Archive for the ‘Days Out’ Category

A nice walk to Long Bay in the winter sun.  Blue sky, slight breeze, pleasantly warm.  Plus extra children.  Love this crew!

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Some photos from our weekend trip out west to the wild and beautiful Muriwai Beach

Poop pooop, all aboard the Lucy express

Genuine excitement at such a perfectly formed sandcastle

A sandcastle fed dedication and love

A sign that apparently in some languages translates as “Don’t give a fuck about the dunes, just let your progeny destroy them. While you’re at it, kill a few sea birds and empty some barrels of oil into the gannet colony”

She’s dangerous with a frisbee…

Nice shot Emily!

Apparently a seal

You know you’re kids have outgrown the park when they find new and unintended ways to use all the equipment

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The wild west coast beaches were playing pretty nicely over Easter so we heard out to meet up with our lovely friends and do a spot of body boarding in the big waves.  I spent hours in the water with Lucy and then on my own just mucking around in the waist high stuff.  The beach certainly deserves it’s reputation for demanding care and respect.  The power of the water sucking out after a big set of waves is quite incredible.  Even if it’s just around your knees and thighs it’s easy to see how swimmers lacking experience and/or confidence can get into trouble quickly.  We saw the guys in the boat pull a few people out and drop them back at shore.  It’s good to know they are there watching over everyone.

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The title of this post was the exclamation of choice for Lucy as we wandered around the always interesting and beautiful Brick Bay Sculpture Trail.  She clutched her trail guide like it was a very rare pirate’s treasure map, found in an attic behind a faded black and white painting.  For her and Emily it wasn’t just a trail map it was a detective game!  Perhaps the easiest detective game in the world because everything was in order and plain sight.  But a game nonetheless.  Hence the exclamation of ‘GUYS!’ every time she found the next ‘clue’.

I love and celebrate my girls ability to be entertained by art.  We don’t try to explain anything or make it into something it’s not.  It’s just a nice walk in amazing setting looking at cool and unexpected things that someone has wrought out of absolutely nothing into something.  One minute there was no idea and no sculpture.  Then the prototype of an idea formed and the act of bringing it into existence shaped that idea and guided it as the artist rendered this abstraction into this thing we laughingly refer to as ‘the real world’.

We made a coffee table at the weekend and the process is the same – The idea started the form taking shape and the emerging form directed the idea.  I’m not sure I could sell it for tens of thousands, but it’s a nice table made from leftover wood.  There’s a post about it on this page: https://fitzhughs.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/coffee-table/

Talking of tables the food that they serve in the glasshouse restaurant at Brick Bay (that you eat whilst sitting at a table – what do you mean tenuous link?)  is simply fantastic.  That’s all there is to say about that.  Go there – eat it. I cannot bring you the experience through words.  You have to put the Salmon pate in your mouth yourself.

As for the sculpture park here are a few photos of the day.

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it’s fair to say that the value we get from our friends of the zoo passes is fantastic.

Good Friday here in NZ so we decided to head to the zoo and flash the plastic (laminated zoo passes that is) like some back stage animal groupies at a big concert.

The weather was glorious today, just that perfect warmth for t-shirts but without frying.  

The finest moment by far was the unexpected close encounter with a giraffe.  He was eating his meal one micro morsel at a time delivered up by a range of variously excited, nervous, curious and terrified adults and children.  We got in before the veg ran out and the zoo keeper was so very impressed by Josie’s extreme excitability that she pulled her back for a special photo – see below!

The kids followed the holiday activity – a detective trail in which you learn all about eggs.  Topical!




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The girls were given some ‘Adopted Animal’ packs from Auckland Zoo at Christmas (thank you people, you know who you are)…  and included are one adult pass in each pack.

So we decided to head down in the holidays and took the vouchers with us, hopeful that we could reimburse them against annual passes which are awesomely good value.  Well, despite the fact that the zoo systems are not set-up to do this easily they made it happen.  And not in a grumpy, ‘you are making my day awkward’ sort of way, but in a cheery, ‘we think you are lovely and welcome’ kind of way.

With new passes proudly round our necks we spent a smashing afternoon wandering around and got a handful of nice  photos with my newest lens.  If that interests you read on, otherwise skip on to the photos!

Optional Photo Geek Commentary: The Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 is an amazing lens.  I’m so pleased with the image quality – it really looks fantastic on my 700D body.  At less than half the price of the equivalent spec Canon for an amateur it has to be a serious contender.  Sure if you are a pro you’d go for the Canon every time, but this is hard to look past.  I thought it would be an occasional lens, but I’m finding I leave it on more and more.  It was perfect for the zoo for getting nice close ups of the animals and the occasional portrait of the family.  I also relinquished control for a while so some of these are Josie’s photos.

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About an hour and a half north of Auckland, over on the west coast, is the Kaipara harbour.  It’s huge, as natural harbours go and quite beautiful.  With a week off work for school holidays we decided to head up to a friends bach in a little settlement called Whakapirau, right on the edge of the Kaipara harbour.  It’s a tiny place with a handful of buildings, no shops and intermittent mobile reception.  Perfect!

