Home again!

We made it! We’re home!

The dreaded 14.5 hour flight worked out just fine, and we made it back to sunny Scotland yesterday lunchtime…

Staying with my wonderful parents for a night or two, to allow us to unpack our attic, and restore our home to something approaching normality, and to allow K and I to get some much-needed sleep. Jet lag isn’t too bad – we all slept reasonably well last night, but the kids were up at 6am this morning.

However, all this is minus one bag, thanks to the check-in lady at Sydney Airport forgetting to put a tag on one of the bags. The bag hasn’t made it to Scotland yet, and we’re well past the 24 hour point. I suspect it’s sitting moldering away in a corner of Sydney Airport. Of course, they may also have blown it up by now 🙁 . It’s mostly the kid’s clothes (but A is very upset because his birthday top and trousers are in there), and the laptop (thankfully backed-up, but still…) and worst of all – my just-finished knitted top, which I hadn’t even had a chance to seam 🙁 🙁 .

We have our doubts about the tracking system – because the bag wasn’t tagged. The bag does have K’s address and telephone number on both the inside and outside – but the bag apparently went through under my name – and there’s no place on the missing bag report to put such details, so if they are looking at all, they are looking for a bag with my name on it, not K’s. So we’re going to try calling Sydney Airport ourselves and see if we can find out what happened. I have my doubts that we will ever see that bag again 🙁 .

Still, on the bright side, we have our house and our car back, and the sun is shining. It’s great to be home!

A week of lasts…

It’s been something of a sad week or so for us this last week.

Megan’s last ballet class; Aidan’s last regular swimming lesson; Megan’s last day at KindyRock; Megan’s last day at kindy; and Aidan’s last day at school. Ouch.

On a more positive note, we celebrated Aidan’s sixth birthday with an Explorer party at home with twelve other kids from his class. It was a chaotic couple of hours (complete with a “gold rush” in the Coromandel (garden), several games of Captain’s Coming round the North Island (lounge) and yummy pizza-making on the South Island (dining room) to name but a few. To top it off we had a map of New Zealand birthday cake – of which the South Island portion was consumed. We’ve save the North Island portion for his actual birthday. Great fun!

Last weekend, we had a fantastic time visiting friends in Pirongia – this included a lovely muddy walk down to the river and back up the other side, and lots of time relaxing as the kids ran around the farm, and Megan and Amy put on several dancing “shows” for us, with musical accompaniment from Aidan. We, none of us, wanted to say goodbye 🙁

We’re having a very quiet weekend just now – starting to list stuff on TradeMe, and slowly beginning to re-home the things we’ve acquired during our time here. It’s been an enlightening time – how little you actually need to survive, and which of the wealth of stuff – currently residing in our attic in Scotland -we actually use.

This week brings Aidan’s sixth birthday, and daily swimming lessons for each of the kids. The evenings are likely to be spent sorting through everything and working out where it all goes!

Out and about again…

Time is racing by at the moment, and we’re seriously planning all that we need to do/see/sort out before we leave next month.

The weather has been pretty nice (mostly) recently (although cold – I’ll spare you my usual rant about looking forward to the warmth of Scotland!), and we’re doing our usual of trying to get out and enjoy it as much as possible.

A couple of weekends ago, we had Aunty Heather and Uncle Martin to stay with us, which was lovely. Martin joined us on the Saturday for a trip to Musick Point, and a scramble down to the beach there.

We reckon we must be trying to get as many different views of Rangitoto as possible these days, as on Saturday (just past) we headed north of Auckland to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, and had lunch watching the kite surfers performing with the wonderful backdrop of the volcano and downtown Auckland. From there we went to Waiwera – nothing quite like relaxing in outdoor hot pools, on a freezing cold day!

Sunday, we had Anna round for lunch, and then we took afternoon tea to Western Springs (park) with Nan and Grandad, and had a lovely walk around the lake.

On a different note, the kids have been getting on pretty well generally, although we’re noticing a similar lapse in Aidan’s ability to concentrate that we saw in the few weeks preceding our move here. Megan’s ballet teachers seem to be somewhat upset that she’s leaving though – after her lesson this week, I was instructed in no uncertain terms that I must find a class for her in Scotland which is fun [so that she doesn’t get put off], but which follows the RAD syllabus – “she’s got potential” they said… 🙂

I realised that I’m feeling a bit lonely on here – so, if you are reading please do leave a comment and say “Hi!”, just so I know I’m not alone!! Ta!

