Silent Sunday

Portait on Santa Barbara beach

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Country Kids hit the beach in Santa Barbara!

We’ve enjoyed some wonderful moments at the beach in Santa Barbara this week. I often head out for a run when hubby gets home from work, finishing up on the beach, where he then meets me with our daughters.

Santa Barbara beach

Our youngest two are joining in with a children’s sand race at Ventura Beach soon, as part of the Ventura Marathon Weekend, so are always keen to practice their running (and generally roll around in the sand!)… and photo bomb their Mum’s post run yoga stretches!

Photo bombing Mum's yoga

Photo bombing Mum’s yoga

This week the waves were primo for boogie boarding action, so they loved catching some surf too!

I was impressed with our youngest daughter going for it! I stood right by her, holding the board out ready for her to jump on as soon as the wave approached from behind. She didn’t hesitate, but jumped on with full enthusiasm and went for it!

There was a fair bit of sea kelp catching around our legs and stones beneath our feet, which I always feel a little disconcerted by – but they didn’t mind. They caught at least ten waves each, before the salt and sand up their togs started to bother them and we headed for a shower down! Here’s them in full action in a short video clip.

Such a lovely way to end a day.

Sunset at the beach

Sunset at the beach

I even got my youngest to join me with a tree pose salute to the setting sun to finish up with.

Tree pose salute to the setting sun with my youngest daughter.

Tree pose salute to the setting sun with my youngest daughter.

We’ll look forward to doing more boogie boarding when we get home to Wellington, New Zealand, in October (though wetsuits are usually needed in the spring there!).

In the meantime, we have just over a month of the Californian sunshine to play about in.

Californian beach loving

Linking up with Country Kids from Coombe Mill, where bloggers come together to share the outdoor fun they’ve been enjoying with their families.

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    32 sleeps till we fly back to our home in New Zealand!

    The past fortnight I’ve been preparing for our move back to Wellington, New Zealand. So much stuff! Having had three daughters learning from home for an entire year there was a lot to sort through; books, stationery, toys, dress-ups, science equipments, outdoor toys, art supplies… the list goes on and on! I was relieved when the date for the packers to come arrived and I could bid it all farewell for a while.

    Crown Relocations did a superb job of packing everything up. We’ve always used ‘Crown’ for international moves and they are always very professional and friendly. Our girls were around most of the day, but weren’t at all concerned to see their belongings packed up – even our youngest daughter, at 4 years of age, took it all in her stride. When the packing was finished, and the truck loaded up, we all waved ‘Bon voyage’. It will be a good five to eight weeks before we see our stuff again.

    Crown relocations

    We now have just over a month left in Santa Barbara, California. A month to make the most of the constant blue sky and endless sunshine, before returning to our home – where the weather is anything but predictable, but full of excitement and wild beauty.

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    Driving through Wales & a stop over at Cardiff Bay

    We left the caravan park in north Wales on a Saturday morning, after a wonderful family reunion and holiday at Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, taking the whole day to drive to Cardiff in south Wales.

    There were no three lane motorways, just single lanes of traffic, flowing in both directions, the whole drive. It felt like driving in New Zealand all over again. The road twisted and turned, over hills and into valleys, with beautiful scenery the whole way.

    On the road in North Wales

    Our three daughters happily whiled away the time, playing ‘I Spy’ and ‘Who can spot a cow first’ etc. etc… whilst I gazed longingly at the scenery, wishing I had weeks to walk over the hills and explore the national parks of Snowdonia and the Breacon Beacons.

    Scenes from the drive in Wales

    I sat in the back, sandwiched between our two youngest daughters, whilst our eldest daughter had the ‘sane’ seat next to her Daddy. Thankfully they didn’t eat too much candy!!

    Thankfully they didn't eat too many!

    I snapped a photograph from the back seat, as we dipped down a steep road, and it looked more like we were taking off in a plane than driving on a road.

    On the road in Wales

    After a while our tummies started to grumble for something with more sustenance than travel sweets (and extra sugar was the last thing anyone needed), so we found a lovely pub to stop at for lunch (cue expat nostalgic *sigh*; probably the thing I miss most when away from the UK is a decent pub).

    Pub lunch in WalesWe lingered to enjoy a game of cards and a brief try at darts (didn’t stay long enough to do any real damage!).