We took a relaxed approach to packing, only taking the barest essentials with us, which did not include my new camera’s charger (a mistake to be cursed throughtout the next two days).  we also forgot colouring pens and proper kids shoes (that’s the last time we let the kids pack their own stuff). It did however include a boot full of crap, mostly food, that we probably could have halved and still had too much.  I didn’t work it out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up taking about 6000 calories per person per day…  as we weren’t Olympic level athletes engaged in a grueling trans-atlantic rowing challenge, this was a little excessive.


One the way up we finally stopped to check out the Utopia cafe.  A distinctive looking cafe on SH1, just after Wellsford.  I was pleased to see that although it was an organic cafe that sold vegan friendly dishes it also sold meat products as well.  It irritates me when people interchange organic with vegetarian.  Two utterly independent concepts.  A couple of sausage sandwiches later we were back on the road (stopping briefly to buy hot chocolate, which we’d also forgotten).

The bach did the job.  We chilled out and we chilled out hard.  No sooner had we unpacked the car, I was crashed on one sofa asleep and Josie was laying in the sun on the floor like a cat, purring away to herself.

The rest of the time was spent eating or playing games.  It was lovely to discover that we could all play Uno together!  We also played Rummikub, Monopoly and Scrabble to varying degrees of success as dictated by the capacity of a five year old to both understand rules and play within them.

We also went to the quite lovely and enjoyable Kauri Museum, which tells the story of these amazing and majestic trees.  It’s really quite sad when you see how much of the country was covered by them and the fact that they were nearly all chopped down just to make shit with.  It’s a perpetual puzzle to me why souvenir clocks made of Kauri wood all use, without fail, disgusting plastic gold coloured numbers in a disaster typeface that immediately throws them back to the 70s where they would be right at home next to an ash tray made of sea shells.  I didn’t take any photos at the museum because my battery had gone by then… I did however manage to get some photos I was happy with before the little charge I had left in my camera was all used up.

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Piha in June

Last time we went to Piha was also June… was that last year?  No, I just looked and it was two years ago.  I think that was the last time we went there.  Check out the video from that day Piha in Sunny June

This time we were on our own, Emily’s choice and thanks to her working very hard at school.  She has a jar of rewards and if she works hard enough and get’s good comments from the teacher, she gets to pick a treat out of the jar.  She created them all and this was one she’d picked out a couple of weeks ago.

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A lot has happened since late March when I last posted.  All of it is for another time though because I’m going to finish off sharing some photos from Mum and Dad’s visit.  This post is the first stage of our Wellington visit, the train trip from Auckland to Wellington on the Scenic Rail Overlander service.  To be honest, although stunningly beautiful, it’s difficult to capture photos that do the views justice.  Hopefully there’s something in these for everyone… trains, mountains, people, gorges, bridges, buildings, stations,  sea and lots more.  The day was very long but everyone lasted amazingly well.  The girls did an inspirational job – no whinging, lots of colouring, lots of iPod watching, lots of standing in the open air carriage.  We arrived in Welly and then just pushed it a bit by walking to the hotel before going out for dinner.  The poor girls were buggered by this point and we barely managed to feed them before they completely crashed and had to be able to taxi them back to hotel to recharge.

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So what IS art?


Well Mum and Dad have been here for the best part of six weeks and a little over a week ago we all said our goodbyes at the airport and they headed back to their garden and cosy home in Norfolk.

But I’ve still got plenty of photos to share of the visit, so I’m going to pick up from just after the Northland trip when we returned from seeing the dolphins and the treaty grounds.

After the excitement of a boat trip and some nation forming history, my three day week work pattern meant I still had a Monday to do something with Mum and Dad whilst the girls all got back to their relative day time activities.

We settled on the art gallery as a good thing to pass the time and headed down to Devonport to get the ferry over and take a stroll up to the gallery.

We had barely stepped into the gallery before we engaged in one of the classic Fitzhugh debates of ‘Well what is art anyway?’  I think I may have been the instigator, but I can’t really remember.  I do know that I shared my opinion about the fact that I can look at a piece and form an opinion on it, that invariably has nothing in common with the little printed placard next to the piece.  That may have been the start.

Well I’m glad to say that they loved the metal band sculpture that moves constantly and occasionally goes ‘bonggggg’ as it occasionally hits the suspended wooden sphere above it.  We all mused over some pieces, walked past others and generally looked for things to impress us.  Probably the most interesting was a white box lined with mirrors, causing the classic infinite reflections of this sort.  An interesting side-effect of the rule preventing shoes from entering was that the box stunk of feet.

We followed the gallery with a trip to Raw Power, a great veggie cafe in Vulcan Lane.  We all had something with deep-fried tofu in it and it all fantastic   A couple of book shops later and we were ready for the ferry home.

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