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Wellington to Auckland road trip, via Whanganui and New Plymouth

We decided to take the hot hatch for a spin, destination Auckland to see the whanau, then to Tauranga for some summer sun – and got rained upon there most days, but that’s another story!

However, the drive to Auckland is along one, and we decided to make it longer,as you do! It seemed like a good opportunity to visit some places we hadn’t ventured to before, so we added Whanganui and New Plymouth to the itinerary!

I picked up the Kiwi from the office and we set off for Whanganui, and in less than three hours we were there.  We have had continued success with booking accommodation using Air bnb and the place was 1km from the centre of Whanganui, so we dropped off our bags and headed in to the city for a wander and to get something to eat.

Whanganui by sunset

Whanganui by sunset


For a New Zealand town, Whanganui has a good share of old buildings (I’m from Edinburgh, I use the word “old” loosely as we are probably talking buildings just over 120 years old) and has the mighty Whanganui river running through it.  There is a considerable artistic feel to the town, and on the weekend there is apparently a very good market, however we missed it.  After dinner we made our way up to Durie Hill to take in the view of the sunset sky out over the city and to the Tasman sea.  If you have kids, or are just a big kid yourself, there is an epic park to be found on the river’s edge.

The eventful New Zealand summer weather meant we didn’t stick around the following day, Christmas Eve, we just headed to our next stop of New Plymouth.  With low cloud and rain, we knew we wouldn’t see Mount Taranaki and it wasn’t beach weather so no point detouring to visit the many surf beaches along the Taranaki coast, so straight to New Plymouth it was.


New Plymouth

We were surprised to find such a busy, bustling town. We headed for The Market Patisserie & Cafe for lunch – a must do! Lovely fresh bread and baking are on offer.

Len Lye Centre interior

Len Lye Centre interior


Len Lye Centre

Len Lye Centre

Wandering down through town we found the Puke Ariki museum, which also houses the library and visitor’s centre.  The museum is a mini-me version of Te Papa, found in Wellington.  It has some great interactive displays, particularly in the basement, that kids big and small can enjoy.  Notably for visitors, there are power points and free wifi too!

There are great surf beaches, one notably has an old shipwreck that is slowly decaying to oblivion.

After dinner we searched for the Len Lye Centre or Govett-Brewster Art Gallery it is part of, surprised to find it open at 8pm on Christmas Eve, so we had a bit of banter with the lovely, helpful staff. The new centre is an incredible feat of architecture. Walls wave in and out, and provide a cathedral of space, so even if you aren’t taken by the art it exhibits, the building itself it worth experiencing!

Having been entertained by the “Fountains” exhibition in the Gallery, we sought Pukekura Park to take in the Festival of Lights.  We arrived while it was still a little too light, so we scouted the various installations then did another circuit at dusk.  It’s fun, clever, intriguing and worth experiencing. It changes each year and uses sound and visuals to entertain.

The Mountain and the bridge

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and Mount Taranaki

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and Mount Taranaki

The following day we were driving to Auckland, but we woke up to blue sky and hoped this meant we would finally see The Mountain, anIMG_0026d we did, …and how!  Our destination was the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge that forms part of a pedestrian and cycleway, known as The Coastal Walkway, funnily enough, along the coast and bridges the Waiwhakaiho river. The bridge alone is worth seeing, reminding me of a breaking wave but more of a whale’s rib cage.  However, we got the money shot – the bridge with it’s curving ribs framing the fabulous Mount Taranaki.  Stunning.

Seeing the Mountain isn’t a given, we met a man who visited his in-laws in New Plymouth regularly over the past 14 years and this was the first time he’d seen Mount Taranaki! We felt privileged.

If we’d had more time we would have happily wandered along the walkway but time was moving on and we had to get to Auckland for lunchtime.


