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Archive for November, 2012

Lucy’s Christmas Show

It’s that time of year again when the amazing staff at Lucy’s day care, Kids Biz, put immense effort into organising a Christmas production.  Lucy managed to pick up a starring role this year (her last at day care, she’ll be in school next Christmas) as a tree, hopeful it will get picked by a family as a Christmas Tree.

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Our girls are great walkers, no doubt about it.  We’ve been up Rangitoto a couple of times and round the mud pools in Rotorua and just last week a nice stroll in the bush.  One of our favourite local walks is a low tide walk along the rocks to Brown’s Bay.

Yesterday we were having breakfast and the sun was streaming in through the windows and there was an air of adventure around the table so we looked up the tide times (I now have a tide calculator app on my phone) and low tide was hitting around 11am.  Absolutely perfect for us to get our stuff together and take a really nice long meander along the waterfront to Brown’s Bay looking in rock pools and finding crabs.  We had a couple of books to return to Brown’s Bay library and needed supplies from the scoopy shop (also know as Bin Inn – a bulk buy shop that sells dried fruit etc.)  We had a plan!

Setting off we only had a vague idea that we might try and walk the whole way.  In our heads it was far more likely that we’d get a bus back from Brown’s Bay instead.

So we ambled off down to the beach, across the sand (getting a closer look at our exciting new swim pontoon for summer!) and onto the rocks.

The kids are just brilliant ages for this activity now.  They are old enough to walk confidently on the uneven surface and still completely absorbed by the whole thing.  Looking in rock pools, spotting exciting things.  The first rock pool we can to we spotted a little fish.  Something we’ve never done before in previous rock pool visits.

The pace was necessarily very slow along this part of the trip because it was all about the adventure, we had plenty of time to get where we were going.  As we wandered we used a trick that our lovely native Kiwi friends had taught us of upending rocks to discover what was underneath.  It’s very exciting because sometimes although sometimes you’ll get nothing at all, the jackpot is finding a load of crabs.  They are all hiding under the rocks having a nice relaxing stretch of the claws and then they all scatter in all directions.  The kids love it!  (So do Josie and I as a matter of fact)  On a side note I just looked up the collective noun for crabs.  There appears to be no consensus, although the words ‘Cast’ and ‘Bushel’ do seem to be suggested a fair bit.  Although ‘Consortium’ and ‘dose’ were both also suggested.  I think ‘dose’ might be referring to a different sort of crab though…

Where was I?  Oh yes, lifting up rocks.  I have no idea what sort of crabs these fellas were, but they had huge disproportionate claws to their body size.  Emily suggested that they may have been called “Big Pincer Crabs”.  Given the way most other fish seem to be named in the Australasian region, I reckon she might be spot on.  Whoever named all the fish down here would have been brilliant on Roy Walker’s “Catchphrase”… “Say what you see…”  Red fish with a big fin?  It’s a big-finned red fish…  maybe.

Half way along we heard a strange sound like  wave breaking, but behind us, and turning round we spotted a few loose pieces of the cliff face rattling down.  This was a great lesson for the girls, because ever since we started walking these routes with them we’ve emphasised the need to stay a good distance from the cliff face.  There has been one death from falling rocks since we’ve been here, although we were well aware of the potential dangers before that happened.  On this occasion it was a few pebbles and they fell harmlessly a good safe distance from us.  For the rest of the walk Lucy kept saying she was going to stay away from the cliff.  Practical lesson reinforced.

In the end we did our chores and stopped for refreshments.  Ice cream, milkshake, coffee and muffins at our favourite cafe in Browns Bay,Ben Gusto, at the Northern End of the main street.  As an aside, I recently had  fantastic coffee in a place in Takapuna and asked them which roaster they use.  It’s the same one as Ben Gusto, Supreme Coffee and I have to say that I think it’s probably the best tasting coffee I’ve had in New Zealand.  I’m going to see if I can mail-order some for the house.

Despite having already clocked up a few kms the kids insisted on a play on the playground and larked around on the roundabout for a while.  Josie and I sat on a bench nearby and had a bit of a ‘we live here’ moment, because it felt like the sort of day we used to only have when on holiday.

We set off home again and took the cliff path, because by now the water was coming up and our route back on the rocks was slowly being covered by the incoming tide.

Our route along the low tide line rockpooling and back along the cliff path

Just before writing this post I mapped our route in MapMyRun and discovered to my surprise we’d actually covered over 5km once you looked at our route around the shops. Oops. No wonder the kids were buggered. Still, they managed it brilliantly and only got a little grumbly in the last section home.  Nevertheless they still walked it all under their own steam anyway. Proud Mum and Dad!

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Okura Bush Walk

There is a popular walking track near us called Okura Estuary Scenic Reserve.  It’s a long track that winds through thick bush and rises and falls up and down slopes and steps.  There are lots of ferns, and thick canopies of foliage including Kauri trees.  These used to cover the country but were largely cut down, to the extent that they are protected now.  Kauri can be damaged by introduction of micro-organisms into their root system from contaminated footwear, so everyone who enters the reserve is asked to spray their feet with a disinfectant.

It’s a popular destination for families, walkers and runners.  The purpose of going was so that Josie could run to the end and turn around then meet us as far as we could get to.  The girls did fantastically with their walking – it’s not an easy 2km at all and then we had to turn around and head back.  More and more I think about what memories we give the girls.  I think back to walks in the woods when I was little and although it was a different ecology I know we’re giving the kids similar memories that they will hold with them into their adulthood.

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Paihia to Russell

The most usual way of getting from Paihia to Russell (or more accurately from Russell to Paihia) is on a boat.  But once a year a bunch of salt-obsessed, neoprene clad freaks hurl themselves into the water to make the 3.3km crossing entirely under their own steam.

The Bay of islands is spectacular.  There’s no point in mincing words, it’s just lovely.  Paihia and Russell face each other across a big chunk of water, Paihia on the South western side and Russell to the North East.  Russell was once the capital of New Zealand before moving to Auckland and eventually ending up in it’s current home, Wellington.

This event was the first of the Ocean Swim series which I have taken part in for the last three years.   A small group of us have been training all the way through the winter in an attempt to hit the season in good shape.  It appears this worked better for some of us than others.

The conditions for the swim could not have been better.  The sun was shining in the blue sky and the water was flat calm – unheard of according to the locals.

My swim started off very well.  I was using a pacing device to keep a regular stroke rate and kept up a good pace for me for the first two km.  Then as I could see the far shore come closer my dreaded nemesis returned.  My leg cramps were uncomfortable but not fully developed.  I could feel my legs were in a ‘pre-cramp’ state that is still very painful but not that solid, full contracted painful that I know will happen if I make a wrong move.  this means my stroke has to slow, so I don’t have to kick as hard so I can manage the situation.  This means I finish the last km at a much slower pace, dropping right back.  In the end I managed 1h38m which is ok.  My average pace has sped up slightly over last years harbour swim and I’m higher in the rankings (although not by much really).   However, it’s difficult to compare different events because the conditions are so critical.

Ultimately though only around 600 people felt able to even attempt this race and some of those didn’t manage to finish, so to get the result I got is still a pretty special achievement that I’m quite proud of.

I’ve included a couple of photos from a sunrise photo shoot I did the day after the swim up in Taupo Bay where we were staying.  It was still, quiet and beautiful.

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