Tuesday 22nd April

After we were all up and showered etc the decision was made to go out.
Clare & Doug were leaving  – love this pic I took of them with Inez and her granddaughters Hope & Aroha.
Said good bye and then piled into Inez car, swung past her daughter’s house and she followed us with her three wee ones out to The Stables Cafe.
It is a wonderful place.
Great choice Inez!
Fantastic for the kids as there are so many animals for them to go see and feed.
Great for the adults as there is good coffee and food.
The kids lined up and waited patiently for their morning tea.
Azzan didn’t want anything sweet, or fried, or fatty….
So he opted for the omelette.
It looked pretty darn good actually.
The kids all went off outside to explore and we sat and chatted.
Lots of room for them to safely run about.
Eventually Catherine went to find Sophie and brought her back to the cafe as the older kids were going too far away.
Sophie was not at all happy with that decision.
Until we all went and reordered some more coffees and she got a gorgeous purple cup especially for her.
That made her smile.
And isn’t that just the most gorgeous, cutest wee face you ever did see?
I had a herb tea and fresh cheese scone for my second order.
Very prettily served.
Azzan took some photos of us all before we ventured out into the yard.
It really is a fantastic place.
Loads of seating room and no loud music blaring in your ears when you are wanting to talk!
Outside was lovely.
It might have been grey and overcast but the autumn colours were so pretty.
This magnificent chestnut tree towered over the yard.
The children were having fun in the large ‘dolls house’.
Everywhere I looked was an artists dream.
A group shot of them on the wheel feature.
Azzan on the top.
Ella, Hope & Jacob in the middle and Aroha & Sophie at the front.
Inez is planning a holiday craft project with the children.
Topic Autumn.
So she was suggesting they all look for some leaves and feathers to take home.
But it was more fun to run about!
A last look at a few of the animals there.
The kids discovered this hen had 6 wee chicks hiding underneath her just as we were about to leave.
That caused a lot of excitement.
We came back to the house and I did some internet shopping for the Lodge and then around 4pm I headed off to the nearby shopping centre to post some mail.
Inez had told me about a good shoe shop there so I popped into see what they had.
The staff were so cool.
I have such a hard time getting comfortable shoes and they were so helpful.
Brought me all they had and I had a good try on, then finally found a really cute pair of short boots with just the right amount of heel and they were really comfortable.
So bought them and headed back to the house.
Found Inez and the girls in the midst of a lovely creative sewing session.
These kids are so incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful grandmother.
She does so much for and with them.
We had a really yummy casserole for dinner.
Perfect for a cool evening.
Olly & Josh joined us so we had a full table.
The evening quickly disappeared.
Am really enjoying getting to know these cousins.
Been a lovely couple of days.

Monday 21st April

I woke early and did some more searching for buses.
No seats available!
Then on my way to the shower just after 8am I got enough cell reception to call up the only company left to try, Budget Bus Shuttles.
Yes, they did have a seat but they left at 10am from Timaru.
I quickly booked Mahalia a seat, tore back upstairs and told the kids to move it – fast!
And I raced inside for a shower.
We were all packed and saying our goodbyes and many many thanks to Ann & Donald by 9am.
We arrived at the iSite in plenty of time to relax, have fun and grab some takeaways for Mahalia to eat on the bus.
Although Azzan found half of her order left in the car after she had left!
At the Railway Cafe waiting for the order to be heated.
Muuuum, put the camera away!’
‘But I just have to get one of that chandelier, it’s real pretty.’ 😉
And then the kids made friends with a local resident while we waited for the bus.
We waved goodbye to Mahalia, she was delighted to be heading off to Christchurch to spend a few days with Madeline.
Azzan & I went off for a drive around the city, it was early and it was Easter Monday, so not a lot of activity.
Called into Briscoes to check out the sale, then went to BurgerKing to wait for Corrinne to arrive.
She & Cleveland were on their way to Invercargill so we were meeting up for coffee as they passed through Timaru.
We were only there to wait for them as it was a central easy to find spot, no way was I going to eat there!
Azzan got a drink while we waited cuz ‘it’s the polite thing to do Mum’ 😉
I had exhausted the internet allowance when they arrived so we packed up and went to find some decent food.
When they arrived we scooted off to find somewhere with reasonable food that was open.
Eventually found Mocca and spent a lovely hour there catching up on lost time.
Finally just before 1pm I dropped them back at their car and they continued their journey south and we found our way to my cousin Inez & Graeme’s place.
Thankfully I could remember from Friday the general direction of where it was as my iPhone was hiccuping and wouldn’t load any internet stuff so couldn’t use maps.
Inez had lunch all ready so we relaxed and enjoyed her wonderful cooking.

