Monday, 21 December 2015

It's beginning to feel a lot like a kiwi Christmas

I love having a summer Christmas in New Zealand.
It's so completely different to those I grew up with in wet, grey, and not often snowy on Dec.25th, north-west England.

December arrives all too quickly (I'm not going to be the 105th person to say "where has the year gone?" but.....) it brings christmas tunes,  stocking fillers on the end of every shop aisle, and new swimming togs, jandals and beach towels.

Christmas in New Zealand IS Christmas in the summertime.

Everyone prepares not only for a day of gift giving, eating and merriment - but the following days which will quickly transmogrify into SUMMER HOLIDAYS!

Boats and trailers are washed and prepared for action, tents are purchased or found in the back of the garage, last year's body boards are dusted off, and those not heading away put up the large back yard paddling pool and maybe a gazebo or two.

And everyone makes sure enough supplies are bought in ready for the silly season. Beverages, BBQ necessities, ice blocks, chilly bins, and sunblock.

Christmas festivities creep along throughout the month. Work parties and get togethers are squeezed in between Santa parades, attending end of school performances, late night's out shopping, and late night's in wrapping presents.

Here in Kiwi Good Life land we have the benefit of several hundred live Christmas trees in our garden. We still have a couple of artificial trees we put up indoors but this year we also decorated one of our outdoor trees (which have grown at an amazing rate since they were planted as twigs just a little over two years ago!).

The home made advent calendar is producing daily delights and chocolates - and seconding as a line to display our christmas cards on.

A few gifts have crept in under the tree. Gratefully received from work suppliers or clients.

And the wondrous #NZSecretSanta took place over in the land of Twitter. I was delighted to receive my amazing hand made gift from my anonymous santa. It sits with pride of place on my desk as I type.

A few nights ago we did our regular tour around some of the local Christmas illuminations; brightly lit, colourful houses, churches and business, all decked up for the season with an array of wondrous lights.

Yesterday we spent the day over in the beautiful, relaxing, coastal town of Raglan. Soaking up some sunshine, coffee and great Raglan vibes.

The Kiwi Christmas trees, the blazing pohutukawas, stood out against the blue waters of the sky and sea and it certainly is....   "beginning to feel a lot like Christmas" :)

I hope you all get a little something from Santa that brings a smile to your face and that you get to share the special time with close family and friends that are dear to you.

Happy Christmas!

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Friday, 18 December 2015

All is still good!


Just realised it was October when I last blogged! Apologies but hopefully anyone that's really interested in the Kiwi Good Life will have been keeping up with daily ins and outs/ ups and downs - via the Instagram account. If you don't follow it - pop on over there now!

So life is......
                          ......still good

The Kiwi Good Life continues at pace.

We work pretty hard during the week, and sometimes evenings and weekends too!
And when we're not working we settle into doing 'jobs' and chores around our little house and lifestyle block.
And when we are not working or 'jobbing' we go out and play!
Or stay home and just enjoy what we have here - so yep, pretty good at the #KiwiGoodLife

Here's a super quick catch up on a few things that have been going on - or just caught my eye and were 'snapped' at the time, such as this first one.....

The delicious Meer Cat investigating in the grapefruit tree (which is ENORMOUS!)

Beer. Trying out a local taphouse, called... The Local Taphouse
If you visit Hamilton and like beer you should go there :)

We had to travel through Matamata so paid a visit to the Hobbiton themed iSite building there
Isn't it just so cute?!

I can never have too much of this place - the wonderful Hamilton Gardens
This is the Italian Garden, one of my favourites

Candy floss at the Gardens!

At Hobbiton Movie Set. Working. Honestly. 

