Poignant moments from my week in Black and White: The Photo Gallery

Black and white is the theme this week on ‘The Photo Gallery’ and it is especially poignant as I struggle to let my youngest child ‘go’, and settle her into school.

I feel like my wild butterfly is being closed up in a box, of sorts, and having her wings clipped. The vibrant colours of her rich and beautiful character are being tested.


I find the time after school (she’s only doing mornings this term), and weekends, so incredibly precious. I took the photograph below today, after school, at the local beach; a mere ten minutes walk from our home. The sun had lost its burn, as it was around 5pm, but the heat of a wonderful New Zealand summer was still in the air, and her innocent nature drove her to take off her clothes and splash in the waves.

playing in the waves

Whilst I witness her assimilation into school, I am nurturing her colourful personality outside of school and fighting to retain her uniqueness and natural vest for life. I have great faith in the school she is attending. I see the older students there retain so much of their unique personalities and spirit, whilst also gaining a top class education. I remind myself of this every day, when doubts creep up on me.

Settling her into school is going pretty well on the whole, but it is of course an emotional time – especially as I haven’t spent more than a few hours away from her at a time (apart from that one weekend, when she was four, that I travelled to a Uni friend’s wedding in England for a long weekend – I was living in the USA at the time, making the logistics easier than travelling from New Zealand!).

It’s especially hard as she has no prior experience of being in an educational setting. She’s having to learn, very quickly, how to ‘fit in’ within the setting of formal school – where a tie is a mandatory part of the uniform (even when the summer temperatures sizzle on), sitting with crossed legs and arms, not asking endless questions – but to hold her hand up in the hope she’ll be picked (thankfully class numbers are small, so the chance is more so), not singing when the whim takes her – but waiting till morning tea and lunch to let her lungs burst forth with song, or at formal ‘singing’ practice, keeping her shoes and socks on, even when her natural inclination is to run barefoot, not dance and move with physical freedom, but be constantly mindful of her body in respect to others in the classroom.

This is all in very stark contrast to the life she has led thus far. Less than six months ago she was living in Santa Barbara, California, in a beautiful home with a pool in the back garden. She spent most of the day without a strip of clothing and dived in and out of the swimming pool as the fancy took her. She sang her own parody to the Phantom of the Opera song ‘Sing to Me’ – singing ‘Swim to Me’ at the top of lungs in the pool, she baked alongside me, played with her older sisters (who were also home educated during the fifteen months that we lived in California), spent mornings drawing in the garden and evenings playing with her Daddy. We sat over morning tea and observed the different birds that frequented the garden, identifying them alongside a bird-chart, we marvelled at the speed of the humming bird, as it hovered to gather nectar. Our lives were without time constraints and deadlines. Our lives were blissful and in the moment.

Now, we are in a different chapter of our lives. We are learning to live with alarm clocks, deadlines and systems. We are reintegrating, whilst still trying to hold on to everything we learned throughout our time travelling and living, very much, in the moment.

Thankfully we have a special buddy to help us with this… Monsieur Cocoa, our seven month old puppy.

Monsieur Cocoa at the playground playing peek a boo

Joining in with ‘The Photo Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers on the theme, ‘Black and White’

Posted in Alice, Our pets, Photo Gallery | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Life is a changing!

There have been so many momentous changes in our family life this year so far. This week, by far, has been the biggest. I have experienced, for the first time in nearly twelve years, having all three of my daughters AT SCHOOL! I have soooo many feelings about this. My emotions are on a non-stop roller-coaster ride at the moment and getting out for a run is the one thing keeping me sane (and wine, of course!). So it’s just as well I got a long run in on Sunday – my second half marathon since turning forty!

#CignaRTB #raceday !! #halfmarathon #Wellington

A photo posted by Sarah (@britmuminnz) on

I was so chuffed to beat my personal best and ran the 13.1 miles in 1.48.53!

