A rather wet week.

Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th December

Spent the days unpacking and washing and catching up with all the mail etc in the study.
Azzan brought this wonderful harvest of grapefruit in to show me.

Shanni’s chickens have been hatching.
They are very cute.
Unfortunately we only have 1 left from the 3.
Tim caught Mo with the yellow one in his mouth.
And the other yellow one didn’t survive it’s first night.

I discovered that Mahalia had hurt her shoulder quite badly at gymnastics.
There was really nothing to do over the weekend so we found her sling from her previous injury (sigh) and that helped to make her more comfortable.

Monday 12th December

I had promised the children that we would get started on our academic work.
So come Monday that’s exactly what we did.
We are beginning a science book called Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy & Physiology.
The children are really enjoying it.
We are working through that together.
Plus they are getting some maths done as well.
Shanni is happily carrying on with her Math-U-See but I have started Mahalia & Azzan on some new math books I found in town recently.
I let them decide which level they felt happy starting at and they have both chosen the same.
It is Start Right Mathematics and Mahalia is loving it.
Azzan began his book a few days later as I had to get to get Anson to change the level I had bought for him.

The rain began creeping in on Monday.
Two English girls arrived to stay for a couple of nights.
Sophie & Deborah had met up with Cyrus & Naomi and they had rung ahead to ask if they could come visit.
The girls arrived at dinner time so joined us.

Tuesday 13th December

We spent another morning on our anatomy project.
It is great to get comments from Shanni as to how much she is enjoying it.
Lovely to have positive pupils

The rain was setting in.
The reports from Nelson were for some very heavy rainfalls over night so Anson decided to head out in the afternoon as all the sheep were wet and he couldn’t work.
He took Gavin & Mahalia with him.
She was delighted cuz she was going to stay with Lily for the night.
Mahalia & Anson had appointments with the chiropractor the next morning.

Ross & Lenore arrived later in the arvo.
They had brought in the ice creams for our summer shop supply.
Glen had come over in the dinghy to visit…

He went fishing until they arrived and then took them to the shop for me.
So all of you out there – we now have a great supply of ice creams at the shop.
Not a lot else in stock yet but I will deal with that next week!!

Wednesday 14th December

Because Mahalia was away we didn’t do any unit study.
Azzan decided to rummage in the science books.
Found a Backyard Science in the kitchen book and got very excited about making some gloop.
Needless to say, in his excited frenzy he turned my kitchen green

Nathan had to drive to Nelson for an early appointment on Thursday.
I was quite concerned about the roads as the rain was worse and the flooding reports were sounding bad.
So we got him on the road on Wednesday afternoon.
He got to town safely.
Due to the flooding in Nelson Anson decided to stay another night.

Deborah & Sophie needed to leave as they had a ferry to catch the next morning.
Tim & Ross towed them up the hill.
Thankfully they left when they did as the conditions got way worse.

Shanni’s one remaining chicken is living indoors.
It follows her around like she is it’s mother.
It’s cheeping drives me mental.
For a bird so tiny it makes an incredibly loud incessant noise!!!
But it is undeniably cute
At the moment!!

Thursday 15th December

Anson & co made it home by early arvo.
So glad the did because so many slips came down.

Mahalia went to the chiropractor.
He then sent her to have an ultrasound on her shoulder.
Then it was back to the chiro.
She appears to have torn a ligament in the front of her shoulder.
It seems that the damage caused from being hit by the car in Jan 09, then the impact from the broken arms left an ‘accident waiting to happen’ in her shoulder area.
Lots of heatpacks over the next months and she should heal in 6-12 weeks.
I think we will have to wrap this girl up for a while!!!

Anson got his back sorted out while there – he has a ‘shearer’s back’ and several vertebrae were out of kilter so good he is getting it dealt with.

Nathan had to stay in town for another night with Seb & Phoebe as he couldn’t get through.
Sebastian had to leave his car at Hira and hitch a ride on a large truck to get home that night.
The mess around Nelson and Golden Bay is horrendous.
They are saying it is a one in a 100 years flood.
A state of emergency was declared throughout the region.
It is going to be incredibly hard for the businesses caught at present right on the eve of the Christmas New Year tourist season.

Friday 16th December

It stopped raining.
We never got as much rain as they did in the western regions.
It was heavy for us but a good heavy.
The farm is very appreciative of all the excess moisture as we head into summer.
But the tales of devastation from west of us keep coming in.
I feel so sad for the folk that have been affected.
Our neighbour’s daughter and her family have lost their house.
Other folk are stranded on wrong sides of large slips and cannot get out for probably weeks.

Mahalia’s pet lamb died.
She was very upset.
She was also very tired.
Once she had cried on her Daddy’s shoulder and he buried it for her she was okay.

