Six month catch up!

Time is literally flying away on me and blog writing is very neglected these days, but we are all well here and can’t believe our lovely Christmas and New Year festivities were three months ago! Spring and summer has raced by and now we are on the cusp of autumn here in New Zealand.

Since I last wrote I’ve been to the UK to visit my dear Dad, sister and family, which included a holiday in the West Highlands of Scotland and a catch up with old school friends in Windsor (and celebrating us all turning 50… I have just over a month to get there!), as well as seeing some of my amazing aunts, uncles and cousins.

A few photos from Scotland (I took so many and I really ought to write a separate post!) of some highlights; a beautiful stag in the moonlight (and the car headlights) that we saw by the side of the road one evening (when we were driving very carefully back to Ullapool, after a beautiful afternoon and evening exploring part of the beautiful Summer Isles); a stunning rainbow in Leckmelm, reaching over Loch Broom, near Ullapool, where we stayed for a week; and so many beautiful waterfalls and landscapes.

Whilst I was away my husband took our younger two teens, Alice and Sophie (plus Sophie’s boyfriend), on a holiday to Wanaka and Queenstown, during the Spring school holidays in New Zealand. They spent a week hiking, hitting the slopes, taking in the stunning scenery and enjoying outdoor adventure sports.

The end of the school year quickly rolled in, with our older teen finishing high school with excellence, celebrating her 18th Birthday, enjoying a lovely summer break and then starting University here in Wellington – she’s now in her second week, studying maths and data science.

Here’s a pic of her with her Dad, enjoying a Birthday cocktail.

Meanwhile, our oldest child is still very happy living in Melbourne and turns 21 this year! They are in their third year at VCA Melbourne University and on top of their course work in production design, they are heavily involved in arts festivals outside of academia and have a wonderful group of creative friends. I enjoyed a brief visit to see them in November last year, seeing some of their work in action.

We were treated to a spur of the moment visit from them, at the beginning of February, when they came over for ten days with a friend. It was the first time Char’s friend had been to New Zealand and they loved the natural scenery of Wellington and seeing dolphins (twice!). I loved having the house feel so full (especially with hubby away, visiting family in the UK).

He had a great couple of weeks in the UK (though it was very cold – he really needs to organise his visits outside of the UK winter!). He caught up with his brother, sister, Mum and Dad, as well as my Dad and his brother, and my sister and her partner. It was two weeks of watching sports (two Burnley matches – one at home – where he had the amazing opportunity to chat with the owner of the club, and one game away at Anfield, Liverpool), lots of eating, drinking and catching up, some freezing walks and the occasional glimpse of blue sky.

Over the long summer holidays in New Zealand we took a couple of breaks away from Wellington. Before Christmas we spent a few days in Napier, in the Hawkes Bay region – on the east coast of the North Island. We had a great time, enjoying walks in Te Matu Park, a visit to Splash Planet water park, lunching at a vineyard, walks around Napier, games of mini-golf, cycling, visiting the National Aquarium, and taking a dip in a beautiful swimming hole with a stunning waterfall.

Later, in January, we took the ferry across to the South Island and enjoyed a wonderful week exploring the Nelson and Tasman area, with lots of outdoor adventures in beautiful locations, as well as time playing tennis (watching the Australian Open on the TV in the evenings was very inspiring and motivating!), enjoying delicious food at local cafes (Toad Hall was a favourite!), jumping into the estuary off the wharf in Mapua and even walking alpacas, at ‘Alpacas Off Grid‘!

One morning hubby and I enjoyed a walk in Nelson Lakes National Park, to Whiskey Falls (there was no whiskey!), whilst the youngsters walking to Tahunanui beach to play mini golf. We met them there later, where three of our group of five enjoyed the go karting – my youngest and I enjoyed watching the entertainment!

We also visited the Abel Tasman National Park, bringing back fond memories of visits there when our children were little and our four day sea kayaking adventure there, way back in our twenties (before starting our family).

Whilst hubby and the youngsters enjoyed an afternoon of paddle-boarding and enjoying the pop up water park I caught a water-taxi to Onetahuti Bay Campsite, from where I set off on a 29km trail run to Marahau, which was absolutely stunning.

Over the New Year we had friends of our oldest child come to visit. We always love welcoming new visitors, and the couple we had to stay were so lovely and a lot of fun to have in our home. Later in January we had another visitor, who is also a friend of our oldest, and they were over for a two week dance workshop in Wellington. It was very hot during their visit and they really enjoyed cooling off with visits to the beach in the evening, after long days dancing.

Now we are back into the swing of things with a new school year. Our youngest turned 14 and is in second year of high school (with another three to go), still passionate about art and cosplay (working on her next costume for the upcoming Armageddon Expo in April), with aspirations to become a concept artist, our 18 year old is busy juggling Uni and coaching children gymnastics, free running and parkour, and our oldest really has flown the nest and is busy living their life in Melbourne.

I am enjoying working part time, for an amazing charity that delivers educational science resources to primary schools (House of Science). I’m involved with making sure the science kits are distributed to the schools and cleaned up thoroughly on their return – none of which would be possible without a dedicated group of wonderful volunteers (if you’re in Wellington please get in touch if you’d like to help!). Hubby is taking a break from work at the moment, on a paid redundancy, which he’s really enjoying (more time for walks, tennis and working on his cocktail mixology and DJ’ing skills!).

I am still running and have planned to kick start turning 50 in April with a run the day after my birthday, that commences at 5am and will cover 50km of Wellington’s hills (Faultline Ultra 50km)! I recently ran a 42km trail marathon (Motatapu), from beautiful Wanaka to Arrowtown, so am feeling on form – just hope the body holds up over the next month and a bit! I was also delighted to run my fastest half marathon in February (not bad for a 49 year old!).

Alongside the day to day, we’ve enjoyed seeing a couple of shows, like Wicked and Mamma Mia, being wowed by the amazing atmosphere of the FIFA Women’s World Cup (Wellington hosted a few games and we saw Japan vs. Norway and South Africa vs. Italy).

We also had a weekend trip to Mission Estate in the Napier to see a Robbie William’s concert. We drove up and due to the lack of accommodation options decided to pitch our tent at a campsite and cycle 15km to the concert (it was great on the way there… a little harder on the way back!).

We continue to be wowed by nature on our doorstep too, seeing dolphins on an almost daily basis around the coast of Wellington, with the now well established Taputeranga Marine Reserve, officially opened in 2008, thriving. We frequently see New Zealand fur seals, Orca, and sometime Southern right whales too!

Our garden is filled with bird song too, something we’ve noticed an increase of in the years we’ve lived in Wellington (thanks to Zealandia, community projects, predator free Wellington, and the work of Conservation volunteers to reestablish native plants). We hear Kaka flying over the central city, Tui singing throughout the suburbs, the call of the Morepork (native owl) at night and are excited to know that Kiwi are now roaming the west and southern most hills of western Wellington again, thanks to the Capital Kiwi Project.