Archive for the ‘Family & Friends’ Category

Bach to the future

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Through the love and generosity of good friends, we have been blessed to be able to spend the last few days in their family bach on the Hibiscus Coast.  In the spirit of many a Kiwi holiday home, it is only 45 minutes away from where we live but just 100m from a great beach, so the delightfully quirky (no two doors the same width) and slightly confusing (three levels in two and a half storeys) 1960s bach made a lovely place for a long weekend of relaxation and fun before I headed back to the office this morning.

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The bach was a testament to decades of a loving family life lived well together and was full of charming period artefacts like the bakelite Philco valve radio and the 1970s vacuum cleaner, not to mention the carefully labelled family albums and wonderful EktaChrome slides, complete with viewer.

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For the family, it has meant long sunny days at the beach with a bag full of books and sunblock, Sunday morning devotions together before a long walk on the beach to enjoy cappuccinos and juice at a cafe and leisurely stroll home through the tide pools and sand.

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It also provided a great opportunity for us to catch up with friends like the Smiffs and funkypancake & family, recently returned from Blighty and bearing large quantities of watermelon and cookies, which were consumed with lashings of tea and soft drinks.

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For all that, most of all, it was a great time for the younger members of the family to enjoy the very best of what the Kiwi way of life has to offer – fun in the sun, friends over for sleepovers, lazy days, takeaway dinners, kite flying, card games, jigsaws and crosswords, warm nights in creaky wooden baches  – and the chance to simply smile and be happy!

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North by North West

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

On Wednesday, I spent an enjoyable few hours cycling the North West Cycle Route end-to-end and back again shadowing, as I did, part of the route I commute along to my office. Along the way, I met and chatted to a few folks and I enjoyed getting new perspectives on the journey.

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Graffiti in Point Chevalier

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Newton signage…with my office building in the distance.

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Landscaping between Bond Street and St Lukes Road.

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Heading north from Traherne Island to Rosebank Road.

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Recycled hoarding in Kingsland garden nr. St Lukes Road.

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Heading south across Henderson Creek behind a companionable Doctor. As I rode with her and her family, we discussed sustainability, her doctoral research exploring healthy transport policy and legal aspects of liability in commissioning local infrastructure.  Always interesting to talk to others on their travels – something I can’t do commuting in my car along the same route.

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Rider’s eye view.

New Year News

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Having booked a couple of weeks off, we had hoped for a relatively relaxed Christmas. We had a great Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, spending them with my friend John, Sean and John and their families respectively, however a few family dramas both here and in the UK took some of the shine off.  That said, I’m trying to take an even more positive stance this year, so I’m sure it’s onwards and upwards from here.


Last Thursday, feeling a little bloated from all the festive food, I joined my friend John and his two lads for a day-long tramp in the Coromandel.  Due to my admitted lack of fitness, we took a few hours climbing up the track to the Pinnacles (above) and then dropped down to where the hydro line crosses the Kauaeranga River.  From here, we left the track and went bush or, to be more accurate, we went gorge.

We spent the next five hours working our way down the Kauaeranga Gorge and in doing so, we got a workout that I needed three days to recover from.  We climbed down old kauri dams, walked over the endless riverstone-strewn riverbed, clambered and slithered down rapids, leapt off rocks into cold dark pools and swam the river between towering stone walls hundreds of feet high, using our ruscacs as floatation aids.  It was a fantastic guys’ day out with John and I working with the lads to keep safe whilst experiencing the wonders of creation, testing our nerve, pushing our physical limits and beating the occasional voice in our heads.

After eight hours of continuous and sustained effort in rain, working to keep the contents of our rucsacs dry, make progress down river and keep warm despite repeated swims, it is fair to say that each of us was tired as we walked back into the Kauaeranga Road End Car Park.  Thirty minutes later, dried off and in clean clothes, we tucked into fried chicken and fizzy drinks in Thames to refuel and warm up before the drive home.

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After a great New Year’s Eve evening with friends on their block and an equally lazy New Year’s Day, I decided that I really needed to get myself motivated and do a few things around the house. So far, this week’s labours have centred around tidying up and creating more storage in our workshop/laundry.  Measurements in hand, we took a trip to the local big box DIY store and grabbed a set of bolt-less shelves that have more than doubled the effective storage space in the workshop, leaving the workbench and the space under it clear and useable.

Our Jack Russell cross Abbie and her stone deaf best mate white cat Olive sleep together in the workshop.  This being the case, I bough an extra sheet of 10mm MDF and used a bit of jigsaw-pokery to create new sleeping quarters for them.