The Coast 

We followed the coast along State Highway 3 heading north to Auckland, passing amazing surf beaches and the beautiful and enchanting Elephant Rock.  The tide was coming in, so we couldn’t take a walk out to have a look at the caves and rocks up close and personal, but I’d love to another time.  One thing that struck us was the black beaches, and I mean black!  The Kiwi spent his childhood and youth visiting Auckland’s west coast beaches of Muriwai, Karekare and Piha and all are considered black sand beaches but they have nothing on the sparking, jet black sand of some of these beaches!  It was extraordinary and beautiful.

We just had a quick taste of what Taranaki has to offer, and we liked what we saw and the fact that it’s fairly approachable from Wellington I can easily see us taking another trip in summer to explore more of the coast and walks the area has to share. Add to that the roads are fun to drive in the hot hatch, we have a winner road trip on our hands!

Black sand

Black sand



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Rock Ferry Wines, Blenheim, New Zealand

I’d never heard of Rock Ferry wines, but when our friend suggested we go the vineyard for lunch we were happy to oblige! Our friend had decided to try the top listings on Tripadvisor for her local town, Blenheim, and this was one of them.  Rock Ferry produce organic wines and the cellar door and café are in the converted former home of the owners.  It was a busy Saturday, all the more so probably with it being a long holiday weekend, and we booked a table to secure our lunch!

We sat in the downstairs restaurant, close to the fire and a fine view out of the window, across the vines, to the Marlborough hills.  We chose to order our food then do a wine tasting while waiting for the food, giving us the chance to decide on a wine for accompanying our lunch.

It was so busy, that the lady taking us through the tasting disappeared mid-tasting, leaving us just part way though the tasting when the food arrived!  So, we didn’t quite get to make the informed wine choice as intended, but selected a bottle of their Trig Hill Central Otago Riesling and it accompanied our meal beautifully.

The star dish was the Herb marinated chicken on creamy lentils with bacon, kale and roasted pumpkin ($24.50).  It had us all trying to figure out what was in the dish and how we could re-create it – a dish that inspires is always a sign of a great food!


Steak Sandwich on rye

Star dish - chicken

Star dish – chicken

Salmon dish

Salmon dish

The Kiwi enjoyed the Roasted Aoraki salmon served on roasted winter veg and durham wheat with a preserved lemon and yoghurt dressing ($26.50).  My Steak open sandwich with roasted truffle oil mushrooms and beetroot on rye break with a spinach and anchovy cream (without feta, as I can’t eat it, $26.50) was delicious but didn’t stop me from getting menu envy of the two other dishes served to our table.

The desserts were tempting enough to see

Dessert delights

Dessert delights

the Kiwi order one of his own – his usual response to dessert is “I’ll have a spoon”.  I had the lemon tart, and it was spectacularly citrus and all you’d hope a Lemon tart to be.  The other two had the orange and walnut cake and were left very content.

I have heard of Rock Ferry now, turns out Tripadvisor was right, it’s definitely worth a visit, the wines are certainly worth tasting and a lunch here will leave you satisfied and happy.

Rock Ferry Wines, Cellar door & café, 80 Hammerichs Road, Blenheim – +64 (0)3 579 6431

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Whitebait, Wellington, New Zealand

Whitebait owner and Executive Chef Paul Hoather was wizard of our favourite Wellington restaurant, The White House Restaurant until it closed.  We long anticipated dining in his venture at Clyde Quay Wharf, Whitebait, and on Saturday we finally did!

Paua shell light installation

Paua shell light installation

The modern interior is entirely different to the traditional The Whitehouse Restaurant, with natural hues of wood and natures soft shades on chairs, all below the stunning paua shell light installation above. Although warm, particularly on a winter’s night, there is something of a corporate look to the room.

The Start

Here, seafood is the star.  With that in mind, we ordered accordingly.  The Kiwi ordered the Leigh snapper and cloudy bay clam ceviche, with fresh coconut cream, lime, chilli and crispy fried plantain ($23).  He loved it, so fresh with a nudge of spice. It made him search for a recipe for ceviche, a sure sign of a well appreciated dish if it in inspires!