The afternoon was spent doing just what we all needed to do.
I sat and knitted whilst talking with Graeme’s sister Clare.
She & Doug were visiting from Blenheim for the weekend.
Inez’s cat Bear entertained himself with my knitting until Azzan helped put a stop to that for me.
Then after a while he got bored and curled up for an arvo nap.
Good afternoon for it.
Overcast and cold.
Inez was doing what she loves – being busy in the garden.
She has an amazing garden – very productive and impressive.
Graeme & Doug had made a huge clearance of the kiwifruit vine etc in the morning and they were now getting a chook run made.
Once that was all done Inez ushered her chickens into the new run.
Graeme spotted me taking photos through the window 🙂
Azzan was happy to just chill out and spent the afternoon playing with his egg on my phone, curled up behind the couch on his laptop, and writing in his book.DSC00077

Early evening a friend popped in for a visit so we sat round talking over drinks.
Then we enjoyed a delicious dinner on our knees in the lounge and watched the tv news.
So good to have home cooked meals when you’ve been on the road for as long as we have.
Azzan & Inez’s favourite tv show was on, so we all watched Master Chef.
Just hope I can get to see the finals, it’s getting to the nail biting stuff now!!
Finally all rolled off to bed and I slept soundly.

Sunday 20th April

Another lovely lay in day.
I got up midmorning and took my knitting downstairs.
It soon got far too hot so I had to go strip off some clothes.
The weather is so fickle at present that it is hard to assess what to wear some mornings.
John & his friend were working on their air rifles with earnest concentration.
This is the wonderful table I mentioned yesterday.
It is the centre piece of this home.
Lunch time and we were all called in to partake in a royal feast.
Without trying too hard I realised later I had managed to catch 6 of the 8 children in one photo!
Azzan was not at all shy about getting his lunch.
He showed great enthusiasm for the food 🙂
It is great to see him with his appetite back to normal after the past two weeks.
After lunch he was outside with some of the kids booting around a soccer ball.
They are all enthusiastic players, he is a wanna be player, so he has loved getting involved here.
I love the 2nd photo, he went racing over to kick the ball, skidded in the damp grass and fell flat on his back.
I caught him just as he was going down!!
I have been playing with my new camera today.
It’s a Sony DSCHX60
Experimenting with all the bells and whistles.
Mahalia took this one of Ann & me in her domain.
Then I had to get one of them too 🙂
I was feeling somewhat poorly.
Had a headache from some really tight muscle knots in my neck & shoulder so I went off to have a sleep.
Azzan took his camera and went off walking with Mahalia and the other kids.
These are a random selection of his photos 🙂

They returned later in the arvo.
I came downstairs and hung out with Ann.
It is Sunday.
On Sunday’s they eat a main meal at midday and at night they have dessert.
What a great system!!
I was playing with the settings on the camera and found the red highlights.
It’s so much fun 🙂
Dessert in technicolour and in red highlight.
My kids had a rest upstairs and the others all went off later to play some more soccer.
They were late back so we decided to start without them.
Malcom arrived just before so of course stayed to help us out with the dessert! DSC00059
My two went off to bed after dessert.
Of course they never settled down for a sleep!!
Azzan spent the evening watching YouTube videos and Mahalia was on her tablet.
I spent the rest of the evening showing Ann photos & videos of the kids and weddings etc.
Then we visited my blog pages from 14 months ago as she hadn’t seen any of Tim’s funeral etc.
Tears were shed in the reliving of it all, but it was okay.
Then all of a sudden it was 11:30pm and Mahalia was down looking for food.
She made toast which smelled really good so I made some too.
Came to bed just on midnight with toast & relish with cheese – yum!


