Friday, February 27, 2009


Just had a coffee in this little cafe/op shop/tourist attraction in Methven. It's run by Maria, a very expressive lady who has hung out with the Rolling Stones and had a few stories to tell. Eccentric, is the word to describe her.

Anyway we got our coffees and there was a pile of records there. I'd pretty much given up digging since I gave away the live music, but I always go and have a look. Collecting records can be an expensive and long term addiction and I figured that Lantanaland would suck enough of my time.

But as I flicked through there was the first Dire Straits album and Diamond Dogs from Bowie, some Supremes, some Joni Mitchell and some J.Geils. I couldn't resist so I took them up and man did she give me a bargain. I mean all of the LPs were in mint condition and there were quite a few more I could have got, but I'm not addicted OK, I just
needed a little hit.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lesbian weed

Back in the dim, distant, sharehousing past, we came across the odd joint that we termed "lesbian weed". You'd take a toke- nothing, until half an hour later you'd be drooling on the couch, fucked without knowing it.

Well here in NZ I've found the insect equivelent. Back home in Gladstone I grew up around Curtis island, a mangrove heaven for these tiny annoying sandflies. I saw other people itch and scratch and generally go insane from the little bastards, but I was pretty much immune.

Down here the sandies are bigger and slower. They are amusing with their light sting and the way you can squash ten at a time. But the little buggers are fighting a longer war. With each passing day the bite gets itchier and redder, inflamed, declaring that while you got me and my uncle and aunt and 19 cousins i'm going to let you feel the pain all week.

Lesbian sandflies of NZ, I'll be glad to leave you behind.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bloody Peter Jackson

It's a real shame that Peter Jackson set his bloody movie here, beacause a few lazy references to old man Tolkien would really come in handy in describing this part of NZ.

We are deep in what I like to call "tourist NZ". Other than our mates at Queenstown, we haven't spoken to a kiwi in about a week. The big blocks of ice (Franz Josef and Fox glaciers) were a bit underwhelming, but out along the road to Milford Sound the countryside has redeemed itself.

The sound itself was very pretty and I'm glad I did the boat thing, but it's been the camps next to these unbelievably clear streams that roar and tumble over strewn rocks and the walks though moss covered beech forests that have been of greatest delight to me. It was like taking a walk through middle earth.... DAMN, it's just too easy to slip.

The weather here has been coolish without being freezing, but I'm still giving the parts of my wardrobe that only see June and July a good workout. It will be interesting how I treat the rest of the year. Normally at the end of feburary I'm a bit over the heat, especially if I'm doing a bit of training. But now the thought of wandering round the house in a pair of footy shorts is pretty appealling. I think I'll treat hot days in march with joy rather than come on winter annoyance.

I reckon I'll be back to this part of the world or it's Australian cousin Tasmania to do a bit of fishing, the rivers are just too pretty, even for Tolkien to describe.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Does Flinthart have a NZ cousin?

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Milk and other non dairy related items

Well I'm a happy man. All I wanted from this trip was to visit a working dairy farm, preferably one that worked jersey cows. Well at 4.45 am I wandered up from our camp and met Keith, who patiently answered all my questions and gave me a few ideas. I'm pretty sure Lantanaland's cow project is going up the list when I get back. Only instead of a Dexter, I'll probably go and try and get and older Jersey from a dairy.

I thought there would be lots of cottage industry dairys over here, but milk is controlled by a very monopilistic company called Fontera. Think AWB for wheat if you're from Oz. Compare this to the choice I'm offered in SE Qld. I could buy milk at Woolies from at least four companies, plus I could get milk from boutique dairys at most delis. One thing you can't get at an Ozzie supermarket, which is one of the many reasons I want a cow, is in abundance here. Cottage cheese. The only stuff I can get back home is weight watchers crap which has so much removed from it, it resembles sawdust more than the original product.

The Wife continues to drive like a champion. She is going so well on the NZ roads I am thinking of enterering her in the Targa Tasmania rally next year. In a campervan of course. The roads here are like a politicians mind, twists upon twists upon turns with a loop de loop. A trip we thought would take two and a half hours took us five.

