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Friday, January 30, 2009

He's back in Nouveau Zealandia

It's nice to have K back again after his whirlwind trip to Brizzie.
Here is a pic he took this morning from over there.
We spent a lot of time roaming this area not so many years ago.
The weather is pretty much always like this.
In fact, the state's slogan is : Beautiful one day, perfect the next!
It's pretty close to the truth too.
Our kids used to wake up and groan, "Awww....it's sunny AGAIN!"
And then when we went to the Great White North, people thought we were absolutely nuts when our kids got really excited about the rain.
We actually bought gumboots (galoshes/wellingtons) in our first week there......and then had to wait for 6 weeks before we could use it! It was an unseasonally dry year!! :-)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On the joys of camping...

This is the closest I have ever been, to hugging my shower and flush toilet!

We’re back again and I have been musing upon the tribulations versus the joys of camping. I have some pressing questions.

What makes a person want to go camping? Does it take a certain type of person, a particular genetic disposition, a psychological bent? Does the joy of the experience warrant all the extra preparation, both beforehand AND after the event? And what does the concept of “basic” mean to different people? Is there an innate desire to bond with nature or are some people just seriously deluded? And who invented the 3-minute shower, and were they bald, or how did they manage to wash hair, body, and get all the dirt and layers of gunk off themselves in that generous amount of time? For that matter, who invented the long drop toilet, and did they possess extraordinarily-gracious olfactory and visual sensorial talents….or for that matter, a very tough emotional fortitude?

But wait. I have more! As romantic as I perceive my concept of snow and wintry weather are, I wonder about those equally romantic notions of summer. What possesses a person who lives in a perfectly reasonable dwelling, to choose to habitate beneath a thin layer of canvas (albeit mixed with synthetic materials) in the heat of the summer, in uncomfortably close proximity with friendly and not so friendly wildlife, and with the ever present possibility of flooding below or drips from above? Further, when one’s only access to clean, non-sticky skin is a freezing cold stream or a temperamental shower of dubious length and temperature, why would one then go somewhere where one has to pile LAYERS of gloop into one’s pores? Have you thought about those layers? Moisturiser to keep that skin feeling a little less like sandpaper. Then sunblock (SPF 30 – 70+) to protect you from those harmful rays. And reapplications because you’ve gone ‘glowy’ or been for a swim. And don’t forget the essential layers of insect repellent…..and thereafter the layers of anti-itch cream, because those rural mozzies just love the taste of sweet, tender, city-dwelling skin. And then there are those layers of good wholesome dirt and summer-induced perspiration. Yummy.

Those and more, are just some of the thoughts which have occupied a little of my mind over the past 5 days. But I think I have waxed lyrical for long enough. Lest the above gives anyone fodder to accuse me of going soft in my old age, here are some of my other musings.
There is nothing quite like sitting beneath a star-laden sky on a clear summer’s night, with a warm light breeze rustling the tops of the trees. No haze from city lights to diffuse the inky blackness. Just a cheery glow of the lantern; the sweet scent of the forest and the night air, and one’s mug of hot chocolate. I love looking up into the heavens and wondering about the greater universe; about the God who created it; about the millions of years it has taken for that little flicker of light to reach my eyes. If you venture a little further into the bush, your canopy may become the pretty sparkling of the glow worms. (At this point, I choose not to think about the possibility of those wriggly things at the end of the pretty lights, falling into my hair…..). Then there is the realisation that you are far from the madding crowd and life’s pressures. It’s a wonderful feeling (mostly). No computers, often no cell phone coverage, nothing to charge the batteries anyway. And it’s even better if you are camping away with friends. You don’t feel guilty about putting the world to rights, through the wee small hours of the night….eating constantly and blaming the fresh outdoors for your healthy appetite….it’s all compulsory relaxation! And it is lovely just to have the time to explore, or to chat, or to do whatever! No agendas, no set routine, no demands on one’s day! And all the time in the world to muse upon matters of utmost importance, of course….!

