Friday, January 30, 2009


Another hot day, so to find some breeze we climbed Mount Victoria, which is the highest volcano on Auckland's North Shore, it erupted some 20,000 years ago, and its lava flows line much of Devonport's waterfront. It's opposite Mount Albert of course!

The volcano is named after our Queen Victoria, and the hill provides panoramic views of Auckland's Harbour. The views included the start of the NZ yacht races going on at the moment.

Where is it? Well,Mount Victoria is a 10 minute walk from the Devonport ferry terminal. Look at our Historic Walk in Devenport this month for other views along the way!

You can have a bird's eye view of the area including the spread of beaches and sea from both sides once you get to the top... but the strangest thing was seeing lots of red and white dotted toadstools on the top!

There was a 'disppearing gun' at the top as well, which was only fired once. It cracked the glass in some houses because it was so loud, the residents complained, and the gun was dismantled!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The girls love cooking, there were ooohs and aaahs of excitement on Christmas when they opened a variety of kitchen gadgets!
There were egg timers which changed colour in the pan to indicate how the egg was cooking, spatulas in the shape of people, cotton candy and cookie makers, mini graters and measuring spoons in lurid colours.
Then there were the cookbooks - Jo Seager, Gordon Ramsay, Jaimie Oliver..beautifully illustrated, so many to choose from. We recently took, 'Never Trust A Skinny Cook' out from the library, and it made us laugh!
Replacing cartoons are 'Hell's Kitchen' and 'Iron Chef' (for another laugh) even Nigella has joined the viewing list ** don't get me wrong they still follow 'New Zealand Idol' fanatically!
And then there's the food that comes out of the kitchen regularly - mouth-watering recipes, and they never seem to go wrong! The confidence of children!
We have the full range of vegetarian dishes, with several hundred different uses for pumpkin, courtesy of Jess.
And for the omnivores we have Sophia's dishes, souffles and spicy recipes.
The photos below don't really do justice to the dinners - but you can blame the photographer!

Filoettes, rapberry & cream cakes, asparagus rolls and olive tapanades

Jess creating cheese twists

Strawberry shortcake supreme

Banana souffle - yum!

Pesto pinwheels

Rasperry triple layer birthday cake

Homemade meringues nests with blueberries and double cream

Gingerbread men in the making

Bread and butter pudding with blueberries

Dark, rich fruit cake with almonds

Fruity mince pies

Moist chocolate sponge smothered in Smarties

Gingerbread tree biscuits

Dark chocolate Brownie cakes

Jessica's tomato & basil tarts

Sophia's pizza bites

Sophia's Persian lamb stuffed pita breads with minted yoghurt sauce

Pavlova with red berry cream and cherries

Sophia serving the pavlova

Meatballs in sour cream and dill sauce

Gorgeous pineapple cheesecake

Foccaccino bread with rosemary & sea salt

Bread for starters

And what have they benefitted from being in the kitchen and cooking? Wll, they've had fun, first and foremost. They have learned so much, economics, maths, health, creativity etc.. I'm talking to the converted, I know. It's so lovely to see them make something from scratch, and they appreciate it so much more.
In today's world of McPersons all wanting blandness and sameness, relying on predictability, I'm glad that they are demanding something different!

Jessica's pisaladiere, very olivy!

Sophia's white chocolate mousse in dark chocolate sauce

Close up of said pudding

Sophia's Red wine risotto with raddichio and blue cheese sauce

Friday, January 23, 2009


Sculpture at the entrance of the Botanic Gardens

Another gorgeous day of sunshine to explore the Botanic Gardens on the edge of Auckland.

We spent some time in the vegetable and herb garden, looking at what we could do to improve ours at home.

Acres and acres of trees and gardens - the roses were in full bloom and bouganvillae climbing over everything, and fountains splashing everywhere.

We packed a picnic and plenty of water, grabbed the camera and ice-cream money, and set off to explore.

We discovered the Potter Children's Gardens, complete with giant kereru and possum factoids.The theme of the garden is the relationship between the puriri (a native tree), kererü (native wood pigeon) and mokoroa (the puriri moth).

Entrance to the Children's Garden

There is a giant egg to 'hatch' out of and a carved trail to follow. It's an interactive garden, opened by our very own Prince of Wales in 2005..

Hatching out of the nest

The gardens are named after Freemason Frederick Potter who dedicated his life to helping children.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Girls on Cook's beach - it was hot!

This was one of our 'Beach Days' and it was HOT! We cooled down in the shade eventually and then went up to the cliffs to look at Lonely Bay.

Captain James Cook, who named things all over New Zealand, was a master seaman, surveyor and astronomer, and he sailed on the Endeavour into Mercury Bay (because he saw the transit of Mercury there) on 3rd November 1769.)

He were a Yorkshire lad - which may account for his simplistic naming of everything he discovered..

Cook anchored at Cooks Beach (decided to name a beach after himself) off Purangi.

He spent ten days in the area exploring and taking astronomical readings and while here he observed the transit of Mercury (apparently helps us determine our distance from the sun). Then he carved his name into a tree, claimed the area and sailed off - how British!

Aerial view of Cook's Beach

There are two monuments commemorating this event: one at Cooks Beach, and the other at Shakespeare Cliff. The photo is of the one at Shakespeare Cliff ( so named because he thought it looked like Shakespeare's head - yes, really!)

Viewpoint of Cook's beach and monument

The next transit of Mercury that will be fully visible from New Zealand will occur in 2052. .. I wonder if we'll see it?

Monday, January 19, 2009


Hahei,(pronounced HA- HAY), was our final camping destination this holiday, it is a small settlement near Cathedral Cove (the one in the Chronicles of Narnia film).

It is a popular holiday destination, with a soft, white, sandy beach and quite sheltered, but the sea shelves steeply and can produce some huge waves!. Good for boogie boarding..I still remember being tipped out of the kayak at 100 miles an hour last time!

On the southern end of the beach is Te Pare Point, which was once the site of a māori pā. Greg and the girls climbed up it one sticky afternoon, and I opted for preparing the dinner and reading my book..the latest Stephen King 'Duma Key' - interesting, but not his best.

Another feature of this beach is Mahurangi Island, where Greg went fishing and caught several snapper, but they were too small and he had to put them back. The island lies on the edge of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei marine reserve, so you have to be careful where you fish or you can get arrested! I'm sure I wouldn't be able to tell where the line in the water began.

The town centre consists of a few overpriced cafés and a tacky gift shop, as well as a general store with icy ice-creams , and a salty fish and chip (fush an' chups) store. We had ice-creams every day, much to the girls' delight, but it was SO hot.
So, camping over with for this summer, back to work and hard graft, SIGH!