Sunset over the vineyards, summer time in Martinborough, Wairarapa.

Happy New Year 2016!


It’s been well over a month since I last blogged, but Instagram has been a constant online ‘fix’ and brought back a few memories from the year with the ‘Best of nine’!

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The end of 2015 came around so quickly, with our three daughters finishing a great school year in early December (in a flurry of carols, athletics events, prize giving ceremonies, art exhibitions and so on). They came home with lovely art from the year and glowing school reports (phew!).

Alice's cloak

Alice’s cloak

Sophie's character portrait!

Sophie’s character portrait!

The school holidays kicked off with putting up the Christmas tree and enjoying the sunshine with lots of free play in the garden and local beaches and walkways.

Hanging around enjoying the summer school holidays in the garden.

Hanging around enjoying the summer school holidays in the garden.

My parents arrived from England a week later and though their arrival was met with a couple of cold days of weather, we made the most of the time to visit Te Papa and the Dreamworks Animation The Exhibition – Journey from sketch to screen.

Dreamwork's Exhibition at Te Papa

Dreamwork’s Exhibition at Te Papa

We also celebrated our second born daughter’s Birthday in the last few weeks of the school term (knowing that few of her friends would be available to celebrate on her actual ‘Boxing Day’ birthday!). We invited her whole class to a trampoline place for a session of bouncing, afternoon tea and celebration. It was a lovely event and great for her to enjoy a moment to celebrate her Birthday before the Christmas countdown began in earnest. It was a particularly special celebration for her, as 2015 marked her first full year in formal school, after four years of home education.

2015 was also our youngest daughters first year of school and a big change for me – going from having all three daughters being home educated whilst we lived in California, from mid 2013 to 2014, to all of them being in formal school.

Young Alice, with her second milk tooth to fall out - just before New Year's Eve!

Young Alice, with her second milk tooth to fall out – just before New Year’s Eve!

Thankfully I had our puppy, Cocoa the Cavoodle, to keep me company whilst the children were at school and I have loved having time to run, walk and keep the house in order (as I’d previously become accustomed to living in amongst a productive kind of chaos – with several ‘works in progress’ always on the go, as my three daughters filled every corner of the home with their creations, play and experiments!).

Cocoa the Cavoodle

Cocoa the Cavoodle

I was pleased to participate in three half marathons this year and, in the later half of the year, I started to focus on making daily yoga practice a part of my life.

Hubby has a new job with a company called ‘Powershop’ and his work is taking him on business trips to Melbourne and the UK.

The girls are all thriving in their own unique ways. I adore this photograph, from our visit to ‘Lake Ferry’ on the south coast of the Wairarapa, New Zealand, taken over our New Year holiday 2015/16, of my hubby and our three daughters on the beach exploring.

Daddy and his daughters at Lake Ferry, Wairarapa, New Zealand

Our oldest daughter (who will become a teenager this year!) loves art, design, crafting and singing. She has a lovely group of friends and is so super organised (we live in hope that her younger sisters follow suit!). She has enjoyed participating in a Shakespeare production at school and can’t wait to start Year 9, with more opportunities for drama and singing. She’s also looking forward to learning Japanese! She’s great company and my hubby and I really enjoy opportunities to spend some one-on-one time with her.

Our second born daughter is as loud and active as ever! She spends as much time as possible hanging from a trapeze bar, bouncing on the trampoline and doing cartwheels and headstands. In 2015 she took up piano and represented her school in the choir, cross country running and touch rugby. She really had an exceptional year at school and we are so happy to see her feeling settled.

Just hanging around!

Just hanging around!

Our youngest daughter is an absolute delight and such a character. She adores nature and experimenting. She’s always creating, imagining and singing away. She has an imaginary friend called Rosetta and often skips around the garden looking for bugs, bees and butterflies, leaving a trail of happiness in her path.

Alice, river side, New Year's Day at the Waiohine Gorge.

Alice, river side, New Year’s Day at the Waiohine Gorge.

We are now well into the long summer holidays and have enjoyed mostly glorious weather (just a cold snap of a few days, when Mum and Dad landed from their week’s holiday stop-over in Singapore – poor folks were freezing!).  The sunshine soon returned and we enjoyed a good week of sunshine in the lead up to Christmas Day and over the New Year. On Christmas Eve we took Alice, our youngest, to talk to Santa in Kircaldie & Staines, visit the big tree at Midland Park in central Wellington and enjoy an ice-cream by the beach at Oriental Parade.

Christmas Day was perfect and we had a lovely morning of present opening, before strolling down the road for a buffet lunch at a local place overlooking the stunning south coast.

