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Tongariro Crossing

I’m good at deciding that I want to do something and then just doing it, organising it, and telling my family after 🙂 This was one of those times 🙂

I have been wanting to do the Tongariro Crossing for a couple of years, ever since I saw a package deal on Grab One or Treat Me but something always stopped me from doing it.

Money.  Time of year. Fitness level. Fear.

The Tongariro Crossing is a 21km hike over active volcano’s.  It has minimal cell coverage and can be a bit dodgy as far as the weather is concerned even in the middle of summer BUT wow what a view if its a good day and I wanted to see it for myself.

So one morning in late January I got to work and decided that I am going to do it in the next few weeks. I scrolled the sales sites but no packages came up so posted on Facebook to see if anyone knew of any.  That was a bust so I just booked a Book a Bach home.  Kayla was super keen and excited as she had always wanted to do it and my darling Ralph said he would do it but was super worried about his fitness level.  I talked to a few people and they all agreed that he would be able to do it but would be sore for a day or 2 after so he decided he would do it too.

So the morning arrived and we struck our one and only problem.  We got lost on our way to the shuttle pick up.  We ended up ringing the shuttle people and changed our pick up venue.  This meant that after the crossing we would need to catch a bus to get to our car before heading home.  Mental note: next time just get a front gate pick up.  By the time we got to our bus stop I was contemplating killing Kayla.  This was rather obvious as the bus driver kept making cracks about K not being on the trip home as I would have chucked her in a crater.  This did indeed lighten the mood right back up so all was well.

Arrival at the car park lead to the discovery that we would be 3 of approximately 2,500 people to make the crossing that day.  The car park was chocker and buses were queued up for miles to drop people off.  This actually helped to alleviate the level of fear that I had been feeling.  If that many people could do it, so could we.  Also that many people meant that the chances of us getting off track and lost were rather minimal.  This was in fact one of my biggest concerns so I was super happy to get started 🙂

You start at the Mangatepopo Hut and off you go 🙂 A small piece of advise if you ever do this crossing.  There are quite large gaps between toilet huts so if you see one, take the opportunity and use it.  Most of this crossing is volcanic land and there are not very many shrubs to hide behind for emergency wee wee breaks.

The first stop it Soda Springs.  This is the easiest section of the walk.  The photo above is the type of path than runs a lot of this section.  We headed off about 7.30am so the sun was still coming up over the hills making a beautiful sun rise.

Soda Springs gives a spectacular view of Mount Ngauruhoe and you can see people climbing up the side of it. This is an extremely difficult climb and we did not attempt it 🙂

The next part of the journey is tough.  You climb the Devil’s Staircase.  Trust me, that title is no joke.  For the first 10 minutes you look up and think ‘What’s the big deal’ then you go round the corner and realise there is a heck of a lot more up to go.  You will literally be climbing stairs for at least 40 minutes.  After half an hour Ralph and I started to have to take a couple of little resty stops.  K, who is extremely fit and half our age, bolted off ahead.  This became the on going theme for the day.  Meet at the stop points then K would head off ahead of us 🙂 It was tough but it was worth it 🙂

You are back on flat land again for a bit travelling from the South Crater to Red Crater.  Looking down on the South Crater we find that loads of people have gone down and make rock drawings and signatures.  Of course there is also the random penis that appears at any area where people have created anything.  Did cause loads of laughter.

From here you head up a really steep bit that nearly killed my little leggies as they still hadn’t forgiven me over the Devils Staircase yet.  When you get to the top you have to stop and gasp.  This is why, if you ever get the chance, you should take the challenge and do the hike.IMG_4939.JPG

A photo just does not to justice to the brilliant Emerald that these 3 lakes are. Stunning is a very mild word to describe them.

You then get to slide down about 100m of loose scoria which is both utterly terrifying and extremely fun.  Its a total slide the whole way down.  We, and everybody else, sat at the edge of the lakes and had lunch.  This was about 11.30 but we were all starving and it is the halfway point technically.

While we were there a helicopter was flying in and out with scientists on board.  Apparently the level of activity recently had increased and they were doing tests.  It was rather fascinating to watch.  Since then the area has been on extreme watch as they feel that there is the possibility of eruption soon.  Nothing to worry about unless you are up there as it happens about every 10-15 years.  If it gets dodgy they shut the track down so all good if you are keen to give this a go, they won’t let you go if its dangerous.

