The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

Around the World (Again) New Zealand

The Flight to New Zealand – Auckland to Rotorua
We touched down in Auckland International Airport well ahead of schedule after a very 14 something hour flight (it should have been 15 hours). Very little turbulence, we got lucky, they hadn’t booked Linda and I in adjoining seats, the chap at the check-in desk worked a bit of wizardry and we got two fantastic seats right behind a partition with so much leg room that you could even put in a baby cot (the idea of this row). We took off at 21:00 and flew through the night.
I am a great fan of Air New Zealand, having flown with them on several occasions, absolutely nothing is a bother to them, the on board staff, predominantly male, are always so courteous, kind and helpful.   I noticed they had a large proportion of elderly flight attendants, should I apply? The meals on board, plentiful and tasty, I had beef goulash with mash and vegetables, washed down with a New Zealand Shiraz (there was actually a choice; I could have had Pinot Noir).

Good Landing! straight into the arrivals Hall
We arrived in early, got through the passport, security and customs control (Linda did have a panic, we are bringing bio-sourdough starter for Birte, but on enquiry it was ok). All went speedily (anything is speedily after the arrivals in San Francisco), but arriving early just meant we sat around in the arrivals lounge drinking flat whites and reading until the hire car place opened at 08:00.
The real Arrivals

Normal hire formalities completed, we headed straight down Freeway 1, passing through towns with  such un-Maori towns such as Drewry, Huntly, Hamilton before taking the freeway 5 through Cambridge, and through the wonderful unspoiled countryside as we headed for Rotorua.
Rotorua is a small town that is nestled below Mt Ngongotahan the shores of Lake Rotorua, it would be a quiet little farming community if it wasn’t for the likes of us, tourists. Tourists come here mainly for two reasons, the hot springs, geysers and mud pools, and also (if you forgive the pun) the hot bed of Maori Culture. The town has changed little in the 23 years since I last visited, with the exception of the prices to get in to see, what is after all natural features. Though I can see that the Maori need to charge as means to finance their efforts to keep their heritage and culture alive and give the youth hope for the future.

We (via the tourist information centre) found a very nice Motel just off the lake, reasonable priced, clean and friendly run by a nice couple, Merv and Jan.

The Havana Motel on Whakaue street, is in a fantastic location, just beside the lake, it is a surprisingly quiet location besides being just across the road from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Anzac War Memorial Park
Felton Street, the large building is the Tourist information building.

War Memorial Park, notice the Rhododendron trees in bloom


See that Paddle Steamer, it has sailed a long way from the Mississippi

As it was just past midday we decided to go for a bite to eat.  At the corner of Whakaue and Felton Streets is a little gem of a café, called “The Limes”, it is only open from 08:00 and 16:00 but it serves wonderful fresh brewed coffee (try the flat white) and exquisite, cakes, pastries and savouries. We passed it by and walked down Felton street, here are a lot of eating places, many seemed to be run my Asians, though we did spy a Turkish Kebab shop hidden between a couple of Korean food outlets ,I don’t know what to call them, as they are not cafes or restaurants, no fast food joints or street food, I think the nearest would be the German Imbiß, or the old fashioned fish and chip shop, where you can, if you wish, eat in or take out. We had seen that one of these offered Fish and Chips, well I do like my fish and chips and some of the best outside of the UK have been in New Zealand (all be it South Island).

On this occasion we selected the Korean (Imbiß). We ordered the fish and chips (Pacific Cod), it came served on something I haven’t seen for many a long year, one of those tea trollies of yesteryear. Ever so quaint and very New Zealand. I always remember, when I was at sea and entering New Zealand waters, the Radio Officer, (whose job it is to keep exact time on board a ship, though the foolish Deck Officers believe it is they, by shooting the sun at mid-day) would put up on Captains daily orders,” today we are entering New Zealand, Please retard all clocks by 50 years”. It was he who first got me into eating Pacific oysters and Green Lipped mussels a taste that I have never lost and never will.

But back to the fish n’ chips, the fish was frozen and pre-battered, but it was well cooked and tasty, the chips also well cooked and not those hard straw thingies, but large thick chips and for $NZ 5,-  well worth it.