Saturday 19th April

We all had a very lazy morning.
Stayed snuggled in bed for ages.
I was feeling really weary and not too great so needed to do nothing for a wee while.
The kids started bouncing with boredom mid morning so I sent them off to socialise.
Azzan very cheerfully said to Mahalia, ‘I was being really friendly last night so it’s your turn this morning’ 🙂
She doesn’t find it as easy as he does in a new situation.
Got up and had a shower just before lunch.
Ann had already taken Salome to work in Timaru and done some grocery shopping.
Azzan helped Adoniah cut up marshmallows etc for the Ambrosia Ann was making to take to the party.
Mahalia & Abagail took the dog for a walk.
Lunch was make our own sandwiches from the piles of food set in the centre of the wonderful spinning table.
It’s pretty cool actually.
The centre spins so no one has to pass anything – just like in a Chinese restaurant but way, way bigger.
After all there are a minimum of 10 seated at this table most meals.
We could’ve done with a table like this at home.
After lunch was cleared up we got ready for the party.
It was a double 60th birthday celebration organised by Jess and her sisters, to honour their parents Jim & Glen.
we had to drive about half an hour towards Fairlie to get to their place.
It is about 20 years since we were last here!

The girls had done a great job of keeping their parents in the dark about the party.
Only 2 weeks ago had they given them a copy of the invitation but Glen & Jim had absolutely no idea how many or who would be there.
Jim’s brother had come all the way from Scotland for the celebrations so Jim & Glen had taken him for a drive to Tekapo today.
They were only away 4-5 hours and returned to find the girls had put out seats & hay bales set around braziers for guests, strung up decorations and had mountains of food prepared and were casually relaxing outside amongst it all, sitting sipping drinks as if they hadn’t done anything!!
When we arrived there was already a long line up of cars parked outside the hedge.
I heard a count later in the evening of 50 cars parked up!
Well over 100 of us came to celebrate.
A real tribute to a lovely couple 🙂

Glen saw us as we walked in and was so delighted.
She knew I was floating around the south but had no idea we would be here.
Such a lovely surprise and so good to see them all again.
We had several wonderful family skiing holidays down here when Seb was a toddler.
Life has taken many different turns since then so we have never gotten back.
We all milled around socialising with drinks and nibbles for a couple of hours.
Then Jess called us to attention for the beginning of the speeches.
She also had a goody bag and throughout the evening would ask random questions pertaining to their parents and those who know the answers were given a prize – which were crazy things we had to wear for the duration of the evening, like large head bows, funny ears, glowing noses, and I won a shiny blue neck tie which Azzan has claimed!
It was all loads of fun.
I was delighted to see some old friends arrive and sought them out as soon as I had a chance.
I introduced Azzan to Roly and they and a great time talking.
We stayed in Roly & Margaret’s farm cottage all those years ago during our ski holidays at Mt Dobson, and they came visiting us in their yacht.
Roly had fun recounting a story to Azzan about his big bro (Anson we think) who took him fishing and on catching the fish scrambled around the dinghy asking for a basher to deal to the fish!!
So from then on in Roly’s family ‘a basher’ was their byword!!
I found Mahalia and got her to come over and meet Roly too.
She was absolutely delighted with him, especially when she realised he was Croisella’s uncle.
And even more so when she discovered Croisella was actually staying nearby over the weekend!!
He had lots of fun with her trying to get his tongue around her name and his brain to remember it.
By the end of the evening she was being referred to as Miss Shand – it was easier  🙂

A bbq was cranked up and loads of meats cooked, thar, venison, pork, chicken, plus multitudes of salads and breads etc.
I’m sure the tables were groaning under the weight of the food.
A very interesting and delicious spread – more than enough for tomorrow too I reckon!
After some more questions and fun with Jess we had desserts.
They were so delicious, including Ann’s ambrosia which was doubly delish!

