Wine Tour South-South, Wine Tour North-South And What’s With All The Pumpkin Soup?

Recently I was perusing my drafts folder and realized I have a lot of unfinished business. Most of it I will trash, but this post that I started 2018 after my 13 day trip to New Zealand with Kelly, well, I really wanted it on my blog for prosperity. I wrote a few other posts about our trip and the adventure of this Florida girl driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road in a winter white-out. SO many unexpected things happened, but I can say for certain this is a country I would visit again. (if you care to read, I have a tag on the side of my page labeled New Zealand.)

After previewing this post and all the wine photos, I thought to myself: Kelly and I need a meeting.
But ONLY if that meeting includes wine.

I don’t know when it exactly happened, but at one point in the early 2000’s we switched from enjoying Italian Pinot Grigio to NZ Sauvignon blanc. I suppose I could go back and look at stock reports for the vineyards and see an uptick.

The wine was ONE of the allures to see NZ. Also, seeing my youngest favorite daughter.
I still can’t believe she traveled to NZ all by herself, although she does have an adventurous spirit. And had she NOT visited NZ, I never would have went there myself.

If you don’t know (because I didn’t) NZ is two islands; The North and The south Island.

We had two wine tours booked; One on the south part of the south island. The other on the north part of the south island.


While in Queenstown, (our first stop in NZ) our travel agent booked us a wine tour.
We didn’t know what to expect, other than wine tastings. We were picked up by a sweet gentleman and we were accompanied by another couple from the states. The tour was full of beautiful scenery, lovely stops to enjoy the views, learning some history of the area, some food and of course, wine.
Appellation Boutique Wine tour

The south part of the south island is known for its Pinot Noir vineyards because it is a much cooler climate than the north part of the south island. And this is where our New Zealand tour began, on the Southern part of the south island. Are we confused yet? No? but wait, there’s more.

The north part of the south island is where our beloved Sauvignon blanc is produced. That is the Marlbourough region.

We had many adventures on the south part of the south island, but this post is mainly about WINE and me typing north and south.


We thoroughly enjoyed the Sounds connection wine tour-Marlborough region; it was just a driver, Kelly, myself and a young couple from Australia who didn’t care for wine. I still can’t figure out why they did a wine tour; maybe they misread it as a Mine Tour? You know how kids are…

Spy valley was a really cool vineyard to visit; their cellar room was very modern and minimalistic. They are very close to a Spy Base that is part of the “five eyes” of intelligence alliances: the US, New Zealand, Canada, UK and Australia. Supposedly the spying is led by the US and of course, there is some disapproval around it all, but they, I need my NZ wine! Fun Fact: All bottles of Spy Valley Wine have Morse Code somewhere on them.

We really enjoyed the Framingham vineyard visit and occasionally I can find this particular wine at Total Wine and I have myself a travel flashback. (Currently, I can ALWAYS find it at Total wine and it’s high on my list!)

Cloudy bay has always been one of our favorites; Surprise Surprise, it’s also one of the most expensive. What can I say? I never had Trailer Park taste, even while I was there. Kelly actually spent a good part of her childhood in a trailer park too, so we often giggle about that and the fact that WE’RE IN NEW ZEALAND DRINKING our favorite WINE!

Lake Chalice was one of the smaller vineyards we visited in Marlborough. We were very impressed with the quality of the wine, the friendliness of the hostesses and the fact that they served us some food to go with the wine. Our other favorite thing aside from drinking NZ wine is snacking.

Pumpkin What?

While we were in NZ it was their ‘spring’ time. The weather was cool and crisp and we noticed that everywhere we ate they offered ‘pumpkin’ soup. I’m not sure if that is a year round option, or just in the cooler months but we partook several times and it was always a little different at each restaurant.

We finally asked someone and found out that it’s not always PUMPKIN even thought it’s called PUMPKIN. Sometimes it actually a variety of squash. Well played New Zealand, well played.

After 11 days of touring/driving the South Island from south to north, I was happy to drop off the rental car and to hop on a Ferry and head to the south side of the north island where Lindsay was visiting.

We had a such a great time. I would love to go back and see more of the South Island.

Soon after we arrived in Wellington we met up with Lindsay at a little restaurant for dinner and Kelly and I were….wait, what’s the word? It’s the opposite of impressed. Disappointed? Shocked? At the size of the wine glasses. So.very.petite. But at least the company was great and the wine delicious.

Ok. That was a lot of wine talk. If you don’t hear from me soon, I’ll get back to you in about 30 days.

Have any of my friends visited New Zealand? If not what is the ONE place you would like to revisit?

The Happiest Place On Earth Is Wherever My Friends And I Are

Y’all I had a great weekend with my dear friend!

You might recall my post back in November regarding my girlfriend D who lost her son Kelly.

I’ve known D since she was pregnant with Kelly while I was just a few weeks ahead of D pregnant with Lauren; D and I worked together in Texas. To be clear: I worked there a few weeks before She and I was pregnant a few weeks before her and we also had the same Dr. deliver our babies. Also, our husbands at the time worked for the same company and they share the same first name.

Hmmm….I’m starting to think this might have been a Single White Female scenario.

Oh well, it all turned out fine and no one was murdered which is always a good sign in friendships.

