Let’s see what I can remember from 16-22nd Nov

Monday 16th – sleep in, text from Joe, immigration, no key, bootcamp, green parrot

Those are the clues….. I slept in (ie didn’t set my alarm for 5:20am), Texted my rowing coach, got a reply…… got a phone call from Immigration saying my work visa application had been approved – hurrah can stay for at least another year in NZ – collected passport for can go to Oz at end of week. Did bootcamp to make up for missing training in the morning (hideous circuits trying to beat previous time each time round) and then went to the Green Parrot to celebrate – amazing steak!!!

Tuesday –

There would have been some training in the evening…….


According to my calendar – hair cut and then rowing…..

Thursday sydney – early training rhys

Here I have more of a clue – went to Sydney!!!! But first did some erging with my bf (trying to correct his technique) then a monster breakfast out, a mad pack, trip to the airport, flight to Sydney and then a drive to the Blue Mountains – stopped at a really yummy Thai restaurant on the way, but sadly no idea where or what it was called….. The temperature difference between Welling (17) and Sydney (27) was amazing, so warm, every time we got out of the car we were reminded of how warm it was (compared to the aircon in the car!!) We drove out to the Blue Mountains and stayed at a really friendly hostel called the Flying Fox in Katoomba – was late when we arrived, so time for a glass of wine and a sleep!


For some reason we were both awake stupidly early, but was to be a blessing in disguise – temperatures of nearly 40 degrees C were forecast so it was good to get up and out before it got too hot. Took a walk down to see the view at Echo Point – it didn’t disappoint and even better there was no-one else there!!


We wandered back for our free breakfast – amazing yummy bread and jam and cups of tea. Spent the day exploring, went to see Gordon Falls – a bit of a disappointment, but with the weather it shouldn’t have been surprising there wasn’t that much water!

Lunch was at a yummy veggie/vegan place in Katoomba. In the afternoon we were in Leura and spotted a sign for a vegan restaurant open in the evening – was upstairs in the mall, popped our heads in and it looked great, so that’s where we went for dinner – after an evening stroll back at Echo Point.


Food was delicious, was even dessert – we got 2 to share and thankfully both preferred different ones!!


saturday TM

Tough Mudder!!!! Our reason for being in Australia. It was held in Glenworth Valley just under 2hr drive away from the Blue Mountains – was a lovely drive, but we only had the map they gave us when we hired the car…… it took us most of the way, but not the vital end bit….. we had no data on our phones, was getting a bit tense as to whether we’d missed a turning/not gone far enough when out the corner of my eye I spotted a sign (I thought) for Glenworth Valley, we turned off the main road and there were no signs, we drove, no signs, then turned around to retrace our steps when thankfully I spotted a sign from another road pointing to Glenworth Valley, with much relief we followed that and were soon surrounded by people all heading in the same direction!

This was my second Tough Mudder to participate, but my 3rd after volunteering in Auckland last year – spent 2 great days manning the Cage Crawl (Day 1 and Day 2).

My first TM was in the UK and was soooooo much fun and I’d trained so hard for it, this time, I’ve been training for rowing and hoped that would be enough!! My report for the UK was obstacle by obstacle, but without the memory of Nikki to help me this is far less detailed!!


11233093_10156293221250293_1878294117877734748_oIt was fun, it was hard, it was wet, muddy and shocking (of the electrical kind) was well worth the travel to get there and everything that went before.

My favorite obstacle this time was the mud mile – mud banks to climb over before plunging into muddy water to climb up another bank (and repeat). Least fav was Arctic Enema – plunging into a skip filled with water and ice, ducking underneath a divider and climbing out – loved it first time round, this time freaked out, panic breathing, horrible – the smile in the photo above is misleading!

Had 2 showering sessions to attempt to get the mud off before changing into clean/dry clothes. Then drove to Sydney, parked up and found our hostel (our room more like a hotel) for the night – by the train station – Bounce. Had an ensuite and white towels….. they may rethink that for next year – any TM people should just get old towels. Despite the previous 2 showers there was still mud to be found, lots of it – I was finding mud in my ears and nose for days…….