Garfish and burn toast

Garfish and burn toast

I chose the Paremata garfish “Boquerone” with parsley, shallot, lemon, garlic with hand-made sourdough josper grilled bread ($24).  I asked what “Boquerone” meant and was told this refers to the spanish inspired manner in which the fish is pickled and marinated, and this was beautifully delicate, providing a sweetness and slight sharpness at the same time.  Unfortunately, the beautiful, hand-made sourdough bread was cremated – oh, the humanity!  What chef lets, what is effectively toast, so cremated even cross the pass?!  Rather irritating, and not what I expected from this esteemed kitchen. By the time I finally managed to get wait staff’s attention I was nearly finished the fish, but she ‘could see’ that the bread was burnt and I managed to get a fresh piece of sourdough, unfired, to accompany my last bites of garfish.  Begs the question, if the wait staff could see it was burnt why didn’t they question the kitchen before presenting it to me?


Main plates 

The Kiwi and I both honed in on two dishes so he ordered the Salmon and I chose the Tuna.  The Blackened Ora King salmon with Moroccan spiced lentils, pumpkin and spring onion salsa ($36) was simply delicious, a perfect winter dish.  Nothing could be faulted and the Kiwi loved every bite.

Smoked tuna

Smoked tuna

My Josper grilled smoked tuna with camarillo, winter citrus and broccoli rabe pesto ($38) was a revelation.  My first bite of the tuna was so overwhelmingly smoky I thought I’d chosen poorly, however a bite with the tamarillo and the whole experience was transformed, the smoky taste more subtle!  Never before had I eaten tamarillo in a savoury dish and I am not sure how the tamarillo was prepared, but it was fabulous. Despite that, I would say the salmon won best dish out of the two.

Of course my pet hate occurs again, when it comes to side dishes, but having had starters we felt no need to add to the dishes ordered.  As always, my view is ‘why isn’t the dish complete already?!’ when you are charging $38!

We washed our dinner down with a Mountford Liaison Chardonnay 2011.  The bottle doesn’t get to clutter your table, however your glass never goes empty – a sign of great service, when you can’t recall your glass being filled as service is so unobtrusive.  The service was for the most part good, however staff appear to have ‘their own tables’ to look after and if your waitron isn’t around you are left floundering (pun intended!), such as with my starter.


We shared the Valrona Manjari chocolate with cocoa spiced quince and toasted coconut ($18) dessert, which turned out to be a rich chocolate mousse with the quince providing a lovely contrast to the richness of the dark chocolate.

Wrap up

At Whitebait “The seafood is treated with the reverence it deserves”, all while working with their suppliers – a role call of whom feature at the back of the menu – to minimise carbon footprint, harvested sustainably and respecting natural resources, which may make things taste all the sweeter.

When we settled the bill we were asked if everything was ok so my husband said that ‘aside from the burnt toast, everything was good, thanks’ and this was met with a slow, understated ‘sorry about …that’, thus an opportunity to excel in customer service was lost – give us a sourdough loaf to take home by way of apology, or at least look us in the eye and apologise, even better remove the dish from our bill!  It was the kink in what would have been an excellent meal.  It won’t stop me from recommending Whitebait, and from how busy it was it doesn’t matter whether I do or not, however having had such wonderful experiences at The White House Restaurant, it does leave me sad for those ‘good, old days’.

Whitebait, Clyde Quay Wharf, Wellington – +64 (0)4 385 8555

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Ondine Restaurant, Edinburgh

Back in Edinburgh to visit family, we took the opportunity to catch up with old friends, one rendezvous taking place at Ondine seafood restaurant, as booked by one friend who has decided that when going out she only wants to go somewhere nice. We were happy to try it as to us it’s ‘new kid on the block’, now we don’t live in Edinburgh.

The restaurant provides a lovely space, dominated by a circular bar and a lovely circular bay window looking over George IV Bridge and the top of Victoria Street in the city’s old town. The wait staff are smart, professional and friendly.

We shared six oysters (£18) from different locations across the UK and Ireland, then the starters came out including the Razor clam salad (£15) and the Fish soup (£9).  Both declared ‘the best I’ve ever tasted’, and in the case of the Fish soup that compliment comes from a former staff member of Rogano in Glasgow who knows his soups!  The Razor clam salad was light, fresh and tasted of spring with it’s peas and broad beans.

