In a wonderful women’s rugby final, the Pirates faced off against Varsity. Previously in the season, the Pirates had lost to Varsity with a score of Pirates: 7 to Varsity: 31. We had also beaten Varsity in a very close game of Pirates: 31 to Varsity: 29. What would the final bring?
A dry, sandy field in St. Clair and a very strong wind changed the Pirates strategy on game day. We had planned to run a kicking game, which Varsity wouldn’t expect from us. Unfortunately, whenever the ball got kicked, the wind gusts would push it unexpectedly! We had the wind with us for the first half, which helped, although a few random gusts did send the ball backwards a few times.
Varsity played a strong offence, forcing the Pirates to up our defensive game. We certainly did! Although Varsity managed to keep possession of the ball for approximately 70% of the game, Pirates held them in mid-field, allowing us to score most of the time when we got the ball.
This was a game where I really saw all of those little tricks and techniques that we had practised so much come into play. Forwards run the ball up a few times to draw their team to one side, then shoot it out to the backs where there is now a gap in their defence. Get the ball to the far edge and just keep knocking it up with two pods of 3 ladies running pistons. So great to see!
After 80 minutes of well-played rugby where both teams kept fighting right to the very end, Pirates won 37-10! There was much celebrating for the night and for the entire week. I am so proud of everyone that I’ve played with, all of the support that they gave me as a new player, and all of the encouragement after I got injured.
Ah….chocolate. Nothing is better than chocolate! Especially when you learn how to have chocolate for dinner, which is what this mole recipe includes!
Andrew and I had the opportunity this year to attend the Cadbury Cooking Class as a part of the Cadbury Festival. What a great night! Two local chefs, four gluten free recipes, and chocolate in all of it. Chocolate is the language of love, you know…*wink wink*
Of course, it’s one thing to watch the professionals…it’s quite another to replicate their recipes in your own kitchen. The recipes were actually surprisingly simple and manageable. Without further ado….vegetarian mole (pronounced Mole-ay)
Spicy Vegetarian Mole with Crisp Winter Salsa
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, grated
1 large beetroot, peeled and grated
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 /2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
chili powder to taste (optional)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 large bunch of rhubarb stalks, stewed
1 tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 tin black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tin lentils, rinsed and drained
salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar to season as required
1/4 large kohirabi, peeled and julienned
1/2 of a fennel bulb, cored and julienned
1 handful of picked watercress
Juice of half a lemon
flaky sea salt
Heat the oil in a deep skillet or pot. Sauté the onion for a couple of minutes until translucent
Add the cocoa, cinnamon and paprika, along with the chili poser if using and sauté until fragrant
Add the tomatoes, rhubarb, beans, and lentils. Bring to a simmer, stirring continuously as this will stick if left alone.
Add the beetroot and carrots, stirring to integrate
Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1-8+ hours. Check seasoning as beans and tomatoes can take a bit to enliven.
Adjust with salt, sugar, and apple cider vinegar
To make salsa:
Combine the vegetables in a non-reactive bowl and toss with lemon juice and salt to taste
How to serve it:
Serve the mole over corn or nacho chips, in a tortilla or taco, or over baked potatoes with some cheese curds and sour cream.
Given that a majority of this recipe uses in-season vegetables and tinned food, this could be a perfect camping recipe! Simmer for as long or as short as you want. If you happen to have a large cast-iron pot that you can leave over the campfire (don’t leave your campfire unattended!), you can toss all the ingredients in and just let it do its thing.
This recipe also lends itself well to a slow-cooker on those busy days. It is also easy to double or triple this recipe and freeze the leftovers for another day as it freezes quite well!
If you do want, you can also add some cheap cuts of beef or chicken…it simmers for long enough that you will end up with a very tender meat by the end of it!
Andrew and I both turned 30 over the last year. For our birthday’s, Andrew’s wonderful sisters got us tickets to see the local provincial team, the Highlanders, take on the British and Irish Lions in their 2017 tour.
