31 December 2011

Travelling Tales: Tiki Tour Highlights

As relaxing as the holiday has been, when I look back over these past few days, we've still been out and about a fair bit enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of so many different places.

Raspberry picking
I was a raspberry picker for 2 summers as a teenager. It's hot, prickly, sweaty, tiring work. And it seriously put me off eating raspberries for a fair few years. But when we ended up in the raspberry patch picking this year, the fast-picking techniques all flooded back to me. And we left with four full ice cream containers in a short space of time.

Breakfast the next day with yoghurt and fresh-picked raspberries had never tasted so good!

Jaunt around Hamilton Lake
It was probably a little ambitious doing a late afternoon walk right round the lake (4km) after we'd both done exercise that morning and we'd also taken Noah out on 2 separate bike rides that day.

Poor wee soul was rather flagging by the end of it, but he was a real trooper as long as we kept him in food, he seemed to find the reserves he needed to battle on.

I can't believe I lived in the Waikato for five years and have visited it most Christmases since but have never once walked the lake! A lovely spot.

Family bike rides
Two years ago at Christmas, a little 3 year old got a Mocka running bike and tore up and down the country roads on it. One year ago, a 4 year old was learning how to ride his first real bike with training wheels. This year, a big 5 year old has been zooming up and down country lanes with mum and dad and we have been loving the thrill of all getting out together on our bikes.

Boys driving mower
No trip to Nana and Poppa's would be complete without a ride on Poppa's mower. They.love.it.

A trip to Auckland zoo, zoo, zoo
This year we decided to make more of the opportunity at being at this end of the country to stay with my friend Andrea and family for a couple of days and take the kids to a couple of iconic Auckland spots. Firstly the zoo.

It's massive compared to our 'Best LITTLE zoo in the world' in Wellington. After 3 hours we still hadn't quite seen everything, but little feet were flagging so a drive over the Harbour Bridge on the motorway resulted in a good forty winks to tide them over for the rest of the day.

Best animals spotted: Burma the elephant, flamingos, rhino, hippo, alligators, and seals, none of which we have in Wellington! And the noise the gibbons made: hilarious! Although it was a bit much for Noah and he ended up with his fingers over his ears!

Kelly Tarltons
We arrived just on opening time which turned out to be a bright idea to combat the crowds we knew would be arriving on a rainy Auckland Friday.Wow, we totally loved our encounter with stingrays, penguins, sharks, turtles and other cool things aquatic!

And we were treated royally staying at Andrea and Andrew's place (or should that be palace) overlooking Grey Lynn Park...it was a lovely mini break away, apart from a little guy who decided that midnight would be the perfect time to get up four times in an hour...sigh...and up for the day at 5:45am..I guess we'll be home soon enough to have to deal with it properly then.

And now we're seeing in the New Year with our darling Gee Gee (Great Grandma). Hopefully the rain will hold off long enough for us so we can make our annual pilgrimage to the Pukekura Park Festival of Lights too.

Happy New Year y'all!

30 December 2011

If you go down to the woods today....

You’re sure of a big surprise.

You'll find peace and quiet away from the city hustle and bustle.

Towering trees gently swaying in the breeze.

A monkey puzzle tree much sharper than it looks.

Chickens that pop out from the undergrowth when you least expect it. Or chicken monsters as the littlest calls them shrieking and jumping back into the stroller for protection.

You might even spot a crazy-eyed animal munching on stolen cranberry shortbread.

Bridges that call for dancing on and scaring away any trolls that might be hiding underneath.

Wildflowers blowing in the breeze.

This beautiful spot is Taitua Arboretum five minutes west of Hamilton city. Open daily and free to visit. Thanks to Stacey from Kendyl’s place for the idea.

27 December 2011

Travelling Tales: Christmas in the country

Christmas Eve
I wouldn’t have thought it possible after one day that we could forget the busyness of our city life, but forget we did! With a combination of water fights, ball games, hanging out on Poppa’s dirt mound (which has been renamed ‘Noah’s hill’), bike rides and walks in the serenity of the country, broken only by the odd moo or neigh, or the noise of a tractor making hay bales.

After dinner, we sent two little elves outside to make sure Santa and the reindeer had a welcome awaiting them. Then we settled in for cuddles around the TV before the two little elves reluctantly rested their eyes for a short while.

The only downside of the holiday is that the littlest elf figured out pretty quickly how to escape his Ready Bed, sleeping bag and room to come in search of mum and dad at 3 am and 5:45 am Christmas morning (followed by 1am and 6am Boxing Day morning and 4am/5.30am the next day). Grrrrr….it’s a good thing he’s a cute elf. And he’s been waking his big brother up too…I can see a few hard yards having to be put in when we get home to try and get back into normal routines…but for now we’ll just have to go with the flow on the holiday!

Christmas Day
So the day dawned somewhat earlier than we might have liked, but it was hard not to catch onto the enthusiasm of the little people, and to watch their faces light up with delight on several occasions. One of the most loved presents unwrapped during the day was a Hot Wheels downhill racetrack, with many spirited races held throughout the day.

My brother Sam and partner Alesha joined us before lunch with their two cutie pie doggies Izzy and Pete. Noah was petrified of the dogs to begin with (as always!) but warmed up quickly, and by the end of the day was following them around and begging to see them again.

A mid-afternoon walk in the sunshine helped walk off our lunch before sitting down to indulge again in a veritable feast of baked ham - Mark’s contribution, and Spanish Mini Vine Peppers and Garlic Prawns with Chorizo - my contribution care of two Ruth Pretty recipes from my recent Christmas cooking school experience – and wouldn’t you know making those dishes got me another tick on the Summer Bucket List….yuss! And there was more of that delicious mulled wine made and inhaled during the day too!

Boxing Day
No trip to Nana and Poppa’s would be complete without a pilgrimage to the Hamilton gardens, which is simply one of our favourite spots in this part of the world.

In hindsight, it might have been a good idea to bring along a change of clothes­, but we certainly weren’t about to hinder their fun, and it was a warm day so it hardly mattered!

Hope you and yours are having much fun and good times on your Christmas break too!


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