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Rooting amongst some of my old bike stuff in the shed, I was pleased to find my long lost Gerber multi-tool, lurking at the bottom of a box of bits.  I bought this great little tool on a wet and horrible day in Tenby (Wales) whilst competing in an off-roading competition years back.  I spent a good 40 minutes cleaning and oiling it and rewarded myself with a nice, deep cut to my finger with the serrated knife, which Robyn helped me apply three surface-stitches to in an effort to staunch the bleeding.

In that funny way things link up, during the tramp I mentioned to John that I was enjoying reading Bear Gryll’s autobiography, Mud, Sweat and Tears (a Christmas gift from my ladies) and John said that he had a great Bear Grylls-branded bush knife that he got from the US.  It turns out that these are also made by Gerber!

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Having been stored next to the old pet bed, my Brompton was covered in dust, fluff and accumulated animal hair. This afternoon’s job was to clean the bike, check the tyre pressures and check the gears and brakes, ready for some summer rides in order to try and get a little fitter and trimmer.

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That done, SWMBO and I tackled a bit of upkeep around the section, mowing and weed-eating until things looked tidier and now, with the smell of curry drifting from the kitchen, I’m off to investigate!


Sunday, December 25th, 2011


Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger—there was no room for them to stay in the inn.

There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, but the angel said to them, Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David’s town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Suddenly a great army of heaven’s angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!

When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said. Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them. The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.

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Desparately seeking Samaritans

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Just heard this story on Rhema news and was disappointed by its timeless similarity to Luke’s story of the Good Samaritan

“It’s not an easy life for a person with an intellectual handicap, particularly if they aren’t severely handicapped, because they realise what is going on, and they realise they are different.  And it’s not easy being a parent or having a sibling that’s intellectually handicapped, because of these incidents that are happening. […] And what were these people who walked past him thinking? What sort of person would walk past someone sobbing on the street?”

Many with intellectual disabilities do realise what is going on and do realise they are different.  Is it their lot to spend their lives dealing with a society seemingly incapable of bridging the gap and simply meeting them where they are?  Surely we are better than that?


A Harvest Of People

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

For all my friends  – especially those celebrating Thanksgiving today – I’m blessed to know you.

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:

For children who are our second planting, and though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away, may they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where their roots are.

Let us give thanks;

For generous friends…with hearts…and smiles as bright as their blossoms;

For feisty friends, as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us that we’ve had them;

For crotchety friends, sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as potatoes and so good for you;

For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes;

And serious friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you through the winter;

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;

For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts and witherings;

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter.

For all these we give thanks.

A Harvest Of People by Max Coots


Birthday at the zoo

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Today, we spent a great afternoon walking around Auckland Zoo, celebrating Robyn’s birthday in the warm sunshine of the early summer. With the girls growing up, family days like this are to be cherished and this one was one for the album.

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A soulful White Rhino

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Oz the Sumatran tiger.

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Spider monkey swinging over the river.

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Tumu Herenga Waka – a 7m tall sculpture at the entrance to Te Wao Nui.

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The King of Pridelands.


A Day Out

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Had a great day out with Wendy, Maisie and her friend Alice today.  We saw a few things at Auckland Museum, checked out the view from the top of Maungawhau and had afternoon tea in Mount Eden before heading home.

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In the Aqua exhibition, Maisie tries fetching water as many kids her age have to do daily around the world.

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An exquisite 17th century Italian carving in the Mackelvie Collection.

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What all the trendy surfers were wearing in 1925.

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The Webb Ellis Trophy and an old mug.

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Successive RWC captains holding the trophy.

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Eden Park, the venue for this weekend’s semi-finals and next weekend’s final of the RWC 2011 – from Maungawhau.

The discovery of the afternoon was the Museum Library, tucked away on the second floor.  The library’s catalogue is available online contains all sorts, from the letters of aviatrix Jean Batten to a 1778 account of James Cook’s South Seas journeys.

Water Woes – update

Friday, October 14th, 2011


Yesterday, prayers were answered when we received an email from the mission team in Thailand.

They are all well and have moved from Mauk Lek back to Bangkok without incident and avoiding the areas worst hit by flooding.  From the brief email we have had, it seem that despite the weather and floods, they have been able to carry out the work in the slum schools and AIDS orphanage as planned.

The team will now head to a small resort area in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (above) to debrief, rest and recuperate before flying home next week.