| An Autumn Holiday |

We took the boys on a mini holiday over ANZAC weekend.

We spent a day in Queenstown, watching boats, climbing trees, and buying wine.

We did our first whole-family walk up Mt Iron (the littlest one made it all the way to the top; the biggest faceplanted onto a rock and is now sporting an impressive black eye), scootered alongside Lake Wanaka, and climbed things we thought we couldn’t climb.

We recharged our batteries, ignored much of the outside world, enjoyed the autumn sunshine, and returned home feeling rather relaxed.

It was blissful.

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Easter 2016

Autumn in Central Otago is one of my most favourite times of the year. The Clutha River winds its way through the region, accompanied by lines of tall poplar trees that are slowly shedding their cloaks of green for capes of red and orange. It’s a stunning time of year to visit, and we are so very lucky to have a place to stay that is just over three hour’s drive from Dunedin.

We spent Easter in Wanaka, and it was unseasonably warm (hot, even), but predictably beautiful. We went with no plans, and spending a relaxed few days with my boys and my parents was just what my soul required. I didn’t check the internet once, we paid little heed to the clock, and we had a blast.

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My parents very kindly looked after the boys one morning when the hubs and I decided to climb Roy’s Peak, a 16km round trip just out of Wanaka. We started our climb around 7.30am, claimed the peak before 10am, and enjoyed a morning tea of fruit and cold sausages looking out over a bed of thick clouds. Sadly, this meant the views were obscured from three-quarters of the way up, but under the cloud bank, the views were breathtaking. As we descended, we met hundreds of others beginning their climbs, and even though we’d missed the views, we had to admit that having the peak to ourselves for a while was a good trade-off.

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We celebrated Tiny’s 6th birthday on Easter Monday, with playground visits, a fish-and-chip dinner, and a chocolate sponge made by my mum. He thought it was pretty special having a holiday on his birthday, and my parents thought it was pretty special spending the whole day with their grandson on his birthday.

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Currently: 1 Jan 2016

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  1. Listening: at this very moment, to birds chirping in our front yard, and my husband “trimming things” out there. I should be worried – he is an…..enthusiastic trimmer. Earlier, I was getting my dance on with a global top 50 from Spotify because it was sunny and hot which requires, nay, demands, good tunes played a little louder than normal.
  2. Eating: anything from the barbecue, and delicious things from Chelsea Winter’s latest cookbook.
  3. Drinking: lots of water and a cheeky glass (or two) of Little Goat Creek pinot gris. It’s organic, which is a little bit hipster of me, dontcha think?
  4. Wearing: a denim mini I bought from Gap in London about a week before I found out I was pregnant with my biggest monkey, a floaty top from House o’ G, and no shoes. No shoes. Dunedin is HOT.
  5. Feeling: sleepy, and I don’t even have the excuse of being up ’til midnight last night. I made it to 11pm, but couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. My eyes are a bit dry and scratchy…hayfever, you suck.
  6. Weather:  hot. By Dunedin standards, anyway. The sun has shone all day and the sky has been bluest-blue. I’m sure we’ll be getting rain soon, but meh – I’m enjoying the summer regardless.
  7. Wanting: chocolate. Uh-oh.
  8. Needing: sleep, water, and the motivation to do some form of exercise.
  9. Thinking: about the year ahead, and hoping inspiration strikes to ensure something marvellous happens in 2016.
  10. Enjoying: hanging with all three of my boys, the sunshine, and empty washing baskets. And fresh sheets on the bed.

Joining up with top gal Melissa of The Best Nest xx
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There and Back Again: road tripping in New Zealand

14 days, 2400 kilometres, two calm ferry rides, one horrible virus, one broken contact lens, and countless family memories.

Dunedin to Waverley and back again by car, with various side trips along the way.

What a way to spend the school holidays.

Dunedin – Kurow – Lake Tekapo – Christchurch – Blenheim – Waverley – Wellington – Hanmer Springs – Methven – Dunedin

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Tales of Travel: Fiji

Back in May, Pickle and I had the honour and pleasure of being at a dear friend’s wedding in Fiji. As Tiny had only just started school, we made the difficult decision that he and Tall would stay behind; travelling with just one of my boys was strange and sad, but we were lucky to be travelling with some very good friends who didn’t mind two tag-alongs.