From here you travel up again for the last bit of upping in your journey to the blue lake.  Apparently it is pretty but sadly we couldn’t tell as there was mostly fog, fog and more fog.  At this point you are around 1725m above sea level (highest point in our journey was at the red crater 1886m) so the clouds covering you occasionally is not really a surprise.

Its all down hill from here and you zig zag your way down a wee path for about 3 hours.  Sadly this part of the journey is rather dull and really did feel like it took forever, but heck you have just been to the top of the world and seen some beautiful sights.  This is a price we pay to see that beauty 🙂 It didn’t help that the weather had changed and it was fog city.  Apparently the view is stunning on a clear day.  Halfway down Ralph and I had a wee conversation regarding the day.  He said to me ‘Honey, I’m all for this nature and getting out there and s%#t but next time you decide we are going to take up hiking can we not start with a 21km trek over a f@%king volcano!’ He was smiling at the time so my death was not immanent.

We made it to the car park around 2.45 very weary and with really sore feet.  When we went to the supermarket I had developed a waddle and one of the staff looked at me and smiled and said ‘Tongariro Crossing?’ and laughed 🙂 She said that my ‘don’t let the balls of my feet touch the ground’ waddle was a classic sign of this hahaha.  The supermarket visit was to grab a much needed bottle of wine and snacks.  We headed back to our house and spent the rest of the evening with feet up sipping said wine.

Would we do this again? My husband says no but then he couldn’t walk for a week as his calf muscles went on strike. He did, however, say that he was really pleased that he had done it and enjoyed everything except the zig zag down.  My daughter and I would definitely do this again! I loved it and can’t wait to come up with our next big adventure.

These final 2 photo’s were taken as we sat waiting for the bus to take us back to our car.  What a day! What an adventure!

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When The Flu Strikes

I was laid up last week with a rather nasty bug.  It even resulted in 3 days off work.  I never take days off work! The upside of this was that more could be achieved in the stitching and knitting world, or so I hoped.

Turns out, not so much really.  My stitching was remarkably slow compared to normal and I only achieved about half of what I normally would. However, I am a big believer that progress, no matter how small, is still progress.  I managed to achieve a semi goal of getting to the halfway point of my page for the current HAED challenge with only one frogging experience on a 10×10 square.  As it was only the second colour this was not a major 🙂

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I just love how beautiful Warm My Heart is.  Such a joy to stitch.

When stitching got too much I went back to my knitting for a couple of squares.  I managed to the Stocking Stitch Stripe Square with out too much drama.  The colours are fabulous on this one.  The teal shows up as grey unfortunately in the photo, probably due to me using the pool table for the back ground.

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Then we came to the hideous Chequerboard Square.  This one attempted to send me into a psychiatric ward.  I had to restart it 4 freaking times, one of those at around row 32, and that doesn’t include the ridiculous number of times I had to un-knit to fix a boo boo. I would discover that I had mixed up the knits and purls or that I had been doing 5 rows, or 3 rows, instead of 4.  One time I discovered a hulking great big hole way too many rows back! I will blame the sufferings of illness for my deplorable lack of concentration. But I persevered and at the end of the day ended with something that I can accept the look of 🙂  This one actually is grey not teal haha

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So after swearing at the above knit rather a lot and completing said square it was time for some more stitching.  I went to pick up my happy stitch again but then had a remembery that I still need to make my gift for our mid-winter Christmas in 2 weeks so thought to myself hmmmmm what am I going to make.  I hauled out all my pretty fabrics and some old copies of things off the Net that I printed because they make me smile.  I love subversive stitches so thought I would make a wee cushion that would look dainty and grandma’ry until you read it.  Made my selection of a pretty blue fabric with sparkles in it and off we go.  I will finish this within the next few days and then get it all cushioned up this weekend coming 🙂

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Now that I am feeling a little better I hope that this weeks projects go a wee bit smoother 🙂

Till next time xxx

 

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Never Trust A Vegetarian

Two weeks ago our daughter came home from school with a friend to stay for the first week of the holidays.  Natalie lives with her mother in Stratford so, as it is 4 hours away, we only get to see her during the school holidays.  As her older sister couldn’t come up this time she bought a friend.  A lovely little girl who also happened to be a vegetarian. It was rather an interesting exercise feeding her as we are largely carnivorous in this household and all my specialities pretty much include meat. Turns out that going to a boarding school in Stratford does not teach young girls how to take care of themselves any more.  This little girl couldn’t even put her rubbish in the bin and got very confused when we asked her to rinse her plate.  Don’t even attempt to explain to her how a door can be closed after you go through it.  Poor Nat just about went spare following along behind her cleaning up and shutting doors.  Its winter.  We are trying to keep the warm in.

