Looking round the back garden…


The view from our cliff top yesterday, taken as a test of a new iPhone app from Instagram called Hyperlapse. The app smoothes hand-held video taken on iOS devices, and can produce time lapse movies very, very simply. Great fun to play with. Panorama starts due north, moves over The Deans until pointing down the Waipara Valley, then tracks down the cliff and up the river bed.

We got lucky


For Christmas consumption, a Burgundy truffle of a little under 200 grammes unearthed on Christmas Eve at Limestone Hills ((Photographed on Christmas morning, ribbon by C Russell.)). Not really very ripe, but it made a very nice addition to a champagne cream sauce ((Half bottle of fizz, truffle peeled and cut into thick matchsticks, bubbled together until reduced by half, then cream stirred in and simmered until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, poured over the cooked cray meat at the point of serving.)) for the enormous crayfish ((aka lobster, but without the big front claws.)) we enjoyed for a light lunch. Probably the first fresh Burgundy truffle ((Technically, Tuber aestivum syn uncinatum, known as the Burgundy truffle in Burgundy (!), or the summer truffle in Britain.)) to be eaten at Christmas in New Zealand. There are five more in the ground, and I’m waiting to see how long they’ll take to ripen properly — or if they do so at all. It’s supposed to be an autumn to early winter-fruiting truffle, after all. In the meantime, the compliments of the season to all.

Guilt, and Google

The guilt part is that the other place has been taking up all my blogging, and OTF has suffered. So here’s a quick update, stimulated by yesterday’s gadget acquisition. I was fiddling around in Google Maps, and there — lo and behold — it appears that Google’s Street View is already available for Ram Paddock Road. It’s not that long since Street View was announced over here, and I had assumed it was mainly a thing of the cities and towns, but it appears they’ve been thorough. You can look over the garden fence and see the pond, admire the big gum, and — here’s a surprise — see nets on the vines. The Google bus must have driven past about a year ago, because we haven’t got the nets on yet (it’ll be a couple of weeks, at least). Feel free to be nosey.

Meanwhile, we’ve been having another hot La Niña summer. Our unheated pool has been up to 30C, and the air a good deal warmer. Irrigation is being used to the full. The grapes are looking good, the truffière’s being watered, and once again I bless the decision (made a decade ago) to buy a large fridge that dispenses ice and chilled water out of the freezer door.

And finally, because new gadgets are fun, if you visit OTF from an iPhone, you will be greeted by a special phone-friendly theme, courtesy of the excellent wptouch plugin.

Ice is nice


Seracs above the Fox Glacier, Westland

Back at my desk after touring the South Island with friends from London. Mt Cook, Queenstown, the glaciers on the West Coast, Punakaiki, the Abel Tasman (on Jamarh again) and dolphins at Kaikoura. A great time was had by all… Now I have to remember what I was doing before we left. At my age, that’s not trivial.

Tinderbox does home calls

Mark Bernstein called in on the farm on Monday night. We ate, drank, and talked. A lot of each. And if I am to believe the message he and Linda left in our cottage visitors book, they enjoyed themselves enough to come back. We’re looking forward to it.

Strike a Flint

I‘m in the process of moving On The Farm over to a new blog, produced using the new web log “assistant” Flint. It’s got lots of nice gadgets, like the Google search box, and a nice way of organising the posts under “topics”, and it looks more contemporary — being done with css. It’s going to take me a while to move the whole of the old site over to the format, but it will be done. And the photo quality will improve. Watch this space.

[Update 2010: Those were the days!]

Give me your money

After much huffing and puffing, the new Limestone Hills web site is live, and quite probably kicking. It’s built with Freeway Pro, and uses some “actions” (a kind of plug-in that add functionality in the Freeway universe) to hook up to Mal’s e-commerce (free, and highly recommended by Freeway people). It looks as I think it should when viewed with Safari (the Mac OS browser), but is now reasonable in most browsers on most platforms that I’ve tried (which is not all that many).

So what’s new? Well, I think it looks a lot better – new header, new layout and organisation, and buttons to press and videos to view. And I can now accept credit card purchases of the book. Will anyone buy it? I need a few sales a month just to cover the bank charges…

Abel Tasman again

Whariwharangi Beach, Abel Tasman National Park.
Just back after five days in Golden Bay, staying with a friend in Wainui at the northern end of the Abel Tasman. We did the top of the Abel Tasman walk on Friday afternoon: from Totaranui to Wainui via Separation Point (300k map here). The beach pictured is right at the top of the park. Weather perfect.

We saw only one stingray at Wainui. As we were having the last swim of the day in the warm water of the incoming tide, one swam to have a look at us. We left the water rather promptly.

Good reasons for living in New Zealand #274

Sometimes fate conspires to present the perfect photographic opportunity, and when that happens, fate usually conspires to make me blow it. And sometimes it doesn’t…


An orca on my tail…

We were crossing Tasman Bay on Jamarh, a sailing catamaran operating out of Nelson, when three orca passed in the opposite direction. Rush to camera, snap a couple of shots of tall black fins, and then suddenly a young one is steaming up into our wake, and breaches. I would have liked to have got the shot a fraction of a second earlier, but hey – this one’s good enough for me. Jamarh’s skipper, Martin, has seen plenty of orca, but never had one do that before.

We were on the boat for an overnight trip into the Abel Tasman National Park. This is where we spent the night…


Pukatea Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

We swam, sunbathed, saw penguins and seals, swam some more, ate fresh scallops and fish, swam again, kayaked up a creek to a spectacular freshwater pool (no camera, sorry) and walked a small section of the Abel Tasman path. Perfection. I want to do it again, but it’s back to the farm and selling books. The Nelson Mail gave me a good write up… Thanks, Jude.

#1 Google site for…

Google is a wonderful thing, not least because if you search it for information about “ontological transformation”, On The Farm is the top ranking web site. A while ago blogged an article about diets. And I therefore rank above the article in the London Review Of Books that I originally linked to. Digital voodoo. Luckily, I know what ontological transformation means.