Changing seasons, changing times

It’s been a time for adjusting, with our oldest daughter moving to a different country to start University in Melbourne, my Mum dying in December and my thoughts very much with my Dad and sister, miles away in the UK. In the wider world there’s turmoil, with the pandemic lingering on, the atrocities of what Russia is doing to the people of Ukraine, as well as the ever more pressing need for world leaders to address climate change.

When my mind gets weighed down with heavy thoughts there is only one thing that can lift my spirits, the outdoors. I’m biophilic, there’s no denying that. Nature just makes me feel things that nothing else can. I was watching ‘Joanna Lumley’s Home Sweet Home – Travels in my Own Land’, which focuses on Great Britain and felt a strong home sickness as she travelled through the beautiful Lake District, the Pennines and into the Yorkshire Dales.

Of course we have beautiful landscapes on our doorstep here in Wellington, but watching that episode called to me in a way that tugged on my heart. My roots felt such a long way from home, like a tree lifted from its forest and planted anew – the tendrils of new roots, reaching out to find stability in new land, struggling to find connections. If, like a tree, I don’t find nourishment I falter and am no good to anyone, and so I go outdoors and in that moment I find enrichment, energy and clarity.

Eastern Walkway, Wellington

In the last couple of months we have enjoyed some beautiful days, leading into a mild start to autumn (though it never really feels autumnal in Wellington, other than the shorter days, due to the lack of deciduous trees). Our clocks went back at the beginning of April, bringing an end to daylight saving until mid September, and the sun now sets before 5:30pm. Winter solstice is just over a month away, when the sun will set at 5pm. Whilst we head into our darker months I am so happy for my dear Dad, sister and family heading into longer days in the northern hemisphere.

I landed back in New Zealand mid-January and made the most of the summer days, swimming in the sea, walking and running along the coast and through the bush trails that wind through the suburbs of Wellington. My ankle injury of last year doesn’t cause me much strife these days and my old IT band, on the opposite leg, copes okay – as long as I do plenty of strength, stability and stretching work.

I turned 48 in April and I’m definitely aware of the need for a lot more maintenance work to keep this body moving smoothly! The frozen shoulder has a way to go, but thanks to shock wave therapy I have more mobility than I did and am in a lot less pain (I can now run without looking like a one winged duck!). On my Birthday I enjoyed a 12km run, finishing with a dip in the sea – joined by my husband and youngest daughter (who turned 12 in February), whilst our 16 year old was busy coaching young children a local gym. So personally I am getting stronger again and it’s a good feeling to be able to get back on some local trails and sign up for events again – so great to see those happening after the past couple of years!

The first quarter of the year in New Zealand is one of my favourite, particularly with the warm, mostly settled, weather in Wellington. We have had almost daily sightings to dolphins on the south coast and in the harbour. There’s been some amazing art on the waterfront of Wellington, which brought a smile to the faces of passers by.

We’ve had some beautiful weekends away in the wine village of Martinborough too – an hour and half’s drive from where we live. It’s a place where the big open sky seems endless and the lack of light pollution makes for incredible starry nights. April into May is when the vineyards start to show the colours of the Autumnal season, the leaves turning golden hues of yellow and red. It’s a perfect time of year to enjoy bike rides on the quiet country roads and afternoons wine tasting.

Over the Easter weekend there was a balloon festival in the Wairarapa and we woke on Sunday morning to the hot air balloons soaring over the house. It’s been so lovely to enjoy moments like that with friends on our weekends.

Hubby and I have been enjoying some rounds of golf recently. Thanks to our daughters being older it is easier to escape out for a couple of hours and we’ve played at the local Miramar Links Golf Club with friends, as well as the Martinborough Golf Course and our local Berhampore Public Golf Course (which is always a fun one – due to extremely hilly terrain and knowing it also doubles as a frisbee golf course – so there’s different objects vying for air space at any given moment!).

Golf with my husband

We’ve also enjoyed some beautiful walks on the hilly trails that surround the area where we live in Wellington, on the south coast. One morning there was a dense sea mist and we saw a ‘fogbow’ (as opposed to a ‘rainbow’).

As we carried on walking, taking a trail leading up from sea level to a headland viewpoint, the mist started to lift and we could see the water droplets in the air all around us, illuminated by the sunlight breaking through.

Meanwhile the first school term of the year went well. Our oldest was busy settling into her course at University in Melbourne, whilst our 16 year old was busy with year 12 studies and after school gym classes (coaching younger children and participating in free running classes, which she’s really loved for a couple of years now). Our 12 year old is looking to join her big sister at high school next year, starting in Y9 as her sister enters her final Y13. In the meantime she continues to enjoy the company of her home ed friends and spends hours doing digital art, as well as sketching. She loves chatting to her friends online, whilst playing games, and attends an in person drama class and ‘STEM’ class once a week. She had a wonderful birthday celebration in February, with a friend flying down from north of Auckland to join her. She wanted to go out somewhere and ‘cosplay’, so we booked a guided tour at Weta Workshop, for her and a small group of friends, where they proudly showed off their self-made costumes, whilst seeing how the professionals create sets, props and costumes!

Alice in her self made costume, at the Weta Cave in Miramar, celebrating her 12th Birthday.

With New Zealand now having Covid in the community we have spent most of this year wearing masks in shops, theatres and classes. The need to show vaccine passes to enter places ended in April, but to enter New Zealand there is still a need to do a pre-departure test. My husband has flown to Melbourne three times on business and on his most recent trip he no longer had to do a covid test to enter Melbourne, which makes travel a little easier. It’s great to be able to plan visits to family overseas again.

Here in New Zealand the streets still feel quiet, particularly in the cities and tourist destinations, but border restrictions have finally lifted to allow most the people of most countries to enter New Zealand – which means my dear sister and Dad can plan a holiday here for the end of the year. In Wellington the art gallery and museum have been so quiet (making it easy for us to find car parks and visit without the stress of crowds, but the energy is subdued). We have loved the recent art exhibitions that have been on in Wellington recently, particularly ‘Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings‘ at the City Gallery (which has now come to a close) and the ‘Rita Angus’ collection at Te Papa.

My 12 year old and I joined fellow home ed friends for a guided tour of the Hilma af Klint exhibit, followed by a workshop which we thoroughly enjoyed. Here are the pieces of art our group created.

I’ve also enjoyed going along to a local theatre recently, my youngest daughter and I went to see a musical called ‘The Spitfire Grill’. We’d never heard of it before, but when I mentioned it to my daughter she listened to it on Spotify and liked the sound of it. She’s always singing whilst she draws and particularly loves musicals, like her oldest sister – who we are looking forward to visiting in Melbourne in June – around the time of her 19th Birthday!

So, as we start to head into our darkest months of the year here, there are plenty of thing to enjoy, grateful for music, theatres, art and walks on the trails.