30 March 2015

Anything 'but' a happy valley....

How many of you were kept riveted and on the edge of your seats by the Happy Valley drama that was on TVNZ last year? Did you even watch it? Shame on you if you haven't! We missed it at the time but sat down and watched the whole series (only six hour-long episodes) recently.

We've also watched The Missing and Broadchurch (Season 2) recently but I really felt like Happy Valley was in a league of its own for intensity of drama, gripping story line and outstanding acting.

You might first have to get past the fact the main actor policewoman Catherine Cawood from the depths of the drug-ridden Yorkshire valleys (played by Sarah Lancashire) might well be familiar to you as a bar maid in Coro Street in a previous life that is. Her acting is truly sensational in this show, I promise you!

In my humble opinion it had a lot of parallels with Breaking Bad in its intensity, but unlike Breaking Bad which if you stayed the distance there were 5 seasons of anywhere up to 13 episodes per season to get through, this is just a mere six episodes to taunt you, and terrify you with the story line that unfolds.

The villains seem almost decidedly normal to begin with, especially the hard-done-by middle aged accountant who sets in motion a chain of events that he couldn't have even begun to imagine, but as the story unfolds it becomes clear that the main protagonist is deceptively dangerous and cruel beyond belief, whilst Catherine cast as the policewoman who little-by-little uncovers the plot, is herself from an incredibly dysfunctional family history that is unwittingly linked with her main target which makes for riveting if not somewhat harrowing watching at times.

I was literally on the edge of my seat throughout episodes 3 and 4 and both Mark and I actually found it difficult to get to sleep the night we finished watching episode 4 the adrenalin was coursing through our veins so much! To me that is the sign of a great show - although perhaps we should have finished watching it a couple of hours before trying to sleep!

Did you watch it when it aired on TV? If so, what did you think? If not, have I convinced you to watch it now?!

25 March 2015

A fantastic finish to the Friday footy season

Last Friday was the very last one for our season of summer footy. It's bittersweet because the boys really love playing with their friends and classmates every single week. I love watching them give it their all every single week.

But do I love the miserable cold and windy weather that has about a 95% chance of turning up at 3pm on a Friday afternoon despite the fact it was very likely sunny, warm and still at five minutes to 3? Not so much. And do I sometimes wish for a relaxing Friday afternoon instead of spending two hours stood on the sidelines in the blowing Wellington wind - you betcha!

I got asked to take some team photos on the last day for Mylo's team so I took the opportunity to take some action shots of them on the field during the game too and then figured while I was at I should probably capture some of Noah's team as well.

Mylo's team was almost entirely made up of kids in his class. In fact we actually managed to field two teams this year and had quite a few derby games where the two teams were pitted off against each other. The teams were pretty well matched too with a draw a win and a loss from our previous three encounters against them. As we were sitting 2nd and 3rd on the table, we then had to play them again in the semi-final and unfortunately our team was having a bit of an off day and we got thrashed 6-0. They then lost the grand final to a team that hadn't been beaten all season so were all a bit down afterwards whereas we won our 3rd/4th place play-off (helped by Mylo's 3 goals) 3-0 and finished on a high for the last game.

I love that I managed to catch one of the kids giving his twin sister a smooch while they waited on the halfway line for the goal-kick, so cute!

Funny story too - the kids are meant to wear the team t-shirts (which I've blanked out for privacy reasons) with the team logo on the back, but on the first week when I was given the task of handing them out I didn't realise this and sent a couple of kids out in the middle with the logo on the front and then it just kinda stuck!

This was the 2nd year Noah's team had played together, originally made up entirely of kids from their class back then in late 2013 (when they were Years 1 and 2). This year they regrouped but it took them a while to find their mojo as a team as in the first half of the season the younger kids in the team were still in the junior syndicate whereas the others were in different classes and so hadn't had as much interaction with each other at school. I certainly noticed a big difference in their teamwork and team play come the 2nd half of the season when they were all back in each other's classes again. A few weeks back we were looking to finish well down the lower end of the table but a few good results in a row meant that on the last game we were playing for 5th/6th place against a team who I remember playing before Christmas which we were very evenly matched against and lost 4-3. Our kids gave it their all in this game and helped by our star striker Charlie, we managed to win 5-3 to end the season on a great high.

Both the boys also got MVP in their final game which was a great testament to their determination and efforts throughout the season.

Now they are already waiting with great anticipation for the winter football football season to roll on - which starts in a month's time!

20 March 2015

Celebrating a 'first' award at school

This past week Mylo received his first ever school award in assembly. The principal always sends out an email the night before letting those parents whose children are getting an award know which gives them time to make arrangements to get to the assembly at 11am on Friday.

It just happened to be a lower middle syndicate hosted assembly which meant we got to see Noah in action on stage doing some 'freeze frame' drama with his class too which was a bonus. Unfortunately none of the assembly used microphones (which they sometimes do) so it was a bit hard for us to hear at the very back of the hall but luckily the syndicate leader has a big strong voice so we were able to hear the award given to Mylo very well.

As it's a little difficult to make out the words of the award, it says:

'For being a ready learner and contributor to Room 4. You are organised with your school equipment and ready to help when needed. You pay close attention on the mat, often answering tricky questions. Your learning is on track. Keep it up!'

Despite me trying to wave to him as he stood on stage he didn't realise we had seen him get his award till later in the day as we hadn't mentioned we were going - so as not to make it too obvious what was going on - our perceptive children seem to realise that Mum and Dad often only get the chance to come to assembly when something like this is on the cards!