The mailboat came today.
We have an new owner/driver

Tim & I have had some very emotionally traumatic stuff to deal with this week.
I am not coping at all well with it.
Thankfully Tim is taking the helm and dealing with everything.
I have only managed to do what I have had to.
Once school is done and the meals are organised I have spent a lot of my time in bed.
It is a safe place for me.
I can hide and protect myself from everything.
I need to be able to do this right now
I have waded through the complete first series of Downton Abbey (thanks so much Alex for sending it over to me) and am now engrossed in Kavanagh QC.

2 days in Nelson

Thursday 8th December

We had to pack up and leave early to get to Nelson in time for a 9am appointment.
We were now spread out in two vehicles.
Tim & Nathan went off in one and I took the kids in the other.
I dropped the 3 of them off at the Winnington’s for a couple of hours and then met the guys for the appointment.
That was the first hour of the day done.
From there Tim dropped Nathan at The Wood and we met up at the bank.
Then Tim popped up to get the kids and take them to music.
I had things to do and then headed off to my counseling appointment.
Got hot potatoes for lunch and met up with the troops.
We ate while talking to Victoria & Chrissy as we waited for violin to finish.
Then I took Shanni to her appointment while Tim dropped Nathan & Azzan at the library and Mahalia at gymnastics.
Shanni walked on to send the arvo with Katherine while Tim & I met up and spent an hour talking over some major stuff with Stacey.
I was a bit of an emotional mess afterwards.
My life seems to be quite a roller coast at present.
When I am up and not thinking about stuff I am okay but the slightest thing tips me over the edge.
Nathan had walked Azzan to ballet so I whizzed down to pick him up while Tim headed off to do some other things.
We met up a lot later.
Azzan decided he really wanted to take part in the end of year violin recital the next night so that meant I had him in town with me for the night as well as Shoshannah.
Tim took Nathan & Mahalia home.
Then the rest of us had dinner at PlanB before heading out to Alan & Eare’s for the night.

Friday 9th December

Azzan slept with me all night so I really didn’t get a lot of sleep.
I got up quite early.
Rang Vodafone to see why my vodem broadband wasn’t working.
Turns out the account hadn’t been paid.
When I cancelled my visa card a month or so back due to being caught in an internet scam I had forgotten to notify them of the updated card number.
Got that sorted and I was back online again.
Shanni & I left Azzan to sleep in and headed off into town quite early.

She had a Drs appointment.
We both had to go have blood tests after that.
She wasn’t terribly happy about that idea so I made sure we had a good phlebotomist and had the tests done together.
After having blood tests done almost monthly for the past 8-10 years I know that getting a rough job done is no fun, especially for her when she was antsi the idea of needles!
It went well and she hardly felt a thing
It appears that her dizziness is probably caused by low blood pressure – just like her mother!
But checking iron etc as well to make sure.

We then went to Yaza Cafe for breakfast.
Nuana brought Azzan into town and they joined us there.
Shanni had shopping she wanted to do so she went off to the library first and then did some browsing before meeting up with Katherine.
I took Azzan and headed out to Richmond to see Ross.
We had quite a good chat about computers and updating mine etc.
Plans afoot

Zipped back into the city, met up with the girls.
Then took Azzan to the library.
He had been hanging out all day to go.
While he was happy in his paradise I met up with Seb outside and we had a really good chat for an hour or so.
Finally had to go drag Zani out and head off as the day was disappearing.
Flew through the supermarket and arrived at School of Music feeling somewhat streetworn.
I really hadn’t stopped all day!

We had an enjoyable evening.
Margaret & Fleur had most of their pupils there.
It was very informal.

The children all played in groups.
You can view 3 of the videos I took of Azzan playing with the younger group.
Azzan at his first violin recital
Azzan’s first violin recital
Azzan’s violin recital
It was a great idea of the teachers to have them playing in the groups instead of individually – made it much easier to listen to

After the children had finished playing Margaret got all the parents up to entertain the kids.
We had no idea what she had in mind.
She taught us a fun round called ‘We can do the handjive’
She separated the men & woman and we took two parts.
It was lots of fun.
Azzan still laughs about it as he sings it now.

We had all contributed towards a supper so after the music we socialised over the food and drink.
Then it was time to head home.
We arrived back around 11:30pm.

West Coast to Motupiko

Wednesday 6th December

We took Hwy 6 and headed off through the Buller Gorge.
There had been quite a lot of rain the week before so the river was quite big and muddy.

At several places where side rivers joined the Buller it was really fascinating to see how the clear water was not mixing with the muddy easily.

There are two very narrow spots along the gorge.
One has lights now.
The other is Hawks Crag.
No lights.
Just extreme caution.

