Friday, 22 June 2018

Changing the outlook

So, we have been thinking we needed to trim or remove some of the trees at the front of our section; they were pretty mature and with recent strong winds we got a bit nervous about the possible destruction they could cause if they came down unexpectedly!
Jeff's answer was to remove them all and I didn't want to remove any so a compromise was reached-removal of a couple and a major trim of the rest...perfect!
We got a local tree trimming/removal service in to get the work done and it was incredible to watch them work. Three guys shimmied up trees, had branches falling with precision, and kept the area as clean and tidy as they could whilst doing the job. They cut up bigger branches for firewood for us and mulched the rest. We couldn't fault the job they did and it was all done and dusted within 3-4 hours. And we had HUGE piles of mulch to use in all our other gardens-yay.
It was a little bit sad to see the trees being removed but I told myself it was better than having limbs torn off in a storm or our house being damaged if one fell completely! I took lots of photos to remember what they look like as I really enjoy my "woodland garden" and knew it would be changed completely by this work being done.

Finally, the largest tree was gone...ok, so it's not too bad so far...

"Let's just have a little bit more of a tidy up" says my husband (who wanted them ALL gone!!) ...umm, yeah ok, a LITTLE bit...

Wow, ok...that is a bit more of a 'little tidy up" than I was thinking! But, to be honest, I do have to admit it looks great. It has really opened up our view and let a lot more light in (great in winter). And there will be new growth on one of the trees over the next few years that will fill in the gap a bit. But overall, I am so happy we went ahead and did it after talking about it for so long. Now to start planning all the plants I can put in there in spring!  :) 

Friday, 8 June 2018

Waitomo Trail Run 2018

Now, I don't usually do many events more than once; we have such an abundance to choose from that I would much rather try a new event than repeat one I have already experienced. However, I just had to make an exception for this one...the Waitomo Trail Run!

The inaugral event was held in 2016 and Olivia and I completed the 6km run in gorgeous conditions. The course was so enjoyable that when workmates were discussing what walks to do I had no hesitation in recommending this one. And the timing was right; far enough out to train for and close enough not to lose motivation. So we decided to do some 'team-bonding' and entered as a group of three walkers, determined to have a great day out. And we were not disappointed!

The sociable start time of 12:15pm meant we could leave Tokoroa at a reasonable hour of the morning and arrive feeling ready to take on the conditions. Which were not quite so favourable this time-we required waterproof jackets and a wee bit of cold weather gear but this did not dampen our enthusiasm and off we set in the bus to the start of the walk-the Ruakuri Cave. 

What a great start to an event. Instead of a mass start where people are jostling for position and the 'hares' are racing off leaving the 'tortoises' behind, this time we were sent spiraling down a staircase inside a cave to the bottom where our photo was taken before walking back up the spiraling staircase to exit the cave and start our run/walk. This had the advantage of spreading people out and there was just a calm, orderly start to the event instead of the mad panic which usually ensues.

Once we left the cave we followed the path through some gorgeous bush, beside a stream and several waterfalls and around, through and over rock formations before eventually coming out onto farmland and the last couple of kilometres of the course. Such a scenic course and one I don't tire of. The rain of the past few days added to the adventure as we squelched and slid through mud and wet grass underfoot. 

As we were walking for enjoyment (as opposed to walking it competitively) we took the opportunity to take several are a selection!

Of course, everyone knows that the best part of the event is the finish line...and the accompanying "Finishers Medal"! Here we are, at the end of 6kms and proudly displaying our medals. What a fantastic day out and one I can highly recommend! I will be back to do it again, no doubt  :) 

Monday, 4 June 2018

Easter 2018

Once again, Easter Weekend saw us off on our annual long weekend away; this time to the West coast of the North Island. About 1 hour up the coast from New Plymouth is a small settlement called Mokau. We were booked in to a bach which was named "Mokino" due to the fact it was situated between MOkau and AwaKINO   :)

This year was always going to be a bit different as some family members were unable to make it so it was going to be a smaller group than usual...or so we thought!

Upon arrival, we hurried indoors-everyone eager to grab a good bedroom! Mum and Dad had already stayed one night and they showed us upstairs to the main rooms. Upon opening the bedroom door, Briar took one look inside then quickly closed the door, with a very strange look upon her face...huh?  So I go over, open the door ...and let out a loud squeal!!!! 