After a v solid nights sleep we were up early for breakfast – got to see a steam train leaving the station from our view over the railway tracks in the hostel’s fab kitchen.

Then packed away our stuff, carried it back to the car before heading off to our treat for the day – a Jet Blast Ride in and around the harbour. This was so much fun, the time flew by, we got a little soggy, but then we did sit right at the front!!

The rest of the day we walked to the Rocks, the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Botanical Gardens, back down Pitt Street and we were done.

When I say done, I mean could walk no more, had seen as much of Sydney as we could do.

Time to head to the airport and back to Wellington…… arrived back at 11pm and we were home for 1am. What a great trip away 🙂



ANZAC Weekend 2015

Been away for far too long and in the middle of writing a long email to Nikki decided it would be easier to write a blog post and include photos (that and it was turning into a long boring email….. as a blog post there’s a decision to read it or not!!)

Right, so

The weekend was fan-blooming-tastic
Really wish I still lived in New Plymouth or it was at least closer to Wellington, not a 5 hour drive away……
So, Friday night we drove to NP, arrived at the camp site just after midnight. Kept the kids in the car while I (bf was useless) put the tents up – separate ones for us and girls.
I got up at 5am to get to the Dawn Service for ANZAC Day – was much busier than last year and really nice ceremony, lovely atmosphere with random strangers talking to each other, where they’d come from etc.
Back at the camp site in time to get bf out of the tent for the end on sunrise and to see how close we were to the beach and the amazing view.
Spent the morning walking to see the Te Rewa bridge, Lake Rotomanu and the top of Mt Taranaki (most we saw all weekend) before heading into town to see the WindWand, War Memorial, lunch and park
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Rest, windy, Nita/Aaron, curry
Up, ice skating, lunch, Paritutu, Greer, feijoas
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Up rain rain rain, bootcamp, shower, Wanganui
 Then clearly I got distracted and have only found this now (15 July) have inserted pictures and uploaded asap

Last week in Taranaki – 30th June – 4th July

Monday 30th June

Even with everyone still here, I had to get up and go next door to work (and for breakfast!)

There was no coffee cup out for me though….. Was like I’d already left 😦

G was staying off school as she’d complained of a headache yesterday and hadn’t had a great sleep. So it was a morning of Kids TV which caused great excitement when the girls and Rhys came over after their breakfast.

Both cars were at the garage, we just waited to find out which was first to be fixed.

There were omelettes for lunch, T helped and also L helped too, another omelette convertee

Both cars were fixed by 4pm, Tom had just needed new battery so no major dramas.

They left by 4:30 and after a quick tidy I headed back over for dinner and then a catch up with the last episode of Broadchurch – amazing!!!!

Tuesday 1st July

Up for the first bootcamp since my cough arrived. Realised how much more low tempo they are than the individual sessions I’ve been having with Brent, lot more chat and rest time.

Got home to discover that Greet was still feeling poorly and had woken up with a slightly swollen red hand. When she got dressed she realised she was covered in a rash. Trying not to panic her I called Nita and we were off to see the doctor. Thankfully not meningitis, but she thought a strep throat with secondary scarlett fever. She did a throat swab, said we’d do a blood test too and prescribed some antibiotics. I took G to get some sweets to push up her blood sugar while her dad sorted the prescription. Having been told he didn’t need to pay for it he took T while G and I waited for it to be ready. They then said it would be $10 for the prescription, I’d left the house without my purse and with Aaron gone we had no money. Thankfully a lovely lady who’d heard them say there would be no charge paid for us.
Next stop blood test. I’m a terror with blood tests. I can take blood from someone (part of my job in UK) but take blood off me or I have to watch someone else do it I’m on the floor before you know it. Thankfully G was the queen of cool, watched every step of the way while I just held her hand and looked at the Winnie the Pooh poster on the wall! She got a cool plaster, a lollypop and a voucher for free fries at McDonald’s!

After a fun packed day we had yummy meatloaf for dinner and amazingly Grant wanted to watch Pitch Perfect – a film I’d always thought was about football but turns out to be about singing!