The river swirls mighty close here.
I was freaking out a tad when Tim kept pulling over to the side for photo stops.
It always seemed he was coming in too fast and too close to the edge!

Looking back as a camper van drives under Hawks Crag.
Not a lot of spare room there!

We were on the lookout for an iron bridge as that was where we knew the 4WD track from Denniston comes out.
We are planning to do this trip next year hopefully and Tim wanted to case the joint at this end.

There was lush dairy pasture & curious cows as we navigated out way along the narrow back roads.

Once we had gone as far as the locked gate would allow we headed back to the main road.
The just a few minutes away we came to Lyall.
It was also a thriving ‘town’ many years ago.
This photo shows what was there in the 1870’s.

And now!

We made ourselves some lunch.
Filling buns with our own choices of ingredients.

Azzan always focuses in more closely on the food

The sandflies all of a sudden discovered us and swarmed with absolute ferocity.
My legs were black.
We packed up in a massive hurry and headed off with all windows and fans blowing to get rid of the wee blighters.
Horrid critters

The kids were happily occupied in the backseats doing their own things.
Azzan was plugged into either a movie or his iPod.
Nathan was plugged into his phone music.
The girls were making friendship bracelets.

We arrived at Motupiko around 4pm I think.
We were all very glad to get out of the Safari.
Philipa had a delicious meal ready for us all.
Azzan got close to it again before we did serious damage.

The children enjoyed hooning around outdoors as it was such a lovely evening.

Azzan & Jake played with the young lab pup.
They and Mahalia expended lots of energy on the see-saw and trampoline.
Nathan & Nick did big guy stuff.
The cats did their level best to have Tinga for dinner.
I found his cage knocked off the dresser and on the floor before I went to bed.
Shanni hadn’t even stirred when it happened.
So I figured it was less stressful and more advantageous to his health if I took him into our room and shut the door!!

Phillipa, Pat, Tim & I socialised in to the very late hours.
It has been quite a while so we had a lot of catching up to do.
It was very pleasant

Leaving the West Coast

Wednesday 7th December 2011

We cleaned up our cabins etc, packed up the Safari.
Squeezed ourselves in and headed off after breakfast.

Graeme had told us of a walk nearby so we popped down to the coast and went for a wander.
Charleston has quite a history.
Well worth reading this page as it is incredible to think that 140 years ago –
in 1866-1870 there was a population of around 14,000 living here.
The Charleston gold rush was the biggest on the West Coast.
And at it’s peak the town contained seventy-two hotels, two breweries, three schools, one hospital, three banks, several churches, a courthouse, dance-halls, and the scattered homes of the diggers.

This is Constant Bay now.

Today it is a quiet backwater with a few houses, a motor camp, a small tourist company and a town hall/community centre.
Even the one hotel has closed.

But it is a very beautiful place.

I like Azzan’s photos – he brings in a fresh perspective

I found this on his camera too.
After a moment of puzzling, Tim thinks some local fishermen have concreted in their fishing rod holders!

My budding National Geographic photographer 

It was really lovely exploring and watching the waves breaking over the rocks.
We spotted a small seal playing in the waves.
It was a delightful walk.

Mahalia & I were quite close to the breaking waves and had to hop back in a hurry.
The coast can be treacherous with rogue waves, so not a place to get too close to the edges.

Tim & Nathan watched from afar.

There is something peaceful and restorative in watching the turbulence of nature.

Shanni enjoying the majesty of the moment.

Small beauty amidst the large.

And a bizarre wee tree – grown and died in the crevice of the rocks.

We left Constant Bay and headed north, only to side track along Beach Road to explore more new territory.
This time the road took us to another area of coast and past a lot of farm land.
Mahalia decided she would really love to live here.
The vast sandy beaches were very appealing.

We were amused to see someone innovatingly using the stream to power a generator.

Denniston – part 4

The rivers and streams on the coast are usually brown from the tannin in the bush.
Quite different from muddy brown.
It is clear and clean.

Some remaining framework

A hotel – still has running water

Once home to the Parker Family.

We headed off in another direction.
The road went on for miles.
There was a helicopter working in the distance.
Discovered later that there are more working mines out there and they are sussing out another one.

Apparently it is not too long ago that this old place burned down.
Someone is living in a caravan nearby and is using the old foundations as a vege garden.

After a day of being quite stroppy Azzan went totally mental on the way home.

It was raining very heavily as we came off the hill so we decided not to venture any further north.

Tim managed to park right at the door of the shop at Waimangaroa so we could run in and get some hot food.
We were all rather hungry as it was now around 4pm.
We had been on the hill for a much longer time than anticipated.

