Yes, it was time for a change. What a full-on weekend! A new government clearly elected on Saturday night (yay!) so it was time to party. I’d had to go to Auckland first thing Saturday morning to do a pre-record for Media 7, with Linda Clarke and Laila Harre, which went well. (Can be watched on TVon Demand). Flew back to Wellington, drove to Martinborough, voted, then went out to a party in the country, taking my laptop and work tools so I could update my Herald On Sunday column throughout the night. Typical! Helen Clark has to go and stand down just after I’d filed what I thought was the last update, so I had to stay relatively sober most of the night in case there were more surprises.

Sunday dawned a beautiful, clear, still, sunny day and after taking Mum to early communion, we had time for a brief rest, then into gladrags and off to Palliser Estate to celebrate the opening of their new wine cellar. It’s very lovely and stylish – built by Holmes Construction who did our house, and has facilities for a cooking school! Careme, is the name of the cooking school company, run by Jo Crabb, whom you can phone on 0508 111 223, and her programmes look very tempting. Included is morning tea, folder with recipes and notes, careme apron, snack, wine tasting, lunch with Palliser wines. Jo’s offering a number of different classes, from “bread and yeast” on Sundays 18 January and 1 February, to “teenagers’ survival” on Thursdays 22 and 29 January. Upcoming themes include “true French”. Check it out – give a gift voucher for Christmas.

We had a fabulous day at Palliser. Richard Riddiford does it all so very well, leaving no stone unturned. We caught up with people we hadn’t seen for ages, and generally had a fantastic time in this truly friendly, lovely community. But after a full weekend, then a day drinking Palliser fine wines in the sun, we came home and went straight to bed at 7.30.

Hence the hiatus in blogging, but yesterday I climbed the hill to see fat Smitty, and re-engaged with the splendid countryside out here. Took some good shots too – beginning the the cattle, who always come over the brow of the hill when I go through the gate, checking me out. Our fishing mate from Auckland, Billy Hohepa, calls them “the Indians on the hill.”xmas-card-001

I always sit and wait patiently while Smitty eats his dinner, from the bucket. xmas-card-006

And I know thistles are weeds, but their flowers are very pretty:xmas-card-012

Taja, despite her arthritis, loves following me, and she spotted two Paradise ducks and slobbered, remembering her younger days when she could “fetch” game like this:



And now it’s back to work, as the remaining 11,000-plus bottles of our James 06 Pinot Noir is labelled today, and we ready for its release on the market.


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