also for their health restorative properties containing a unique combination of fatty acids that supposedly assists in the repair of damaged joint tissues Having read so much about them I genuinely assumed I would probably subsist on mussels and beer alone for the duration of our stay Sitting in a broth of chili and white wine the mussels not me I could barely wait to get stuck in Sadly according to Muddy after watching me manage only three Perna Canaliculus she wasn t sure who was greener me or the mussels Somehow from Coromandel to pretty Whitianga we missed a very large sign Drive Carefully Penguins Crossing not that we hit one but it would have been great to see one of New Zealand s native little Blue Penguins Onwards to the stunning Cathedral Cove very aptly named It was here that our brand new wizzy camera stopped working hmph We ended the day at Hot Water Beach All the guidebooks say grab a spade dig a hole and within seconds you ll be sitting in your own natural thermal spa We must have dug pools of freezing cold water for at least twenty minutes before a kindly American lady

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/more-on-new-zealand/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    we weren t working till February and fly to the other side of the world After a rubbish burger and insipid Margherita we finally find a bar in Heathrow that serves good gin Down the hatch then onto Air New Zealand Flight NZ1 bound for Auckland via Los Angeles Imagine our delight to be sitting directly in front of the only baby on the entire flight Those noise cancelling headphones were worth every penny From London to LA I watch tons of movies Puss in Boots proving a real highlight while Mud opts for the whole of Nurse Jackie season 3 Food is fine warm tasty mush on a regular basis Having studied the dimensions of a Boeing 777 300 we plumped for a mini upgrade from total cattle class to Economy Sky Couch This basically involved buying an extra seat so a we wouldn t keep getting bashed by the trolley b we would be shielded from the hell of any unknown armpits snoring etc and c an Economy Sky Couch folds into a bed big enough for 2 people to casually lounge upon as shown in the video or two skinny 4 year olds in real life We land in LA and spend the next two hours marching round and round the holding pen before being allowed back to our seats Time for some sleep Economy Sky Couch is really neither use nor ornament We make the bed up but trying to fit both of us on it in any way shape or form is impossible though I m sure our antics would have greatly amused the tremendously tall woman opposite had she not already fallen asleep slumped forward with her head resting atop of the seat in front We give up and watch some more films We

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/holidays/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    of funny shaped paper not only that but every inch of it was covered with sketches it took me a while to realise he couldn t exactly pop into Smiths to pick up a ream of A4 Paper was very expensive as were drawing writing implements to be honest they re closer to sticks than anything he d have used today The exhibition runs till 5th February If you get chance wrap up and go witness a few examples of the finest fine art ever daubed on a canvas 27 Jan Boiled Whale 2 After last week s broadband rant I feel it only fair to thank the lovely telecommunications engineer who came out between the hours of 8am and 1pm to fix the fault on the line He was a very nice chap who sorted the problem calmly and efficiently BUT NOW we re having problems with Royal Mai sorry the national delivery service that rhymes with Boiled Whale Three months ago we finally noticed that yet again the volume of mail from our PO Box had come to a shuddering halt Megan opener of brown envelopes and general finance rang them to ascertain what the problem was and to make sure our account hadn t been cancelled again Boiled Whale were utterly oblivious and promised to ring the Bath office immediately Another month passed Megan enquired as to whether we d received the card she sent We hadn t Yes hello it s still no mail here did you ring the Bath office Yes madam we did they told us your account had been cancelled So of course you told them that it shouldn t have been cancelled and reinstated it there and then Er no madam we didn t we assumed you must have rung the Bath office to cancel your account But there is no direct number for the Bath office available to the public anymore is there Er no long pause I ll ring them back now and sort it out December came but Megan s Christmas card didn t and venues were ringing to say their contracts had been returned address un known Hell hath no fury like a Megan scorned Now listen you its still no mail here again again Please tell me you rang the Bath office and everything is sorted Yes madam we did ring the Bath office they told us your account had been cancelled as requested Is there anything else I can help you with You have to laugh Which leads me on to the postie s silent knock I ve been in all day I check the post around 3pm only to find a sorry we missed you card waiting for me on the mat We did knock on the door madam But I live four flights above the front door I didn t hear you Why didn t you ring the bell So if you re a fan of knock knock ginger then get yourself down to boiled whale they ll pay you to play all day 24 Jan A belated Merry Christmas Muddy was cleaning out the freezer yesterday and had to laugh The bottom shelf was crammed with bags of uneaten Cyril last year s turkey This year to avoid a repeat performance we re downsizing to a Cyril ette turkey crown As you know I get very excited about food and eating in general I ve rooted out my January trousers in readiness for the inevitable weight gain The calories I fear will start to gather momentum around Christmas Eve Dinner is Di s melt in the mouth homemade steak and kidney pudding Christmas Day will be a full turkey works avalanche with nutmeg sprouts roast parsnips potatoes red cabbage and Yorkshire puddings followed by homemade Christmas pudding brandy butter and custard Boxing day will see a leisurely pick of Cyril bits bubble and squeak pork pie chips and lots of liquid socializing So I m thinking I the days that follow we ll be needing something a little lighter Cue this year s culinary experiment Beetroot stained salmon gravadlax Gravad lax is Swedish for cured salmon Back in the day Swedish fishermen would preserve their catch by burying it in the salty sand Much as it would by fun to build my own beach I have opted to follow Rosie Buck s recipe You will need a big fillet of salmon about 1 5 lbs with the skin still on equal amounts of salt and caster sugar about 3 4 ounces The zest of one Christmas y orange 2 tablespoons of fresh dill chopped up and 8oz of fresh grated beetroot Find a fish length dish receptacle mix up the salt sugar dill and zest and spread half on the bottom of the dish lay Freddie fish on top sprinkle the rest lovingly all over him now plonk culinary term the beetroot on top of the salty sugary stuff good and thick Cover in cling film and find something heavy to put directly onto the fish to weigh it down perhaps a small child joke Shove it in the fridge and turn daily the fish not the fridge After 3 days run it under the tap pat it dry there there and pop back in the fridge till needed the fish not the cook It will apparently last about five days after curing although probably not in our house So lovelies wherever you are look after yourselves and your neighbours Both Muddy and I wish you all a peaceful Christmas 24 Jan Infinity and beyond I m not one to complain BUT After approximately 37 calls and a bag load of junk mail from our telephone provider inviting us to sign up to their new super whizzy broadband package Infinity as a valued customer it ll cost less and it s 40 times faster we finally agreed to let them in A chap came round to wire up the new router extolling the

