I remember the first Christmas tree Mr T and I had.

It was for the Christmas of 1989. We’d been together for about 6 months and he’d moved in – or rather, stopped going home. We decorated an indoor “happy” plant with tinsel and put pressies around the pot. It was special.

When we moved into our own house just before Christmas the following year, we invested $20 in a 2nd hand tree and started collecting decorations. The Christmas I was pregnant with Ms T we started the tradition of buying a new ornament each year – I still remember buying this gorgeous glass ball from DJs in the city. The following year she chose her first ornament – pointing to this gold bear from her pram.

Over the years she’s chosen the cupcake Santa, the Surfing Santa, the parachuting Santa and a variety of bells and baubles. Her favourite is still the Ted Baker very glam ball we bought in Melbourne in 2014.

There are the ornaments that remind us of people and places. The pandas I brought home from Hong Kong when I was there doing a relocation for work (2008), the pottery bird from the handmade markets in Perth when I was there doing another relocation for work (2009), and the pohutukawa my friend brought over from NZ. Whenever I hang that – and another I’ve bought since – I think of her and my “adopted” country.

In 2015 we brought 2 back from London: a suitcase with a map that was a reminder of the major project Miss T had done for the HSC that year and a cocker spaniel that we splashed out on in Liberty. It’s a posh cocker spaniel and looks nothing like Kali, Adventure Spaniel, but a spaniel it is. This year we brought back a rolling pin and gingerbread recipe from the Christmas shop in Brugge.

In 2017 we went for a dolphin and sea turtle to remind us that we’d moved to Queensland. The theme was continued this year with a jellyfish and seahorse. We also threw financial caution to the wind this year and blew nearly $20 on the Villeroy & Boch angel in the top pic. The tinsel and the beads have all come from discount stores. At Christmas more definitely is more.

The year Kali, Adventure Spaniel, was still quite puppyish, we hung bells on the bottom row so we’d know when she’d gone under the tree to steal presents. She never chewed anything, just carried them away – one by one – to stockpile them in her favourite hiding spot.

We upgraded the original $20 fake tree some years ago with another fake tree, and decorating it on the first Sunday in December has become one of the traditions we’ve created for our little family. We pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly, prepare platters of nibbly bits (that we serve on ceramic trays that Miss T has painted over the years), and load the Christmas music playlist onto the phone – making sure that there are at least four copies of each of my favourite songs, and absolutely none of the ones I dislike the most…naturally I have a list.

Then we put the tree up. Hubby and Ms T usually have at least one argument about how she doesn’t read his mind and know exactly what ornament he wants her to pass next. Ms T usually has at least one comment about how I’ll never manage to hit the high notes on Mariah’s version of All I Want For Christmas and how I don’t need to do the boob wobble every time I hear the jingly bit at the start. We’ll argue about which power cord is the one that shorts the rest of the house and how hubby thought we were going to label it as such last year. After the tree has been put up Ms T and I take our music and glasses of Baileys on ice into the TV room and sit on the floor and wrap presents.

I love looking at the Instagram pictures of beautifully coordinated trees and admit to a sort of envy – but I don’t really have the focus required to remain envious for long. Besides, our tree and its chaotic mix of mismatching themes and colours – with a memory in every single last bauble – suits us perfectly.

What about you? Are you more mix or more match when it comes to Christmas trees?

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishWrite of the Middle, and, of course, me.

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The week – in a photo (or 2) a day

It’s another hot one here today – summer has definitely arrived. We began the week in Canberra celebrating the life of one taken too soon and ended it with celebrations of an entirely different sort. It was, to be sure, a topsy-turvy sort of week. So, without further ado, let’s wrap it up…

What I’m loving…

Colour. It’s all around at the moment.

There was the colour in the street and pavement art in Canberra at the beginning of the week

the colour in our long-awaited frangipani (even if I am too short to get a decent photo)

and the colour in the flame trees and poinciana.

What I’m grateful for…

Ducted air-conditioning and a pool.

What I wrote…

Nothing – that is nothing more in my novel. I just couldn’t. As a result, I didn’t get to my 50,000 words this November. I did, however, get in the low 40ks so all is absolutely not lost.

What I read…

With a couple of flights and a good amount of waiting time, I got through a few books. The final one – Paris Is Always A Good Idea – I demolished in the pool yesterday and today. I would have read it quicker if I didn’t have places to go and people to see.

