Dragonfly found in the garden today

My Sunday Photo | 31st January 2016 | Last Day School Holidays

Tomorrow morning the alarm will wake us all up. Our seven and a half weeks of living free of the bell come to a close. There is generally a feeling of excitement and positivity at starting a new school year, mixed with a dash of anticipation.

Farewell to long, cuddly lie ins with this furry friend…

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Alice and Cocoa

Naturally, on my part, I have mixed feelings. It’s been an amazing summer break. The children (well, I say children, but my oldest is starting Year 9 ‘High School’ and will turn 13 mid-way through the year, so is more of a young lady than a child these days!).

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A Sunday walk with Cocoa

My second born daughter starts Year 6, and her second year of formal schooling (after many years of home education) and my youngest starts Year 2, her second year of formal education, and is looking forward to catching up with the rest of her class-mates in turning 6 later in February!

I took this photograph today, as she five swung in her hammock in the garden, singing away to herself and her imaginary friends.

Happy hammock days of summer

Happy hammock days of summer

There have been many happy hours spent swinging in hammocks this summer!

Happy sisters

Happy sisters

But, just because school starts back tomorrow doesn’t mean the summer fun has to end! We have a couple of good months of sunshine and light evenings to play in before autumn starts to creep up on us.

Houghton Bay on the last day of January, Sunday 31st.

Houghton Bay on the last day of January, Sunday 31st.

So, I shall step forward into this new school year with a positive stride. It is wonderful to have all three of our daughters at the same school together. Their uniforms are labelled, hanging up, and waiting for the morning.

This magnificent dragon-fly was discovered in the garden today, by my youngest daughter, and I shall take that as a sign, as the Native Americans did, as a sign of happiness, speed and purity. To the Japanese a dragonfly symbolizes summer and autumn, and are admired and respected so much that the Samurai use it as a symbol of power, agility and best of all, Victory!

With that in mind, bring on Term 1 of a new school year! Here we go!!!

Dragonfly found in the garden today

Dragonfly found in the garden today

Wishing a very happy school year to all those starting this week x

OneDad3Girls
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Oruaiti Reserve, Wellington | Where history & coastal reserve meet

It’s the day after I bid farewell to my dearest parents. As I write they are winging their way back to the UK, on the long-haul flights from New Zealand to the UK, via Singapore. A big part of me feels empty and numb, trying to stay focused and busy with my three daughters (in the final week of their long summer holidays), whilst the other half feels a huge sense of gratitude for having spent such an amazing month and a half with them.

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In trying to stay focused on the positive I am spending time going over and over the wonderful moments we shared together. The moments will fade in our memories over time, sadly for some of us quicker than others, but the feeling of love, and the appreciation of having such a caring family, will stay strong in our hearts and souls for longer.

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It was indeed a treat to have this time. It wasn’t an easy journey for my parents to make, but they left with sun kissed faces, and sprightly legs, after copious walks over the hilly trails and beaches, of Wellington and beyond.

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Their bodies are charged with a special dose of Vitamin D to face out the shorter days of winter in England and with thanks to Skype, and all the photographs we took, we shall be reminiscing for months.

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Splashing around in the sea at Breaker Bay, are Sophie (left) and Alice (right,) with their friend in the centre, and Monsieur Cocoa, our energetic Cavoodle.

I shall treasure the walks we shared more than anything else. To be out in nature, enjoying the most amazing scenery, and seeing it together, without having to spend a cent (well, maybe a few – on an ice-cream and a drink at one of Welly’s awesome cafes afterwards!), was the richest of treasures.

Beautiful Breaker Bay, Wellington.

Beautiful Breaker Bay, Wellington.

My dear folks always brought my sister and I up to appreciate nature. It is a gift that I hold very close in my heart and endeavour to share with my children whenever they are receptive.

Oruaiti Reserve, Wellington

Oruaiti Reserve, Wellington

There are many times when they need to be persuaded to accompany us on a walk (other times they flat out refuse!), but I know, from my own childhood memories, that eventually they will be grateful. I can’t tell you how happy I feel to hear one of my children say, ‘Thanks Mum for encouraging me to go on that walk, I actually really enjoyed it’. Success!

Grandma & Granddad, with two of their grand-daughters (on the right) and a friend of the family.

Grandma & Granddad, with two of their grand-daughters (on the right) and a friend of the family.

It’s often walks like this one, that I shared with my folks, two of my daughters, Sophie & Alice (on the right), and their friend (Sophie, on the left), that are the best. It was a walk that mixed cliff top scrambling (in a fairly strong Wellington northerly wind) and beach.