For those who are interested, we camped at Wentworth Valley on the Coromandel Peninsula. The facilities were hardly lugubrious, but the setting was idyllic. Rolling hills, waterfalls, clear streams and pools, beautiful native bush. And the weather was incredible – sparkling waters, sunshine like you wouldn’t believe, and those beautiful, clear blue skies. We really have had the most perfect weather for all our holidaying. Thankfully, otherwise there might be more gripes to add to the list above! And whilst we were sufficiently in the wops to feel unhampered by civilisation, for those who needed to touch base with ‘life apart from nature’ (shops, cafes etc!), the seaside/surfing resort of Whangamata (complete with very hospitable friends, rather more satisfactory ablution facilities, and boat!) was not really so far away!

Perhaps the one question which still bothers me though, is, why on earth did Noah allow those 2 mosquitoes on board the Ark?

Photos from our foray into civilisation (aka Whangamata).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January Growth

Life around here kind of just continues on...

The snow has lingered for the past month, thawing, refreezing, and hanging out with us. Some places have none left, but our front yard is still mostly covered. Looking forward to seeing the last of it, but the weather man is calling for more tomororow! The past few days have been clear, cold, and frosty!
My parents were over yesterday and the boys posed with my mum. Little Bear was in a silly mood and donned these fake plastic glasses for a new look. He was thinking in particular of Garth from Wayne's World. Quite a role model.
Little Joe wrote his English 12 provincial exam today, as the first semester has ended. One more before he graduates from high school. And here's a new development: he is going to be leaving his school next week - for good - to attend the computer networking course that Big Bear teaches. Although this program is post secondary, it will provide him with the credits to complete high school. So suddenly, as of next Monday, he'll be done. And onto the next challenge in his life. The good thing is that he'll be able to graduate with his class.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. It's all happened so quickly! This means that I won't be driving to school with him anymore and that he'll be into a completely different scene.
My baby!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gallivanting around the Nth Island (Pt1)

As promised, I am trying my best to post before we head away again tomorrow. I had hoped to post the complete (if summarised) rundown of our holiday in one hit, but have sadly come to the realisation that I was being utterly unrealistic! In fact, as I write, I have HOURS of work still to do to get ready for tomorrow’s departure. But I am taking a break to post or it will not happen. What this means, is that I think this holiday recount may take up more posts than I anticipated initially! My apologies. I will blog on the holiday until I reach the end, or until you get sick of it and tell me to STOP!

Anyway! We decided these holidays, that we needed to introduce the boys to their native land and some of the ‘kiwiana’ attached to it. I will try to summarise it all into a few memorable moments and photos.
We began our trip southwards, with a stop with our friends at their bach (use ‘crib’ in Australian, and ‘cabin’ in Canadian!) at Taupo.

Lake Taupo is NZ’s largest fresh water lake and is about the size of Singapore!

Memorable moments were being able to spend time again with good friends, K helping John with building the deck, going boating and fishing on the Lake (and I must advertise the fact that I think I caught the ONLY Rainbow Trout in the Lake! Oh, and this sort of fishing is for me - no horrible worms, all very clean! If I was a Rainbow Trout, I think I would've liked to have gobbled up my cute fluorescent pink fluffy glowbug with the boggly eyes too...) .....

clear, clear blue water .....

discovering pumice at the many beaches .....

spectacular views everywhere .....

beautiful sunsets .....

Twas such a lovely time.

From Taupo, we headed to Napier to spend time with the Grandies and Cuzzies.

The summer heat was amazing.

The boys became instantly tanned from spending time in and out of the water. If you like the sun, this is definitely where you need to come. Napier is the Art Deco City of NZ. Our time here was primarily to spend time with family and that was indeed a bonus.

And this is where I’ll have to leave you for today…..I looked at my photos from Napier and there are THOUSANDS I would love to post here…..unfortunately, I’ll have to pick some and resize them – a job that isn’t going to happen tonight with all that has yet to be done!

