Monday, April 26, 2010

Our First Harvest for The Country Store...

We are starting to reap the fruits of our labours in our Orchard, which is only 6 months old. Our Crabapple trees, (Malus 'Gorgeous' and Malus 'Wright's Scarlet') are starting to produce some colourful apples which will soon be ripe for making Crabapple Jelly.

Crab apples are unlikely to be on sale, but go foraging and you'll find them. Wild trees thrive on country roads and in abandoned homestead gardens and are occasionally found dropping fruit onto city streets. Raw, the tiny apples are hard and tart and seem more stone than flesh, but boil a potful into jam or jelly and they make a lovely treat for morning toast. Even better on a buttery, rich croissant. And should a wild duck wing its way to your larder come the month of May, glaze the cooked bird with your crab- apple jelly and wait for compliments.


Quarter-fill a large saucepan with washed and dried crab apples. Completely fill saucepan with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer briskly for 40 minutes until the liquid is reduced by about half (the crab apples will soften and burst). Put a new Chux cloth or similar in a colander over a large jug or bowl and tip in crab apples and liquid. Leave 3-4 hours to drain. Discard crab apples. Measure juice by the cupful into a large clean saucepan. Add the same number of cups 78 filled with sugar (in other words, not quite as much sugar as liquid). Over a low heat stir to dissolve the sugar. Gradually increase heat and bring to a boil. Boil briskly for 10 to 15 minutes, then test for setting by dropping a spoonful of the jam/jelly onto a cold saucer. If it wrinkles, or better, if it stays separate when you drag a finger through the puddle, it is at the jelly stage. Pour into clean, warmed jars, drop 2-3 whole peppercorns into each jar, cover and leave to cool. The peppercorns give the jelly a savoury fillip but this step is optional, especially if the jelly is to be used as a breakfast spread. - Recipe from The Press.

The Willowbrook Park recipe is slightly different, and will be available in our Cookbook, on sale this Christmas.

Apart from the Crabapples, we have some other fruits starting to develop in the orchard...




And soon some Blackberries on our thornless hertiage canes

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Introducing Bracken and Bramble, and Chestnut...

Yesterday we went to a place called Hunua, east of Auckland to pick up the lastest addtion to the Willowbrook Park Rare Breeds Farm - 3 Boer goats: a Buck - Bracken, a Doe - Bramble, and a little Wether called Chestnut...

Above: Chestnut

Above: Bramble

Below: Bracken

Boer goats developed in South Africa from an indigenous breed with the addition of some European, Angora and Indian breeds. The name comes from the Dutch word “boer” meaning “farmer” and was used to distinguish them from Angora goats which were imported into South Africa during the nineteenth century.

The present day Boer goat appeared in the early 1900s when South African farmers started selecting for a meat type goat.

The Boer goat is a large animal and is a specialized meat-producer. Landcorp first imported embryos of the breed into New Zealand in 1989 but they did not become commercially available until the mid-1990s when they were released from quarantine.

In New Zealand, purebred bucks are often used in grading-up programmes: many dairy goat farmers use a boer buck over some of their dairy goats does to produce kids that reach their goal weight faster than a purebred dairy goat kid would.

Each purebred is tagged, and registered with the NZ Sheep breeders association (previously the NZ Boer Goat Breeders assoc).

We can now start our own Boer Goat Stud, with a Buck and a Doe, but best of all, the Doe is already pregnant, and possibly expecting twins. We will keep you in touch this September. They are very cute animals, very agile, and ever so intelligent. They don't stop following you around the field all day, and aren't aggressive, like many goats are portayed. But, they are challenging our hitherto fine fencing, so before we loose our orchard to a midnight goat rampage, we will have to start doing some reinforcing.

Other species of goats can be very cute as well...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

ANZAC Day...

On the 25th of April, New Zealand and Australia commemorate ANZAC Day. Although ANZAC Day does not mark a military triumph, it does remind us of a very important episode in New Zealand's history. Great suffering was caused to a small country by the loss of so many of its young men. But the Gallipoli campaign showcased attitudes and attributes - bravery, tenacity, practicality, ingenuity, loyalty to King and comrades - that helped New Zealand define itself as a nation, even as it fought unquestioningly on the other side of the world in the name of the British Empire.On 25 April 1915, eight months into the First World War, Allied soldiers landed on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula. This was the Turkish territory of Germany's ally, the Ottoman Empire. The troops were there as part of a plan to open the Dardanelles Strait to the Allied fleets, allowing them to threaten the Ottoman capital Constantinople (now Istanbul) and, it was hoped, force a Turkish surrender. The Allied forces encountered unexpectedly strong resistance from the Turks, and both sides suffered enormous loss of life.