During the stay our darling daughter turned 15.  For anyone’s birthday in our house I always get them to pick what ever they want for dinner.  Natalie picked her favourite.  Messy Burgers.  Essentially this is a home-made hamburger that you wrap in a lettuce leaf instead of a bun.  Sounds a lot healthier than it is.  By the time you get all the cheese and sauces on it, it is near the same fat content apart for the bun.  The fun bit, the messy bit, is when you bite in.  Never eat one of these things without at least 10 serviettes at hand and are leaning over an extremely large plate because these suckers a juicy and they go everywhere and will definitely run down both arms, but by god are they delicious 😀 I have to admit they are one of my favourites also 😀

So the big dilemma was how the heck to you make a vegie burger patty for the vegetarian. After consultation with said vegetarian we purchased a can of nut meat which she assured me that she had used before.  On opening the can we found a product that resembled dry jellimeat cat food.  My darling, brave husband took one look at it and said ‘Don’t ever give that to me, I won’t eat it’ and left the room.  I looked at our wee animal activist and asked what we do with it.  She looked at me blankly.  At this point I pretty much figured that we may have over estimated her abilities but thought to myself ‘lets see what she will do’ and promptly started squishing beef mince for my happy meataterians.

She pulled some out of the can.  This is not as easy as it sounds because this stuff is like a tube of drywall in consistency.  She got some into the bowl and began breaking it up with . . . her fingers . . . for a really long time.  I asked her what she would do to make it into a burger and she looked at me and said ‘I don’t know’.  I asked if she had ever cooked with this product before and she said nope but she knew that this is what you use to make the burgers.  Nat was leaning over her shoulder looking at the weird stuff in a bowl at this time laughing. I suggested it might need some moisture to bind it like an egg.  Our beautiful, heroic and intelligent daughter turned to get the egg and break it in for her.

I popped a bit of the pale brown stuff from the can into my mouth.  I wasn’t expecting much due to the rather unappetising appearance of the stuff but figured that if I was suddenly, and unexpectedly, going to have to figure out how to make vege burgers I better find out with this stuff tasted like.  I was pleasantly surprised to find it was rather tasty, kinda like a snickers bar without the chocolate although it did have a kind of drained cottage cheese constancy going on that was not entirely pleasant.  I suggested that it might need some seasoning and Nat turned to the cupboard for some soy sauce and turned to get a few spicy bits like black pepper.

I turned back to find that our vegie lover who apparently has a complete inability to adult had done a bolt and left us to it.  She had run off to the lounge and was sitting on the floor playing with Simon cat.  I looked at Nat who had her hands in the bowl mixing up the egg and brown stuff with rather large surprised eyes.  Nat shrugged and gave me the eye roll that universally signifies ‘My friend is an idiot. I can’t believe she just ditched me and I now have to make her freakin burger’.

So Nat and I added some stuff and fried this thing.  We didn’t have great hopes for the frying as I was concerned that it would fall apart but it turns out that a bit of heat melts this stuff and it actually held its shape.  On tasting it wasn’t too bad to eat either so it was High Fives to Nat and I.

The rest of the holiday pretty much went along the same vein and she also developed a rather nasty cold in the last 2 days which she promptly shared with us all.  I reckon it was the lack of protein rich red meaty goodness in her diet that resulted in her low immune system and possibly also low brain activity.

On leaving morning I found that not only had I caught her cold but that it had decided it wished to make a home with me and would then kick me in the butt for the next 2 weeks, still counting as its not done yet.  At the point of goodbye she thanked us for having her and we made the correct ‘of course, anytime’ noises and then I suggested that if she does ever come back that I would rather that she left flowers, chocolates or wine as a leaving gift rather than Ebola.

See.  Never trust a vegetarian.

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Basket Weave is an Arsehole

Last week saw some interesting movement on my knitting.  I manage to complete 2 different squares for my patchwork knitted blanket.  The first was a walk in the park.  Found that Moss Stitch was very simple and came together very easily with only one minor unpick when I started a row knit instead of purl, but heck that was bound to happen as I can barely tell which is which when looking at my knitting if I have put it down for any length of time.

