Saturday, April 25, 2009


With the sickening sounds of Saving Private Ryan on in the background, I am writing about our ANZAC day. To most New Zealanders today is an important day where we take time to remember our soldiers who gave themselves to the wars that we have fought in over the past 100 or so years. WWI and II plus Korea and Vietnam as well as the Boer (I think). We also, with less interest and understanding acknowledge our soldiers serving in current peace keeping missions in places like Iraq and Timor. Interestingly, none of them anywhere near us but what courageous men and women they all were. I had two grandparents in WWI and II and I know what those wars meant to my parents.
Last year we were in Coolangatta for ANZAC day and it didn't feel quite right as it was very warm and there were huge numbers of people there. This year Nic and I went down to New Brighton to participate in the local event - something I do every year. I think about 1,500 people attended and although the sun was out, there was a nippy easterly blowing off the sea. Just what a New Zealand ANZAC day is all about.It was moving as usual and I cried but nice to take some time to reflect and give thanks for being allowed to live in a free democracy and know that other people have fought for that privilege.

We went for a scoot down the pier but it was perishing so a very quick visit.

Then we came home with savoury pastries which we ate before heading out to the garden for a great clear up and hang out afternoon. While Jonty dismantled the trampoline Nic and I swept up leaves for mulching and then I attacked the ivy and honeysuckle. I also managed a final coat of paint on the lounge window sills.After clearing a lot of foliage Nic was able to get up in the fig tree and spent a lot of time up there, in this shot with a cheese toasted sandwich and a pair of white scissors. I was inspired to make Tuscan Bean Soup and my first Bread and Butter Pudding. Yum.

I know Private Ryan is a very good film but it is just too distressing to watch for a second time so I am heading to bed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

home again

The busyness has continued since we have been home. We celebrated my mothers birthday virtually straight off the plane. We had a lovely lunch with the family. Super lovely to spend time with my cousin Wendy who I never get to see and also my ailing uncle Brian who basically came off his oxygen to come along. Lovely food and family.
On Sunday I needed to get out from under the clouds and get some sun so I checked out the web cams for the South Island and found the sun then headed north. We made it to Amberly and then headed inland on a mad adventure that took us on to farms and through sheep paddocks. After many stops for pine cones and u-turns we ended up in Waikari. Nic and I had a ball getting the cones. Jonty was reasonably mortified and sat in the car and we did 'teamwork' to fill up some wool sacks. Sitting in the cafe at Waikari we heard the very loud and distinctive hoot of the Weka Pass steam train. At a trot we made it on to the platform where Jonty and Nic jumped aboard and enjoyed a gorgeous sunny, smokey and sooty trip to Glenmark. I kept pace in the car and just loved watching them having fun.
What started as a grey heavy day ended up being such fun and such an adventure. Taking the road less travelled was hilarious and Nic loved it. Boy can he talk!

One of my biggest and almost shameful addictions is magazines. Whenever I go through an airport I leave with at least two, often three new titles tucked in my bag. This time I discovered Jamie. I am a big fan of Jamie's cooking and love the styling and recipes in the mag. I have made a few things already including a beef and quince stew with quinces that Ruth gave me...must get on and do something with the rest of them. Maybe tomorrow night!
The only sad thing about the weekend was making an 'intuition' call to Louisa my sister in law to find that she and her son Oscar were in hospital. Oscar has spent a lot of time in hospitals in his 16 years of life and it is really tough to be there again, this time preparing for dialysis. It is hard being so far away and not being able to do anything at all useful to help out. Kia kaha.

At the end of the rainbow

We ventured to the big smoke on the last day of the holiday and spent a great day at Rainbows End in south Auckland. The park is much smaller than the ones everyone has been to on the Gold Coast which was fine because there is only so much you can do in a day and because there were surprisingly few people there the queueing was at a minimum. Everyone knows what a theme park is like so here are some pics of us having a great time.