Ondine dishes

Ondine dishes

Unfortunately, my pet hate of ’nice restaurants’ came to the fore as Ondine charge handsomely for their mains, then tell you that you are only getting half a dish for the price, and in order to complete the meal they suggest you may need to spend a further £4 on a side – my words, of course, not theirs – and a ‘couple should do’, their words this time.  When I and others cook dinner we make a whole dish, so why can’t restaurants?!
Despite that irritation, my Lemon sole with brown shrimps, lemon and parsley dish (£25) was delicious.  The Monkfish Curry (£26) was not quite as expected when you think of a curry, but tasty.  However the Scallops with charentaise sausages and garlic butter (£26) was a stingy dish, with only three scallops and cocktail sausage size sausages, although, again, it was delicious.
There is no doubt the food is good, the venue is lovely and the service meets a high standard, so you will have a good night at Ondine.  That said, for the prices charged, I think putting a little buttered spinach or a potato on the side of a main to complete the dish is not too much to ask!
My other restaurant pet hate relates to gratuities.  On discussing this at the table our waiter, when asked, informed us that the tips are shared equally among the staff, as they work as a team to create the environment in the restaurant.  That gets my vote of approval!
Ondine, 2 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

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Tour of Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh

It’s a polarising building that cost the nation a fortune and took a lot longer to build than anticipated, however, love it or hate it, I would recommend touring the Scottish Parliament. Visitors are welcome six days a week, Monday to Saturday. 

When I lived in Edinburgh I toured the parliament building,  however there was a fault with a beam in the debating chamber so we couldn’t visit it, so it was great to take the opportunity to do another tour that included the chamber. 

Personally, while it was being built  I wasn’t keen on the external design of the building, feeling that in a world heritage city such modern architecture, placed opposite Holyrood Palace and at the foot of the Royal Mile, was in the wrong location.  Elsewhere I would feel more comfortable with such a statement building.  Now, more than 10 years on, it isn’t such an issue to me! Ah, the winds of time… 

However, on touring and learning more about the design features, how they encapsulate Scotland’s history, heritage and architecture, as well as looking to the here and now, it made more sense to me.  There are great connections with the outside of the building from inside, and fabulous use of light.  I am still not a huge fan of the external appearance of the building, but love the features, design and materials used on the inside.  


love the materials used

Interestingly, on the previous tour i did there was a lot more detail provided on the architecture and build of the parliament, whereas this tour focussed more on the function of the Scottish parliament. It was still interesting, but I previously enjoyed the architectural aspect of the tour. 

There are tours that focus on the art in the building.  One artwork of note to me was “Travelling the Distance”.  One hundred women were asked to write a sentence about a woman – someone they know personally or admired from history – and then this was cast in porcelain in their handwriting style and placed on three concrete panels, hanging in the public circulation area. There are funny, charming and inspiring sentences to read, and I did feel a little proud that such a work is found in our parliament.   

“Travelling the Distance”


Close up of the porcelain art


The tour only takes an hour, the online booking system is straightforward and I received a confirmation fairly quickly.  

Scottish Parliament, Horse Wynd, Edinburgh 

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Breakfast at Urban Angel, Edinburgh

From our Rose Street bolthole we wandered down to Urban Angel on Hanover Street for breakfast.  While living in Edinburgh I’d never ventured down it’s steps and assumed it was a little sandwich joint based on the small space I could see from the street, however I was wrong!  

There is a small space you enter through, where there are fresh bakes and panini to grab and go and a healthy menu of smoothie and juice options, however there are a few steps down into the main rooms of the cafe with plenty of tables to take a seat at.  We were seated in the back room, where the old kitchen ranges still sit graced by candles rather than copper pots of old.  

Front shop at Urban Angel


Back room seating area

The menu has a cover note explaining that they love food here, carefully sourcing the finest produce locally, every day including a lot of organic produce, but they choose local over organic to save on carbon footprint.  I get that, and I like that along with their recycling ethos.

