Wednesday, December 30, 2009

E noho rā'

All good things come to an end, and so too, has our stay in New Zealand.
Husband has accepted an offer too good to refuse, so we will be relocating across the ditch to Australia, back where it all started.
It's with mixed feelings that we say e noho rā' to Aeotearoa, and for now, I will still be blogging about our adventures there whenever I get time or inspiration.
In the meantime, thanks for reading, and for your wonderful comments - I love them all.
Happy 2010!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Very Aussie Christmas

So, how was your Christmas?

We enjoyed an Aussie Bush Christmas, with loads of family and friends, just as it should be.

My siblings, parents and I were together for the first time in years, plus we had loads of extended family and friends around as well.

My sister and hubby were our gracious hosts, and as usual, they went all out to ensure everyone were comfortable, fed and watered. (Or alcohol-ed. Though I think I may have just made that word up).

The kids spent most of the time in the pool, playing with their cousins, and eating and drinking far too little.

While the adults spent most of the time OUT of the pool, and eating and drinking far too much.

Just as well Christmas comes but once a year!
Christmas Eve was spent, in the main street of Wondai, for the 60th annual Christmas Street Carnival.
Each year, we say never again; Each year, we go again anyway. There are the ham and turkey wheels, the merry-go-round and jumping castle, plus free ice-blocks for the kids from Santa. Not to mention the drinks at the RSL a bit later. Hey, it's tradition!
On Christmas morning, it's church, again in Wondai. This year, Uncle O. was the layreader, and we giggled as one of his grandchildren yelled out: 'Hello Pop!' Then it was back to L and O's for champagne, pina coladas, and beer ... and mountains of food.
L's special muscat-glazed baked ham, barbecued chickens, prawns, bugs, crabs and loads of salads. Then unmentionable desserts.
All washed down with good Aussie wine and beer, plus softies for the kids and the drivers.
The next morning, we enjoyed a barbie breakfast on the deck at my parents' home, before taking the long drive back to Brisbane, and discovering that Santa had visited Nana too!
Much to my surprise, I discovered the kids had been Very Good all year after all.
Ah ... it's the magic of Christmas.
(Pic: Santa and a Very Special Reindeer, photo courtesy of Husband).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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

Boxing day, 2008

I admit it: I've been slack.

I know I haven't blogged lately, and I have a couple of cameras worth of shots to upload. But I have two words for you: Blame Santa.

Yes, the time for end of year/Christmas craziness has well and truly fallen upon the Aussies in Auckland, and I've not had a moment to blog. Or shop. Or do much of anything apart from work and kid-wrangling. Oh, and shouting.

We've been too busy! There have been carols by candlelight, nights out, summer festivals, parties, Santa parades, school break-ups, and more ...

And forget about Christmas shopping. (I'm thinking Santa is going to need more than a few little helpers this year...)!

Anyway, I will post about all the fab things we've been enjoying in and around Auckland, as soon as I get time. But in the meantime, I would love to wish you and yours all the best for the festive season.

This year, we're heading home to Australia to spend our Christmas with family.
I loved Christmas in Auckland last year. The flaming pohutakawa trees, the Franklin Road lights, the near-empty and not-boiling-hot beaches, and the fact that Auckland empties out over the holidays.

But we did miss our family and friends, so it will be nice to share the festivities with them this year.
Merry Christmas to all my dear readers and followers and thanks for your comments and emails during the year.
I hope Santa is kind to you and that you're not feeling quite as stressed as I am!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Don't show the children ...

Eek ... send a ransom! Santa has been kidnapped by terrorists!
No, actually this photograph, courtesy of NZ tweep @gnat, is of Auckland's famous Whitcoulls Santa about to be unveiled in the CBD.
Since the 1960s the iconic Santa has looked down benignly on Aucklanders as they dodge homeless people, bodily fluids, and fight each other for Christmas bargains in the lead-up to Christmas.
Last year, there was a huge controversy, because some Bah Humbug/politically correct types thought Santa looked seedy, with a finger beckoning creepily to children, and a rusty eye winking sleazily at them. Seriously, even the P. word was used.
In fact, there was a debate as to whether old Santa should be retired, but public opinion weighed in heavily, and it was decided Santa should undergo what all Good Santas Of A Certain Age Do, and have a makeover. (In fact, there's even a Fan Page on Facebook now for NZ's infamous Creepy Santa).
Off he was whisked to a secret location, where, with the magic of cosmetic surgery, he was rebuilt into a younger, buffer version of his original self. (Really. Is nothing sacred?)
Anyway, this year he is back, younger and better than ever before ... but not before the children of Auckland were forever traumatised by the sight of their beloved Santa trussed up and his face covered in bandages!
Even better, the usual Kiwi Ingenuity has shone through, with one of the people who have done some of the cosmetic work now auctioning up Santa's rusty eye on trademe. Check it out - under antiques and collectables, then click on Maori and New Zealand. At the time of blogging it was going for $NZ102.
Wonder who will be getting a lump of coal in their stocking this year?

The flights ...

We flew to Samoa with Air New Zealand, which was awesome. Well, except for the food. But you get that, right?

Chicken pie (erm, looked and tasted nothing like it) and couscous salad. The salad was okay. Unfortunately, the ice-cream dessert had nuts in, so the kids couldn't eat it. Honestly, is it too hard to arrange a nut-free meal? They do halal and vegan ... (And yes, I did try to organise it but was told it couldn't be done, and to take snacks myself, which I obviously did. But still, grumpy kids like to be 'treated' like everyone else.)

Salmon pie - apparently

Miss 6 enjoys the inflight entertainment.

You know you're back in New Zealand territory when A. the greeting is Kia Ora, and B. You can catch up on the Shortie Street episodes you've missed ...

Duty free shopping, Samoan style.

Our first Christmas Tree of the Season - at Apia Airport

Miss 6 took her Lolly Girl Status seriously, even waking up passengers to check if they needed a sweet ...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The food

So, while in Samoa, we chose to do an all-inclusive meal deal.
In my single, child-free travelling days, I would have choked at the thought; preferring to eat locally (and probably vicariously).
But when you have kids, you need good, reliable food, and often.
The all-inclusive deal for Aggie Grey's Lagoon Beach Resort and Spa at Apia was amazing. I think Kyle and I paid a bit over $100 each extra for it, and the kids were free. That was for the duration of our stay.
To be honest, I do wish the kid's menu changed occasionally. But there was so much food, that we could never hope to eat, that I sometimes ordered one of my meals for them, to spice things up a bit, and just had an entree. (Okay, once I had a dessert too. Just once though. In nearly 2 weeks. And it was banofee pie with bananas in it, so was almost healthy ... so there!)
C. was such a favourite with the breakfast chef, that he was invited up to help cook. Check out the cap!

Another omelette, you say? Certainly!
He loved the food. Tucking into mac and cheese for lunch.

The after shot of our Umo lunch ...

And before. Truly, the most divine-tasting food. Especially the palusami - coconut milk and taro leaves.

coconut milk and onion baked on the umo

Hmm...deciding what to order from the kids' menu

A traditional Samoan feast is on the way

Scraping the taro, breadfruit, bananas and coconut

The Kitty Whisperer

Mango ice-cream and fruit salad for dessert

Mmm... mango ice-cream...

A prawn curry from the Asian restaurant. There was a choice of 3 or 4 restaurants for dinner. This was one of our faves.

Nasi Goreng

Spring rolls, a lunch-time staple
A lunch-time kiddy burger

And ever-popular pizza!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'll drink to that ... drinks in Samoa!

While in Samoa, we enjoyed a few cocktails, and of course the local beer, Vailima. Wine was expensive, although on a few occasions I splashed out on the 'house white' - Dan Murphy's cleanskin chardy. Usually purchased by the truckload for as little as (AUS) $1.99 back home, it was always amusing to have it served with a flourish and offered for tasting. (And it cost about $18 at the resort, so was still reasonably affordable).
Meanwhile, the kids loved Shasta soda drinks. Apparently a US soda chain, Shasta Cola was often substituted without explanation for the more expensive Coca Cola, and was also often the only diet cola available. (Diet drinks a hit with hubby, because he is diabetic.)
But they had other yummy ranges too (according to the kids - they were too sweet for me!)
Unfortunately, they were also full of nasty colours and flavours, which had the ability to turn the ruggies into monsters. So the drinks had to be limited - or used as rewards (or taken away as consequences). Unfortunately, Miss 6 qualified for a few more rewards than Mr 8.
They must be evil, as the kids still miss their Shasta treats, and I miss them as a parenting aid!
Shasta strawberry. At least they are honest about it being artificially flavoured!

Shasta and snacks at cocktail hour.
Soda with other Natural Flavour. Nice ...

C. has a mocktail, Daddy has the real thing. I think C's non-alcoholic version was more potent, thanks to the colours and preservatives!
Can I have what he's having?

Fire and ice ...

You can take the Brissie girl out of New Zealand, but you can't take NZ out of the girl. Or something like that. What I mean is that al...