Archive for October, 2009

Doughnut Baby

Stevie_90It was a beach day today.

We got up and at ’em fairly early and tried to marshal the troops into some kind of order.  The morning just dripped on and on and we didn’t get out until after 11am.  Rubbish!  Having said that we were heading north along the coast replete with home made packed sushi rice lunch picnic.    Josie was nursing her foot in the car having trodden on one of the girls toy trees and bruised the sole of her foot!  Not ideal the day before her big race.

Our chosen beach was somewhere within a Regional park called Tawharanui, which we believe is pronounced Tar-fa-ra-noo-ee.  This place is a working reserve to protect Kiwis.  We told Em and of course she was excited that we were going to see Kiwis.  We had to explain that they only come out at night and they would be snuggled up in their nests.  That’s why the Kiwi house at the zoo is always pitch black.  She thought they had a power cut bless her.  This of course caused much confusion because  we were discussing whether the park would be busy and Josie suggested that Kiwis (as in residents of New Zealand) get up early so they were probably on their way home.  Em and her bat ears in the back then picked this up and thought we’d seen a Kiwi bird that had got up early and was wandering back to aforementioned snuggly nest.

Emily’s other classic was as we were driving past a vinyard that had a bistro restaurant on site.  I mentioned the word Bistro and she piped up “Is that where you grow beetroot?”

About an hour later and several km of loose gravel road we arrived at Anchor Bay beach and it was stunning.  A curved beach with fantastic pale sand and lovely rocks and pretty bits everywhere.

The girls loved it.  After we’d set-up camp, slipped, slopped and slapped, eaten sushi and other stuff and stripped off, we went paddling.  Lucy is a paddlingn demon.  She can’t get enough and appears to have no fear.  She’s happy to stand in the surf whilst little waves break over her knees.  We’re still holding her hand of course, but she’s not trying to get away or be picked up.  The sea is still a bit chilly, but we found some shallow pools of water on the beach that had been heated up by the sun and the girls sat in these and played for ages.

The afternoon plodded on with lots of playing and paddling and exploring.  We’ll bring the kayak next time because it’s a marine reserve so their should be plenty to look at.

By the time Lucy had finished she resembled a doughnut.  Doesn’t seem to worry her though.  A fair proprtion of sand ended up inside her although thankfully not deliberately any more.  We seem to have moved on from the sand chomping days.

This evening we’ve been getting ready for the race tomorrow.  We’re all getting up early to drive in to town and drop Josie off.  Then I plan to have an open air breakfast somewhere before catching her at the finsh line.

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hosiethumb90It was Freaky Friday at Kindy today. Em agreed to go as a ghost but refused my offer of a ghostly make-over and hair-do. She firmly announced that she just wanted to be herself today. Steve and I were not about to argue given her no-nonsense attitude and were secretly pretty impressed with her desire not to be part of the crowd.

She wanted to wear her converted cot sheet ghost outfit to school so we walked down the road to Kindy and were greeted by lots of over-excited kids wearing smashing outfits. Every morning she has to find her name badge, write her name in the book and then pop the badge on the board. Today the front door and name table were swathed in black cloth with new “worm” name badges and a cackling pretend witch in the corner. Em was instantly bemused and decided that the sheet had to come off. She just wanted to play on the swing so off she went, all on her own with little regard for the spooky decorations and amusing outfits.

I walked back home with tears running down my cheeks, worried that my girl was having trouble settling. When I went to pick her up I spoke with the head teacher who clearly thought I was nuts. She’s doing great. They all love her quiet confidence and she has lots of friends. Phew. She even had a party invitation in her bag too. Makes my sneeky trip down to Kindy mid-morning to see if she was playing on her own seem a bit ridiculous.

We had a power cut this morning which meant the alarm keypad was beeping constantly, I couldn’t close the electric garage door with the clever dibber, and no housework could occur. So Lucy and I went to a free sing song at the library in Browns Bay instead. It was ok bar the expressionless librarian doing heads, shoulders, knees and toes etc. I managed to get Lucy in just the right lock-down so she actually sat still for most of it bar a bit of dancing on my lap, clapping and squwarking in amusing places.

Lucy has a bit of a rash at the moment so I got the pharmacy to check it. They said see a Dr, I am convinced though that it is the end of this virus or teething. She is eating well, on the move constantly and there is no temperature. I’ve not changed washing powders recently and her diet hasn’t changed. We’re keeping our beedy eyes on her. But as I was there, they were doing free mini-manicures so I went for it. Afterwards I treated myself to some hand cream. I’d not have done it in York but I am sad to say that it was a good opportunity to chat to someone in an otherwise pretty chat-less morning. I hope I don’t become a serial spender in search of chatting opportunities!

