End of Term 3!

What a term it’s been! With so many parts of the world unable to function as normal due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we feel extremely blessed to be able to live pretty much as normal, for now!

Greetings from Wellington, New Zealand!

Most of New Zealand, with the exception of Auckland, has had a pretty normal school term, but a community outbreak of covid cases in Auckland caused a L3 lock down there for a few weeks in August (causing closure of schools, offices and public venues like shops, cafes, swimming pools, playgrounds, libraries, museums etc. and a temporary border around Auckland) and the rest of the country went into L2, meaning they had to limit gatherings to under 100 people (affecting school productions, sporting events, theatres and other larger scale events) but everything else remained open.

Auckland dropped to L2.5 at the end of August, restricting gatherings to 10 people (with the exception of funerals, with a cap of 50 people), but everything was open again and people were free to travel in and out of Auckland once again.

Since 23 September we are now back to L1 in most of the country, with Auckland in L2, and our oldest daughter is looking forward to finally enjoying her Y13 Ball in just over a weeks time (third time lucky!).

This term started off really positively, with our oldest daughter’s school putting on a ‘Standing Room Only’ concert two weeks into the new term, with the whole country sitting happily at L1 since the 8th June (when we celebrated that ‘Our bubble of 5 million has done it!‘) and no restrictions on gatherings. They joined forces with a local boys college and together the choirs sang amazingly. Both choirs had gone through to New Zealand’s Big Sing National competition last year, but due to Covid-19 the Big Sing was cancelled this year, but that didn’t stop the choirs singing and practicing throughout the seven weeks of L4 lockdown via video calls (Reflections on coming out of seven weeks of lockdown in NZ).

The concert gave the choirs an opportunity to show us what they’d been working on and to celebrate being together and performing in public again. There were a few happy tears from the audience, staff and students, who all felt extremely grateful that we were able to be together and witness a performance in the midst of a global pandemic. We were all keenly aware that any moments of togetherness at this time are very much ones to celebrate, as things can always change (as they did a couple of weeks after the concert!).

Backstage fun!

Later in the term our oldest daughter was looking forward to performing in a production of ‘Curtains’ at Wellington Boys College, a production that had already been postponed due to the initial country wide L4 lockdown earlier in the year. Rehearsals were going really well and the show was scheduled to take place at the end of August, but then Covid-19 raised its germ ball of a head again…!

Curtains ‘The Concert’

With L2 restrictions stating no gatherings of over 100 people the production team thought smart and instead of putting on two shows – as planned – they turned the dress rehearsal into a live show and added another show, enabling all the proud parents and friends of the cast to see the show! The show really was an incredible feat to pull off – with many rehearsals having taken place via Zoom calls throughout L4. The cast, crew and band were all amazing.

Amazing cast of Curtains ‘The Concert’

Great performance, pulled off in the midst of a global pandemic!

This term has also seen our second born daughter head back to mainstream education! After four years of home education she was ready to broaden her horizons and made the decision to give high school a go! Her home education exemption certificate allowed her to trial school for 10 weeks, before having to give up her exemption, and it was clear – about half way through the term – that she was going to stick it out and make high school her place of learning for the next couple of years. She’s really enjoying the access to specialist teaching, having great facilities at hand and also enjoying making new friends. She’s juggled her commitments to the gym she attendants regularly (both as a student, for 3 and a half hours a week, and as an assistant coach, for 5 hours a week), really well and has thrived with new experiences. The whole family is so happy for her and proud of how far she’s come in the past few years.

A mid-winter moment of snugness – reading by the fire at the Martinborough Hotel bar.

Meanwhile our youngest daughter has tried out a couple of schools, thinking she may start next academic year (when she’ll be a ‘Year 7’ student), but hasn’t made any firm decision yet. She has a really lovely group of home ed friends, which she would miss if she went into mainstream school, and enjoys a weekly drama course with them, a great STEM class and many casual meet-ups throughout the week. She is very creative and does enjoy the flexility of home ed life, to follow her passions without limitations.

