Sunday, 22 November 2009

The New House

Yes, we know it's been a long time since we updated the blog. So what, we've been busy and lazy all at the same time. Anyway, we've bought a house over here - thought we might aswell, stop paying someone elses mortgage and get our own debt!

Here's some pics - it's all work in progress of course.

The washing line (wow!). Jody's replaced the line itself, which was a project which she was rightly proud to complete successfully

This is the location the veggie plot (before we attacked it with spades and forks and aggression)

The veggie plot all ready to be planted in.

The deck - it was a nice black colour when we moved in due to years of neglect. A water blasting and a fresh coat of deck protector has given it a new lease of life.


Other end of the deck

The kitchen - needs a complete overhall, but will do for now.

The living room - it's not actually cold, Jody's just got a fever which is likely to turn in to chicken pox!

Kitchen and dining room, and my mirror which has come with me to every house I've lived in since I was about 15.

Again, it's not that cold - poor Jody.

Our herb planters - ex wine barrels. I'm guessing this one stored red wine?

That's it for now, my mum gets here this Tuesday for just over two weeks. Really looking forward to seeing her and my Uncle Martin and Aunty Sandra. Kinda weird to think we haven't seen them for nearly 18months. Probably not so bad due to Skype being so good these days! Hopefully Jody doesn't develop chicken pox so she can come away with us all as I show my mum this beautiful country.
inabit ya'll.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

First snow trip of the season

So, been a while again since our last blog. Ah well, this one's interesting.

We took a couple of days off this week so we could spend a long weekend down at the snow, at Mt. Ruapehu (pronounced Roo-a-pay-hoo) ( Had some brilliant weather for three days, blue skies, good snow, not too cold.

The last afternoon, after lunch, we'd decided we were going to hike up the mountain from the top of the highest lift to the volcanic crater. It's about a 400m vertical climb, estimated to take betwee 1.5 and 2 hours. The weather was pretty fine, so we went ahead and started climbing.

At our first stop, after about 30 mins, we discovered it was going to be harder than it looked. We were both feeling the burn already, and less than a third of the distance was covered. There were footholes from previous hikers that day, which made it a lot easier than what it would have been if it was an untracked route.

Rest number two was about two thirds the way up, again, feeling more burn in the legs! By now a weather front was moving in and the wind was picking up. The footholes were quickly being filled up by snow being blown in to them. We could still find and use them, but it was getting a little harder to ascend. The final quarter of the hike was the hardest. The wind was blowing hard now, meaning we were having to stop and crouch to avoid the snow being blown in to our faces and blowing us off balance (not helped by the snowboards on our backs acting like a sail!). It was also a little tougher to find the footholes, and we mostly had to make our own, digging our boots in to the 40degree slope.

We made it to the top eventually, I got there about 5minutes ahead of Jody. I celebrated my achievement by making some yellow snow, which I'd been holding for nearly 1.5hours. The top was the only spot where I was out of site for long enough!

The view was awesome, something we'll remember for a long time. It's our first experience of a volcanic crater, and to then snowboard down the side of the volcano, in nice powder made it all the more worth it!

We'll add some photo's up here when I find time, but for the time being, enjoy the videos.




Sunday, 10 May 2009

A blog from Jody at last!!

OK so first I have to say sorry, I have meant to write a blog for ages and just haven't got round to it. Maybe because I'm having too much fun or because I'm lazy - most likely a mixture of both.
So sorry.
News Flash!!! I'm in England 29th May until 18th June, so if you want to meet up book yourself in now. In case I don't blog again soon- Congrats to Lou and Darrel who will tie the knot on the 6th of June

Well I know James has updated you a little but he did miss out a major event in our New Zealand lives, and that is my Parents came to visit for a month, Yay!!! Hopefully I can persuade James to put up some photos so if there are photos, great, if not it's all James' fault. I put the photos in my self. Yay for me!

