Birthday Weekend

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Cherry Blossoms at the Park

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Rick’s favourite tree is a cherry blossom. Mine is a willow tree. Yes. We have favourite trees…and what?!

These are some snaps from our trip to Cornwall Park in Auckland central where they have some beautiful cherry blossom trees. All of which have currently bloomed and are wonderfully pink.

Anyway, we picked a spot under a huge shady oak and had a picnic. Sausage rolls and quinoa frittata for him and roast veggie salad/potato salad for me. (We also shared a slice of cake…naturally!)

We absolutely recommend Cornwall park, it’s beautiful and we didn’t even see much of it. My shoe was broken and kept falling off…I stubbed my toe and decided I’d had enough. Drama Queen as always. We did both promise each other that we would go there for walk and picnic part two though…this time with sensible shoes.

Cornwall park is the setting of One Tree Hill…don’t really know much of the story here. However I do know that some moron chopped the tree down…so they replaced it with some phallic looking statue.

The park is stunning and they have cows, so big brownie points for that one. Great place for friends too as they have free BBQ’s for all. Basically, go here if you are in Auckland and the weather is sunny, the atmosphere is amazing and you might be able to nick a sausage from an unsuspecting bbq-er.

Ponsonby Central

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Last weekend I surprised Rick with a day out. I organised the perfect day, starting with a lie (what constitutes a lie in for us in anything after 5.30am…when the first alarm for me wakes us up). After breakfast and lounging around we drove to our local large town Warkworth where we had a quick New Zealand pie from our favourite local pie bakery, Savann’s. Nothing special here…except the best damn pies this side of the equator. From there, we drove to Ponsonby, where I had been recommended by my friend Gina that they have an amazing selections of trendy restaraunts and shops. It’s also one of the most expensive places to live in Auckland so the houses although small were totally amazing. We spent the day perusing the shops, people watching and drinking copious amounts of coffee. We spoke to many people, one wonderful vibrant woman said we were a perfectly matched and cute couple…which of course made us feel on top of the world. We also met her daughter, who had an amazing flower stall at the indoor market…if we ever get married in New Zealand, she is the top of the list to do my bouquet. She had such an incredible array of wild flowers that smelt divine, she even mentioned that they weren’t even her best…I can’t imagine how they could of been better. They looked spectacular(check out the photos if you don’t believe me). After dinner at a restaurant called Mexico(rubbish food, awesome interior and tequila) we had french crepes at a teeny stall in Ponsonby Central. Then…came the big surprise…we jumped in the car and I told Rick to keep his eyes squeezed shut. When I said he could finally open them, he blinked from the sudden change in light and saw the bright overhead of a sign saying ‘Stardome’. Rick, is a supernova to me and to him the stars are a constant source of amazement. We both love sitting outside on our deck looking at the carpet of stars lighting up the beach, so I thought what better then to lie back in the star observatory and listen to a NASA scientist talk to us about constellations and the possibility of alien life. It was incredible. I have no photos of the stardome, no photos allowed but I hope you enjoy the pictures of our gallivanting in Ponsonby.

Pohuehue falls

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These are photos from our adventure yesterday to a waterfall.

Rick suggested we pack a picnic, don our trainers and I had the fantastic idea(if I do say so myself) to get two ciders for our intrepid journey into the New Zealand bush.

After a 10 minute journey from our home we pulled into a lay by and as we got out the car, were greeted by fearless chickens who ran back into the trees as soon I managed to pull my camera out. The lay by really didn’t look like it was going to lead to anything interesting whatsoever but still we carried on down a small track that was steep and had a ceiling of trees sheltering us from any warmth from the nearly spring air. Rick pulled his leather jacket tight around him and we carried further down into the depths of the forest. We followed the track for 20 minutes and heard the faint sound of running water, around the corner of some massive ferns we found a wooden deck that went out over the side of the waterfall. It was small but luscious and we decided it was the perfect place for lunch. We talked about how quiet it was and that we felt completely alone, it was so peaceful and it was easy to pretend that we were the only people in the world.