Admittedly we stoppped at a salmon farm so I could catch dinner. Normally at he I'd avoid such hijinks like the plauge, but I'm a tourist here, so I figure I get a free pass. It was a good deal too, fishing was free and the fish per kilo was cheaper than at home, plus a good deal fresher. I had hot smoked salmon pasta for dinner. It told me two things, buliding a smoker for Lantanaland has to go up the list and going from fresh made pasta to packet dried pasta is like coming off heroin with nicotine patches.

The food has been cheap and excellent, very fresh and the beer is a patch above most domestic Australian beers, Montieth's Summer ale the brew of choice today. Lifes good.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bees, Fences and Chooks, NZ style.

It's been a very enjoyable holiday so far, particularly since The Wife, darling that she is, has volunteered to do the bulk of the driving. Some people who drive for a living can't relinquish the steering wheel on holidays, but I'm more than happy to give it up, I love the veiw from the passenger side.

NZ is a great place for a driving holiday and these campervans are sweet as to do it in. The landscape changes so quickly and in a massive way, I've done six hundred Kms for work in pretty much the same landscape, but here you might see four or five contrasting veiws in that time.

Being a wannabe smallholder I also have an above average platonic interest in animals and I'll tell you the sheep is not the national animal of NZ, the bee is. I must have seen over a thousand hives in the last four days. A freindly sheep baron who rescued us from being bogged (I did mention The Wife's been doing the driving, didn't I?) told us that every man and his sheep is trying to cash in on the Manuka Honey craze. Unfortunately there are now more bees than pollen and we had the sad sight at last nights camp of bees trying to pull a flow off the grass, The Wifes hair and our campervan.

There has also been lots of Chooks by the side of the road, more than I've ever seen in Oz. Maybe the predators here are less frequent or a bit soft, but if I moved here I wouldn't be buying chooks, I'd just go for a drive.

I've also figured out that Ian Fleming holidayed in NZ before writing his novels. He got all his good bad guy ideas here, beautiful, isolated, rocky islands rising out of brilliantly clear water. Bubbling mud pits and mad boiling pools of superheated water, he's ripped them all off from the local landscape.

The only other thing that has caught my interest is the fences. I know, I know even for me this might seem a bit boring, but they are mad, eight strings of wire and a post every 30cm. I don't know if it's a trick the first fencing contracter here played to make sure he got enough work or what, but it makes all the landscape look that little bit different.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wild Peach

The things you do hey? The Wife, who I normally have to drag out of bed with Mack truck, was up a dawn today trying to get a sunrise shot through the James Bond Villian islands they have dotted around the bay. The trip has started pretty well, I despite my dissapointment in Optus failing to live up to Telstra's standards. I needed my iPhone unlocked so I could get a NZ sim and data plan and had hooked it up with them five weeks ago. Of course once I purchased said sim, the phone refused to work. I rang Optus with a 100 minute card, fully expecting to use it all, but they answered the call inside a minute and had the problem fixed in five. I mean where was the hold music for thirty minutes, the being bounced through nine departments, the barely veiled rudeness, the lack of technical competence? If Optus want to be taken seriously in Australia, they'll need to lift their game.

Auckland was bloody hot and humid, but here on the Coramandel coast it's much cooler, I've pulled out the ugg boots allready. I've had two wins on this trip so far, Tui on tap and in this little van park there are wild peach trees in the foreshore scrub, laden with fruit. Heaven!

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ramblings of a bored plane passenger

Off to NZ for a bit of a break, to sample the climate they Flinty claims as Gods own. I was a bit dissapointed to find this wierd two prong headphone jack in the seat, so I've bypassed the poxy AirNZ headphones and the inflight movie. That choice sucks a bit because they had Burn Before Reading and Rockandrolla as two of the better choices. So I'm sticking to my decent headphones and regretting watching Classic Albums - Metallica while I waited to board. It's an awesome show that, I love the one on Nevermind the best I think.

They served a pretty decent pie, but served me up a Stienlager to go with it. Urgh. I was hoping for Tui, my favourite NZ beer, but airline economy passengers can't be choosers. So instead of watching movies on a small low res screen, I've written two blog entries while listening to the last album from The Shins. Excellent flying music, beautiful, slightly mealoncholy, pop music.