It’s a disaster!

Aidan to Megan (spoken in complete seriousness): “I remember the days when you liked pink! Why do you not like pink anymore? It’s a disaster that you like blue now!!”

Megan to Aidan (whilst clutching the light blue cup): “I like pink and purple and yellow and red and green and blue…”

Aidan (having chosen the pink cup over the dark blue or green one) to Megan: “It’s a disaster that you don’t like pink anymore!”

What is actually closer to a disaster is that the car battery is flat. So K is at church (on sound) and the kids and I are stuck at home – thanks to the kids programme being run in a building a 12 minute walk further on from church (which is a 15 minute walk from here). Cue tears.

Oh well, I suppose it gives us more time to get the yummy chocolate brownies the kids and I have just made all ready for when Daddy comes home – K doesn’t know it yet, but we’re celebrating Father’s Day today (along with the rest of the UK) as we’ll be back in the UK when NZ Father’s Day occurs.


Well, winter seems to be in remission a little at the moment, and we’ve been using the nicer weather to get out and about. One of our goals for this visit was to climb Rangitoto – a relatively young volcano in the Waitemata Harbour – a thirty-minute ferry ride across from downtown AK.

So last Saturday, we hopped on the ferry and, after a lovely boat ride, arrived at Rangitoto and set off… we decided to go around about a quarter of the base of the island, have lunch on the beach there and then head on up to the top. This turned out to be a more challenging walk than we’d initially planned for the kids – it turned out to be a 10km walk, and we spent most of the five hours we were on the island walking… and the kids both did brilliantly well – I wouldn’t have believed they could do it, but they did 🙂 . The views were incredible, the weather stayed dry (except for the first five minutes when we hid in the shelter at the ferry terminal, and for about five minutes while we were at the top and could hide in the shelter up there), and we got some wonderful photographs…

Not to be outdone, we took ourselves off for a lovely (if somewhat muddy!) walk in the Waitakere’s on Sunday – to the Kitekite Falls, near Piha. It was a nice gentle walk (although with a bit of climbing to get to the Falls) after the day before, but afforded us a lovely tramp through the NZ bush, and some stunning views of Piha beach and Lion Rock on the way home…

Pics are up on Facebook if you feel like taking a look…

Around and about and back again

So much for my good intentions of blogging lots… 🙁

We’ve been away again… doing the big tour of the North Island. It was really fun – started out with the long-promised (to Aidan) visit to the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua – we hired a private pool, and went in the early evening – even the kids were awestruck by the sheer loveliness of the surroundings – being outside in a hot pool, on a cold starry night 🙂 .

From there we drove to Wellington – via a visit to Huka Falls (the volume of water flowing through here was greater than either K or I had ever seen before), and an exciting drive over the Desert Road (near Mount Ruapehu) – we stopped for a picnic lunch up there and the weather closed in… didn’t quite expect to be throwing snowballs, but there we were!

Wellington, for the first time, displayed its true colours to me (every other time we’ve been the weather has been near perfect!). This time we had horizontal rain the entire time we were there! Still, we managed to catch up with Bevan; and Heather, Jack, Becca and Maggie (at Te Papa – the Musuem of New Zealand – well worth a visit); and Louise, Barry, little Alec, and Anna too! We also went out to Eastbourne to show the kids K’s grandma’s old house, and went paua shell hunting on the beach too.

From there we drove to New Plymouth to meet some long-lost relatives of K’s – I think we were all about as nervous as each other beforehand, but we had a lovely time! We managed to go through the “Goblin Forest” up on Mount Taranaki; seal-watch from an old English Lifeboat around the Sugarloaf Islands, and have a lovely afternoon in Pukekura Park while we were there.

Next on our whirlwind tour was Wanganui – to stay with Auntie Elspeth, visit with Garth, Brydie, Rachel and Alex, and Karlene… And to spend some time with Steve and Varya, Benji and Toby. It was wonderful to see them so happy and settled in their lovely new home – but very sad when we realised that we now won’t see them again until the next time we come to NZ. We had a fun afternoon with them cruising down the Whanganui river on the Waimarie Paddle Steamer.