Digital art added to photography

Enjoying the Matariki festivities on Wellington’s waterfront.

Planting trees on Mt Victoria, Wellington, with Conservation Volunteers

She spends hours drawing, sculpting with clay, felting, taking photographs and making videos, writing stories and creatively playing on Minecraft with friends. She enjoys daily walks in nature and home cooking. However, all these things would be replaced with lots of other wonderful things in a school setting – it would just take a little time to adjust and she’d have to dial down the time she currently spends on creative pursuits. So, we shall ‘watch this space’ as to what happens on her learning journey.

Felting creations by Alice

Our oldest daughter finishes her school life at the end of this year. She has happily been at the same school for the past seven years and will be sad to leave. She had hoped to go to Melbourne University, but Covid-19 has put a pause on those plans so she’s now hoping to do something different in Wellington for a couple of years, before then going to Melbourne. Of course we are happy to have her at home with us for a couple more years and she has plenty of friends in Wellington – either in the year beneath her at school or staying in Wellington to study.

Covid-19 hasn’t changed much in my life really, apart from the feeling that time is playing tricks on me and that we can’t possibly be nearing the end of September already! Hubby is working from home (he works with a team that’s based in Australia and the UK – so lots of video meetings). I was thrilled for him to get a break from meetings and escape up the mountain for a couple of days snow-boarding.

Hubby taking a break from Zoom meetings and hanging out on the magic mountain – Ruapehu – with a friend.

Hubby snow boarding on Mt Ruapehu

Magic stuff!

Thumbs up for snow!

It’s really nice to have hubby around so much and our dog feels very content to have so much company! Our poor dog had a lump removed a few weeks ago – which turned out to be Grade 1 (low grade) cancer. Thankfully he seems to have bounced back from the operation really well (once he got over having to wear a cone for a couple of weeks – we kept trying to take it off, but he went straight for his stitches whenever we did!).

Not so happy Cocoa

Walkies with the cone

Happy back to normal!

In mid-August I visited a physio to try and get to the bottom of pain I’ve been feeling in my left IT band, hip and lower back. I was managing fine until around July, when the pain was getting worse and lasting longer – I was having to take a week’s rest before I could run again and nothing was improving.

My last big run, with a local run club, before I finally sought advice from a physio and listened.

I’m now trying to stick to walking on the flat (though I do head to the hills for some short walks – as my head and heart can’t resist!) and doing daily strength and stability exercises, along with yoga.

Doing all the work so I can get back to running!

I’m kind of enjoying the slower pace for now and had to postpone my plan to run the Rotorua Marathon until next year. Ah well, at least I started this year on a strong footing – with the Tarawera Ultra Marathon (blog post here!), so who knows I could be kicking of 2021 at a faster pace, but we’ll see – what will be, shall be!

Breaker Bay walk in Wellington

I’m just grateful that I can walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery on our doorstep.

All the blues on a walk in Houghton Bay, Wellington

Strolling on Lyall Bay beach

We had the warmest winter on record here and enjoyed some beautiful walks both locally and over in Martinborough, a favourite was the Putangirua Pinnacles walk.

At the Putangirua Pinnacles walk in South Wairarapa

Putangirua Pinnacles

We enjoyed some winter goodness in Martinborough too, with a ‘mid-winter Christmas’ in Greytown, scrumptious mulled wine and crisp walks.

Greytown mid-winter festive lights.

Now we are in early spring and are enjoying a two week school holiday before the final term of the year.

Stunning spring cherry blossom at the Aston Norwood Gardens

Walking in Martinborough in the spring sunshine

Wellington, true to form, has been particularly windy since spring commenced, so we are now grabbing our walks in the calm between the gales and the sunshine between the horizontal rain showers! Nature has been trooping the colour for us with spring blossoms and daffodils.

Colours from the Botanical Garden in Wellington

Tomorrow we are heading down to Wanaka to catch the end of the ski season at Cardrona (at least the spring storms have topped up the snow base!) and enjoy some stunning mountain scenery.