The freshly baked Almond Croissants brought through to the display cabinets looked epic and very tempting, along with the glossy, regular croissants.  

There are a good variety of brunch options, from the obvious eggs and porridge to a few interesting items such as rainbow trout (living in NZ, this is unusual to us now!), also there are gluten free and vegetarian options.  The Kiwi ordered Kedgeree and i stuck with an old fave of French Toast, and we downed these with smoothies.  


Sunshine smoothie



The Kedgeree had generous pieces of smoked fish through it with lentils and a lovely poached egg on top.  I enjoyed my French Toast, the brioche was lovely and airy so it had soaked up the eggs nicely and it tasted like real maple syrup that was provided, rather than the fake sweet stuff some places palm you off with.  A banana with the french toast may have made a healthier plate, though. 

My Sunshine Smoothie was fresh and the orange could clearly be tasted through it along with the berries and banana.  The Kiwi’s Green smoothie did exactly what it said on the tin, and you could taste the green goodness!  Coffees were good too.  

Friendly staff, efficient service along with the quirky, historical venue make this a worthwhile stop.  

Urban Angel, 121 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, 0131 225 6215

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Great Keppel Island, Queensland, Australia

Going to Great Keppel Island was a great decision, however driving there from Brisbane was not! 
First, Eumundi

We arrived in Brisbane on Friday evening, and decided to drive to Eumundi and stay there for the night, having been there for the first time last year.  That was a good decision, all the more so for meeting wonderful hosts through Air BnB and staying in their comfortable and homely Queenslander that sits over three hectares of land – providing a lovely backdrop to a lovely breakfast chat.  

Eumundi is known for its fab markets on Wednesdays, and now Friday’s too, and Saturdays.  From food to clothes, to jewellery to art, it’s all there at Eumundi markets and worth a visit if that’s your sort of thing.  It’s a quaint little Aussie town too. 

Road trip 

We then set off on the remainder of the 628km journey, expecting to see some sites of Queensland along the way.  The fact is, Queensland isn’t that interesting to see from the road, it definitely has wonderful sights to see, but not from a road trip.  Living in Scotland, visiting Italy frequently where my family live up in the Tuscan hills and living in New Zealand, I am spoilt for road trips that delight the eyes.  We quickly realised we should have just flown to Rockhampton, and this would have allowed us an extra night on Great Keppel. Next time…. 

We stayed with another Air BnB host after our long drive, this time in Yeppoon, which is a town half an hour from Rockhampton and close to where you catch the half hour long ferry to Great Keppell Island, or GKI as locals refer to it. 

Off to the Island 

The ferry across is in the morning, however the ferry back is in the afternoon, so there is a few hours of cross over between guests, however we scored as we were going to have Keppel Lodge to ourselves for the duration of our two night stay.  There is a restaurant at The Hideaway resort, and a snack shop which was low on supplies while we were there, so bring your necessary supplies of tea, milk, bread, etc.  depending on how reliant you want to be on the limited choice on the island.  There is a Pizzeria but it wasn’t open while we were there. 

The first thing that strikes you about the Island is the fine, white sand and stunningly clear water, it’s just breathtaking.  Popular with boaties, there are always boats anchored just off shore each night.  If you are into snorkelling, kayaking, sailing, swimming, SUP boarding or taking long walks along beautiful beaches this is the place for you!   

Unfortunately there is a huge resort languishing, neglected and unused, on Fisheman’s Beach, although there are grand plans which frankly sound horrific to me and, it seems, to a number of the small few who are actually locals to the island.  It doesn’t detract too much, but as we took a walk from Fisherman’s Beach up to a lookout, it did feel like we were walking through a set for “Lost”!  

Another day we retraced our steps up to the lookout then continued on and over to the other side of the island, to Leeke’s Beach.  Another paradisaic beach, with not a soul to compete with.  