I’ve also seen my previous homeschooler (till she was 9 year’s old – with the exception of a year in ‘Kindi’ at the age of 4, and two terms in school at age 5), settle into school. Not only is she settling well, and overcoming the anxiety that has held her back in earlier years, but has also put herself out there and volunteered to make up the numbers for her school ‘Touch Rugby’ team. She played her first game this week and proudly represented her school with amazing confidence.

Our eldest daughter is straight back into her fitness love – dancing – this year. She’s now doing contemporary, jazz and tap. She has also taken on a new sport this year – golf (which delights her Dad)! She gets a shuttle bus with her fellow students after school, straight to the golf course, and we pick her up afterwards.

Our youngest is meanwhile adjusting to school life slowly, by just doing mornings for this term (which is exhausting for her!). She has unfortunately come down with a cold at the end of this week, so we will have to start next week afresh. I am absolutely savouring every moment I have with her after school.

She is such a nature lover and is often to be found in the garden with our dog and rabbit, or chasing butterflies.

After school, half day for our new entrant, spending precious time together at Shelly Bay.

A photo posted by Sarah (@britmuminnz) on

I’m just so grateful that our dear fur baby is able to help distract me from a nervous breakdown with my dear babies all now at school! I enjoyed a beautiful run/walk with him on my youngest daughters first official morning at school.

I also paused for thought on all the amazing times I have enjoyed with my dear babes in arms, whilst acknowledging the exciting, yet challenging times, ahead! So, I shall keep running, and try to keep smiling (though I admit to a few tears this week; the new entrant teacher had to ask one of her students to pass me the ‘magic fairy wand’ to help quell the tears rolling down my face! I was trying so hard to hide them too… quietly at the back of the class. With that wand in hand I gave the young students in the class a thumbs up and an Oscar winning smile of ‘I’m all good now!’).

I paused for a moment, on this hill, with my dog, & acknowledged the passing of my time with my babies. They are, as of today, all three at school, and my time at the playground, with babes in arms, is over, for now… Till I'm a *hopefully*, one day, a Grandma that is (after my daughters have lived and adventured well!!). For now, the hills are mine to roam again – with my four legged friend for company – at a pace of our choosing. We have after school and weekends to still linger at details with the youngest of our 'pack' – she who makes us stop, notice, and live in the moment. I do hope, now she's started school, she manages to hang on to that magic – & not let the awareness of time, and keeping to the clock, diminish her awareness of the present. It took me a long time to regain that which I once knew, instinctively as a child, & lost growing up. It was #motherhood that brought me back & that is one of the greatest gifts my children have bestowed upon me x

A photo posted by Sarah (@britmuminnz) on


This blog post was inspired by Tara at ‘Sticky Fingers blog’ who set a theme of ‘Health and Fitness’ on her weekly linky, ‘The Photo Gallery’.

Health and fitness, for me, is all about balance. I was a young child that was forever active; dancing, running, cycling and climbing, a teenager that started to become less so and a young lady in her late teens and twenties who lost her way on the path of balance. Those party years, of my twenties, were passed over by my ‘breeding’ years of my thirties and now, in my forties, I feel like I am finally getting the balance. Sleep deprivation is less of a problem, now my children are all past their preschool years, I have more windows of time to get a moment of exercise in and keep my mental health on balance, and my nutrition is inspired by wanting to set a good example to my children (consequently we eat our fruit and veggies, but indulge in treats too!!).

My next running event to look forward to is the Martinborough ‘Round the Vines’ in the Wairarapa of New Zealand. I’m only doing a 10k (as the 21K is a repeat of the 10k – and I couldn’t face running past all those vineyards TWICE without stopping for a wine!). I look forward to getting out there, running that course and having a wee tipple with a friend afterwards! What’s more, the proceeds of the event go towards the Martinborough School – what’s better than running for a good cause?! xx

Posted in Alice, Learning & growing, New beginnings, Our pets, Photo Gallery, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rock scrambling in Wellington with Monsieur Cocoa

Wellington’s coastline is a rugged one, with a mix terrain of beaches, from sandy to pebbled and everything in between. There are well known bays and others so small they have no mapped name, but are undoubtedly given names with affection by locals.

