Thursday, December 30, 2010

Content content of food - REaD LaBeLs

Learn to read food labels.

Karen Fischer suggests the following is helpful when choosing healthy alternatives.

Sugar content.
NO more than 20 g per 100 g

Dietary Fibre content
More than 5 g per 100g. Cereals containing wholegrains supply more fibre so look for at least 50 per cent wholegrain content.

Salt content
120 mg of sodium per 100g is a low salt product.
less than 300 mg per 100g is okay.

Saturated Fat content
Less than 3 g per 100 g

Total Fat content
Less than 10 g per 100g

Does your breakfast cereal measure up? Something to ponder about....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Skiing the Remarkables

Our ride into Queenstown, the long journey first across the Canterbury plains then central Otago, Mckenzie country, Mt Cook, Omarama, Cromwell and the Lindis Pass finally brought us to the outer fringes of Queenstown. Along the windy road you will see a small hydro plant and the narrow gorge along the River into Queenstown where the jet boat scoots along... Jet boat is not for me.. I dislike payiung for being thrown around for half hour, at a high speed and getting wet at the same time.. they call that fun!!!?

So it was with trepidation that we boarded a creaky old bus, me clearly being double the age of anyone else
on board... most were enthusiastic snowboarders with all their gear and the driver, looks like he was still wet behind the ears.... he had problems operating the gears.

A distinctive burning smell and handbrake in need of attention confirmed my worst fears that this was the budget way to ascent to the Remarkables... I had already decided to descend a different way, as we were on a time limit to reach our dinner destination at the Gondola resturant.

After an very early and light breakfast, we spent the next part of an hour picking up young snowboarders some of whom kept us waiting... for which the driver reprimanded them!

This is where we are headed... is there enough snow up there...
Finally we were on the road to the Remarkables... 8 kilometres it said. We drove and we drove and the old bus creaked and groaned and slipped and slid on the very wet and slushy roads. No snow on the road up to the Remarkables the two way croaked to the driver.. "Oh well that is a relief" I thought. Then the smell of burning rubber quickly replaced the feeling of relief with intense fear.

My young daughter asked, "What was that burning smell, is it the brakes or the bus?" It is all fine I told her, as we slid almost off a precipice ... they drive up here every day... .I tried to reassure her, with heart palpitations way above the normal rate!! I thought well we are almost there, surely... 8 kms must have passed by now...

Then I see a sign... declaring boldy.... "THE REMARKABLES ; YOU ARE HALFWAY THERE" Egad I thought another half an hour of this torture!! Gripping the seat tightly, the bus lurched as the driver chucked it down to first, having to stop completely first, then have the tyres skid and slip as they desparately tried to gain grip on the gravel mush beneath them...

Finally we made it.. now the bus driver said BE here at 4 or else we leave without you... You must tell us if you come down any other way ring this mobile number otherwise we will send the ski patrol out looking for you!!! As I alighted at the ski field, I saw some wonderfully new four wheel drive buses greeting us.... that is the way I am going down I thought, not with "old Bertie" and its questionable braking ability and "Bevan the Bus Driver come troubled youth"!!!) So better report in that I am going to use an alternative shuttel bus to return to town.

We made our way up to the centre, awash with bodies in snow suits, veritable kids with snow boards and skis and proceede to book our return journey with a different bus company. Apparently shuttles leave the mountain every  hour or as soon as they fill from 2 pm onwards. After making the phone call to the first company, to save the ski patrol looking for two not lost souls,  we checked in to get our ski Id Card, microchipped to follow our progress no doubt, ( does the CIA have people here???) and were measured for clothing, boots, and skis... "no you can't hire Gloves, for hygiene reasons Madam" so after leaving my daughters at home and passing up the opportunity to buy a $3.50 pair of gloves at Aldi, I had to buy a $30.00 pair... well they do have a captive market, where else could I go and you could not ski without gloves, unless you were inviting Jack Frost to get up close and personal!!