Yes, Andrew and I have become quite passionate about rugby. I’ve always quite enjoyed football (aka american/Canadian football, aka gridiron), and Andrew has always enjoyed hockey. The hockey isn’t quite as relevant, although he was largely just missing playing a sport. Rugby though…it’s like football if they didn’t stop the play every time someone touched the ball and fell down.
Andrew and I had fairly good tickets for the game. Right at the try line (aka the goal line for those who don’t know rugby), close to the front.
We were both quite glad that it is a covered stadium. The game was only a week from the winter solstice and, while the weather had been fairly nice for the weeks leading up to the game, that day dawned cold and wet. In an uncovered stadium it is likely that the game would have been cancelled with how wet and muddy all the fields were.
Andrew and I dressed quite warmly thanks to jackets that we brought from Canada. I was asked more than once where I’d gotten my jacket actually! We also brought a light blanket to keep our legs warm. While it is easy to stay warm while walking and moving, it’s quite different sitting on cold seats for 90 minutes!
What a game it was too! I honestly wasn’t expecting much. The British and Irish Lions are the national team and are going to be taking on the All Blacks later in the tour. Considering that the Highlanders are a level lower and are sitting at the bottom of their league, I was expecting to see some good, but not exceptional rugby.
The Highlanders certainly played well! The game was tied at half time (10 all), with the Lions pulling ahead in the second half. A few fans actually started leaving when the Lions managed to pull ahead to 22-10 within the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Highlanders fought back though, scoring their final try with minutes left on the clock, and then defending well to finish with a final score of 22-23 for the Highlanders.
So, as I’ve mentioned…Andrew and I joined the Pirates Club Rugby this year. It’s been a bit of a crazy hectic season with both of us new to the sport, but we are loving it.
Pirates Prem 2’s
So, like all sports, there are different levels. For men, there’s the normal community touch, recreational leagues that you find everywhere, but there are also the official club leagues.
Andrew is playing on the premier 2 rugby team. This team feeds into the premier team, which feeds into the provincial teams (such as the Highlanders). There’s some quite competitive guys there!
A lot of them are surprised that Andrew is completely new to the sport since, like hockey in Canada, most of them have been playing rugby since they were 3-5 years old.
Andrew is doing really well and is usually playing most games (there are enough guys that they tend to put the newer players on for substitutions so that they can watch and learn more). He generally plays as a #14 winger. This means he is the back row defence; if he gets the ball he is supposed to take it and run as fast as he can up the sideline. It’s also his job to catch any of the opposing team’s offensive players if they manage to get a breakaway.
Unfortunately the men’s rugby team is struggling a little bit this year and has lost every game so far. They are getting closer though!
Also know as Pirates Women. Wahine is Women in Maori. I’m learning!
My rugby team has done amazingly well this year. Although we officially lack a coach, I have learnt a great deal from the senior members of the team. While it is difficult for them, wanting to train with the team, but being forced to coach as well, I have been quite grateful!
One of our ladies has just gotten called up to the national rugby team (the Black Ferns), which says a lot for the quality of women’s rugby in Dunedin. Go Angie!!
The position that I play is #1, or the loose-head prop. It is my job to take a short pass and do my best to gain a couple of meters by charging straight into and through the opposing team. During a line-out, I’m in the front lifting our jumper, then driving forwards once we have the ball. During a scrum I am in the front row, binding onto the opposing team and trying to gain control of the scrum.
One of the best parts of being a forward in rugby on a cold or rainy day is the scrum…cuddle party!
Thus far, we have only lost one game, although we did draw with North Otago the second time we played them.
We have two more rugby games before the semi-finals and are hopeful that we can bring home the banner this year!
Of course, you can’t play a full contact sport like rugby without a couple of injuries. Luckily, having a free and dedicated physio and clinic is part of being in the club!! Andrew’s injuries have luckily been quite minor, limited to a grade 1 hamstring pull and a few bruises and scrapes.
I, unfortunately, haven’t been quite so lucky. With only 3 minutes left in our game against Varsity I took a bad tackle from one of their props and felt my knee snap to the side, out of joint, and then back in. I then decided that it would be a very good idea to just lay on the field for awhile.