We decided that we would do our shopping for breakfast later and headed back to the Motel for a rest,  you can if you so wish partake in a thermal bath or a swim in the heated pool do so, but as Linda forgot her Cossie she didn’t and out of sympathy I joined her.  But before reaching our motel we passed “The Limes” café, I noticed that a lady sitting at one of the street tables was partaking in a Custard Slice, now custard slices are my all-time favourite cake.

Interlude back to the 50s & 60s      
On a Saturday while we went to see the TOON (in those days winning) “Wor Mam” would buy a selection of small cakes from the travelling Co-op baker as a treat (not for the TOON winning or for anything we had done, but just as a treat). The steam train would exude its black and white clothed cargo of TOON supporters (no Makams on board this train thank you) onto the platform of Backworth Station, it was then that the  Smith race began, it was out of the train, up the bank, across the road and down Halton Drive through the arch, by “Wor Great Aunt Megs” and down Havelock Road into 6 Haydon Gardens, through the gate into the back door (it was always open, front doors in our village only used for Christening, Marriages and feet first after death).  I, even until this day, never knew why they tried, I was like whippet and not an ounce of fat on my scrawny body, but boy could I run. That plate of 10 gleaming iced cakes sitting in the middle of the kitchen table, I would lick my finger and plonk it straight through the middle of the custard slice, that was it baggsied, mine and mine alone, the rest of the lads could fight with the lasses (they had been doing girlie things whilst we had been to St James) as to what cake they would like, but I had mine. At times the baker may have had no custard slice left, now that did send me into a bit of a spin, in fact I wasn’t at all bothered about the other cakes and may have had what ”Wor Mam” called a “pet lip” and would give me a “yill trip owa thet pet lip if yi divint strightin ya face wor Richard”.  But rules are rules and no one not even “Wor Dad”  (he hadn’t been to the match, but had either been in the garden with his prize leeks or playing with his mates at “the ‘lotments Workingmens Club”) could have their cakes before your tea, it could a pile of home boiled ham and pease pudding stotties cut into wedges and piled on a willow pattern platter, or it might even be a pan of broth made with vegetables from “wor dads” garden and the scragg end of mutton or breast of lamb. But always something substantial, hearty and ever so taste “Wor Mam” was a very good cook, nay, a bloody good cook!
End of interlude

You call that a cake?

So you can see why I went into a spin when I saw that lady eating that spectre of my childhood and youth, I had to have a one! As luck would have it there was only one left, it was mine all mine (I didn’t even have to stick my finger in it, I just paid for it). Linda could have here prissy citrus tart which she said was delectable, she couldn’t realise what inner enjoyment was at that moment pulsing through my whole body, I savoured each delectable mouthful, not a crumb was left. We drank flat white coffee (don’t ask me why it is so called, but I shall endeavour to find out before my next post.

We returned to the Motel picked up the car and went for a drive around town, under the auspice of shopping for breakfast things; we had decided that we would make our own German type (cold meats and cheese with seeded rolls). On returning we parked down on the water’s edge and took some photographs of the water planes, Black Swans with Signets and the lake panorama. Adjacent to the lake and the Scout Hut, was a covered construction that housed one of those massive war canoes that you see in films of the Pacific, this one had been manufactured using traditional, material, tools and methods, it is a mighty beast with very fine intricate carvings.

That evening to have a look and see what the restaurants in the near vicinity tickled our fancy just across Fenton street was a Korean Family Restaurant, the photographs in the window looked good and it was quite full with Koreans and other folks from Asia, seeing this we decided that as we had done the cultural thing in San Francisco, we would sample their food (it is not unknown to me as I have had it quite a few times in the past).

Linda chose the Beef Bulgogi and I the Calamari Balgogi both having the same names we had imagined that they would come prepared in the same manner, no the Bulgogi is the manner it is served , on a cast iron plate. Mine was hot and spicy, with loads of shredded cabbage and sliced calamari, including the crispy tentacles. Linda’s was done in a sweet sauce also with shredded vegetables. To accompany was served rice, Chimchi, spiced turnip root, potatoes in a gravy like sauce and pickled greens. Very tasty indeed, well worth the $NZ 15,- per head.

We then walked back to the motel to watch the All Blacks take the Japanese Ruby Union side apart. What a wonderful day and what a fitting conclusion.    

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