Things I’m Loving – Silver linings to poorly children at home…

For the third week, in a row, I’ve had at least one of my three daughters home poorly from school. They have been hit hard by some flu type virus, that is doing the rounds across the country this winter.

Counting down to spring, from Dorrie Leslie Park overlooking Lyall Bay, Wellington.

Counting down to spring, from Dorrie Leslie Park overlooking Lyall Bay, Wellington.

They are all slowly on the mend, though still not at full energy. In the moments that they show a glimmer of their usual selves, we’ve had some lovely ‘silver lining’ times.

Sleeping one moment, drawing the next.

Sleeping one moment, drawing the next.

Board games have been given a new lease of life, the paints have found their way out of the art supplies and been put to good use, books that have laid dormant have been revisited, and our dog, Cocoa, has loved having the house full of people to bestow his comforting presence upon.

By Alice, 5, a bridge

Alice’s elaborate bridge.

I have chased the sunshine, when the children seemed to be showing a spark of energy. I even drove over to Martinborough for the day, on Tuesday, when the rain sat heavily over Wellington – but the sun was smiling on the Wairarapa.

We barely left the house and garden there, but it was just the change of scene needed to keep our minds strong, in order to keep our bodies strong. Sophie and Alice decorated mask templates that I drew for them and collected daffodils from the garden.

Daffodils aplenty in the sunshine in Martinborough.

Daffodils aplenty in the sunshine in Martinborough.

We managed a brief half hour in the fresh air at a nearby park, giving our dog Cocoa a good run around (but my youngest had to stop every minute or so, due to coughing so much that she was bent over double spitting up phlegm, poor love).

A quick run in the sun.

A quick run in the sun.

Having Cocoa is such a blessing. He takes great pride in being ‘Head of well being’ for the household and cuddling up to the person most in need of his comfort.

Head of well-being taking a rest from comforting the poorly people in his pack xx

Head of well-being taking a rest from comforting the poorly people in his pack xx

I’ve been most worried about my oldest daughter, who hasn’t shown the same degree of symptoms as the other two, but has barely eaten more than an apple a day for a fortnight and has had so little energy or drive to get out of bed. After a week and a half of this she finally started to eat a little more again, but she has been referred for some blood tests to rule out a few things. One day we managed to get her out for a little sunshine, but she soon tired and needed to return home to bed. The other two managed a little more fresh air and enjoyed watching Cocoa showing off on the beach at Worser Bay in Wellington!

Super dog! Cocoa enjoying a run on the beach at Worser Bay, Wellington.

Super dog! Cocoa enjoying a run on the beach at Worser Bay, Wellington.

It was a brief visit, as the southerly wind blowing in was quite brisk – but it made for some amazing cloud gazing!

Worser Bay, watching the clouds of a southerly roll in over-head.

Worser Bay, watching the clouds of a southerly roll in over-head.

After the fresh air we were glad to get back home and rug up again. It’s been a week of mostly staying home, tucked up under the duvet, boxes of tissues in frequent supply and Mummy on duty to keep the fluids up, administer medicines and clear the dirty tissues away!

Thankfully I’ve had little breaks, with a wonderful neighbour to enjoy a chat over a coffee with, and my hubby home from work early in the evenings. I’ve also become absolutely hooked on ‘The Luminaries’ by Canadian-born, New Zealand author, Eleanor Catton. She won the 2013 Man Booker Prize, the first New Zealander to receive the prize since Keri Hulme in 1985 for The Bone People. I am loving the escapist immersion that an incredible story provides.

So, some good moments between the tissue wars! The girls all have a long weekend to fully recuperate and will hopefully feel strong enough to start back at school thereafter (though I’ve mostly loved having them home – reminded me of our Santa Barbara days and our Californian Adventures, when they were all home for fifteen months, whilst hubby was working in the US; except the weather was a lot warmer, very dry and rarely windy!).

Though the wind can, at times, be quite entertaining… especially with a crazy sea loving dog like our puppy, Cocoa, who likes to try flying like the sea-gulls! I reckon this particular seagull had Jonathan Livingston Seagull’s spirit in mind!

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”
― Richard BachJonathan Livingston Seagull

Cocoa trying to take off and fly like a seagull, head on into a strong northerly wind, overlooking Lyall Bay, Wellington.

Cocoa trying to take off and fly like a seagull, head on into a strong northerly wind, overlooking Lyall Bay, Wellington.

Posted in Art, Country Kids, Our pets, Things I'm Loving | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magic Moments & My Third Half-Marathon

This was the scene into the second kilometre of the half marathon I ran on Sunday morning – The 5 Bridges Half Marathon, organised by Capital Multisports. It was a beautiful winter’s morning, with a fairly gentle northerly to contend with for the first 10 kilometres (I was just grateful it didn’t start gusting any stronger and didn’t change direction for the return leg!).


I won’t lie, it wasn’t at all easy to persuade my arse to get out of bed and lace up my runners. I’d spent the night lying next to my 5 year old, on her futon, listening to her coughing and spluttering the night through. She’s been miserably unwell for a good week or so.

