Tuesday, 30 June 2009

We went away

Camille and I went away for a few days for a much needed break from our usual life. We did a bit of work while away - not too much, all very casual. We ate extremely well, drank some good wines, and generally relaxed doing nothing and seeing no-one.

Below are a few panoramic photos. Click on them to see the full size:

1) the view from our apartment in Paihia around 7:00am. The morning this was taken was unusual as it wasn't raining.

2) Rainbow falls near Kerikeri. The lovely Camille is visible in the right hand side taking her own photo. I know the critics out there will say the falls should have been framed better between the trees but I wasn't willing to go wading in order to do that.

3) The view from the Sky Grand Hotel in Auckland on the opposite side to where our room was. This was on the way home. If you look at the post titled Skycity Grand Hotel below you will see the view we had on the way to Paihia. On the way back we were much higher up but still had a crappy view. Mind you, we weren't there to stare out of the window admiring views, particularly as it was dark most of the time we were there. We also didn't get to eat at 'Dine' as we were just too tired. Couldn't be bothered leaving the room so we ate in again. Another excellent meal though.

4) The lake below Rainbow Mountain near Rotorua. This was interesting as there were hundreds of swallows flying around either dipping into the water or catching insects just above the surface. I caught this on video so I'll post it on youtube at some stage.

5) Not a panorama. This is one of the originals that makes up the panorama immediately above.

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Thursday, 11 June 2009


We had planned to eat at the Salt Brasserie while here in Paihia. It has very good revues in Dineout. We wandered past it today and there was a sign in the window announcing that they are closed until sometime in July.

Damn, damn, damn!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


Before leaving Auckland we splashed out on some new kitchen knives. We like knives and find them good for paring, carving, dicing, slicing, cutting, stabbing, slitting, dissecting.... Sorry - getting a little carried away there.

Good knives are essential. Normally when we travel we carry a set of knives with us along with our favourite pan - a 12" calphalon hard anodized aluminium pan - but this time we left the knives behind along with the pepper grinder. This was an excellent excuse to buy new ones and so off to The House of Knives in Mt Eden we went.

There, after a little discussion with the very helpful staff, we selected three knives, a steel, a knife fold and a small pepper grinder. The knives were all Wusthoff Solingen - 1 23cm cook's knive, a 16cm utility knife and a 23cm carving knife. I'd have liked to get more but these pretty much cleaned us out.

I'll have to hide them when we get home so that only we get to use them.

Bitch about Auckland

We are driving around Auckland trying to find our way out of here using Google Maps. Google Maps is good. Everything is nice and clear, well marked etc. It's a great pity that Auckland isn't the same. This has to be the most poorly signposted city I have been in.

I haven't been anywhere else where you can pull up to a reasonably large intersection and have absolutely no idea of what the streets you are facing are named as there are very few street name signs.

Skycity Grand Hotel

It's about 6:00am on Wednesday morning and I am tucked up in bed in the Skycity Grand Hotel in Auckland. Camille is here too and is still asleep. We are complete opposites. I wake early no matter where I am whereas she will sleep for as long as she can. We are on our way to the Bay of Islands where Camille is going to be working. I'll be working as well but in a slightly more relaxed mode.

The trip up was fairly uneventful though the weather was crap in places and there were a fair few logging trucks on the road. They did tend to make it difficult to see the road due to the amount of spray they caused. This does cause problems when they are travelling slowly and you simply cannot see to get past them. There is no way you can see the road ahead.

Personally I think that logging firms should find a way that this spray can be reduced.

So... the Skycity Grand Hotel, not to be confused with the Skycity Hotel. The Grand is a 5 star hotel whereas the other is a 4 star hotel. What do you get for the extra star? A bigger, more comfortable room for one (judging by photos on the websites). A better selection of the minibar and other facilities - good, full sized bottles of wine, a wider variety of beers and other beverages, quality snacks, small personal touches like providing lubricated condoms for those special moments. In these ways it reminds me of the Bolton in Wellington. We haven't availed ourselves of any of these. The wine I would like to drink is $60.00 from the minibar whereas I can buy it from one of two wine stockists within two minutes walk for a somewhat lesser price.

The in room dining service certainly is of excellent quality. We chose to dine in last night after our journey and I am impressed by the quality of the food.

The entire menu was tempting and I really wanted to go for the 450gm angus beef fillet steak but it was a bit too much. In the end I plumped for Horopito roasted lamb loin on whipped kumera accompanied by roasted root vegetables and sauteed pika pika (a native NZ fern).

Best hotel in room dining I have experienced.

We will be staying here again on our way back from Paihia and will be dining in Peter Gordon's 'Dine' which is one of the restaurants in the hotel. We are both looking forward to this.

View from the room? Not that impressive!