The big yearly event in Alexandra is their Blossom festival, anyone from Lincolnshire just think of Flower Parade and you've got the idea.
It all kicked off on the Friday night with a Mardi Gras night. There's a race up the clock on the hill with a kids relay race and the adults raced by themselves but had to go through the river rather than other the bridge. There were; bed races, best dressed bike competition and pulling a fire truck competition which were all a bit underwhelming but the night ended with an amazing firework display. Anyone who was at the bonfire night in Coventry where the fireworks were advertised as being as big as cathedrals just think of that. The night was topped off candy floss, donuts and hotdogs on sticks.
The next day was eerily like Flower Parade, parade of floats, choirs, marching bands through town and then fun fair, food stalls and shops. There were two stages one for kids and one for adults with soul trio. The main attraction for us though was the wood cutting contest. There were different categories; one where they cut stands on a log and stood on it chopping overhand, the second was with the log on a stand and chopping underarm. Then there were the big team saws which were about two metres long and teams raced to be the first to cut through a log and then raced against a chainsaw and were actually faster! There was some great food there and we had venison burgers with cranberry and apples, pork belly on sticks, some awesome twisty potatoes on a stick and Olle Bollen (Dutch donuts). The weather changed, it turned colder and started to rain so we left.
The Blossom festival ended with the Merino Shears the next weekend. A two day sheep shearing contest at the local stadium. It was free to see until the final on Saturday evening, we ended up working the Saturday so missed the free events and some friends said it wasn't really worth paying to go and see.
However when we were there Jeff thought he heard the sound of a tattoo gun from across the car park, when we checked it out there was a travelling Ta. Moko tattooist who is a person who does traditional Maori style tattoos and had set up shop in a caravan in a car park - so not at all dodgy. Jeff had said that he wanted a Maori tattoo whilst in New Zealand and had been looking at places to get it done but they were all very very expensive. The tattooist, a huge Maori dude covered from neck down in tattoos said to come back tomorrow and we could do something.
We came back the next day and he said he had been thinking about Jeff's tattoo and had consulted the spirits (where all his inspiration comes from). He said because we were travelling the spirits had told him an albatross needed to be my tattoo as it represents travelling and looks after all travellers. Before he could start tattooing he had to say some prayers to the Maori gods and blessings for my tattoo. After that we went straight through and 5 hours later my tattoo was done. It was a very long five hours and uncomfortable towards the end but he then told us that he had done 20 hours straight on a man before so this was nothing.
Look at the photos to see it but towards my ankle is the tail and nest for the albatross, the wing is pretty obvious and the eyes and beak are just to the left of the wing. The traditional Maori story says that the albatross leaves its nest for seven years and flies on the four winds of earth which can be felt anywhere, which are the four separate swirls with bird outlines. The lines going all the way up and down and to represent the many horizons the albatross will see on its travels as though you are standing on the beach looking out to see and you can where the sky and sea meet.
So that's the story of blossom festival and how Jeff got his very small new tattoo. Work is still going well and we think we have another couple of weeks here which will hopefully push us to the end of October ish and then we will see what happens after that. We are thinning apricots at the moment, which involves pulling off lots of apricots which look like grapes at the moment and leaving space for the bigger fruit to grow.
Oh and we have also found the best chocolate bar in the world - not sure if you can get it in England yet but it's a Kit Kat Chunky 3. The big bar is divided into three sections with one being a gooey, one being smooth and one being crunchy. You can get them in three flavours; mint, caramel or cookies and cream but mint it definitely the best. There now you all know.