Another local lady was taking some professional photos so I snuck in behind her and captured these ones of the lovely family.
Sarah, Jessie Maisie & Adelia with their parents, Jim & Glen
Becky had come down from Nelson with her mum Bronwyn and kids Abe & Phoebe.
I spent a lot of the night hanging out with them.
Nice to have some time to catch up with them both.
Life is far too busy in Nelson!!
Azzan & Abe went off and enjoyed some great boy time together and then later in the evening Abe buried himself in his book and Azzan took on the job of cleaner upper.
He gathered up all the used plates and cups and disposed of them.
A great job Azzan, I am sure it was very much appreciated – thank you.

We were quite tired so said our goodbyes and left around 9pm.
It was a pitch black night and I was really cold & weary, so just focusing on the road and getting back to Pleasant Point, when out of the darkness loomed this large shape right in my path.
I was so shocked.
It was a large wallaby just sitting upright straight in front of me.
I managed to swerve around it much to the kids delight.
I know they are pests here but the idea of hitting it was most unappealing and I was also very concerned about how it might damage the car.
Wow! That was a bit of excitement for the night!!
We got back to the house and went straight off up to bed.
Collapsed and slept soundly.

Friday 18th April

Today we had to leave.
It was not raining but very murky.
There were reports of violent storm damage up north, in Nelson,                                                                                              the West Coast, and now the east coast was getting it.
I was hoping we would not get affected by the rain storm.
I packed the car up again.
We were all ready to go around 9:30am so said our goodbyes to our ‘new chums’ or as Mahalia referrers too them as – my adopted grandparents 🙂
We drove without stopping for ages, admiring the autumn colours as we travelled.
Followed behind this bus for many miles.
I noticed the number plate but it was Mahalia that commented – ‘Pink Floyd’!
We drove to Omarama with the intent of stopping there for lunch, but there were hoards of people milling so we decided to carry on.
Soon came to the Benmore Dam.
It is a mighty impressive structure.
We drove over the dam and down the side of Lake Aviemore.
It was absolutely stunny downy here.
The autumn colours are incredible
Mahalia had fun leading me down all sorts of off road tracks so she could find interesting photosgraphs.
I had fun capturing her exuberance.


Weather was getting much wetter now.
There was a lot of rockfall along the road and I was getting a tad nervous as some of the rocks were rather large.
Aviemore Dam.
We carried on to the Waitaki Dam.
We drove to Kurow and got some lunch to take with us.
Then over a very old bridge which crossed a very flooded river.
There was a lot of roadworks as there is a new bridge being built adjacent to it.
We began to drive through flooded roads.
The kids thought it was great fun to wash the car as we drove through the water.
It was flooding all the way down the Hakataramea Valley.
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The ducks were enjoying the weather.
Out onto the main road and even more flooding as we headed north towards Timaru.
A random small blue airplane parked not he side of the road!
We found our way to Inez & Graeme’s place.
Picked up my camera which I had gotten posted there.
Chatted for a short time and then carried on.
Fueled up the car and then drove to Pleasant Point.
We arrived at Donald & Ann’s just in time for dinner.
Met all there kids, it is 20 years since we were last down here so lots happened and kids have grown in stature and number!
Kids went off to bed and I ended up chatting with Ann until nearly midnight.
We had a lot to catch up on!
So tired!

Thursday 17th April

There is a lot of activity up the street from our apartment.
The huge orange digger has been working all week, this morning it was joined by the yellow digger, road signs and some very busy important looking road crew.
There is also a dusting of fresh snow on the Remarkables!!
Gareth & Jill went off walking for the morning.
I was really tired from not a lot of sleep and the horrid cough which is physically taxing me.
I was describing to Azzan how it felt and he said that when he had it he got pins and needles in his chest.
And that is exactly what it is that I am getting.
I could so hard, cannot stop, barely can take a breath, and the pins and needles stab inside my chest.
It is excruciating and exhausting.