The wedding was held on Plantation Island, which made for a stunning backdrop to our friends’ beautiful, moving ceremony. The bride was carried down the beach by Fijian warriors, and they sealed their 18-year relationship with the sun setting on their heartfelt vows. We sat at tables on the beach and sent lanterns floating off into the sky, and we danced in the sand until the DJ left us in silence. It was so much fun, and such a gorgeous day from start to finish, even though I missed my two biggest boys immensely.

Plantation Island, FijiPlantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, FijiWe only spent two days on Plantation Island, which was enough for Pickle and I; even though our friends were awesome and would have looked after him if I’d asked, I didn’t feel I could go out paddle boarding or exploring by myself. It was also quite expensive to eat and drink, and as there are only a couple of options, the resort had a tendency to charge for everything, knowing we had no choice but to pay for that extra plastic cup to divide up a smoothie. Our accommodation was fine, but the whole resort looked like it needed new paint and a number of repairs (the builders amongst us were horrified at various points!), and their administrative systems were very archaic.

After Plantation Island, we spent four days on Denarau, back on the mainland. This is a man-made island about 20 minutes drive from Nadi Airport, full of resorts and shops aimed at tourists.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu, which was fantastic and well-equipped for children; their swimming pools were well-suited to our group of youngsters, and there were various activities they could get involved in if desired. The rooms were spacious and modern, and the various restaurants were great. Most days we walked to Port Denarau (you can get a bus or a taxi, but we preferred to walk) for breakfast (always at Lulu Bar, Restuarant & Café, who made us things that weren’t on the menu, and did the best smoothies), then spent our afternoons beside the pool. We ordered a few cocktails and enjoyed them poolside, and we had lunch delivered to us while lounging too – we were on holiday, it was cheap, and we were in Fiji! On my last evening, we all booked babysitters and went to Nuku Restaurant & Bar at The Hilton for dinner, which was delicious and a lot of fun.

Denarau, Fiji Denarau, Fiji Denarau, Fiji Denarau, Fiji Denarau, FijiDenarau, Fiji While I was sad to leave the heat and our friends, I was excited to get home and see Tall and Tiny; the holiday was amazing, but it wasn’t the same with half our family missing. Hopefully we’ll get an opportunity to go to Fiji together in the future, as there is so much more of that beautiful country to explore and experiences to be had.

A Spring Wedding

At the end of October, Tall’s little sister married her lovely fiancé in a wonderful ceremony at The Farm. The day we arrived was wet and windy, and Tall’s mother was a little bit stressed…but the wedding day dawned sunny and bright, and the weather held out for a beautiful day. Our biggest was a very proud, and very handsome, page boy, and our littlest looked pretty suave in his shirt and tie.

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School Holidays *GIVEAWAY*

The weather over this first week of the New Zealand school holidays has been pretty crappy, to say the least. We’ve been keeping busy with playdates, museum visits, arts and crafts, and lots of storytime. Current favourites around here include We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Pickle), I Don’t Want to Go to School (Tiny), Pom and Pim (Pickle), Scary Sharks (Tiny), and The Lazy Friend (Tiny and Pickle).

Surviving the holidays when the weather is bad can be pretty daunting, especially when one day is just like the next, so to brighten up your days and perhaps give you a moment’s peace to go to the loo in private, I’ve got one copy each of The Lazy Friend and Ko Wai E Huna Ana to give away!

The Lazy Friend Ko Wai E Huna Ana?All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me one indoor activity you’ve done these holidays. If you don’t have school- or kindy-aged children, tell me one thing you would do to keep your weenies entertained.

For extra entries (with a separate comment for each entry, please):
~ like Tall, Short, Tiny & a Pickle on Facebook
~ like Gecko Press on Facebook
~ share this giveaway on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter

Giveaway closes Friday 18th July at 4pm (NZ time) and is open to residents of New Zealand and Australia only. Two winners (one receiving each book) will be drawn at random and contacted via email.

