Sunday, February 19, 2017

Abi is 5

Abi celebrated her 5th birthday today with four of her very good friends from school. It was a morning gathering, in the back garden, and a beautiful mild, sunny day. The friends were incredibly excited and started the present giving (and opening) a bit sooner than expected.
The bubble wand present almost brought the Internet down it was SO popular. EVERYONE wanted a turn and Abi thought it was a bit too new and special to share quite so quickly (understandable!!).

Anyway, peace was quickly restored and the sand pit proved to be very soothing place - especially when shared with best friend Miah....
The morning went quickly with sand pit time and monkey bar play, time in the cubby house and on the swings.. It was cake time before we knew it!

 It was quite a challenge to keep the candle lit today as it was quite breezy outside.

 It took the kids quite a long time to eat their icing (most of them left the cake)!
 Abi and Ella decorated the cupcakes (all GF too) this year. We had a bugs, butterflies and bees theme - and they knew exactly which cupcake was theirs!

 These will be fun to show Abi and Miah when they are twenty.

The mood was very mellow by the designated end of the party I think the kids would have stayed all day in the sandpit if it was up to them.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Saturday Wellington

Our first stop on this beautiful Saturday morning is the Thorndon Farmers' Market in the Hill St carpark of St Paul's Cathedral - "Wellington's home of local food". It was very quiet this morning but we enjoyed our coffee in the sunshine, a bit of live music and an opportunity to buy some local Fix & Fogg peanut butter (smoke and fire flavour) to take home with us (the label says extra dark roasted hi-oleic peanuts and a sparing amount of organic Marlborough sea salt flavoured with organic NZ chillies, smoked paprika and natural manuka smoke!)....hopefully Abi & Ella will be impressed.
St Paul's Cathedral is adjacent to NZ's Parliament buildings - a real pastiche of design and function....Bowen house, the Beehive, and the actual parliament building look OK together - especially in this bright blue sky sunshine.........
 ....... but the Gothic inspired, parliamentary library building next door is a bit of a mismatch (but a picturesque one).
On such a beautiful day, we decided to join the majority of Wellingtonians on the harbour front, and walking the two or so kilometres from Thorndon to Oriental Bay, Wellington's inner city beachside suburb.  

On the way we stopped off at the designer's market  under Frank Kitt's Park on the waterfront where I enjoyed supporting some local contemporary  jewellers.... but back on the walk, the views were just as jewel like.

Our mandatory lunch stop pics were taken at Beach Babylon today, a laid back cafe with a retro Hawaiian vibe (very popular here granted NZ's Polynesian heritage). I tried a Tuatara beer - another hand crafted beer from the Kapiti coast.  We finished off the beach experience with a delicious feijoa gelato from the nearby Kaffee Eis.

It was so spectacularly beautiful on the harbour today - we could have walked all day........... That Gothic styled building overlooking Oriental Bay on Mt Victoria in the pic below is St Gerard's Church and Monastery.
 ... and the young Maori warriors were out again today, practising their dives.... with much noise and laughter too!
We finished off our waterfront sightseeing at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea - housed in the late 19th century Bond Store, formerly the head office of the old Wellington Harbour Board.  We are very impressed with this beautiful city!

Post cards from Wellington

From our hotel it was only a quick walk around the corner to Lambton Quay to catch the cable car to the top of Wellington's Botanic Gardens this morning.
We enjoyed great views of Wellington Harbour from the winding paths around the 25 hectares of gardens.

The gardens are full of conifers and native pines including these Pohutukowa trees - and masses of healthy looking agapanthus and hydrangeas.

We decided to walk down from the gardens back to the city..... a beautiful walk through the picturesque streets of Kelburn........ us a good excuse for eating another wonderful lunch - this time at Floriditas on Cuba Street in the city.....we tried a Schubert Pinot Noir this time with lunch - another winery we saw yesterday at Martinborough.

We spent the afternoon at Te Papa Tongarewa (the National Museum and Art Gallery of New Zealand).  The museum is HUGE - over 6 floors. We only focussed on two floors today: the Maori treasures, some early history and the geological  exhibit (NZ has amazing (and somewhat scary) geology!).
 A view of the harbour from one of the decks at Te Papa........

Outside Te Papa a group of young Maori warriors were diving into the water off the docks surrounding the museum - making a lot of noise and laughter in the process - no doubt celebrating the end of the school week.
 While this pair were enjoying the harbour front in a much more sedate way.......
We loved this walkway from the sea to the city - leading from the harbour to Town Hall and Civic Square......

We walked back up to Cuba Street this evening for the Friday Night Markets at the "Left Bank".  The place was crowded with a laid back, happy crowd, live music and lots of food stalls: Indian, Moroccan, Mexican, Thai, lots of dumplings and even a Bratwurst stand for Rob!