Saturday, 31 January 2015

My weekend advice

Short and sweet today - just wanted to say...

It's the weekend!!!
Make sure you get out and enjoy it

Put down your phone
(unless you're ringing a friend)
Get out of the house
Explore and learn
Do something that makes you feel good
Eat, laugh and be merry

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
Have a good weekend everyone - CHEERS!

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Friday, 30 January 2015

Today is brought to you by the colour green

Green is one of my favourite colours.
The other one is purple. 
But a very specific shade of purple - that chocolate company one with undertones of royalty.

However green is a different subject altogether - pretty much any shade of green is a goody (there are a few vomit inducing ones which we won't mention here). 

When we moved to New Zealand six years ago I was sure that there were more natural shades of green here, and, no word of a lie, they all seem so much more vibrant under this blue BLUE kiwi sky.

Much of the country has large areas of natural 'bush' which all contribute greatly to the green'o'meter. Bush in NZ means native forests and the dense, lush areas are filled with multitudes of trees and shrubs, big and small, plus ferns, mosses and climbers all fighting to fill a space.

Luckily there are many natural areas available for the public to go freely and see these wondrous plants and their many colours - plus take in the other sights, smells and sounds of NZ's bush. Have a look at the Department of Conservation (DOC) website for details on National Parks, walking tracks, campsites and more.

At the moment we are currently going through a very hot summer and some areas are unfortunately suffering with the drought; fields and pastures green are slowly turning a sandy yellow colour.

But today I bring you some green courtesy of my last visit to the wonderful, internationally acclaimed, Hamilton Gardens - a place I thoroughly recommend you pay a visit sometime soon and I'll be telling you this regularly as they'll be popping up in my blog on many occasions.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Cor that's a whopper

I love vegetables
I claim to be a vegetarian 
(actually I'm not as I eat fish & seafood - so I think I'm a pesky-something-tarian)
I love growing my own vegetables - the whole garden to plate thing is very rewarding
But I do not love when an unnoticed zucchini (courgette to you pommes!) stealthily swells to the size of... well, a marrow.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
A healthy whopper 
Last year I got a bumper crop of these blighters as every time my back was turned the darn plant would bring out of hiding a sample that it had been preparing just for me.

I did my best to
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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Meet Jess

A teddy bear lives in our house.
She is called Jess.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
I recently introduced our dog Pip (the slightly strange one) so now it's time to get you acquainted with Jess.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki AnnisonJess is our first kiwi dog and we got her almost five years ago when we'd truly settled down in our first New Zealand house. I tell you... when you've moved half way around the world and things often seem uncertain - there's nothing quite like a dog to make you feel like you've settled down and found your home.

Jess came from
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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Monday, 26 January 2015

Happy Anniversary Day Auckland

I don't know where or when you are reading this blog post but here in New Zealand today is Monday 26 January 2015 and it's Auckland Anniversary Day.

Which means for many people - a day off work and a day to play.
Even here in the (mighty) Waikato we get to claim Auckland's big day as our own.

The public holiday is observed throughout the historic Auckland Province which includes Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne regions. The holiday usually falls on the Monday closest to 29 January which is the anniversary of the arrival of William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand, in the Bay of Islands in 1840. 

Other regions claim their own day on the anniversary of their province, a full list and explanation can be found here.

In the city of Auckland (NOT New Zealand's capital city by the way!) the public holiday is duly celebrated with fireworks and a regatta - this years is the 175th. Folks that don't go down to the harbour to join in the party will no doubt be flocking to the beach as we have had truly tremendous weather with the whole weekend seeing sunshine and 30 degree temperatures. 

Here in our little part of the Waikato we had our own mini family regatta yesterday when we went on a kayaking river adventure - I'll share details and pictures another day - but today I bring to you just a few of my favourite photos of Auckland and the adventures and marvels that await its visitors.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
View from One Tree Hill with approaching rain cloud

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Our little patch of Kiwi land

We own exactly 5028 square metres of beautiful Waikato land (or rather our bank does and they are allowing us to repay them extravagantly so one day in a trillion years time it can be all ours).