The forces from New Zealand and Australia, fighting as part of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), played an important part in the Gallipoli campaign. At its beginning, people at home greeted with excitement the news that our soldiers were at last fully engaged in the war. New Zealand soldiers distinguished themselves with their courage and skill, establishing an enduring bond with the Australians they fought alongside.

The Gallipoli campaign was, however, a costly failure for the Allies, who after nine months abandoned it and evacuated their surviving troops. Almost a third of the New Zealanders taking part had been killed; the communities they came from had counted the cost in the lengthy casualty lists that appeared in their newspapers. And the sacrifice seemed to have been in vain, for the under-resourced and poorly-conducted campaign did not have any significant influence on the outcome of the war.

After Gallipoli, New Zealand had a greater confidence in its distinct identity, and a greater pride in the international contribution it could make. And the mutual respect earned during the fighting formed the basis of the close ties with Australia that continue today.

Poppies have an enduring association with ANZAC Day, dating back to the 1920s. Throughout New Zealand, people of all ages wear a red poppy as a mark of remembrance for the men and women who have died in the course of service for their country. Poppies made of light cloth or paper are also woven together to form wreathes which are laid at war memorials up and down the country.

The poppies are a vivid reminder of the sacrifice - the blood lost - in war. The connection between red poppies and fallen service personnel has its origins in the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century; red or Flanders poppies were the first flowers to bloom over the graves of soldiers in northern France and Belgium.

It was in the same region - the Western Front - a century later that red poppies were once more associated with those who died in war. Canadian medical officer John McCrae penned the famous and moving line:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row.

After the First World War, the red poppy gradually became recognised as a symbol of remembrance. The shape of the poppy has undergone several changes over the years, and today's design was adopted in 1978.

Anzac Biscuits

New Zealand and Australia share a tradition of ANZAC Biscuits. Both countries claim to have invented them, but ANZAC Biscuits are similar to many other older biscuit recipes that are designed to produce crisp, hard and nutritious biscuits that keep well.

One of the food items that women in both countries sent to soldiers during the First World War was a hard, long-keeping biscuit that could survive the journey by sea, and still remain edible. These were known as Soldiers' Biscuits, but after the Gallipoli landings in 1915, they became known as ANZAC Biscuits. Soldiers themselves may have made a similar form of biscuit from ingredients they had on hand: water, sugar, rolled oats and flour.

The traditional ANZAC Biscuit is hard and flat - ideal for dunking in tea and then eating. During the First World War, some soldiers used broken biscuits to make a form of porridge to add some variety to their diet.

Over the years, softer and chewier versions of the biscuit have appeared. There are many recipes for ANZAC Biscuits. Common to most is the inclusion of rolled oats, coconut, butter and golden syrup. Eggs almost never feature. This may be because eggs were in short supply during the First World War. Many varieties of biscuit do not have eggs, however, and like ANZAC Biscuits rely instead on chemical rising agents such as bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).

ANZAC biscuit recipe
makes about 20

1/2 cup sugar (unrefined raw sugar)
1 cup plain flour (wholemeal, sifted twice)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
125g unsalted butter
1 tablepoon golden syrup
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 tablespoon baking soda

1. Preheat the oven 150C. Line two baking trays with non-stick paper.

2. Combine the sugar, flour, oats and coconut in a large mixing bowl.

3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then add the golden syrup, boiling water and baking soda. It will foam up to triple the volume almost immediately. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to combine.

4. Place spoonfuls on the trays about 5cm apart and flatten slightly. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. They’ll still be quite soft, so carefully transfer to a rack to cool. They’ll firm up when they get to room temperature.

Dulce et decorum est

by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Owen's poem recited by many a school boy, takes its famous opening lines from Horace's Ode:

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori:
mors et fugacem persequitur uirum
nec parcit inbellis iuuentae

poplitibus timidoue tergo.

Virtus, repulsae nescia sordidae,
intaminatis fulget honoribus
nec sumit aut ponit securis
arbitrio popularis aurae...

It’s sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.

Yet death chases after the soldier who runs,

and it won’t spare the cowardly back

or the limbs, of peace-loving young men.

Virtue, that’s ignorant of sordid defeat,

shines out with its honour unstained, and never

takes up the axes or puts them down

at the request of a changeable mob.

The 2007 Gallipoli Commemorations with the then Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand, and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Kitchen...

As you would have gathered from my last post, I just love Clive Christian rooms; and his kitchen above has been the inspiration for our kitchen design. The cream coloured, traditional English country joinery coupled with the chic finishing touches makes this kitchen both useful and stylish. Here are some more of his designs...

Apart from the main kitchen, there is also an adjacent Scullery, and Butler's Pantry.

The Scullery

Traditionally, a scullery was a room adjacent to the kitchen used for washing up dishes...

laundering clothes...


or as an overflow kitchen when the main kitchen was overloaded...

