26 December, 2006

welcome to the world

hope this post finds all of you having had a great Christmas.

We watched the Carols from Melbourne on Christmas Eve, midnight massed at our local church, celebrated with family (lunch at the next-sister-down's place), and especially welcomed Asye Brooke, born 21 Dec to our dear friends P & M, with two visits to the Mater in which P let me indulge in being a baby hog on both occassions.

18 December, 2006

another year, and other incidentals

The focus of the last few weeks has been Christmas. a Birthday and Wedding Anniversary.

We have a rule in our house, it is my rule that has been ‘taken on board’ by B, bless him. The rule is that no Christmas tree or decoration can go up before my birthday. This year however, I relaxed the rule, we have so much going on this month that the tree went up on the Saturday before and was actually decorated on Monday, my Birthday. I didn’t really care too much, we had a birthday dinner and opening of presents* at my parents on the Sunday, so I as pretty much over it by Monday. B was really late home from work so rather than cook my own birthday dinner, I opted for getting pizza, I actually felt like pizza, good pizza that is, but the good pizza place is closed on Monday’s and so it seems are the other independent pizza places in our area. So Dominoes it was. I don’t know how the chain pizza stores churn out a whole pizza for $6.50, it doesn’t seem right. Cheap ingredients is my guess. I am a pizza snob and proud of it. Disappointed that Al Pacino's is shut on Mondays and being another year older, decorating the tree was a nice diversion.

B was home really late Monday through Wednesday due to work, and although I was cursing him every minute for his absence, he more than made up with it with tickets to Priscilla on Thursday night. Priscilla was fabulous by ten. I want to go again, today, any day, it is just great.
Friday through Sunday, we managed to catch up with friends for lunch, meet A's whippet puppies, and the inescapable - do more christmas shopping.

And oh yeh! our wedding anniversary was Sunday. Happy Anniversary also to L and M with whom we share this day.

*I have a funny birthday story though, I know that one of my siblings will be getting cufflinks for their birthday or could it be Christmas, I am guessing the favourite brother will be the recipient of that one, and that another sibling will be getting a Halcyon Days trinket. I know this because I opened these two pressies which got quickly taken away and replaced with 'opps another wrong present' that is until I unwrapped a whitby jet brooch. Thanks Dad.

08 December, 2006

the sweetest words

"Graduated with the award of Master of Business Administration"
Thank you (not) Jasmine for the offering of a small bird ungratefully received upon our arrival home this evening.

06 December, 2006

gone to mush

at the moment I am reading the sweetest little story, which apparently is for Grade 5 - 9 readers. I was a little taken aback by this, obviously too many textbooks have turned my brain to mush. Anyway, B says there is nothing wrong with enjoying a young adult book, and I am really loving this beautiful and enchanting story so am sharing it with others as a good easy read.

Dragonkeeperhas won heaps of awards, it was the cover that caught my eye a few months back when we had our Chinese visitors with us, and the 2006 Books Alive Great Read Guide sticker. Not in the habit of reading for enjoyment I rely on these endorsements, and a third of the way through at this stage, I haven't been let down. If the rest of the story is as good as it is so far, I shall be reading the follow-on story and may even read the final in the planned trilogy.

The author also has a blog in which young readers are confirming their enjoyment. I don't think I will be leaving a comment unless I lie about my age. I could be nine, after all 3+6=....
Uni results are out tomorrow, fingers crossed.

03 December, 2006

still thirty-six

and still here. A quick update - the NZ commentary was ended due to some dodgy business with our internet connection. It was a problem at our end - an update or something meant we were unable to connect. We were also really absorbed with Rotorua to waste too much time with it. In the 24 hours there we managed the Polynesian Spa (SOOOO Fantastic, I dream about doing this again):

Polynesian Spa Rotorua
attending the Mitai Hangi, complete with dance performance, night time bushwalk and glow worm spotting:

Mitai Chief Rotorua
Hells Gate geothermal reserve:

Hells Gate Geothermal Reserve Rotorua

More of Hells Gate Geothermal Reserve Rotorua
This was just awesome, B and I also got to do a wee wood carving of our own:

Hells Gate Rotorua - woodcarving
This was a fun way to experience the Maori culture through craft, and to finish our stopover in Rotorua, a gondala ride:

We then spent a night back in Auckland, well Parnell before returning home, and for me work the next day, and Kylie the day after.