What I celebrated…

Yesterday was a big day for celebrations. We had an 80th birthday lunch down at Mooloolaba Wharf and the Christmas party for the charity that my daughter works for and my husband volunteers for – Neighbour’s Aid.

Each year they do a Christmas party to celebrate and thank the volunteers – and there are a few hundred of them.

The Neighbour’s Aid philosophy is to change the lives of children – one at a time. They’ve established schools, medical facilities and run employment programs for women and children in India, Milawi, Kenya, and Israel, with the idea behind each project to try and break the cycle of poverty.

What I cooked…

My Christmas cake – a couple of weeks late, but at least it was done. The recipe I use is Delia Smith’s – or Saint Delia as we refer to her in our house. It’s from my favourite Christmas cookbook, but you can also find the recipe online here.

I also made some savoury pinwheels from this book. They’re little palmiers with pancetta and cheese and we have them twice a year – on the first Sunday in December when we put the Christmas tree up, and on Christmas morning for breakfast. Another part of that tradition is potato scones – but I’ll tell you about them another time.

Speaking of which…

The Christmas tree was put up today…but more on that on Thursday…

Okay, so November was a mix of emotions – some high, some low. It was also the usual mix of work and play, so without further ado, let’s wrap it up…

November in photos…

My photo a day…plus some… for each of the weeks in November.

What I was proud of…

Getting Happy Ever After out into the world. Thanks to everyone who has bought it so far. If you did buy it and did enjoy it, it would help me a lot if you popped a quick review on Amazon – you don’t need to write anything, just the stars would be fine. If you haven’t got a copy yet, this link will take you to your Amazon store and both ebook and print options.

What I wrote…

Not 50,000 words as I’d originally planned. My nanowrimo began at Sydney Airport while I was waiting for a flight home and has ended with just over 42,000 words in my new novel It’s In The Stars. It’s Alice Delaney’s story and the final instalment in my chick-lit series. We first met Alice by a pool in Ubud in Baby, It’s You and this book pretty much kicks off at that point.

blank screen = new book

Where I travelled…

Hubby and I had a weekend in Brisbane doing a lot of walking, some Christmas shopping and much eating of dumplings.

We also had an unscheduled trip to Canberra to attend a funeral. As sad as the occasion was, it allowed us to catch up with old friends and to pay a pre-Christmas visit to my mother-in-law.

What I read…

In no particular order…

My read of the month was definitely The Land Before Avocado

What I listened to…

I’m a bit behind on podcasts at the moment, but Richard Fidler’s “Armistice Day” series on the ABC was absolutely fabulous. So incredibly well-researched and told in the way that only Fidler can.

What I watched…

Mamma Mia 2 and Guernsey Potato Peel Society on DVD.

I also began watching Bodyguard on Netflix, and have been doing some procrastiwatching of old episodes of Lewis.

What’s confused me…

Trying to work out how to make advertising work on Amazon in order to sell more books so I can afford to keep writing. I’m getting a handle on things like keywords and cost per click and impressions, but can’t seem to crack the click-throughs so obviously need to work on my tag-lines and ad copy. See, even the attempted explanation of why I’m confused is confusing!

Some bloggy changes…

I went back to the future and separated my blogs again.

All travel and lifestyle related posts are now all here and writing and books are at Joannetracey.com. I still have some work to do on the author site in order to make it into a showcase for my books, but we’re getting there.

I’ve also been gradually transferring across my France blogs and they have a new home here.

What’s cute…

All the baby scrub turkeys scratching away in the undergrowth. So ugly they’re cute I actually have an admiration at the survival of these chicks who hatch out and have to fend for themselves right from the start.

New to us foodie places…

We had a big foodie month at a few places that were new to us. Normally we eat out twice a week – Friday nights (usually at our local club) and Sunday lunch. The deal is to keep the cost of the main meal below $20-$25. This month because we were away so much the frequency went up…it’s no wonder that I struggle to lose weight!

Aside from a few relatively boring and over-priced hotel meals here are the highlights:

Juan Fifty – a Mexican at Alexandra Headland. I wrote a bit about it for the Sunny Coast blog.

