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7 2014 Dec

Sunset Kayak to Rangitoto Island – Dec 2014

10pm on a Saturday night…..I could be out at a noisy, lively bar celebrating with Christmas cheer.  I could be snuggled up on the couch watching a DVD with my hubby.  I could be early to bed reading a good book…….but here I am, smoothly, silently, slicing through the black waters with my paddle, full moon at my back, city lights sparkling way ahead, all around me quiet, peaceful darkness with just the “tail lights” of the other kayaks gliding through the darkness with me.

We are on our back to St Heliers having kayaked over in the late afternoon to walk to the top of Rangitoto Island and watch the sunset.

It was pretty choppy out there...

It was pretty choppy out there…

 

Setting off in choppy seas, (no white caps though) our kayaks felt very stable as we rocked and rolled our way over to the island.

 

 

 

 

Tea, coffee and muffins before we head up to the top of Rangitoto.

Tea, coffee and muffins before we head up to the top of Rangitoto.

 

 

Once we got there we pulled our kayaks right up out of the water and had a very welcome hot drink with muffins, muesli bars and apples.

 

 

 

On the trail to the top.

On the trail to the top.

 

 

Then it was off for a very nice chatty walk up to the top of the island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silvery light over Auckland.

Silvery light over Auckland.

The view from the top of Rangitoto island never fails to disappoint, it is always spectacular.  This time there was a lovely silvery light as the sun shone through the heavy clouds.  There was no real fiery sunset but that didn’t matter at all.

 

And the moon comes up....

And the moon comes up….

 

We walked back down, enjoying the evening light and as we arrived back to the wharf, the moon slowly rose up in front of us.  She was beautiful!  With our backs to the setting sun, we all excitedly took photos and marveled at the beauty of the moon!

 

 

Enjoying our BBQ dinner before we headed back.

Enjoying our BBQ dinner before we headed back.

We sat, eating out BBQ steak with couscous and pasta salads, watching the moon and feeling very happy and satisfied.

 

By now it was 9pm, time to pack up the kayaks, turn on our little tail lights and paddle back.

The first time I kayaked in the dark I remember feeling rather nervous, this time though, I relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of being cocooned in the near darkness, the friendly full moon at my back giving just enough light.  The peaceful feeling of gliding through the dark water was euphoric.  10pm on a Saturday night……I know exactly where I’d rather be!

So pretty.  This kayak adventure was more about the moonrise than the sunset!

So pretty. This kayak adventure was more about the moonrise than the sunset!

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30 2014 Nov

Standup Paddleboarding – Matakana River – Nov 2014

Kneeling upright on the board I gingerly and slowly bring one foot out from under me and place it on the board.  Hmmm….so far so good…….I then ever so gently bring my other foot out and holding onto the paddle in front of me I slowly rise up from crouching to fully standing, leaning forward, soft knees, my legs shaking slightly, my bare feet gripping the board.  A gust of wind blows and I brace myself, totally focused on my balance, phewww, I slowly let out my breath and relax a bit.  Now for the paddling part!

Paddling down the river.

Paddling down the river.

We're getting the hang of this now!

We’re getting the hang of this now!

Trying to line ourselves up for a photo....

Trying to line ourselves up for a photo….

 

Gradually it all starts to come together as little by little I grow more confident and manage to stop myself from getting caught in the mangroves, from falling off when a gust of wind blasts me as I round a bend in the river and when my board starts going backwards.  It’s an exhilarating feeling to be in control of this big board, to feel the board surging forwards when I thrust the paddle in.  It’s also an incredibly peaceful and almost meditative feeling to be quietly gliding along the river as it meanders through the farmland , herons stalking through the shallows, ducks paddling past…..

Standup Paddleboading was the perfect end to our full day adventure outing.  We started the day at the Matakana Market, browsing through the many stalls, sampling their wares, rushing for cover under awnings when the squally showers came down and sipping our coffee listening to the lively jazz band playing.

At the start of the Ecology Trail.

At the start of the Ecology Trail.

 

Next stop was the beautiful Tawharenui for lunch and a lovely walk on the Ecology Trail that took us along the beach, up over the headland and down through the bush back to the start.

 

 

 

 

Walking up over the headland with the wind blowing.

Walking up over the headland with the wind blowing.

 

From there we drove in the van back to Matakana and down to the river for our Standup Paddleboarding lesson and guided paddle.

 

 

 

 

Enjoying tea, coffee and muffins at the end of our adventure.

Enjoying tea, coffee and muffins at the end of our adventure.

 

 

The river was the perfect solution for where to paddle on this unpredictable day.  I can highly recommend Matakana Beach Outfitters and our friendly and enthusiastic guide, Ashley.

 

http://www.matakanasup.co.nz.

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1 2014 Nov

Timber Trail – Pureora Forest – Oct 2014

Speeding flat tack down the bumpy forest trail, cold wind whipping past, eyes watering, intensely focused on the rutted, pot-holed, muddy, branch strewn track. Standing, crouched low on my pedals, body leaning forwards over the handlebars, fingers splayed lightly over the brakes, alert to all the possible dangers…..this was totally exciting, exhilarating and scary!

This was The Timber Trail.

Four of us were in the heart of the Pureora Forest to do the 85km mountain bike trail with little idea of what to really expect. We knew it would be a challenge, but just how challenging, how tough, how physically and mentally demanding it would turn out to be, we didn’t yet know. By the end of Day One we knew and our numbers reduced to half.

Our two injured and very knackered women get a lift back on the quad bike.

Our two injured and very knackered women get a lift back on the quad bike.

 

Two of the group ended up having to be picked up by quad bike near the halfway mark as both were exhausted. One had a nasty deep gash in her leg where the pedal had gouged her when she came off, the other had come off over the front of her handle bars and was pretty sore as well. Both decided to flag Day Two and rest, re-coop and explore the many different walks around our accommodation art Blackfern Lodge.

 

Sandy and I soldiered on. And we were glad we did, though it took everything we had and we’re both pretty fit women! We cycled over huge suspension bridges that swayed in the strong breeze, we cycled through dark, natural tunnels made of over arching trees and ferns and through a ‘real tunnel’, through regenerating forest, through old mossy lined forest and up steep forest tracks. It was beautiful with stunning views across the valleys. Best of all was the 30km fast ride down hill pretty much all the way to Ongarue.

It gets pretty windy being up so high!

It gets pretty windy being up so high!

Riding through the forest tunnels.

Riding through the forest tunnels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it was challenging, demanding, tough but if you’re fit and into mountain biking, you’ll love it!

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28 2014 Oct

Samoan Cycling Adventure- Oct 2014

Day One: Arrival Day

Ahh Samoa……soft warm sunshine embracing us as we step off the plane, guitars strumming, melodic voices harmonising as we go through customs, flowery shirts, lava lava’s, jandals and smiling brown faces…..We have arrived and are feeling fine, just fine!

Our van driver awaits us, we are taken just up the road to Airport Lodge where we pick up our bikes and are given a thorough briefing and then we’re off….our first stop is Aggie Grey’s only 4km up the road where we stop for lunch and a swim before catching the ferry over to Savaii.

Biking off the ferry and off to our accommodation just 2km away at Lusia's Lagoon Chalets.

Biking off the ferry and off to our accommodation just 2km away at Lusia’s Lagoon Chalets.

 

The thrum of the engines, the soporific warmth and our general tiredness after such an early start to our day, means that one by one we succumb and start nodding off. It’s been a long day.

An hour later we arrive on the island of Savaii and excitedly ride off the ferry and a short 1km later we are at Lusia’s, our upmarket accommodation for the night. Ahh, what bliss! We shower, we rest, take a look around, have a lovely meal and with not much else to do and feeling very much in need of it, we head off to our rooms for an early night.

Day Two: Lusia’s to Lano – 20km

First stop today is the big market place a couple of km’s up the road to buy what we need for lunches and snacks for the next few days. I have my shopping list and together we choose delicious tropical fruits, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, tuna, spreads etc and load it all into our support van.

Doing the groceries shopping at the market.

Doing the groceries shopping at the market.

 

By this time it was mid morning and getting pretty hot. Even though it was only a short ride today, we needed to get going before the midday heat hit us. We were certainly looking forward to our fresh water swim stop at the John Williams memorial pool and it was divine!

So cool and so refreshing!

So cool and so refreshing!

 

 

 

 

A deep, cool, natural spring water pool by the side of the road where we wallowed, feeling totally refreshed and energised. Fresh juicy mangoes and paw paw followed and 5 happy women then cycled off for a further 30 min to our accommodation at Lano.

 

 

 

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Our fales at Lano, right on the beach.

Our fales were right on the beach and at high tide the water went right under us! We put our bags that were waiting for us into our fales, had a lovely picnic lunch with our ‘market food’, rested, went swimming and snorkelling, sat on the beach sipping mojito’s and eating potato chips……….Bliss !!!

Dinner was meant to be an umu (traditional Samoan meal cooked in hot coals) but a breakdown in communication meant that the staff were not told and so we missed out. We were disappointed but I knew we’d more than likely get an umu meal further on in the trip, which we did.

Day 3: Lano to Manase – 33km

Up and organised, our breakfast was Samoan cocoa porridge which was like a chocolate tasting runny sago (not too bad once I mixed our muesli into it) fresh tropical fruit and an omelette.

We were away by 8:30am with the warm wind at our back, skimming along the deserted road, through villages full of the children’s cheerful cries of “bye bye, bye bye!” We were to hear “bye bye’s” throughout our trip and no matter how many times you cheerfully called “bye bye” back to them they just kept on calling it. There were definitely times when we were puffing and panting up hills, dripping with sweat, sandwiched between the sun beating down and the heat of the road ‘beating up’ (if there’s such a thing) when the last thing you had any energy for was to cheerfully call out a returned “bye bye!”

Cycling up hot jungle roads.

Cycling through hot jungle roads.

 

Through the hot jungle roads we cycled with the trees completely covered in jungle weed, through villages with piglets scuttling, chickens scratching, roosters crowing, fires smoking and everywhere friendly faces waving, smiling and calling out hello or bye bye!

 

 

 

 

A view of the lava inside the church.

A view of the lava inside the church.

 

Stopping at the Mauga lava fields we guzzle down fresh, cold coconut juice straight from the coconut (so pleased we put them in the fridge the night before) and feast on sweet, juicy paw paws before we take a tour through the ruins of the church that was destroyed when a meter of lava flowed through it during the volcano eruptions that happened between 1906 and 1911. What is fascinating is that the lava flowed everywhere except over the burial site of the chief’s daughter.