I'm looking to eating a bit of top nosh in the next few weeks and talking to a few small producers as well. In particular I'm hoping to get a look at any small dairys, to pick up any knowledge that will help me when I get my cow later this year.

Lantanaland is in the fine capable hands of The Wifes folks while we're away. They've got four baby Rouen/Muscovy ducklings to look after. By the way did you know it's quite hard to type on an iPhone during turbulence. I might leave it there.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Proper Fit

I've been pretty dissatisfied with my weight for a while, it impacts on my sport and my general feeling of confidence. It's ok though, because I've been training for a while on and off with my mates who are in national teams. Just lately though I've been to a few training sessions that have opened my eyes. I mean I thought I was unfit but these guys, for ametuer sportsmen are just amazing.

The pace and ferocity with which they attack repetitive fittness sessions is inspiring, I am the sorest right now I have been for about 5 years when I was playing and training a lot, but sitting in a plane crossing the Tasman, I'm a little dissapointed that I didn't get a session in today. It's not just a fittness thing either it's a mind fittness. For the first time I got to see them train and play while fatigued and it was the sheer will that kept them going, kept them competting, sent them off for one last round of a tortourous drill even though they were looking like dropping.

Usually I am motivated by compettiveness. But I'm not really playing any touch that has a major prize or working towards any teams, but that inspiration has got my blood pumping. I want to get proper fit again, which is in mates case is like a water fountain aspiring to be Victoria Falls, but it's a start.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, February 2, 2009

I am now a real smallholder

WARNING this post contains the killing of some of my farm animals. If this could offend you please don't read on.

One of the many reasons for lantanaland, was the ability to be able to raise my own meat. The reasons for this are pretty varied. Quality is one, I work in the meat industry and while there is good meat out there, there is also a fair bit of crap, not to mention some dubious practices. Meat, like fruit, is also bred for trends and commercial gain, take the super lean pork or 16 week old chicken. I wanted to be able to have old school tasty roast chook, or fatty belly bacon. The second reason is environmental. Domestic animals don't have to be land killers. You can use them in lots of ways to manage your land.

Enough high falutin commentary.

It's all academic if I can't actually kill the animal. I think it pretty cowardly to ask someone else to do it. I thought I'd start with chickens, but as it turns out, my drakes were ready to go first. I'd hatched these myself and to be brutally honest, they were ready about two weeks ago, but I've been finding excuses to let it go.

I committed to today and I started getting nervous around lunch. I've never done anything like this before, and don't know anyone with recent experience who could come and give advice. So I just came home from work, got the axe, wrapped them in a towel and one blow each it was done.

I felt a huge melancholy when I did it. These ducks had no name, they were destined for the pot, but they were still part of our daily life at lantanaland. The Wife and I have talked before about how humans don't really like change and this would be a sudden one, I know I felt out of wack after the fox raid last year. I didn't really have time for reflection, I had to pluck them while they still warm. This was heaps harder and took longer than I thought. I'm sure there is a knack to it, but I don't have it. Then the bit I was dreading, the gutting. And of course it turned out to be really simple. There was lots of yellow fat round the organs and I kept the livers for dinner. I then took off the breasts and legs/thighs and rubbed them in a salt and spice mix before putting them in the fridge. They'll become confit, the king of poultry dishes. The frames went into the stockpot to render off the fat, then make beautiful rich duck stock.

It all took about two and a half hours. I'm sure I'll be quicker next time, but these ducks are special, they'll be the first meat that I've raised from birth. It gives me the confidence that I can do it again, but for the return of meat I think I'll stick to chicken. I can now raise any animal, knowing that a life on lantanaland will be better and more varied than any commercial producer could give their livestock. These ducks had it pretty good, they ate tomatos from my hand, stripped my chilli bushes of their leaves and splashed in the ponds. Compared to their brothers and sisters that ended up as snake food they lived like kings.

However I didn't really enjoy my liver for dinner.

Lantanaland from the iPhone