Kiwi Good Life pumpkins (grown by us) carved for Halloween
I enjoyed a high tea at Zealong Tea nr Hamilton - in the name of work (it's a pretty hard life)
Hard at work - yes really - I get paid to do this!
More work - and I got driven to a photoshoot location in a limo
We had a lovely sunny day out at the races
Visited Bullswool Farm and met some cool animals

Met up with some cool #LoveTheTron people 

Picked up my parents from the airport (visiting from the UK)

Enjoyed more fires - and drinks - and food

Attended a beautiful summer wedding in Turangi of our friends, Phil & Amy

Happy wedding visitors

And that more or less brings us up to December and I WILL get another post on very soon

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Friday, 16 October 2015

A day out loving the Tron

Parents throughout New Zealand will all be well aware that we've just started school term 4 - which meant the last fortnight has been that time dreaded and feared by some, welcomed and blissfully enjoyed by others.... School Holidays!

For the Kiwi Annisons the holidays are a pretty cruisey time now we only have one of our three kids actually at school, and somehow, sometime, our youngest has morphed into a 13 year old. I'm not sure when that happened. It seems like only last year I was occupying her with playdough or PVA and bucketloads of glitter. Maybe it was.

As I'm fortunate to be in the very lucky position of being a self-employed consultant, often working from home, I'm now able to be around for much of the holidays. Flexibility is the key word for us. One day a hair appointment for Miss13 saw me slaving over a hot laptop in the salon while she enjoyed some pampering time. The hubbie, who's also self employed, had some suitable tasks he was able to 'employ' our daughter for during a couple of days - and - over the course of two weeks the dreaded Bedroom Tidy Up Task was finally completed. Phew.

So on the final day of the school holidays, with uniform and school bag checked and ready for action the next day, the sun obligingly came out and we knew we needed to get out and enjoy it.

What to do? Where to go? How should we occupy ourselves?

It was a no-brainer really. We would have a day out in our neighbourhood - the wonderfully diverse, but often disregarded, city of Hamilton. We would be tourists in our own town.

Hamilton is New Zealand's fourth most populated city but also its largest inland city. While not being within sight of the stunning NZ coastline it does sit alongside the mighty Waikato River and in the centre of one of the richest agricultural areas in the world. It is without a doubt a metropolitan city. A university city. A historic city. It has a great, and diverse, culture with some tremendous cafes, bars and restaurants; a growing art, music and theatre scene; great (and world famous) events; amazing open spaces with surely the best public gardens in the world; and some darn fine shops and businesses. And some pretty awesome people.

So it's pretty cool that we live right on its doorstep and get to enjoy all these delights regularly. But sometimes it's nice to remember what you have and go out and partake in a day when you purely #LoveTheTron.

The day was off to a great start as we savoured a scrummy breakfast in Joes Garage (Ward Street) after winning a voucher for a free feed! Nice one :-)

A riverside walk along the Waikato River
We meandered along the path and did a circuit from Ferrybank, crossing at Claudelands bridge and back through Memorial Park to Bridge Street bridge

Watching rowers go past and then a slower, more relaxed trip by a family of ducks

The hubbie

One of our favourite outdoor spots in Hamilton - the Potter Children Garden/ Parana Park
You're never too old!

Spot the child!

 Apparently they cannot just "smile for the camera"

Memorial Gardens - looking darn good

Outside the museum - we visit fairly regularly - always something new to see

 Then we walked along a slightly more modern Victoria Street, visited our favourite book shop Browsers and then partook of a cool beverage, or two, in a local hostelry 

Before hopping in the car to journey home, stopping in Hamilton East at our new favourite ice cream shop, Duck Island Ice Cream

Amazing Jersey milk ice cream with unique flavours - I enjoyed every last drop of my blueberry jam and toast 

A relaxing day, thoroughly enjoyed every minute and every place we took in. And there was a lot that we didn't even touch; the zoo, the Gardens, the lake, the arboretum....
Seriously, why would we not #LoveTheTron ?

Note: if you're wondering about the hashtag - just have a quick look on Twitter, it's an amazing movement, started and run by ?? (seriously.. they are famously anonymous) and rapidly adopted by many Hamiltonians and visitors who agree that it's actually quite easy to live it up in Hamilton. 

