Archive for April, 2010

Amazing Weather

Two days ago it rained and it rained big.  The enormous eaves on the house did nothing to protect the stormy side of the house with ‘buckets’ of water sloshing against the big windows in the lounge according to Josie.

I bailed from work early beacuse I was feeling rubbish and then took so long getting home thanks to the busses, I may as well have stayed at work and got my normal bus.

The next morning though I felt ok and I’d had a stunning nights sleep.  So I went in to work and the journey in was amazing.  I didn’t have a camera so I’ll have to try and describe it – so imagine I’m sitting on a bus talking to you…  The rains had gone and it seemed to be a bright and sunny day.  As I came down the hill just a short way into our journey I could see the most amazing layer of fog or mist or low cloud laying in a long thing strip along the valley in front of me.  It stretched all the way down the valley and was so sharply defined.  The top was a flat surface with a crisp edge.  I went into it, then up a hill and out again.  It stretched for several kilometres but was probably only a few hundred meters wide at it’s widest.

Not a very exciting description now I’ve finished, but it was the perfectly flat top and crisp edge to it which was most strange.

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Your work here is done

Well I am feeling a bit lost today, like I have no real role any more…… I spent the morning cleaning the bedrooms and our downstairs guest wing (;-))and little Lucy was happily poddling about doing her own thing. I was simply a vehicle from which to procure snacks at regular intervals. That said I was fortunately called upon at 810am as she strolled up to me saying “uck” and waving a fist full of poo at me. Yes, we are at the “hands down the nappy” stage. Thankfully she has yet to smear it on anything or anybody else – please pray with me that that never happens!

Emily got ready for school beautifully and we had a lovely chat testing each other on spellings whilst yomping up the hill to school. She was very excited about starting in her new room – the promotion from the foundation class in room 10 to the proper year 1 class in room 7 is highly exciting. She’s moved 4 weeks early which us feel very proud 🙂

Anyway, she had a super first day with a new teacher who sidled up to me when I picked her up and informed me that we had done a beautiful job bringing her up. What smashing, head-swell-inducing stuff for weary parents 😀

She had done such amazing writing at school that I offered to take her shopping to buy her a new dot-to-dot book as a well done present. After contemplating for a while she decided she would rather play with Lucy at home (!). And they played really well together: helped tidy up some toys; didn’t flood the bathroom during their bath; didn’t try and play under my feet as I was cooking etc etc. Lucy even came up with a few new words in the process – her versions of moon, face and clothes; life was fab. So, missing my role as peace envoy and remover of climbing infant, I sat down to play with the trainset on my own. Em’s walked in and couldn’t quite understand why I was playing with it alone!

So there you go. It appears that a new phase of mummyhood is just around the corner. One that is not about constant hands-on management but more of strategic decision-maker. Or maybe it was an odd freak occurrance and we’ll get back into chaos mode tomorrow.

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So today is our version of Rememberence Sunday. All morning we had little planes whizzing overhead in formation as they flew-by the various parades happening across the region. All the local Brownies, Cubs  etc were in their best bib and tucker to commemorate all those those Kiwis who fought in the Wars. We debated about going down to watch but decided that, whilst very important, Lucy would not appreciate a morning in a push chair and Em really wouldn’t get it at all, plus we still need to brush up on our local history. So we stayed home and ate bacon and egg sarnies instead.

After mopping up egg yolk we decided to take the girls down to the beach for a play and to give Em a chance to try riding her bike without the stabilisers. Stevie had his hand on the saddle and Em, once she stopped talking, did very well indeed. We reckon another 2 hours or so and she’ll be doing the 160km bike race round Lake Taupo (well maybe not that far but she might make it round the school playground on her own….)

The beach was so lovely, with the glassy smooth sea and still warm Autumn sun shining down that we rallied troops (well, the Gradys) to come and meet us for a muck around on the sand and in the water.  We dashed home, grabbed food and gear and dashed back.

As there was still some heat in the afternoon sun Sasha and I headed out for a little swim and probably covered off about 600m.  It’s difficult to tell, but looking on Google maps I reckon that’s pretty accurate.  My arms were aching afterwards anyway!

Josie took Lucy out in the kayak and she was mostly good as gold.  She started to fidget a little so Josie express paddled her back to shore.  Josie went back out for a nice paddle on her own and so the afternoon went on.

It’s amazing that we are at the end of the UK equivalent of October and we’re still getting pretty good beach weather and the water temperature, whilst dropping off, is still swimmable.  Don’t misunderstand me… when you dive in it makes you draw breath, but once you are moving it’s really not that bad.

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Do you?

Incredibly (for us and probably anyone who was there) it’s nine years since we got married.

Nine years since we stood in front of most of our very close friends and family and said I do.