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

My dear Dad tried hard to get a photograph of us all together – but it was like herding cats – impossible… that is until he took a nap on the sofa after lunch – and then the opportunity presented itself!

Granddad caught taking an afternoon nap, captured by Charlotte 'selfie style'!

Granddad caught taking an afternoon nap, captured by Charlotte ‘selfie style’!

Christmas Day luncheon at The Pines, overlooking Princess & Houghton Bays.

Christmas Day luncheon at The Pines, overlooking Princess & Houghton Bays.

The sunshine continued over to Boxing Day, when our second born daughter turned 10! She had a fun morning playing in the garden, lunch of ‘Yum Cha’ at Majestic Cuisine, with her Daddy and younger sister, and then, later in the early evening, dinner at The Southern Cross, where she loves the ‘stone grill’. Meanwhile, I took my folks and oldest daughter around to ‘The Chocolate Fish Cafe’ for lunch, and we enjoyed a lovely little stroll with Cocoa the cavoodle puppy, and searching out a geocache, before catching up with the rest of the family in the afternoon.

After a sunshine blessed Christmas in Wellington, we headed over the hill to Martinborough on the 28th December, to see in the New Year in the countryside.

Rivendell - Kaitoke Regional Park

Rivendell – Kaitoke Regional Park

On the way over to the Wairarapa we made a stop at Rivendell – Kaitoke Regional Park – where the sunshine had brought every person and their dog out for a dip in the river! It was absolutely beautiful and a lovely start to our week long holiday.

Swimming in the river at 'Rivendell' - Kaitoke Regional Park, New Zealand

Swimming in the river at ‘Rivendell’ – Kaitoke Regional Park, New Zealand

New Year’s Eve saw the older two girls doing a ropes course at Patuna Farm Adventures, on the outskirts of Martinborough.

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Meanwhile, my folks and I took a relaxed walk around Greytown, stopping for lunch at the White Swan Hotel, with young Alice and our dog, Cocoa.

Grandma & Alice on New Year's Eve in Greytown, Wairarapa.

Grandma & Alice on New Year’s Eve in Greytown, Wairarapa.

In the afternoon I took a nap with Alice, whilst Mum and Dad did the Rapaki Walk.

Then it was to cool down in the paddling pool!

Daddy sorted for New Year's Eve!

Daddy sorted for New Year’s Eve (with the help of Sophie, a beer and a water pistol)!

We saw in the New Year in Martinborough, calling out to the cows and sheep ‘Happy New Year’ as the clock turned midnight.

Chinese Whispers around the dinner table over our New Year's Eve dinner.

Chinese Whispers around the dinner table over our New Year’s Eve dinner.

My dear Mum was most confused as to why there was no official countdown and ‘Big Ben’ on the television, so my hubby and Dad provided the entertainment – swinging on the yoga trapeze on the deck with a strange bubbly infused style!

New Year’s Day was spent enjoying the gorgeous scenery at Waiohine Gorge, (well my folks, my youngest daughter and I did – whilst hubby stayed at home with the older two, who weren’t feeling quite so energetic!).

Waiohine Gorge and swing bridge.

Waiohine Gorge and swing bridge.

We found a lovely spot at the river’s edge and set up a little ‘camp’ of shade from the sun. The ground underfoot was scorching and too hot for our bare feet on the sand.

Grandma, Alice and I by the river side.

Grandma, Alice and I by the river side.

Shade camp by the river.

Shade camp by the river.

Granddad and the dragon

Granddad and the dragon

Later in the afternoon, when everyone was feeling more awake, we visited the river for a paddle, swim and kayak.

Kayaking on the river by Martinborough.

Kayaking on the river by Martinborough.

It has been so wonderful to have hubby home from work to join in the fun and we shall miss him when he has to head back to work this week; though the long, light summer evenings and weekends still give us plenty of opportunity for playing out!

My folks are with us till the last week of January and our daughters don’t return to school, for the start of the new school year, until February! I am so loving having the house so full and treasuring this very special family time together; though getting out for runs and quiet yoga practice is a little harder to prioritise…

I’ll probably begin again in earnest come February – as I’ve signed up to run my very first marathon this year – The Rotorua Marathon, on 30 April! Before that, I have the Cigna Round the Bays Half Marathon in February to help get my training in gear.

My biggest hope for this year is that my daughters will continue to be happy in their school days and that there will be an opportunity to travel to the UK to celebrate my sister’s 40th Birthday and my Dad’s 70th Birthday – both in September.

Right now, I’m treasuring every moment of the summer holidays and having my family together. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2016! xx

Family. Together. Time, so precious. My heart singing with happiness.

Family. Together. Time, so precious. My heart singing with happiness.