Since then it has all been pretty much of a blur. Today however, was a chance to slow down and enjoy. Although I have eight more days of being thirty six, my grandparents took my Auntie and me, and the rest of the family out to lunch for the buffet at the Manly Pacific for our birthdays (9 & 11 Dec). This was really special because six months ago we were praying for my Nan's health and hoping she would hang in there for the next-sister-downs wedding. She has really improved and even managed to bake both my Auntie and me each a birthday cake. I am so lucky.

18 November, 2006


Before we get kicked out of Esquires, we have been occupying the comfy lounges for a while now, I have to bring you a couple of photos from our afternoon rest stop before heading back to the hotel to push Zzz's.

We stopped in at Fred Ambler Lookout, Parnell, to take in the view and were pleasantly surprised by a colony of cats sunning themselves for the entertainment of tourists. We tried to count how many black ones, and tabby ones, and were amazed at how well they all got on. They didn't look feral, and we were amazed no one tried to take them home. I had picked a couple of favourites that if we lived here, would have happily taken home. It is one of the things we have noticed, New Zealander's seem to really love their animals, dogs in particular seem to be everywhere, in the gardens we have visited, just everywhere. I love it. It was nice to see the cats, they appeared well cared for, and we soon found out why. A lady came by to feed them with roast chooks. B couldn't help himself and went over to say hello, and was given a tour of the accomodation which apparently her dad had made. The set up was amazing, sort of tucked away, we wouldn't have known it was there had we not been shown.


Catsablanca dining room

Anyway, what an amazing attraction, and good on the Parnell Cat Colony Feeders. Might I suggest a sign in this area to explain the good work of these volunteers.

Catsablanca accomodation

It is funny as a tourist, you miss your pets and being able to 'pat a pet' or at least appreciate one on your travels is somehow comforting.

Macc and Jas it is just 3 more sleeps till we are home.

Rainy day itinerary

this blog is made possible by Esquires Coffee House, Sky City Metro, Auckland. Gotta love these hotspots, and the food is pretty good. Tonight a chicken and peach croissant with brie and rocket, weird combination with the peach but great.

We are smashed, again so much packed into the day. We were up kinda early to get to Auckland's Biggest Garage Sale but got side tracked visiting Cornwall Park which was across the road from the Showgrounds. It was magnificent even though it bucketed down with rain shortly after arriving. We drove to the top of the park to take in the views but were unable to leave the car as it was too wet, and the rain made it virtually impossible to see much anyway. We had breakfast in the kiosk which was kinda upmarket, it was all crisp white tablecloths and french accented staff but I thought the prices were reasonable and the food fresh and delicious. We planned on going back for the high tea at 2pm but got, well.... sidetracked.

The Garage Sale was big, with lots of people most of the good stuff I guess had gone, it would have been good to have been to the preview the night before but we didn't know about it. There were a couple of items we would have liked but there would have been the problem of getting them home.

We hot footed it over to the Aotea Markets back near our hotel, hoping to dry off with the heater in the car, the rain had really set in, we were sodden from the walk to and from the car getting to the garage sale. We got even wetter as we spun around the markets, which were all but washed out really.

Having managed to complete two locations on the days itinerary we would not be put off by the rain, and instead of our planned visit to Ayerlies Garden we took in the Winterhouse in the Domain. This was perfection, especially the heated glasshouse, although we were wet to the bone getting back to the car.