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There were rock pools to investigate and driftwood to climb over, there was the temptation of the sea to paddle in and historical landmarks to ponder over (with modern day markings that tell a story of their own).

There were signs telling of the history of the land and the people that had first discovered it, as well as the importance of the land as a natural reserve in the current time.

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What’s more, this walk started – and finished – at a playground in Seatoun (always a winner for the young ones!).

And… to finish up the afternoon (before heading off to collect my oldest daughter from an art workshop) we enjoyed a visit to a cafe in Scorching Bay (where an impromptu dip in the sea was too hard to resist!).

Scorch-O-Rama Cafe

Scorch-O-Rama Cafe

A gorgeous place to spend a very memorable time. I love that so much of this past month has been spent walking the trails I often frequent, but shared with my dearest folks.

Granddad with Sophie

Granddad with Sophie

For more information on this walk visit ‘Enjoy the Outdoors – Oruaiti Reserve – Wellington City Council‘.

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Linking up with -

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Paint – Three Generations | A poem

When I read that ‘The Prompt‘ this week was the word ‘Paint’ I knew exactly what to write about.

This past month my dear parents have been staying with us in New Zealand, visiting from their home in England. My dearest Mum loves to paint with watercolours and has been taking classes for a couple of years. The time we have shared with her, and my dear Dad, has been all about enjoying every precious moment and most of those have been spent in nature, tossing a ball to our crazy dog, watching the rabbit, guinea pigs and birds in the garden, as well as playing games, painting, or listening to her play the piano.

This poem was inspired by a very special moment shared painting with my Mum and my youngest daughter…

Paint – Three Generations

Fluid, like her young mind, her hand glided –
across the paper, bringing it to life.
She sang, as the colours of the paint changed,
swirling on the end of her brush.

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Her mother sat near, focused on the paint,
willing the colours to light up a scene,
the way nature had lit up the forest –
where her daughter had left her fairy steps.

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Grandma painted a beautiful landscape,
from a brochure she’d found tucked in her bag.
Her practiced hand painted with passion,
a quiet mind, happy in the moment.

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Three generations, paintbrushes in hand,
leaving their mark, in a moment shared.

© Sarah Lee, 21 January 2016

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Linking up with these lovely two bloggers  -

mumturnedmom
Prose for Thought
Daddy and his daughters at Lake Ferry, Wairarapa, New Zealand

Family time at Lake Ferry, Wairarapa

We visited Lake Ferry, on the south coast of the Wairarapa, over the New Year. It’s a place of incredible wild, rugged beauty and only a half hour drive from Martinborough.

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The small beach village, on the shores of Lake Onoke, is known for its fishing, particularly ‘white bait’, where Lake Onoke meets the sea.

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The ocean that crashes on the sandy and stoney shore is not to be messed with.

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This isn’t a safe place to swim. The tidal currents are strong and mesmerising to watch (the girls enjoyed throwing sticks in and watching how fast they travelled!). Experienced surfers visit to take advantage of the exceptional surf when Lake Onoke is emptying into Palliser Bay.

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This is a beach that people come for fishing, walking, enjoying the amazing scenery looking over to the South Island and watching the sunsets over Palliser Bay.

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The driftwood that is strewn along the tidal path is vast in its size and volume.

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Charred pieces of driftwood lay in evidence of evenings gathered around a campfire, under the amazing starlit skies.

We spent an afternoon strolling along the shore, paddling (dodging dead fish heads!), watching people fish and enjoying the children’s creative and playful minds, as they turned driftwood into various objects, from balancing beams to Harry Potter type broom sticks!

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We ate lunch at the beautiful ‘Lake Ferry Hotel‘ (the fish was amazing!).

Cocoa, the caboodle, and I, with my dear Mum and Dad - visiting from the UK.

Cocoa, and I, with my dear Mum and Dad – visiting from the UK.

And we admired the home of the Banded Dotterel (for information on bird watching tours visit Te Rakau Birding).

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A truly stunning place to spend some outdoor, family time together.

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 Linking up with: Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Go!

GO!

Red light, stop, sigh of relief,
Heavy head leans back, eyes close,
So tired, barely conscious,
Endless nights of broken sleep.

Beep! Beep!

A voice in my head shouts, ‘Go!’
‘Eyes open!’ My brain tries again.

Beep! Beep!

Angry sound in my ears.
One eye opens, glimpses the green light.

‘Go!’ calls the voice.
Then it turns red again.
Eyes close. Missed it.
Next green light, I’ll go.