Lyall Bay

This past week we’ve taken a few strolls from our home to some of the local spots on the south coast. It’s been fun to scramble on the rocks, with our dog ‘Monsieur Cocoa’, and explore the sea treasures washed up with the tide.

Rock scrambling with CocoaOur oldest daughter has recently become interested in geocaching, which gives her a fun incentive to get out for a walk with a friend and find treasures of a varied kind! She’s so enthusiastic about her new found hobby that she’s planning a trip to our holiday pad in Martinborough to spend a weekend doing it!

She’s discovered a few geocaches around our Wellington home already – and had fun taking her youngest sister to find one.

Exploring Welly's southcoast & geocaching

It was quite a windy day, so Monsieur Cocoa was staying close to our youngest; making sure she wasn’t whipped off a rock into the sea!

Cocoa and Alice

I love the way he circles around her and stays protectively close as she scrambles across the rocks, from one rock pool to the next.

Alice and Cocoa



Linking up with….

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Posted in Alice, Charlotte, Country Kids, Our pets | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Mini Creations

So many changes this year for our family of five.

We have gone from having three children ‘unschooling’ whilst living in the USA for fifteen months, to having two children at school and one about to make her first school visit!

Meanwhile, the amazing man of the house has returned to work (but not too onerous hours – so still plenty of time to wear his wonderful ‘Dad’ hat!).

Mummy is feeling quite giddy with all the changes, but anticipates feeling like a ‘new woman’ by the end of 2015! The thought of having child free lunch dates with hubby, after nearly twelve years of being a stay at home Mumma (homeschooling for nearly 9 of those years), is delicious indeed! Ahem… anyway, moving on to the point of this blog post – and that is to proudly show-case the creations of the three amazing children those occasional adult only moments created…!!!

Our youngest (who has turned 5 this last week) was inspired to create jellyfish out of clay…


Our oldest daughter (coming up 12 in June!), put together and decorated this ginger-bread house as past of a fun ‘new school year’ activity. The ginger-bread was pre-made by a cafe (and tasted absolutely delicious!), so she can’t take the glory for that – but the decorating and building skills were top notch. She brought the finished work home from school on her Daddy’s Birthday – wonderful timing!


Whilst our middle daughter, age 9, has been doing so exceptionally well in adjusting to formal schooling, after being home-schooled most of her young life. She gave a wonderful speech in class about ‘Needs, Wants & Responsibilities’ and is currently away for two nights on her first ever school camp! She was very nervous about going, but her wonderful Daddy has gone along as parent help. He sent me this photo of her whizzing down a water slide today (and though it’s not a ‘mini-creation’, I reckon she deserves a huge ‘shout out’ for being so brave!!).

Water slide whizzing!



Joining in with ‘Mini-Creations

Posted in Art, Learning & growing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Photo Gallery | Colour

It’s been a wonderful past week of celebrations. February is such a busy month for Birthdays (not just in our family, but so many friends too!)… May must be the month for ‘lurve’ is all I can say!

Here’s a gem of a photo from our youngest daughter’s 5th Birthday party (still coming to terms with the fact my baby is FIVE!). There was definitely a whole lot of colour on her Birthday cake (and after the candle was blown out that colour was swiftly transposed onto her face and dress!!).

Alice is 5!

It was a wonderful celebration and I am so, so thankful that a good friend’s son took so many magic photographs to capture it all (photographs which I very nearly lost… but thanks to some helpful advice and the use of some software to rescue the lost pics off the camera’s memory card, they were saved! PHEW!).

Linking up with the wonderful ‘Photo Gallery’ on the theme of ‘Colour’ this week.

Posted in Photo Gallery | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Adventuring in the countryside with Alice & Monsieur Cocoa!

Wellington to Martinborough, in the Wairarapa, is a one and a half hour drive, skirting the beautiful Wellington harbour, continuing along the highway, through Lower and Upper Hutt, before reaching the beautiful area of Kaitoke Regional Park and then ascending the Rimutaka Hill on State Highway 2.