The Beginners ski area - The Remarkables

And we were here, I was showing my daughter the extent of my antiquated knowledge of downhill skiing I learnt more than 30 years ago, but mostly we just followed every one else and eavesdropped on a few ski lessons... in the Beginners bowl... but she quickly got the hang of it, having cross country  skiied in Norway several years before.

From here we jumped ( literally ) on the chairlift, to the Tubing area. With skis on, it is no mean feat for a 10 year old to manage this without assistance. What happened to those nice, strong men who helped you out on and off the chairlift??? In this age of economic rationalism, they are gone, replaced by a Safety officer, who replies to your request for assistance, with a lackadaisical "You will be alright!"  That is confidence, and as accurately anticipated, he was quite wrong. Getting on, was fine, but getting off quite another story.

I was busy verbally assisting my daughter in getting off, which she managed with incredible finesse, that I left alighting from the chair a fraction of a second or two, too late!! By which time, I had to jump, with skis on remember!! And the sharp decline on the slope meant I lost my balance and fell over right in front of the turning chair!!! Great... not a soul to help you there.... Good on you New Zealand Tourism!!

I got up with the help of my daughter, humiliation enough, and then I was so relieved to see a friendly face approach me, but alas, she was out to take photographs, the "rip the- tourist- off- money- making scheme at work again!!! Snap snap snap... I hope she did not get one of me A over T at the top of the chairlift????

 Riding a Rubber tyre tube down a huge slope is a real blast in the snow. We tubed for an hour, and probably reached speeds of 30 km/h.
Tubing Area

The tubes are pulled up the slopes by a rope tow, which has to be held taut, for me in a position that was between my legs...!!! Eek! But this saved walking up the hill in the snow with snow boots! And made for more downhill runs... Of course, the ubiquitous Tourist photographer was there too!!! I think two photos cost me near to $70.00 so beware!

After several more hours, I was utterly exhausted and needed some fuel and asthma medication to continue. So we returned to the beginner area instead of attempting the intermediate runs, where we had fallen over too many times to remember....

And despite seeing a nasty beginner snowboarding accident which to me looked like a flip gone wrong, we had so much fun, going up, coming down, going up, coming down, throwing snowballs, sliding down the snow cave/tunnel etc.  And the view from the Remarkables was well.... Remarkable, astounding, and awesome! I have gotta go back.... But I did feel like the oldest one there!!!

At least on the way down, we had a vehicle that was built post war!! Was probably only a few years old and even though we were very close to the edge, I did not feel in any danger at the least. I wonder how Bevan and Bertie got on????
Something to ponder about.....
The road to and from the Remarkables, looking down towards Queenstown and Lake W.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The best of the Queenstown!

After an exhausting day skiinig the Remarkables, rejuvenating our tired muscles with a bit of retail therapy was in order.

A day in Queenstown...


Sip coffee, eat, browse sassy shops and classy fashion stores, at classy prices too.

We only succumbed to buying some souvenirs which were bound to be gifts, including one interesting rude finger toy and were not tempted by the over-inflated prices.



Shopping areas


 But we did take full advantage of the free attractions in the area, being the viewing of spectacular lake and enjoy its idyllic waterside location .... Why not?


Lake Wakatipu

15,000 years ago during the last ice age, a huge glacier moving from the north west carved out what is now Lake Wakatipu. The lake is relatively thin, but the mountains run straight into the lake, forming a deep canyon, 399m at its deepest point.
Lake Wakatipu is the second largest lake in the Southern Lakes District, covering 290 square km. At its widest point Lake Wakatipu is five kilometers wide, and the total length is 84km. 

You can even take various cruises including the "Lady of the Lake" which really gives you an idea of this wondrous piece of nature.

 After one is sick of retail therapy, one can stroll a short kilometre up the hill, there is only one very prominent one, which you can't fail but see.