Anyway, big news of the day was our trip into the city centre to collect my race pack with Carl (who is doing the marathon) and Nick (who is doing the QM with me). I am now the proud owner of an Auckland Quarter Marathon t-shirt, a racing time chip to wear on my shoes and a piece of paper with my race number on it – 16742. Hoorah I’m nuff excited! Wish I was feeling better and hadn’t just spent 10 mins with my foot on an ice pack after standing on a plastic toy tree! Nick and I had lunch together and talked tactics. We will start off together and see how we do.

Anyway, Stevie is back at work but still on the vitC. He is struggling to cope with not being able to exercise. It is a whole new experience for him and he is desperate to get back in the pool. He’ll have to run it past Dr Emily and Head of Household Scheduling first. He’s currently rubbing his tummy with glee after Nick bought him a curly wurly! And I was given a sherbert dib dab! We went to this food shop that had all sorts of English names that you hadn’t missed but got us completely over-excited when we saw them!

Funny news clip today – proper Kiwi humour!

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hosiethumb90Had a testing day on the parent of a 4yr old front today. All sorts of things happened, not all bad at all but enough to make me feel very lonely without the supportive shoulders of my friends in York. So I blubbed all over Stevie’s shoulders instead who was laid up in bed all day feeling rubbish.

He did brighten up at teatime and we decided to go for a post-meal walk along the beach partly so he could get some air and partly so I could get some perspective. It worked. Although we have had very strong and cold southerlies all day, the sun was out this evening and there were plenty of boats from Murray’s Bay sailing club to watch as they were tossed about in gusty conditions on the sea. One poor boat kept capsizing, righting itself, and then falling over the other way. And getting back to shore looked jolly hard work. Still it was a beautiful evening and a good reminder of why we have made the move.

Apart from Kindy and Em’s swimming lesson, not much has occurred chez Fitzhugh. Em has Freaky Friday tomorrow so I cut a hole in a cot sheet for her ghost costume (even though she has no idea about Halloween stuff) and made some severed finger biscuits using aunty Liddy’s shortbread recipe although Steve and I think they taste far too nice for the kids at Kindy! I went out for a short run but couldn’t resist the temptation to hoof it round in double quick time. Tomorrow morning is my last run before the quarter marathon on Sunday. I’m still far from better but can’t really do much about it. I’ve enjoyed the journey and am plotting my next running goal already.
There is one piece of news today that is alarming many over here. This man has proclaimed himself to be the spiritual Leader and Bishop of his own religion and 700 men declared their unwavering allegiance to him this week. With that “spiritual son” status, they are required to live by the rule book created by the Bishop himself. I am deeply disturbed at how an ego gets that big, and even more disturbed that his followers devote 20% of their income to the cause. Many of his followers have been “rescued” from a life of crime and poverty into the arms of his religion. The whole thing sounds terrifying to us. Have a look at the New Zealand Herald article if you fancy reading more.

If that freaks you out then you could always have a look at some pictures of our lovelies to cheer youself up!

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The prognosis is not good

hosiethumb90Stevie returned home at 2pm to a waiting Dr Emily. She lay him on the sofa and ran upstairs to get her medical kit and doctor’s coat. After a listen of his chest and a peer into his ear she shook her head and looked most grave. Her advice was an early night and some tablets…. and I was chastised for making daddy go to work when he was ill! So it is lurgy 4, Fitzhugh’s 0.

That was about it today. I went to a rather bizarre playgroup today with Lucy. It was myself, one child minder (called home educator over here) who runs it and another childminder who was the most bigotted, rambling woman I have ever met I think. She was 3 steaks short of a barbie; four cans short of a six pack etc etc. So it was an intimate affair. Again, not sure if it is for us but the good thing, as with the others is that these groups can be dipped into and out of so on a quiet day we will always have something to do.

After Kindy we went over to Browns Bay to catch up with our friends, the Bonners. We had a hot chocolate / ice cream / rice cake by the sea and a good natter. We spent much of our time fretting over the cost of basic things out here like school uniforms, loo rolls, haircuts etc. They spent $600 (£273) on the minimum amount of school uniform possible for their two kids (14yr old twins) so it doesn’t include stationery or the school fees (kindly referred to as a contribution but it feels obligatory)!!!! And I am horrified at the cost of medicines over here. We’ve used loads in the last 10 days and I am rather missing the own brand medicines to be found in ASDA etc. I used one bottle of cough medicine in two days – it cost $19 (£8.60) and the kids’ medicines are a similar price and there is no way I can avoid having a supply of drugs in the house to help my specials when they are ill. It is strange how you can do loads of exciting stuff like golf and watersports relatively cheaply yet basic essentials are comparatively expensive.