Nine years since I greased my ring so that my finger would slide into it easily (good tip that for anyone doing the deed)

Nine years since Jack nearly burnt the marquee down by setting fire to a napkin.

Nine years since Rob used a powerpoint presentation of some truly cringworthy photos from my past.

Nine years since we signed the register with special ink that doesn’t fade.

Nine years since ‘One Night Stand’ the family/friends band played magnificently for us having only met three times to practice.

Nine years ago.

This year we had a rare night of babysitter cover for our anniversary so we walked up to the local Thai Restaurant and gorged ourselves on lovely food.  We came home via the beach and sat watching the navigation lights winking over in Mission Bay a long way off in the distance.

It’s also a bit of a tradition for Josie to try on her wedding dress.  I think she looks gorgeous.

Stevie and Josie walk down the errr lounge

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It still doesn’t quite make sense to me.  You do a load of exercise and your arms hurt afterwards.  So you wait a day then do more exercise and it STOPS them from hurting… I just can’t get my head around it.  1.9km in the pool tonight – pushed myself quite hard and told the swim tutor I want to do the Harbour Crossing (2.8km) in November.  Got a few months to work on stamina and speed.

Josie has spent most of the day hunting for her passport which she has now located.  In the process she’s tidied up all the outstanding paperwork!  Fantastic, I must hide things more often… 😉

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Well my arms ache even more today.

The day started with Josie out on a big old run.  15km this morning – how clever is she?!?!  I stayed in bed and read books with the girls.  I have no idea how Josie get’s them up and out in the mornings.  I managed to just about get them washed, dressed and breakfasted in the time that Josie took to run 15km.

Breakfast was a small one for the grown-ups because we were heading to the K’Road to meet Nick and Carl and a few others for a breakfast brunch for Nick.  Happy Birthday Nick!

I ate probably the biggest and best breakfast I’ve had since arriving in New Zealand in July.  It even had good bacon which is a bit of a lottery over here.

Having started a present war (Nick and Carl bought Josie a garden gnome for her birthday) we retaliated with a pair of Margaret Thatcher Nut Crackers.  Yep, you guessed it, the legs are the nutcrackers and you stick the nuts up her skirt and squeeze those knees.  What better way to honour the Iron Lady?

After brunch we kept our promise to take Emily to the climbing wall down in Panmure.  Just in case you’ve not read this before it’s called Extreme Edge and has the most fantastic kids area.  We planned to just let Em have a go, but then it turned into a mass outing with Carl, Nick and Penny all joining us straight after brunch.

Emily has changed so much since even the last time we went.  She’s stronger and more confident and her climbing is amazing.  She got easily 3/4 the way up an adult 10 metre wall!  And she got right to the top of the kids one which is more like 12 or 14 metre.

Of course with three other adults climbing I had to join in so ended up climbing as well.  My first climb was an overhang and I got halfway up and lost my nerve completely!  I’ve never experience that on a wall before and it was quite odd.  I came down, belayed Carl then did it again, straight to the top.  Nerves gone.  Very strange.  We took turns climbing for a while and I finished on a knotty overhang climb that took two attempts and a rest part way up.  My arms hurt for an hour afterwards!

The rest of the day was uneventful and we find ourselves unwrapping the winter duvet and aiming to be in bed by 9:30pm.  Eeek only 7 minutes left!  Must dash….

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I’m typing with a very pleasant ache in the shoulders from today’s excursion.

We left the house at about 11:45am to meet Carl and Nick on the beach at Takapuna.  Having spent the morning sharing a birthday Skype with Dad (and a rather comical video we put together for him) I was feeling reasonably relaxed about the task ahead.  I’d done my training, I could do the distance, now it was time.

We arrived to see the start of the 3×300 m relay event.  It was a good way of passing a few minutes, to listen to their briefing and watch how it all happened.  We had some sandwiches and the girls played in the sand.

All too soon it was 1pm and time to get dressed.  I quickly slipped into my wetsuit and when I turned round there were my two little treasures wearing home made t-shirts sporting the slogan “My Daddy Swims Like a Fish” and a picture of a clown fish like Nemo.  I was very chuffed!  🙂

Soon my briefing was called and we got walked 200m down the beach to our start point.  The course was simple, out to the first buoy, turn left and swim along the beach, turn left and make for shore.  750m easypeasy.

I played it safe and hung around on the outside of the pack and near the back.  As it happened it was quite spread out anyway.  The hooter went and I ambled into the water, the advice of my swimming teacher ringing in my ears “Don’t go out sprinting and wear yourself out”.