So this is a Moss Stitch square

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Then I tackled the Basket Weave Stitch square.  What a bitch! I ended up unravelling the whole thing twice as I kept loosing count on the knits and purls and wouldn’t notice the hash up till too late.  This isn’t including the number of cock ups that I noticed I had made while stitching the rows.  At least 5 rows got unpicked 2-3 times on their own, and many more needed back tracking just once.  It was horrible but looks pretty.  Such a dilemma as I really never wish to knit this pattern again but it looks lovely so maybe I will.

I present Basket Weave Stitch

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The weekend rolled around and I got to spend time with my fav, Warm My Heart.  I am loving this stitch.  The colour is beautiful and the stitching time just flows.  It really is a joy and I can’t wait to sit with her whenever I get the chance.  Such a struggle to continue with the photo stitch as this one is such a joy and the other is very slow going and rather hard work.  Mustn’t complain though.  The end result on the photo will be worth it in the long run and the more I stitch it the sooner it will be done.

So I completed 1900 stitched last weekend on Warm My Heart and she still is stunning.  Am stitching page 3 as a part of the Heaven & Earth Design challenge using the block parking method.  Until recently I had only ever stitched cross country and I am finding parking, now that I have figured out how to do it, really works well for me.  Lots less mistakes, no need for gridding and the picture appears so quickly making you feel like you have stitched loads more than you have.

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So this week coming plans to be more on Warm My Heart, some more knitted squares and I really need to get my A into G and figure out what I am going to make for mid-winter Christmas.  Oh and a walk around the mount in search of drift wood.  I want to turn it into a Christmas tree as we live at the beach and I don’t want to do an actual Christmas tree.  Wish me luck because this will either be fun or an unparalleled disaster resulting in the use of a pot plant instead 😀

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I really need to post more often

So this year has been one of the busiest I have ever seen.  Work has been mental and I have already achieved the usually number of quotes and sales that I would achieve in a year and we still have just under 6 months to go.  That doesn’t mean that I have been sitting still though.  I have managed to achieve several projects and have more on the go, just not managed to blog them.  I promise to rectify this and will attempt to do weekly updates on what ever I am up to.

So what have I been up to?  I have achieved several more of the cut out arts that I was doing at the start of the year.

I made these 2 for me 🙂

They now hang in our games room with the Tiki that was made previously.

I then made these 2 for my boss and his wife.  They have the same birthday and he is of Dutch descent and she is a natural born Australian.

Then I made these 2 for my cousin when she moved in with her man

I then made the hook and the friendship symbol (above right) again for my brother on his birthday.

Last, but not least, I made this one for my other boss.

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This was heaps bigger than the others and I hand dyed a piece of calico to get the ombre colour I wanted.  It was my first ever real attempt at this and I was stoked with the result apart from the accidentally colouring of the carpet also.  Little pink dots everywhere but they have all disappeared which is fantastic 🙂 also added a bit of paint work with the kitchen sponge and that turned out pretty awesome too 🙂

Then there was my knitting.

Turns out I really enjoy knitting 🙂 I am currently working on my stripey blanket with stripe #2

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And am also teaching myself lots of different techniques with blanket #2 which is basically knitted patchwork.  Every square is a different knit

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Some of these may require a redo as they all need to be the same size but I’m having fun so what the heck 🙂

I have also just bought a beautiful merino cashmere blend that I am about to start knitting my first ever jersey with.  I am going to need some serious luck for this one as I still really have no idea what I am doing.

Then we have my stitching projects.

Tash’s birthday has come and gone so this is for either Christmas if I get my A into G, or her birthday next year.

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The sweatshirt was the most god awful thing I have ever stitched and when I present this I hope it is still living so I can set fire too it. This was a new level of confetti hell that I had never been to before and really hope never to visit again.  Normal stitching is about 100 stitches an hour.  This was maybe 20-30 and took weeks.  I really really really hate that sweatshirt.

And last but not least is Cross My Heart for my sister.  I have just moved the hoop so there is not much to see but I have started page 3.

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She looks fabulous and I love stitching this one 🙂

So that’s where I am at currently.  We have a mid-winter Christmas coming up that everyone has to bring a handmade gift to and I am really looking forward to that.  This weekend I may put together my gift 🙂 I have also decided to make a driftwood Christmas tree as I can’t be arsed getting the big one out for the one night. Hmmmmm wonder what that’s going to look like 😉

Till next time xxx