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Staying at SkyScape in Twizel for our Wedding Anniversary

Hello friends,

Recently it was hubby and my wedding anniversary. It was a big anniversary, the type of one that has precious metal connotations with it.

It's hard to believe it's been 25 years. Hubby and I met in university, back when I was a biochemistry honors student, and he was in 3rd year computer science. We met through a mutual friend, and then over time we became best friends, and then we started dating after falling in love. After a couple of years, we got married, and life has been busy ever since.

We decided for our 25th wedding anniversary we wanted to do something very special, and since I have developed a very large fear of flying (thanks to living in Wellington), we decided to stay somewhere within driving distance.

A number of months earlier I had spotted an Instagram ad for a place in the Mackenzie region called SkyScape. It's a luxury eco-accomodation nestled within tussocks and hillside of Omahau Hill Station. Once I showed hubby that we could have an opportunity to sleep under the stars within the dark sky reserve, similar to places like Finland and Iceland, we booked our stay.

The day before our anniversary we drove from Dunedin to just outside of Twizel, where SkyScape is based. The three SkyScape units are nestled in the hills on a working farm just before the mountain called The Pyramid. Each of the units are far away from each other, ensuring privacy and peace. After settling in, enjoying the central heating on the cool autumnal day, and cooking a delicious meal, we eagerly awaited nightfall.

We were extra excited because my phone had been pinging me all day about there being a huge aurora. A KP8 aurora was happening, and we hoped and prayed it would last until I could photograph it. As a keen amateur astro-photographer I had brought all my gear, it was a great chance to do some photography. We prepped my camera gear, got out all our winter clothes and hiking boots, and waited... And oh wow, it was just wonderful, the aurora was huge and big and bright. While taking photos hubby and I witnessed arcs, bands, and rays, all visible to the naked eye. 

The aurora was so beautiful and magnificent, it didn't really bother us that it was freezing outside. We stood outside taking photos for a couple of hours, and then once the aurora had begun to disappear, we retreated back to the cozy warmth of our SkyScape unit, and looked up at the milky way through the glass roof above us.

It was very special to be going to bed and sleeping under the stars, I actually found the whole experience very relaxing during the night whenever I woke up. The next morning, our wedding anniversary, the sun peeked out over the horizon, and we were treated to the most amazing sunrise from the comfiness of our warm bed.

The next few days were quiet and restful, since I was recovering from surgery, and then an infection afterward. We relaxed, read books, I did knitting and cross stitch, and we ate lots of good food. Hubby went for walks on the farm tracks, since I wasn't allowed to be doing that much exercise yet, and he also enjoyed SkyScape's outdoor tub as he soaked under the stars. I'd downloaded TV shows and movies on Netflix and Disney+ on my iPad before we left home, since I knew there was no TV available, and we ate popcorn and snuggled up as we watched shows on my small iPad. We also went into town for supplies, and to walk around, and we found the most amazing bookstore in Twizel called The Twizel Bookshop. The bookstore is tiny, but the owner has the most amazing taste in books. I walked away with a pile of books I'd been wanting for ages, but couldn't find them easily in our local bookstores. They had a great selection of science, gardening, fantasy, and science fiction books for both children and adults, and I'll definitely order from them online in the future.

While we were also in town, I found this amazing giftware store, and I just had to come home with a bee themed mug called "Bee Happy". It got added to my huge mug collection that hubby groans about at every time he opens the kitchen cupboard.

On our last night we went into Twizel for dinner, and came across the institution that is Twizel's Chippery. We waited for our order in the car since it was already getting cool, and drove to a scenic spot to eat dinner while the sun was going down behind the mountains. We headed back to SkyScape very soon after that, a frost was due, and we wanted to return while it was light enough to easily drive the long farm track to the unit.

The next day, we left SkyScape and Twizel, happy and relaxed, and we headed north for the next part of our adventure, visiting Aoraki, and then onto Lake Tekapo. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about our adventure, if you ever get the opportunity to go to somewhere like SkyScape, I thoroughly recommend it. Our hosts were friendly and knowledgeable, and their units are wonderful to stay in. The units were designed to keep warm in winter, and cool in summer, and are solar powered. Water is supplied by a local spring. I really enjoyed their continental breakfasts while we stayed there.

Have a wonderful day


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

First Frost of 2023

Hello friends,

It feels like I've been waiting for our first frost forever. After our long, hot summer, a brief cool snap at the beginning of March signaled the beginning of autumn for us. By that time our Japanese maple tree had already begun changing colour to a brilliant vermilion red, and began losing its leaves.

Our dahlias started to look very straggly, and looked even worse after being neglected while I recovered from surgery. I've been waiting impatiently for a frost to take them out, so that I could cut back all the growth in preparation for winter, and make the gardens a little tidier. But up until now even though we had some mornings that hovered around 2˚C, no frost had appeared.

After checking my garden diaries for the first frost date over the last five years, it looked like our first frost wouldn't be likely until early to mid-May.

2019 - 6th April

2020 - 17th May

2021 - 6th May

2022 - 27th May

April passed by, and then the beginning of May. Every morning I looked out our bedroom window, hoping for frosty roofs, and sparkly grass out on our street. But up until now I've been out of luck.