20 min of cycling later and we were at our accommodation at Jne’s Beach Fales in Manase. We are shown to our lovely open fales and I’m back in the same fale that I’ve had 3 times now. It’s looking a bit in need of repair and the deck out the front has a definite lean on it but it still brings back fond memories of my first stay in Samoa with my husband and 5 years later when we brought 2 of our grandkids over. I admit I felt a little bit homesick and teary eyed…..

My familiar fale.

My familiar fale.

A lovely picnic lunch, a nice long rest, a swim and a snorkel and pre dinner cocktails at the beach bar rounded off the afternoon nicely. A large group of Samoan high school teachers were having a Professional Development weekend and were sitting in groups out on the grass singing, laughing and supposedly practising their skits for that night’s performance. All we seemed to hear was them cracking up laughing all the time. I wish my PD weekends when I was a teacher had been as much fun!

After dinner and chatting to the other guests we ended up with drinks on the (sloping) deck of my fale before heading off to bed for what was to be a very stormy night. I awoke during the night to flashes of sheet lightning far out at sea, the sound of the waves crashing and then surging under my fale and horizontal rain lashing in through the open door. Luckily my bed was behind a wall so I didn’t get wet but the matting on the floor was pretty soggy in the morning…..

 Day 4: Manase to Vaisala – 42km

What a long hot day’s ride this was and yet it started so beautifully! We left later than what we had planned and were on the road by 8am. Cycling along in the cool, fresh, clean morning air was so uplifting. Everything smelt and looked like it had been washed clean from last night’s storm. The colours were all so vivid and bright. The greens of the jungle, the turquoise blues of the ocean, the reds and pinks of the flowers and the yellow and orange of the village fales were a feast for the eyes. We sped along through the quiet and peaceful coastal villages delighting in it all, big smiles on our faces.

Getting a bit of Samoan manpower to push us up those hills!

Getting a bit of Samoan manpower to push us up those hills!

 

Then the road headed up and inland, through the jungle area and it got hotter. Gone were the gentle sea breezes, gone was the flat easy cycling road as with faces flushed and sweat dripping we cycled up the long hills panting in the heat.

Stopping in the shade by the side of the road for our fresh tropical fruit morning tea totally revived us and on we went up and down the undulating road that gradually headed over to the coast.

 

Before getting there though we stopped at the Aopo Lava Tubes, an amazing network of tunnels or tubes that goes for miles, where the lava flowed underground and out to sea creating these huge lava tubes where little swiftlets birds live. With our torches and headlamps we were led through some of these tunnels while swiftlets fluttered like bats around our heads.

A very welcome coconut and pawpaw stop.....it was very hot biking!

A very welcome coconut and pawpaw stop…..it was very hot biking!

 

 

By this time it was lunchtime and we were starving. Cycling uses up a lot of energy! Another big picnic lunch with loads of fresh juicy pineapple and then we were on our way again. What’s that they say about ‘mad dogs and Englishmen…..”

 

 

Our next and ‘bestest’ stop was the big fresh water swimming pool at Agua Asau.

A very welcome swim after a long, hot and hilly ride to Vaisala.

A very welcome swim after a long, hot and hilly ride to Vaisala.

We sped down the long jungle hill road knowing that this pool was waiting for us and what a welcome relief it was!! Slipping our hot sweaty bodies, fully clothed into the cool, crystal clear water was pure bliss! We frolicked, we dunked, we did handstands, we lay on our backs and floated enjoying every energy reviving minute!

Another 4km and we had made it to Vaisala Hotel – a large, sprawling, ‘seen better days’ old fashioned hotel right on the beach and what a welcome sight it was. This was definitely our hardest day on the trip and we were all glad it was over and we had a full rest day to look forward to the next day.

Our bikes were stashed in a large empty room and we were shown our rooms with big heavy double and single beds, ceiling fans, air con and fridges……SORTED!

View from the water of our accommodation at Vaisala where we stayed for 2 nights.

View from the water of our accommodation at Vaisala where we stayed for 2 nights.

 

We spent the next few hours refreshing and reviving ourselves with showers, rests, swims and the obligatory pre dinner drinks. We ended up having our first late night (we’re talking just after 10pm!) The other guests were from William Colenso College in Napier and we were treated to an impromptu performance as well as a bit of a fia fia from the Vaisala staff. You can bet we all slept well that night!

 

Day Five: Rest Day

How timely that our day of rest ended up being on a Sunday. Three of us were taken to the local village church, a lovely light, airy, open, cool and breezy church. About 150 villagers all in white, solemnly sat all around us. It turned out to be the yearly christening service and there were lots of babies looking like little dolls in their lacy, pretty, frilly little dresses being proudly taken, usually by their grandmothers, up to the minister to be christened with a sprinkling of water on their foreheads.

Inside the beautiful church.  We LOVED the singing!

Inside the beautiful church. We LOVED the singing!

 

Though we didn’t understand a word of the prayers, the sermon or the songs we still enjoyed the whole experience, especially the singing.

Oh my, the singing!! The men’s deep voices surging and swelling like a Welsh choir, the rich and harmonising women’s voices together creating such a worshipful sound, it was well worth going for the singing alone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was actually quite a rough ride round to Vaimoana!

It was actually quite a rough ride round to Vaimoana!

For lunch we decided to get a ride on the pontoon around to Vaimoana, a lovely resort and spend some time there. It turned out to be a rather choppy sea and we were pretty much drenched by the time we got there. Luckily the trip back wasn’t quite so choppy.

We enjoyed a lovely lunch, a bit of a snorkel (not nearly as good as the snorkelling at Vaisala) and two of the group treated themselves to a massage.

It had been a lovely, much needed, relaxing day and we were all ready after some more snorkelling when we got back, drinks and then dinner, for an early night.

Day 6: Vaisala to Falealupo – 19km

It’s amazing what a day’s rest can do. We were up and on the road by 8am and all feeling keen and looking forward to our short ride to Falealupo at the very top and most remote part of the island. Yes, it was a short ride but she had a killer hill in the middle of it!

We started out cycling through these lovely little coastal villages and then the road turned inland with a short sharp climb that then continued on still climbing till we reached the loop road turnoff. It felt like it was never ending and even though it was only mid morning it was very hot and humid. At the top of the long hill was a little shop that sold these delicious milky vanilla iceblocks, sold in little plastic tubes. They were absolutely delicious and just what we needed!

Ice-blocks were such a welcome treat for us hot sweaty cyclists.

Ice-blocks were such a welcome treat for us hot sweaty cyclists.

 

Within minutes we were off again and turning on to the loop road we continued on a sandy, pot-holed, rugged road that had virtually no traffic. We sped along, up and down the easy undulating hills, enjoying the coastal breeze. We even saw a huge pod of dolphins frolicking and leaping and splashing about.

 

Only a few more kms and we arrived at what is my favourite place to stay, Falealupo. The accommodation is so basic and so simple and the location is just stunning. I think the remoteness adds to the beauty of the place. We stayed in little beach fales only meters from the sea with gently waving palms dotted here and there. There is a toilet/shower block and an eating fale and that’s it. There seems to be an atmosphere to the place that just invites and allows you to just stop, relax and quietly enjoy. And so we did.

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Lovely remote Falealupo.

 

We slept, we read, we wallowed in the shallows and when the tide came all the way in, we snorkelled. Dinner was cooked for us and served to us at a table on the beach. That night I lay in my open fale watching the full moon slip across the night sky, listening to the waves crashing far out on the reef, feeling the warm soft breeze gently billowing out my mosquito net…………

 

Day 7: Falealupo to Satuiatua – 38km

The relaxed atmosphere of the place meant we got away later than what we should have if we wanted to avoid the heat that would hit us from mid morning on. At 8:15am we headed off down gorgeous coconut palm tree avenues, beside rocky shorelines of pounding frothy surf and then once again the road turned inland and up we started to climb. We climbed pretty much all the way out to the main road. From there on it was easy going and we just loved speeding along with the breeze cooling us down. One more big long hill before we stopped at Lovers Leap for a break and some coconuts.

Lots more undulating hills in the hot sun through villages with carefully swept and manicured gardens, children calling out their “bye bye’s”, skinny, tired looking horses tied by the side of the road, groups of people just sitting under trees, in fales, outside shops and lots of pigs, chickens and dogs. (We had no trouble from dogs chasing us or barking at us. If any looked like they might chase or bark at us we’d just shout, “Ah loo!” and they’d leave us alone.)

What a welcome sight our accommodation was at Satuiatua Beach Fales. Our fales, once again, were right on the beach but with a difference. They were all under this HUGE banyan tree. Our support van had gone ahead, as per usual, and dropped our bags off so we trundled and lugged our bags down to our fales before ordering our lunch.

Our fales on the beach under the HUGE banyan tree.

Our fales on the beach under the HUGE banyan tree.

 

While we waited we sat, relaxed and enjoyed some fresh banana bread still warm from being baked in the umu. Yum!! Along the way, we have met up with a few other kiwi’s and aussie’s and all are suitably impressed and envious of our cycling adventure. It really is the perfect way to explore a place.

 

We enjoyed an afternoon sleep after our lunch while we waited for the tide to come in and then we were all off snorkelling in one of the best snorkelling places on Savaii. We walked down to the far end of the beach and then swam out into the channel where the gentle current carried us along over all the coral just teeming with fish. No sooner had we finished snorkelling and got back to our fales than it poured down with rain which looked really weird as the sun was still shining. Warm, dry and sheltered, we watched the rain from under the banyan tree fales.

Grating the coconut before squeezing it in this fibrous stuff to make coconut milk.

Grating the coconut before squeezing it in this fibrous stuff to make coconut milk.

Just before dinner some of us went and took part in a coconut cream making demonstration. We sat and grated the coconut, then squeezed it through this fibrous loofa type material, till eventually there was only the milky creamy liquid left.

Pre-dinner drinks sitting and chatting together, a delicious fish curry for dinner, finishing off with kahlua over ice-cream for dessert and we were very happy little campers. Off to bed early as we had an early start the next morning.