I took the kids into town and dropped them off at the movies.
I had my pocket stuffed with Vicks cough lozenges.
It was a very chilly morning, so was cross with Azzan for not bringing his jacket or hat.
We had about half an hour spare before the theatre opened so we went for a cruise down thte street a bit further and found Pumpkin Patch had a sale on.
We gooo-ed and gaaa-ed over all the cute wee clothes.
I found a couple of things I wanted to get so asked the sales assistant to hold them while I whisked the kids back up to the cinema to get their tickets.
The spent the rest of the morning watching ‘Rio 2’.
I was planning to have the 2 hours to myself to go do my shopping.
I went back to pick up the clothes and whilst fossicking through the sale racks Sebastian phoned up for a chat.
Hadn’t had a good catch up since his operation so was good to hear how things went etc.
Got some more clothes and then went off for wander.
I had time to do my own thing, but I was tired, not feeling well, and it was very cold and windy.
Quite a recipe for being miserable!
I was back at the car moving it to a new park cuz my time had expired, when the kids text to say movie was over.
Met them at the theatre.
Azzan was cold – duh!
We walked very briskly to Vudu Cafe & Larder and enjoyed some of there very tasty food for lunch.
We were all really over being in town so went back to the car.
I dropped Mahalia off at the house and took Azzan to Frankton to find some earphones for his iPod and get fruit & veges to take with us tomorrow.
It took us three shops to find what he wanted.
I was being extremely patient but put my foot down at the last shop.
He made his choice and was happy to find they were a very comfy fit.
We got back to the apartment just after Jill & Gareth arrived in from their walk.
I was so over tired that my body was aching so badly.
I took myself off to bed and slept for a couple of hours.
G&J took Azzan bowling.
They had a great time.
We were planning to go out for our last dinner together but consensus was to stay in and rustle up leftovers.
I crashed on the sofa and Jill & Gareth cooked up a storm 🙂
It was really nice to not go anywhere and our dinner was very tasty and just enough.
Mahalia gave Jill a manicure and pedicure.
I got lucky and received a manicure too.
Azzan was very helpful and cleaned up all the dishes.
We watched a tv programme and then were not long heading off to bed.


Wednesday 16th April


I had promised to take Mahalia into town to do some shopping if she was up and ready early.
She was, but I wasn’t.
I was enjoying wallowing in my bed and took a while to actually get myself into the shower.
We finally headed into town sometime after 10am.
Jill & Gareth decided to go off and do a wine trail for the day so they headed towards Cromwell soon after we left the house.
Mahalia was in need of some shoes so we found a park and went walking.