It was chilly this morning, but when I checked our weather station's live data we were sitting at 1.7˚C, so I thought we were out of luck. Hubby went out for his daily run, and when he came back he reported seeing frosty patches on the grass around the neighbourhood. So I checked our weather station graphs, and we did have a frost overnight. The temperature outside went below 0˚C at around 5 am, and dropped to a low of -0.8˚C for over an hour. The wind got up at 6.30 am, and the frost was over.

A quick inspection outside, and I found patches of frost in the vege garden and grass.

After waiting impatiently all day for frost damage to appear on all my dahlias, I was disappointed, my dahlia foliage are all still green and healthy. It looks like I'll have to wait longer for another frost to take them out.

I'm a patient person, but I'm also a perfectionist, and the sight of my dahlias looking so scruffy in my garden is beginning to get on my nerves...

Have a wonderful day


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

This Year's Pumpkin Harvest

Hello friends,

Every year I make an effort to grow as many pumpkins as I can—not only for ourselves, but also for family and friends too. We're typically not big pumpkin eaters, well except for pumpkin soup. We make it up in bulk when all the ingredients for the recipe have been harvested, and include our own homegrown potatoes, onions, and garlic. Once made, we freeze our pumpkin soup away in meal-sized portions, and eat it all through autumn and winter for lunches since hubby and I both work from home.

Back in September 2022, I decided to sow baby bear and also grey crown varieties of pumpkin seeds for the upcoming growing season. The first sowing didn't germinate thanks to some dodgy seed raising mix, so I had to resow the pumpkin seeds in early October. This time all the seedlings germinated and grew up into healthy plants. In Labour weekend in October they were planted into one of our large garden beds along with corn and wheat.

This past growing season had the hottest and driest weather for us in Dunedin in many years. The pumpkin plants grew very quickly, and before Christmas had even come, the plants had already started producing fruit.

The summer months of January and February were hot and dry, and it wasn't long before the pumpkins began changing colour. I was watering the plants as often I could, but by this time our neighbourhood was under strict water restrictions.

In early March the pumpkin plants started dying back, and finally we had some decent rain again. It was now time for the pumpkin harvest. It was our biggest pumpkin harvest ever. Our 6 grey crown pumpkins weighed a combined total of 18 kg, and our 11 Baby Bear pumpkins came in at a combined total of 7 kg.

After setting aside pumpkins for our own use, and also for family and friends, we had 6 pumpkins left over. Luckily our neighbourhood has a very active fruit and vege produce swap group. I posted my pumpkins up on their Facebook page, and within minutes all my spare pumpkins were taken by people wanting to swap produce.

I was very soon inundated with lots of wonderful fruit we don't grow in our own fruit and vegetable garden, and in return I made new friends who left quite happily with a pumpkin or two.

One of our big gray pumpkins got given to an online friend in return for a box of quinces, and you can find the story in one of my previous blog posts, here.

I hope to share with you soon, my other adventures in processing and eating my autumnal fruit bounty.

Have a wonderful day


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

When Life Doesn't Go to Plan, and Catching Up With Life Again

Hello friends,

It's now deep autumn, and I last blogged in early April. Our Japanese maple tree is almost devoid of red leaves now.

I had hoped not to miss any blogging, but things got complicated in early April after I had sinus surgery in the middle of March. I had organized a bunch of blog posts to tide me over until I felt well enough to blog again, but I grossly underestimated how much time I would need.

I got a sinus infection after surgery, and after two rounds of antibiotics, I was feeling even more unwell than when I first got the surgery. The sinus infection gave me massive nosebleeds which required two trips in an ambulance to the ED. The first time, they sent me home, the Wednesday before Easter, and the second time the day after, they admitted me into hospital over Easter weekend. I was given IV antibiotics and fluids, and was on observation while they waited for culture lab tests to come through, and because it was Easter weekend, it took a while for them to come back. On Easter Sunday, the tests arrived and the infection I had been fighting for three weeks was resistant to the antibiotics I was taking. After starting new antibiotics, and being given time for them to start working, I was finally sent home.

I'm recovering slowly. The infection is gone thanks to the antibiotics, and I'm finally weaned off one of the medications given to me in hospital which has made me very tired over the last four weeks. While I was recovering from hospital, hubby and I traveled to the Mackenzie Country to have a break, and to also celebrate a big wedding anniversary, but that is a whole other story I wish to share with you.

I'm slowly catching back up with life. The garden is a complete mess, everywhere you look are weeds and plants needing attention. I'm working on getting things back under control, but it'll happen slowly over the coming month as I have the energy to do so. I'm also very behind with work at my small little online shop Hearth and Oak. But I did get heaps of crafting done while I was recuperating, I'll also share those too over the coming weeks.

I've also been working on a couple of exciting projects I hope to share with you soon, the first one being that this blog will hopefully very soon be getting it's own home, hubby depending (he's my IT specialist). The domain has been bought, and the website has designed by me. Very soon, I will transfer all my blog posts from this year to the website, and begin blogging in my very own space.

The coming week is busy with catching up on work, getting my new blog working, and finally getting my Covid 19 booster. I had the bivalent booster booked after my sinus surgery, but I had to cancel the appointment twice while I had the sinus infection. I'm finally looking forward to being more protected from Covid 19, after waiting 15 months since my last booster.

But in the mean time, things are looking interesting mid-week, with a cold southerly storm coming through, I know it's too early in the year to get snow, but I'm always hopeful...

Have a wonderful day


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

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