Our little patch of Kiwi land was once part of a very large piece. Hundreds of acres of New Zealand's rural land have over the years been split up by land-owners for whatever reason (money, money or money usually). It's very common these days for parcels of land to be sold off as sections and get new houses built on them

We purchased our place from a neighbouring family who had done just that over the past few decades. From what we understand the cottage on our land was one of the original dwellings on a 300 acre dairy farm which over the years grew smaller and smaller as it was subdivided. It no longer exists at all.

Even before the 300 acre farm it's very likely that our land was part of an estate of more than 1000 acres which was developed from the mid 1860s to 1882 by William Australia Graham.
William - who we recently read about at the Waikato Museum in Hamilton - cultivated sugar beet on his farm and after moving to nearby Hamilton in 1882, with his family of 11 children, he later became Mayor. If you're interested you can read more about him here.

We fell in love with our place after an impromptu 4 minute visit.

We had actually gone to look at a house for sale on the other side of our neighbour and while we liked it, we just weren't so sure about having all the bare land around us sold off for new sections and housing. He mentioned the "old cottage" which was currently rented out but he was thinking about selling it. The tenants were just arriving home from work and kindly waited outside as we were given a whirlwind tour of the place. It really doesn't take long anyway - it's a two bedroom cottage that doesn't even total 100sq.m!

It was a done deal the minute we walked through the door and saw this.....
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Friday, 23 January 2015

Green smoothie brigade

Even as a long time non-meat eater and absolutely vegetable lover, the idea of green smoothies made me feel green around the gills.

Come on... they really just don't sound appetising do they?!
Yum - lets have some blitzed up kale and chia seed....

I listened to smoothie fans talk about their favourite blends and the numerous benefits of random ingredients. 
Watched them slurp disgusting coloured sludge from travel cups. 
And I continued to eat the very same ingredients they were - just in a 'normal' format: lots of greens, fruits, nuts, seeds etc.

But, you guessed it, I have been converted.

Partly I guess because I could only take so much before I just HAD to give them a try.
Partly because we have a huge veggie garden with vegetables screaming to be eaten every single day.
But mostly because
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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Make the ordinary special

A thought for today....
Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The three R's

We are big fans of recycling.
Or upcycling. 
Or reusing.
Call it what you will - we do it - in abundance.

From the council run recycling scheme, where we send off our paper/card and plastic, to our many compost bins for food scraps and the scrap metal we take to be weighed in.

We also give a second (third, fourth or fifth) life to as many things as possible.
Turning things which once served another purpose into a totally new item.

House bricks into paths
Old decking boards into garden furniture
Plastic barrels into rainwater troughs
Large tiles into a worktop on a recycled timber butchers block
Old wooden windows into a greenhouse
And miscellaneous old timber into pretty much anything 

As you can see below,
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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A perfect avocado moment

That moment when you cut open an avocado and find perfection...

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison


I guess you love them or hate them but for me avocados are most definitely a favourite.
But for a long time I treated them as a luxury item despite the fact they seem much more readily available here in New Zealand than they were in the UK. This may be one of my false memories - but I only ever remember eating them on special occasions in the UK!

I read a lot about avos in healthy cooking magazines so am going along with the many stated benefits, including: healthy fats (which help you digest nutrients from other veggies), high potassium, fibre, antioxidants and low in natural sugar.

Unfortunately we don't have an avocado tree at our place but the fact that so many are grown in NZ must surely be what makes them more affordable (I just bought 3 for $2 from our greengrocers but prices differ depending on size and variety).

So at the moment I'm scoffing them regularly!
In salads, salsas, smoothies
On toast, crackers, cucumber slices
Or just spoon straight from the skin when you slice open and find that delicious perfection. 

How do you eat yours?



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Monday, 19 January 2015

Where in New Zealand are we?

We live  in a beautiful part of the Waikato in New Zealand's North Island.