Leeke Beach

We took a Kayak trip out to a small island then it was snorkel time out to the disused underwater observatory – a great spot for seeing lots of fish,  if not so much for the Coral.  The water is so beautifully clear, it created a wonderful sensation as we kayaked across.  Brett is a local and he guided us, giving an insight to what is going on and how things have changed and the good spots for coral or fish sightings – he arranges tours from The Hideaway.  

We noticed lovely patterns in the sand, made up of tiny, perfect balls of sand.  Intregued, we watched for a while and realised the artists were teeny, tiny crabs!  We watched as they scuttled across the sand, dashing down holes and the popping sand balls out!  On our return from a walk in late afternoon the sea was so flat calm it resembled glass and allowed us to easily spot Dolphins fishing – wonderful! 


Beach art

If you want to get far from the madding crowd, chill out and relax in beautiful beach surroundings then I’d recommend it – just don’t drive there!  I think out timing means it was fairly quiet, however in school holiday time it’s rather busy.  

Fisherman’s Beach


We parked out car securely at 422 Scenic Highway, Rosslyn Bay. Call 61 (07) 4933 6670

We got the ferry with Freedom Fast Cats 

We stayed at Keppel Lodge – great hosts in comfortable if tired accommodation, rooms are directly off the central living, dining kitchen area.  I’d describe it as old school NZ Bach style accommodation.  It is just off the beach, and a stroll from the snack shop and Hideaway. The kitchen is well equipped for self-catering.  

We ate at The hideaway – with little competition and seasonal staff, it’s a pleasant place and the food was fine but they don’t make that much effort and the staff are clearly there to make their cash and have days off at the beach. 

We kayaked with Brett who runs tours from The Hideaway

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Paola’s picks of Wellington cafes

When there are so many places to choose from, it is tricky to narrow the choice.  However, these are some, and I do mean some, of the places I keep going back to.  In no particular order:


One of the first places we dined in when we moved to Wellington, we soon learned this is a firm favourite for many locals and the place to go for breakfast eggs.  Well known for lovely fresh baking, Floriditas is a lovely place to dine any time of day, though my favourite time of day is brunch.  However the team behind this lovely establishment opened another venue a few doors up.  Which leads me to…

Loretta on Cuba

I followed the progress of the transformation of the space that became Loretta on Cuba just over a year ago through Instagram.  The transformation produced an award winning space that works perfectly.  Even better, the interesting and frequently changing menu provides delicious options.  Some of my favourites are the orange and brandy warm rice pudding or the amazing waffles with coconut yoghurt and seasonal berries.


Always busy for good reason, it’s always good!  Wellington coffee legends, husband and wife team Bridget and Jeff who founded Caffe L’Affare, came back onto the scene with their new, all encompassing venture.  Roasting their own beans, baking their own bread, they also own Acme, design the furniture,… Bridget keeps a keen eye on tables so the queue is always well managed.  It’s all good! (Though I still grieve for the Breakfast Pizza, no longer on the menu).

Ti Kouka

Tucked up a dark stairwell on Willis Street, many miss this gem so I delight in introducing friends and colleagues (it’s near my office) to the famed Salted Caramel cookies, not to mention the great menu of interesting dishes that changes regularly. Chef Shepherd Elliott and brother Jessie are the geniuses behind Leeds Street Bakery, so the sweet cabinet is always tempting and the bread is always freshly baked.

The Canteen

Follow these guys on Twitter or Instagram and prepare to be tempted beyond your sweet tooth limits with freshly baked delights.  I love the pulled pork flatbread for a quick lunch in the retro, fairy lighted room.

Hillside kitchen

One of the new kids on the block, the fresh space and coiffed moustached welcome from Jules says you’re onto a winner.  The Lamb Brioche was delicious, and the tweeting of the seasonal, what’s available now, menu tempted me I to try the Fig, mascarpone and apple tartine.  I was inspired to make my own version for a dinner party starter, to much success.


Down at Clyde Quay Wharf, Mojo Coffee have yet another winner, with a menu cultivated by Martin Bosley.  A great space, with bar tables and stools one side, and tables an”d chairs in the other, this is a deliciously busy spot.  The 12 hr cooked beef ‘mince on toast’ is so tasty I haven’t yet moved passed it!

