Category Archives: Holidays in Nature

Home for the Holidays

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I couldn’t resist including a little typewriter love in this post – a packing list for last week’s holiday.  To my old house.  Sounds exciting doesn’t it!?

An odd list of holiday necessities it would seem.  Secateurs?  Boxes of cushions? Actually it wasn’t exactly a holiday.   The purpose of our trip was to make preparations for our eventual return to our property and for the arrival of a special house sitter.  There was lots of work to do.

But there were lots of sweet surprises to be had too.  Like the abundance of flowers in my garden despite the fact that it’s winter.   My resourceful preschooler set about collecting them (edible ones only) to make various exotic teas.  (Nasturtium or calendula tea, anyone?) I showed her the delightful red pineapple sage flowers and hinted about their sweet nectar contents.  Needless to say Miss L kept herself occupied with those for a long while.

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Our old vintage rocking horse became a surrogate pet for the week.  ‘She’ was lavished with various garden treats including nasturtium leaves and flowers, of which we have an abundance.  Thanks to my nasturium planting method of throwing handfuls of seeds onto the general designated area and hoping they will eventually germinate.  And of course now they self-seed quite happily.  This could be a problem. But I’ve noticed that as the seeds are too large to be dispersed by wind (they’re about pea size) they tend to fall close to the parent plant rather than spreading all over the garden.  Which is very good of the nasturtium.  (In contrast to the lemon balm which I mistakingly planted in a front garden bed and now discover popping up anywhere there’s a bit of soil.)

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While Miss L was busy with plants and animals I found myself taking pseudo-holiday snaps in between wiping out the kitchen cupboards, unpacking boxes and blindly assembling the timber bunks which I bought second-hand on ebay.  ‘Blindly’ refers to the fact that the bunks came minus instructions…so it was a joyful exercise.  As you can imagine.  (And thank you, Mum, for your amazing dedication, perseverance, and skill.)

The sunny calendulas below were shot in a hurry – those little feet were  getting into a suitable position for flower-picking.  I had to be quick!

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This bright but delicate fungus was growing on a timber log that informally edges the front garden.  It was quite tiny.  But look at that colour!  Nature is incredible, isn’t it?

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And this beauty was  in a pot amongst the other orchids that were given to me by my mother-in-law a few years ago.  Living in absolute neglect.  What a perfect welcoming gift from my home itself.

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Filed under Growing the Garden, Holidays in Nature

Lovely New Zealand

Hi again!  I’ve had a little break.  A lovely holiday in gorgeous New Zealand, with husband, my mum and the kids!  We spent a couple of weeks traversing the North Island and experiencing some delightful parts of this breath-taking place.  The last time I visited New Zealand was on my honeymoon.  With the addition of two young children this was quite a different trip – riding in a slow, bumpy, motorhome…travelling only a couple of hours each day interspersed with nappy changes, breastfeeding, cleaning mess…ensuring everyone was donned with sunscreen, hat, socks, shoes and clean undies before exiting the motorhome (myself included)…general entertaining of kids and keeping the peace.  Yes…quite different.  I think I returned far more exhausted than on my honeymoon, despite the fact that I covered more ground and scaled more heights during the latter.

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But we had an amazing trip – well worth the effort.  Just like pushing your body to its limits to reach the mountain summit and be rewarded by an otherwise unobtainable view.  We did literally push our bodies to their full capacity of exertion too.  Not that we tackled any super treks…but each time we did a walk we had to carry the kids most of the way.  Luckily my 12kg baby was in a sling.  Our 16kg preschooler was not!  And she insisted on being carried quite a bit of the time….mostly by Daddy.  But when baby was asleep and having a free ride with Daddy one time guess who carried Miss L for an hour of ups and downs, twists and turns, through a New Zealand forest?!