BTW: Did I ever tell you that I (we) basically worked at Dunder Mifflin? I was in the “office supplies sales” Dept and D was the assistant to our office manager.

Wait, did that make her Pam? And was I Jim or Dwight? Please, Lawd, let me be Jim!

Last month when I was slumming it in the Bahamas she texted me saying that she had a work thing in Orlando and if she arrived a few days early, could I come up and ‘play’?


We aren’t ‘theme park’ girls, so we found other sources of entertainment.

Flowers. Butterflies. Plants. Mexican food. Wine. A boat tour. An improv comedy show. We’re easily entertained!

D and I haven’t seen each other in eight years and before that? It was 18 damn years and that particular visit was in the DFW airport as the Coach and I were traveling from Phoenix to Florida and had a layover.

You know how you have those people in your life where you can go years without seeing each other and then boom, pick up like a day hasn’t passed? We have that.

We were wandering through a botanical garden when there was a sign for an Arnold Palmer garden yada yada (I really didn’t pay attention) but I did say: I’d push someone down for an Arnold Palmer right now.

D: You mean….golfing? Isn’t he a golfer?

Me: Yes, he’s a golfer, but have you NOT had an Arnold Palmer before? Its iced tea mixed with lemonade!

MIND BLOWN! My Tea Drinking Texas friend had never had an Arnold Palmer before!

We remedied that at lunch.

Spoiler alert: She loved it.

We had such a lovely weekend together and it won’t be eight years until we see each other again; the Coach and I will be traveling to TX to see them this year.

And you’ll be surprised to know that over the weekend together we spoke about her son Kelly A LOT ; there was much laughter and very few tears. D is a very strong person and she has a very deep faith in God and that has gotten her through her somewhat chaotic life (similar to my childhood) and this big loss. She’s a pretty optimistic and happy camper.

Do you have friends like D and I? Where you can pick up easily?

How about an Arnold Palmer? Do you love them? Would you push someone down for one when you’re hot and thirsty?


Gifts From The Sea; Good & Bad

Growing up in on the east coast of Florida, I always found sea glass easily; now that we reside on the west coast, I think it has to do with our water being more shallow & calm (like me) or the fact that people just don’t toss glass off boats as much. Or we use more plastic than glass now?

Actual photo of Suz beach-combing and eating sea glass. Hey, I needed to get my protein somewhere.

Kelly and I love to peruse the Bahama beaches for sea glass, but So we always bring an empty bag for garbage and either a cup or our pockets for our glass treasures.

Our first two days on the island we walked directly across the street from our rental to a nice beach area; there were hardly any shells and only a bit of sea glass and a bit of litter. I was disappointed in the sea for those two days and I hope the sea felt it.

My first two days worth of treasures. BTW, we always refer to small pieces of driftwood like this one as ocean pencils; you know in case you need to write a letter to a mermaid.

Two days later, we were actually with a group of the songwriters who arranged for a beach clean up. Kelly and I were the first ones there, being professional litter gathering nerds and all. This was happening just a bit down the road on the other side of a small hotel. Five minutes into our clean up, and Wam, Bam, Thank You Sea Glass Mam we struck gold. I was cleaning up garbage, but also spying all the glass. I made eye contact with Kelly who was about 20 feet away and we had a telepathic moment: she also saw all the glass.

It was coming UP from the sea and landing at our feet. NIRVANA!

*suz looks around to see if she was on camera*


We worked as a great team cleaning up a large portion of the beach; I found three toothbrushes, several shoes, shoe inserts, bottle caps, boat parts, plastic, rope, and water bottles. As a group of about 15, we filled up around 20 XL construction bags of debris in a few hours.

I have this weird thought that runs through my head when I’m cleaning up the beach whether in a group or just Kelly and I. I know one day, I will reach down to pick up something and it will turn out to be either a severed hand or a set of dentures (always with the teeth); that is when I’ll retire my clean-up bag. Until then I’m all in.


Later on, we headed back to our newly discovered Haven. It was almost too easy. Sea glass, here. Sea glass, there. Sea glass, every damn where.

I want need you to know that I am a purist when it comes to sea glass; I do not take pieces that are unfinished.

I threw back almost as many pieces as I kept since they weren’t fully cooked yet.

I had to stop myself every once in a while, look up and make sure Kelly was still in the vicinity and that we’d not accidentally wandered off to Cuba.


Three times at Sea Glass Beach when we were only about 10 minutes into our hunt, the damn rain would come out of nowhere. We would have to trot all the way back to the house holding the cup of sea glass , bag of litter, also me holding my boobs because when I go on vacation my boobs also go on vacation.

I just realized that I lied when I said I didn’t get any exercise last week: squatting, crouching and trotting while holding boobs does count as exercise!

My haul for the week. Note the three little pieces of blue (sky vodka) those made me giddier than fifteen year old Suz getting a new poster of Adam Ant!

Someone asked me what I did with my collected sea glass and without a thought I answered that I placed spells on them and then slipped them into the pockets of those who’ve wronged me.

Why, why, do I not have super powers?

My Aunt and Uncle have been staying on Marco Island for two months this winter and they complained that there isn’t any sea glass to be found. I’m now saving some wine bottles for the Coach to toss far out when he’s fishing. This is the kind of littering I can get behind.

Have you found sea glass before? Is this a new concept? Do you think I’m shellfish for keeping it?