Dutch croquettes for breakfast at the Riverside Markets in Brisbane…

Dumplings at Tang Dynasty in Mooloolaba and New Shanghai in Brisbane

A pot of tea at Sweethearts at Eudlo…also on the Sunny Coast blog

Breakfast at Eumundi Markets…

Green food at Homegrown in Palmwoods…again, it’s also on the Sunny Coast blog

Noodles at Dickson Asian Noodle House in Canberra

The meal that we enjoyed possibly the most though, was last night’s barbecue of steak and salad on the beach. With the summer holidays nearly here, it won’t be long before it’s too crowded holidaymakers.

What I cooked…

Quite a bit as it turns out…

We had friends over for lunch or dinner a few times during the month, giving me an excuse to try out some new salads – like the beetroot salad in the pic below – do crispy crackling pork belly and bake both a chocolate pavlova and a lemon curd pav. I even made my own lemon curd. Unfortunately, the lemon curd pav got eaten before I could get a decent photo. I haven’t posted the recipe for this one yet.

We also experimented with some new noodle salads and Asian style soups. My favourites for the month were this spicy duck broth, the lunchtime noodles that were ready in 10 minutes, and these little apple cucumbers that I ate as snacks.

I also made piccalilli for Christmas. I must remember to put a jar in my suitcase to take down for Mum next weekend…

That was my November…how was yours?

There are flowers everywhere for those who want to see them…

We’ve been in Canberra earlier this week for our friend’s funeral – I spoke about that in my wrap-up of last week.

My husband has known R since about 1973. She was about 4 years old when hubby (who was then 12) and his family moved in across the road. Hubby’s best mate is her big brother. It became one of those connections where the kids grow up together and virtually adopted each other. Hubby is part of the family.

When hubby and I began dating back in 1989, it was R (then 20) and her elder siblings who I needed to get the seal of approval from. Luckily I passed the intense scrutiny and we’ve all been friends ever since.

So yes, this has been a tough and deeply sad time – as these things are. There’s no point pretending otherwise – we honour her with our grief.

The thing is though, Robbie was an artist – using both paints and textiles. She loved colour and she loved nature. When she was married she had the ceremony in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery. It was therefore fitting that when we said farewell to her, it would also be in a garden with a view of the mountains, the sound of birds and the tinkling of water from the fountain in the background. It was as beautiful and as respectful a goodbye as was possible at a time of such sadness – and truly celebrated her life and all she had achieved in her art, her advocacy, and her family.

Her husband said something like how today a little bit of fabulousness has gone from the world so we all need to be a little bit more fabulous and look for the fabulous to make up for it.

That’s why I’ve used the quote above. It’s attributed to the French artist Henry Matisse who at the time had undergone surgery that had left him frequently bedridden. Rather than complaining about his lot he instead experimented with new techniques and colours to produce something completely new and fresh.

Il y a des fleurs partout pour qui veut bien les voir / There are flowers everywhere for those who want to see them.

It feels very fitting. It was also a reminder to look for the colour, light and joy in the everyday. Although our trip to my husband’s hometown wasn’t a happy one this time, there were still things to love in a city that we both still enjoy visiting.

1.Catch-ups with friends and family. We moved away from Canberra back in 1992, yet it’s incredible and gratifying how some relationships can be picked up in an instant – despite an absence of many years.

2. Blue days and cool mornings. Summer has well and truly arrived in South-East Queensland, yet the overnight temperatures in Canberra were still single figures and very refreshing – with none of the humidity we already have. We stayed at Olims Mercure Canberra – where I spent the night before our wedding nearly 25 years ago.

3. The street art in Civic. This one laneway had a superhero theme and the colour was quite spectacular.

4. This painted sidewalk in Petrie Plaza.

5. Dickson Asian Noodle House. Dickson has so many great Asian restaurants – when we were living in Sydney and visiting for the weekend, this was always our Sunday lunch stop on the way out of town. Thankfully nothing has changed.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishWrite of the Middle, and, of course, me.

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Ok, so it’s been a weird old week. When I penned the wrap for last week I was on a bit of a high from release day for Happy Ever After and certainly couldn’t have imagined that just a week later I’d be writing this week’s wrap-up from a hotel in Canberra so we can attend a friend’s funeral tomorrow. What a difference a week makes…but enough about that.

There was still plenty about the week to smile about, so let’s wrap it up…

What I was grateful for…

Blue skies, warm days, the best beach in the whole world (I’m not at all biased) and ducted airconditioning.