There, sitting on the bed with huge grins on their faces, were my brother and sister-in-law, Arthur and Dawn-all the way from Canada!!! They had decided to fly over for a couple of weeks and kept it a surprise until we all met up. OMG-best kept secret ever!  :)

So, it was a long time before we all caught up with each other and stopped grinning stupidly at each other, hugging whenever we felt like it and generally reassuring ourselves that they were actually here in NZ in person! It seemed like such a long time since we had seen them, although Arthur had been out in November 2016 for Mum and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary but Dawn had been unable to come with him. So it was fantastic to have them both together and we loved every minute we spent with them.

 This was the view of Mount Taranaki from the deck of the bach.Perched on a clifftop, we saw some amazing sunsets (and one sunrise!) and spent a lot of time sitting on the deck admiring the views.There was a track that took us down to the beach-a 3 minute walk going down and only a fraction longer coming back up!

Here you can see the views from inside the bach-it was the perfect place for a holiday and so well set up for large groups/families like ours. The downstairs area had its own bathroom and bedrooms-ours opened out towards the sea and the garden. Upstairs was 2 bedrooms, another bathroom and the open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area. 

We spent three days exploring the area and especially enjoyed thee area known as the "Three Sisters" at Tongaporoutu-a 10 min drive down the coast.
I am unable to download my own photos that I took so you will have to make do with the links for now. Just believe me when I say, if ever you are in the area DO take the time to explore this part of the coast-it is picturesque! Just one word of warning-you do have to be aware of tides; it is only accessible at low tide and you certainly wouldn't want to get trapped by the incoming tide!

So, yet another wonderful part of NZ that we have stayed at- we have been doing our "Easter Holiday" for 10 years now and have visited some spectacular parts of the country. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Easter 2017

Once again, Easter was upon us and once again, it was time for our annual extended family holiday weekend. This year the location was Porangahau...or more precisely, Whangaehu Beach which is located about 20 mins from Porangahau. After a 4 1/4 hour drive we arrived at a tiny settlement on the East Coast. As usual, we were very spoilt...a gorgeous location, a great bach (holiday house) and weather which was much better than we had invisaged after Cyclone Cook had wreaked havoc a mere 24 hours earlier!

Our home for Easter Weekend 2017 - "Whangaehu Absolute"
This was a well set-out bach; it was "U-shaped" in design with kitchen and living area along one side, toilet/bathroom/laundry across the top and then 4 bedrooms along the other side...perfect for us all to be together but have our own space. The setting was spectacular; see the next photo for the view from the deck!
We got to wake up to this every day and it never got tiring! I walked up to the top of the first hill every morning to see the sunrise-great exercise to work off those Easter eggs!!There was a small river running out to the sea and it was a icy cold wake-up call crossing it each morning!
But the sunrises and the views from the top were worth it-an absolutely stunning way to start the day! It was Briar's birthday while we were there and we dragged her up the hill on her birthday to see her own special sunrise-I'm not so sure she really appreciated it but I thought it was a pretty cool thing to do on your birthday :)
One morning we had a special visitor! I'm not sure who was more surprised to see who...Olivia nearly ran into the seal who had snuggled in for a snooze just off the beach and gave her a warning 'bark' to remind her of personal space!! He was a gorgeous fellow, only moving off after a few hours and even returning the next day for another visit. We found out later there is a seal colony somewhere further down the coast so he was obviously on his way to or from there, I guess.
We did a bit of sight-seeing while we were here as Jeff's Dad had worked in the area in his youth and even had his 21st at the Porangahau pub! We drove past the station where he had worked and stopped at the pub but it was closed :(
We discovered a famous landmark on our travels-try saying the following place name in one go!! We all had fun trying!  :)
Yeah, it's a bit of a mouthful, huh??
And here is the explanation for all those letters! Imagine writing that as your address  :)
We spent a lot of time down at the beach-it is the perfect place for families and holidays. As I said, we were SO lucky with the weather as Cyclone Cook had blown through about 24 hours earlier and I really thought we would be in for a wet, windy weekend! But apart from rough surf when we first arrived, the only signs of it were soggy lawns! Honestly, the sun shone and the wind dropped away and we spent so much time on the beach, out on the deck or out and about geocaching, exploring the area and generally relaxing.
I love walking so couldn't resist heading off to explore the clifftop walk that local landowners had kindly marked and maintained for visitors to use. It provided stunning views from the top of the hills and certainly 'blew the cobwebs away' with the coastal winds keeping things fresh! I walked about 2k along the top before retracing my steps back home. Part of the track is shown below...
Another great Easter weekend...roll on 2018!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

More letter writing!

