Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beautiful But Deadly!

We're in the middle of summer camp at school and a team-building exercise was come up with a tribal name and design a flag & create a chant for your tribe - so the staff joined in! Ourname 'The Black Widows' (wonder who thought of that?)
Our slogan 'Beautiful But Deadly'..
- do you like the flag design? I had fun with it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Getting dressed up in our gowns and attending Prizegiving is always fun!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tea Time..

We went for high tea at a 'secret' location and had a lovely time, among the white roses in the garden. Sweet nibbles and lots of giggles! Who's got the best hat?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Sophia and four of her classmates made it to the Final of the Brain Bee Competition which is held each year in Auckland, at the Centre of Brain Research. To qualify they had come in the top 2% in New Zealand in Round 1 of the competition. Brains obviously run in the family!

I took them in to the University for the day and it all began with the individual competition which was intense! There were 38 competing schools, some of whom had travelled from Wellington that morning and you could feel the competitive edge in the room.

This was followed by tours around the labs, lectures by neuro scientists, looking at bionic ears, analysing DNA and looking at actual brains (one of the teachers thought it was a model and picked it up!)

We came in the top 10, but sadly didn't win the challenge - I think Sophia would make a excellent neuro surgeon, so I made friends with the professor in charge and we're going back for a private tour of all their 'brain' stuff for her..

The four of them are talking about being mentors for next year's team!

Friday, June 11, 2010


Jessica's Year 13 Ball was a Parisian theme this year, at the Langham Hotel Ballroom in Auckland. They were served a three course meal and the Hotel was decorated with an Eiffel Tower and bonbons.
It was lavish affair with Jess wearing a cherry silk dress with rose accessories and the 'date' (Mackensie) gave her a mini rose corsage and wore a matching tie. Needless to say, the hair took longer then expected and we arrived eons late for the pre-ball.. and the after Ball was a 'Chocolate Factory' theme.. so much excitement - we can all look forward to a quiet life now (Sophia's turn next year!)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Sophia's birthday was a 'Wonderland' theme this year and fancy dress was compulsory. Early morning saw the arrival of a caterpillar, white rabbit, Queen of Hearts, Mad Hatter and March hare on the doorstep..

We booked the Water Gardens for the day and had the place to ourselves - it's a stunningly beautiful place in the summer and at this time of year the lotus flowers were ended, but the bright blue water lilies covered the ponds and the trees all had yellow and red leaves..

We were lucky with the weather and set tea up in the pavilion, by the lakes, with the waterfall in the distance.. the girls absolutely loved it and wandered amongst the flowers, before settling down to scoff all the goodies we had made..

The chocolate hedgehog cupcakes went first, then the pink flamingo ones, the 'mad' teaparty Birthday cake was just that and had three layers - chocolate cream, vanilla and raspberry and sponge. There were white rabbit droppings (chocolate sultanas) and jellies in tea-cups and jam tarts and heart biscuits ... and...

Then they went off to the croquet field at the top of the Gardens to play in the sunshine, while Jess and I replenished the food - it had to be an eternal tea-party, like in the book! We put the fairy lights on in the pavilion, for when they returned and set up games..

When the day was over we piled them all into the mini-van and took them home for a late night feast and DVDs and present opening..

On her actual birthday Sophia went rockclimbing and ordered caramel cheesecake for dessert. Mama Mia restaurant served up a gorgeous Italian feast for us and she slept well! Happy 15th Birthday!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The Botanic Gardens were opposite our hotel, literally across the street, so we spent a few hours the first day, as dusk drew in, having a wander. As we were going through the 'jungle' section of the Gardens the girls and I noticed how noisy all the birds were in the treetops - but when we looked up, they weren't birds at all! They were giant bats!

We had thought the shapes on the trees were fruit, but as dusk drew in the bats started opening their wings and chittering away to each other - thousands of them - and then they started flying in the direction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge..

We discovered that if we stood on our hotel balcony we were level with them as they flew by, they were huge, and so many of them! No chance of any bugs being able to spoil your evening meal outside, with all those hungry mouths to feed!

They had a wing span of about a metre and were grey-headed flying foxes, endemic to Australia, and unfortunately the colony has grown over the years and now they are damaging the trees in the Gardens, so they are going to be forcibly relocated - by playing loud noises at them, so that they don't roost there. I wonder where 22 thousand bats will go?

The Gardens themselves are filled with exotic trees and glass pyramids, fountains and sculptures - we only managed to see one half of it, so... next time!

They curve around and out into the Bay and give spectacular views of Sydney and the Opera House and Bridge. I suppose it's as odd as Central Park in New York, you just don't expect this huge, green space. We had to walk to, and of course, sit on Mrs MacQuarie's Chair!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


We spent a morning at Sydney Aquarium – right on the waterfront, it doesn’t look very big from the outside – but it took us 4 hours to get round and we could easily have stayed longer!
One of the areas had a sign ‘dugongs’ and there was a queue ...we joined it to discover that, worldwide, only six dugongs are held in captivity and two of them were in front of us.

They look a lot like manatees and are the only survivng species of ‘sea-cow’ in the world. Dugong actually means ‘lady of the sea’

As you can see they have no fins or limbs, look a bit like a dolphin from above and a bit like an elephant in their face. We watched feeding time and they must have hoovered up sixteen cabbages.

Dugongs are hunted – the Japanese again! It’s now near extinction even though laws have been passed (some nations think they are exempt)

They live, if allowed to, for up to 70 years and can grow up to 2 metres – gentle giants really
Cave drawings have been discovered of dugongs, the drawings are over 5000 years old!!

My second favourite was the ‘leafy seahorse’ SO cool!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Circular Quay (originally Semi-circular Quay) in Sydney is where Governor Philip and his crew arrived two centuries ago.

It has one of the world's great views as you stand on the quay, facing the harbour. The famous Opera House on the right with its dazzling, seemingly white roof and to the left Harbour Bridge, which seems to edge its way into every photograph.

In the distance is the glimmering Luna Park, an amusement park, with what I would say was a slightly terrifying head, for an entrance.
Then, there are all the chunky ferries arriving and leaving with rapid regularity and tanned, smiling workers marching out of them, looking as if they quite like going to work.

And, behind you, towering skscrapers with gleaming windows and acres of shimmering metal.
It's the place to be!

This is where we based ourselves at the Sir Stamford Hotel (more about that amazing fellow later!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

CHINESE GARDENS of Friendship !

At the southern end of Darling Harbour in Sydney there is a green oasis - the Chinese Garden of Friendship.It was created in 1888 to symbolise the friendship between China and Australia.

Up at the pagoda

We were on our way to somewhere else - it was included in our tourist passes - so we popped in.. and stayed for three hours.It was peaceful with little pagodas and jade carvings and carriages in the small museum.

At the Dragon wall

There was an exhibition of flower art, which was amazing! Huge pictures made entirely out of petals and leaves, in the most intricate designs.

The gardens were beautiful, with lakes and streams, statues, willow trees and a huge temple.

We 'took tea' in the pavilion while the girls opted to dress up as Chinese maidens...

Jessica being prepared

and wander the gardens with tourists asking for photos with every step! They had fun and fluttered their fans - the costumes were beautiful.

By the Dragon carving

Girls at lakeside