I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I’ve been far too busy enjoying our Kiwi Summer! I had 3 weeks off work over Christmas/New Year (Rob and I both went back to work on January 11th) and that time has been filled to the brim with summertime fun. Just the way I like it.
As I’m sure you all know by now, we live right by the beach. We love the beach and go there whenever we can. If we ever get sick of ‘our local’, we have more than a dozen other beaches in very close proximity to choose from. If it’s windy on one side of the peninsula, we can just go to a beach on the other side. For somebody who LOVES summer (that would be yours truly), we live in the perfect place. Beaches everywhere. People from other places come to our area FOR THEIR HOLIDAYS. It’s that nice. And before you ask, YES, I’m completely aware of how blessed we are to live in a place like this, and I am grateful for it every single day.
So. It kind of goes without saying that we will have a swim (or two) at ‘our local’ beach most days. It’s a short, gentle, flat stroll to the end of our road, or through the park, then across the road to the beach. It’s easy, and we love it. But we also like to get out and about, exploring and visiting our favourite places. We do that as much as we can all through summer. Now that we’re back at work, we are making the most of our afternoons/evenings and weekends. We’re not home often!😉
We’ve been strawberry picking as a family. This is one of our post-Christmas traditions. We always go to the same orchard (Sweet Red), and we always get an ice cream made from fresh strawberries after we’ve picked a couple of kilos of fruit to take home.
Rob and the boys love jumping off stuff into water. Our ‘other local’ beach (i.e. the next closest beach to ours, on the other side of our very skinny peninsula) has a big cliff and an awesome big tree with rope swings and a trapeze. The water there is gorgeous. I always feel like I’m swimming in fresh water, it’s so clear. We’ve visited this spot several times so the boys could jump!
Friends of ours have a 3-person jetski and we’ve had a great time hooning around on the water with them. The boys loved being towed behind the jetski on the sea biscuit. There were some beautiful days just after Christmas where there was no wind and the water was dead calm and flat. Perfect for skiing!
Shakespear Regional Park is another favourite place of ours. It’s right out the end of the peninsula and offers a bit of everything, really. Beaches, bush, farmland, waterfalls, mountain bike tracks, beautiful park-like grounds … it’s just stunning. We had a swim here one evening and also came for a church picnic a week or so later. Love this place.
Up in Warkworth, about 45 min drive North from our house, there’s an awesome swimming hole (used to be a quarry) that we love going to. It’s nice to swim in fresh water for a change, and it’s so deep. The quarry was part of the old cement works. Some is free to explore, and the other more dangerous/unstable parts are fenced off. However, you can still get a really good view of it all in its rundown, ruinous state. I went for a walk and took lots of photos.
Right behind our house is a huge grassy park with the best trees (I know. We are so lucky). On Saturday our city council hosted one of their ‘Music in the Park’ events at ‘our’ park! It was fantastic. Heaps of locals turned out with their gazebos, picnic rugs, chairs, sun umbrellas and food/drink, to enjoy an afternoon of awesome soul/funk music. There were 3 different bands over 3 hours. Such fun!
We often go to the thermal pools at Parakai, also about 45 min drive (West) from our house. We headed there yesterday afternoon with some friends of ours and my sister. The pools aren’t really that hot in summer, so it’s still really nice and refreshing to swim there on a hot day. The slides are a big attraction for the boys, of course. Rob took heaps of cool videos on his GoPro and they were really fun to watch afterwards! Unfortunately they’re a bit big to upload here, but I’ve put one on my Facebook page.
Seriously. Who needs to go away on holiday when you live in a place with all of that (and more) to offer? A ‘staycation’ was all we needed.
Having said that, Rob DID take the boys away, but just for a couple of days. It was their 6th annual ‘Man vs Wild’ trip, something they look forward to doing every January. This year they spent 2 days hiking, adventuring, exploring and bonding in the wilderness around the Kauraeranga Valley near Thames. No cell phone coverage (so no way I could know where they *actually* were!), no campsite, no tents, no mattresses, no toilets or running water. They slept in hammocks in the trees in the forest, peed in the bush, boiled water from the stream and wrote a song that they sang together often called ‘Breaking the Law with Dad’ (don’t ask … I don’t know anymore than that and I don’t want to!). Needless to say, it was a very successful and enjoyable trip for the 3 of them. I’m so glad that Rob loves doing this with the boys, and that the boys love it so much (especially Tyler, who is very into his survival/wilderness stuff). They are making awesome memories every year.
Amid all of the activity above, Rob and I both managed to find time to write a sermon each. We both preached on the same day, on a ‘Foundational Verse’. Mine was Romans 12:12 (“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”) and Rob’s was from Luke, about building on a firm foundation. If you want to listen to the podcasts, you can find them here.
Until next time — I’ll be off ‘Summering’ for a few more weeks at least — see ya!