So we all know I like to write letters...and with a successful LetterMo behind me (yes, I sent mail every business day), I am now looking for my next challenge.  And I have found it...
WRITE ON ... a challenge to write a letter EVERY DAY during the month of April.
Woohoo-bring it on. I am a little behind in my replies to penpals so will have at least eight letters to write but will have to find some other 'lucky' recipients for my scribblings!  :)  Of course, there is always my daughters while they are away at boarding school during the week...and I could join some letter-writing swaps on Swap-bot. Then there is the list of  'reasons to write' on the official Write On website.
While you are checking out their website, take a look at the "Resources" tab and check out the list of websites dedicated to snail mail! Perhaps it will inspire you to put pen to paper?! You could always write to me!  :)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Briar's winning year!

I just have to have a (belated) boast about our amazing youngest daughter, Briar, and her fantastic end to her Intermediate schooling career  :)
Each year we head along to prizegiving and sit through a couple of hours of speeches and awards and are always very proud of the achievements of our girls. But I have to say, 2016 just blew us away!
Briar has always had very good reports and success during her time at Tokoroa Intermediate and she enjoyed her time there, being challenged to strive for her best always, with some wonderful teachers who encouraged her immensely.
She participated in extracurricular activities such as choir, school production and squash and always gave 100% (well, most of the time!) It was a pleasure to see her take one of the lead roles in the school's bi-annual production and watch her confidence in public performing grow from that. She certainly takes great pleasure in performing... and singing! (see below)
So we attended the final prizegiving knowing that she would be on stage to collect one or two awards for her hard work. But the school always keeps the two top awards a secret-no one knows who will receive them! We sat through class awards, house captain awards, extracurricular awards and then the top 15 student awards. Finally it is time for the 'top two' -  the school names their Dux as well as the top student for overall excellence. Can you imagine our surprise when BRIAR was named as top overall student??!!
Te Tino Tangata for General Excellence!!!  OMG...I just started crying! I was SO proud of her-she had worked SO hard and it had all paid off for her. What an amazing kid  :)
The Te Tino Tangata for General Excellence trophy

Her major trophies

We are SO proud of your well-deserved success, gorgeous girl!

Look at that beautiful smile!

Trophies for Performing Arts and Drama

Not only did she win at school but then Briar decided to enter a singing competition on the national radio! After an over-the-phone audition she was rung back to say she had made the finals! She and two others had to sing live on the radio on Christmas morning and the winner was.....BRIAR!!!

OMG...we were all SO excited!! She did awesomely and was such a gracious winner. Her prize was a set of headphones and "Ollie" - a remote-controlled gadget that spins, zooms around and does other amazing stuff by control of an app on your iPad. So exciting for Briar and a great end to her outstanding year!

Saturday, 25 March 2017



And what an occasion to celebrate...a 50th Wedding Anniversary!
Yes, November 2016 marked 50 years of marriage for my mum & dad and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner to celebrate.

We decorated the Taumarunui Senior Citizens rooms and put together a photo board showing milestones and family occasions over the years, which caused a lot of "remember when..." and "OMG, don't put THAT photo up there"!!   :) 

But the memories and anecdotes that it prompted from guests later that night made us glad it was there. There was a lot of reminiscing done!

Guests came from near and far to help us celebrate and it was so good to catch up with so many people we hadn't seen for ages (years in some cases!) I always enjoy having a happy occasion to catch up with people rather than a sad one which seems to be more frequent these days  :(

A great time to get an updated family photo!

Mum & Dad - Congratulations on 50 years together! Thank you for your love and commitment to each other - it is a wonderful example to us all.