 

Day 8: Satuiatua to Sili – 40km

We loved having an early start this morning. We were on the road by 7.30am and it’s definitely the best part of the day. There’s such a beautiful, clean, fresh smell in the early morning. The road was easy with undulating hills and we happily cycled along, stopping to take photos, buy fruit, or chat to the kids along the way. We came across a very welcome mini geyser leak in the water pipe beside the road and all jumped off our bikes and stood fully clothed in the sprinkler, an instant refresher!

Thar she blows! Coconuts were dropped in to the blowhole and blown sky high!

Thar she blows! Coconuts were dropped in to the blowhole and blown sky high!

 

 

Next stop was Taga and the Alofaaga Blowholes. These are amazing! The hiss and the roar and the sheer power of the sea as it literally ROARS through the holes in the rocks and shoots up into the sky is incredible! We shouted and clapped with glee!!

 

 

 

 

Enjoying a pounding good wash!

Enjoying a pounding good wash!

 

Then we were off again, next stop one of 8 waterfalls in the world that fall into the sea. We stood under the falls, pummelled by the force of the water as it tumbled over the rocky ledge and onto the beach below. Feeling energised and revitalised we hopped back onto our bikes and 10 min later we were at our home-stay accommodation in Sili, a little village a few km inland off the main road.

 

We stayed with the family of the local chief and it is definitely one of the highlights of this trip. They are such a lovely, friendly, family who treated us so well. After lunch and a rest in our fale we went for a walk through the village and stopped off at the fale next door where the local women’s committee were busy weaving huge mats. Within minutes they had us joining in not only the weaving but also up dancing with them as they sang and danced around us. It was such a happy, joyful and impromptu time together.

We were shown how to weave the flax ....

We were shown how to weave the flax .

 

Then it was off to the river for a lovely refreshing swim with the local children before we wandered back and rested in our fale, waiting for the umu to cook our dinner.

 

And what a lovely dinner it was! Huge amounts of coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves, chicken and noodles in the rich soupy broth, eggplant, tomato and onion mixture fried together. It was all so tasty and delicious. Our hostess Kisa, chatted with us throughout the meal while the rest of the family chatted and waited in the adjoining “kitchen fale”. Once we had finished they came in, cleared away what we hadn’t eaten and ate that themselves.

The start of our evening of singing and dancing was a lovely hymn from Kisa's niece.

The start of our evening of singing and dancing was a lovely hymn from Kisa’s niece.

 

After dinner we all came together and had a very entertaining and lively evening with lots of reciprocal singing, finishing off with a special request for the Hokey Tokey. (They remembered it from last year’s group.)

 

It had been a full on day and we were all ready for a good night’s sleep…..unfortunately though, this was not to be! Dogs barked and fought, roosters crowed at hours when roosters are not supposed to crow and one by one we crunched our way over the volcanic gravel, past the 9 sleeping dogs, who didn’t even blink at us, to use the outhouse. At about 5am the eldest son was up and in the kitchen busily making 150 steamed chicken buns, one each for the stream of local children who later passed by on their way to school.

 

Leaving Sili amid the "peak hour traffic!"

Leaving Sili amid the “peak hour traffic!”

Breakfast for us was a real treat; hot pancakes, steamed chicken buns, cocoa porridge and fruit. Feeling very full, satisfied and happy with our stay with this lovely family, (despite our sleepless night) we headed off on our bikes at “peak hour” traffic time….which meant biking into hordes of school children as they walked in large groups down the road, all happily waving and shouting “bye bye, bye bye” as we weaved and waved amongst them.

 

Day 9: Sili to Salelologa 25km

Leaving the village of Sili behind we rode about 10km along the inland road before coming out onto the main road and stopping off at Afu Ahau waterfalls for a lovely refreshing swim. A short 5 min ride after our swim we stopped to watch the tapa cloth making demonstration.

Having a go at making our own tapa cloth bookmarks.

Having a go at making our own tapa cloth bookmarks.

 

This is a fascinating, interactive demonstration. We were all amazed to see the bark of a spindly tree transformed into a beautifully patterned, soft piece of tapa cloth and enjoyed being part of the process.

Back on our bikes again and into the heat but only for about 9km before we were at the market place. It seemed incredible that 8 days had passed since we were last there buying up our stores to take with us. We had come almost full circle and none of us wanted it to end. We had seen and done so much in those 8 days. First stop in the market was buying our much looked forward to ice creams, then we roamed around buying this and that, chatting with the stall holders (who were always amazed to hear that we had just biked around their island) and had some lunch.

Next stop was the ferry 3 km down the road. While waiting on the ferry we watched a large turtle lazily swimming beside us before disappearing in the depths below. Only one of us had managed to see a turtle when we were out snorkelling so it was a real treat to all get to see one now, even we were weren’t actually in the water with it. Back on Upolo and on our bikes for the last time, we rode the final 3km to Airport Lodge to drop off our bikes, all looking a lot healthier, tanned and more relaxed than when we had arrived.

After a chatty de-brief with Ross and Frances from Outdoor Samoa, we climbed into the van and headed off to Lefaga Bay and our lovely, comfortable accommodation at Valasis Fales. Although we were all feeling rather tired from our long day and sleepless night the night before, we all wanted to see the giant clams for which this bay is famous for and the tide was right for us to snorkel out to see them.

We were so glad that we did! They were HUGE! About 1 metre long and half a metre wide with big open “lips” that would slowly close if you hovered your flipper over them. There were about 30 of the big ones and about 20 that were about half that size.

A quick shower and a fresh change of clothes before we sat down to a beautiful 3 course dinner of Thai coconut curry fish chowder, stir fry chicken and veges and banana cake for dessert. Delicious! Our beds were a very welcome sight that night. We all crashed!

Day 10: Upolo Island Tour Day

We had an awesome day today exploring some of the most beautiful places on Upolo. Our first stop was checking out the upmarket beach resort just along from Lefaga Bay called Return to Paradise. It’s not quite the place I’d want to stay at and there are definitely nicer beaches to swim at but it would definitely suit some people.

Climbing down the long ladder to the pool.

Climbing down the long ladder to the pool.

 

From there we went to see Togitogiga Waterfalls which had a lovely big swimming hole and then on to my favourite place, To Sua Trench with it’s big long ladder into the huge deep sinkhole below. We stayed and swam and enjoyed this incredible place.

We had a lovely lunch at Taufua on the bottom of the south coast where most of the damage was done during the cyclone. It was amazing to see how much growth and vegetation there was there now. If it wasn’t for a few derelict, roofless buildings you’d never know of the devastation that was only a few years ago. We continued on to the Sopoaga Waterfalls with its gardens full of named plants.

Our van driver, Alacosi, plays the Samoan drums for us.

Our van driver, Alacosi, plays the Samoan drums for us.

 

Our van driver, Alacosi, entertained us on the Samoan drums and then with a coconut cream making demonstration.

From there we drove on over the island to the other side and swam in the Piula Cave Pool that goes right underneath the theological college that sits on the cliff above. We had time for a quick visit to the Mailelani Soap Factory, a small but very prosperous cottage industry where we all bought soaps and lotions to take home.

By now we were all ready to stop, have a bit of a rest and get freshened up for dinner. Our accommodation at Amanaki was ideal. We retired to our hotel style rooms and luxuriated before meeting up for dinner and cocktails at the hotel restaurant. After a gorgeous meal and a few drinks, bed beckoned but 3 of us decided to have a little wander into Apia and see what the Friday night life was like…… 3 hours later, hot and sweaty from non stop dancing to a great band at Cocktails on the Rocks, we arrived back, happily tired, ready for a shower and bed.

Our lovely upmarket accommodation, Amanaki, in Apia where we stayed for 2 nights.

Our lovely upmarket accommodation, Amanaki, in Apia where we stayed for 2 nights.

Day 11: Apia and our final day.

What a lovely relaxing day this turned out to be. After our totally western style breakfast complete with “flat whites and cappuccino’s” we ambled off down the road to the huge market place.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1042It was a busy, bustling noisy place with colourful arrays of lava lava’s, clothing, tapa cloths, carvings and ornaments. We arranged to meet up an hour later and get a taxi to the home, now a museum, of Robert Louis Stevenson. This is a stunning huge colonial style house set on a huge lawn that was a pineapple plantation when he lived there. It is well worth a visit and the guided tour is very informative.

 

Such cool buses!

Such cool buses!

Our taxi picked us up again and dropped us off at the Home Café, a delightful cool, funky, trendy café with delicious food. From there we caught a local bus back into Apia to our hotel and had a relaxed afternoon, swimming in the pool, resting, reading, meeting up for drinks before dinner, while outside it poured with rain.

 

Our last night’s meal was at the very flash Paddles restaurant further around the bay. We dined in style and with no Saturday night life happening, we headed back to our beds for our last night in Samoa, all feeling a bit sad and sorry that our time had come to an end and we were flying back to the “real world” tomorrow.

It had been an awesome trip. We had had so many different experiences and would be going home with lots of wonderful memories to take a moment to bask in as we went about our busy working lives back in NZ (not to mention heaps of photos!!) I’m planning on going back for another adventure in October 2015. Wanna join me?!

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14 2014 Sep

Cycling – Waiheke Island – Sept 2014

The forecast didn’t look that great as 9 of us headed over to Waiheke Island for a day of cycling, visiting wineries and exploring. Thank goodness we went anyway as the day turned out perfectly!

The sun was shining as we set off on the ferry.

The sun was shining as we set off on the ferry.

Ready to hit the road!

Ready to hit the road!

 

We arrived and met up with 2 of the women who were already over there, got our hire bikes all organised and off we cycled, straight up the first of many hills into Oneroa township.  A cafe was our first stop!

 

Some walked, some cycled, either way, some of those hills were pretty steep!

Some walked, some cycled, either way, some of those hills were pretty steep!

 

Then it was off and up a few more hills as we cycled along the top of the island heading for Onetangi Beach.  After a bit of a “de-brief” at the top of one of the hills we decided to take the easier, quicker route down towards Ostend and round to our destination – Stonyridge Vineyard – where we stopped for our well deserved wine tasting and lunch.  What a gorgeous place it was too!

Well deserved wining and dining!

Well deserved wining and dining!

 

We sat dry and snug, enjoying our delicious food and wines while outside the one and only rainstorm poured down!  Then, “out came the sun and dried up all the rain so off we went a cycling, yet again.”

 

 

 

Over looking Onetangi Beach.

Over looking Onetangi Beach.

