July 2004 - January 2005

(Don't forget you can click on any of the following photos to see them bigger)

Our latest garden project
One of the reasons why this latest webpage has been so late in coming, is because I've been spending a lot of time in the garden on our latest garden project. This ambitious job has involved changing two large and steep weed-infested clay banks (around the top of our boardwalk, and play deck) into beautiful gardens! We had the garden plan prepared by our garden designer, but it has proved to be a difficult job to execute!

Stage 1 was fixing the "garden" between the boardwalk and our side fence. This area was originally covered with nuisance foliage that kept overgrowing. Since this was cleared away we've had an ongoing battle with the continually re-growing weeds, spraying them and then digging up the re-growth on a deceptively steep slope (! not easy!). Once I'd had another good go at removing the weeds and removing the remaining wiry plants that had survived I then treated the clay with gypsum and compost. I then had to dig large well drained holes for over 80 plants that I'd arranged in position over the bank (according to the garden designer's plan). Before planting the larger ones I had to lay down and fix the mandatory weed matting across the entire bank, then finally plant everything. Lastly I set up the automatic watering system and fixed it all in position. I had also cut in two long ledges along the slope of the topsoil to lay some rows of large rocks along (to help break up the slope), and Brent helped me lay them all in position.

Brent at work clearing the bank of
original rubbishy foliage

Garden area weeded,
existing plants still to be removed

Final garden almost complete
(fence on left still to be done)

It took almost 2 months from start to where we are now, as I could only manage to work on it an hour or so each day (when girls were asleep) as weather permitted and occasionally for longer stints in the weekends. Finally though, this garden is now basically finished and looks great but will take a couple of years to reach the required look (i.e. with no weed matting showing!). This is because the slope of this bank has precluded us from covering the weed matting with any bark/pebbles etc. Istead, we've had to plant a lot of fast-growing groundcovers which are already starting to grow and will in about 2 years time cover most of the matting. The last job, still to be done here, is to tidy up the surrounding fences and walls, then cover them with brush sticks, and hang some garden art on them. Can't wait for the final result, but you can see above how it all looks so far! A much more pleasant sight!

Stage 2 (between the boardwalk and play deck, can be glimpsed on the far right hand side of above photos) is now well underway. It's a very detailed and tricky job which we expect to take a good month or two to complete. It involves building retaining walls almost up to the edges of the play deck (to again contain and reduce the steep slope). This has required Brent's expert construction skills and hard work, but I've been helping out as wherever I can. Once the wall is finally completed and the soil smoothed out we're planning to add a water feature waterfall and plant up the remaining area around it, adding rocks, etc. No pics to share yet as its early days - you'll will have to wait to my next update!


Our recent "Summer" weekend!
At the beginning of December we took a long weekend up North at a Holiday Park on the Kauri Coast. We went up together with three lots of friends and their families, Ken and Lissa, Vaidas and Tracey, and Catherine and Mike (who were up visiting from their new home near Queenstown) and a total of 7 other kids. The "Top 10 Holiday Park" is a regular holiday destination for our friends, but it was the first time there for us. We were wildly impressed with the immaculate grounds circled around the very outside by a flowing river, making it so picturesque.
Our four families stayed in a variety of accommodation, from cabins to a tent and caravan, most all side by side which was great. Our friends are such regulars here that the owners did some special things for us all like drive the kids around on their quad farm bike (shown right) and letting us use their private spa pool!

On the first day there the kids all had a great time playing together on the playgrounds while we adults had a good chat. Unfortunately, overnight, the weather closed in and it basically rained non stop for the next 2 days. We managed to enjoy wine in a cute covered BBQ area while the kids played in the rain, etc but we ended up coming back a day early. That's NZ weather for you - but never mind we had a great time with everyone and would love to go back again!
We hope you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Ours was nice and laid back with two family do's and one friend's do the previous week and three on the day. Lydia had been counting down all month with the help of her chocolate advent calendar (Emily was happy enough to get her share of the chocolates!), and wrote a note for Santa with cookies etc the night before the Main Event. It was so precious seeing the look on her face as she came down the stairs, bypassing the filled sacks of presents, and exclaiming incredulously that Santa had been and taken her cookies!

"Crazy hair" had been the only request from Lydia to Santa so she was thrilled to get that, plus a new bike from Nana and Granddad, Hi-5 Twister game etc. Emily loves her new swing, baby doll and amazing personally painted toy box! Among many other wonderful gifts - what lucky girls!

So many presents - so little time!

The cousins all tuck into their
Christmas feast!
(Clockwise from left:
Lydia, Emily, Zack and Katie)

Emily's favourite present -
a Barney colouring book!

An early Christmas present for us was a new auto-start gas fireplace to replace the wood burner in our lounge. This involved connecting our house to gas (which proved to be a very complicated exercise, trying to find the elusive main line which ended up with the gas men digging up all our neighbours lawns and one neighbours driveway!!!). Never mind!?! We now also have gas water heating - timely as our old cylinder was starting to play up. We almost can't wait for winter, to experience the awesome sensation of waking up in a warmed up house! We're also hoping it means the girls won't get as sick this winter!


New Year's Holiday at the bach

After a hectic few months leading up to Christmas, we were glad we'd booked some time away at the family Bach (belonging to Brent's family) up north on the beach at Wellington Bay, just down from Tutukaka. It's a big roomy 5-bedroom batch (containing beds for up to 15 people!) so we invited up my family (parents Graham and Christine, brothers Richard and Robert, Richard's fiancÚ Michelle, and Robert's friend Mark) to join us for a few days over the New Year. The weather was looking pretty dubious the first couple of days we were there. However the day after the rest of the family arrived it fined up beautifully and we were able to really enjoy a lot of time on the beach. 

The great view from the Bach on a gorgeous sunny day!

The girls lived on the beach most days and had a ball in the sand pools and castles created by the adult family members!
On a couple of days that we were there, some pods of Dolphins swam in close to the beach and played for quite some time with the locals who swam in to join them, doing flips up in the air etc for those of us gathering to watch on the beach. Apparently they'd done the same a few days earlier on Christmas day and had great fun swimming around the tummy of a very pregnant lady who's waded in to join them! What amazing animals!

Late on New Year's Eve we were pleasantly surprised to be treated to a magnificent professional fireworks display above our quiet little beach (thanks to a neighbour who works in that industry)! During our overall stay we were able to relax, enjoy the local cuisine at nearby restaurants/cafe's, play some games of 500 and Mah Jong, etc. Before we knew it the week was over and it was time to return to Auckland. On the way back we popped in to visit a friend of mine, Lisa, who has moved up north with her family. We had a nice catch-up while the children played together.

All in all a nice relaxing break, and much fun had by all!

A trip out on the new Boat

A few days after returning from up North we joined Glyn and Noleine on their brand new Auric for a couple of days. This Maritimo launch (built in Australia and shipped over to New Zealand about a month ago) is an amazing boat inside and out with every mod con imaginable. It can pick up an impressive speed too! Thankfully its gorgeous furnishings withstood the tests of two small children!

Unfortunately it rained the first day but the second day fined up beautifully and we were able to have fun at a nearby beach etc. Lydia was keen to try her hand at fishing (shown on right), and stuck with it for some time even though she wasn't getting many nibbles (like mother, like daughter!). She even got Brent out fishing too ( a very unusual sight!). On the whole the girls were very good on the boat and we all had a great time :o)

The new Auric going for its inaugural
test run  in December

It's more like apartment living
on this boat!