25 February 2010

PYO at the Blueberry farm

This is another one of those welcome phone rings on a sunny weekend and an impromptu invitation to do something interesting. The sun had been hiding most of the time on weekends and so sunny days are bound to get people up and about!

Located only around half an hour away is the Blueberry Farm where you can PYO (pick your own) blueberries. But it's not just fruit picking that you can do here. There's also a gentle river within the compound with crystal clear water where guests can enjoy a dip.

And that is what we did before we went blueberry picking.
After lunch by the river, we proceeded to the farm where the berries await. But first, you need to get your bucket beside the dessert cafe...
... and have a short, leisurely stroll to the farm

And it's berry picking time!

We returned to the dessert cafe and had some sorbet to while away the rest of the afternoon.

We were quite intrigued by this bird which appears quite domesticated!
Thank you, Hope and Erick and kids for inviting us over to this weekend break!
As for our berries, we cooked yummy blueberry muffins and blueberry sauce back home. Visit adobongblog for the recipes!

18 February 2010

Adidas + Star Wars = Limited Edition + I Want!

What an unlikely partnership. A sporting label and a science fantasy franchise. I saw this first at the Adidas Store in Wellington CBD. My Star Wars Radar immediately zoomed in on the AT-AT cardboard figure on the store's display window but I was in the bus enroute to work and that happened for a couple more times before I was able to go to the store front... but only to the store front because I just might... just might be tempted to buy something, and the Force in that store is quite strong.

So I did not actually get to see the entire merchandise and decided to see it through the Adidas website instead.

The site is integrated with Facebook, and it said I needed to connect to Facebook to get the full experience. I'm easy to talk to, and so I did. And then I got transported to a scene from ANH where Princess Leia's home planet was going to be blasted into smithereens, but this time it's Planet Earth. Holey moley, I saw my Facebook photo in one of the Death Star monitors! That was fun.

After this movie clip, the site then goes to the merchandise. I must say, the Adidas interpretation of classic Star Wars elements with the shoes are spot-on. I'm not a fan of the Tie-Fighter shoes though, but the rest is cool.

It's very nice how the white sneakers were inspired by the Storm Troopers, the earthy shoes from Yoda's Dagobah, and loads more. You have to visit the website to see it. Really nice.

I also like the sweaters and shirts a lot! I'm a big fan of the Millenium Falcon and having this on the hoodies and shirts are cool. I wish though that they also have something with Artoo on it.

I wonder if they will go on sale? Most unlikely :-(

09 February 2010

Makara Beach getaway

This is another one of those unplanned expeditions. But it was such a beautiful day that it was inevitable that someone was bound to phone and arrange an impromptu adventure. And what a nice adventure it turned out to be!

Makara Beach is only half an hour away from Johnsonville here in Wellington, New Zealand. From a suburban environment with shops and houses, you suddenly get transported to the scenic countryside halfway through the road trip. The road is rather winding and narrow, making us feel thankful that we were not doing the driving. The scenery is just wonderful; a river snakes its way beside the road, and we saw ducks swimming, sheep with wool as white as snow, and cows in shining black coat lazily grazing about in meadows occasionally divided by low fences and cozy houses in a mountainous backdrop.

We arrived just in time for lunch!
See this narrow channel of water? This is where the river meets the sea.
Chibog time! Very important in Filipino social activities.

Welcome to Makara Beach! When we alighted from the van, the first thing that we noticed was the smell of the seaweeds and the absence of any form of food establishments. Roughing it out is the order of the day. The beach is also dominated by smooth stones rather than sand. It is rather similar in this respect to the Red Rocks area in a previous blog. It is no Boracay, but it has a charm all its own.
This is the Makara Walkway which winds around the slope behind me and up into the mountain. We were not able to make this tramp, but I hope we can go back to follow this trail. I saw the wind turbines beyond, and it will be exciting to see if the track crosses there.
It was a beautiful day with no wind and the water was not too cold.

This beach is definitely alive! Here we are having a look around at the little fishies and crabs and motion-sensitive plants.
Soaking up the afternoon sun...
Remember the channel where the river meets the sea? By low tide, the water has receded enough for us to cross and see this other side of the beach.

On this side, the terrain is more rough and jagged. There were some houses beyond this region but we no longer went there.
We were entranced by the bountiful paua shells scattered about the beach!
We learned a few days later that there was actually a crabbing area a bit further away from where we decided to stop and explore. Now that would be something different to do next time as well!

02 February 2010

Recession + WTR = Broken dreams

Unfortunately, not everything is fun and games here in New Zealand. Like any other place in the world, this country is not recession-proof. My family also got a feel of the recession when we arrived last September of 2008. I was without work for about 4 months and I could not even get a part time job. I was lucky to have been able to land a job in December when a huge majority of businesses close down for the holidays.

Still, overall the Philippines came off the worse as our people flocking to New Zealand with Work to Residence Visas found that they cannot find work and dreadfully realize that their savings and the money they got from selling all their stuff and land back home are dwindling before their very eyes.

My wife got a first-hand experience of recession affecting our fellow Filipinos when she was met by a mother with two kids. She could not find a job and was at a loss what to do anymore and her kids were asking if they have to leave school. Uprooting your family to move to another country is indeed a serious matter, and armed with skills which they believe is in demand they forge courageously, only to find out the demand is not as advertised.

Read about these stories to learn more. This links were shared in a mailing list I am a member of and I feel the need to share these.

Philippines to warn would-be job-seekers

Immigrants face school headache

'Frivolous' migrant visas shatter hopes, dreams

Stats summary for the Work to Residence scheme (2009):

*Top source countries for applications approved:*
Philippines: 281 (74 per cent)
Great Britain: 25 (7 per cent)
India: 22 (6 per cent)
China: 11 (3 per cent)
Malaysia: 11 (3 per cent)

*** Total WTR applicants: 681

*Top source countries of migrants who failed to find skilled employment:*
Philippines: 150 (50 per cent)
Singapore: 43 (14 per cent)
Malaysia: 22 (7 per cent)
India: 21 (7 per cent)
Great Britain: 15 (5 per cent)

The statistics says it all.
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