 

We ended up splitting into 3 groups, some took the hilly long way back, some took what they thought was the flatter short road back, but ended up the hilly, shorter road and some caught a bus!

 

 

Cycling along The Esplanade at Blackpool Beach.

Cycling along The Esplanade at Blackpool Beach.

What a perfect day!

 

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6 2014 Aug

Cycling the Hawkes Bay – Aug 2014

Six of us headed off down to the “sunny” Hawkes Bay for 3 days exploring the cycle trails that run in, around and through the beautiful Hawkes Bay.

Our chalet accommodation at Clive Motor camp and Chalets.

Our chalet accommodation at Clive Motor camp and Chalets.

Our accommodation were these warm, cosy cabins in Clive.  Once we got settled in and got our bikes organised we then set off for a sunset bike ride along the beach front heading towards Haumoana.

 

 

 

 

The eclectic "Tsunami Bar" on the beach at Clive.

The eclectic “Tsunami Bar” on the beach at Clive.

On the way we stopped off to admire this incredible, eclectic mix of flotsam and jetsam that has been used to build a very creative “Tsunami Beach Bar.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to hit the trails on our first morning.

Ready to hit the trails on our first morning.

 

Day One dawned warm and sunny but incredibly windy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We battled the wind along the waterfront into Napier where we stopped off to learn more about the history of Napier with it’s unique art deco architecture.

Art Deco Tour in Napier.

Art Deco Tour in Napier.

Then it was off again, out to Ahuriri, West Shore and Bay View.  At times we were almost blown off our bikes! After stopping off at the Snapper Cafe at Bay View for lunch, (very nice) we sped back along the cycle path with the wind at our backs.  It felt sooo good!!  Dinner at Mister D’s in Napier that night was absolutely divine!

Looking towards Cape Kidnappers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Two we awoke to spitting rain but no wind so off we headed out west to the Puketapu Pub for lunch.

Cycling beneath the trees on our way to Puketapu.

Cycling beneath the trees on our way to Puketapu.

 

This was a beautiful ride with the trail winding it’s way through fields of cattle, pine trees and alongside the river before coming in to the pretty and picturesque little village of Puketapu.  We sat back in the warmth and cosiness of the pub with it’s roaring fire,  chatted and laughed together and enjoyed our yummy pub lunches.

 

 

 

 

 

Stopping to put our coats on as the rain came down.

Stopping to put our coats on as the rain came down.

On the way back it really started raining and we all looked a mess when we got back….. the wet fine limestone gravel was splattered all up our backs, legs and all over our bikes!  After literally quick 2 min speed showers we all piled in to my van and drove down the road to our sausage making session at John’s house.

 

 

 

Cutting up the meat and mixing the herbs and spices.

Cutting up the meat and mixing the herbs and spices.

John and his mate Dan gave us a very informative presentation on sausage making and we asked lots of questions before we launched into chopping the meat, weighing and measuring the herbs and spices, mincing it all and making the sausages.

Look what I made!

Look what I made!

 

 

 

We were all feeling very proud of ourselves especially making the real butcher looking loops of sausages!

 

 

Day Three was meant to be our ride out to the wineries with lunch at Ash Ridge Winery.  However, the rain had set in and it was much colder so we opted for Plan B….. we hopped in the van and went exploring and then wine tasting at Clearview before our lunch at Ash Ridge.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take some photos though!  It was a lovely way to spend our last day and we all agreed, it had been an excellent time that we’d had in the lovely “sunny” Hawkes Bay! 🙂

 

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5 2014 Apr

The Otago Rail Trail – in Autumn 2014

We didn’t quite get to see the central Otago area in all it’s Autumnal glory but it was such a lovely adventure anyway!

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All geared up and ready to go!

A warm, sunny, blue sky day , the bikes were sorted and we were on our way!

Nine of us headed off in perfect conditions, just cruising along, chatting together, getting used to our bikes and to each other.

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Just cruising along amid the Autumn leaves….

 

 

We were heading for Omakau, 37km away, where we were to spend our first night at the Omakau Bedpost, the converted Post Office building and Postmasters house.  But first we had a stop at the iconic Chatto Creek Tavern, 25km along the trail.

By the time we got to Omakau it was 5.30pm and after quick showers we were into our “going out” clothes,  picked up by shuttle van and taken to the beautiful Pitches Store in Ophir.  Our meals and the wines were absolutely gorgeous and we tucked in with gusto!

 

Our slightly wet, but still warm , start to Day 2.

Our slightly wet, but still warm , start to Day 2.

Day 2: Omakau to Wedderburn

A leisurely start to our morning saw us off at 9am with our rain jackets on as it was just spitting lightly.  Only 7km down the trail and we stopped for  coffee’s at Lauder, hey… we were in no rush!

 

Atop the Poolburn Viaduct.

Atop the Poolburn Viaduct.

Off again through one of the most spectacular parts of the trail, the Poolburn Gorge, where we crossed the 37m high viaduct and went through 2 long and very dark tunnels.  Good job we had headlights on our bikes!

The next part of the trail was actually quite long and straight and unless you were having a really good conversation with someone then it was quite taxing.  We were all definitely ready for our packed lunches by the time we got to Oturehua!

From there it was just another 8km of gently climbing trail to our accommodation for the next 2 nights at Mt Ida Farmstay.

A lovely hot spa awaited us there and after relaxing and “refreshments” we were ready to go out for dinner just down the road at the famous Wedderburn Tavern.

Frantically sweeping the ice to make the curling iron go faster!

Frantically sweeping the ice to make the curling iron go faster!

Day 3: Exploring Day

I hired a 12 seater van for the day and off we set for a day out exploring the nearby district.  First up it was Curling at Naseby, which was a lot of fun.  Our 2 teams  competed fiercely against each other!

After a warm up coffee, (it was really cold in there) we headed off to Dansey’s Pass Coach Inn for lunch.  This is such a lovely old Inn and certainly well worth the 45 min drive.

The stunning lake at St Bathans.

The stunning lake at St Bathans.

Then it was off to St Bathans for a lazy Sunday afternoon of strolling around the little township with its old stone houses, walking around the lake that was the 168m deep mining pit and of course enjoying the well known Vulcan Hotel.

After stopping off in Ranfurly for supplies it was back to our cosy accommodation where the fire was glowing and the wine was flowing and there was lots of talking and laughing together.  It was a lovely way to finish such a great day out together.

Such a pretty little spot.

Such a pretty little spot.

Day 4: Wedderburn to Hyde

Up and on the trail by 9am on this rather cool morning.  We sped along on the downhill trail to Wedderburn in no time at all.  After the obligatory photo stop by the Green Shed, made famous by the local painter Graham Sydney, we were off and speeding along to Ranfurly.  We were all feeling refreshed and keen after our day off and our backsides were definitely feeling better for having had the rest!  This for me is one of the prettiest parts of the trail as you bike along beside the Taieri River and the trees were just starting to “turn”.  In a few more weeks time it would be simply glorious……ahh well, never mind……

Our very nice accommodation at Tussock Lodge in Waipiata.

Our very nice accommodation at Tussock Lodge in Waipiata.

We sped along the trail once more, our motivation was to get to the Hyde Hotel before it closed at 3pm!  We zoomed in there bang on 3pm only to find it closed at 3.30pm.  YES!  Sitting outside in the afternoon sun enjoying our drinks was just lovely.

We were picked up at and taken back to our accommodation at Tussock Lodge which was a very nice place to stay for our last night on the trail.

 

Gorgeous!!

Gorgeous!!

Day 5: Hyde to Middlemarch

A beautiful red sky morning greeted us when Mark, the owner, picked us up at 7.30am the next morning and dropped us off back at Hyde where our bikes were waiting for us.  From there it was a very easy 27km ride into Middlemarch and the end of the trail.

We had had a fantastic 5 days together.  Friendships were made, stories and laughter were shared along with fine wining and dining and we had all been wowed, impressed and quietly moved by the wide open skies, the golden rolling hills and the rail trail that had been laboriously built so many years ago.  To see more photos,  check out the photo album.

Yaay! We did it!

Yaay! We did it!

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18 2014 Feb

“Glamping” on the Queen Charlotte! Feb 2014

If you want to combine fine wining and dining and sleeping in white sheets and pillows with 4 full days of tramping in one of THE MOST picturesque places in New Zealand, then doing the Queen Charlotte track as we did it, is the way to go!!

Day 1:   Arrival Day

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Wining and dining at Twelve Trees Restaurant at Allan Scott’s Winery in Blenheim. Very nice!

We started off our luxury adventure with lunch at Allan Scott’s Winery in Blenheim before heading over to Picton and staying the night at Sequioa Lodge Backpackers.

Julie helped me to buy a huge big load of groceries at the local supermarket and then pack it into boxes for the various days on the track.  We were to make our own breakfasts, most lunches and a couple of evening meals to keep the costs down.

Day 2:   Ship’s Cove to Endeavour Inlet – 16km – 5hrs

Up early the next morning we loaded the van full of our suitcases, day-packs and food boxes.  On this track you get your bags transported to your accommodation by taxi-boat, all we had to carry was our day-packs.

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Imagine trying to carry this lot! So glad we just had our day-packs to carry.

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Our lovely Chalet accommodation at Furneaux Lodge.

Our taxi-boat transported us to the start of the track at Ship’s Cove and we walked around to Endeavour Inlet, about 5 hrs away, stopping on the way for lunch.  Our accommodation at Furneaux Lodge had been upgraded to the Chalet accommodation which was VERY NICE!  Our bags and food boxes were there waiting.

 

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Tip toeing over the stones into the water. So nice and refreshing!

 

 

After a refreshing swim we continued relaxing, doing some group stretching and chatting together.  Gourmet meals at the Furneaux Lodge Restaurant, a visit to see the gloworms and then off to bed in our white sheets…..no manky sleeping bags on this adventure!

 

 

 

Day 3:   Endeavour Inlet to Punga Cove – 11 km –  5hrs

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Looking across Endeavour Inlet to Furneaux where we had just stayed. The colour of the sea was incredible.

After a leisurely breakfast we headed off on this lovely easy walk to Punga Cove full of breathtaking views.  The sun was shining, (as it did every day on this adventure) the birds were singing (ditto above) and we were all happily chatting away as we strolled along admiring the views…….

