25 February 2011

pickin blueberries

We went blueberry picking last Sunday and I've had these photos ready and waiting to blog.

Then the quake hit Christchurch on Tuesday afternoon at 12.51pm.

Initially I was just glued onto my tv, twitter and facebook for news of the quake all day that day.  Then for the next couple of days I thought about writing this blog but could not.  I wasn't sure that blogging about the awesome day we had picking blueberries was the right thing to do whilst horrific events were unfolding in Christchurch.  Cities everywhere in the world have been hit by earthquakes and other natural disasters one time or the other, and reading about them in the media makes you feel so very sorry for the people effected.  But when it happens in your own country, it kinda hits you in the guts.  Its now Friday and day 4 since the quake.  The stage where its more 'recovery' than rescue.  It sucks, sucks, sucks (to say the least).

Just about everyone I know has done something for the relief effort.  And since no one I personally know is trained in search and rescue or volunteers with the civil defence, we do whatever else we can - donate money, food, water, blankets, clothes, etc.  'S' has donated some money through his work place and I'll be baking this weekend for The Great Sunday Bake Off.

Today I feel that I can blog about picking blueberries.  Not because things are going better down in Christchurch, or that I'm no longer glued to social media portals for news, or that I'm over the quake.  But just that mentally, I now am able to blog about it.  If you're a fellow Kiwi who has been reading my blogs (whether you're in NZ or living elsewhere now), I hope that this blog brings a small smile to your face, even if its for a few seconds.

A Blueberry Day

We were initially making our way to the Akatarawa Valley (about 30mins outside of Wellington) to find a fishing spot along the Akatarawa River.  'S' was keen to do a spot of fly fishing - apparently its perfect time for it as the cicadas are out in their hundreds and thousands.  I'm told that trouts eat cicadas.  So anyway, on our way to the fishing spot, we stumbled across The Blueberry Farm and Bakehouse, a 26 acre certified organic blueberry farm.  Yours truly got very excited and we just had to stop and check it out.  And we're so glad we did!  Check the photos out...

The blueberry farm was situated off the main road down the long-ish path.  As we drove down the path, there were these wooden round signs nailed up on fences all along the path.  I didn't count how many there were but there may have been at least 10.  Each sign was an idea on what you could do with blueberries.  Great way as well to know that as you're travelling along this long and windy path, you were in the right place and heading in the the right way.  Genius!

The path led to a visitors carpark, a picnic area and also a small cafe.  We were given a couple of pails by David, one of the owners of the farm and off we went to gather our blueberries.

This truck was park up along the way to the blueberries. It did look like it was being used and not just for 'decoration'.  But I was intrigued by the sign on the door which said - Milroys Poultry Farm, Paeroa.  I googled this when I got home and found out that there used to be a Milroys Poultry Farm in that region which was owned by a John Alexander Milroy.  My google search gave up Mr Milroy's obituary (d Sept 1987).  So perhaps since the poultry farm did not exist anymore, the truck was sold as part of an estate sale.


And look at what awaited us...

There were rows and rows of blueberry bushes.  We found some 'hidden' bushes - basically some of the bushes were so overgrown that they grew into each other, blocking the path.  We realised that most people were just walking up and down clear pathways.  We decided to push our way through a couple of the overgrown bushes and were rewarded with bunches and clusters of fruit that were hidden from view!  We "fought hard" against some random blackberry plants that I swear were there to guard these particular patch of blueberries...and we have the scars (long ugly scratches!!) on our arms and legs to proof it. ;-))

Look! Reward for our hard work under the blazing sun...

Even David the farm owner, commented on how plump and dark coloured the berries were.  We did notice other people with pails of reddish-purple fruit that weren't really quite ripe for picking and would have been tart to the taste.  That's what you got if you stayed on the easy clear paths!

If you look carefully at the pail on the right, you'll see some blackberries.  I chucked in some blackberries for good measure (I love them).  Take that blackberries.  That'll teach you for being 'guardberries' and scratching me!!

Hi ho, hi ho, a berry-picking we go...

On the way back from the blackberries, we stopped by the farm's watering hole.  Yep.  This farm has got it all.  The river runs along one side of their blueberry farm.  It was lovely.  And packed with families.  So we decided not to hang around.  I only took a photo of the watering hole sign but not any of the watering hole itself.  Wished I did though.

This is further up the watering hole. This part of the river runs right along the path that took us to the blueberries.

When we got back to the cafe, we decided cool down at the picnic area with some ice cream.  Check this out - vanilla ice cream smothered with homemade (by David's wife) blueberry sauce.

And more smothering of oozy blueberry goodness.

And if that wasn't enough, David walks out with a complimentary plate of chocolate fudge cake covered with blueberry sauce for us!  Oh MY.

We were obviously NOT going to be able to eat our meagre packed lunch of ham sandwhiches, carrot sticks and cheese.

We also had a nice chat with David and about his blueberry.  Check out their website to find out more.

Before we left, I had to take a photo of the resident chook.  Very healthy looking chook she was as well.  I suppose you would be too if your feed was supplemented daily by blueberries fed to you by visitors!

Since berry picking season will now run through till June, we are definitely going to be back.  We have family visiting us in April.  Me thinks that The Blueberry Farm and Bakehouse is going into their itinerary.



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