What I wrote…

Okay, I’ve hit a bit of a wall on my nanowrimo project this week. I’m currently at the 38,000 – wordmark for this new manuscript, but with everything else that’s going on at present, I doubt that I’ll be in the right sort of headspace to write much over the next few days. As a result, I don’t think I’ll be making my 50k word target for November – although I will end the month with a lot more words than I had at the beginning of the month so will resist the urge to beat myself up too much.

Where I wrote…

I’ve cut back a half a day in the day job at present so snuck out to this oh-so-cute little cafe in a nearby town – Sweethearts at Eudlo. Eudlo is one of those towns that has a cafe, a general store, a hairdresser, a post office and a community hall – and, aside from the railway station and the Rural Fire Services, that’s it.

The cafe is, however, lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed my cup of tea in the sun in their garden.

Where we lunched…

Who doesn’t love a bit of bunting?

We tried out Homegrown Cafe in Palmwoods – another small town in the Hinterland. It’s the next train stop along from Eudlo on the Brisbane – Nambour train line, and we’ve eaten at the pub a few times, but I’d heard some good things about Homegrown. I’ll pop something up on the Sunny Coast page if I get around to it.

We ate outside in the garden under the watchful eye of one of the friendly lizards – so friendly he hopped onto the table to check out what I was eating. Don’t worry, he didn’t eat much.

It’s one of those places that’s mostly green, mostly homegrown and mostly local (in case the name didn’t give it away) and has just a few menu choices each day. I had a fabulous black rice salad bowl with kale, asparagus, avocado, greens and gingered beef with a ginger soy dressing. Miss 20 had homemade pasta with rocket, pea and almond pesto. I was still raving about my salad on the plane this morning. So much green, so much taste.

Still on green food…

Check out these little apple cucumbers we got at the farmer’s markets yesterday. We had some friends over for dinner last night and I put them out just like this as “befores” – they were demolished.

What I cooked…

This spicy duck bowl for dinner the other night. Yummy, easy and quick. I posted the recipe here.

I also made a lemon curd pavlova for last night’s guests – I even made the lemon curd. I’ll pop the recipe up during the week.

Ok, so that was my week…how was yours?

 

 

It hasn’t been a great week.

Hubby and I spent the weekend in Brisbane doing some Christmas shopping and celebrating the launch of my new novel. Then on Sunday, on our way home, we heard that a very close friend had passed away from pancreatic cancer. Too young and too cruel.

We’ll be heading down to Canberra for the funeral, but for now, because my friend was an artist, it feels right to honour her with colour, light and things that I’m loving about life right now. In light of that, some of my favourite pics from last weekend in the city.

1. The murals in the road underpasses near the hotel we spent the weekend at in Brisbane

2. Jacarandas. Yes, we’re near the end of the season, but jacaranda purple is the most beautiful purple in the world. When our daughter was little she used to call them fairy flowers. I still do. Did you know the first one arrived from South America just across the river from here in 1864 in an otherwise empty ship carrying ballast of rocks. It thrived in the Botanic Gardens until 1980.

3. These fabulous French posters we saw in a laneway in Brisbane last weekend

4. This bell out the front of the pagoda in Southbank.

Yes, I know that the pagoda was put there for Expo 88, but I love this bell – and the carving. I also love the community garden beside it & these pineapples.

5. This community share library in the middle of the city. I hope that it gets used.

6. This little church – and the windows in the big one next door.

7. Street art…always.

8. Gardens and roses…like this one – the Botanical Gardens. These spaces are places to breathe.

9. Dutch croquettes shared for breakfast. Just because.

10. Dumplings. Whilever there are dumplings there is something to love. These ones were consumed with absolute relish at New Shanghai in Brisbane on the weekend.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.

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We’ve spent most of the weekend in Brisbane. We were there to do some Christmas shopping, but we also did a heap of walking and, of course, a little bit of celebrating the release of Happy Ever After…did I mention that it’s OUT NOW?

Anyways, by mid-afternoon on Friday we were flagging in energy and hubby was beginning to exhibit the symptoms of one who is experiencing chronic caffeine deficiency – yep, he was crabby…for anyone who knows him that’s very hard to believe, I know. We called in at this cute coffee shop in the Tattsersalls Arcade. I have no idea what it’s called, hubby was just interested in the coffee and the cakes.

He looked at the gluten-free orange and almond cake and screwed up his nose. ‘I really want that one,’ he said, ‘but it’s gluten-free.’

To the counter staff, he said, ‘I know that it’s gluten-free, but is it alright?’

‘Yes sir,’ she said, managing to keep a straight-ish face. ‘It’s my favourite.’