I was apparently quite concerned about where my mouthguard had gone since I lost it in the tackle (I got hit HARD). I mainly remember a lot of ouchie.
I am exceptionally grateful to my amazing team, from the opposing team’s physio who checked me out at the field (our physio was playing), to the manager who helped me off the field, to my awesome team-mates who took me to the sports clinic, took me to get crutches and dinner, and helped take care of me until Andrew could get off work. I couldn’t have done it without them!
As for rehab…it’s going…slowly…
It’s only been 4 weeks (I keep reminding myself). I have/had a grade 2 MCL sprain (the ligament on the inside of the knee) and possible/probable damage to the meniscus (which is the cartilage in the knee joint). The sprain is healing quite nicely, but I haven’t yet managed to regain mobility in the knee. It will bend from 0-90 degrees and simply refuses to bend further. I shouldn’t be able to put full weight on it, but I can. I can also manage all of the physio exercises without any difficulty…apart from my knee not bending. So it is probably off to the MRI to figure out exactly what is going on and why it won’t bend.
Easter in New Zealand tends to be a much quieter, less commercial affair than it is in North America. That being said, Andrew and I had intentions of still having our normal traditions and Easter. Life, it seems, did not cooperate this week.
We ended up both scheduled to work for most of the weekend, making Friday our only day to celebrate and enjoy the Easter festivities. Andrew and I also set up our own Easter egg hunt in the house, with everything kept well out of reach of the cats!
Our landlord’s daughter invited us to their section to join them and their family in their festivities; we were quite looking forward to the lunch.
Unfortunately, near the top of the hill on the way to their place smoke started to issue from the engine and our van stalled. We sat in the middle of the highway with our hazard lights on in the rain (a tropical cyclone had hit Thursday) until a nice group of ladies stopped to help us push the van up a hill to a nearby pullout. Very grateful for their help!
Our landlords son-in-law came to get us once we managed to find cell phone reception and we arrived as everyone was finishing lunch. We dried off and came up with a plan.
Our landlords took us back to our van, refilled the radiator, and we tried to start the van. No luck, unfortunately. We called the AA (New Zealand equivalent of the Alberta Motor Association, or AMA) and they decided to send a service vehicle out. They also asked us to wait where we had reception in case the driver got lost, which meant 45 minutes standing in the rain and wind.
Once he arrived, he looked at the van, tried to start it, and ordered us a tow truck…which meant another hour of standing in the rain. The tow truck arrived, loaded our van, and offered to drop it off at the mechanic.
We got home very cold and wet, built a fire, had a hot shower, and spent the rest of the night before bedtime trying to figure out how much we could afford to spend to fix the van. In an attempt to salvage the day, we also finished the day with s’mores in the fireplace 🙂
The mechanic was closed until Tuesday, which for us meant riding our bikes in the remains of the tropical cyclone. Lots of rain, wind gusts, and some surface flooding. It also meant spending each day at work in cold, wet shoes. Not a fun way to spend Easter!
Andrew fortunately had Monday off so was able to cook us our own Easter dinner . He also had a nice cozy warm fire ready when I got home. My pants were wet enough that they started steaming as soon as they were hung by the fire! We had roast chicken and pumpkin with mashed potatoes and wine. I also made hot cross bun cheesecake for dessert, which was delicious.
There were certainly bright moments to the weekend, but most of it was quite stressful and miserable. We were quite glad for the assistance and support that we got over the weekend and are hoping that next Easter is nowhere near as stressful!
Rugby is huge in New Zealand. It isn’t uncommon to see kids playing rugby in fields at a very young age and people tossing a rugby ball around on the beach. It is actually more common than basically any other sport, with the possible exception of cricket and skiing.
Kiwi’s are also quite fanatical and proud of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby team. It probably helps that the All Blacks stand largely undefeated, with Australia and South Africa being their largest opponents.
We’ve been learning the sport slowly, and discovering the differences between league, union, super, 7’s, 10’s, and all the other numerous variations. It is quite a lot of fun though! I have always enjoyed watching the CFL and rugby is basically like football without breaks every time the players get tackled.