We don't live near the sea but we have a choice of coasts to visit with the black sands and surf vibes of Raglan a 30 min drive away or 1 hour to the long white sandy beaches of the Bay of Plenty.

We are proudly rural but perfectly situated for the best of town and country with just a short drive into the city of Hamilton when we need shopping and culture (yes... Hamilton DOES culture! I will post a lot more about this in the future - long live #LoveTheTron !)

We have exactly 5000m2 of land and it's all ours (well - the mortgage is in our name!). Our house is not flash, we'll get onto the renovations over time, but it's definitely a case of the worst house on the best street. Our timber weatherboard cottage may have peeling paint and be smaller than some of our neighbours' garages - but we love it and we are happy here.

We are based in a quiet community and have bounds of nature on our doorstep. The countryside is beautiful. There's lots of farmland and we have the mighty Waikato River close by with lovely river walks.

I'll leave you now with just a few local pictures - every single one of these photos was taken whilst I was on a walk from our little house in the country :)  

           





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Prepare to meet Pip

The animal headcount on our lifestyle block is currently:

  • Two dogs - Jess and Pip
  • Two cats - Sheila and Mia/Meer
  • One miniature horse - Ted
  • Four rabbits - all named but don't ask me what
  • Ten chickens - I think my hubbie calls them all Susan
  • A number of fish - hopefully not named 
They will all no doubt get further mention in the blog but I thought I'd profile those that actually live in the house and we'll start with Pip.


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

She came from a farm almost four years ago and is a bit of a mix up cross breed:
King Charles Cavalier Spaniel/ Bichon Frise / Poodle and Foxy!

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
Baby Pip with new pal Jess

We got her to be a companion for our first dog Jess.
She is utterly loving, devoted and completely mental!


She is a true companion for Jess and the two of them are never to be found far apart. Of course they have their differences and Pip sometimes just wants to do her own thing.
And she will. 


Her thing tends to be shoes.

Jess is used to it but still looks on in bewilderment as Pip goes about collecting her owners' shoes and taking them to her crate where she will use them as a pillow or cuddle them. Then she might get out and go and get another one, or two. Because she just didn't have quite enough.

She doesn't chew them. She just uses them for comfort so we've never stopped her. But we are quite often to be found walking around the house with one shoe on looking for another to make a matching pair!




She's a little lacking in brains at quite a lot of other times but we love her and she duly gets LOTS of attention! 


Prepare to be "Pipped" from time to time when I capture a moment that just has to be shared :) 


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison


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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Underneath the grapefruit tree


We have an ENORMOUS grapefruit tree at our place.

It is laden with so much fruit it literally drops it with every breath it takes - and then I'm sure grows another within seconds.


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

We currently have the hammock set up between the grapefruit tree and its nameless neighbour. This is a beautiful shady spot that receives a constant small breeze and as such, is currently my favourite place in the whole garden. (The location that bears this honourable title changes many time throughout the seasons - it appears I'm quite fickle when it comes to garden comforts).

The problem is the hammock actually belongs to Miss12 so she gets first dibs and is often to be found in there reading a book. Especially when she's been asked to tidy her room.

We discussed yesterday that if we had a third tree in a triangle position with these two, we'd be able to have three hammocks up simultaneously. But I actually don't think that's the point. I think the joy of a hammock is partly the ability to obtain some moments of quiet solitude. I say moments because inevitably you are 'found''. 

At our place the first to find you are the dogs,who also love the hammock.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

All the same we'll continue to share the hammock, each obtaining some quota of time for our chosen activity: daydreaming, reading, listening to music, watching the birds, dodging falling grapefruit.....

I hope you have a place you can go to relax - it's worth its weigh in grapefruit.
:)

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

A visitor to the garden

Who doesn't love a cute hedgehog picture?!

I was looking through my photos to find something when I stumbled across these pics and thought I'd share with you :)

Taken about this time last year, they show our second son (MrDexter) and a friendly visitor to our garden that we were trying to move away from our curious dogs.

We put him in our walled veggie garden with the hopes that he'd find a home there and munch on some snails and slugs during his stay.