Karen and I almost wet our pants laughing as we hurled around the go-kart track at great speed. Nic was terrified of the dark parts of the log flume but after a tearful initial trip round the roller coaster he was hooked on that instead. I think he and Jonty did about five rounds. I managed one but I really have to take care of my neck so it was one screaming minute of upside down fun for me.
Anna was a little short for some of the rides but attacked everything she could with great gusto. Interestingly Karen and I both agreed that as we have aged we have become less fearful of some things we might have in the past. Equally we are probably more fearful of other less tangible things as mothers but lets not go there.

Holiday catch up

So much for keeping up the posts while on holiday. We have been home for a few days now so the instantaneous stuff is gone but here is a run down on the last days of the holiday.
To give the kids a bit of a break from each other and some families re bonding time we headed off to the lovely Parry Kauri Park in Warkworth. The bird sounds were fantastic and we loved being amongst the giant trees so lovingly cared for by a bunch of hard working volunteers.

That same day we had a great family lunch at Jill and Don's and drank far too much booze and ate so much food and it was all very delicious. J and D were gracious hosts and having looked after the children for a night as well, were really good sports. A quick run down of the food...stuff, boned leg of lamb, potato gratin, Waldorf salad and for dessert we had lemon and yoghurt cake, feijoa and apple filo tarts and the local Charlie's ice cream which is more than delicious and included lemon meringue ice cream...ooooooohhhhh. We also downed a fair few bottles of New Zealand's most delicious wines.
We were celebrating Jill's birthday a day early which was special and were sitting outside bathed in Northland sun having such a lovely family time. Don made the children box kites which they decorated with drawings. So sweet.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Just finished reading #15

Up a Tree in the Park at Night with a Hedgehog, P. Robert Smith

This was a funny, light read and I am not sure if I liked it all that much. I thought it was funny and I got into the subversive nature of it but I was really disappointed with the ending. In some parts it felt a bit like a stand up comic routine. But it was short and sweet so filled my need for relaxing long weekend read.

Here is something someone at a newspaper wrote about the book.

"Smith's writing style is sharp and urbane with a lot of comical twists such as: "Nothing particularly out of the ordinary occurred at the wedding, except for the fact that both the bride and groom wore Star Trek uniforms."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

too much chocolate

Yes, there is such a thing as too much chocolate. Too much chocolate, chips, wine and all the other really bad for you things. I have had to take my jeans off and resort to an elastic waist. Tragic and with no self discipline I am writing still from Warkworth north of Auckland.

After a fantastic movie experience at the Matakana Cinemas we slept in this morning as our darling children were being loved and cared for at Justy's parents for the evening. Oh, the sleep in, oh the silence. We went to see 'Untouchable Girls', the doco about the Topp Twins. It was just great and they are fantastic. I love them. Even my lovely Jonty shed a tear at the end. Brilliant.After a very slow start to the day we swooped up the children and headed up to Goat Island about 25 km up the coast for a day of fish spotting an relaxing. There were a stunning number of people there. An Auckland thing. There are a lot of people up here.
Anyway, Goat Island is a marine reserve so you can see giant fish swimming by and lots of other sea life. It is big on the tourist map so there were lots of people snorkeling and getting aboard the glass bottomed boat to check out the sea life. Jonty hired a wetsuit and put on his goggles and floated about. Nic got in the water and spent a lot of time rock hopping. Overall it was a really enjoyable relaxing day. Nic and Anna looking for waves and splashing

I hope you all had a lovely Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Brick Bay Sculpture Garden

Another lazy day in Warkworth. We hung around home until the weather cleared in the morning and as the sun came out the blokes and the kids headed off to the river to go for spin in the boat. Karen and I had a little girl time on our hands and headed off to the Brick Bay Sculpture Garden which is part of a local winery and olivery.

There has been a lot of publicity and articles written about the place andbeing a holiday weekend it became busier as the morning progressed. We did the 1 hour long trail around the garden and then indulged in a tasty platter with a glass of Pinot Gris in the Glass House.
The trail wound through the garden which had clumps of native forest complete with loud and stunning native birds...loud and gorgeous, lakes and farm land. Quite different from a similar experience in North Canterbury I posted about a few years ago.
The art work was large in scale and featured the works of many well known New Zealand artists. The prices were astronomical and we didn't buy anything, not having 30K sitting in our wallets.
It was like old times hanging out together and chatting about nothing in particular and taking lots of photos, playing with our cameras and not being too earnest about the whole thing.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sullivan's Bay

I get the feeling there is going to be a daily holiday past as we have access to a computer and Karen an I are mad photographers so will have 100's of photos to share from our daily aventures and activities.