Apologies for the rubbish quality of the photos - 
I only had my iPhone and we were a long way away!

I still have very vivid memories of Noah getting his first award at school (you can visit the link to that post here) - after only three weeks at school - I'm just left wondering how is it even possible that was over three and a half years ago!

17 March 2015

A serendipitous sunrise

There's nothing I love more than an unexpectedly glorious sunrise to start the day.

On this particular morning, I had not been up at 5.30am exercising after pushing myself all week quite hard on my runs. So it was firstly unusual that I was still lying in bed at 6.45am when through bleary eyes I saw the curtains turning a decent shade of pink - which is usually a good sign that there's something well worth seeing behind them.

I opened the curtains and inhaled in wonder at the early signs of a stunning sunrise developing. To begin with, I just enjoyed the view and started the task of taking all the washing off the clothes horse. But I quickly realised this was going to be more than a 'nice' sunrise.

On a normal Friday I'd be getting ready for work and leaving at 7am to walk in and I wouldn't have had time to take the opportunity to capture it properly on camera. But on this particular day the boys had a teacher-only day at school so I was going to be working from home and could therefore take a little extra time about my morning before settling down at the computer for the day.

Quickly changing out of my pyjama bottoms, but not even bothering about the top - I just threw a jacket on over it and figured that would have to do, I hightailed it across the road to my favourite spot on the street - a carport that has the best uninhibited views of the city and hills.

More often than not, a sunrise is just a quick explosion of colour that dies away in a matter of minutes, but the colours of this particular sunrise just went on and on, changing from brilliant red to golden and then just when I thought it might start to fade away, the horizon then caught on fire all over again.

It was a very serendipitous morning to have had the time to stop and fully enjoy and capture creation's spectacular show.

13 March 2015

When a toilet lid attacks you....

The other day I suffered what must be one of the most random injuries you could expect to sustain. From a toilet lid no less.

Yep, you heard me right - a toilet lid!

I guess I'd better set the scene...

I was at work in the toilet cubicle getting changed into my exercise gear at 2.30pm for the walk up the hill to meet the boys when school finishes at 3pm.

It's a small space and once there's me and my bag full of clothes I'm changing out of/into there's not a whole lot of room to contort myself around to change into my gear and put on my running shoes.

So every day when it comes time to put my rather tight-fitting exercise 3/4 pants and shoes on I usually put the toilet lid down and sit on it while I at least pull my trousers up to my knees and again when it comes time to do up my laces etc. So this is not something new - I've been doing it for months and months quite happily without incident.

Until this day that is.

Now I still can't tell you whether I might have leaned a certain way as I was pulling my pants up and put undue pressure on one part of the lid but the next thing I heard was a loud cracking noise and I realised that the toilet lid had cracked from underneath me.

Which in itself wouldn't have been cause for alarm.

Except........... when it cracked it then trapped about 10 cm of the back of my thigh and butt cheek in between the two pieces of now rather sharp split plastic.


I gently prised myself loose from the lid and felt a nice cut on the back of my leg. Although it didn't appear to be gushing out blood (thank goodness) I was still a little concerned at how bad it might be.

Now unless you're some kind of contortionist marvel you will know that checking out the part of one's body where the leg meets the butt check is nigh on impossible without some extra help.

Enter the iPhone camera - that you can apparently reverse and check out hard to see parts of your body with ease - who knew!

It looked pretty ouchie but in reality was clearly not that bad since I then managed to finish getting changed, walked up to school and home, did a vigorous Tower pilates session that evening and then ran my first 10km in years the very next morning.

I'll spare you the gory shot of the actual cut on my leg (who wants to see that?!) and leave you with one of the broken toilet lid instead...if you look closely I'm sure you can still see a bit of my skin/blood still attached to it - gross!

And I think you might agree this is one of the more random injuries you could expect to incur in your lifetime!

So now I'm interested to know....what's the most random injury you've ever sustained? Do you think you can you beat my story?!

11 March 2015

The things we do for love...

I'm the first to say that I'm blessed to have a very patient hubby.

One who doesn't mind going out on hare-brained photography sessions in all kinds of weather for a start.

Like on this night when it was blowing an absolute gale - but you wouldn't know it from the smile on his face as we slid down the steep sand dunes to Back Beach.

It was rather therapeutic - the black sand underneath the top layer that had been warmed by the sun was rather chilly under foot - it felt rather like an ice cold bath for the toes!

I'm not sure exactly what he was thinking when I took this shot of him holding onto my tripod so it didn't blow away in the fierce wind but I think it probably went a little something like this.....

That being said...I'm sure he would be the first to admit that he does get to see some spectacular sights for his efforts tagging along as my chief photographer assistant and bodyguard.

back beach sunset new plymouth

Sights like this for example!

black and white gull sun rays

We've been to Back Beach twice now for sunset - both very different experiences. On this particular night the heavenly rays were out of this world.

back beach heaven rays clouds

Illuminating the darkening beach in the purest of light.

back beach reflections stormy skies

And although the sun setting over the horizon wasn't quite the epic sight as last time, it still took the time to peek through the thick bank of storm clouds as if to say 'Hey don't forget about me....I'm still here'.

It was a most unusual sight to end to the night to be sure.

sun peeks through clouds back beach

Much as I sometimes love the solitude of an early morning session when I'm alone with my thoughts in a spectacular location like Lake Rotomanu, there's also something rather special about sharing a sight like this with your loved one to really top off a great day!


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