Hopefully Mum and Dad had a great time, I did, other than I was a little bit ill on one of our mini breaks. I'll give you a run down on the activities that we did together and you can see the fun you'll have if you visit us. We like to call ourselves 'Club JJ'

Well, when they first arrived I was working so I met them at the top of the drive where they were sitting outside a little cafe having a coffee in the sun. Me and the kids welcomed them and showed them round the house and facilities and caught up a little, before I left them so they could rest.

I have to say having anyone to stay is exciting and I was like a little kid cause it was my Mum and Dad.
That weekend we went to a bustling farmers market in a very pretty town north of Auckland, that is touristy, called Matakana. On the way we discovered Dad's secret obsession - he likes to take photos of sign posts, which over the holiday progressed to car number plates.
We had lunch there and mum and dad seem to be coping really well with the jet lag.

In the afternoon we drove a little further to a beautiful beach, Omaha, where they are currently building lots of Bachs (holiday homes) by the beach. James loves these buildings as no two are the same and some are very cool. My Dad on the other hand didn't like them at all, and called them boxes. It was an interesting conflict!

We sat on the beach and we all swam in the sea (well Dad didn't exactly swim more of a wade) Mum and me were convinced that if we just floated a while the waves would eventually bring us in. So that's what we did, the experiment back fired a little as when we decided to see how close we were and realised we further out and could no longer touch the bottom. It was a great day which ended in taking Dad the lobster home (burn burn burn)

Back to work for me but due to really cool bosses I was able to meet up with Mum and Dad in the week at the zoo with the kids in tow, and we even had a bbq in the evening with my bosses and their parents, plus they lent Mum and Dad their car. Mum and Dad did lots of exploring as well and went to lots of beaches and I think Mum managed to swim in the sea everyday and did lots of walking.
Now luckily while Mum and Dad were here there were two bank holidays and James and me took a few days off as well and we all decided to go somewhere new- the Bay of Islands. It is further north so everything should be even warmer and it was.

We did lots of things: we went Kayaking down a mangrove river to a waterfall with a guide which was beautiful (this is where I felt ill so James and me had a two person kayak and he did most of the paddling - I'm a lucky girl). We also went dolphin watching for a day on a sailing boat and swam from the boat to an island. Mum and me on another occasion decided when we were swimming at a beach (while Dad was snoozing and James was reading (Boring)) that it might be quite interesting to see if we could swim to an island so we set off . We realised half across that there was quite a current as we were aiming at various markers (boats and buoys) and getting dragged slightly around, but we made it safe and sound after a few incidents with sea weed (agh). The island was uninhabited so we explored a little (but with bare feet it wasn't ideal) and we found a little bird nest (can't remember what type - you'll have to ask Mum) just in amongst the rocks. On the swim back we noticed a figure on the rocks in the distance - James! apparently he was worried, and we shouldn't just swim off without telling anyone blah blah... I think he was just jealous that he didn't get to go on the adventure. Dad on the other hand said he had been worrying but as we found him exactly where we left him you have to wonder how worried he was and whether if James hadn't mentioned it he would have even noticed we had gone.

On the way home we stopped at Whangarei and went to a massive waterfall and along a tree top kauri tree walk (massive trees). It was a great break, fantastic to go somewhere new too.

Back to work for the JJ's. Mum and Dad continue to explore the north island and went to Hobbiton and glow worm caves. We met them on the weekend at Hamilton Gardens and introduced them to Kieran and Nic in Cambridge. We left them in Cambridge with a list of places they could visit and headed back to Auckland and work.

For the 2nd bank holiday we met them on the Coromandel peninsula (one of our favourite places in NZ) at Hahei. We had a lovely few days there going on walks, swimming in the sea - this time when Mum and me went on an adventure James was keeping an eye on us and as quick as a flash he was in the water with us. We all swam (minus Dad - snoozing on the beach) around an out crop of rocks to another bay and clambered up onto a rock island and jumped off (Mum couldn't climb up without losing her bikini top, it was quite funny). We also had fish and chips on the beach which just has to be done anywhere in the world.
Photos of us post chips We headed home in convoy and that was pretty much it for our month with Mum and Dad.
It was so great having them here. I'm so glad they came and now they know a bit about my life here, makes me feel more settled and I now have lovely memories of them in New Zealand. I know James will love the feeling of having his family here too when they come.
Oh it's the first holiday I have had with my Mum AND Dad since I was five which also made it super cool.


