Costal view over Waiheke island

I am a slow traveller, it’s my ultimate guilty pleasure. I love being able to take my time and admire a view, and if there is a glass of wine in hand while I’m admiring then all to the better. My penchant for slow travel is particularly true since the invention of the smart phone; recently it seems like most people rush through a city seeing all the views through the camera on their iPhone. We are so focussed on creating Instagram worthy shots that we miss out on seeing the view with our own eyes. I mean, you may as well just search Google images and save yourself the cost of the trip if you want to travel that way. So I like to take my time, see less but experience more. And thus my last New Zealand post, a visit to the perfect vineyard that is Man O’ War on Waiheke Island.

A couple of days before Christmas and we really should have been prepping for our insane Christmas Lunch (15 courses…what were we thinking?). But since list making, shopping and cooking sounds like a lot of hard work, we played hooky and escaped to the sunny Waiheke Island for the day to go vineyard hopping.

Farms and a beautiful view over Waiheke island

Waiheke is super easy to get to, the ferry is only 30 minutes from the city centre (the ferry leaves from the wharf at the bottom of Queen Street) and once there you can either hire a car from the ferry terminal or just taxi. But as soon as you arrive there is a huge problem…which vineyard to choose? I am a fantasy freak from way back, so picked the amazingly named Man O’ War. This also happened to be the furthest vineyard on the island which gave the unexpected side effect of some knock out views on the drive over.

 

First tick in the box is that the wine tastings were free, the second tick is the wines being drop dead gorgeous. Man O’ War is named after the battleships that Captain Cook sailed on, and all the varieties have frankly kickass names like Valhalla, Ironclad or Dreadnought. I went for the Pinot Gris named Exiled (hopefully not a sign of things to come) which I was warned was very sweet – thankfully sweet wines are a dream for me.

Man O War Exiled Pinot Gris

We each took a glass and then … did nothing. If I was there with my blogging hat on we would have rushed all over the island getting those perfect shots and trying as many vineyards as possible. But instead we were on go slow: we sat, we ate cheese, and we tried more wine. At one point we were visited by a dog.

Without the time, without those seconds stretching out into hours I never would have heard my feminist father loudly proclaim to the aforementioned dog “us bitches fight the world”. I also would never have heard my mother’s controversial opinion on current events “as much as I love caramel I am irritated by the popularity of it”. These little moments of silly matter. These little moments and the sunshine making condensation on your wine glass are the ones you carry with you. The ones that will get me through the freezing dark London winter, the homesickness and dropping a bowl of cornflakes on my foot as I made them for dinner.

Slow travel is the answer. No it won’t help you tick off another country on your list, it won’t be content fuel and you can’t Instagram the feeling of a gentle Waiheke breeze. But it will sustain you. And if you forget that feeling all you need to do is take a sip of Man O’ War and you will be there again.

Sheep on Waiheke island

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Brick Bay cafe

I personally think Brick Bay is one of the coolest spots in Kiwi land. It is a vineyard just a little further along the road from Matakana, and not only is it a good spot to drink a few glasses and try one if their cheese boards but it also has a very cool art walk. Now, last time I was up there was for my 22nd birthday – and shall we say things got a little bit entertaining.

After a strenuous (not strenuous in the slightest) walk around the art trail, I may or may not have had a few too many glasses of rosé. Then on our way back home I may or may not have had the brilliant idea to stop and empty my bank account by buying myself a laptop… for my birthday you know. After the nice man in the shop telling me about dual core and ram I squealed ‘that ones pretty!’.  So in a way this blog post has Brick Bay to thank, because its being written on that pretty laptop.

Sheep invading the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail

Aside from the awesome technology after effect, Brick Bay is more than worth a visit for the sculpture walk alone (even when the sheep decide to invade!). Set along a winding trail that goes through forest and fields, art is just dotted along waiting to be discovered. And some of them did take a bit of effort to discover. While my fellow winos walked past the small metal plaques, I stopped to take a gander and turns out it was actually Commemorative Plaques 1-4 by Dane Mitchell. I found them both endlessly entertaining and hopelessly poignant.

Commemorative Plaques 1-4 by Dane Mitchell

Some of the art was seriously creepy, soft whispering voices that call to you as you cross a bridge in the forest. While others were just perfectly, perfectly placed. I think that if you went and purchased Live Wire by Mary-Louise Browne, or Golden Bough by Jim Wheeler (most of the art is for sale) you might need to buy the entire forest to put them in. Although dare I say, Incendiary Artwork by David McCracken would look fabulous pretty much anywhere (hint hint… Christmas is coming and I have an incendiary shaped hole in my life!).

Live Wire by Mary-Louise Browne

Golden Bough by Jim Wheeler

Incendiary Artwork by David McCracken

Then after a final climb up among the kauri trees (well worth it, even if the sign ominously warns about ‘many’ steps), we headed back down to the real world to catch up over wine and cheese. If you do head up to Brick Bay keep driving up a little further and go to the actual Brick Bay that the vineyard if named after. Not a person in sight and nothing but you and the waves, heaven.

Brick Bay

Purple and white carrots

After this post about the different types of carrots available at Borough Market, the question was asked “what do they taste like?”.

Mission accepted.

I prepared the scene like a wine tasting, mulling and musing the purple and then white segments trying to pluck the different flavor notes.

Sadly, the both just taste like carrot. Call me underwhelmed.

I would say that they are slightly less sweet than the supermarket orange carrots, but that may have more to do with the sweetness being bred into them for modern taste buds.

 

Side note: I would love to see a carrot cake made with the purple variety, a bright pink (all natural) carrot cake? Yes please.

Purple and white carrots

 

And since it is Valentines day, have a pink carroty heart from me.

 

Purple Carrot heart