Wednesday 2nd July

Just as I shut the door to head next door for breakfast I knew I’d forgotten the keys…… I was locked out. Nita gave me the phone number for Mandy’s parents who had a spare key but after 2 confusing phone calls where the man who answered said he wasn’t Mandy’s dad, I gave up.

It rained all day and with G still home from school there was no Crackerjacks, trip to library or potential coffee date with Grant. But being the sweetie that he is he brought us over giant cream filled raspberry buns – amazing!

When Nita and Aaron got home I relayed the story of phoning Mandy’s parents number and Aaron said my accent had probably confused him as they were certain it was the right number. Sure enough, when Aaron spoke to him they established that they had a space key and would bring it with them when the picked Mandy and Milla up from the airport in the morning!

Thursday 3rd July

I missed bootcamp, my new alarm on my phone didn’t work (or I didn’t set it correctly…..)

Greer went back to school as she was no longer infectious.

When Mandy and Milla got back we managed to unlock the house and I ran around collecting up my things which happily I’d left relatively tidy the morning before.

At lunchtime Nita brought home her foreign language students for an end of term get together. They all brought food from their home countries – was an exceptionally delicious meal.

Was a day of yummy food as in the evening Grant and I went out for our final evening meal at Our Home – fish, spinach and mashed potato with a gin and egg white cocktail and an espresso Martini!

We then watched 2 movies, The Pretty One and Non Stop – very different but both really good

Friday 4th July

A day forever in my mind as it’s when my friends James and Jim got married. Then, as it was today, it was a beautiful day.


I had to say goodbye to Aaron as he was off to an away rugby match and wouldn’t be home before I left. He told me I was one of his top 2 au pairs. He also told me that when they’d first seen that I wanted to come work for then he wondered what kind of crazy 39 year old would want to do this….. Then they met me!

We walked G to school for the last time and then headed back wasting no time as T and I were off to the mountain with Grant to play in the snow. But first we were stopping in Stratford to see the glockenspiel clock do its thing.

It was a beautiful day with amazing views as we drove around the mountain. So clear you could see the mountains at Tongariro in the distance. We got to Stratford with enough time to get a coffee (complete with chocolate fish) and see the wonder of the clock. Various doors open and characters from Shakespeare’s plays appear and recite lines from his plays! After 5 wonderful minutes it was all over…….

We continued our journey up to the skifields, the temperature dropping all the time. I popped to the frozen toilets and added some long johns to my layers and we started the long walk up there.

Long because T didn’t want to walk or sit in the sledge, so we took turns to carry him. Eventually we made it as far as the goods lift area. Here we played snowballs, did some sledging down a little slope and T seemed perfectly content with this. We started to try walking to the skifield but was pretty tough going with a T in your arms so we returned to playing by the goods lift, snowball fights, then sledged back downhill to the car park.




We stopped at the Stratford mountain house for lunch. A lovely warm cosy place. T was so well behaved. I had an egg and bacon sandwich and fries and T had a massive portion of curly fries with ketchup.

All too soon we had to get back home to make sure we were in time to get G from school. After such a beautiful day the sky went cloudy and the rain started.


Once Nita has home from work I went to the gym for last time, there was kicking, sit ups crunches, kicking, bicycles, gloves, pinching/kicking, punching. Happily I got to say goodbye and get a photo of Janna (I’m guessing at the spelling) who in my mind looks just like Nikki and is equally as lovely and fun to work out with.



Friday night was girls night with T as a honoury girl. We had Indian for dinner, and the girls and T had got me a pressie and cards to say goodbye.


We then played charades until it was time for us all to say goodnight for the final time.

Monday 16th – Friday 20th June another wet week


Walk to school – an unknown highlight as the rest of the week was wet wet wet
Not sure if it was the impending weather but T super grumpy and grizzly
Rain rain rain
Massive Skype day – 4 calls, love having unlimited WiFi now!