Once he dug a fork into it, he said to me, ‘this is good. It tastes like yours even though it’s gluten-free.’

‘I hate to tell you darlin’, but mine is gluten-free too.’

This cake is so good that even I like it – and I don’t eat my own baking. It is, however, one of my hubby’s favourites – even now he knows that it’s gluten-free. It’s also super easy. While the oranges are doing their thing, you can be doing yours. After that, it’s really just a bit of whizzing in the food processor and a little light whisking. No trouble at all.

Oh, and another piece of trivia, this recipe features in Happy Ever After – although Kate makes it in muffin pans, cooking it much quicker. I think it took about 20 minutes at 180C, but check it after 15.

What you need

  • 2 large oranges or 3 smaller ones – you need about 375g worth of pulp
  • 1 cinnamon stick and a couple of cloves (optional)
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g sugar
  • 250g almond meal/ ground almonds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

What you do with it

  • Pop the oranges, the cloves and the cinnamon stick (if you’re using it) in a saucepan and fill with cold water. I pop a plate over the top to keep the oranges submerged. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 hours or until soft. You might need to top the water up from time to time.
  • Drain the oranges and allow to cool. Cut in half and remove any pips then blitz them in a processor – skins and all.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C and grease and line a springform pan – if you need measurements, the tin should be about 21cm.
  • Beat the eggs and then add the sugar and mix well. Leave for a couple of minutes to let the sugar dissolve into the eggy mix. Add the almonds and baking powder and stir through. Finally, add the oranges.
  • Pour the mix into your prepared tin and pop it into the oven for about an hour – but check it after 45 minutes. You might need to place some alfoil over the top if it’s browning too quickly. It’s cooked when a skewer comes out clean.
  • Let it cool in the tin before turning out.

I poshed it up a bit by lining the base of the tin with thinly sliced orange slices before I poured in the batter, and served it with a crumb that I made from toasted almond praline that I blitzed in the nutribullet. Yes, I’ve been watching too much Masterchef, and no, neither the oranges on top or the crumb added much to the dish.

I also made an orange sauce using half a cup of orange juice, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 cinnamon stick that I reduced down a tad, before whisking in 30g of butter. With some vanilla ice cream on the side, it was declared a keeper. Alternatively, a cream cheese frosting would work…as would a dusting of icing sugar.

Linking up with Denyse Whelan blogs for Life This Week

The week in pics

What I’m proud of…

Happy Ever After is out now and available on Amazon. Hubby and I had a few drinks last night to celebrate. If I can get my act into gear it will also be available on print in a few weeks too.

What’s making me smile…

The song of the butcher birds – at both our house and along the beach walk. Although they may look similar to a magpie, their song is more of a choral than a warble – although that probably makes very little sense.

Dumplings…

There’s very little about Sydney that I miss, but dumplings are one of them – good dumplings, that is. I can get so-so dumplings but haven’t had great dumplings. Apparently, there’s a Chinese up at Sunshine Beach that is really good, but it’s priced accordingly and I firmly believe that dumplings are food for the people…so to speak. Having said that, I will try them sometime.

Anyways, I had good dumplings this week at Tang Dynasty in Mooloolaba, at New Shanghai in Brisbane City and King of Kings in Fortitude Valley. That should tide me over for at least a month or so.

Now to find good Chinese BBQ…

What I read…

Christmas at Claridges – which had nothing to do with either Christmas or Claridges, despite what the cover and the title might have implied. Aside from a couple of pages in the final chapter and a couple of pages earlier – that are actually in Claridges – the book is set mostly in Portobello and Portofino. As for Christmas? Again, just a single scene right at the end. And yes, this really did annoy me even though I enjoyed the read itself.

I suspect that one of her other books, Christmas at Tiffanys, also has little to do with Christmas or Tiffanys – there’s nothing about either in the back-cover blurb.

I also requested an advance copy for review (ARC) of Sulari Gentill’s latest Rowland Sinclair mystery, All The Tears In China. I’d been looking forward to this one from Batlow-based Gentill and it absolutely didn’t disappoint.

My review is up on Goodreads.

What I wrote…

Although I’ve been slack and haven’t been updating my word totals on the official nanowimo page, I’m currently at 33,206 words into my new manuscript It’s In The Stars. I’m also beginning to get an idea of where the story is going – and, as tends to be the case with me – where it’s going is somewhere different to where I thouh that it would go.