Chocolate fish

Two words: Scallop Sandwich.  So good are these sammies, my mother within a few hours of arriving from the UK made sure a Scallop Sandwich at the Chocolate Fish cafe was part of the schedule!  A quirky cafe in what feels like a dilapidated building is the perfect location for bringing kids and dogs, although the conservatory at the back is an adult only zone, for sitting in the sun over looking the harbour.

Maranui Cafe 

An old faithful, viewed by many as an iconic Wellington cafe, the funky diner is always busy.  A great selection of cabinet food and wholesome menu provides food for all occasions through the day.  Strong Havana coffee and a fabulous view over the beach, it’s a firm fave and visitors we take there have loved it.  Also where I saw Orlando Bloom and Richard Armitage hanging out, brunching, during filming of The Hobbit.

Posted in Restaurant Review, Travel.

WBC Restaurant, Wellington

We were off to a good start. As we ascended the stairs to WBC Restaurant on Victoria Street, guests descended telling us “You’re going to LOVE it!”. Great, bring it!

Sure enough the, more compact than expected, restaurant had a table free however there was a caveat – we had to relinquish the table at 8.30pm. I questioned the fact they don’t take bookings, however for big groups later in the evening they do, and they had. I explained we were celebrating so didn’t want to be rushed, so a compromise was met that we’d move when another table came free. Within five minutes of sitting down, we were told they’d made other arrangements and we could have the table for as long as we want – perfect! Great customer service.

The menu did need a bit of explaining, such as what was Laab moo and Chook chook chicken, but all the descriptions confirmed that it was yummy food combinations.

We were with our Auckland Whanau, the Kiwi’s sister and brother in law, celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary, and after a round of cocktails we started with four small plates, so we could each taste everything ordered. The waitress was delightful, friendly and helpful with a bit of fun and also discernment on when to leave us to contemplate.

The special small plate of Tuatua fritters were a sensation – pillows of subtle flavour behind the dark, fried skin, with a lovely aioli. Heavenly. The Laab moo was rich in the winning combination of chilli heat and fresh flavours. Pork and shitake dumplings were just right. Tom yum squid was covered with a light batter and deliciously devoid of rubberiness.

For the main event, the anniversary couple decided to do the ‘Boots n all’ Wagyu Beef – at $76 this was a great choice, as it came with a healthy portion of beautifully cooked wagyu beef on a bed of greens, with a lovely gravy and porcini mushrooms, grilled asparagus and fabulous duck fat cooked potatos.

The kiwi had the most tender Penang beef cheek curry, and I had the warahau fish – with beautifully crispy skin and still moist and perfectly cooked flesh, on coconut rice served with a refreshing cucumber mint salad and tamarind – just beautiful.


Two of us caved to the short dessert menu, with brother in law having the Lemon curd Eton and I enjoyed the Mango mousse with coconut custard, light and tasty.

Really and truly, it was all flawless, faultless and so damn tasty. My only irritation for the evening was why I hadn’t experienced this fabulous dining experience before now! The urban interior was cleverly softened by materials to ensure although a bustling restaurant, you could still chat and enjoy conversation. Staff are attentive – I saw that each time a table was moved a waiter ensured there was no irritating wiggle to annoy guests with. Staff were busy, charming, attentive and discerning – so good we left a tip, which we don’t do often in New Zealand.

I think I am in love!

WBC Restaurant, 1st Floor, 107 Victoria Street, Wellington 

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Twitter 101, conclusion

Part III – The basics

Twitter has a good Help Centre that covers the basics, however let me run through a few for you.

Replying to a tweet:

When accounts you follow tweet, their tweet will appear in your timeline, or stream, in real time.  You can reply to tweets. Just to be clear, you are responding to the person who wrote the tweet directly, and publicly.  If you saw the movie “Chef” you will understand why I am making this clear!  Click on the “reply”button in the tweet you want to respond to.

By starting a tweet with @acctnamehere your tweet will only be seen by the person you are tweeting and anyone else that follows both you and that account.  If you want all your followers to see it prefix the tweet with a . like this .@paolabrett and it will appear in your followers’ stream.