We ate and drank and then after a while as it was starting to get chilly we made our way back to humanity, I don’t think it will be long though until we go back to our secret spot.

 

 

Aquarium

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I have to admit that I love museums, aquariums, zoos, galleries and the like. I adore being able to soak up all the information and look at all the interesting artifacts, animals or paintings. I used to begrudgingly slide my feet along the floor of museums while being dragged around by mum and dad or I would usher them as quickly as I could around the place so I could get out of there and get lunch or something. I remember the second time mum and dad took me to New Zealand, I was allowed TWO WEEKS off school and I was buzzing with excitement. I couldn’t wait to see my cousins and roam around in the sun…and then they told me the reality, it was winter in New Zealand and it would be raining…oh and it was an “educational” visit. We would be visiting all of the museums, reenactments and bush walks that they could fit in. I can remember groaning with terror at the thought…little did I know that it would be the best holiday with my parents EVER. I was so incredibly lucky to get the chance to visit a country on the other side of the world and be enriched with their history and culture. I started to love learning through experiences. I have never been one for sitting in a classroom listening to someone dictate, I want to do it myself and get stuck in and involved.

So, when Rick excitedly told me we should go to the aquarium, I agreed quickly and happily. Aquariums are really educational, right?! Anyway, they’re fun and I’m not going to make excuses…it was awesome. We enjoyed close encounters with penguins, sharks and I sat with a stingray for about 20 minutes because she kept watching me and I felt sad for her. (Although they all had huge enclosures, I still feel awful about them being not being in the sea). They also had an exhibit on Captain Scott and his voyage to the Antarctic, hence all the photos of cool old cream crackers and the art desk. There is way too much at the aquarium for me to ramble on about. I was going to finish this post with a very cool picture of me on a snowmobile but then I thought it was way too sexy and attractive to put on this humble blog. Anyway, enjoy the other pictures especially the one with Rick and his best mate the puffer fish.

Raw

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I don’t want to make this post too wordy. I just want to share some photos in the hope that it will tell you all you need to know.

Rick and I had an adventure day, where we visited two beaches on the west coast. Piha, which we think could be a future new home possibility and Bethells beach where my mum, dad, brother and sister had a house before I arrived in the world.

The west coast, is wild and raw with dark sand beaches and wind so harsh the sand jumps up, circles you on the beach and whips at your toes(I hope you like the pictures where I struggled to keep the hair out of my face). Rick and I bundled up in all the clothes we could find in my car and ran around the beach exploring, climbing into caverns and peering into caves. Our childlike behaviour isn’t unusual for all those who know us and it allowed us to find hidden secrets…Rick and I hadn’t been on the beach for long before we found a large opening to a cave hidden behind some rocks, us being us decided we should go and hide in there and see what we could find. Well, imagine our surprise when we came across a pod of baby seals. We didn’t stay long as we didn’t want to disturb them…especially as we couldn’t find mum and didn’t really want her to find us. I got a few photos but don’t worry I didn’t use flash, they were very relaxed about us being there. In fact…I’m pretty sure we’re their new best friends.

Gelato

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently Rick and I had a mini date. I had been going on at the poor guy for weeks about visiting a local gelato café called ‘Charlie’s gelato’. I’ve heard about this place on the grapevine since we got here and I have been lusting over some decent stuff for ages. Charlie’s didn’t disappoint.

Rick and I had four mini taster scoops (they were meant to be mini but ended up being huge amounts), we wanted to try as many different flavours so split each pile so we could have a taste of all eight!

The flavours we tasted:

Blueberry, dulce de leche, peanut butter, dark chocolate, peach, mint, strawberry and one more that I can’t remember. They were all very good but dark chocolate and peanut butter were definitely our favourite. A bit surprising, I thought the peach would win me over. Anyway, I few pictures…enjoy and try not to dribble on your keyboard.