Meanwhile Steve was fast asleep at home with no inclination to watch a DVD or get himself something to eat – a very clear inclination to me that he is proper poorly. I am shoveling lost of vitamins and pills into him and under the watchful eye of Dr Emily, I am sure he will recover shortly.

We have found a book in the library called 101 Amazing Kiwis which we will use over the next few weeks to inform the blog. Especially as we’re all struggling to do stuff after this virus.

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Gym x 2

Stevie_90Lucy and I both went to our respective gyms today.  Lucy’s pretty much left crawling behind.  Much quicker to up onto her stout pins and leg it around instead.  My gym session was my first proper weights session and it seemed to go ok.  I was reflcting on how good the value is compared to the Council run pool that I was going to. So I now ge t access to pool AND gym and if I use them every other day which is my pan, it’s only just over $6.60 a session.  Just swimming at the council pool was $6 per swim or $5.40 if you bought in blocks of ten.  And theh quality of the pool just doesn’t compare.  It is incredibly clean and very quiet.

Josie managed a full 60 minute run this morning despite being a bit coldy.  She is following the advice that if the cold is in your head you can run through it but if it’s on your chest you don’t run until it’s cleared.  Seems to be working.  She’s getting better and still managing to train. the big race is on Sunday.  We’re all very excited!

Lunch today was an exciting triumph.  Lasts night I boiled up some short grain rice, mixed rice vinegar, sugar and salt and made a big lump of su-meshi (seasoned rice used for sushi).  I sandwiched bits of seaweed in between two layers of rice,  then topped it off with a cold omlette.  Soy and wasbi finished it all off atreat. 🙂

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Labour Day

Stevie_90So today has been our first experience of a NZ public holiday.  Labour Day is apparently to mark the introduction of the standard 40 hour working week.  We chose to stay at home rather than face the traffic, which we understand was quite bad.

For us it was a bit of a lazy affair.  We had the best of the weather the last two days.  So apart from nipping out to take advantage of the Rebel Sport 25% off sale and picking up some groceries we stayed in.  A big bake-a-thon took up most of the day.  More ‘Mumbles’ – they are quite delightful, buns and muffins.  All ready for the week.

My hardest task this week is to convince my team to join in with ‘Movember’.  It’s a charity moustache growing event for the month of November.  I’ve never let my facial hair grow for more than about a week and even then it only looked like most peoples 5 o’clock shadow.   But now is the time.  I have clearance from Josie and I’m going to try and get the team to join in.

Right – time for bed. For me at least, Josie has been away for nearly an hour and a half now.  I think between her resting and my nagging we should have her right for the race on Saturday

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Mother knows best



Sorry I went to bed early. The virus thing is now a chesty cough which is an utter disaster for my running. The shoes are now hanging up until I clear my chest and with only 7 days to the quarter marathon, I’m exceedingly grumpy. Anyway, more pity please but I digress…..

I’ve obviously confused Stevie with the number of playgroups I have been trying. The playgroup thing wasn’t actually a Plunket one, it was something called a Playcentre. This is a New Zealand phenomenon and is basically a co-operative designed to offer children the chance to mix with other kids in an environment managed by parents. I am allowed three visits before I have to commit and join the co-operative, start doing all the courses they make you do and live by the lists of rules pinned on the walls. I have no idea whether I can join it.

It is undeniably a super fun environment for kids but as a parent my emotions went through the following stages: what a bunch of ferral kids; aren’t these just scary bra burning women with a yearning for power; what an exciting place to play; oh look at the views you can see the sea as you play; oh no the mothers are having a heated discussion about how to stop kids smearing paint all over the place during their minuted meeting; oh my word check out the to do lists for the poor soul on morning coffee duty; I have no idea what this place is all about; at last I have spoken to a mum; excellent she thinks that having to formally request not to take your child to playcentre two days a week in a meeting and have it voted on by the committee is nuts; oh do you really have to do courses on weaving for children and playdough before you can join the war committee; crikey that woman is lecturing a 3 yr old on the satanic qualities of tea, not to mention chastising anyone with something naughty and sugary in their morning snack……etc etc.

I’ll give it another go but it was a bit odd. If you fancy reading a bit more about them, here’s a link to playcentres. They are a registered charity organisation.