We arrived at Punga Cove, ordered our Pizza’s and salads and sat in the shade sipping on cold drinks while our waitress brought us our food……

We spent the afternoon either sitting in the spa chatting ,  swimming in the pool or the sea, sitting on the little wharf eating an ice-cream and reading a book or resting under a tree….

 

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Enjoying our wine and nibbles before dinner.

 

Wine and nibbles in the late afternoon sun and Nacho’s with salad and lemon meringue for dessert finished off a perfect day.

The easy day walking and the restful afternoon were needed before our big tramp the next day.

 

 

 

Day 4: Punga Cove to Portage Bay – 24 kms –  8.5 hrs

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The 360 views at the lookout were well worth the climb to get there!

A long hot day today!  We climbed out of Punga Cove and up onto the ridge where we had stunning views of inlets on both sides.  An extra climb up to a lookout point along the way was well worth the effort and was a lovely stop for morning tea.

There were lots of little stops along the way to take yet another photo, or have a drink (we needed lots of water) or to have a little rest.  We all loved our sandwiches that we made every morning and sooo looked forward to our lunch breaks.

After arriving at our accommodation at Treetops, we showered and headed down the hill to the cafe at the Portage Bay Resort for our tea.  We were all feeling quite tired so it was an early night.

Day 5:   Rest Day

QCS Track 031

Words honestly fail to describe how perfect our morning’s kayaking was.

Ahhhhh, the sheer bliss and beauty of kayaking in absolutely perfect conditions.  There was not a breath of wind, the sea was glassy and soooo still and calm.  The sun shone and sparkled on the water.  We paddled and we just sat….and soaked it all in.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing……..more wine and nibbles later in the day, lots of laughter and chatting and another delicious “home cooked meal.”  Tomorrow was going to be our last day on the track and we needed to be up early and on the track by 7.30am in order to be there waiting for our taxi-boat at 3.30pm.

Day 6:   Portage Bay to Anakiwa – 20km – 6.5 hrs

By the end of our walk today we were convinced that the DOC signs had an added hour or so onto their times as we made it to Anakiwa with 2 hrs to spare.  There is a little shop caravan at the end of the trail so we all enjoyed our reward of ice-creams, cold drinks or a coffee.

QCS Track 053We had walked 71km over 4 days with a rest day added in the middle.  The days were simply perfect and the views, the tranquility and absolute beauty of the Queen Charlotte Sounds totally won us all over .

Yes, the “glamping’ added an extra element of fun and ease to the walk but in no way did it detract from what is, we believe, one of New Zealand’s finest walks.

For more photos, check out the album in the Photos Gallery.

PS:  I’ve already “pencilled in” some of the accommodation for Feb or Mar 2015.  So if you missed out this year, then don’t worry, I’ll definitely be doing it next year!

 

 

 

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10 2013 Nov

Horse Riding – South Head to Murawai Beach – Nov 2013

Pulling on the reins, trying frantically to control a horse that just wants to gallop madly along the wild deserted Murawai beach, was quite an exciting and scary challenge for a relatively beginner rider like myself!  Thankfully my horse also liked wading in the water which seemed a better prospect of falling off into should he decide to take off on me!

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Horse riding 020

 

 

 

 

What a fantastic 3 hour ride we had today. We rode around little lakes, noisy with the sound of hundreds of croaking bullfrogs, over lupin covered farmland, through towering pine forests and onto the stunning Murawai beach.  I can thoroughly recommend this adventure and will definitely be doing it again.  Excellent for the slightly more experienced rider!

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10 2013 Nov

Ohakune Cycling Weekend: Oct 18/19/20 – 2013

All geared up and ready to go!

All geared up and ready to go!

A picture perfect absolutely stunning weekend!  16 of us travelled down to Ohakune for a weekend of cycling and walking and what a weekend it was!  We found out when we got there that the Old Coach Road that we were meant to be cycling along had suffered badly from the major rainfall they’d had in the last week and so we now there was Plan B.  As it worked out, Plan B actually turned out way better.

What us women do best....chatting together while wining and dining!

What us women do best….chatting together while wining and dining!

The 3 carloads arrived within half an hour of each other and we soon made ourselves at home at our Mountain view Lodge at LKNZ.

We soon all got chatting and mixing and mingling  over  our complimentary drinks and our bar meals.

 

The next morning we were up early (ish) to a bit of an overcast day that soon cleared to give us a “one out of the box” picture perfect day.  Our Plan B route took us through back roads, dirt roads, “paper roads, around lakes and back into Ohakune .  And as we rode along with skylarks chirruping above our heads, Mt Ruapehu smiled down on us, her snow capped brilliant whiteness stark against the brilliant blue sky.  (I think we spent more time taking photos than cycling!)

 

What a day! What a mountain!

What a day! What a mountain!

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Lunch stop was atop the highest hill in the district where we surveyed the beautiful valley/basin below us.

Lunch stop.

Lunch stop.

Back into Ohakune in time for some afternoon tea and then off for our walk

to the viaducts on Old Coach Road.

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The new viaduct in the foreground and the old one in the distance.

The new viaduct in the foreground and the old one in the distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 2013 Jul

Bay of Islands Tramping Weekend – June 2013

Saturday morning 8.30am and my van was loaded and packed with 7 other women and our gear for our tramping weekend in the Bay of Islands – and what a perfect weekend it was!

We arrived at the Base X backpackers (they had a great deal of; accommodation, free glass of beer or wine – and we’re talking a good healthy sized glass of wine – and a really good hearty BBQ), we got ourselves settled in and strolled ofBay of islands June 2013 039f into Paihia for our packed lunch sitting on the wharf watching the busyness. After lunch we literally “hitched” a ride with a friendly local tour opBay of islands June 2013 041erator who took us up to the top of the Haruru Falls.  With all the rain we’ve been having the falls were very impressive.  We learnt that Haruru Falls is one of only two waterfalls in the world that is horseshoe shaped.  The other one is Niagra Falls…..just a bit bigger!  We walked along the very pretty track and out onto the Waitangi Reserve where we visited the grounds and the Treaty house.

A PD (pre-dinner drinks) stop at Shippey’s Bar on the old Tui boat was very welcome, before we continued on our walk back to the backpackers.

Some of us had a not very hot spa 🙁 before our delicious BBQ meal of steak, sausages, baked potatoes and salads.

Highlight of the day – the 2 lt tub of ice-cream drizzled with Kahlua shots that we all shared!

The next morning we were up bright and early, it was a very chilly morning, there was even ice on my van….I didn’t know they got ice up in the “winterless north!”

After a good Bay of islands June 2013 050healthy breakfast we were off on our 6 hr Full Day Circle Walk.Bay of islands June 2013 045

Starting from Paihia, we strolled around the waterfront, along the beach, over rocks and followed a coastal path as it meandered around some very pretty little bays and into Opua.  A coffee stop at the local general store right on the wharf and then we caught the 5 min car ferry over to Okiato.   From there the walk was easily signposted.  There were a few hilly bits as walked through the bush track but nothing too challenging at all.

We came out to a lovely little bay, “Orongo Bay” where we stopped for our packed lunch.  It was one of those stunning sunny, calm and clear mid winter days.Bay of islands June 2013 053

 Around the bay a bit further and heading for Russell was the ‘boardwalkey’ bit.  Lots of lovely long boardwalks that made for very easy strolling along. Bay of islands June 2013 056  A little bit of road walking before we were back on the track and coming in to Russell.  We then ambled easily along Florence Ave and right into the heart of Russell.  Russell is such a pretty little place, hard to believe it was once the “hell hole of the Pacific!”

Within half an hour wBay of islands June 2013 060e were on the ferry and on our way back over to Paihia.  This was definitely a walk I would highly recommend.

Highlight of the day – sitting on the little jetty eating our lunch in the sun in such a beautiful little bay.

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19 2013 Jun

Samoan Cycling Adventure – 2013

Day One –Thu May 30th 2013 – Auckland to Samoa

We were an excited bunch of 11 women arriving at Auckland airport in 2’s and 3’s for our early morning flight, sitting together in a departure café, tentatively getting to know each other. (Tentativeness was well out the door by the end of Day 2!  )

Ahhh, the sheer bliss of stepping out of the plane into hot sunshine and warm tropical breezes (and leaving foggy Auckland way behind!)   We were met by a van and taken to Airport Lodge just a few k’s away.  Once there we sorted ourselves into pairs for our fales, the same pairs would end up sharing fales for the rest of the trip, then we got fitted out onto our bikes…….this tCocktails at AG'sakes longer than you would think!

A quick van trip down the road to Aggie Grey’s airport lodge where we luxuriated in their gorgeous swimming pool, sipped “happy hour” cocktails, did a proper “meet and greet” and had a lovely meal, was a wonderful way to start our adventure.  Probably just as well that we didn’t know then what the next day was going to bring……….

Highlight of the day: There were many, but for me, arriving into hot sunshine was just awesome!

Day Two – Fri May 31st 2013 – Salelologa to Lano – 19km

Woken to the sound of roosters crowing – at 3am!!  Lots of rain fell in the night but it “seemed” to be clearing ….little did we know….  After a magnificent breakfast, we set off on our bikes for the 3km bike ride to the ferry.  Our bags had all been loaded into the van and we just had a little handle bar pannier with our necessities in, (camera, phone, sunscreen, muesli bars etc.)

ferry to savaiiIt was a pretty rough ferry crossing to the island of Savaii and a couple of the women were a bit green around the Ferry crossinggills.  The closer we got to Savaii the more the weather changed and as we rode off the ferry the rain started.

Our first stop was the huge covered market to get some supplies for the trip.  We had a couple of picnic lunches to buy for.  The idea was to get the food, load it into the van, cycle off to a nearby swimming hole and have a lovely picnic in the sunshine……Yeah right.  We ended up having our lunch inside the market place as the rain pelted down outside.  No guttering on the roof meant it was like walking through a waterfall to get onto our bikes.  But, hey, we all reasoned, once you’re wet, you’re wet.  So off we set in our shorts and singlets (no need for raincoats as it’s so warm and you dry out so quickly once the rain stops.)

By the time we were riding along the coast ride the weather had become like a mini cyclone!  Palm trees lashed and thrashed, bending over in the force of the wind that threatened to blow us off the road, salt spray and rain stung the right side of our faces, palm fronds hurled across the road!  Riding at the back I could barely see the front rider as heads down, shoulders hunched we battled along.  It was so exhilarating, so exciting, so energising …..and also a wee bit scary too!!

getting ready to cross the ford Finally the storm abated, the winds dropped away, the rain stopped and we breezed merrily along….until we came to a long line of vehicles, all stopped by the side of the road.  Hmmmm…..what’s going on here…?  A raging torrent of water across the road was what was going on!  Thigh high, muddy brown water surging across the road, down a little weir and out to sea and our accommodation for the night was just over the other side of it.

