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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We are rubbish at using vouchers. We usually leave it until the last possible chance, which is exactly what we did with some vouchers for gardening stuff that we were given last year!

So away we trundled to buy something for the garden. We were thinking maybe a planter for some herbs that we could put on our deck. Well, the planters are quite expensive and it seems like they are a lot of money for what they are. So we decided to use the scrap wood we’ve got at home to make one ourselves.

So we purchase some herbs and spinach and head home to make the planter. As with all my recent woodwork projects they start by looking at what we’ve got and the simplest way of cutting it down to make something. After a quick check I could see that we could make a simple trough style planter with some framing timber and old cedar cladding.

It was all going brilliantly and coming together very nicely when there was an ‘incident’. I didn’t realise at the time, but the guard on my cross-cut electric saw (a high speed circular saw blade) had stuck open and failed to automatically cover the slowing blade from the last cut I made. As I reached to clear my last piece of work from the saw I caught the back of my hand on the slowing saw blade.

My instincts pulled my hand away as I stared at it, cursing my clumsiness and waiting in that time-stands-still kind of way whilst you figure out if this is a sticking plaster or hospital job.

Well it looked pretty messy and slowly started to bleed. I did a quick check, I could still move all my fingers and the rate of bleeding wasn’t fast enough to have hit anything major. Think I had a lucky escape. But it certainly wasn’t a sticking plaster job either, so I headed inside to ask Josie to take me to the walk-in health centre. That’s always a tricky one to broach. I went for “Please don’t panic, but I did just catch my hand on the saw and need to get it seen to”. I’m pretty proud of the fact that in medical situations we are not panickers. We quickly collected up the kids, grabbed some entertainment for them and a book for us and headed out of the door.

By this time I’d managed to get a plaster on it.

The first plaster

The first plaster

After a while we were seen and I was congratulated on my lucky escape from anything serious.  The doctor gave me a local then set about cutting out the straggly bits left by the 2mm wide saw blade.

I was given a comedy ‘Mr Bump’ style bandage to keep pressure on it and protect it from knocks.  It also meant I effectively couldn’t use my hand because it was not to get wet or be subjected to any pressure (to help it heal).


Well the planter looked lovely and over the last few weeks it’s certainly done the job with the herbs we planted flourishing.


I feel proud of our planter and know that it took just a little blood and sweat to build it.

about twenty days later and of the original 4cm deep laceration I’m left with a tiny 2cm white line, surrounded by a little pink skin.  It’s amazing how remarkably well it has healed.  Maybe Mr Bump bandage was there for a reason.

Pauanui Adventures

We recently spent a long weekend at a friends bach in Pauanui which is in the Coromandel.  It was in November so the weather is starting to warm up, although the sea was still a little cool.  This was also mine, Josie’s and the kids first time holding a fishing rod.  Josie and Emily both caught little fishies but they went back to grow into big fishies.

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Everything is Awesome

What do you get when you combine a day of day day care, a box of Lego and two cool kids top hang out with?
Beach to the Future


The Power of Lego

Emily recently had to do some homework which involved delivering a short talk about the amazing things she was going to do with her life. As she is somewhat – let’s say focussed – on tigers, the amazing thing she chose was to look after tigers in the wild.
As she was allowed to use any medium she combined spoken word and video. The video linked here is what we made on a Sunday afternoon and she loved it. We kind of I like it too!

Then there was one

stevie 006 Wow, it’s been a while since I was here.  I’m blaming the encroachment of Facebook and the fact that it provides an alternative place to share photos.  But that’s not much good for people who aren’t on it so I’m going to make an effort to pick the blog back up again.  Probably mainly for photos but we’ll see what else occurs.

At the weekend Emily was pre-occupied on so we had Lucy to ourselves.  We pottered round the house and played some games and with the Lego then decided to get out in the afternoon by walking to Browns Bay.  We set off in the intention of walking the rocks, but the tide was a little higher than we’d thought and there was an on-shore breeze throwing some stiff little waves up over the rocks.  Hmm, not today.  So we took the coastal path instead.

I had a new lens on the camera so I was giving it a trial to see how it handled.  Here’s a few of the better shots from the walk.

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We’ve had the apple peeler/corer/slicer for a while. A bit of a fun toy which has the added benefit that suddenly the kids want to triple their fruit intake.

So faced with a few spuds to peel I decided to remove the slicing part and just use the machine to peel the spuds.

Having shared that on Facebook, a friend suggested removing the handle and attaching a drill instead. This was the first attempt at using the drill, running at the lower of two speed settings that my drill has. The girls wanted apples for pudding, so I’ve reattached the slicing/coring part.

This was the funniest thing the girls had ever seen apparently. I was fairly entertained as well. But I felt that there was more to gain. So we loaded up another apple, switched the drill up to high speed and well… See for yourself!

Mothers Day (NZ)

Last Sunday was New Zealand’s Mothers Day.  Rather than do something a bit crazy like StartUp Weekend (which was on last weekend and was what we did this time last year) we opted instead for a quiet family weekend.

We decided to avoid the inevitably over-crowded cafes and restaurants and take a picnic out to a quiet spot on the cliff, looking out over the sea.  It was idyllic.  We ate lovely nibbles with crackers and the kids spent ages just playing in the trees and fields.  I do wonder if Lucy was some kind of hunter in a former life…

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Monkey Girls

Emily has really developed a talent for the monkey bars.  She really used to struggle with the coordination and strength required, but now she goes at them hard enough to give herself blisters.

Monkey Girls: http://youtu.be/n6bVClK68rk

Rinse and Repeat

So but a few weeks later we were back at Taupo Bay again.  (with a trip to actual Taupo in between, but that’s for another post).

Another lovely stay, totally decompressed, fantastic food, company and fun.

My personal highlight of this trip was the metre long sand Lego man (see photo below!) getting some early morning and late night photography action in and driving most of the way home old skool (i.e. no DVD player running).  Back to games and chatting.  Eye Spy, Word Association, making up words to the Star Wars theme and on.

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