I cannot recall ever seeing him again. He must somehow have slipped out and gone on his hedge-hoggy way. But it was nice to have him as a short stay visitor. I hope he had a snack before he left on his journey.


 Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
How cute?!



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Friday, 16 January 2015

Instant Christmas trees

Back in October 2013 the hubbie set to and planted  some Christmas trees along the perimeter of our front paddock. The idea being to create an attractive permanent screening, and perhaps being able to sell off a few as we thin them out over the future. 

I love Christmas trees. The smell is just divine.
The fact we have Christmas in the summertime now we're in New Zealand is a totally different matter and a subject I'll discuss my thoughts on another day. 

But what I was surprised about was how quickly they grew. 
Check out the difference in the pictures below, from planting out at around 10-15cm tall in October 2013 to a massive majority of them now hovering over my 170cm(ish) height in January 2015. 


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
October 2013


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
January 2015


Since the original planting, the paddock has been divided into three and our chooks are lucky enough to get to live freely among the Christmas trees in their own field. (I think they must like it as we get a good supply of eggs!). Further trees have been planted to fill this field and we also have a few rows of Christmas trees down the side of our drive.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
New generation planted a few months ago
I'm not sure if there's a long term plan for these trees. I'll have to find out one day!
But I enjoy them in the meanwhile and if they ever get to go and live, even if temporarily, in another family's house, be decorated with all the glitz, and be the focus of the festive parties - then good on them and I shall cheer them along merrily!

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Hot and humid


How's the weather where you are? 


Here in New Zealand it's summer of course and I have to admit it's a particularly good one so far. 

This is a snapshot of the temperature last night as I was trying to get to sleep under one cotton sheet, thinking it felt like a feather duvet. 


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

A request has been made to the hubbie to search the shed for the electric fans and bring them in for tonight. This is a sure sign to the weather gods who will instantly turn the heat down or throw us a storm or two. Isn't it always the way! 

This time last week we were holidaying in Queensland, Australia (expect some posts about this later) where air-con is pretty much compulsory and certainly makes thing much more comfortable. I've   also never been so grateful for the shade of a tree. 

But right here in the Waikato the thing that is not really to my liking is the build up of humidity that we get.  My natural radar is my fairly long and slightly wavy hair which just loves to shorten and go even curlier as the humidity creeps up. It's delightful. Really. I just love spending money on hair products that will attempt to keep it in some kind of order. Or when at home - I'll just stuff it in a pony tail or wear a hat.

According to How Stuff Works humidity relates to how much the air is saturated with water vapor.
Humans are very sensitive to humidity, as the skin relies on the air to get rid of moisture. The process of sweating is your body's attempt to keep cool and maintain its current temperature. If the air is at 100-percent relative humidity, sweat will not evaporate into the air. As a result, we feel much hotter than the actual temperature when the relative humidity is high. If the relative humidity is low, we can feel much cooler than the actual temperature because our sweat evaporates easily, cooling ­us off. People tend to feel most comfortable at a relative humidity of about 45 percent. 
The forecast here today is currently showing 91% humidity. 
I'm off to find my hat and hide in the hammock under the shady tree.

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Poetry?


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

In the hammock, Jess and me, 
Underneath the grapefruit tree. 


Hope you're having happy days - wherever you are. 
Vicki 
:)
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It's not all fun and games - really

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
My eldest and my youngest
Taken a few months ago when they were playing on some of our toys :)
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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The introductions start here

I realise that while I should take time to go over the who's who and a little more detail about life on our New Zealand lifestyle block - I also want to get straight into sharing some pics and daily news from our place. So I'll just have to do both and any readers can catch up along the way!