At the base of the Skyline Gondola which takes you to a mountian top resturant, is a Animal education centre where you can learn more about the elusive Kiwi.

Surprisingly, sheep were grazing underfoot as we travelled up in the Gondola capsule.

Views were getting better all the time. One can see that Queenstown is a tourist town.

The Remarkables hiding under cloud...

Up we go... from inside the capsule...There has been a Gondola here for many years, in fact we met a couple who were revisting the Gondola ( their first visit was 40 years ago)

Queenstown Skyline Gondola Bungy.

Probably Queenstown's most famous thrill-seeking activity is bungy jumping (also known as bungee jumping), where a long elastic cord is attached to the ankles or harness, and the person jumps off a large height. New Zealand was brought to the forefront of adventure sport when AJ Hackett opened the first commercial bungy jump from the Kawarau Bridge, 43 metres (141 feet), over the Kawarau river.

The Queenstown area houses three bungy sites, apparently the jump off the top of the gondola was moved around the mountain due to the graveyard below, and the inappropriate screaming during burials... This particular jump starts 400m, that's 1300ft! over the city, and you can choose to jump normally, or swing over the township, night or day.
Bungy jumping was inspired by David Attenborough's 1950's footage of the land divers of Pentecost Island Vanuatu, who tied vines to their ankles and jumped off tall platforms as a religious ceremony to bring a good harvest.

Luge ride, which is really a modified go cart hurtling slowly down a pre defined track.

Beware the Luge rides close at 5pm so if you plan to do the luge before dinner, arrive early.

The weather was closing in

Mercure Hotel Queenstown
This hotel is located out of the main shopping area, a long walk from the town centre, but wonderfully located on the lake and includes some really pretty views out from the Dining room window. The shame is that this dining room is only used at nighttime, when you won't see much ... except black water and a few nightlights!!

If you stay at the Mercure and want meals after hours, you can eat at the bar which really has just some light adult orientated snacks or order Room service. I chose the cheapest item on the Room Service menu which was Garlic bread and it came covered with a stainless steel warmer cover, with tomato sauce spill congealed on the inside as if it had not been washed.... Reported it to the Kitchen staff and on departure, was slapped with an additional charge, so mentioned the congealed Tomato sauce and the fee was waived. At least they did that right.

You will have to taxi to and from the main centre if you stay here, but the desk staff are helpful and the views are wonderful.They have a gym,  with a view, a sauna and swimming pool which on account of the prevalence of rain in Queenstown, is not very often used, and is located in the inner grounds of the complex.

The last long look at the Remarkables finally peeping out from behind the cloud. Why could they not have shown their face when I was up at the veiwing platform at the Gondola.??

Maori Legend

The Maori legends state that the giant Matau was burnt to death in his sleep after he abducted a chief's daughter, burning a massive hole in the ground and melting the ice and snow of the surrounding mountains, forming the lake. The lake is a large "S" shape, like a giant, curled up and sleeping on its side. Matau's head rested at Glenorchy, at the north of the lake, and his feet south in Kingston. Queenstown sits on Matau's knee.
One of Wakatipu's mysteries is the rise and fall of the lake by about 12cm (5") every five minutes. Legend states that a Giant's heart is impossible to destroy, and causes this rise and fall, while science says it is due to fluctuating atmospheric pressures. But across the lake from the town below Cecil Peak is a little island visible only from up close, from above, or from a different angle. Some say Hidden Island is the still beating heart of the Giant Matua...
The Maori people first inhabited the area in a search for food, ponamu or greenstone, and the flightless Moa. The north of the Lake is one of six of the country's main sources of greenstone.
Something to ponder about....

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas for 2010

And so this is Christmas.... with fake candy teeth and silly hats, and those corny jokes inside the bon bons... It is so commercial, yet everyone does it... so everyone must love it...

I hope it is a special day filled with unique memories for you all.... It really is about what you give, not what you recieve!!

Posted by Picasa