They traditionally had separate hot and cold sinks, sometimes sleuses, roasting pan storage etc, plate racks, a work table, "coppers" for boiling water, and storage for cleaning products, buckets etc. The modern equivalent would be called the utility room.

Above and Below: Although the traditional country house would require a large room as a scullery, we have scaled down the size of the scullery at Willowbrook, in keeping with the size of the Kitchen. These 2 examples of sink details provide inspiration for keeping a small space useful, yet attractive.

The above example of a sweet little basin is from Things that Inspire

In designing a scullery, architects would take care to place the room adjacent to the kitchen with a door leading directly outside to conveniently obtain water. However, for sanitation purposes (since so much slop was processed in the scullery) no doors led from there to the pantry or store rooms. The scullery was frequently located at the rear of the house, as this was usually where the kitchen was, as it was usually nearest the water supply, such as a public fountain or a well, or near a barrel that collected rain water.

In houses built prior to indoor plumbing, scullery sinks were located against an outside wall, emptying directly into external drains. Since sculleries were used for washing and great quantities of water had to be carried inside, they were made with solid floors of brick or stone or concrete - as the floors were likely to stay wet. The scullery maid would stand on slatted wood mats near the sinks to stay dry. The floor itself was often dug 6 inches or so below the main house floor in case of leaks or flooding.

The Butler's Pantry

The pantry derives its name from the French term paneterie, which is from the Latin Pan or Pannus meaning bread. The butler, the head of the domestic staff, would oversee the stores in general, and along with the cook, would ensure the pantry was well stocked, and check that all the outgoings were kosha (no pun intended). There were similar rooms for storage of meat - the larder, and alcohol - the buttery, thus named for the "butts" or barrels stored there. Common uses for the butler's pantry are storage, cleaning and counting of silver. European butlers often slept in the pantry as their job was to keep the silver under lock and key. The wine log and merchant's account books were also kept in the butler's pantry.

Above and Below: Medium-sized options for a Butler's Pantry.

Below: Some smaller options...

Stay tuned for further posts about the Kitchen; Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Cooking classes at Willowbrook, and our soon to be launched Cook Book...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bathrooms and Men's Grooming

Here are some photos of bathrooms that I particularly like. They contain elements which we are incorporating into the design of the ensuites at Willowbrook Park...

Above: I love the warm marble vanity tops.
Below: In these two pictures I like the molded panels around the baths.

Above and Below: I like the stylish and convenient cupboards, and the high spec paneled finish.

Above: It would be nice to have a chaise in the master bathroom. I think we can live without the gold upholstery with the diamond studding though...

Above and below: These two are my absolute favourite bathrooms. They are both by the designer Clive Christian, who specialises in the traditional and the luxurious. These two photos are the major inspiration for the master bathroom.

Above and Below: Alcoves give a tub a sense of privacy and cosy seclusion. They also allow for extra detailing and design features within a defined space, such as the wallpaper below...

Above: The pink might be over the top, but I love the old Roman style marble tub.
Below: Water and books- not the most practical mix, but it definitely has its style.

now on to...
Men's Grooming


Facial hair might be in fashion but when it comes to passion, being clean shaven always wins out. Poll after poll suggests lovers prefer their men to be smooth. So, how to get that perfect shave...

1. Hot Water

The first essentials to a perfect shave are water and warmth. When hair absorbs hot water it becomes softer and easier to cut and with warmth the skin and facial muscles become relaxed, making shaving so much easier - thus the best time to shave is after a bath or shower. This effect can also be achieved by soaking a folded flannel or small towel in hot water and wrapping it around the face for thirty seconds or more.

2. Preparing the Face

Those who desire a particularly smooth shave, (or who have sensitive skin) might wish to apply a glycerine-based Skin Food; this protects the skin and helps the razor to glide smoothly across the face. Massaging the skin food against the growth of the beard also helps to lift the beard in readiness for the lather.

3. The Lather

Shaving cream may be rubbed into the beard with the fingers, but the best results are obtained when using a good quality badger shaving brush. When using cream, place a modest amount in the palm of one hand, dip the brush into hot water and using a circular motion in the palm, build up a rich creamy lather on the brush. Wet the face, and again with a circular motion apply the lather to the beard, allowing the brush to lift the beard, making the hairs stand proud. The brush may be dipped lightly into hot water if more moisture is required in the lather. If using shaving soap, dip the brush in hot water and use a similar circular motion on the soap to create a rich lather.

4. The Shave

Using a good blade that has been warmed in the sink or under hot running water, shave the face in the direction of the beard growth, rinsing the blade in hot water frequently. Never shave 'against the grain' of the beard, in awkward areas such as the chin and under the nose the blade can be moved sideways across the growth - but never against as this pulls the skin in the wrong direction causing small cuts and 'grazing' to the skin and is the most common cause of 'razor burn', in-grown hairs and shaving rash. Rinse the face thoroughly with cool water and pat dry with a soft towel.

