Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Beaver Gang

Some of you may have scratched your heads hard after reading how Gwyn was playing "beaver" by the fire. There are beavers involved but no, no roasting involved.

Meet the beavers we are talking about. It's a German card game called Biberbande, which translates to Beaver Gang.

Beaver time!

It all started one fine evening. I was chilling on the sofa, in front of the fire place when two German friends, Christina and Stephanie brought out their beaver cards and asked if I wanted to play. 

"Sure, why not?" I reckoned. 

Shortly after, Gwyn walks by and joins in. Niklas, also from Germany though never knew of the game, joins in as well, followed by Nicola. 

That was the fateful moment where a fellowship was formed. The next few nights will be beaver nights. Every night, we will gather around the table near the fire to play "beaver". Quoting Christina, we've all got the beaver fever.

Biberbande is a game of memory and strategy. You start the game with four cards and are allowed to view only two. The objective of the game is to score the lowest points. Zeros are good, nines are bad. There are special picture cards to aid you during the game. Magnifying glasses mean that you can view one of your hidden cards. Draw 2s mean that you are allowed to draw two more cards from the deck at your turn. The exchange cards mean that you can swap one of your cards with another player. That is when it can get messy, especially when everyone seems interested in swapping for your cards!

With everyone vying to become the beaver king or queen, the games are normally not short of fun and laughter. I recall the groans and grunts when a zero is thrown out or when someone swaps for another person's card yet only to throw it away and discover that it was a good card. With such great company, we all had a wonderful time.  

The Beaver Gang

Looking back, it is heartwarming how friendships can be formed over a game of cards. Half the beaver gang left a couple of weeks ago to continue their travels. We had a Beaver Championships before the gang parted ways. Niklas even shaped a trophy out of aluminium foil.

Christina and Stephanie were kind enough to leave their beaver cards behind for us as Nicola, Gwyn and myself coped with beaver withdrawal.

What started out as a random try out is now one of our favorite past times here in NZ. Maybe one day, we'll meet again for another round of beaver. Till then, keep in touch my beaver friends.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Lake Ferry and Cape Palliser day trip

Here I am sitting by the fire, keeping warm from the cold outside. I can hear the splashing waves and the sound of the strong sea breeze. The days are getting shorter and the nights are becoming colder. Autumn, a few months late has finally arrived.

"Gangs of New York" is playing in the background. A German couple is cuddling up on the sofa in the living room. Another couple, from Switzerland are on their computers in the dining room. With me, Gwyn is chilling by the fire place, playing "beaver" with Nicola. It's been a while since my last entry, so here I am blogging and catching up. 

Living in NZ has been good so far. Gwyn, together with Nicola help out during the day at the Lodge, while I go to work in the city. On Sunday, we were surprised with news from Helen and John, our kind hosts at Moana Lodge that we could have the day off and take the car somewhere. We wasted no time and decided over breakfast that we could take a road trip down to Martinborough, about a 1 hr and 40 min drive from Plimmerton.

Just before we left, expert tips from John revised our itinerary for the day as we fitted in Lake Ferry and Cape Palliser. The plan was to do lunch at a traditional Kiwi pub at Lake Ferry, seals spotting and the Cape Palliser lighthouse.

John's clear and concise instruction was to find the pub at the end of the road to Lake Ferry. It was a traditional Kiwi pub and chances are that you'll find a group of Harley Davidson riders there on weekends. 

We reached the end of the road to Lake Ferry and saw this...

Lake Ferry Hotel, established 1851
"That's not a pub!" were our first reactions. 

"Are you sure you got it right? Let me have a look at the map" went Nicola. 

And then we saw the bikes...

Group of Harleys, exactly like how John mentioned
We had lunch. The waitress forgot my pie but placed it on the house when she found out. 

Nicola's silver bait fritters
Gwyn's fettuccine with pesto prawns and pine nuts

Sorry, no pictures of my home made pie. Too hungry after the long wait...

Lake Ferry is an interesting little town rich in history. It was home to the early Maori and European settlers. The town borders around Lake Onoke and a ferry service was established in the 1850s for transport across the lake. Lake Ferry Hotel was set up to provide accommodation for travelers.

Now, time for some seals watching. Cape Palliser is home to a colony of seals. Would we be lucky enough to spot them? We sure were!

First seal spotted

More seals...

They're all just chilling...

They're well camouflaged.Can you spot them?

This fellow was so close to the road!

It was quite the experience. Fancy driving to a beach and being able to see real and live seals just lazing along the beach! #toocool

Nearby, the Cape Palliser Lighthouse was quite a sight too. There were some who trekked up to get to the top. We weren't feeling too adventurous that day. Maybe next time, we'll climb the stairs.

trek up to lighthouse

Cape Palliser lighthouse
On our way back, we came across an interesting crew of "Caterpillar" bulldozers in the town of Ngawi. The locals use these bulldozers to launch their fishing boats out to sea and pull them back again.

Twinky Winky

Check out the moustache!
We were really glad we did this short day trip out to Lake Ferry and Cape Palliser. Some call it a classic trip in NZ. Many thanks to Helen and John for making it possible.