Azzan was not at all happy to be getting dragged around the shops when he had nothing he needed.
So he was doing a real bloke attitude, resentfully mooching along just behind us, with a very bored expression, giving us girls the silent treatment.
Unfortunately he hadn’t brought his phone with him so I couldn’t/wouldn’t let him wander off to do his own thing.
I wanted to go check out the camera shop because my camera has packed a wobbly.
I am really annoyed with it, only bought it last Oct when I damaged my previous one beyond repair when I fell on the beach.
The shutter has been refusing to shut intermittently, and then about a week ago I turned it on and the screen was covered with an electronic looking web of lines, plus I have not been at all happy with the light quality of my photos.
So, off to check out some other ones and when I return home I will deal with the warrantee issue.
I had checked out a few at Noel Leemings in Frankton the previous night but the guy there really had no idea what he was talking about and was of no use at all.
The girl at the shop as great and showed me their star camera and I was immediately sold.
However, I took time to go away and think and check out online reviews.
In the meantime Mahalia had side tracked Azzan into an op shop to try and lift his countenance somewhat!
By the time I was looking for them they had circumnavigated several streets, checked out all the shoe shops they could find and were now at the cinema getting times and film details.
I regathered focus and we set off to check out more shoe shops.
The ones she had found did not stock the shoes she was wanting so I asked and was told to head to Amazon.
The guy there was very helpful and finally Mahalia found the ones she wanted.
Then because they were running a special jeans/shoes/t-shirt deal she tried on heaps of jeans.
But because of her gorgeously long legs none of the jeans in the deal actually fitted her properly.
He found her a pair of Wranglers called Mid Twiggy – and they were a perfect fit.
But as she really didn’t need any more and they were a lot more expensive than the ones being offered we left them for another day.
At least she now knows where to go next time she needs some!
After another quick shop then Mahalia went to add some money to the parking meter and I took Azzan off to Whitcoulls to find a book he had seen there.
He was really keen to read Divergent after watching the movie, and hearing Michelle’s rave review of the book.
He was delighted to find the whole series and I was even more delighted to hear that because I was a loyalty member I got a reduction on two of the books plus a gift voucher as I had reached my points level – both happy – all good 🙂
We met at Starbucks for a drink and to use their internet.
Once Azzan and I had used what we needed we left Mahalia to use up her allotment and we scooted off to find Fergburgers.
We had been told by many people that we absolutely had to have one whilst in Queenstown.
I thought being ager 1pm that it would be quiet, we had passed by at other times at the queues were manic.
But I was wrong.
There were throngs of people there.
It didn’t take long to place our order but there was a 20min wait for the burgers.
Decided to just mill with the rest of the crowd and wait there.
Apparently it doesn’t matter what time of the day you go it is always crazy busy.
Must be good!

Finally our order was ready and we made a run for it.
The rain had been threatening for past few hours and now the drizzle was getting heavier.
We scooped up Mahalia who was waiting somewhat impatiently and headed back to the car.
Ellie was meeting us but missed seeing where we ware parked so I set off on a search for her.
Picked her up along the road further and went back to the house.
It was around 2pm and we were all so hungry.
The burgers were amazingly wonderful and so worth getting.
As soon as we finished eating I turned on the gas fire to warm us all up.
The day really had gotten very chilly.
We chatted and enjoyed Ellie’s company.
Then the three of them climbed into their onsies and set to choosing a movie to watch.
I headed off to the supermarket to get some stuff for dinner as I was cooking tonight.
Diverted past Starbucks and got myself a drink.
I parked right by this cute wee stone church.
It has some great angles and is surrounded by beautiful autumn colours.

Back to the house and found the kids blobbed out watching ‘Grown Ups’.
I started cooking dinner.
Jack arrived to pick up Ellie just after 5pm.
Gareth & Jill got back before 6pm.
I called up Shoshannah for a chat.
She had just messaged me to say she had received a merit for her English work.
Super cool stuff Shanni!!
Well done.
I knew you could do it 🙂

We had our dinners on our knees and spent the evening watching the most stupid tv programmes ever!
The kids were keen to see the top model programme, but it was far worse than any of the NZ versions.
‘Next Top Model – Guys & Girls’ – so incredibly catty, childish, stupid, and such over the top emotional dropkicks were the stars of the show!
Followed by ‘The Biggest Loser’ – inspiring, but man am I over reality tv.


This is one thing I will not be sad to leave behind when we get home!!
I spent most of the evening having a text conversation with a friend as the programmes were so enthralling – Not!


I sent the kids off to bed as soon as I could – somewhere around 10pm, then at 11pm I was snuggled up in my cozy bed putting a call through to Jesika.
She is 4 hours behind us in time so calling late in the evening is the best time for her and the quietest time for me.
It was great to hear about her new job etc.
Also to talk about my thoughts, plans, ideas & fears for my future.
We talked for nearly two hours and then I got hit by a coughing fit.
I couldn’t even say goodbye!!
It appears that I have not escaped the kids bugs entirely.
I have got a very tickley throat and without any warning an uncontrollable cough will start and I am almost vomiting from it.
This was by the far the worst attack so far.
It took me 45 minutes to get it under control.
I had to creep upstairs and get some more water and find the cough lozenges.
I was almost too scared to breath lest I set it off again 😦