5. Caring for the Skin

A good wet shave exfoliates and cleanses the skin, leaving smooth new skin and a healthy clean appearance. Newly exfoliated skin needs to be protected from the elements, so for healthy skin it is important that men use an after-shaving Moisturiser or Skin Food. Products containing alcohol should not be applied to the skin directly after shaving as this may inflame the skin and cause dryness. For best results cologne and other fragrances should be applied to the 'hot spots' behind the earlobes and on the sides of the neck.

General shaving tips

  • Shower or bathe before shaving, or warm the face with a hot flannel.
  • Use plenty of hot water and shave in a warm environment.

  • Protect the skin with skin food or moisturiser.

  • Use a quality badger brush with good shaving cream or soap.

  • Brush in a circular motion to lift the beard.

  • Shave with the beard, never against the grain.

  • Rinse the blade frequently in hot water.

  • Rinse face well with cool water and gently pat dry.

  • After shaving use a moisturiser or skin food.

  • Avoid applying alcohol-based products to the face after shaving.

Taking care of your brush and razor

After shaving, rinse your brush and razor thoroughly to remove soap and flick to remove most of the water. Brushes are best hung on a brush stand so that water can move away from the base of the hairs. To avoid mildew, do not keep damp brushes in a closed cupboard or washbag for any length of time. If your brush becomes clogged with soap, soak in a mild solution of borax until clean.

How to shave with a Classic Straight Razor

Wash face thoroughly leaving the face damp before you commence lathering.

Lather face with a pure badger shaving brush and decent shaving soap or shaving cream (The cream will give maximum moisturising of the skin) producing a fine creamy lather which softens the beard.

Hang the leather strop on a secure hook or towel rail and pull taut. Use the leather side of the strop first. Apply the razor with the blade side facing downwards and push upwards using firm pressure towards the top end of the strop. Rotate the blade with the sharp side now facing upwards and pull down towards the end of the strop. Always keep the blade flat. Repeat action for approximately 10 times and repeat using the reverse side of the strop.

The Taylor Shaving Techniques

Place the blade on the face very flat and pull the skin taut at the side of the neck, slide razor down face without pressure: repeat this action on all areas of face. Firstly, in the same direction as the hair grows and then against the direction of the beard growth.

Rinse face with cool water, if you should nick your skin use an Alum Block / styptic pen.
Towel dry your face and apply an after-shave cream or gel.

Dry your razor thoroughly using a towel on the back of the blade to avoid cutting yourself. Lubrication of the blade and between the handle and blade areas will prolong the life of the razor and help to prevent any rust forming.

Rinse out your badger shaving brush shake well and place upside down on a stand.

Mens Barbers and Grooming stores which I recommend...

There are some establishments that I would not recommend...


Choose a nice, soothing aromatic shampoo that is appealing to one's taste. The flavor doesn't matter, as long as the shampoo is ph balanced to ensure clean and healthy hair. Shampooing daily with the rinse and repeat instructions is not a ploy to sell more products. A second shampoo gets the job done. The first shampoo prepares the scalp to be throughly cleaned by loosening up all the "cool" products that make hair look and feel great!

Tone: Gently massage your scalp as you shampoo. Use the balls of the fingertips in a "spider doing push-ups" fashion. This is an often skipped part of everyone's hair care routine. It's too bad because toning for a few minutes -- even after shampooing, not only feels great, but helps the scalp release natural oils from one's sebaceous glands (that's a good thing). There's no special way to massage, although, try to avoid a circular pattern on long hair. Most of the oil is near the scalp. If no conditioner is to follow, gently towel dry the hair by squeezing to avoid tangles. A light, BB-sized dab of a moisturizing conditioner works miracles.

Condition: Moisturize your hair. Conditioner is an essential hair product if your hair is dry. An herbal rinse is better for those with oily hair. You can make both products yourself but they can be purchased for a few dollars at any popular pharmacy or salon supply store.

Get the right tools. You'll likely need the following:

  • brush (natural bristles are best)

  • comb (wide-toothed if you have curly hair) >

  • pick (plastic or metal tines)

  • hair dryer (if it's less than 1000 watts, you're wasting your time)

Style: Find a comfortable style that you can easily maintain on your own daily in less than five minutes. The better you know hair products, the faster you'll get your hair done.

Skin Care

You don't need to be a metrosexual to take pride in your appearance. If for no other reason, than the fact that other people have to be around you, you need to consider how your appearance and personal freshness will affect others. This doesn't mean you need to race out and buy Guy-liner, Man-scara or a stick of glamo-flage.

A good site for all things related to men's grooming is Mankind. It has great articles on how to manage tired eyes, to ensure you never end up with a monobrow, general skin care, and of course the secret to eternal youth.
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