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/category/clares-blog/page/17/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    Cuba Street is where you ll find a good deal of the city s restaurants and tempting though it was to eat at Wellington s best Indian where lunch was 7 90 3 90 with an option to upgrade your naan for a dollar we enjoyed a 3 course lunch with recommended wines hic at the very posh and very empty Logan Brown the restaurant was enormous and whilst it lacked a little in ambience due to us being the only people in it I could get used to regularly having 10 waiters attend to my every dietary need 13 Mar More on South Island On the whole the food was spectacular in New Zealand don t worry only another 3 NZ episodes left although we did have a disappointing steak in the hugely Scottish influenced town of Dunedin located on the SE of the South Island These two steaks are very over done I asked for medium rare and this one s bordering on charcoal love I m very sorry about this you see we cook our steaks by temperature rather than feel I see how quick can you do me another steak It ll take at least 20 minutes 20 minutes I think that might be where chef is going wrong Ah well we got free carrots and a crème brulee We d had such a lovely day I didn t mind The Otago Peninsular juts out of Dunedin and driving round it reminded us so much of the beautiful Scottish Highlands A must see wildlife tip off had found us driving miles and miles down a dirt track avoiding the sheep till we reached a small parking area a short walk through a couple of meadows led to an almost deserted beach just Muddy myself and 3 sea lions They were like gi normous loose skinned cows In sea lion world the chaps eat as much as is earthly possible before the mating season then as soon as it s over go on a diet From Dunedin we drove to the adrenalin capital Queenstown AKA Screamstown stopping only to watch the crazy people leap off the Kawarau Bridge home to the original 43 metre 141 feet bungy jump they were attached to bits of elastic but still Not really ones for daredevil activities our most extreme outing involved going up a mountain in a small cable car or skyline gondola Putting the vertigo to one side I thought Muddy was doing very well till the fire sirens sounded shortly after which our cable car ground to a juddering halt It was whilst suspended hundreds of feet above the ground gently swaying to and fro in the breeze I made a mental note NEVER to accompany a person suffering from vertigo and possibly some form of Tourette up a mountain again Needless to say we walked down in flip flops or jandles as the kiwi s call them in fact they invented them Once grounded we enjoyed again and again the calming properties of that New Zealand nectar Sauvignon Blanc 06 Mar Now to South Island It was on the ferry crossing between Wellington and Picton that we saw our first pair of Royal Albatross initially I assumed Kate and Wills were big seagulls till Muddy pointed out the tiny red billed gull flying next to them Incredibly some of these chaps can reach a wing span of up to 10 feet Here s the thing New Zealand is cram packed full of the most fabulous wildlife imaginable Once landed safe on the South Island we excitedly headed for Nelson we d been told it was a quirky arty foody sophisticated kind of place surrounded by incredible scenery and it is but these aspects were difficult to appreciate from our expensive motel situated on the noisy main road out of Nelson opposite the Tile and Slate centre grrr Forty miles up the road in Marahau we found the gateway to Abel Tasman National park Its NZ s smallest park but my is it beautiful We walked along miles of breathtaking coastline Instead of camping which many people do we caught water taxis to and from our accommodation The Marahau Lodge was fabulous with gardens full of the most incredible songbirds tui s and bellbirds mainly There were many finches and these really cool little dudes called silvereyes but I think my two favourites were the NZ pigeons nearly two foot long with a glorious iridescent finish and the purple swamp hen or Pukeko brilliantly blue black with bright red bills they fly very well but take offs and landings can be a little ungainly which only made me love them more From Abel Tasman we headed to Kaikoura on the east coast famous for it s sea life During our boat trip we saw between 200 300 playful and very small dusky dolphins jumping and somersaulting swimming rings round the mad people in wetsuits wanting to hang with them It was unlike anything I d ever seen As we were heading back Muddy spotted 5 orcas who apparently can turn off their sonar for hunting The duskies who were still jumping about willy nilly needless to say hadn t seen the orcas Killer whales are magnificent but I really didn t feel up to seeing an Attenborough type hunting display involving cute little dolphins being chewed up especially at 5 in the morning on a rough sea Thankfully they heard my cry of Run little duskies and as one turned and swam to safety 28 Feb New Zealand IV scary Situated in the middle of the North Island Tongariro National Park is New Zealand s oldest National Park and home to three pretty spectacular active volcanoes Tongariro Ruapehu whose frequent eruptions keep everyone on their toes and Ngauruhow pr Nar a ho ee or Mount Doom if you re a Lord of the Rings fan The Tongaririo Alpine Crossing is one of the country s most magnificent tramping

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/page/18/?page_id=2 (2016-02-15)
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