Immigration

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I think the biggest difficulty for me has been leaving behind my family and friends. I, like most women are more attached to their family then men are. I’m generalising but when I speak to expats over here, usually the men were pretty chilled in the first few months whereas the women felt homesick with bouts of tearfulness and sometimes hopelessness, if their situation is less then desirable since uprooting.

Firstly, I’m talking money…a really crude subject to talk about but unfortunately it can be an important issue. When Rick and I left, we took less funds then we would have liked and perhaps blew the budget a little when we were in San Francisco. Rick and I had never been on holiday together before…so we think we deserved it(yep Rick and I left without ever going on holiday together before or living together either). Anyway, aside from a bit of frivolousness we were safe, we had enough money to support us until we found jobs or so we thought…until we had some bad luck.
Everything seemed to go wrong and we were left with just $25(£12.50 ish) in our bank account to last us until pay day. That had to get us petrol so we can get our food but also a weeks worth of dinners. Luckily, I’m some sort of magician and managed it. Like I mentioned before I will put some of my thrifty recipes up soon. Anyway, long story short. SAVE. save, save, save, save and SAVE. Rick got a job within a few weeks, super amazing but I on the other hand am still waiting.
I’m doing some temporary work assignments now and volunteer at a local school so that keeps away the feeling of utter uselessness. I don’t know how the 1950’s housewives did it, within a week of staying home playing wife, I was going stir crazy. Also, even though Rick firmly told me that the money he earned went into our join account and was both ours to spend, I couldn’t stop myself feeling guilty every time I bought a cup of coffee. Not good for the soul and probably not good for a relationship long term either. That brings me to point two.

Strong relationships You’re both going to have to support each other in so many different ways. Your shoulders will need to be strong to carry the weight of worries and emotions you may need to face. Be prepared for your relationship to change for better or for sometimes worse. Communication, understanding and commitment is crucial to relationships anyway but when you’re going through so much change it’s important to talk even more.

Stay in touch Every time I get off facetime after chatting to people back home, I feel grounded and less…crazy!?! I think it helps me to feel more myself when I’m connected to my loved ones. Whether it’s email, skype, phone calls, facebook, facetime or old fashioned letters, there has never been more ways to communicate. Knowing what’s going on back home and telling people all about your adventures will bring you back to reality when you are feeling homesick. Family and friends are there for you, they love you and support you on your adventures…you’re NOT on your own. Try not to get upset at the dropping off of friends who don’t try and get hold of you. Trust me when I say they’re not worth the tears. (They might even be jealous)

Don’t change too much Look, things are going to get a bit weird. I read a study on culture shock when things got a bit strange with me. I started getting really angry and hateful of New Zealand. After much research, I found this is not a widely spoken about subject but something that is happening with immigrants everywhere. There are several stages to culture shock, it’s a real thing not just a saying. I wont bore you with all the stages but the ones I want to discuss are:

Feeling first excitement- “OMG! This country is AWESOME. YUM new foods, yay fun accents, vineyards, beaches, markets…YAAAAAAAAAY!!!”

Wanting to go home- “England is SOOOO much better! The food is tastier! There are more vegetarian options! They have weird accents! Boring, boring, boring, boring…there is NOTHING to do here. I miss home! waaaaaaaaaaaaah”

Basically, things are going to get crazy emotionally if you suffer with culture shock. Try not to get to the angry stage and in some sort of weird spite for the country, up and leave. You’ll probably regret it when you get back home and realise nothing has changed. Keep a note of positive things you like in your new home and remind yourself of them regularly. These are some of mine: Wine, morning coffee on the balcony looking out at the ocean, saturday morning markets, cuddles with my nephew, living with Rick for the first time, growing my own vegetables and herbs.
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Matakana Market