Next, was a trip to Miriwai, the black sand beach. It was a straightforward trip from Auckland, even though we managed to get ourselves lost. And even though it was still raining (I don't think it stopped until we got back to the hotel this evening for a sleep), we were fascinated by the colour of the beach, it is amazing, and the waves were huge. We would have loved to have walked, and there was some that were, but the rain had won out. We headed back to Auckland via Devonport, the plan being to buy one of these by Maggie De Grauw, however, when we got to the gallery they had sold the one I had my heart set on from our visit on Thursday.

Tomorrow we check out of the hotel and travel to Rotarua.

17 November, 2006

photo album link

Back in the shoe box, oh sorry hotel room, here is a link to the photo album.

thank god for starbucks

we have been able to escape the confines of our tiny (real real tiny, hot, non-airconditioned, fridgeless, bathless - although it does have a shower, and dated) room. Needless to say, we are checking out (early) Sunday morning. I do like to go off on a tangent, but thank god for Starbucks we can escape and through the marvels of wireless internet report whilst sipping frappuccinos, that we have had an absolutely brilliant day at the Ellerslie Flower Show.

After a rocky start, see previous post, we arrived at Auckland Botanic Gardens with an hour and a quarter to spare (someone didn't read the times). Anyway, we got a great parking spot, and they don't charge for parking, or seem to have toll roads, sorry off on that tangent again. The Botanic Gardens are awe inspiring, better than my memory of Kew, and they blew my mind at the time. Ellerslie Flower Show itself was better than I could have expected, it leaves Melbourne Flower Show for dead and I am sorry to say my favourite 'Show' the Royal Easter Show is shabby in comparison. I think one of the nice things about Ellerslie is that it is such a celebration of New Zealand. It is also really big, soooo many stalls, craft, art, food, more food (and lots of tasting), and of course garden displays. We have bought some seeds which we are hoping will pass quarantine, and some garden ornaments that (are heavy) were too cute to pass up. We were at the gardens till after 3pm, B's back and my foot were at their limit. We only got a cursery look at the Botanic Gardens so will probably try and get back there on Tuesday for brekky.

We had an early (5pm) dinner at the Seafood Catch at the Auckland Fish Market - fish and chips to die for. Feeling rested after our dinner we checked out the Victoria Park Market, we were there for less than half an hour, it was a real disappointment. Great building though so I guess not a complete waste of time, it also meant that we have more time for our planned market day, tomorrow, when we explore Aucklands Biggest Garage Sale, and the Aotea Markets a block or so from the hotel. And if we get through these without doing ourselves in, we have a garden to explore whose name escapes me.

Anyway, time to go, B promises photos in his post.

Oh and by the way, Sydney friends, it has been on average 24 degrees C, although yesterday we did have four seasons in the hour throughout the day.

16 November, 2006

New Zealand

After declaring myself a criminal with 12 months imprisonment, and B declaring he was importing prohibited goods (a wheat pack for his back) we were allowed access to New Zealand. No, polite Border Security Officer, I did not read the question properly. My excuse

  • my sore foot, that I think may be broken after launching myself off a gutter on Saturday morning and has been strapped up until the morning of our flight across the pond,
  • a scrambled brain from doing my last exam the day before,
  • not sleeping well the night before my exam, and
  • not sleeping well the night before the flight, for fear of sleeping in.

Making the most of our time here, we have hired a car, that way we can get from A to B more quickly and hopefully pack more in. So far we have managed to pack a lot in, although I can’t say that the car has enabled us to get from one destination to the next that quickly, we seem to get lost quite easily. Anyway today we have been to Parnell’s Rose Garden and Parnell Village

Parnell Rose Garden
Mt Eden Gardens,

Mt Eden Gardens
Devonport via the Ferry ,

Auckland from Devonport

Ellerslie to scope out where we needed to be tomorrow for the Ellerslie Flower Show, only to find out after driving around for over an hour or so, that the Ellerslie Flower Show is not actually in Ellerslie this year but at the Auckland Botanic Gardens about half an hour in the opposite direction, and of course we had to scope this out, adding an hour round trip to the end of the day. Needless to say we are having a great time discovering Auckland but are exhausted.