On our way home we had another flying visit with Josh and Mel and kids – this time to visit them in their new home in Pirongia. They have a huge section – complete with pond, paddock containing three sheep, and wetland area! The kids had a fab time running around!

And now we’re in AK again. And starting to realise that there are only a few short weeks left before we go home… and I still haven’t told you about the fun walk that K, M and I did along the sandbar at Tahuna Torea (during which we were followed by a pukeko for much of the walk) on the day I went into hospital all those weeks ago; or about climbing Rangitoto on Saturday, or the walk to Kitekite Falls, at Piha in the Waitakeres on Sunday…

We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo…

or more accurately, we went to the zoo. Today in fact 🙂 . Lots of fun. We went straight from church, and arrived just in time to get to Elephant Encounter – Kashin, their 40year old matriarch, has been at Auckland Zoo longer than I’ve been alive! The kids loved watching the elephants, especially when Kashin showed off her log-rolling skills – very impressive. The meerkat tunnels were another hit – you could crawl through tunnels underneath the meerkat enclosure and pop up in covered domes right in the middle of the enclosure – very cool (and yes, K and I were right in there with the kids!).

Yesterday we went for a bush walk in the Waitakeres. Picnic lunch at the Arataki Visitor Centre, then on to the Auckland City Walk, as recommended by the rangers. Not entirely sure why it’s called that – you can’t see the city at all on any part of the walk! But a nice hour or so long walk – and Megan proved to be a champion bird spotter!! She spotted a kereru very close to us, and several other birds besides. The walk itself was gorgeous and we saw several large kauri trees. The kids are definitely getting better at this walking malarkey – M is a real trouper and, while A whinges for the first half hour (takes after his Daddy, according to K!), he gets into it after that, and really enjoys it!

I think we’ve suddenly realised how little time we have left, and how we really need to make the most of it…!


I’ve got a good excuse this time for the lack of posts… the title says it all 🙁 .

I woke up last Thursday with a really painful elbow (thankfully it’s my left elbow!). Took anti-inflammatories and hoped it would be better by the next day. It wasn’t. Saw my GP on Friday afternoon expecting at the most to be sent home with strong painkillers and antibiotics. Instead I was sent directly to A&E.

Six hours after arrival at the hospital – yes, the process really took that long – I was admitted with cellulitis of the elbow and started on antibiotics. And, I’d probably better clear this one up straight away – I didn’t “do” anything to cause this. It just happens – sometimes something as simple as an insect bite, or a graze you weren’t aware you had (which is what I suspect was the problem in my case) can allow ordinary bacteria to get in to the connective tissue underneath the skin and cause a nasty infection.

I was started with IV antibiotics on Friday night, but unfortunately had a reaction (came out in blotches!!) to one of them, so they had to switch me to something else. The remainder of my weekend passed by with periods of dizziness and nausea, and watching the redness and swelling gradually spread along my arm. Not a few days I’d especially like to repeat, thank you very much!

By Monday I was feeling much better in myself, but the infection had nearly reached my wrist. It took until Wednesday before the drs felt things were sufficiently under control to allow me to come back home – albeit with ten days worth of oral antibiotics and an extremely snazzy black sling (to rest my arm and help keep it elevated as much as possible). I still have some pain in my elbow, and I’m pretty tired, but I think… I hope I’m getting better.

It was an interesting experience, being in hospital. I met some lovely people, and some not-so-lovely, people…! The food wasn’t great – I certainly wasn’t the only one with a wonderful husband (/relative/friend) who brought in proper hot meals, to be heated in the ward kitchen!! But the care I received was excellent, and that really was the important thing.

And I will never forget my second night… hearing the patient opposite me imperiously demanding “an enema, so that I don’t have to strain…”!!!

From Doubtful Sound to Doubtless Bay

Wow! What a month! I haven’t had internet access for most of this time, and that’s been very freeing!

We flew down to Queenstown on April 1st which, as the skies were cloud-free, was an incredible flight. We’d given the kids each a map of NZ before we left, and so most of our journey was spent pointing out the various landmarks on the map and in reality… Mount Taranaki, Wanganui, Farewell Spit and the Southern Alps… stunning! And the descent into Queenstown was every bit as good as I’d heard!