    Back on the road, we headed further south, towards the beautiful Breacon Beacons (memories of my old hiking days in my late teenage years drifting back… mostly stories of getting lost, narrowly escaping a pack of farm dogs and eating nothing much more than baked beans for a few days!).

    Welsh countryside

    I quietly vowed to myself that I’d return and walk these hills again – but with a bit of extra cash in my pocket for a decent meal in a pub every night, rather than baked beans over a camp-fire!

    Hills made for walking

    Before long we needed to stop again. Everyone needed to stretch their legs, be free of the confined space in the car, and listen to something other than our eldest daughter singing (she was fine, with her headphones firmly placed over her ears).

    We found a field, a playground and a Mr Whippy Ice Cream Van (cue more nostalgia for my childhood days of hearing the melodic sound of the ice cream van visiting our street).

    Man of the house and a Mr Whippy Ice Cream Van

    After a play, a little walk around to observe some fish and ducks (without dunking any children in the canal), we piled back in the car for our final part of the drive.

    Scenic pitstop

    We arrived in Cardiff early evening, with time for a dip in the hotel swimming pool before dinner.

    Since we only had one night in Cardiff, before travelling on Sunday afternoon down to Hampshire to stay with my dear folks, we decided to stay at a hotel in prime position, ‘The St. David’s Hotel & Spa‘, on the beautifully regenerated docklands, now known as ‘The Cardiff Bay‘. The view from our hotel window was lovely.

    View from the  hotel in Cardiff

    That evening we took a stroll along the waterfront, which was buzzing with life on a summery Saturday evening. We were delighted to come across a fair-ground – which we were told was there for six weeks over the holiday period. We had a lovely time, enjoying the ‘old-fashioned’ feel of a fair-ground (without the Disney paraphernalia!).

    Fairground at Cardiff Bay area

    Loved seeing a helter skelter – it’s been a while since we’d seen one! Our eldest isn’t a fan of slides, so gave it a miss, our middle daughter loved it (wild child!) and our youngest gave it a go – but once was enough!

    Helter Skelter

    After a few more rides we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

    Fun house!

    The next day hubby and I headed off in different directions. Our eldest is HUGE fan of Doctor Who and our main reason for a stop off in Cardiff was so she could visit the Doctor Who Experience.

    Dr Who Exhibition

    I would have loved it too – but it would have been too scary for the younger children.

    Whilst hubby, and our eldest, enjoyed Doctor Who, I took the other two girls along to a cool hands on science discovery centre – TechniQuest.

    Techniquest, Cardiff

    TechniQuest was heaps of fun and had an array of science activities.

    Inside TechniQuest

    We enjoyed a couple of hours exploring before heading back to the hotel for a swim and meet up with hubby and our oldest daughter.

    Welsh dragon

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    The Photo Gallery: World Photography Day

    How do you choose one photograph to summarise a year? World Photo Day is celebrated every year on the 19th August, (but to understand more head over to the website and escape into a thousand images from around the globe).

    Between August 19-26 the website opens for submissions and, for me personally, it’s a wonderful moment in the year to capture the magic that photography allows us to do. I chose this photograph, taken this week, of our middle daughter, so full of energy and zest for life.

    Portrait for World Photography Day

    The photograph is a snapshot of her, totally in the moment, on the beach in sunny Santa Barbara, California.

    We have been back in California, on the western coast of the USA, in sunny Santa Barbara, for a couple of weeks, after a wonderful month in Europe visiting our family.

    In October we head back to New Zealand to live, after having a full year of living in California. It’s a time of transition for our family. My husband and I, both having grown up in the UK – but having spent most of our adult lives in New Zealand, are well experienced in long haul travel and expat living; but seeing our children blossom over this past year of tasting a life somewhat different has been incredible.

    Our youngest has turned four and learned to swim. Our oldest daughter turned eleven and has thrived in having time with her younger sisters (though missed her school and friends in New Zealand very much). Our eight year old has been the jam in the middle. She is incredibly active and has incredible zest for life. Her energy captivates and enthrals, as well as exhausts! She is the best personal trainer a parent could have and she motivates my hubby and I to keep fit, so that we can keep up – not just with her, but with our other two daughters as well.

    Miss 8 & Miss 4

    She motivates us all to swim in the pool, take a plunge when we’d rather not, head out for a bike ride or a run on the beach.

    Miss 11 & Miss 8

    She practically begs us to take her to the ‘batting cage’ or the ‘climbing wall’, or just stretch out on a yoga mat!