As we all stood there contemplating what to do a group of young boys, we’re talking 11 to maybe 14 years old,  rushed across through the raging torrent and starting picking up our bikes and slinging them over their shoulders and wading across, just like that!  None of us were brave enough to go over by ourselves, a couple tried but the force of the water was too strong, so back the boys came to hold our hands and lead us bunch of nana’s safelDebbie crossing ford 2y through to the other side.

Half an hour or so later our support van made it through and warm and mostly dry we settled into our first fale accommodation on Savaii.

Marae style faleMarae style, we slept on foam mattresses on the woven matting floor – 6 of us in one fale, 5 in the other while the storm raged through the night.  Long flashes of lightning lit up the inside of our fale accompanied by long rolling thunder that shook the floorboards…..needless to say we were all were a bit bleary eyed the next morning…and it had nothing to do celebratory drinking session we had when we got through the raging river…..honest!

Highlight of the day:  “Cyclone cycling” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that ride!

Day Three – Sat June 1st 2013 – Lano to Manase – 33km

Took a wee while to get ourselves organised this morning, (or was it just me.)  Having a “system” I find, works really well.  Little things, like laying out your clothes, toiletries etc the night before, having your pannier bag packed with your essentials, having a designated place for your bike lock keys, your luggage keys etc

So off we cycled at 9am, what was to be our latest start time as from then on we were on the road between 7am aLava churchnd 7.30am.  Already it was hot and sticky.  After all that rain last night everything was clean and sparkly but it was like riding in a sauna!

We stopped and visited a couple of tourist spots along the way; the Mauga Crater and the Lava field church where you can see the lava as it flowed through the church and the gravesite – which was fascinating to see.  A few of us stopped off and went out for the afternoon on the Dive Savaii boat – snorkelling and scuba diving out near the reef, while the others biked on to our accommodation at Manase.

Sunset manaseFor me staying at Manase was quite emotional as it was almost exactly a year before that I had been there with my husband and 2 of our grandkids and I’d come up with the plan to cycle around Samoa as an adventure for my Women’s Adventures NZ.  And here I was, 1 year later with a group of 10 women doing exactly that!  (I gave myself a little congratulatory “pat on the back”.)

Highlight of the day:  Sitting at the beach bar, with everyone, watching this amazing sunset, feeling very happy and satisfied with life!

 

Day Four – Sun June 2nd 2013 – Manase to Vaisala – 40km

Up early and breakfasted and on the road by 7:15am!  This was meant to be our hardest day of riding with lots of hills and some bit bits of rough road (though I think a few of the group found other days a bit harder.)

As “tail end Charlie’ I cruised along at the back, blissing out in moments of quiet solitude, smokey morning breakfast fires, roosters crowing in the soft warm morning air….

drink stop long hill climbs After seemingly lots of hills later ranging from undulating to “get off your bike and walk”, after lots of photo stops, rest stops complete with fresh coconut milk, pawpaws, bananas and oranges (carried by our support van) we arrived at our most refreshing stop of all.  A beautiful big cool fresh water pool – Agua Pool – complete with stone wall and steps leading into it.

It was sheer bliss to slide into the water and instantly feel refreshed and energised for our last climb of the day up to our accommodation at Vaisala.  (Unfortunately it was at this pool that we had our first and only accident when one of tagua poolhe group slipped on the step and went down, banging her head as she fell.  Luckily another one of the group sitting there broke her fall a bit so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been…)

Vaisala was our accommodation for 2 nights and what a perfect place it was.  A big old style rambling hotel complete with wide verandahs, large comfy rooms, wonderful meals, perfect snorkelling both along the beach and in a special coral garden pool that was just teeming with fish and interesting coral.

Highlight of the day:  Our refreshing swim in the Agua Pool and being welcomed at Vaisala with fresh cold sweet lemon juice.kayaking

 

Day Five – Mon June 3rd 2013 – Rest Day at Vaisala

We swam, we snorkeled, we kayaked, we rested, we wrote in our journals…..  I did a stretch/yoga class fPre Dinner Drinksor some of the group.  Some of us walked, cycled or taxied down the road to Vaimoana for lunch.

It was wonderful to have this extra day of rest.

 

 

Highlight of the day:  Snorkeling in the rock pool coral garden, honestly it was like snorkeling in a huge aquarium.

Day Six – Tue June 4th 2013 – Vaisala to Falealupo – 19km

Just a short ride today.  We started with quite a big hill climb that we weren’t expecting, but once we turned off the main road and onto the side road that took us around the north western most tip of the island we noticed the changes.  The road, fringed with high sugar cane type grass, was rougher with lots of little pot holes and big sandy patches.  There was no one around.  It was very hot but very calm and peaceful.

cyclone churchWe stopped at a beautiful church that had been ruined by the 1990 cyclone.  On this sunny, calm and peaceful day it was hard to imagine the force of the sea, the wind and the rain that had destroyed this seemingly strong and sturdy building.

Within no time at all wefavourite fales had made it to our most basic, but my most favourite, accommodation.  Our fales were literally metres from the water’s edge and had just a mattress on a woven mat with a mosquito net over it.  We could pull down the coconut palm blinds when and if we wanted to but otherwise our fales were totally open.  So basic, so simple and so pretty.

 

As we had arrived relatively early we had heaps of time to swim, snorkel, just sit together in the water and chat, read, rest and enjoy!  Some of the group went off exploring and met a local guy who showed them how to weave a basket.

After a lovely meal in the open sided dining fale we all sat around and played charades accompanied by lots of fun and laughter!

Highlight of the day:  Lying in my fale at night watching the amazing lightning display over the sea…….

road at the topDay Seven – Wed June 5th 2013 –Falealupo to Satuiatua  – 38km

The cycle today was I think one of my favourites.  The top of the island has a lovely remote, off the beaten track feel to it.  We cycled along the sandy pot holed roads, heaps of palm trees lined up along beautiful white sandy bays…..

As we rode back out onto the main road it started gently raining and continued for a lot of the 38km which Tired cyclistswas actually really nice.  There were quite a few hills and we had lots of rest stops with everyone in the group doing really well and all being so supportive of each other.

We arrived at Satuiatua at about 12 and we all just loved our pretty “Princess Barbie” fales, with their pink and orange curtains fluttering in the satuiatua falessea breeze, nestled under the canopy of a HUGE big tree and right on the beach.

 

After a wonderful restaurant lunch, we spent the afternoon as we spend most afternoons, swimming, snorkeling, relaxing………etc etc!!   The snorkeling there was AMAZING!  There was a current that went along the beach so we’d walk up to the far end of the beach, wade out with our snorkeling gear on and just drift back along with the current.  Not far below the surface was an abundance of marine life!  Lots of these little “bolshie” black fish that would angrily pop up out of the coral and eyeball you as you snorkeled over them.  There were schools and schools of amazing tropical fish….it really was spectacular!

Highlight of the day:  It has to be the big plate of scones that were kindly made for us after we admitted to our hostess that we’d been fantasising about scones and jam for the last few days.  Luckily, she’d spent years in NZ as a primary school teacher and knew how to make a good scone!  This highlight is closely followed by the PD’s (pre dinner drinks) on the beach and another hilarious game of charades.

Day Eight – Thu June 6th 2013 – Satuiatua to Sili – 51km

Early morning start after our yummy “kiwi” breakfast with real “perked” coffee.  It was to be a big day today, though we didn’t know it then.  Off we cycled through beautifully manicured villages with luxurious green lawns, colourful border hedges and cottage garden mix flowering abundantly in their well tended gardens.

kidsIn every village there are always groups of children enthusiastically calling and waving and even running along side us as we biked.  If we stop in a village then you can guarantee we will surrounded by friendly but sometimes shy children (who love having their photo taken, especially when they can see it after.)

P1000509There was lots of rain today from lightly drizzling rain to pouring rain and for the first time I actually got a bit cold….no one else seemed to though.  We stopped at 3 different tourist spots.  Lovers Leap, where we were told the local story of this spot, Alofaaga Blowholes where we ooohed and aaaahed as coconuts were blown sky high by the force of the water shooting up through the blowholes (if you look closely at the photo you can see the coconut at the top of the spray) and lastly at Mu Pogoa waterfall, one of the 8 waterfalls in the world that tumbles onto the beach and into the sea.  A group of us climbed down the rocks and onto the beach where we ducked under the waterfall and stood behind the curtain of water it as it hurtled off the edge and thundered onto the beach.  Such a weird phenomena!

By the time we got to our homestay accommodation at Sili we were all fales at silipretty saturated.  A beautiful hot Samoan lunch was ready waiting for us.  Large bowls and plates of grilled fish, rice, noodles with corned beef, bananas in coconut cream and taro were lined up along the table and we tucked in with enthusiasm while our hosts and their family stood around the edges and watched ….which felt pretty weird I must say.  They then had their meal after us.

After lunch we clambered into the backs of a truck and a ute and set off on a tour of their plantation which was as unlike a plantation as I could imagine.  Taro, banana and other plants were planted seemingly in haphazardly fashion in cleared off bits of jungle with long grassed overgrown tracks to get to them….

Inside our fale at SiliFeeling dirty and muddy from our days cycle and plantation tour, we all wandered down to the local swimming hole where we waded in with our soap, clothes and all and had a good wash.  Finally, in warm dry clothes we rested in our “marae style’ fales until dinner time.

umuRoosters crowing, dogs barking, a smokey haze drifts through the fale as the umu is prepared for our dinner.  And what a feast it was!  Once again bowls and plates lined the middle of the table filled with delicious and very rich tasting food.  There was suckling pig, fish, taro, breadfruit, oka (raw fish in coconut milk) and rice.  Once again our hosts waited for us to eat before they had theirs.

Highlight of the day:  The impromptu singing (and dancing) session after we’d all had dinner.  They’d sing a song, complete with actions, then we’d sing one.  Our grand finale was the Hokey Tokey!

Day Nine –  Fri June 7th 2013 – Sili to the ferry – 30km  and back over to Upolo.