Below is an example of an interaction using mentions (in my first tweet), then Rod Drury replies to me.  I reply so my followers will maybe see that tweet, then I get a direct reply again from Rod Drury and finally @matthewbrett uses the . to keep the tweet visible to all while replying. 

Twitter Interaction

RT – Retweet:

You can retweet a tweet, effectively you reshare someone’s tweet to your stream. Twitter provide a retweet button in tweets, when you use this a green box will appear above the tweet and say it was retweeted by you.

Example of a quoted RT

Example of a quoted RT

In the web version you are limited to just straight forward retweets,  however in Twitter apps it’s possible to quote a tweet and add some comment of your own, if there are enough available characters.  

Select ‘quote tweet’ in the app, then make your comment and the letters ‘‘RT’ (retweet) before the actual tweet so it differentiates between your thoughts and those in the retweeted tweet. I view this as very important, as you attribute content to the appropriate person.

MT – Modified Tweet:

You can also modify tweets, where you quote only part of someone’s tweet, removing some of their content to make room for your own.  You would put your comment first, then prefix the tweet you are quoting with MT (modified tweet) just before the tweeter’s handle so followers understand it’s modified and they are not seeing the full, original content.

Use of MT

Use of MT


You can mention someone in a Tweet by using @personstwitterhandle and this means they are notified they were mentioned in the tweet.  So, if you are talking about a person or business, you can ensure they see the tweet by using their twitter handle and ‘mentioning’ them.

DM – Direct Messages

If you follow someone and they follow you, it is possible to send Direct Messages to each other, and these messages ARE just between the two of you, and not a broadcast.

#ttrtpt – This tweet refers to previous tweet 

Sometimes it’s a struggle to fit it all into a single 140 character tweet, so you can cheat a little by spreading your thoughts across, I’d suggest no more than, two tweets.  As you prepare your second tweet prefix it with trpt – this refers to previous tweet.  It used to be This tweet refers to previous tweet, but it was shortened.

Now onto the subject of # – Hashtags

Ah, hashtags.  This could probably be a blog post of its own! A subject that seems to get Twitter newcomer’s knickers in a twist! 

It is something that irritates the heck out of me, as some tweeps do it sooo badly, and yet it’s really not that complicated!  The use of hashtags is so badly demonstrated by Twitter users at times that it perpetuates the folly of it’s use!

So, from Twitter helpcentre, this is the low down on using hashtags:

“Using hashtags to categorize Tweets by keyword:

  • People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search.

  • Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets marked with that keyword.

  • Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end.

  • Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.”

Ok, pay attention to the next bit, please!

“Using hashtags correctly:

  • If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet

  • Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Don’t over-tag a single Tweet. (Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet.)

  • Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic.”

I think that is pretty straightforward – consider a # as a search tool. It puts your tweet into context, associating your tweet with a specific topic. Not all tweets need to contain a hashtag. Really, they don’t!

If you attend an event it’s likely they may have an already prepared # – recently The Kiwi attended a conference and they used #WDCNZ  – Web Developers Conference NZ.  I attended the #HootupWLG last month and it became a trending topic as tweets were tagged with this hashtag. The Fifa Football World Cup trended considerably, particularly during certain matches, due to the hashtags used.

As it happens, this article was posted today – Twitter’s hashtag guide for dummies if you want to have a read!

So, I think that’s about covers the practical stuff.

Give it a go! 

It is social, so finding your feet and joining into that first conversation can be daunting – it’s like butting into a conversation you have overheard.  Keep in mind, that just as there are ways of doing that face to face, there are ways to do that online.  I think my first interaction was a conversation by two Kiwi’s living in London, discussing where to find a decent coffee – I tweeted them and made a suggestion and a lovely conversation developed, and one of those Tweeties is now a good friend!

It is a social media, but remember there is still etiquette involved, always think what would you do in person?  How would you like others to treat you?

Right.  Learn as you go. Give it a try, go forth and tweet! Have fun.


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