I felt the onset of a cold myself – but then I’ve been feeling like that for weeks. Until I started regularly exercising I used to be plagued with colds so much more. This winter I’ve managed to fight off succumbing to the colds with a good run, sweating out the worse of it, and mentally telling my body that I wasn’t going to surrender.

Anyway, I spent a good twenty minutes debating with myself whether or not to go and run this half-marathon. The sound of a gentle northerly and no rain was encouraging. The sun was streaming around the edges of the curtains and the forecast looked good.

After I’d had breakfast and made a coffee I decided to get out and escape the house of coughs and sniffles. I got my kit on, kissed and hugged the children (and hubby) goodbye, revved the convertible car out of the garage (thanks hubby), and blasted my way to Petone enjoying the fresh air.

The atmosphere at the Petone Working Men’s Club (the start and finish location) was friendly and welcoming (hubby had picked up my race bib the day before, seeing as he had a game of football out that way – he was really impressed with the set-up at the club and quite fancies a night there with his mates and a few games of pool!). I stood in line for the mandatory pre-run wee (sharing passing conversation with the other ladies waiting in line and commenting on what a treat it was to have a real toilet and not a port-a-loo pre-race!).

The run started at 8.30am, a very civilised start time.

We headed off along some residential streets, crossing the zebra crossings with the help of some helpful race-marshals, before reaching a park and heading alongside the Hutt River. It was a really pleasant course, along mostly sealed pavements, with some gravel paths and grass.

I felt strong the first half, despite running it with a head wind. There were some strong runners around me, helping me to keep pace (I’d left my Garmin watch at home by accident – and it was actually quite nice to run without it beeping at me every mile! I also appreciated not having the constant temptation to look at how far I had to go. I roughly knew how many kilometres the water stops were placed along the route, but I was quite relieved to see the runners ahead of me start to turn around at the halfway point.).

The return leg of the half marathon was pretty good going, with the wind mostly at my back, though my legs definitely started to tire about three quarters of the race in (unfortunately, with poorly children for the past fortnight, I hadn’t done as much training as I’d initially planned). I kept going, trying to keep pace with the runners I’d been following for the first 10 kilometres, but they’d obviously done more training and started to pick up the pace in the last quarter of the race. I decided to stick with keeping my legs moving, one foot in front of the other. I stopped to walk, once, for a smidgen, but a full marathon runner passed me by shouting out positive motivation, ‘You’ve got this! You’re nearly there!’ and with a panting, ‘Thanks!’ and the best smile I could muster, given the circumstances, I picked up the pace and continued to run all the way to the finish line.


I was so happy with my run time, especially given my limited training time.

In the week preceding the run I’d only had the chance to run twice, on the Thursday and the Saturday…

I returned home to a happy house (still coughing and spluttering, but proud of Mummy). Of course mothers never have time to rest (which, as my friend reminded me, is why they make great endurance athletes!) and it wasn’t long before the requests started coming. I spent the afternoon baking, whilst hubby took the dog for a walk, but did manage a quick lie down with my youngest, along with some stories, in the late avo. Sunday evening I was glad of a few wines to *rehydrate*; well earned I reckon!


That’s my third official half-marathon done and dusted. Just over a year ago I ran my first half marathon, in the Santa Ynez Valley, the wine growing region of Santa Barbara, California. Since returning to Wellington to live, I’ve ran one so far – the ‘Cigna Round the Bays in Wellington’, in February, just after all three of my daughters were finally settled into school. I’m looking forward to challenging myself more over the summer months, but this winter half-marathon, was just what I needed to keep me motivated with my running and fitness.


Bring on the spring New Zealand and the start of daylight saving! Five weeks to go and lighter evenings will be with us – YAH!!


Linking up with Magic Moments at The Oliver’s Madhouse

Posted in Running, Sarah | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

After the Wellington winds, the stillness… a poem

Wellington is known for its wind and it’s something that I have a love / hate relationship with. It can make me feel alive and refreshed, or knocked down and eroded like a well worn cliff-face. It takes stamina to live in Wellington and a mental strength that I don’t always have. Before we had children, back in the day, from 1997 (when we first landed in NZ, as a young British expat couple) to 2003, we would counterbalance our feelings of craziness at the wind, with frequent weekend trips away from the capital city. We managed to stay relatively sane (good coffee and wine helped too!).

Roll on to the parenthood years and the wind, combined with the added expense of travelling with children (and the hassle), and a whole heap of sleep deprivation, it became harder to escape. I went just a bit crazy for a while. Anti-depressants helped (I’m serious), and still do (just a mild dose, but I’m okay with that), as well as regular exercise in the fresh air (if I couldn’t beat it, I might as well surrender to it!). In the in-between days, and calm between the weather fronts, I would have to get out the door – anywhere – with the children, the beach, a playground, the gardens, the waterfront, a garden centre even, to stay sane.

Now the children are older and (after a few years homeschooling and a stint living in Southern California) all at school, it’s easier for me to run regularly. I have found this the best medicine for my mental and physical well-being. There are times when the whistling of the wind around the house and constant motion of everything out of the window starts to drive me mad – but, when I get out the door (grimacing initially) I soon find my fight and spirit (there’s a whole lot of inner voice, positive talking going on at the same time!).