For Christmas, Andrew and I got tickets to see the British and Irish Lions vs. the local Dunedin team of the Highlanders in June. We tried to get tickets to the All Blacks, but they are popular enough that ticket sales are generally by ballot/lottery to be able to purchase them. The last time the Lions faced off against the All Blacks was back in 2005 and it was quite the game!
Andrew and I had the opportunity to see a Rugby league game when the Warriors came to town. Usually league games don’t come to as small of a town as Dunedin, but we got lucky since the Adele concerts forced a change of venue.
Andrew’s boss’s boss had corporate tickets in one of the boxes and invited both of us to join him. He had initially invited only Andrew and Andrew’s boss but one of his coworkers passed up the opportunity so I got invited as well.
It was so much fun! We had watched rugby on TV in the Octagon, but this was our first live game. It surprised me that there was no commentary in the game, which made it a little bit more difficult to figure out what was going on.
Thankfully I don’t mind playing the part of the ignorant girl, so I kept asking the guys questions on the game. Towards the end of the game I was starting to understand the rules.
It also looked like a fair bit of fun. Andrew and I have both been missing playing sports. He had been looking into hockey, but it doesn’t make sense to\buy all new gear or ship gear here until we know whether we can stay. So…we decided to join a rugby club in the area. We are both Pirates now!
Our first practice went well and we have been invited back to play. I’m on the women’s team and Andrew is on the seniors team (basically the non-premiere less competitive league). I have realized that I have lost a lot of endurance since being a part of the awesome Flux gym in Regina.
Ah…free. Those words are some of the best words when you are looking for somewhere to camp. New Zealand has an amazing tradition of freedom camping, allowing people to find a beautiful location and stay the night.
In recent years it has become slightly more regulated since, with a rise in popularity, issues were starting to arise in popular locations due to the number of campers and potential cleanliness.
Rules for Freedom Camping
Campers and Caravans must be certified as self-contained or park in areas designated as free for non-self contained units (defying this will result in a $200 fine!)
Campers must park in designated self-contained areas. If in doubt, as locals or check with the regional council.
Most locations limit stays to 2-3 nights in a 30 day period.
Pack in, pack out! Please don’t leave a mess as this will limit the possibility of freedom camping in the future.
Camping in Warrington
Warrington, NZ, is a small community located about 30 minutes north of Dunedin. Perfect for a weekend escape, there is a nice surf beach and day-use facilities, as well as a large field, dump station, drinking water, and outhouses available for both self contained and non-self contained campers.
You can rock up on your bike, pitch your tent, and have a free night! Or in your campervan or caravan as well. All are welcome at the domain.
It was a lot nicer than Andrew and I expected. We had visited Ocean Grove, the other free camp near Dunedin, since it seemed to be closer to town.
The camping area can get crowded, so it is best to arrive early. In summer (December-February) you would probably need to arrive before 2pm to get a decent spot, whereas in the off seasons there are still spots available around 5pm. Andrew and I noticed that cars coming in after 7pm had a slightly more difficult time finding space to park, but there were still a few spaces left when we went to bed. Parking is open, first-come, first-serve, but try to make sure you leave some space between your unit and the ones next to you.
The beach itself is fantastic. The ocean is starting to get a bit chilly for surfing without full wetsuits (around 10C in March), but on a good day Warrington is a pretty good surf beach. It is also great for shell collecting and relaxing in the sun with bright blue water, local birdlife, and soft white sand.
Nearby there is also a small inlet that opens up onto a broad bay that is teeming with native birdlife. During breeding season (January-ish) it is also relatively common to see seals and sea lions on the beach. Keep pets on leash and away from wildlife at all times.
We did take our kittens down to the ocean. They were fine in the tall grass leading up to the ocean but were quite uncertain about the big open space that the beach presented. We eventually coaxed them out and Tauriel promptly decided that the ocean waves required attacking. We dried our kitty back at the campsite, saved a lab from Eowyn (who thinks she can take on dogs, apparently), and made our dinner.