After a day and over 2 weeks of coughing I finally gave in to peer pressure and went to the doctors. I shouldn’t have bothered. It cost me $99 (£50ish) just to see him. Basically threw antibiotics at me….. He did not appreciate me questioning if it was a bacterial infection. Left really angry, prescription in hand, determined to wait it out and see if I got better.
Recovered my humour enough to laugh when I was stopped for a breathalyser test and nearly caught with an expired warrant. Then on to meet Grant at the cinema for cheap Tuesdays and Fault of the Stars – brilliant film, many tears shed, not a film to watch on a plane or a first date!!


Had a terrible night of coughing and not much sleep, so terrible that I gave in and got my prescription from the pharmacy (Vogeltown Pharmacy like on the radio!!)
Stopped off and got the correct WOF sticker put in the car, safe from the police for another 6 months.
T and I stopped at the photo shop to get more printed while we went to Crackerjacks which this week had the theme of stars for Matariki.

We met with Grant for a coffee afterwards, then picked up photos and T fell asleep on the way home.
In the afternoon we stuck lots of the photos up on my wardrobe doors – T found some very funny – me in Melbourne with a cushion on my head


Or disturbing – me in Cambodia with wet hair – he doesn’t like wet hair, and curious – me running at Angkor Wat


Nothing to report other than the spotting of a double rainbow

Hmm, cant see the second one, above the one you can see!

Walked to school!!
Another rainy day, but could see the top of the mountain in the afternoon
Went to the gym for the first time this week – been trying to take it easy with no exercise and early nights – Brent asked how I was and soon gathered I’m not well. We went for weights, lots of heavy weights, not sure what my arms were made to do, but they were in pain and shaking. Did the leg press with 80kg on, that much I do know. Left after an hour feeling broken. I texted John to tell him, he told me I wasn’t broken, just weak…..
Stopped to get beer on the way home. Couldn’t carry it in the supermarket, had to hug them instead!

Monday 9th to Friday 13th June – a rainy week

Rain!! Rain!! Rain!!
Sums it up really…..


Highlight of the day would be drawing a house


Added animals to the house drawing!


Movie night with John – Fruitvale Station – really good movie, but did have to leave the room at one point, oh and he brought me an ice cream!

More rain and wind caused a fallen branch at school

Looks like a fun guy


Crackerjacks at the library – we got to make a snail


Coffee with Grant, he read us Mucky Ducky
T helped me pick out new winter PJs – he has excellent style
Kickboxing in the evening – changed days for an early getaway on Friday

More rain – the ducks are loving it!


G and I organised a sweepstake for the soccer world cup – I’ve got Brazil and Bosnia Herzegovina – a mixed bag!

Friday 13th and a full moon
According to the paper there should be no housework, travel or share trading……. I managed no to do one out of the three……

It was a sunny day!! Mount Taranaki looked amazing


Had to panic create a Fathers Day card – it’s on Sunday in the UK but not until later in the year here in NZ. Nikki came to my rescue with the website Touchnote – brilliant, can turn your photos into postcards and greetings cards cheaply – cost about £2.50/$5 NZD for the card and postage and it arrived the following day!!


T and I had a fun morning in town. We bought a map of the world for soccer world cup knowledge, did colouring in smiggle, played on the zoo truck and the fire engine, had a lovely talk with a lady in the art shop – did animal spotting with the paintings. Next up was the ducks, a little girl gave T some food for them – was very sweet. Finally we had to get raspberry buns ready for afternoon tea

Last Friday day excitement was Nikki having her first training session back with Jel in Finsbury Park. Super jealous, they tell me they worked hard, but they look far too happy and relaxed in this ‘after’ photo – miss you guys x


Friday 6th June – I cook dinner

Cold but clear this morning, not ideal on my cough filled lungs….


Mission for the day was to prep dinner ready for feeding John this evening, not sure how I volunteered for it, but I did! Salmon was requested and I knew I’d never fail with Jamie’s chocolate pots. So after a quick Google yesterday I found a couple of recipes and we were ready to go.

Salmon and cous cous

Chocolate pots

Chocolate pots done first, yum, we had fun licking the bowl clean – missed the alcohol so T was safe!