Monday, 30 March 2009

I canny wait pet!

Does this make anyone else wish they were 5 years young again? Mum, hope you haven't thrown my book out! Pretty sure I used to have nightmares about it though, hmmmm, maybe not so excited anymore........

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Quick update

Eh up everyone

Told you I probably wouldn't keep up with updating the blog regularly. Suppose it shows how well we've settled here that we don't rush to the computer to let everyone know what we did today. We're taking for granted the fact that we get to go surfing most weekends on amazing beaches, and that we're constantly surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Anyway, quick sumamry of what we've done over the last month:

-Surfing, getting better, but I've just got an ear infection from 'cleaning' my ear too much and not letting the wax protect my ear. Hurts like hell at the moment.

-Went to see Billy Connolly a couple of weeks ago at the Vector Arena. He was brilliant, as expected!

-Went to see 'La Clique' ( friday, as part of the Auckland Festival. This was awesome, and highly recommended if any of you ever get the chance in your neck of the woods. It won awards at the Edinburgh Festival last year, and is now touring round worldwide festivals. It'd basically a variety of acts, in a small intimate tent, some burlesque, music, magic, trapeze, etc. Really fun atmosphere, only about 200 people in the audience, etc.

-Went across to Waiheke Island to see an outdoor sculpture exhibition dotted along its coast. Nice walk, new view of Auckland City from their, art descriptions doesn't impress me at all when artisit try to make their creations more than whet they are - just a lump of material that can sometimes look cool. Get a real job!!!

-Ran a relay round Lake Taupo in a team of 15 people, covered 160km between us. Our legs were at 4am and 5am, so running in the pitch black was strange indeed, like sensory depravation I suppose.

-Got rid of a huge spider in the bedroom, no poisonous spiders here, but all the same, BIG!

-Laughed a lot at these videos! Quite possibly one of the funniest thigs I've ever seen. Time to get a dog me thinks!!

So, that was something like the last month, maybe not in that order?!

Take care ya'll


PS-oh yeah, there was Jody's birthday too - oops!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Is it warm in here or what?

Bloomin nora, it's been pretty damn muggy over here recently. We've had the fan on pretty much all the time at home. We've been assurd this isn't totally normal conditions. The night of 22 degrees and 100% humidity wasn't much fun a few days ago!

To the beach again me thinks.


Thursday, 5 February 2009

So, New Year.......(pics added!)

This one will be a bit more brief, due to the fact I'm writing it at work, and that I've been putting it off cause I'm lazy. So, I might start posting more frequent, shorter blogs from now on. Or I might just keep doing the same, who knows - not me for sure.

So I&D came back from Oz, we stayed at ours for one night then set off to the Coromandel for the few days over new years. Stayed at a place called Cooks Beach on a campsite. The place was packed, loads of different ages milling around the place. Cooks Beach is a small residential place really, mostly holiday homes and a campsite and a small shop. The campsite atmosphere was really nice; the kids watched films projected on a sheet draped between the climbing frame, whilst the adults got merry around their tent villages.

Anyway, NYE afternoon we walked along a coastal path to two different beach coves. The first, Stingray Bay to do some snorkelling, the second, Cathedral Cove, to do some sun bathing and swimming. The snorkelling was quite surreal due to an airplane acrobatics team doing either a show or rehearsing in the sky above us. So, we' take a break from peering at the crayfish hiding under the rocks to watch planes doing loop the loops - sweet! We spent NYE night on the beach, drinking Summer Ale and sparkling Boysenberry wine, watching kids launching fireworks out of their hands in to the sea. Quite impressive, if not a little dangerous.