What I blogged…

I deliberated for quite a while this week about the direction I was going with the blogs and have done some segregation.

Going forward:

  • all my travel and week/month in review posts and general blogginess will be here
  • all my book-related posts – and any blogs about writing – will be on my author site
  • although I might reproduce them here from time to time, all my recipes will be on Brookford Kitchen Diaries. Not a blog as such, it’s intended to be almost a virtual cookbook.
  • the astro site is remaining unchanged – it will have posts and info about astrology and only astrology.

I hope that you join me on whichever of these sites is of interest to you.

I also posted something about Queenstown and the locations that inspired the scenes in Happy Ever After.

Where I weekended…

Brisbane. Yep, just an hour or so down the road.

I’ll be in Sydney in the first week of December so all the Christmas shopping for the family needs to be done before I go. We don’t have a David Jones on the coast and I wanted also to check out Riverside Markets, and hubby wanted to wander around the discount outlets at DFO (my idea of absolute hell) so Brissie it was. More on what we did and where we walked later in the week.

And that, my friends, was my week…how was yours?

 

 

 

 

 

My latest novel – Happy Ever After – is out now.

Do you only get one chance at a happy ever after?

Kate and Neil met at a protest march in Sydney in August 1985 – Kate was marching, Neil wasn’t. It was love almost at first sight.
Over thirty years have passed, their children have grown, and Kate and Neil have gone from being happily married to being happily separated. That is until Neil asks for a divorce – and another wedding brings up feelings they’d both thought were long gone.

Kate and Neil fall in love all over again, but the repercussions are unexpected and far-reaching. Will Kate be able to overcome a whole new set of challenges to find her happy ever after?

Available now on Amazon.

 

I love Queenstown. Absolutely adore it. It’s why Happy Ever After is the 2nd of my books to feature it as a location – Wish You Were Here was the first.

Anyways, these are some of the locations in Queenstown and surrounds that I’ve used…so far…

Lake Wakatipu

Of course. Framed by The Remarkables Lake Wakatipu is so amazingly beautiful. In fact, it’s so beautiful that it takes me by surprise. Every time I see the lake and mountains it’s as if I’ve never seen them before.

The SS Earnslaw

The Sun rolls it’s way through, lighting different parts of the peaks- almost in time with the breath of the breeze. That in itself is an interesting concept in that the lake rises and falls by up to 20cm every half hour or so, yet it isn’t tidal. It’s as if the lake is breathing.

And that’s all part of the Maori legend of the lake.

Apparently, a local ogre named Matau (they had local ogres in those days) was burned to death for taking advantage of the daughter of an important chief.  The resultant fire melted the snow and ice of the surrounding mountains and it all ran into the deep hole where Matau fell- creating Lake Wakatipu. Yet the ogre was so strong that his pulse survives in the daily rise and fall.

I love stories like this.

Vudu Cafe & Larder

My absolute favourite place for brekky. They have another cafe now – Bespoke Kitchen, but the original is still the place to be in my humble opinion.

Down on the lake, I reinvented this place as Jess’s Beach Road Cafe in Wish You Were Here and it has a role in Happy Ever After as well.

Madame Woo

The absolute best street food Asian in Queenstown – and possibly the best I’ve had in NZ – and you know I love my Asian street food…#bigcall

The Road to Glenorchy

Check that view. Is that inspiring, or is that inspiring?

Glenorchy

There’s a pub here, a general store and trading post, a photogenic wharf and it’s also the jumping off place for the Dart River adventures (absolutely recommended) and a few tramping tracks.

Just down the road is Paradise – the scene of many ads, movies and TV shows…plus a rather spicy love scene in Wish You Were Here

Arrowtown

A charming gold-rush town at its absolute picturesque best in the autumn.

Cardrona Hotel

A great place for a Sunday session, the Cardrona is on the Crown Range Road between Queenstown and Wanaka – another road with spectacular scenery.

Bannockburn

An old gold mining area now famous for amazing wines. I loved it for the fields of wild thyme and other wild flowers in late spring.

Old Cromwell

As opposed to Cromwell town which is the new Cromwell.

“Upon the completion of the Clyde Dam in 1992, the valley behind the dam was flooded to create Lake Dunstan. To preserve the town’s gold mining and pioneering past, dedicated volunteers painstakingly moved the buildings from Cromwell’s original town centre to higher ground.” (From the official tourism site…)

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