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Markets have always been a source of major excitement for me, I remember on Saturday mornings, my mum bustling through the front door with her French wicker basket overflowing with local goodies. I would always hope for something sweet, back when I was younger it would be with baited breath that I would wait for the paper bag holding a tiny sugar mouse to appear from the depths of my mum’s bag. Since then, my tastes have changed although I would definitely still be partial to a sugar mouse with the cute little string tail, we now get treated to delicious jam doughnuts. I will always remember my dad biting into a massive “eat on day of purchase” (the affectionate name my father calls them, so he has an excuse to eat them all) and the juicy tart filling dripping down a freshly pressed white shirt. “Bugger” (an innocent kiwi curse) he’d grumble but smile at me as he sunk his teeth in for another bite. Despite the stained shirts, we all love the treats that came back from the local market and since I moved to New Zealand, I have taken in my mother’s footsteps; I grab my bag (not a French wicker one, shame) and get myself to the market as early as possible to bag the best produce and avoid the crowds.

Matakana Market, is the closest farmer market to our new home and they have an amazing selection of goodies on offer. On Saturday, Rick finally had the morning off and I was able to show him my favourite hangout (street cred…Zero). We had so much fun exploring, we found amazing vintage finds, bought delicious kumara bread, tried delicious creamy Dutch gouda, drank fresh coffee and bought breakfast from very cool stalls. Rick had a buffalo burger for breakfast might I add, Meateater vs Vegetarian, I had a half and half galette(buckwheat savoury pancake) with spinach and feta one side and spicy pumpkin with raita on the other. I’ve taken a few photos that I hope will show you a little bit of what is on offer at Matakana market. You really can’t beat fresh, spray free produce, it makes such a difference to your cooking and on the most part is cheaper…but I must admit the more you go, the cheaper it gets; go often enough like I do and you will get returning customer discounts.

Culture Shock

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Moving to another country is not, as I have found out, all as adventurous as I believed it to be. In fact actually at times it’s quite the opposite. Arriving in New Zealand, I found myself to be struck by a numbness, tingling through my body was the excitement of a chance at a new beginning and the next chapter in our life but everything was so much, I didn’t feel like the plane had actually landed till several weeks later. Even though, I’m mostly here now, my heart still lies elsewhere in England. Maybe it’s missing family and friends or the comforts of home, for example…I’ve never really felt the necessity to eat custard creams everyday, however because I can’t get them here…it’s all I think about. Custard creams, mushy peas, clotted cream, a good cuppa and my mum’s Sunday breakfast, Rick’s dad’s surprise delicious treats, yep…food is a massive part of homesickness for me. As you know, if you read my blog, that I have written about food before and how it is part of my life, from socialising to my own business, so to move to a country where I can’t even get double cream…is pretty disastrous to say the least. On the upside, I will be showcasing some of my recipes on this blog, with the hope that you will enjoy them too. Know that the recipes I will show will be cheap (food is VERY expensive in NZ) and super easy to make (we have a kitchen that can barely fit two people in, let’s keep it simple). All the recipes will be my own and all ingredients when possible are purchased from the Matakana Market close by or from my little vegetable patch.

Anyhow, back to my dependence on food as an emotional crutch (just kidding, I don’t have a HUGE problem, just a custard cream sized one), moving is hard especially when you’re going somewhere you don’t have a comfortable familiarity with. Rick and I have set up home well and are starting to venture out more now that we feel like we are settled more. We had our first REAL adventure today. We jumped in the car bright and early to explore the area around where we live; being a tourist in your own town is meant to be a great step to stop yourself feeling so homesick and start making your area your new home. Although we didn’t stick to our town Snells Beach(seriously, there is not a lot here) we did a good circuit, up to Omaha Beach, Leigh and the Marine Reserve- Goat Island(no goats exist there…although there is a funny story about pigs if you are ever to visit). It was just starting to rain as we were in the middle of exploring Goat Island Marine Reserve, so it was incredibly atmospheric as the mist started to climb over the hills. Some photos from our adventure are above. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I loved taking them.