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Back to bed for you…

IMG_1622It’s been a day of me trying to get Josie to relax and stay in bed to recuperate.  The lurgy has started to show signs of reaching her chest so she hung up her trainers today and accepted her need to be still.  However, I still found her cleaning the shower and the bath later the sme day.  They didn’t even need doing at that moment in time.

This morning we met some new lovely friends.  Introduced through work, a couple in their late twenties called Pete and Emma.  They have been incountry for about a month and although they came from the UK, Pete is Aussie and they’ve both lived in lots of different places including Canada and Oz.  We met them in Devonport and had a nice lunch.  I had Eggs Benedict which was all lovely except they overcooked the poached egg.

After leaving them just before three, it was time to tuck Mrs Fuff back up in her sick bed.  We did that and the girls played in the playroom whilst I went to the gym.  My first cardio session, including swimming.  I made it into my very own little mini triathlon.  550m swim, 5km cycle, 1.5km run.  I got back to discover a not very rested wife and a very messy house where the girls ha trashed the place.  I switfly gathered them about my person and set off to the school playground nearby.  George from next door came as well, so Em had some company.

The dreaded lurgy is getting better.  She’s getting more normal coldy symptoms now so hopefully it’ll clear through  in a  couple of days.

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hosiethumb90After a spot of dithering this morning we made the decision to go to Rangitoto Island. The weather was absolutely beautiful – bright blue sky, strong sunshine, just perfect for a ferry trip and a walk up to the top of a volcano. So we pulled together some provisions for expeditions and bobbed down to Devonport to catch the ferry.

Here’s a bit of histroy that I have sneakily cut and paste: Rangitoto emerged from the sea around 600 years ago in a series of fiery volcanic explosions. Further eruptions sent red-hot lava flows down the sides of the volcano, forming the black basaltic rock that now makes up much of the island. Today Rangitoto is the largest, youngest and least modified of about 50 volcanic cones and craters in the Auckland volcanic field. It is probably extinct.

Because of time constraints (no one lives on the island and you have to make that last ferry) we decided on walking up to the summit and back although there are plenty of great walks all over the island. Scoffing at the lazybones taking the tractor train up, we embarked on a one hour yomp up through the old lava flows to the summit 259m above sea level. Emily set the pace with me to stop her wanting to run up the thing and Lucy cheered Stevie on from the back pack. As you are probably aware, we are very proud of our girls and today was no exception. Emily shot past other, much older, kids, and their parents with gritty determination. Not a single moan or grump, even when she slipped on the loose bassalty track. She definitely had her mountain goat legs on.

When we reached the top the views were stupendous. We had chosen a particularly clear day so we could see for absolutely miles across Auckland and the rest of the Hauraki Gulf, as well as out to the Coromandel and over to the Waitakere mountains.

We negotiated our descent with the same speed and agility as our trip to the top. Although by the last 10 mins Steve was suffering a bit with the sheer weight of Lucy, who was by this time fast asleep. Usually we share lumping her around but he’s being jolly bossy about helping me kick this virus thing into touch.

After the short ferry trip back to Devonport, we all had a well-earned ice cream whilst Lucy looked on with a pot of raisins and made our way back to the car. A quick stop for a play at JF Kennedy Park in Castor Bay was made to use up the lasts vestiges of energy before nipping to the supermarket for some yummy salad stuff in order to create a lovely summery tea.  Griddled chicken with new potatoes and a big bumpy cucumber + vine tomatoes.  Very yum.

Having put the girls down Stevie and I crashed out for an hour, waking up to come down and sort he kitchen out and catch up on blogging.  stevie also tried to put an NZ plug on the kettle, but swore lots and grumbled about ‘screws made of swiss cheese’.  The UK plug is now back on it again.

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Sneak Preview

IMG_1622This is just a taster for the full post today which Josie will have to write because she’s got all the detail.  She can’t do it now because she’s gone to bed early.  She’s teetering on the edge with this illness.  She perked up a bit this morning but fell asleep on the sofa earlier.  Fingers crossed.

Basically she went to a ‘Plunket’ play centre today and it was a bit strange!  It’s meant to be like a Health Visitor type service but it sounded more like a millitant feminist campagin group crossed with a frustrated overly regimented comittee and meeting structure.

For my part I did my first session at the gym this evening.  Nothing special, just a good gym with nice peoople.  My programme has been aimed specifically at helping with my swimming.

I’d also like to thank you for leaving a comment on my Weird Stats Page.  I’m seeing erratic traffic ranging from quite low through hundreds of hits.  Having the comments will help sort the wood from the trees.

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