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Thursday, 8 October 2015

A slowly expanding house

It's been a while since I did an update on the house renovations but I can assure you we've certainly not been sitting idle since the last house post in July: a facelift for our kiwi cottage

Although funds don't currently allow us to just get the new kitchen extension up and in 'just like that' we did decide that now we have our resource consent and are all set to go.... we should make a start on the first stage.

So at the end of the house where the extension is going (and as you can see on the pics below - the only side of the house we've not re-clad because of this reason) the land has been scraped back to clear the way. This kind of gives a guide as to how big the room will be too.

Our little two bedroom cottage is currently only about 100m2 and we're adding on another 35m2 with a dining kitchen across the end.

This will allow us to reclaim the space in middle of the house where the current (and very small) kitchen is, and move the dining table out of the current living room - the house will still be cosy and comfortable with just the right balance of living area and a fabulous new space for the kitchen diner opening out onto the back garden. I cannot wait to see it for real - not just in my head!!

The first job, which required the building inspector to sign off, was to mark out where the house piles are going and dig 15 very large holes!

This involved lots of string, some spray paint,  a tape measure, and a laser thing (the husband will roll his eyes now!).

And then it involved two spades, two people (me & him), and intermittent visits from a kitten that would examine the holes and inevitably push a little earth back in them. She's helpful like that.

At this point the inspector checks everything is looking hunky dory - or maybe he measures the holes and refers back to the plans, I really don't know. But most importantly he gave us the correct nod of the head, the right bit of paper, and said 'yep'.
So we carried on.

The next stage involved concreting into the ground the tanalised wooden posts that will be the piles for our new extension. They look like sticks in the ground - because I suppose that's what they are - but this is how it's done here. Technical questions on a postcard and I'll refer them to the hubbie!

So stage one, of many, is now complete - we have piles!!

I've never been so proud to blog about it either.
Back with more soon hopefully :)

Funds accepted with the postcard then we can get to roof level!

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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Spring has sprung

Firstly, I'm very sorry if you're reading this in the Northern Hempisphere. 

Don't get me wrong I love Autumn and heading into winter when you actually might get some snow is really something special - but here in New Zealand we are now entering a fully blown, gorgeous, daffodil filled, sweet blossom smelling Spring. 

And I just adore to be amongst it.

The lambs have been gamboling (as opposed to a spot of gambling!) out in the neighbouring fields for a while now.

At our place the animals all seem to know Spring is in the air too. 
They haven't been gambling either but a fair amount of frolicking has been going on.

Sometimes I really do wish I could speak their language though.

The avenue of plum trees burst into fragrant, bee attracting, white blossom which is now snowing on me as I walk through the trees

I really, really wish I could let you smell this picture - the sweet blossom is hhmmmmmmmmm......

The clocks changed for daylight saving last weekend, which means our evenings by the fire seem to start a little sooner - or go on a little later.. I'm not sure which!

The grapefruit tree is still bearing its heavy load of fruit (we're not big grapefruit eaters) while already new buds are growing more. Thankfully my parents arrive in December and adore grapefruit so it's a perfect match!

The chooks - well they never really stopped laying for winter but are certainly back into the swing of things with a regular 8-10 eggs a day. Maybe I need to make a grapefruit pavlova.....

Meanwhile - in the old chicken shed... Sheila tries out the nest box and discovers it's a great place to hide from that pesky little kitten.
That is until.....

Exploring Meer Cat made a discovery!

We trimmed back the passion fruit vine which had covered the shed and already it's stretching out its little creeping tendrils to cling and grow along the building again.
Meer Cat was seeing what's so special about the cat on a hot tin roof thing

More blossom - the cherry trees this time - and the honey bees just LOVE it

See..... frolicking Pip
She just frolics and frolics around the garden!

And to round of this summary of our Spring news and images....
a glimpse into a pretty usual activity for the crazy kitten that is Meer Cat!

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The Kiwi Good Life blog and social media pages are run by Vicki Annison (aka KiwiVix)