New Years Day we woke reasonably early, had a bacon butty, and went to the beach - had a swim, tried to lay in the sun but it was too hot, so sat in the tree shade. In the afternoon we drove to Hot Water Beach, which turned out to be packed!! At low tide you can dig a shallow pit near to a natural hot spring, then bake in the pool hoping for a bit of sea water to come along to cool it down. It was worth the journey though, as some dolphins (about 4 of them) turned up and mingled with the swimmers in the surf, and one of the dolphins surfed a wave in, which looked ace!

We drove back to Auckland on the 2nd, so I&D could get their flight back to blighty that night. Send off was fish and chips with a summer ale, followed by one last hot tub, before dropping them off for their short trip back home.

So that was New Years, uber brief version! Big thanks to Iain and Donna for coming out to spend the holiday season with us. Hopefully they've bigged up NZ to everyone else so we get more visitors (maybe some permanent?).

I'll try to 'blog' more often now, but I'm not promising owt!



Monday, 5 January 2009

Visitors and our first NZ Christmas

So, Christmas in the sun was weird, in a very unfamiliar way. We weren’t expecting to feel Christmassy at all, but when the day arrived and it felt like just any other day, then that was a bit strange. Playing tennis and going for a swim did little to change the surrealism.

The lead up to Christmas was great, travelling around with Iain and Donna who arrived from blighty on holiday on the 17th. We spent a few days showing them the local area, mountain biking and surfing before setting off on a mini camping expedition down the north island, en route to Wellington for them to catch their flight to Melbourne on Xmas eve. First stop was Rotorua, via a scheduled tea stop at Kieran and Nic’s in Cambridge. First on the itinerary in Roto-vegas (as the Kiwi’s like to call it) was luging. This involved riding a cable car to the top of a big hill overlooking the lake, and riding down it on a go-kart, powered only by gravity, over and over again. Speed was experienced, stinky helmets were worn, and much fun was had. We then made our way to the campsite to erect our tent for the first nights camping.

Priorities - straight into the hot tub, no messing about.

Suitably nerdy head gear for a couple of extreme nerds!

Iain, doing his thing

Now, for those of you who don’t know, Rotorua is a highly thermal area as the earths crust is relatively thin there. We therefore had the option of pitching our tent on a ‘warm’ section of the site, which we obviously did! We also partook in the complimentary hot pools on site, giving Iain the opportunity to parade his skimpy bathing trunks (which turned slightly transparent when wetted!). We walked in to town, passing on the way some thermal ponds which allowed for some cool photos to be taken with the setting sun as backdrop. The faint smell of sulphur is never far away in thermal areas such as these. So the temptation to ask 'have you farted' every few minutes never grows tiresome, well not for me and Iain anyway!

You can stick them 'Gorillas In The Mist' comments right up your jacksy!

"Have you farted?"

A steamy thermal pond in Rotorua, and the sun

Upon waking the next morning we realized our air bed had decided to lose most of its air, placing me and Jody on the hot ground, slowly baking us in our sleep. A pretty strange start to the day. So, it was onwards to Napier, via Taupo for breakfast by the lake, for the next stage. We’d arranged to do a cycling winery tour in Napier that afternoon, so were quite excited at the prospect of getting some free wine. On getting to the cycle hire place we were offered tandems, which we obviously accepted, again! The tour itself was brilliant, using a map provided by the hire place we navigated our way to three vineyards and one chocolate makers. We could have done more, but we’d arrived late and the vineyards closed at 5:30pm for tasting (booo!). The scenery and the wineries were amazing, like something out of Tuscany, and the wines we even better (we returned the next morning to buy several bottles from two of the vineyards).

Stopped off at Huka Falls (, just outside Taupo, for the view of the bottom of the falls (over my shoulder)

Leaving one winery, ready for the next one!

Extreme wine tasting!!