Here are a couple of pictures I took within the last few days:

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
Photograph taken on a gorgeous Waikato summer evening, Miss12 (our resident bookworm) is in her PJs, reading on the tramp (abbreviated word for trampoline used here in NZ!) and multi-tasking by entertaining the kitten; Mia/Meer (spelling of her name yet to be agreed on) who intermittently runs off to play at being tiger and catch some evening bugs


Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison
The latest addition to our family; a miniature horse named Teddy. Unknown to myself, he arrived on Christmas Eve and was hidden away in our shed for the night - we discovered him at the end of a treasure hunt we were given on Christmas Day! I am a total equine novice and am now trying to quickly learn how to take care of a horse with the help of Mr Google and a stack of books from the library. He is a beautiful animal and I only hope we can enjoy him to his fullest and give him a life that he enjoys too. I'm sure he'll feature lots more in this blog over the future :)
(Any advice on miniatures horses is most welcome via the comments section!)
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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Just a dog and a cat. That's that.

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison


Pip & Sheila enjoying the sun

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

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Wherever you lay your hat

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

Long before we came to live in New Zealand - I had hardly heard of it.
Sad isn't it.
And hopefully, in this day and digital age, this would no longer be true.

Our youngest child, our 12-year-old daughter who was six when we emigrated, asked me last week where I thought we were from. Turns out she didn't know whether people were asking her where she lived or where she was born. I told her to answer which ever felt right to her, at this point she has spent half her life in the UK and half in NZ so can rightfully say either, but she should always feel that she can be 'from' where ever she likes. It's good to be proud of where you originated but it's also good to feel proud of where ever you make your home.

I spoke to a guy at an Australian airport the other day who asked if we were going to New Zealand on holiday. I replied that no, we were returning to our home there after being on holiday in Aus.

This prompted a short conversation about the fact that you just cannot presume anything these days about where people live and where they come from. We live in a truly mobile global age. 

While I cannot agree that it's cheap to travel (I'm talking about overseas flights) it is usually fairly easy to travel nowadays and this has seen a good flow and ebb of folks - all around the world.

My post is going no where in particular here, unlike us as we hopped back on a plane to good old Auckland last weekend.

I guess I'm just glad to be back home, as I truly believe New Zealand is my home.
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Monday, 12 January 2015

And here we are

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison


So this is my new blog.
I pondered momentarily on a range of hipster or cool names (I think I've just blown being hipster by using the word cool) but as the main topic of my various ramblings will boil down to my daily life and any random discoveries I wish to share, I figure we'll just stick with Kiwi Good Life for now - as that's certainly what I'm lucky enough to have. 

Background

In 2008 two lengthy airplane journeys bought the Annison family from the UK to the land of the long white cloud. Two crumpled and creased adults herded three tired children through the airport and set off with their ten suitcases to discover a new life. 

Thankfully the other half quickly secured a job and therefore visas could be issued without to much trauma. Having jumped in feet first, with gumboots and jandals, we are now bona-fide Kiwis loving living the life here.

The Kiwi Annisons settled down in Cambridge – the town of trees and champions – in the Waikato. The three kids started their respective schools, made friends, grew and got older (as kids do). 

At one point a bus was purchased and several happy years were spent taking many journeys around our new homeland. The adventures were recorded for ever, and enjoyed by many, on my first blog: http://kiwiblogbus.com 

The sale of the bus, and abrupt end of the blogging, came when six years after arriving on the shores of Aotearoa (and three house moves later) we purchased our current home, a lifestyle block settled on the outskirts of Hamilton, Waikato. For lifestyle block read ''tiny cottage on a couple of acres of prime kiwi land''. And we love it.

So almost three years to the day after starting the Kiwi Blog Bus, the New Year has once again spurred me into action and, after some deliberations on topics I have decided to blog again. 

At this stage I presume the blog will be based around hopefully interesting aspects of our kiwi lifestyle but there will no doubt be other random ramblings and I state now that I make no apologies for these!

I hope you enjoy taking the ride with me, or if you've stumbled across this post at some point in the future after being an avid reader of my hugely popular and amazing blog (or hey, maybe after it's been made into a film after I got offered a book deal!)  then, I hope my starting point discussions have made some sense to you and that you've learnt something.

And so the Kiwi Good Life is born.
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Test post (with a chicken!)

Kiwi Good Life - Vicki Annison

Chook life!
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About

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