As we drove through Westport I shot in and grabbed some groceries.
Then it was back to camp to eat and socialise again.

Denniston – part 3

I was fascinated to find coal seams in the rocks as I walked.
No wonder it is such a sought after place – there is coal everywhere.

Interesting colours in the water tables.

I loved all the different rock formations poking out from amongst the trees and scrub.

Tim and kids following after me.


More remains

Denniston – part 2

We decided to follow our noses along the 4WD tracks that extended out from the Incline.
The first thing we came across was the Cascade Mine.
It is a working mine and we passed a lot of heavy laden trucks going up and down the hill.
You are not allowed past the gates so we were not able to see the actual mine.

All along the way as we drove we would see signs telling what had been there.
A school had been in this area.

The power pylons that span New Zealand stretch their mighty legs through this wildness too.

I love to find the small beauties almost hidden by the scrub.

It is so desolate up there.
It would be so incredibly easy to get lost.
Even with the roads it was easy to become disorientated.

It was a mission to actually read this sign and then to decided if it was still a valid warning.

We decided it wasn’t and entered the prohibited regions!

Tim & I braved the elements and got out for a walk around.
Azzan came with me for a few moments and then went back.
I carried on walking back down the road knowing that Tim would be returning that way and would pick me up.

Unbeknownst to me, Azzan had not gone back to the car.
He had hidden in the scrub.
When Tim came back to the Safari he and the others just assumed Azzan was walking with me.
So as they drove off he was left behind.
Thankfully Tim saw him in the rear vision mirror – running very fast after the vehicle!!
He absolutely hates to feel separated from us so maybe he may have learned a lesson this time

Denniston – part 1

Tuesday 6th December

We took a drive up the coast to visit Denniston.

Tim had been up here about 12 years ago with the older children but it was all new to me and the younger kids.
It was a normal Denniston day.
Up on the mountain top – bleak, misty rain, cool to cold,
I spent time trying to impress on the children what it would’ve been like to have lived up here.
The conditions were appalling.
Once the women and children arrived there was no easy way down.

This photo shows some of the town at the top of the incline.

The girls are standing where the red dot is on the photo above.
Not a lot left!

There has been a lot of work done to preserve the history of the place.
There are now tours you can take.
We plan to return to do these as soon as we can cuz they look really interesting.

There were a lot of information boards for us to read.
It got a bit damp and cold but the rain held off enough for us to have an explore of the area.

What is left at the top of the incline today.

It really is extremely impressive to see what was built with so little.
A huge amount of manpower went into this.
The Denniston Incline is often referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World.

The old supporting walls are no longer very safe.

We talked to one of the men who guides the tours.
He grew up at Denniston.
He remembered having to dart out to grab the rope to prevent it getting caught as the coal trolleys came flying up over the incline.
A very dangerous job and no wonder so many died.
5 deaths for every 2 million tons of coal mined from here.

It is a l-o-n-g way down there.
Almost a sure suicide to travel in the coal trolleys but they did it – some survived!

It is now a great adventure playground without all the safety nets

Nathan & Shanni were with us but they opted to remain in the Safari after a quick circuit as it was too cold for them!

Our Underworld Adventure – part 4

We had a safety talk from the guides.
They told us to keep to the west side of the river and use our paddle gloves to steer ourselves.
It was really funny cuz the Japanese didn’t understand terribly well and they were all over the place.

We carried our tubes from the underwater river over the bank to the Nile River and then beached ourselves back into them.

It was a load of fun getting ourselves down the rapids.

And then cruising down back to the swing bridge.

We had to leave the river at the bridge.
Drop our tubes off and walk back to the train.

It was a very exhausting 4 hours.
Couldn’t actually believe we had been adventuring for over four hours though.
The time just flew.
We all thoroughly enjoyed every part of the day.
Despite the hard yacker physically we are all keen to go back for more!!

I had to chuckle when we got back to the train.
When we arrived in the morning the men all went one way and the women the other so we could change discreetly.
Afterwards we were all so tired we just changed where we were!

We traveled back on the train and mini vans to the base.
Left all our gear and headed to the camp kitchen to find food.
We were all very ready for nourishment!

It was a fantastic trip.
Thoroughly recommend it

Azzan has just told me that it was

Our Underworld Adventure – part 3

Rafting through the glowworm cavern

Getting into and out of the tubes is actually not that easy.
You sorta feel slightly ‘beached as






We then turned all our lights off and rafted together.
Lying back in our tubes we glided under a spectacular display of glow worm lights on the cave ceiling above us.
It was rally hard to get a perspective on how big the cave was.
It felt huge but at one point I realised I was touching the side.
That is how black it is in there!

Too soon we were coming to daylight.
The rest of the party was there waiting for us.