Upper Hutt on SH1There are a couple of beautiful places to stop off before climbing the hill, and since I’ve had a couple of trips over the hill and into the Wairarapa over the past fortnight, I’ve had the pleasure of stopping at a couple of them.

My lovely young companion Alice (nearly 5), as well as our puppy (Monsieur Cocoa), have joined me on the drives and given me all the more of a reason to make a couple of stops.

Wellington south coast

Here’s some of our favourite places –

1. Kaitoke Regional Park

This beautiful park has some stunning walks through native New Zealand flora and is a great place to spot native birds too. The Pakuratahi River offers opportunities to cool down in the crystal clear waters, skim river stones, build dams and admire the scenery.

Swing bridge

Alice didn’t waste any time in testing the temperature of the water, Monsieur Cocoa took a paddle too (and was particularly intrigued by some ducks swimming past).

Taking a dip

Kaitoke Park was chosen as the location for ‘Rivendell‘ in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The site for Rivendell

Little remains of the Rivendell film set, but it’s easy to see why it was chosen and a few signs depict how the area was transformed for filming.


Alice enjoyed seeing how she measured up next to the characters in the Lord of the Rings… a perfect little ‘Hobbit’ size!

Hobbit sized Alice

I haven’t added any filters or digitally modified any of these photographs. The colours speak for themselves. Beautiful hues of green, in a dense canopy of bush, constrasted against a summer blue sky.


2. Harcourt Park

This is a wonderful playground and park in Upper Hutt with something for all ages to climb, swing and balance on. There’s also a marvellous paddling pool (open in the summer) for those hot days when little people need to cool off (Monsieur Cocoa had to make do with splashing in his water bowl).

3. Rimutaka Hill Road summit lookout

The summit of the Rimutaka Hill Road used to be home to a cafe, but that has long gone, and now there is a newly landscaped carpark and view point, for travellers to take a break or a ‘summit snap’. It’s a stunning place (on a fine day) to stop and admire the panoramic views. There are a couple of tracks leading off the summit that I’d love to explore one day too.

Alice at the Rimutaka Hill Road summit

The photograph above was taken looking back towards Wellington, the one below is looking towards the Wairarapa.

Rimutaka Hill Road summit towards the Wairarapa

4. Te Ara Tirohanga (formerly Rimutaka Trig Track)

I haven’t managed to persuade my young Alice do to this track yet – climbing from near the summit of the Rimutaka Hill Road (555m) and climbing to the northern crest of the Rimutaka Range (725m). The last time I enjoyed the opportunity to walk it was when Alice was in utero (three weeks before she was born!), along with my older two daughters (then aged 4 and 7), my husband and my parents (visiting from the UK) – as written about in the post, ‘Over the hill and not so far away…‘.

Rimutaka Trig

From the summit of the Rimutaka Hill Road it’s a windy drive down into the Wairarapa, where the first town is Featherston.

5. Featherston

There’s a little playground we’ve stopped off at a few times (with public toilets), before the final fifteen minute drive to Martinborough in South Wairarapa.

Alice the little climber

The playground has a lovely range of climbing frames, swings, a flying fox and an old tractor.

Alice on the tractor in Featherston

6. Martinborough

Our final destination! This weekend we had a ton of fun as the Martinborough Fair was on. It’s a wonderful fair, with a multitude of amazing stalls offering an eclectic blend of products, from clothing and bow-ties for for dogs to olive oils and bird feeders. Monsieur Cocoa was vey impressed with his new bow-tie.

Monsieur Cocoa

Alice loved the children’s corner and had so much fun, sliding…

Big slide



and bouncing!


After all the fun at the fair, there was time to relax in the beautiful rural scenery and enjoy a simply beautiful evening with young Alice, walking Monsieur Cocoa.

Sunset walk


Linking up with…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Posted in Alice, Country Kids, Holidays, Our pets | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments