Welcome to my little slice of life, where I enjoy blogging about our family adventures, holidays and experiences at home and abroad. Often the best fun of all is that which can be experienced in one’s own back yard, and we are very fortunate to call Wellington, New Zealand our home.
I started writing this blog when my first child was born in 2003 (before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), wishing to keep a record of our lives and keep an online diary – of sorts – that family in the UK could easily check in on. Over the years it’s become a wonderful treasure chest to look back on and a way of keeping our adventures ‘alive’. Everyone has a story to tell and as a child I loved listening to older family members telling me stories from their youth. I write this blog for my children, my family and for me – to keep the memories alive.
This blog also became really important to my mental health when my children were younger. I found that focusing on the positives at the end of each weekend helped me adjust to parenthood in a HUGE way. None of my three children were ‘sleepers’. I was sleep deprived for much of my thirties. I was constantly struggling to keep myself upbeat (when a cloud of depression kept hounding me). I survived on coffee, sunshine days, fresh air, naps and some medication prescribed from the doctor. I worked hard to not focus on the mess and chaos, but on all the magic moments of my children’s younger years (hence the name of this blog – ‘Catching the Magic’).
A little history…
My husband and I met way back in our University days, in 1992, in Southampton, UK.
A work opportunity gave us the chance to travel to New Zealand in 1996 and so began our love affair with the land of the long white cloud – ‘Aotearoa’. We kayaked the Abel Tasman, hiked the Milford Track, white water rafted, learned to ski and so much more.
After an amazing experience we headed back to the UK, in 1998, enjoying a month travelling up the East coast of Australia. We had taken our relationship to another level in February of that year – when Dan asked me to marry him at the Marlborough Food and Wine Festival, on Valentine’s Day.
We were married on 29 May, 1999 and three months later… Dan was asked to return to New Zealand and take up the position of CIO for an electricity market company. It was really hard for me to leave my family after just a year living back in the UK, but this was an amazing opportunity for Dan and we still wanted to explore more of the southern hemisphere, so – with the blessing of our families – we headed off.
This time we became New Zealand residents and in the year 2000 we bought our first home, in Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand.
I found a job with a much loved organisation – the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NZ), based in the beautiful Botanical Garden of Wellington.
In 2001 I became quite ill, with glandular fever, and then, in early 2002, I was diagnosed with depression. I left my job and worked on getting myself back to good health… which then led to my first pregnancy!
Our first child was born in the winter of 2003, with snow on the distant hills surrounding Wellington.
Two and a half years later our second daughter was born, just after Christmas, in 2005.
Our town house in Brooklyn started to feel small and impractical (with 20 steps to the front door and then another 10 or so to the living area) and so we began looking for a home on a flatter section (not easy in Wellington). In early spring, 2006, we moved into our current home, on the south coast of Wellington. We no longer had a view, but we had a flat section, a lovely home and garden, sheltered from the wind and a short walk to the beach. Perfect.
A year later Dan set up his own service management company, along with two friends, ‘You Do’. A spin off of that was ‘Beetil’ which came to the attention of US firm ‘Citrix’, who ended up buying Beetil in 2012.
In the midst of this our third daughter was born in February 2010 and completed our family.
Over the years life has thrown us some unexpected surprises (as it does). Our second born daughter didn’t settle into school well at all (at the age of 5, as is the norm in NZ – though legally children do not need to be enrolled in school until the age of 6).
We made the decision, at the end of 2011, to home educate her, and then continued to do so when we learned about us potentially moving to the USA as part of the sale of Beetil to Citrix.
In August 2013 we left our home in Wellington and flew to Santa Barbara, California, USA to live (check out the blog posts of our time there). Our children were aged 10, 7 and 3 at the time. We didn’t know how long we’d be there for. My husband had a 3 year work permit with Citrix. In the end, we stayed there for just over a year, returning to live back in our home, in Wellington, New Zealand, in October 2014. I home educated all three of my daughters during that time, as our attempt at school in the USA just didn’t work for us. It was whilst living there that I started running regularly – and ran my first every half marathon. I’ve since ran the Hawkes Bay Marathon,Queenstown Marathon and the Tarawera Ultra Marathon, consisting of 52km on trails in beautiful Rotorua, as well as numerous half marathons and trail races, which I’ve blogged about in various posts under the heading ‘Running‘. I find running so important for my mental health (as well as physical well being) and simply love to be outdoors in nature.