We had ten days on the South Island – mostly in a cottage near Wanaka, from which we did a lot of walking, even climbed Mount Iron (a whopping 300m, 45min climb), which afforded us some lovely views of the snow-capped mountains surrounding us!

Thanks to my lovely parents, Keith and I ran away to Te Anau for the night, and the next day saw us on a cruise to Doubtful Sound (a belated Christmas present from my family – thank you all very much!). It was a truly awe-inspiring place. My parents viewed it on a calm, blue-skied sunshiny day. It was in an entirely different mood when we saw it three days later – slightly overcast, and windy… waterfalls flowing upwards, and mini-tornados whipping up the water; and the sheer grandeur of the place! Wow! One of life’s highlights 🙂 .

The weather was very kind to us during our whole stay, and we had stunning views of a snow-capped Mount Cook en route to Timaru. From there, to Christchurch, and then a flight back to Auckland for Easter.

On the Tuesday following Easter, we headed up north of the Bay of Islands, to a lovely bach at Cooper’s Beach, which is situated on Doubtless Bay – another stunningly beautiful place. From there we did a daytrip to Paihia, and went on a boat trip to the Hole in the Rock, which included finding a pod of bottlenose dolphins – an amazing experience, having an entire pod of dolphins just playing and performing right beside our boat!

The other trip we did was to take Mum and Dad to Cape Reinga, thus completing their Landsend to John’O’Groats tour of New Zealand, as they’d visited Bluff on the South Island before coming up to Wanaka. Cape Reing was every bit as special as I remembered it being from nine years ago… I still didn’t see the line of breakers where the two oceans meet though 🙁 . Nine years ago, we stood at the lighthouse above the Cape, and looked down on a sea of cloud (which was pretty impressive in itself!). This time we could see the water, but no line of breakers. Ah well, there’s always the next time…!

From there, back to Auckland, for a few days of showing Mum and Dad around, and then a less happy trip to the airport to say goodbye…

They are safely home again, and we’ve been having a quiet few days recovering before school restarts on Monday.

Crazy days

I’m not quite sure where to begin this post! It’s been a crazy few days – and not really in a good way either 🙁 .

For the most part, life has continued on its merry way – Aidan’s been at school, and has been moved up a reading group at last 🙂 . Megan’s had ballet, and gymnastics, and kindy and was moved up a level in her swimming class last week 🙂 . We had the next-door neighbour’s children round to play after school yesterday – they have a boy and a girl ages with our two, and the four of them had a wonderful time playing in the back garden!

We attended the Deconsecration of the old St Chad’s church building on Sunday morning. It was built 80 years ago, and after plans about 10 years in the making, they are finally ready to start knocking the sanctuary, church hall and vicarage to the ground, and build new ones on the same site.

We’ve found their attitude to be refreshing – not clinging to the past, yet at the same time not devaluing it. They want to build on the work done in the past, and build a new physical building which will allow them to serve the community in a new way. Sadly, while we will be here to witness the destruction of the old, and all going well, the beginning of the construction of the new, we will not be here to celebrate the opening the new building – scheduled for Christmas time. But it is exciting times for the church – and an exciting time to be part of the church.

Our own personal lives have been tinged by the stress of having our borrowed car taken away from us permanently at almost no notice. It’s too far into our stay here to make buying a car a feasible option, and although there is a possibility of a replacement from elsewhere, there are a number of obstacles in the way.

The long and the short of all of it is that it is looking increasingly likely that we will be unable to do both a long weekend away with the Auckland part of the family, and our tour of the North Island – something we must do to catch up with family and friends who we will not see otherwise on this trip 🙁 🙁 . There are only two timeslots available to us to do the long trip – one which includes the holiday weekend, and the other – for which now, short of a miracle, we will not have a car…

Earlier this evening I was seriously wondering if being here was worth all the stress… A glass of wine has restored my calm, but a good night’s sleep would help even more. Anyone like to try to convince M that night is for sleeping, and waking Mummy up for between one and three hours each night isn’t really the best long-term game plan?

Still, only two sleeps to go and help will be on hand 🙂 🙂 🙂 (in the shape of a Grandma who hasn’t seen her wee ones for a couple of months…!)