However, I will leave you with evidence of the fruit of some of my labours today – a picture of breakfast for one morning – a huge batch of homemade muesli a la Ange! And now I must tootle. As E put it so well today – “all this preparation for a few days of camping, is like the preparation it takes to go away and stay in a hotel for 2 weeks!” He’s right! And now you know why my idea of camping usually includes a lobby!!! Catch you when we return….

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A funny weather mix, lately... As soon as the sun goes down, the air is full of pea soup! At least, though, the past three days have featured sun! It makes everyone happy, and almost - almost - distracts us from the TRAFFIC! One of the major bridges in the city is closed (due to a fire that burned the wooden structure. OK, it's old!!), and the 80 000 cars that normally use it every day are filling up the other bridges. And highways. And it's very busy...
But do the children care about these things??? Absolutely not! They just want to play!
Maybe grownups should run around and have fun, too!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cultivate versus vegetate

This is my favourite pic from our holidays. It 'feels' so tranquil.

I am BACK! But where do I begin ?!

It has been a whirlwind since we returned home from our gallivanting around the central and lower North Island of NZ.
We were greeted with a huge pile of parcels, mail, and other evidences of Christmas and birthday occasions!
And the email folder looks truly daunting (from my very brief perusal of it this morning).
In less than 48 hrs, we have made a birthday cake, celebrated L’s birthday with family, and been to a wonderful farewell BBQ. In amongst everything else.

Perhaps I will begin with our return.
We asked L how he would like to spend his birthday.
His reply was, “I want to spend the day with grandpa and grandma…..I want to carve pumice (see later posts), and I want to do something that doesn’t cost a lot of money..!”
So we returned home, baked a cake and decorated it in family tradition (our family birthday cakes all have a secret compartment, designed and engineered by K!), celebrated it with the grandies and family….and our boy turned 8.
He is very happy about being 8….
unlike his mother who is resisting the passing of each calendar year!
Speaking of which, I think I have had more than enough ‘celebrating’ of the ‘you know what’ ! What with having had a surprise party in Dec, and having to flee the city for the actual event, I was hoping for a ‘quieter’ time this year. Nonetheless, I was very touched by all the messages of love and concern at my passing of years! I felt totally overwhelmed and inundated with all the phone calls, texts, mail etc etc etc which came through on and around The Day!
Over and above the call of duty, methinks.
Time to move on.

The lad turneth 8 !

And last night signalled the end of an era.

We had a farewell BBQ for Sally & Andrew, and Eunice & Evan, and their wonderful families.
It was a fun night, made even better by the ease of comfortable friendship.
And the food! Oh, the food! This group has a reputation for having amazing food every time we get together, and last night was no exception!
Dave’s BBQ’d garlic pita will be remembered for (days! burp!) years to come!
But I’m going to miss these guys heaps! And I don’t like change.
Still, we do know that it is for the best for each of these families that they move onwards, and they do go with all our love and heartfelt blessings.
And I remind myself again, that good friendships don’t die –
they just mature over time and distance, like a good wine…
Little 4-year old Heather’s response to our cuddle was just awesome –

“Bye bye Mrs P. Don’t worry, I will see you again in heaven!”

Hopefully before then, wee Heather!

Good kai & good company

Thanks so much for continuing to post wonderful blogs whilst I was away, Ange of the North! You’re just wonderful.
Whilst you were ‘cultivating’, alas, I was ‘vegetating’ !
We did take well over 1000 photos on our hols but I think even you would balk at having to sit through all those photos! So I am having great difficulty to know which ones to post. For today though, here are just some random shots to add to your beautiful shots from today (it’s so nice that you’ve had a glorious day over yonder!).
Blue was the predominant colour of our entire trip. We had perfect weather every day, except for one cool day in Wellington! The rest was hot, clear, and sunny.
That is the beauty of NZ in summertime.

And that is where I have to leave you today.
I will try to post the ‘summarised version’ of our trip (and a few photos) before we head away again for the long weekend. Nice to be back (albeit for a short time)!

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