Waterfalls near SiliUp early after a not particularly restful night of roosters crowing, dogs barking and a seemingly steady stream of us nocturnal loo goers crunching our way over the rocky gravel to the loo.  After fond farewells to our host family, we cycled off through the waking village and about 30 minutes down the road to a beautiful waterfall – Afu Aau – where a group of us stripped off and leapt in.  It was so refreshing and a lovely start to the day.

Tapa Cloth demoJust a bit further down the road we stopped off to watch a Tapa cloth making demonstration.  It was absolutely fascinating.  From the cut off bark of a skinny little tree to a fully designed and dyed piece of tapa cloth in just 1 hour…..

Back on the road and in an hour or so we were at the market place just a couple of kms from the ferry.  We’ve been so lucky with the bikes that we hired from Outdoor.Co.NZ.  No major issues at all, a few chains coming every now and then and a broken brake cable and some general tightening of handlebars and seats but nothing too serious.  We had no flat tyres and most importantly, no accidents!

icecreams at the marketAfter a good long stop at the market place where we enjoyed delicious pineapple ice-creams, we biked off to the ferry, cruising along in the sunshine.  So different from when we first started out, 7 days earlier, in all that pouring rain.  We had cycled 200km around Savaii and were all feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves.

Julie waiting at ferryA miscommunication about the exact time of the ferry meant we waited for 2hrs but we were happy enough just relaxing and watching the activity around the ferry buildings.  Once we got back over to Upolo we loaded up the van with our bags, rode back to Airport Lodge to drop off our bikes then we clambered into the van for the 40 min drive to Apia and to our hotel, Amanaki.

What bliss, what pure luxury! We showered and got all doo daahed up and had a lovely meal together (complete with celebratory cocktails!)

Highlight of the day: – has to be enjoying our luxury accommodation….need I say more!

Day Ten – Sat June 8th 2013 – market morning and full day tour

After a blissful night’s sleep had by all in our luxurious rooms, some of us crept out quietly for an early morinside RLStevenson housening swim in the hotel pool, we breakfasted and then ambled down the road to the Apia flea market for a bit of a shopping spree.

Armed with all of our lswimming caveuggage and our purchases, we set off in the van for a tour of some of the most popular tourist spots on Upolo.  Although this was a long day and there was lots of driving, we all got to see and experience so much.  I can thoroughly recommend going to the Robert Louis Stevenson home and museum, the Piula College with its underground cave pool and the To Sua Trench with its loSwimmiung at Te sua trenchooong steep ladder to climb down into the pool.  All absolutely stunning places!

Our final night’s accommodation was on the South East coast of the island and to be honest a bit disappFire dancersointing after we’d been spoilt at our luxury accommodation the night before.  However, once we were all showered and dressed up, we hot footed it over to the flash high end Coconut resort and totally lost ourselves in the high energy, mesmerising, world class fia fia performance.  We were all completely blown away!  A world class performance.Dancing fia fia

 

Highlight of the day: The Fia Fia performance at Coconuts, unforgettable!

Day Eleven Sun June 9th 2013 – Back home again.

The last morning waspawpaw juices last day. spent relaxing under the palm trees, reading, chatting and going swimming.  We had all gotten pretty close over the last 10 days and felt happy and comfortable just being in each other’s company.

It had been a wonderful adventure together with lots of different experiences.  Thank you to the 10 awesome women who shared this adventure.  You’ve set the bar for the rest!Heading off to airport

 

29 2013 May

Yes You May – Day 26 – Encourage others.

Well here it is, this is officially the last day of my month of May challenge of giving myself permission each day to do something that makes me feel great and that adds richness to my day.  Tomorrow I am up way before dawn and off to the airport to fly over to Samoa with 10 other women for 10 days, 7 of which are going to be spent cycling 200km around the island of Savaii and staying in villages on the way round.   Excited….?? You betcha!! 🙂

So today, I finished off my list of ideas that I’ve put together that might help others see ways to make your day special.  (it is by no means a complete list!)  Please feel free to add your ideas onto this blog.

I’ve really enjoyed this challenge and I’ve been amazed and the different perspective it’s given me and how enriched my life has felt this month by simply taking the time to proactively add value to my day.  I encourage you to give it go too.  It doesn’t even have to be every day but at least 3 times a week I reckon, or it probably won’t happen.

Give Yourself Permission To:

 

Get up half an hour earlier and:

Go for a walk/run/bike ride somewhere you don’t normally go

Jump in your car, (pop your bike in the back,) and go somewhere further away and explore a new area for a bike ride/walk/run

Do some yoga (get a DVD out from the library to follow)

Get a DVD out from the library and do an Aerobics type workout (Step, Kettlebell, dance etc)

Spend half an hour sitting quietly, focus on your breathing and then choose a thought to reflect/meditate on like; forgiveness, compassion, honesty, grace, loyalty, friendship……

Write a daily journal and include at least one thing that you did the day before that you are proud of and one thing you’d like to focus on for this day

Meet a friend for breakfast at a local café

Go to your local gym and do an early morning class

Join a boot camp

Go for an early morning swim

Stop at a café on the way to work and spend half an hour planning and prioritising your day

 

If you’ve got young kids or nieces, nephews, grandkids…….

Play hide and seek outside somewhere or inside….in the dark

Have a picnic tea on the living room floor (with no TV)

Pretend there’s no power and have a candlelight evening

Make a treasure hunt

Build huts (inside or outside)

Climb trees

Go exploring

There’s loads of things you could do with kids, just let your imagination run wild and BE a kid again!

 

Do something different in the evenings: (instead of watching TV)

Go for a walk around your neighbourhood

Play cards or some other game

Go skinny dipping on a moonlit night

Wade through the sea at night and watch all the phosphorescence

Play in the playground (when there’s no kids around)

Go to the movies

Join a club/group/night class and learn something new

Be creative; draw, knit, sew, sculpt, bake, write stories/poems

Talk

Visit

Read,

Phone family/friends and actually talk (not text or email)

Pamper yourself; have a facial, footbath, do your nails, your hair…

Share a massage

Sort through your photos, your files, your wardrobe, your drawers, your boxes of “stuff”

Invite friends around for a pot luck dinner

Go out somewhere cheap and cheerful for dinner (where you’ve never been before)

 

 

Make little tweaks to your day:

Drive a different way to work/school/wherever

Take some time to sit and a café and read the paper

Give yourself half an hour to check out that shop/museum/library/art gallery/café/park/garden centre/beach/reserve/walkway/show home…….

Purposely get yourself lost on a walk/run/drive and find your way out without any help

Buy yourself a little treat just because; flowers/magazine/book/nice bottle of wine/ chocolates/CD

Start using stuff you’ve been “saving”; that body lotion/soap/perfume/underwear/etc that you got for Xmas/birthday

De-clutter! (This could be a blog of its own!) De-clutter your wardrobe for a start and get rid of stuff that you no longer wear, or looks a bit shabby, is dated, the wrong colour for you …..Be ruthless!

Try a new recipe at least once a month

Change your daily routine just a bit

Get in touch with old friends

Give yourself a focus for each day eg; to smile more, to listen to others more, to appreciate the little things, to laugh, to be more gracious/patient/kind/loving etc

 

Do some big stuff! Give yourself permission to LIVE YOUR LIFE OUT LOUD!

Set yourself a “sweaty armpit” challenge that both scares and excites you, and do it!

Some examples could be:

Physical:

Do a skydive, a bungee jump, white water rafting, high ropes course, abseiling, caving, canyoning (choose from some of my adventures on this website J) or some other adrenaline pumping adventure

Relationship:

Ditch a bad relationship, if it’s not working for you and you’re not happy, get out.

If it’s worth working on then talk, get counselling do whatever it takes so you know that you’ve given it your all……

Try online dating, speed dating, join a singles club – meetups.com

 

Job/Career

If you’re not happy in your job/career then start the ball rolling now, start looking/planning when/how to change it

Do your research, get the help/advice/training/education you need

Talk to people who have the job/career you want and ask them about it

See a career consultant

Read “What Colour is Your Parachute” (an oldie but a goodie.)

 

Go on….give some of these a go or come up with your own ideas…..you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain!!

28 2013 May

Yes You May – Days 21 to 24 –

It’s been a few days since I’ve written my “daily” blog…….   But each day I’ve made sure that I’ve done something that will make my day feel that little bit more special and each day through having this as my main focus I have found out more about myself.   Read below to find out what I ended up doing….

Day 21 – Yes you may celebrate yourself!

It was early Saturday morning just after 6am and I was up and getting ready to meet up with my running group “GoldP1000791 Resizedingham’s Girls” to do a 10km run in the Northcote Point area.  (One of my favourite areas of Auckland.)  We drove off in my van down the motorway, parked at Onepoto Domain and off we set.  I took off at the front with my chalk to draw arrows for the rest of the group to follow.  It was a gorgeous run, we ran down streets and walkways that we never knew existed, marvelling at all these beautiful old villas, we ran under the harbour bridge on ramp, through parks and reserves……

And as I ran I was thinking about what I was going to give myself permission to do that day to make it special….imagine that!  Then of course I realised that what I was doing right then was pretty blimmin special, but to push out the boat a bit more on myself I decided as I ran along to celebrate myself.  Now, this is not always that easy for us to do.  Often we find it easier to identify our faults not what we’re proud of.  We are often guilty of the “tall poppy syndrome” to ourselves.    But as I ran along feeling fit and strong I decided to acknowledge and congratulate myself for that –  and then I started listing off other things big and small that I had achieved  that I felt proud of and I really allowed that feeling of personal celebration to sift down into my inner most being and stay there.

Day 22 – Yes you may ……

OK, I admit it……. I found it hard today to come up with something special, something different, something that I was giving myself permission to do,  feel, express, learn or experience that I maybe wouldn’t normally do.  In fact I started putting a bit of pressure on myself, like, come on, you’ve GOT to enjoy this day!  What are you going to put in your blog then?  Accountability is a great motivator but it can also be a source of stress too which kind of negates the whole premise behind this blog.  Throughout the day as we had a lovely long breakfast with my sister at a local cafe, (in Northcote Point) as I shopped for last minute things to take over to Samoa, (I leave on Thursday) as I lay on the couch with my feet up reading my book, as Derek and I “judged” the X factor contestants together….. I was thinking “hmmm, this feels pretty nice, this feels special, and this feels good but is it really worth writing a blog about…..?