Tales of Travel: Sunshine Coast

The brief my husband gave me when we decided to book a family holiday: “somewhere sunny and warm, with a beach. That’s it.”

We tossed up between Fiji and the Sunshine Coast (both of which fit the brief), and in the end, it came down to a matter of (a) cost, and (b) flight times. The former is a pretty obvious consideration, but the latter is also important when travelling with little people; when we took Tiny to Rarotonga, we spent a lot of time in transit, and our flight times weren’t the best, and I couldn’t face doing that with two little ones this time around. When we realised we could fly direct to Brisbane and hire a car, the decision was easily made, and our timing couldn’t have been better: they were experiencing the hottest last-week-of-May for 120 years!

Caloundra
Caloundra is such a lovely town, and one we knew nothing about prior to arriving. I loved the esplanade, with its playgrounds, sculptures and boardwalks. Every day we strolled along the coastline, stopping for the boys to have a play in the parks before getting coffee from Coffee Cat (who also make the most amazing gluten-free limey citrus tarts), then hitting Kings Beach. We also spent a lot of time in the pool in our apartment complex, which gave Tiny a huge boost of water confidence.

Caloundra (6)Caloundra (18)Caloundra (37)From Caloundra, we took a day trip (as it’s less than 25 minutes drives) to Australia Zoo, which was wonderful. Both boys loved it, and I really liked that the focus is on Australian animals (although I did love seeing the giraffes, zebras and tigers); walking amongst kangaroos and being able to pat them is pretty special. Tiny thought the crocodiles were awesome, while Pickle was enamoured with the koalas.

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Noosa

We’d heard great things about Noosa, and it didn’t disappoint. Our accomodation was just behind Hastings Street, the main shopping and dining area, and less than five minutes from Main Beach. The beach itself is lovely, with gentle surf and gorgeously-soft sand. We went for daily walks in Noosa National Park, which is just a five minute walk from Main Beach. We passed quiet little bays, headed uphill for beautiful views across the water and strolled through silent forests. We saw a koala bear having a sleep in a tree right beside the path, and watched paddleboarders and surfers enjoying the water. We ate delicious and cheap burgers, and drank mighty-fine coffees at Mali Burger, but the winner of best meal for the entire trip goes to iS Tapas Bar in Noosaville – the most amazing tapas, and a thirst-quenchingly-good sangria.

Noosa (26)Noosa (41)We visited the Eumundi Markets, where the sheer number of stalls is quite overwhelming – there are 550 of them! The food carts all looked amazing, and if I wasn’t limited by having braces, I think I could have eaten from every single one.

On our way back to Brisbane, we cruised down the coast roads, and stopped in Mooloolaba for a stroll along the coast, a play in the parks, and the second-best meal of our trip. I’m glad we chose not to stay there (it is much more built-up than the other towns along the Sunshine Coast, and lacks any real character or charm), but it was a nice place to stop and take a break.

The Sunshine Coast was the perfect spot for a family holiday, and gave us a much-needed dose of vitamin D to see us through the winter months.

Back in the Game

Crikey. It feels like forever since I’ve had the time and mental capacity to blog. I wonder if anyone’s actually still here? Hellooooo?

Between escaping the cold weather for a family holiday to the Sunshine Coast, and organising our kindy centenary celebrations, I feel like I’ve been absent from real life for quite some time. The holiday in the sun with my boys was just what I needed, coming back relaxed and rejuvenated, but it seems a distant memory now as I’ve been spending every waking moment researching, planning, photocopying, meeting and organising.

Caloundra Sunshine Coast Caloundra Sunshine CoastThe centenary celebrations – high tea on an almost non-existant budget – were yesterday, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am that it’s over. Everything turned out amazingly, we had a far greater turn-out than expected, and everyone had a lovely time….but not having to spend my spare time organising everything feels pretty darn good.

Centenary Celebrations St Clair Community Kindergarten High TeaNow, I can concentrate on the big list of things that has been shoved aside for the past few months, and spend more time playing with my boys instead of asking them to hang on just one minute while I finished making a call or sending an email or finding more historical information.

And I might blog a bit more regularly again too, yuh-huh.