Then loads of chopping of veg and fish – all very organised

Went to the gym for a session with Brent, it was great, told him I had a cold and after a warm up where I tried not to breath too much, he suggested limiting the cardio and working on strength – perfect. Was a great session, arms burning by the end

I arrived at John’s for dinner feeling a bit shattered, but was greeted with a beer so soon felt better. Had taken him a picture I’d taken 4 months ago on the farm (when I went to milk the cows!)


Dinner turned out to be really good (if I do say so myself) and the chocolate pots got a suitable reaction – try them, they’re so good and chocolatey, just look at the ingredients!! We then retired to the lounge and watched The Butler – brilliant film, we debated whether the end was good or could have been better….. Kind of have to agree that there could have been a better version.

Another great evening and just like the first time I stayed over I had to make my own bed – such a gracious host – I cook my own dinner, make my own bed and he won’t even be there to get me breakfast (he makes an awesome/artery clogging breakfast)

Thursday 5th June – 7th month away from home

But here feels like home now, can’t imagine waking up and not getting to see Mt Taranaki

This morning I did wake up wondering whether to go to bootcamp or not, still coughing away, but saw the time and it was 6:50, so I’d already missed it!!

Mt T was not in the same celebratory mood that I was, bit cloudy this morning


On the way home from school we saw a big crane on the back of an even bigger truck


If that wasn’t excitement enough we then had a coffee date with Grant at the Bach. Stocked with cars and books we had another fun morning chatting over coffees and a fluffy.

On the way back to the car T screamed ‘NO’ at me, I wasn’t sure why but then realised he wanted to go on to the beach like we had last week. We then spent a good 40 minutes trying to move all the stones into the sea and when the stones got scarce the sand was moved too!



Tuesday 3rd June – first bootcamp miss

No bootcamp this morning, shattered from the weekend and my fun souvenir from Wellington – a cough! Kind of like my SE Asia/air con/pollution cough. Not something suited for a cold early morning run around the block.

An uneventful day, with the usual dinner with John in evening. After messing around with where we were going, he texted Bella Vita, on Glover Street. There is no Glover Street, but there is a Gover Street. Sadly the restaurant is no longer there, but I did happen to spot it around the corner!! The food was really yummy and we had a good post-Queen’s birthday debrief

Thursday 29th May – best day with T so far

Bootcamp first thing, lot of burpee variations followed by circuits, including jumping into a box – something I just can’t do (afraid of falling over while trying to jump on, making a horrendous noise, embarrassing and injuring myself) and tuck jumps – hard and horrible!!

After the school run T and I went for coffee at the Bach with Grant. It would have been my grandma’s birthday, so it was treat day. T had a fluffy (we both had to take photos it looked so good!) and I had a Louise slice – yummy!


Grant and T played cars, making ramps from cutlery, sugar etc, next week we’ve promised to take more cars and I will just sit and read a book!!

Once Grant had gone T and I made footprints on the beach just outside the Bach. He almost got his feet wet which I think would have been a disaster, but that was avoided, so a lovely morning.

He fell asleep in the car and I just carried them straight to bed and he settled straight back down. When he woke up we had lunch, he gave me a lovely cuddle and a kiss – first time ever!

Hoping we get more days like today!

The evening made up for it, quick, but painful trip to the beauty salon, fancy hotel preparations!!!!

Wednesday 28th May – waited on hand and foot

Wednesday is always library day, along with various books we sang rousing renditions of the wheels on the bus and old mcdonald and for craft we made a cat from paper and a cd!

As we were leaving the library there was a basket of stars, they were there to help people celebrate the Maori new year, Matoriki. Part of it is remembering those who have passed in the last year, so I wrote one for grandma – such a lovely idea.



After school we had to pick mum up from work, so while we waited we went to the playground by the racecourse to play. Lots of fun had by all, although keeping an eye on a 2yo is stressful!

We all went for dinner at PIHMS – Pacific International Hotel Management School. Dad teaches at the Boys High and they go here to serve dinner to their family as part of their course. Some boys board so their families are too far away to come for dinner and we become their adopted family for the night. There are menus handed out, orders given, yummy 3 course meal served, table cleared and they’re done. Our guy was so nervous, but lovely, must be so hard as this is the first time they’re serving and he had to look after the teacher’s wife and family!!