© Sarah Lee, 16 January 2016

There were endless days, weeks, and months, when I felt like this at a red traffic light. Sleep deprivation is torturous. Have you ever felt like this? Perhaps you were the driver behind me? I’m sorry. There were days when I thought I shouldn’t be in the car, but I had a child to get to an appointment, as well as a baby to care for – a baby that had kept me awake, every couple of hours, feeding from me. The tiredness was all consuming. I felt like everything was in slow motion and I’d move in a haze. The fog rarely lifted. The temptation to fall into a deep, momentary sleep, was constant. Every red light, or pause in the traffic, was a battle.

Those days are behind me now, but I will never forget them.

 

Prose for Thought
mumturnedmom
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My little ‘Wellington Wild Thing’ | exploring the great outdoors

The weather in Wellington this summer school holidays has so far been very kind to us and it’s been perfect for getting outdoors and exploring the copious number of regional parks, town belts walks and nature centres.

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Having my parents to visit, all the way from the UK, has been an extra motivator to get outdoors and enjoy sharing some amazing natural experiences together.

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Of our three daughters the most enthusiastic participator in all this has been our youngest – Alice – coming up six year’s old in February. She loves nature and walks for ages without a complaint – totally immersed in her natural surroundings, like a little forest fairy (long may that last!).

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We recently visited the amazing Catchpool and Orongorongo Valley – Rimutaka Forest Park. The native trees and plants in these valleys are so richly green and varied. There are beautiful beech trees towering to the sky, their leaves carpeting the forest floor, along with soft moss that calls out to be touched.

Huge northern rata trees tower to the sky with epiphytes populating the trunks.

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Beautiful Ponga trees filter the sunlight through to the forest floor, illuminating our footsteps.

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Every step is filled with wonder. My parents, young Alice and I walked for nearly two hours, playing the ‘tortoise and the hare'; with my parents being the steady tortoises and young Alice being the hare – which kept temporarily turning into a ‘statute fairy’, as the tortoises passed, and then zipping past them up the track (with our dog, Cocoa, and I chasing after her!).

Of course our dog was on his lead the whole way, as Kiwi birds populate the forest (but being nocturnal we obviously didn’t see any – but it would be amazing to camp in one of the huts and perhaps hear their incredible call).

One place we visited, where bird call of all types was brilliantly plentiful, was Zealandia, the incredible valley, just ten minutes from central Wellington, where a predator proof fence has created a sanctuary for native birds to breed, feed and thrive. In the photograph below, just trailing up in the forest on the left, you can just about make out part of the fence.

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As we stepped into the park we were immediately greeted by a couple of nectar giddy ‘Tui’, dive bombing across our path to the next flax flower to feast upon.

High in the sky above us circled Kaka, the north island native parrot, and Keruru, the plumptious native wood pigeon of New Zealand.

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Meanwhile, our little ‘Wellington Wild Thing’ crept along, dressed like a cat (which the fence is designed to keep out of the sanctuary!), and found the Zealandia ‘Wild Thing’…

Our Wellington Wild Thing meets Zealandia's Wild Thing

Our Wellington Wild Thing meets Zealandia’s Wild Thing

We enjoyed a beautiful walk up above the dam, to the ‘Discovery Area’, where there were ‘Hihi’ feeding stations in amongst the forest. These delightful birds flitted in and out of the trees around us and are fascinating to watch.

The sound of bird song filled the valley as we made our descent down from the feeding stations, across the dam and back to the visitor centre, stopping to marvel at the tuatara on the way (Alice was intrigued by the baby ones).

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It was a beautiful walk.

On another occasion we made a stop at the regional park known as ‘Rivendell’ (since the Lord of the Rings movie) at Kaitoke Regional Park.

We didn’t walk, on this occasion, but decided to enjoy some time by the river (it was a scorching day!) and found a lovely swimming hole for young Alice to cool off in.

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That was after some careful rock balancing and wading to get there!IMG_0968

After all that sunshine and fresh air we were ready for some shade, under a canopy of trees…

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And… an ice-cream (which was a very special treat – as when we usually visit there’s no sign of an ice-cream truck; but this was a scorching public holiday, in the middle of summer, with more cars and tents than I’ve ever seen – usually we can roll up to the main car-park and find a space with our eyes closed)!

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It’s no surprise that any mention of the school year starting, at the beginning of February, is met with a down-turned face and tearful eyes from our young Alice. She is definitely at her happiest discovering in nature, usually skipping along and humming to herself and her imaginary friends. She’s a very special little Wellington Wild Thing! xx

Linking up with -

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall