Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rangitoto summit conquered

During Mr.Fox's Dad stay we really wanted to climb to the top of Auckland's youngest volcano. A short ferry ride from downtown Auckland this dormant volcano is an attraction for both tourists and locals alike. A year or so ago we met with friends at the Ferry terminal with intentions to explore but the weather packed it in so we sought shelter and brunch instead.

Last week we watched the weather reports and hoped for a rainless day. On Toby's last day of leave we saw a window of opportunity. The evening prior we were busy bees. I baked a pie, packed the sunscreen, a warm, a sunhat and all the other bits and bobs that need to accompany a baby on an island adventure.

Rangitoto Island in the Harbour. View from Michael J Savage Memorial Park on a recent Geocaching adventure
Of course in the morning it took a bit longer than expected to get out the door. It was mid morning when we took our seats and admired the harbour scenes as we cruised to Rangitoto Island. Mae of course loved exploring the boat and crawled about pointing and shouting in excitement. Being a weekday there were few people about and we mostly had the track to ourselves. We chose to take the track to the summit; keen to see the view back to Auckland and check it off the list! 

Exciting to be getting on our way. Miss Mae looking extra sweet in her jacket knitted by Great Nana McLeary

It is an otherworldly place with large bare and rugged patches of black lava rocks where vegetation has been unable to take root. Eerily quiet as there are no birds until you get nearer to the top where the Pohutakawa forest grows. It is an easy and gradual climb until the last fifteen minutes which meant we could drink in the view. We half expected an Orc or Warg to charge at us from around the next bend.

We didn't rush and stopped to read the signs. Cublet seemed content to be in the backpack as long as we never lingered for too long. As the vegetation became denser little treasures grew in pockets of shade. Tiny Kidney Ferns clustered together; it seemed to me they should be growing in rock pools or ponds but they seemed content in the rugged conditions. The trees gave us welcome shelter from the wind and cooled as we hiked higher.

Kidney Ferns. Tiny and brilliant. 
Rangitoto explorers.

The crater at the top was quite spectacular, a cavernous hole that made you feel rather small. Circumnavigating the rim is the track with places to sit and admire the views back towards the city, out to the Coromandel and the islands in the Gulf. It was quite something to eat homemade pie atop a dormant volcano. Little wax-eyes and sparrows flitted about our feet; not all nervous about humans.

The clouds gathered and the temperature dropped as we finished lunch so we rugged up and started our descent, this time with Mr. Fox carrying Mae on his back. With full belly and warm perch she let her eyelids close and slept.

The summit!


We had time enough to explore the lava caves before catching the last ferry. It was a short walk from the main track and beautiful. Twisted tree roots crept over and around mossy rocks. It was still and quiet. We caught glimpses of a rare Saddleback bird in the branches overhead. We clambered through some caves, cool and damp under the earth. It felt like an adventure from the Famous Five stories. I am looking forward to return visit with more time (and a torch) to investigate these subterranean tunnels.

I can imagine Fairies gathering here

Rangitoto Lava Caves

After a quick explore of two Rangitoto Bachs we boarded the ferry back to the city. Wild Freesias bloomed near the jetty and despite the winds the air was thick with their heavenly fragrance. It is incredible to have such a enchanting wild place so close to Auckland's bustling downtown. We will be back to walk the Wilson Park Track and check out the Museum during the Summer season.....there are a few caches we want to try and find too!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Keeping my hands busy

Keeping my hands busy keeps my heart happy. I have been making time to create more often in past month or so. My unfinished projects are being completed. The entire house except one window has new net curtains. A few more handmade gifts have been added to the stash as I wait for their recipients to be born. The sewing machine has been serviced and waits to be plugged in for another sewing session.
Adding fabric to towels
Sewing fabric onto towels is one of my favourite simple sewing projects. If you use extra soft, high quality towels they make a luxurious gift. I spent a pleasant few hours choosing, pinning and sewing fabric strips on towels for gifts and that she is nearly one she needed some 'big girl' towels! I like to do two rows of stitching both for strength and aesthetics.

Completed towel stash

Mae's new towel stash.

A week of stunning Spring days meant that I was able to scrub down, prime and paint the outdoor table and seat. Every nap time I raced out to the garage and got stuck into it. How wonderful it was to get craft outdoors again.

We had chosen a bright blue; Resene Eastern Blue to bring a bit of freshness and fun to our backyard. It has turned out very bright indeed! A couple more coats are needed on the chair before it is done. I am looking forward to enjoying cups of tea in the garden without the fear of splinters in my rear! I will share photos when the painting is complete.

Our backyard has a brown fence (it seems every house in the area has the same). I really detest the colour. It would seem that brown would be natural and blend in with the garden but this brown has reddish/orange tones that are quite artificial. Since we have moved in I have been itching to change this to a less jarring hue.

This Spring/Summer I have plans to paint the fence, it will be a long term project......prepping and painting when cublet sleeps. A borrowed water blaster waits in the garage for me to fire it up ( a job I am looking forward too!). At this stage we intend to re-paint/stain the fence in  charcoal. Hopefully this will provide a less offensive and more modern backdrop for the greenery of our urban jungle. If time allows I might just paint the raised garden beds too.

Chilly Spring morning in the park
Planning for the garden takes up much of my thoughts these days. Reflecting on past successes and musing on how to avoid past failures. We have two new passion fruit vines to plant. Our last one died; poor thing was attacked by vine hoppers and it's base rotted. Here's hoping with a little tender care these vines might flourish.

The recent rain rotted my last seeds before they had a chance to grow, all except the sweet peas, sugar snap peas and broad beans. I have had absolutely no luck with carrots. When the clouds depart I'll get some more seeds in the ground. A few hours weeding lately has been good for my soul. I even managed to mow the lawns for the first time in months.

Our fruit trees are bursting into flower and it brings me such joy. But the mud, oh the mud is everywhere. Wearing gumboots is not ideal for hanging out washing line. There are plans to install plastic paving and resowing grass when we replace the clothesline. This should keep the area pleasant to use all year round....a must with all the washing a little one creates.

Finding a great view on a recent wander round the neighbourhood!
Running has been keeping my feet busy. Getting up very early during the week means I can squeeze in a run before Mr. Fox heads to work. It has been wonderfully satisfying to feel my fitness return and get out of the house alone. Running invigorates and relaxes me at the same time.

Now that we have Mae fitness is more important. I wish to a healthy role model and know that it also decreases my chances of developing bowel cancer (Bowel Cancer New Zealand has wonderful resources). Mr. Fox training for the Auckland Marathon is certainly inspiration to lace up my running shoes too! As is the bonus of my jeans fitting better.

The last week or so I have hardly picked up my embroidery needle and I am yearning to do so. We have had friends and family visiting almost constantly. Pa. Fox and his girlfriend came to Auckland for a few days. We busied ourselves with meals out, wandering the shops and most exciting a visit to the Auckland Trade Fair.

It was incredible to see the variety of gifts and wares available to stock the shop. What a big job to keep on top of the latest trends and predict what people might like to purchase. It rained cats and dogs nearly the whole time they visited, only clearing on the last afternoon. Perfect for a wander around Ponsonby.  How special to spend time together. Mae just loved the attention!

This week we have Mr. Fox's Dad up from Fox glacier. He is spending ten days here in the big smoke and we are keeping busy with adventures despite the rain. We have explored the Museum and tried a few new places to eat. Including the Miss Saigon Restaurant in Newmarket; my first experience of Vietnamese food. It was delicious and am looking forward to returning for a special occasion. We are hoping to try out our new to us child carrier backpack we got off Trademe with some walks in the Waitakere Ranges. Maybe even a trip to Rotoroa Island if the rain clears....fingers crossed it does. I am certainly ready for a little sunshine.

Late July and the month of August

My birthday falls on the last day of July. Birthdays were a big deal in our house, Mum would whip a chocolate cake and we got to pick what we wanted for dinner. She and Dad would make you feel so special and loved! My sweet Mum enjoyed gifting presents so much, she delighted in choosing and wrapping gifts. It was a wonderful feeling to wake up on your birthday morning to feel her and Dad so excited.

