All posts by BritMumInNZ

Cardboard City fun - on Wellington Anniversary Day.

Getting back into routines and the new school year

It’s the second week of term 1 and we are getting well into our stride. Thankfully the first two weeks of this term have been short ones – four day weeks (if only all weeks were four days on, three days off!).

We headed over to Martinborough for a couple of days this weekend, to enjoy the Martinborough Fair on the Saturday and the Farmers Market on the Sunday.

Country walks, Martinborough.

Country walks, Martinborough.

Hubby was particularly delighted that the ‘Super Bowl’ coincided with a public holiday here in New Zealand (and the team he supports won!).


Super Bowl Half Time #BelieveInLove

Our girls are adjusting well to their new classes and routines, with a little bit of apprehension with school camp coming up for our older two daughters next week. Our oldest is off to stay at a Marae for three days, whilst our middle daughter is off to Highland Home Christian Camp in Ashhurst for three days (with Daddy going along as parent help!). Meanwhile, I shall be at home with our youngest, who has a couple of fun activities within her school day to look forward to.

It’s also a busy month of Birthdays for us, what with hubby’s Birthday on the 12th and our youngest daughter turning six. The girls social calendars and extra-curricular activities are making our evenings and weekends very busy. There’s gymnastics for our younger two, touch rugby for our middle daughter, fencing for our eldest daughter and then all the choir practices and productions that our eldest is involved in (we are really delighted for her getting into her school Choral this year).

Sophie & Alice hanging out in the sunshine at the playground before their first gymnastics class of the year.

Sophie & Alice hanging out in the sunshine at the playground before their first gymnastics class of the year.

Our middle daughter has to learn a new instrument this year (she’s already learning piano) and came home yesterday with a violin in hand! It’s fun and games remembering the items the three girls need to take with them on any given day of the week, I have lists upon lists!

Thankfully the weather has continued to be gorgeous and we are making the most of the light evenings. Hubby likes to get out on the kayak or paddle board, or simply take the dog for a walk around the block.

Father and daughter sunset kayak on a school night in Island Bay.

Father and daughter sunset kayak on a school night in Island Bay.

I am running and enjoying yoga (around hanging out the washing and all the other household duties that are just part of family life!).

Training for the Cigna Round the Bays Half Marathon

Stretching down on Houghton Bay Beach after a run in the sun!

Training is seriously ‘on’ for the Cigna Round the Bays Half Marathon on 21st February. It’s been tough, sweaty work training in the heat, but I love the calm feeling I get after a run (even if it isn’t easy to push myself out of the door; often more preferable to sit in a hammock, under the shade of a tree, and read a book!).

Training for the Cigna Round the Bays Half Marathon

Training for the Cigna Round the Bays Half Marathon

The last few days of the school holidays are beginning to fade into a distant memory, but happy memories they are indeed. This year is now picking up momentum and pace fast, with hubby’s work keeping him busy too and a trip to the UK in March will leave me juggling the girls single-handedly (though they are secretly really good for me when he’s away – they know they need to ‘step up’ a bit to keep me a happy Mamma!).

So, whilst we continue to get into the swing of the new school year, I shall leave the memories of our last few days of the summer holiday here..

Rock pooling with Granddad and Grandma.

Rock pooling with Granddad and Grandma.

Cardboard City fun - on Wellington Anniversary Day.

Cardboard City fun – on Wellington Anniversary Day.

Scrumptious gelato!

Relaxing with a scrumptious gelato, before walking around in a cardboard box!

Awesome fun on the waterfront on Wellington Anniversary Day!

Awesome fun on the waterfront on Wellington Anniversary Day!

Lavender Picking

Lavender Picking in the Wairarapa



Cooling down - one way or another - when it all gets too hot!

Cooling down – one way or another – when it all gets too hot!

Magical sunsets on the south coast of Wellington

Magical sunsets on the south coast of Wellington

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…


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!).


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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‘.


Linking up with -

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


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.


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.


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.


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

© Sarah Lee, 21 January 2016



Linking up with these lovely two bloggers  -

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.


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


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


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.


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.



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




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!


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).


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


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




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