The other way I deal with the tumultuous feelings the wind creates in me, is to write (I also play the piano, loudly, to try and ignore the whistling and howling outside!).

Anyway, here’s a little poem I wrote the other week, after around five days of non-stop wind, and feeling hugely appreciative of the STILL afterwards…


Prose for Thought


Posted in Lifestyle, Poetry, Random Musings, Running, Sarah, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rainbows, winter and cuddles on a Martinborough weekend

We nipped away to Martinborough this Saturday and Sunday. The winter weather wasn’t too harsh, milder than it has been, but there were still plenty of showers between the sunny moments. The lambs in the fields and rainbows in the sky definitely hinted a change in the seasons. Spring is coming… (just hurry up already!).


It was great for us to have a change of scene and be out in the expanse of the Wairarapa countryside. Our youngest daughter, Alice, was very poorly and slept most of the weekend. Meanwhile, her nine year old sister, Sophie, played with a friend and our dog enjoyed running in the lush green grass amongst the winter flowers and daffodils.


There were moments when young Alice woke and was momentarily alert, before returning to a healing slumber. She had come across a video about the water cycle on ‘Wonder Quest‘ and wanted to do the experiment (it seemed very timely with all the rain showers!).


We found this simple method, using an old plastic bottle (with the lid), the best. We would have used blue food colouring, but didn’t have any – so opted for red, for fun (Alice called it ‘blood rain’!). We put warm water in the bottom (with the food colouring), and then placed the top half of the cut bottle in the top (with the lid on) and filled it with ice cubes (like the clouds). After a little while we started to see condensation forming and then ‘rain’!

Alice's water cycle experiment

Alice’s water cycle experiment

All that drawing and experimenting soon tired her out again and she cuddled up in my arms for a rest. Sophie and her friend alternated between playing Minecraft through the rain showers, and shooting bows and arrows when the rain stopped!


Monsieur Cocoa, our Cavoodle puppy, was more than happy to take a nap, between his bursts of play, too.

I was happy to enjoy the beautiful scenery and wonder at the flowers in the garden. I felt inspired to write a poem too. I am so ready for spring and longer days!


Whilst we relaxed in the countryside our oldest daughter, now 12, stayed at home in Wellington, enjoying a sleep-over with our neighbour’s daughter. She is poorly with this virus too and home from school this week, coughing and sleeping on and off. Ah well, no chance of much running for me this week, but it’s nice to enjoy a slower pace at home too (and it’s raining again anyway!).


Joining in with…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Posted in Country Kids, Education, Garden, Learning & growing, Martinborough, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Sunday Photos | Winter flowers inspiring prose

It’s nearing the end of winter in New Zealand, with the days getting noticeably longer and more fine days in between the cold fronts, but still, when the southerly whips up from Antarctica, we need a little hopeful reminder of spring and summer to come.

This weekend, whilst away in our holiday home in Martinborough, in the beautiful countryside of the Wairarapa, I was delighted to find many unexpected blooms of colour in the garden.

Winter colours in the garden in Martinborough.

I pretty much spent the entire weekend, between showers of rain and looking after a poorly child, taking photographs of flowers, cutting them to fill vases and writing poetry!


The poem below is about the Hellabores I found in the garden.

Poem - First meeting with Hellebores



Linking up with -

Posted in Martinborough, Poetry, Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wishing for heat

Three weeks back in New Zealand and I am already lusting after the heat of our Singapore holiday. It seems so much longer since I was stood by the side of the Singapore river, holding an umbrella for shade from the sun, feeling the thirst for water as my body responded to the constant heat and humidity. I was waiting for a boat ride, along the river, with my youngest daughter, Alice.

Waiting for a boat ride, under the shade of an umbrella, at Riverside Point, Clarke Quay.

Waiting for a boat ride, under the shade of an umbrella, at Riverside Point, Clarke Quay.

The kind lady who’d sold us our tickets kept reassuring us the boat was only ‘ten minutes away’… some twenty minutes later it arrived and we stepped gladly onto the boat, in the shade, and enjoyed the gentle breeze as it started to move along the river.

I am now sat at my laptop in Wellington, with my fingers freezing as I’ve had to remove my gloves to type. I don’t remember feeling the cold like this, but today I feel frozen to the core. I did brave a little walk around the headland with my dog, the southerly wind blowing into our faces from frozen Antarctica.  Perhaps it’s after having lived in southern California for some fifteen months that I now find it harder to accept the cold of winter. I find myself pining for heat more and more. I keep having to reassure myself that the warmth of spring really will soon be with us, but it feels an agonising wait today!

In the meantime, I will post up photographs of our boat trip along the Singapore river and try to imagine myself there (minus the hat, wool socks, hiking boots and four layers of clothing I’m currently wearing!).

Alice and I on a 'bumboat' cruising along the Singapore River.

Alice and I on a ‘bumboat’ cruising along the Singapore River.

And remember the mellow half hour or so I enjoyed with young Alice, listening to the commentary on the boat about the history of the river and the sights along the way.



Posted in Holidays | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment