Friday, February 1, 2013

Wake up and savour the smell of freshly made coffee!

Coffee---thank God that is something I should be able to enjoy a few months after my surgery. If I had to choose between coffee and wine, think it would be the wine that goes. I hear that I shall only be able to have one ‘standard’ drink (at most) after a few months and then that’s not guaranteed. I also hear that I ‘will be anyone’s after that drink. I guess it’s going to be a matter of ‘less is more,’ so I shall only have the best.

Coffee, oh coffee. Am I addicted? Maybe---I don’t care. I have a nice Italian coffee machine and I reckon I have become damned good at making a ‘café-quality’ cup and then some. Some may say I am obsessed. Well that’s OK; I can think of much worse obsessions than coffee. What do I love about it?

There’s the smell of freshly roasted beans and then there’s the whole process of making a cup. Yeah I know that you can get a pretty good cup from those Nespresso machines. Yeah, I admit to having some lovely sups at my sisters. I think I am in love with the process though; something akin to the Japanese loving the ‘art of making tea.’

I don’t go quite that far, but anyone visiting (come over if you are buying a book and I shall make you a freebie) can attest to my love of the ‘process.’ If my behaviours cause amusement, then at least I have drawn a smile to what otherwise may have been a boring day for the said visitor.

I search out the best beans and have arrived at the conclusion that ‘fresh is best.’ Beans that are less than a week old since their roasting are most definitely able to produce the best results. Supermarket offerings usually don’t quite match up. I keep going back to a little café on Manukau Road where they have a nice little number called ‘Mrs White.’ What I have found for some of the very expensive brands is that they are better suited to processes other than coffee machines. I think that they are meant for either black coffee or plungers. For that wonderful ‘flat white,’ I like the afore mentioned beans, but that’s not to say that there are no other great beans out there. I will buy from cafes if they make a fine cup and can guarantee ‘fresh beans’ and then it is usually the ‘house brands’ that best suit my machine.

After I have ground my beans in my excellent grinder (don’t use those cheap ‘cutters’—they are crap) and heated my machine, I let the coffee extrude into my little clear cup. I love the way the colour changes from a chocolate colour to deep brown or almost black. Then I ‘do the milk.’ There is an art in this, if you want that silky smooth look. It can depend on the age and style of milk.

Then, I sit down and relax, enjoying every last drop. Not for me, those big cups of ‘flavoured milk’ you sometimes get at cafes in the mistaken belief that you are getting quantity over quality.

If you have decided that I am a big fat snob when it comes to coffee---go for it, while I sip on my delectable offering.

Sometimes your 'little special place' may be closer than you think.

Do you ever dream of that ‘special place;’ you know, visions of water, trees, green grass and beautiful trees? Do you imagine being there with a friend or on your own; maybe with a book and a nice picnic lunch? It’s your place and that is where you go to blow away the concerns of everyday life.

I often discuss this dream with my friends and talk about faraway places and other that are within about two hours drive from home. The other day a good friend suggested we take our dogs somewhere for a swim; this time to a place where we could join them in the water. Our usual place doesn’t quite measure up. Don’t get me wrong: the place where we go nearly every day, Onehunga Bay Reserve, is fantastic for the dogs and it has been instrumental in the formation of recent friendships.

We wracked our brains and then suddenly it hit me. What the heck was I ‘not thinking?’ Less than 300 metres from my home there is a park. It features in my book of short stories, Coastal Yarns.’ The first story, ‘Tuis In The Mist,’ is set in Waikowhai (Faulkner Bay) Bay. There is an upper car park and from there you turn right and an off-leash dog exercise area, with slopping green grass and wonderful trees and lovely view; all leading down to a secluded beach, where at either side of high tide it provides good swimming.

What was I thinking; ignoring this place for seven years?! I made inquiries amongst locals and sure enough; they say it’s great at high tide. I shall now try it out this afternoon with my friend and our dogs. I am really looking forward to seeing what Perdy (alias ‘Spot, in ‘Talk To Me’) and Patch (my mate’s dog) will do when we enter the water with them.

Naturally we are taking a wonderful picnic with us. My friend has baked bacon and egg pie and I have brought some plums, apricots and peaches to complete our little escapade. I shall let you know how things work out. (See the pictures below--- they tell the story)
The path to my 'special place.' Troubleis you have to walk back up!
You're a good girl, Patch---oops--now Perdy is jealous.
It's my stick!
At high tide this beach and the area above it are perfect to be able to make the claim that it is 'my special place,' and it is only about 300 metres from my house.
POST SCRIPT--On the way home a guy ran in to my car. His daughter said---'The car's alright.' I said---Fu---the car---how's your DAD?"   He was OK, thank God!

'Coastal Yarns' has been getting hits--- get it direct!

I notice that my book, Coastal Yarns has been scoring hits. If you then go to my website and decide that you don't want to buy it through the PayPal method, then get get it from Trade me (either versions) or through my email---    The website is If you are in New Zealand the postage is cheap.
My books are:
1) Coastal Yarns
2) Roskill
3) Talk To Me
The website will give you more details.