Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A busy weekend

We haven’t been out for a bike ride this week, we’ve been too busy with other things. Apart from going to Scottish Country Dancing on Sunday afternoon (last week) and on three evenings during the week, this last weekend was also very busy.

On Friday night we attended a “Wellington on a Plate” event, at the Boomrock Lodge. This is a convention and wedding venue, right at the end of the Ohariu Valley Road, and up the hill for several kilometres to the edge of the world, it seems.

As part of the event, participants were picked up from the city – or in our case, from Johnsonville – and taken in two full-size buses to the Boomrock Lodge. On the way through the Ohariu Valley, we could see, though dusk was setting in, that this would be quite a nice place to bike. We must investigate that some time soon. It is practically on our back doorstep, but we haven’t been there for a long while.

We were treated to a beautiful sunset as we were being driven up to the lodge, but unfortunately by the time we got there it was nearly dark.

The idea for this event was that it would simulate an après-ski ambiance, and participants were encouraged to don their best “après-ski” outfits. It was a very cold evening, with a bitter southerly, and when we emerged from the bus, it seemed to be snowing! But no, it wasn’t actually snow, just a machine on the roof blowing very fine clusters of bubbles which looked quite realistically like big snow flakes. It all added to the illusion.

“Snow” on the ground at the Boomrock Lodge entrance (photo by John)

There was a roaring open fire in the dining room, and we were immediately offered glasses of bubbly as we entered. Then everyone trooped out onto the lawn in front of the Lodge, to catch the last of the fabulous view before dark. Beyond the lawn, the hill dropped away sharply and the stunning view over Cook Strait stretched from the South Island to Mana Island.

John and I warm our hands on cups of Glühwein in front of the Lodge.
The South Island is in the background

It was jolly cold out there, so we went back inside and found our table. A group of people in natty ski jumpers was hovering in front of the open fire.

The warm pre-dinner atmosphere (photo by John)

The table settings were beautifully done (photo taken from the Boomrock Facebook page)

The dinner was excellent. It started with an entrée of French bread slices with melting Camembert and fig chutney. When the young man in a David Bain ski jersey came to clear the empty plates away, I said to him that the fig chutney was delicious. “Would you like some to take home?”, he asked. Yes, of course I would. And within seconds a waitress came over and gave me a beautiful little jar of it. Then, to my surprise, the young man came back with another jar! How wonderful – that meant that my sister, who was there too, was able to take a jar home as well!

A jar of Boomrock Fig Chutney

The main course was Thar mountain goat with a braised leek concoction and potato Mornay (I think). I hadn’t been too sure about the mountain goat (as I hate the taste of goat’s milk or cheese), but it was actually delicious – rather like venison, in fact. The meal finished with apple strudel and ice-cream, and finally hot chocolate with marshmallows. Yum!

The Thar mountain goat steak was delicious (photo by John)

At about 9 pm, we were advised that the buses were ready to take us back into town. It was a good thing that guests didn’t have to drive back, along that very winding, steep gravel road in the pitch dark, as many people had imbibed a fair bit of alcohol. It had been a fun evening, and excellent meal.

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On Saturday night, John and I went to our (Johnsonville) Scottish Country Dance Club’s Annual Dance, where we had a wonderful time. It was very well attended, with over 70 people there. I think I rather overdid the dancing – I danced every one of the 20 dances, with the result that I was feeling somewhat sore the next day – pretty much "crippled", actually! But I do love the dancing, despite the pain afterwards.

The band, and the Johnsonville Club teacher, Rod Downey (photo by John)

The dance was very well attended (photo by Pat Reesby)

Great to see all the men in kilts! (photo by Loralee Hyde)

Supper waiting to be served. Every Johnsonville member brought two plates each!
 (photo by John)

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On Sunday night, we attended a performance of “Der Rosenkavalier”, an opera by Richard Strauss. It was performed by the Days Bay Opera which usually perform small opera events in a garden in summer. This time, the opera was performed in the newly built hall at Wellesley College in Days Bay. Before the performance, it was possible to enjoy a special dinner at the Days Bay Pavillion – supposedly an Austrian-style opera supper.

One of the choices for the main course was Bratwurst (Austrian sausage) in a crisp breadroll with sauerkraut and mustard, and a side salad. All four of us (we were with my sister and her husband) chose that. It was very tasty, but we were a bit mystified by the wasabi dressing on the side salad – that did not seem very Austrian! The dessert of Sachertorte however was suitably Austrian, and very yummy.

There is a path that leads directly from the Pavillion into the grounds of Wellesley College. It is a very attractive old (I think) building, and the new hall next to it seems to blend into it very nicely, with a large bay window at the front.

Wellesley College façade (photo by John)

The large bay window of the new hall (photo by John)

The hall was set up with seating on three sides, the orchestra in the bay window, and the “stage” in the middle. The only “setting” was a painting of the period (mid-18th century) projected onto a large screen overhead.

I am afraid that the opera was a bit of a disappointment. I suppose my musical tastes are not very sophisticated and Richard Strauss’ music is not terribly easy on the ear – at least not to me. Composed in 1910, it is not in the late 18th century classical music mould. And though it was all sung in English, we could not actually hear the words, so much of the time we were in the dark as to what was being said (sung). The acting was a bit dreary too - there wasn't a lot happening, especially in the first act. During the intermission we debated whether we should cut our losses and sneak out, or hang in there and hope it would improve. We stayed, and fortunately the pace picked up a bit during the second and third act. The singing was very good, but I think I shall think twice before attending a Strauss opera again.

The cast of “Der Rosenkavalier” take their bows (photo by John)

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