Nic and Anna have just headed up to bed after being up at 5.30am and melting down at about 6.30pm. Overall they have been fantastic today. Two only children living together 24 hours is a big ask and they are both pretty full on and spirited so it is loud and explosive at times. However, we had a wonderful day at Sullivan's Bay on the Mahurangi West Peninsula. We expected very hot weather and swimming. Not quite a hot summers day but it is the second month of autumn so it was perfect. Jonty, Nic and Anna braved the water while we walked, played Frisbee and read stuff. Here are some of our family pictures from the day. It was great to have photos taken of our families together.


Wooo hooo, we are on holiday. It seems to be our habit, to go on holiday at Easter. This year we are in the sunny north hanging out with our friends Karen and Justy. I came up late Wednesday afternoon after attending a very interesting conference in Auckland. local Government asset Management. I found myself in a foreign environment. Firstly, only 6 females out of 40 people and secondly, lots of engineers and suit wearers. Not my tribe. However, I did really enjoy myself, learnt a lot and met some very nice people. All of them had lovely wives and children at home. Very traditional bunch. Needless to say, I stuck out like the proverbial items of a dog's anatomy. I managed to hitch a lift with a lovely guy from Whangarei who dropped me at the door of Karen and Justy's in Warkworth.

Jonty and Nic had an epic journey yesterday starting at about 9am and ending at 5.30 as their bus pulled into the stop in Warkworth. After planes and buses, very heavy Auckland holiday traffic and insanely heavy rain they drifted off the bus to my waiting embrace. We all enjoyed a lot of chips some wine and a giant plate of tacos before collapsing into bed with dreams of a sunny hot day to follow. We are planning a beach trip on Friday (today)

Now, we thought it was going to warm up here but it is really cold. However, I believe it is LESS cold than home so a bonus, although thinly veiled.

No pics yet but I am sure I will have some to post over the weekend.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Kiwi Celebs

Phew, another busy weekend comes to an end. We are in the grip of the daylight saving change and are suffering from the weirdness of body and clocks being out of sync. Dark evenings suck!

The other day I was walking to a meeting and saw over my shoulder across the road a couple of short grey haired women. I did a double take and realised they were the Topp Twins (whom I love!) and thought how cool it was to see them and how small they looked. Then I saw a white haired old woman tap one on the shoulder and I thought 'how nice, she recognises them. Then realised she was asking them for directions, and as they don't live here and are famous I thought that was fantastic and pretty funny as they pointed in the direction of something. How cool they are. Real and grounded kiwis. I have witnessed the indifference of other famous people and have felt embarrassed at their behaviour. I understand that you need to put a shield up for protection or whatever, however, it is other people that allow you to be famous so get over it.
Yesterday I had the delight of watching my absolute favourite chef Ray McVinnie (see my tribute) at the 'Food Show'. He is not only a great cook but he is also a very friendly, self effacing and just a really nice open person. I had the opportunity to share a few words with him at one point and he was SOOOO nice. I couldn't bring myself to say 'i love you'. I just managed something inane and uninteresting but I was more than thrilled to share a square metre with one of my food hero heroes.
I cooked his recipes for dinner last night and totally swooned over the gorgeous things Erica and I had bought at the food show. Fresh olive oil, Galilee cheese, mint syrup, yoghurt to die for and chocolate. It was just lovely, hear me moan.
Oh yes, saw the very gorgeous Donna Hay as well on stage and she was also very cool. She sounded like my cousins (Sydneysiders) and was funny as well as being a great cook. I have her book 'No time to cook' home from the library at the moment. Worth a read. Nice recipes.So in the last week I have had the pleasure of seeing a few well known people in public and think how much I love living in a small country where people can be themselves and you can bump into famous people by accident and they are just great. Interestingly, New Zealanders tend to leave people alone and respect their privacy.