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I’m not complaining though.  This was a perfect opportunity to teach our kids about respecting nature and a beautiful foreign land whilst experiencing it ourselves.  Here are some of the special places that we visited (all in the North Island):

Driving Creek Railway, Coramandel Town

View from the train

View from the railway lookout

Cathedral Cove, The Coramandels

Gemstone Bay, Cathedral Cove Walk

Cathedral Cove

Maungatautari Ecological Island, Waipa

Maungatautari Ecological Island - tree ferns

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Hobbiton, Mattamatta (I know …it’s not exactly wilderness…but a must see for LOTR/Hobbit fans and a living gallery of a wonderful way of life…with real and beautiful productive gardens)!

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Hobbiton - Bilbo's tree on horizon

Karangahake Gorge

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Te Puia, Rotorua

Pohutu Geyser

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You might notice in a few of the photos that the countryside is looking quite dry.  That’s because New Zealand’s north island is currently experiencing a severe drought – its worst in decades apparently.  You need to look at the bits of the pic’s that have no trees and mostly grass (and not the irrigated part of the Hobbiton photos)!  Compare the lush green of the Hobbiton garden to the non-Hobbiton dry paddocks in the background.  The weather was also unusually warm, which is typical since I’d packed loads of cold-weather clothes – thermals, beanies, scarves, woollen socks, Goretex jackets – all of which we had no use for!  Coupled with the absence of rain (this is New Zealand we’re talking) it was a little disconcerting.  Coupled with the fact that we’d just left Australia in pouring rain (with flooding occurring all over the place yet again) wearing winter clothes which were promptly removed on arrival in Aukland…it was rather worrying.

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Anyway, fortunately New Zealand was still beautiful with shades of brown blanketing the countryside and the lack of rain made sight-seeing with kids much easier.   Although very tired, I came home feeling mentally refreshed.

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I get a quiet thrill from immersing myself in nature, especially when it’s as amazing as the kiwi country.  And it reminds me of what we have to lose if we as a species take more than what we were allocated in the first place.  It reminds me that nature is incredibly powerful and will carry on, without humans.  It reminds me that if we want nature to continue to provide for us we need to give it some credit for its role in our world.

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Summer Holiday

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My family of four spent a week camping on the shores of Myall Lake a couple of weeks ago. What a special and ideal place to holiday with young kids! We had a prime camping spot just metres from a little lakeside beach (with white sand!!) and we were welcomed within minutes of arriving by some friendly resident wildlife. It was not surprising that the animals were so keen to make our acquaintance…after we ate our first meal! We quickly became very familiar with several cheeky black ducks, a large nonchalant goanna, some noisy noisy miners and the tamest blue-faced honeyeaters I’ve ever encountered.

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The lake was a perfect swimming spot for young kids, being only waist high, very calm and brackish (so not inclined to sting and clear the sinuses like the salt water at the beach, but also not inclined to be smelly and murky, like some freshwater lakes) and no nasties like sharks (apparently…though unless the water is only ankle high and miles upstream from the ocean I always imagine there might be that one adventurous shark waiting to catch me unawares). My four-year-old daughter increased her swimming confidence dramatically over one week because of no fear and basically not getting out of the water much at all. Which worked well with those recent hot days that the whole of Australia experienced.

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I always enjoy a good camping trip. It awakens some very fond childhood memories. It reminds me that there are certain things we have or do in life that really aren’t that important…and others that are super important and special (like just hanging out with my family). It helps me connect with nature and the outdoors. And it gives me a chance to slacken off a bit with housework…though I was slightly uncomfortable with my husband’s decision that feet didn’t require de-sanding before entering the annexe, and consequently found myself sweeping it out several times a day.

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We will definitely be returning to this camping spot…for more swimming, kayaking, sailing, sandcastle constructing, eating yummy camp food, sitting back watching nature, making new friends, and hopefully reuniting with the friends (animals included) we made this summer.

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Do you like to go camping? Or do you loathe it?! Where is your fave camping spot? Maybe you haven’t been since you were a kid. I’d love to hear your camping stories.

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January 21, 2013 · 1:13 am