Day 23 – Yes you may harden up!

Now I know I’ve said quite a few times in this Yes You May blog that I enjoy exercising in the early morning002s and that is true for most of the time…. but…..there are times like this morning when I didn’t want to get up.  I had done all my little motivating strategies like getting my exercise gear out the night before, planning my route where I was going to cycle, visualising myself out on my bike feeling fit and strong, visualising myself getting home and how great I’d feel and it still wasn’t working.

I knew I wasn’t sick, tired, sore or anything like that.  Mentally I didn’t feel like I needed to “give myself a break.”  I knew I just needed to “harden up.”  Over the years I have learnt (and am still learning) how to let my mind control my body and not the other way round.  I have learnt that my body, my attitude, my emotions will believe what I tell them to believe, if I say it with conviction.  And the more I say it, the more my body etc goes along with it.  So, harden up I did.  On went my jacket and out into the drizzly rain I went on my bike.  I gave myself permission to go out for at least 20 min and ended up out for double that and yes……once again my mind was right. I did feel awesome when I got home. 🙂

Day 24 Yes you may try something new!

Another wet early morning start.  This morning I was determined to do something completely new, to try an exercise class that I’d never done before.  We’re very lucky in that we live just around the corner from the local Leisure Centre.  The darpm classy before I had booked myself in for the 6am RPM (or Spin) class.  I hadn’t ever bothered with RPM before because I have a bit of an aversion to cardio machines as I think, why be inside rowing, cycling,  running , cross training on a stationary piece of equipment with loud music blasting and big TV screens on when I could be outside in the fresh air enjoying the sounds and smells of the early morning (read one of my previous blogs “Maximise the Moment and you’ll get where I’m coming from.)

But some women from my running group had raved about the classes so I decided to give it go.  WOW!…. talk about a heart pumping, sweat pouring, jelly legged workout!!  It was great!  There we were pumping our legs as hard and fast as we could to Billy Idol blasting out “With a rebel yell she cried more more more!”  What a way to start the day!  I don’t think it’s my thing to do it all the time but it certainly is a damn good workout and it’s made my day. 🙂

 

 

24 2013 May

Yes You May! Day 19 and 20 – Add some value to your day!

Day 19 of giving myself permission, “yes, you May,” to do something each day for the month of May, that will make me feel great.  I didn’t get a chance yesterday to do this blog as I was back on “nana duty.”  During the day though I was thinking of what I could do, what was something I could add to my day that wouldn’t take up a huge amount of time (as I didn’t have much of that yestbath 204erday), wouldn’t cost money and would add value to my day.  I discussed it with my husband and still hadn’t really thought of anything….I’d already cooked up a really nice meal as a treat but still felt like I could do something else…..

I had an exercise class to take at 5pm so off I went.  When I got back home it was dark and raining just slightly.  My wonderful husband had run a lovely hot bath in our outdoor bath for us with with a big glass of red waiting for me!  We sat in the bath, caught up on each others day, drank our wine as the soft misty rain fell on our faces and it was just perfect……!  (I didn’t get a photo of us in the bath…probably just as well…but here’s one of our bath on a sunny day.)

Today…..well after spending all day in my office catching up on a backlog of work as soon as I finish this blog I’m off down the beach for a late afternoon walk which I am soooo looking forward to!

 

 

 

22 2013 May

Yes You May – Days 17 and 18 – Give time to what really matters.

Well I’ve just had a taste of what it’s like to be a busy mum at home with sick kids ……!!  I’ve been on “nana duty” yesterday and today and I realise how difficult it can be to try and create great moments when you’re busy catering to the needs of sick kiddies.

However, through doing this blog and therefore having the thought of creating great moments constantly on my mind, I loo261018_571109953_2294773_nked for ways to make my time with my grandkids special.  Given that they weren’t up to doing much at all on account of feeling sick, I spent time reading stories, watching a DVD all the way through with them, (instead of leaving them plonked in front of it while I worked) building a lego zoo and cooking up their favourite foods to tempt their little appetites.

After they were gone I spent some time relaxing with hubby and then heading off to bed early with a good book.  I don’t know about you, but that for me is bliss…..!

No, I didn’t get my work done, yes, everything was put on hold and yes I got up real early this morning to do some catch up but I wouldn’t have had it any other way and yes, it felt great to spend that quality time with my grandkids.

 

20 2013 May

Yes You May – Day 16 – Maximise the Moment!

Maximising the moment, squeezing all the juice out of it, BEING totally in the moment, being present…..this is what I gave myself permission to do today.

I LOVE my early morning exercising.  I love the gentle soft pre-dawn light, I love the sound of the birds waking up, I love the clean freshness of the early morning.  I love the ease of just rolling out of bed, throwing on my exercise clothes and within minutes I’m out the door either on my bike, my kayak,  running,  tramping, swimming…..

This morning I decided to practice being totally in the moment with all my senses (except maybe for taste) being highly attuned to that present moment.  As I ran along one of my favourite runs, (if your a local “coastie” you’ll know it – up Scott Rd, into Wade River Rd and down to where the boats are moored) and I asked myself these questions;

What can you hear?  I listened intently to all the different bird calls trying to identify what bird was making which sound , the distance hum of traffic, the sound of the wSunrise boatsater lapping, the sound of my feet running, my breathing….

What can you smell? Ahhhhh…….breathing in deeply I savoured the earthly richness as I ran through the bush area, the faint eucalyptus smell of the gum trees planted nearby, the almost peppery smell of the vegetation and the delicious salty briney tang as I ran down the hill to the little bay…all heightened by the early morning freshness.

What can you see?  I allowed my eyes to roam further, to look deeper, to notice the way the early morning light infused the air with a delicate golden hue which in turn heightened and enriched the natural colours so that they glowed.  I noticed textures, the white silkiness of the trunks and branches of the gum trees, the shapes of branches splayed against the sky, the pink clouds reflected in the milky blue sea……

And most importantly, what do you feel?  I stopped to drink in the view, to absorb the moment, to feel the beauty in my soul, to allow myself to just BE and my eyes welled up as I was overcome with such a feeling of contentment, joy and calmness.  At the moment a woman walked past and looked over at me, “so beautiful isn’t it” I said.  “Yes, she replied, “such a lovely way to start the day.”   I felt like going over to her and hugging her!

John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans.”  By being aware of maximising moments in your life, squeezing the juice out of them, BEING totally in the moment, you are ensuring you are really LIVING your life.

19 2013 May

Yes You May – Day 14 and 15 – Make a start and see what happens!

On Saturday I was still on a roll from my efficient and effective Friday.  I still felt great about getting lots done and I wanted to keep the momentum going.  So after a very wet early morning run with my running group, hubby and I got stuck in and re-painted our bathroom.  We’ve been putting it off for ages, waiting till we were “in the mood” to do it, but once we got stuck in, it only actually took half an day and it looks so good!012 resized

Still on a roll I finally planted lots of flowers in my tubs of dirt that have been sitting empty by the front door for a few months now.  Both these little jobs have given me so much satisfaction that I wish I had done them ages ago.  I’ve often found that when I’ve got a seemingly big job to do or one that I just can’t really be bothered doing, that if I just make a start on it no matter how small, then it’s like I get the ball rolling and I’m away.  It’s the starting of the job that is often the hardest.  I finished off the day relaxing in our secluded outdoor bath tub with a lovely glass of red…..ahhhhh…..bliss.  🙂

Sunday was family day.  I rang up my son earlier on in the week and invited ourselves out for lunch and spent time with them and our youngest granddaughter.  Spending time with family is always rewarding and always enriches my day! 🙂

 

17 2013 May

Yes You May – Day 13 – Be efficient and effective!

I’ve purposely put a slightly different spin on what I wanted to feel great about today.  I know that besides feeling great when I add the physical stuff to my day I also feel great when I know I’ve had a really productive day and got heaps of stuff done.  I love lists and ticking things off…sad but true….

Unfortunately I’ve found that when you work for yourself and from your home there can be a tendency to procrastinate.  There’s no-one to be accountable to but yourself.  Those nasty jobs on my to do list slip further and further down and inevitably cause me to wake in the middle of the night fretting over the fact that I STILL haven’t done them!

So today, I gave myself permission to “Be efficient and effective!”  This became my mantra for the day.  I wrote myself a new list with all those yukky nasty jobs prioritised at the top of the list.  I divided my day up into chunks of time so I had a deadline to work to.  I allowed myself 5 min at the end of every 2 hrs to check out what was happening on facebook, or send a chatty email, or do some other little reward type thing. If I felt tempted to dilly dally any longer than 5 min I’d just keep repeating my mantra, “Be efficient and effective.”  I even put off doing this blog until those prioritised jobs were done or at least had a good start on them…(I’m talking about stuff like getting my tax info sorted for my accountant.)

And now, it’s the end of my work day,  I’ve achieved heaps and I feel quite smug and self righteous AND to celebrate…. me and hubby are off down to the local pub for a few drinks.  You see I won a $50 drinks and food voucher when I put my business card into a box and now we’re off to redeem it.  Another thing to make me feel great about today. 🙂

16 2013 May

Yes You May! – Days 11 and 12 – It doesn’t take much.

Both yesterday and today were busy, busy mornings and I didn’t get to get out in the early morning for my usual sunrise exercise that makes me feel so good.  And, I must admit I was struggling to think of what I could fit into my day that was a bit different and would make my day a bit more special.

What I decided on for yesterday made me realise that 1. how privileged I am to be able to do this and 2. how demotivational-posters-determinationso may people do this every day and probably don’t think anything of it.  What did I do……..?  I decided that on my way home from taking my Active Mums exercise class that I would stop at a cafe for just half and hour and treat myself to lunch.  Now I’m a packed lunch type of gal so this was quite a treat!  While eating my lunch I caught up on magazine gossip from December last year…they really need to update their magazines!  It was a lovely little break in my day to recharge my batteries and treat myself.

Today, following along with my theme from yesterday that it doesn’t take much, I decided instead of driving up to post my mail and do some banking, that I would take half an hour out of my day and walk up in the fresh air and sunshine.  So I did and came back feeling just great!

Life/Work balance is so important and it is very easy to allow our days to get busier and busier until it seems that there is no way out.  But there is!  Hopefully what this blog is showing is that once you set your mind to looking for ways to get a bit of balance in your life and if you are commited to doing just that then, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And…..It doesn’t take much! 🙂