I should maybe remind you of some of the background here.  Before moving to NZ I could swim breast stroke sufficiently to not sink.  I’ve never considered myself a strong swimmer and I’d certainly never have ventured out of my depth in the sea without flotation and fins.  So for the past nine months I’ve been learning technique, getting fit and building distance.  In my first freestyle lesson I demonstrated what I guessed to be about right and was exhausted after 25m.  I now regularly swim between 1.6 and 2km in my swim class and today added my first event result to the list.

I’d been warned about other swimmers disrupting you and I encountered my first back-stroker going diagonally across me after less than five minutes.  I corrected course and ploughed on.  My navigation needs a bit of work because I’m pretty sure I swam much further than I needed to due to not holding a straight course.

By the time I was about 300m meters in I was settled into a comfortable rhythm.  I sniffed water up my nose but just carried on, I had a bit of a coughing fit due to gunk in my throat but carried on.

Rounding the last buoy I felt a surge of excitement, I felt like I’d not been going for very long.  This was good!  I could hear the voice of the finish line commentator getting closer and closer.  I was determined to swim inshore as far as possible and the water was about knee deep by the time I stood up.  I took my time (as advised) and jogged up the beach to finish!

Triumph!  Just over 20 minutes.  21:27 I think.  This is fine by me…  and I achieved my three goals:

1) I didn’t get picked up by a rescue boat

2) I didn’t get eaten by a shark

3) I wasn’t last

I honestly thought that having finished I’d want to knock swimming on the head for a while but I’m quite keen to get back in the pool and focus on increasing speed and stamina

Finally I was finished and processed and awarded with my very own family medal!

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Swim t-1

Big swim tomorrow!  After the disaster of Tuesday’s trainign session (big cramp less than half way through and an abandoned session) Thursday went much better.  I took it easy and didn’t push myself so only did 1.6km.  I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.  I picked up my event pack today with a free kick board, bunch of free snacks and bits and bobs and most importantly my event timing chip and swim cap.  Delightfully I’ll be sporting a pink cap tomorrow.  Oh deep joy.  Gone are all the thoughts of cool and moody looking photos.  Just nice camp ones instead!  😉

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We’ve cheered up a bit today.  After the last rather gloomy post I thought I’d update you on a couple of things I’ve been doing.

Firstly it’s just two days until the Ocean Swim Series – The King of the Bays.  It’s a 750m ocean swim off Takapuna beach (the place where the beach series takes place) in case you’d forgotten or didn’t know.   It’s starts at around midday on Saturday and I just finished my final training session before the swim.  I’m feeling pretty confident of completing it without getting hauled into the rescue boat for being too slow or too brick-like.  If I can do it in less than 20 minutes I’ll be pleased.  If I do it in less than 17 minutes I’ll be ecstatic because that’s my average pool speed.

The other think I’ve been doing is jumping off of a tall building.

The Skyjump is a tourist attraction which sees you wrapped in a  harness, clipped onto some string then chucked off the top of the very very tall Skytower.  The descent is controlled by a large air resistance fan like used to train people when parachuting.  It lowers you, quite quickly I may add, from 192m up and you land on a platform where all your (relieved) friends and family are waiting.

It’s not like a bungy jump, it all feels quite safe and controlled.  Being fairly used to hanging around in harnesses I was fairly certain I’d be ok doing it.  It’s fair to say that there is a bit of a moment that could be fairly described as a bum twitcher, when you step up to the edge of the platform and know that you are about to step out into nothing.  Then they tension the wire and harness and you feel suspended so it’s all ok.  The trip down is quick but you pause a few meters down to wave to the people looking out of the observation deck.  Then the journey restarts and you 11 seconds to look around, take in the view and generally enjoy the feeling of the wind whistling around your chops.  Good fun entertainment.  I now know however, that I will never do a bungy jump!

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Love you

It seems that a black cloud has descended over our house. Steve and I are both missing family which, coupled with the gradual descent into autumn, is making us feel a little low.

Stevie was delighted to hear that all the family got together over Easter but it made him realise that we would have been there too, but for our self-imposed separation. He seems to be pining for an hour of chit chat (or teasing more likely) with the lovely Guy. And of course the general rambling chatter of a house full of Fitzhughs which would have been significant amplified had we been there as well. We haven’t seen Stevie’s parents new house in Norfolk, nor have we seen their local beach and cafe. As much as we’d love to share the lovely things about our life here, we’d love to share these new and exciting things with the people we love.

I received a letter today. It was a copy of my Grandpa’s Will. Obviously that is sad enough in itself, but it was made far worse by it’s arrival on what would have been my mum’s 56th birthday. Grandpa, or Faffa as we called him, his Will was written in 1976 when I was just 3 and my mum was 21. It feels so sad to be sharing what would have been my mum’s inheritance with my sister. There have been many tears shed today.

I know we are not the best at phoning people but you are never far from our thoughts.

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