Andrew and I then settled down to an evening of board games and chatting with the other campers in the domain.
Camping in Warrington turned out to be a much better experience than we expected and one that we are certainly planning to repeat on nice weekends! I wish we had discovered it before summer was nearly over!
One of the advantages of living in one of the four largest cities in New Zealand is that Dunedin is just large enough to still attract the major events that visit the larger cities like Christchurch and Auckland, while still being small enough to have that small town feel.
This past week, Dunedin played host to the ‘Night Noodle Market’, which hosted both performances and foods with an Asian influence. According to their advertising, it would allow locals to experience the “sights, sounds, and tastes of an authentic Asian street market”.
Authentic? Not so much…far too orderly with neat little queues marked out in the grassy fields of the Kensington Oval. Far too neat and orderly if anyone’s been to any actual Asian markets, but still, the food was quite tasty.
Andrew and I arrived just at the dinner rush, which wasn’t the best timing on our parts. We were hungry and most of the lines were ridiculously long (think around 20-30 minutes in line).
The portion sizes were also quite small given the prices. The only thing we were tempted by that we didn’t go for was the pineapple smoothies; they wanted $12 just for a small smoothie in a pineapple!
That being said, the food was still absolutely fantastic. Andrew and I shared our dishes and got to sample four different dishes while we were there. It did mean standing in line for each dish, but once we had our first one and weren’t so hungry anymore, it was a lot more enjoyable.
The atmosphere was nice and the people were quite friendly. Each of the stalls was quite efficient in their food delivery as well, getting through the long lines quickly.
The skewers were definitely the most popular stall in the place, and I can see why! They were absolutely delicious. It was $12 for 2 sticks and some people were walking around with entire bouquets of the things. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people spent upwards of $100-$200 on dinner, although Andrew and I kept our evening reasonable.
There was also some fire dancing performances, which were fun to watch. The fair could have really benefited from a small craft market as well, in my opinion.
Overall, Andrew and I really enjoyed our evening and the opportunity it gave us to sample food from a bunch of the different local restaurants.
Chocolate!! Every woman’s (and men’s) best friend. One of the best parts of living in Dunedin is sharing a city with the Cadbury chocolate factory, which means every city sponsored event has chocolate!
Of course, what would the city of chocolate be without a full on chocolate festival? From opening ceremonies and the chocolate games, to cooking demonstrations, to a scavenger hunt, and the epic annual Jaffa race.
There were a number of activities that Andrew and I didn’t have a chance to take part in during the last festival, so hopefully we can hit up some different events in the following year. What we did get a chance to participate in was excellently executed.
We started with the opening ceremonies, which included a variety of sports and games. It was aimed mostly at families and children, but they had no problems with a couple of big kids taking part as well. There were small chocolate rewards for successful completion of each skill and then a chocolate medal and chocolate bar for completion of a majority of the activities prior to the fireworks. Overall a very fun evening!
We then took part in a chocolate scavenger hunt which sent us all over the downtown core of Dunedin trying to find answers to all the different clues. Things like “When was the Settler’s Museum opened” and such. Upon completion of the scavenger hunt we were rewarded with another bar of chocolate as well as entered into a draw to win a $300 chocolate basket. Lots of chocolate this week!
We also went to a cooking class and watched the demonstrations of how to make two absolutely delicious desserts. The classes were exceptionally entertaining and informative, although I haven’t had the equipment (i.e. a mixer) to actually attempt the recipes. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want the recipes!
The final part of the Cadbury Festival was the Jaffa race. A Jaffa is a ball of chocolate coated in an orange flavoured hard candy coating. usually they are fairly small, but the ones for the Jaffa race were larger.
The Jaffa race also takes place at Baldwin Street, marketed as the steepest residential street in the world. Oh, and did I mention that they release around 25,000 of these balls at a time?
It is done for charity, with each ball bearing a number that matches a raffle ticket. It was quite fun to watch! It was also like a giant street party with a DJ, dancers, and the race itself.
I’m excited to see what this year’s festival will hold!