    Hubby & Miss 8 on the beach at sunset

    And work to keep up we certainly do try!

    Hubby with his stand up paddle board…

    Hubby at Leadbetter Beach, Santa Barbara

    and me with my running (managed to sign Miss 8 up for her first 5km official run; she did great):

    Miss 8 after her first official 5km run

    This past fortnight, back in California, in between packing copious boxes for our return to New Zealand, has been all about balancing out the energy. We are a family of five. We’ve spent a year in each other’s pockets, out of the school system, living life closely and supporting the man of the house in his work. We’ve travelled, explored and learned so much together. We feel stronger and closer than ever before. Now we are ready to return to our home and continue life’s journey, grateful for each other, our love, our freedom of choice and a future in one of the world’s most peaceful countries - New Zealand.

    IMG_6199

    Linking up with ‘Sticky Fingers’ blog, celebrating World Photo Day 2014.

     

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    At home with my folks, Hampshire, England

    It’s been a fortnight since we returned from the UK to the US. We are heading back to New Zealand to live at the beginning of October, but for now we’re in limbo; between the two places we love.

    FAMILY

    I haven’t felt like writing anything much, but have tried to fit in a little reminiscing about our trip. It’s bittersweet to write about the times we shared with our wonderful family and friends whilst in the UK: On the one hand, the photos and memories make the trip linger on and make everyone we love there feel closer; On the other hand, I’m thrown against the wall of reality – that we shan’t see them for a year or so, at the least, and we are about to move even further away again – back to New Zealand.

    On every trip back there are always so many people we don’t manage to meet up with; as well as all the wonderful reunions I write about. I haven’t seen many cousins, aunts and uncles in well over a decade. The UK is my home of birth, but not my children’s home. They were born in New Zealand and, as much as they’ve enjoyed this time living in the US, are looking forward to getting back there.

    I am forever torn in two – trying to be positive for my children and their future (for sure they have an amazing life in New Zealand and a wonderful future with so much freedom of choice and opportunities), whilst feeling guilty at not being there for my folks. I feel driven to write down all the events, both big and small, that make up the passages of time; clinging on to them to protect them from fading. However faded those memories become they will live on in photographs and the love that we shall always feel in our hearts.

    So, this is what it is; a place where I can write about the times we have shared and safeguard them in some small way.

    Our last week in Europe was spent with my Mum and Dad in their Hampshire home.

    My dear folks with their youngest granddaughter, Alice

    It’s where they have lived for thirty-five years and where I grew up. My best-friend, from when I was 11, still lives a few houses away and many of my other school friends have stayed and are seeing their own children pass through the schools we went to. The week was one of spending time with people that have touched my life throughout the years and still mean so much to me. I caught up with friends over coffee, at local pubs, even at a new trampoline centre (anything to keep the children happy!).

    Old University friends of both my husband and I (yes, we met way back then… at Southampton University) came together. We shared memories, talked of our different life journeys – the happy and sad parts that combine to make life’s rich tapestry – and looked forward through our children’s eyes at what is yet to be.

    We took a day trip into London with my folks and our children, walking through the parks and admiring the sights steeped in history. Hubby took our older two children to the theatre to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’, whilst I spent a lovely afternoon boating along the river Thames with our youngest daughter and my folks.

    ALICE, GRANDMA & GRANDDAD BOATING ALONG THE RIVER THAMES

    The week came to a close on a Friday. Our flight scheduled to leave Saturday afternoon. The last day was spent sharing my best friend’s celebration of her youngest son turning ten. She kindly invited us to share the ‘football party’. It was lovely to see her sons and my daughters getting on so easily.

    In the afternoon one of our nephew’s, Michael, came down from his University digs, along with his lovely girlfriend, to spend the evening with  hubby and I. One of the binding memories of our visit to the UK this time round was how our daughters enjoyed the company of their older cousins – they were reunited with all but one of their six cousins. All their cousins are boys, and most are a fair bit older, but the bond of family made their union easy.

    Michael, Sophie & Alice

    Likewise, the bond between Aunts and Uncles and the girls, their nieces, was lovely to see.

    Seeing my sister and having the chance to head out for a run with her was a special highlight for me (yes, I’m still running – before wine… have to earn it now I’m forty!).

    My sister and I

    The memories will live on in our hearts forever xxx

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    Linking up with ‘The Photo Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers

     

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