Since returning to New Zealand our daughters have each followed their own educational pathways. They loved their experience in the USA, but New Zealand really is their home and the reason we felt such a big pull to return earlier than originally planned. We feel very grateful for the opportunities that have arisen in our lives and it has been worth all the hard work and the logistics of moving.
Our daughters are growing up in a beautiful country with lovely friends, embracing all that living in Wellington, New Zealand, has to give – the great outdoors on our doorstep, with bays, beaches and bush walks all around us, along with the cultural richness of living in a capital city, with a great museum, art gallery and theatres. They’ve enjoyed incredible holidays around New Zealand, from the geothermal wonders of the central plateau of the North Island and skiing on Mt Ruapehu, to the mountainous beauty of the South Island and the beautiful sunshine of the northern part of the South Island around Nelson, the Marlborough Sounds.
At the current time (mid 2023) our oldest has finished school (2020), enjoyed a gap year (in 2021, when New Zealand’s borders were still closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic), consisting of a couple of retail jobs and gaining experience in local theatres helping with sets and costumes, and in February 2022 commenced a degree in production design at VCA, University of Melbourne. They are now happily living in Australia enjoying the wonderful city of Melbourne and the amazing arts scene there.
Our second born daughter, on our return from living in California, decided to try school in 2015 and enjoyed a year and a half at the same school as her older sister, but in 2016 decided to return to home education. Then, half way through 2020, she decided to enter high school in year 10 and is now coming to the end of year 13, their final year of High School, and has loved it. She loves physics, maths and outdoor education. She coaches around 10 hours a week at a local gym, teaching a range of ages gymnastics and free-running, the latter of which she enjoys doing a couple of times a week. She is looking forward to starting University in 2024 – at this stage she’s looking at staying in Wellington and undertaking a maths degree at Victoria University.
Our youngest daughter, also went to school for a year on our return from the US, but then enjoyed a care-free childhood of natural learning, surrounded by a great community of friends. She loved home education, with wonderful friends and weekly activities of STEM and drama classes, as well as the freedom to spend hours on digital art and animation. She followed her sister’s footsteps at the beginning of this year, by going to high school and is thriving there.
Over the years we’ve been fortunate to have my parents visit once every two years and they’ve seen so much of New Zealand on their visits.
We’ve been back to the UK a few times and had some amazing stop overs on the way there and back, including Canada in Dec 2018, Japan in Jan 2019, San Francisco in 2007 and in 2012 we stopped in Santa Barbara and San Francisco on a trip to England. In more recent years I’ve been back on my own (Sept 2019 and Feb 2020, May 2018), to visit my parents (as my Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in her early sixties and it became too hard for my Dad to travel with her). Sadly, my Mum passed away at the end of 2021. I travelled to the UK to be with her in her final months, the first blog post of that time is here.
That’s some of our story, in a nutshell, so far!
Over the years I’ve met some wonderful people through this blog – even a few that have visited New Zealand, from the UK, and ended up emigrating! I’ve been inspired to write poetry from time to time, spurred on in 2011 by my oldest – who set a prompt every week for a year! I continued to write poetry in 2012 and in 2013 from New Zealand and California, and then gradually less poems over 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017-18. Interesting to note that as I started to run more, I wrote less (obviously running leaves me wordless!).
If ever you are visiting Wellington then do say ‘Hello’. I love a good Latte, a good wine and a good run (not in any particular order!). I don’t write as much as the early years (Facebook, Instagram and my children growing up and becoming good company – most of the time – to hang out with – mean I have less time – also they stay up way too late – I’m normally ready for bed before them!).
Thanks for stopping by,