Another interesting fact for those not in the know, Napier was flatten by and earthquake and the resultant fires in 1931. The rebuilding of the city was undertaken during the international Art Deco movement, and many of the architects and town planners used this influence to design the new city (,_New_Zealand). So, we spent the warm evening wandering around the centre, and eating burgers at an American surf style restaurant.

Walking from our campsite to Napier centre, in search of food and fine beverages, along the palm tree lined road

A fine example of the art deco buildings - is it better than the Wakefield Express Building? Only just!

A cool colourful, colour changing, fountain

The Church

Even the pharmacy got in on the act

The next day was the long leg to Wellington (about a 4 hour drive). The drive itself was very picturesque and we passed several sites where they filmed Lord of the Rings (Isenard, Rivendale, etc) ( Once we arrived in Wellington we pitched our tent, again, then caught the bus in to the city as we all fancied a drink. We’d been recommended a good bar called the ‘Tasting Room’ for good grub and beer. We weren’t disappointed. It was a Montieths (our new favourite brewers - establishment, and we sampled their ales to our delight. We also had one of the best starter platters any of us have ever had, followed up by good hearty food. The bar had a nice location in a vibrant yet relaxed area of town. Basically, if any of you find yourself in Wellington, get yourselves to this place. Afterwards we had a walk around the Wellington harbour front (which has some nice buildings and the national museum, Te Papa), and tried the climbing wall.

Pathetic attempts

Yes, I was the only one to reach the top, of course

I'm gonna touch it, just watch me!

She had to look didn't she?!

I liked this hotel on the harbour front, another art deco piece

The next day (Xmas eve) we woke to rain, the first time it had rained in about 10 days. We then remembered why camping in England is rubbish most of the time. Today was Iain and Donna’s flight to Melbourne, and also our 7 hour drive to Cambridge back to Kieran’s. So, we dropped I and D at Te Papa to pass the time before their flight to Melbourne, and set off on the 7 hour drive to Cambridge.

Jody's going to write the next bit, see if you can tell the difference!?




Ok it's up to me to take it from here.

James and and me have only ever had one Christmas together before- our first in the french Alps (due to our parents living so far apart and neither wanting to miss out being with our own parents when we were back in England) so this was to be a new experience together. Very kindly without ever meeting us, Nics family had asked us to join them for their family get together on Christmas day in Cambridge. So after our journey from Wellington we arrived at Ki and Nic's in the evening and went to the big house to meet Nic's family. We had a lovely evening, seafood and all.

We woke up on Christmas morning and exchanged presents together in bed, that was about as Christmassy as i felt all day. The weather was light, it just didn't feel right, and was very warm - and not in a 'cosy open fire and lots of cooking' kind of way. It felt quite alien, which was positive really as it felt so unchristmassy that I didn't feel many bangs of homesickness that I was worried I would feel at the time of year which I always spent with my family. As James said we played tennis (I played surprising well for me) and went swimming. Then we spent lunch and the rest of the day with Nic's family, which was very strange. They were very welcoming and friendly but it did feel weird to watch other people opening their presents and have no presents at all, just being an onlooker of someone else's Christmas.
The dinner was delicious - a proper turkey dinner with some wonderful desserts and though the whole day had been strange we did enjoy ourselves and met some real characters.

Two days after Christmas I skyped home, when Mum and Dad were holding a Birthday party for my Grandad and they all passed me round on the laptop and I got to speak to all my aunt's, uncle's and cousins as well as my parents and grandparents. Being passed around and seeing the open fire and the Christmas tree, and with the darkness in the windows outside, I felt more Christmas spirit than before, and had that warm feeling inside that had been missing up until then, and I spent a lovely few hours with them.

All I can say I'm really glad that I have skype. It has made a big difference, the distance seems so much smaller and I'm sure I'm talking to my parents more than when I lived in England and we're 'seeing' each other more regulary. So anyone who hasn't got it yet - go on and get it.



Those poor dogs, like they get to choose to look like that!

Iain and Donna's return to NZ and New Year to come..................