What do you do when you love Mussels as much as I do?

 

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You visit Havelock, New Zealand, the Green-lipped Mussel capital of the world. Definitely one of our favourite days exploring NZ!

This area is in the spectacular Marlborough Sounds region on the South Island of NZ.

 

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We left early on the Pelorus Mail Boat out of the town of Havelock.   This boat delivers mail, supplies and people to remote coastal areas.  There are no roads, ferries or cruise ships.

Living out west on Vancouver Island, we have had the opportunity to spend the day on mail boats.  It is a nice way to let someone else do the navigating and spend a relaxing day enjoying the scenery.  We were looking forward to a break from driving the challenging NZ roads.

 

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It was a gorgeous day, some areas calm, some windy with stunning scenery in every direction.

 

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The captain and guide were very kind, fun and knowledgeable about the history and wildlife in this area. 

The Green-lipped Mussels are endemic to NZ.  The name comes from the distinct emerald green colour of the shell.  They are sometimes called Green Shelled Mussels or NZ Mussels.  They may have anti-inflammatory health benefits for some people. (weblink)

We saw many mussel farms in the inlets of Marlborough Sounds.  Up until now, I have enjoyed eating mussels, although, I had no idea how mussels grow in the coastal waters.

 

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Spat (juvenile mussels) are collected, where they wash up attached to clumps of seaweed.   Spat arrive at a mussel farm and are transferred to ropes in seawater until about 6 months of age.  They are removed and then reseeded onto long stretches of rope, and grown for another 9 to 12 months.  They are then harvested. 

Most aspects of farmed and wild mussels are identical. The mussel farms are located in the same areas where wild mussels thrive.  Mussels require sheltered areas. There are over 600 mussel farms in NZ and they cover thousands of hectares of marine space. (weblink) (link)

We saw some boats go by carrying huge white bags.  Each of these bags contain over a ton of mussels.  These boats were obviously very low in the water.

 

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We stopped at a remote lodge for lunch.  Of course, we ordered the mussels. 

I bit down on a mussel to the sound of a crunch.  Was it a piece of shell or my tooth?  Hiding underneath the mussel was a pea-sized crab.  More on this later in a future story.

 

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We stopped for a hike on a secluded beach.  The only access to this area is by boat or helicopter.

 

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We came across colonies of beautiful, big seabirds called Gannets.

 

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We were introduced to a huge insect endemic to New Zealand called a Giant Weta.  It is described as a relatively harmless insect.  Only a few of them bite.  I didn’t know which side of the fence this Weta belonged, the biting or the nonbiting side.  And using the term “relatively harmless” does not make me feel better. 

 

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A highlight towards the end of the day was to have a large school of Bottlenose dolphins swim around us.  Even, Trish, the guide became very emotional. Although she travels these inlets every day,  she had never seen this many dolphins stay as long to play. 

 

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We have been surrounded by breathtaking scenery and incredible natural beauty in NZ.  Every day has been an adventure.  We have learned about the history of the Islands.  We have been fortunate to witness the diverse marine life and wildlife native to this country.

Exploring the Marlborough Sounds region on the Pelorus mail boat was definitely a highlight for us. It was one of our best days in New Zealand!

 

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And what will I continue to order for my favourite meal?  Mussels, of course!

 

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Contemplating a Tattoo in New Zealand

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Tattoos are popular.

I have nothing against them.

Just not for me.  Not right now. 

 

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We were watching the surf on the Coromandel Peninsula, on the North Island of New Zealand.  The first thing that came to mind was my daughter’s tattoo.  It’s funny how an image can evoke a memory.

The waves on this beach reminded me of the tattoo of a heartbeat.

 

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Having raised teenage daughters, the concept of tattoos was brought up at a young age.  I didn’t bring up the topic.  They did.

The buzzword phrases were:  pick my battles and allow them to make their own decisions.

I chose my words carefully.

My advice was “think about it for one year before you do anything.  This is a permanent decision.”

Their first tattoos were initials of each other’s name.

 

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Artwork was added. 

 

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About ten years later, my daughter was excited to show me her new tattoo.  This tattoo was the image of the actual heartbeat of her little girl. This tattoo meant a lot to her.  It was symbolic of the precious gift of her child.

 

My daughter now has two heartbeat tattoos.

 

 

 

 

The first thing I saw on that beach in New Zealand was an image of a heartbeat. The waves had created distinct peaks on the shoreline.  Possibly the ocean’s heartbeat.

 

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For me, it brought up the memory of my daughter’s tattoos.  Symbolic of the priceless heartbeats of life.

 

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I may get a charm, or a pendant as a special, meaningful keepsake.

I don’t think I will get a tattoo.

Not right now. 

I may change my mind.

 

What does the word “Magical” mean to you?

The rain stops.  The sky clears.  The air is crisp and cold.

Just for one night, time stands still.

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Tens of thousands of twinkling lights.

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An illusion. A mystery.

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A feeling of enchantment.

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Children’s smiles.

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Removed from everyday life.

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Thankful for this moment in time.

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For we are all children, in awe of the Magic.

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I wish everyone a year filled with Magical Moments in 2019!

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What day will you remember from 2018?

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Do you remember the day your child was born?…. the birth of your grandchild?….your wedding day?.…the day a loved one dies?

The end of December is often a time of reflection, recalling many of the events from the last 12 months.  2018 was filled with many positive moments, some noteworthy and some long forgotten.  I have to refer back to my photos and to my calendar to jog my memory.

The one day in 2018  I will never forget is the day my Grandson was born.  

I remember the adrenaline cursing through my body when we received the phone call to rush to the hospital.  I remember my daughter’s labour and how I wanted to alleviate her pain, yet how helpless I felt.  I remember the love on my daughter’s face when she held her son for the first time.

I remember the joy I felt and how I was overcome with emotion hearing his newborn cries, seeing him for the first time, the miracle of life.

These memories are forever etched in my mind.  I vividly remember the details of that day.

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 Yet, I cannot immediately recall what I did a week ago.

There has been a great deal of research done investigating the relationship between emotion and memory.  We create longer lasting memories in emotionally charged situations. 

This is a complex subject with many individual variations.

Events surrounded by positive emotions are usually remembered better than events surrounded by negative emotions. 

Different emotional states may impair memory.  Strong emotional states can result in persistent vivid memories of stressful events (PTSD).

 Gender differences influence memory.  Men and women may remember events differently.

Our age affects the details we remember.  As we get older, unpleasant memories fade faster and pleasant memories get stronger.    learn more here   and here 

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I can look back on my own life and clearly recall details from emotional events that occurred many decades ago.  I can also remember how I felt on that day and tears (of joy or sadness) can easily resurface.

                 the birth of my own children……. the timing of events on that day, the colour of the socks I was wearing, even what I had to eat that day…….my feelings of relief, euphoria and love

                  my Father’s funeral…….how my body would not stop shaking and my daughter held my hand to steady it, memories and photos shared that day, the blue sky…….an overwhelming feeling of sadness

                    my daughter and son-in-law’s wedding…….the beaming, genuine smiles on their faces, the look of love in their eyes, the ocean breeze…….my tears of love and joy

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I think most of us have vivid recollections of events when we were in a heightened state of emotion.  We can recall details from that day and how we felt. 

The end of the year is often a time we reminisce on the special moments of the last 12 months.  2018 was a good year for us, creating many memories with our loved ones.  What events took place?  What did I do?  Where did I travel?  What do I remember?

I do know that I will never forget the day in April that my Grandson was born, an emotional day filled with intense feelings of gratitude, joy, and love. 

What day will you remember from 2018?

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