This birthday my darling Mr.Fox surprised me with a chocolate hunt, handmade card that was a collaborative work between Mae and himself. Dad got me the Practical Self Sufficiency book that I have been wanting for many months. My sister got me the subscription to the Frankie Magazine. It was a lovely day and I was certainly made to feel loved. Birthdays are chance to celebrate your loved ones and shower them in good vibes. Oh how I enjoyed all those good vibes!

I am so looking forward to making Mae feel extra cherished on her birthdays. It is only a few weeks away, the planning is mostly done. Mr Fox and I have chosen a couple of gifts that are waiting to be wrapped. Her birthday card is yet to be made and written seems so hard to put into words the love and adoration you have for your child. My darling girl has given us so much happiness. The grocery list is growing and am looking forward to making festive food with Mary and Emma; two special women that love our girl fiercely.

The morning after a hail shower

Mud; so much mud!

After returning from Sydney our family spent an afternoon exploring our local neighbourhood and locating our first Geocach. It was a thrill to find the rusty container hidden under a footbridge. It was on a track that would be easily walked past and one that we wouldn't have explored otherwise. We signed our name in the notebook and are hooked on this new hobby. What a fun way to spend a few hours. We are planning our next search soon, there seems to quite a few in the surrounding streets. 

First Geocache discovery!
Mr. Fox has been working long hours and in addition has been training for the Auckland Marathon. He is running to raise money for two charities; RSPCA New Zealand and more dear to my heart Bowel Cancer New Zealand. He is running in memory of my Mum, he loved her. The links to the fundraising pages are here and here if you wish to take a look and perhaps donate. I couldn't be prouder of him and his efforts.

Toby will run in memory of my beautiful Mum.

 We are making the effort to get out and do stuff. It can be hard to walk out the front door and leave behind chores we should be doing or plug away at rennovations but I think the past few years have taught us that life is for living. There will always be washing, dishes, lawns etc but days we have with our Miss Mae Molly Ann living with us are precious and meant to be enjoyed to fullest. So last Monday when Toby had a surprise day off we did just that.....packed up the picnic basket, loaded up the car, pulled shut the front gate and off we went. 
Karekare beach picnic...oh those sweet little feet!

Energised by the novelty of a three day weekend we drove to KareKare Beach, a beach close to us but we had never visited. The road winds it's way down a steep hillside and at one stage you drive right under an ancient fallen Pohutakawa tree that arches from one side of the road to the other. To get to the sea we needed to wade across a little river but we had no towel, instead we climbed a small rise and set up there. Sheer cliffs to our right, craggy boulders to our left and a beautiful view of sand reaching towards the waves ahead. What a perfect spot! Sheltered from the wind we enjoyed our snacks and a cuppa. Feeling like we were on holiday we made a spur of the moment to spends the afternoon at the Zoo.

Karekare beach
It was wonderfully quiet at Auckland Zoo. We spent a wonderful few hours wandering past the exhibits. There is a new Tasmanian Devil exhibit that is so beautifully done. We spent ages there watching the funny wee fellas go about their afternoon. One wee Devil was sprawled out on his tummy soaking up winter sun rays. We were one of the last patrons to leave, all the animals were heading into their cosy homes as dusk approached.

Sunbathing Tasmanian Devil

My loves enjoying looking at the Cheetahs

There are so many things to do in and around Auckland that we wish to do. Often we are recommended or read places we want to visit, only to forget a few weeks later. In an endeavour to remember we created a shared list on our phones which we can both add too. It is fun to see what each other thinks might be an exciting adventure. The list is growing quickly.

To end August we invited friends to join us for a BBQ at Queens Wharf. It was a windy, cloudy and cold evening but it was forecast not to rain. Luckily our friends weren't put off by chilly conditions and joined us for a meal al-fresco. Several coin operated BBQs are located at the end of the wharf with views of the harbour. It was such a cheap and merry way to spend a few hours that we will repeat over the coming Summer.