Taylor Swift in Melbourne 2015

This was one of the best impulsive decisions I have ever made.

Years earlier, when my two youngest were teenagers, they used to sing Taylor Swift songs all day long! I got to know the songs pretty well, and I really liked them. I appreciate that Taylor is a very gifted musician and singer, and always thought it would be great to see her on stage one day.

So in August of 2015, I’m sitting at home, with my iPhone beside me, when an alert arrived. It was Air New Zealand advising that Taylor Swift has added another concert to her Melbourne tour. The tickets could be purchased immediately and only a limited number available! Her two already planned concerts were sold out! That was enough for me! I purchased 4 tickets! This was a travel, airport transfers, accommodation, CD, T-shirt and show pass deal. The show wasn’t until December, but that gave us enough time to organize life to fit in with this impulse buy… I hoped!

It all worked out nicely, and in December us girls took off for Melbourne to see Taylor perform. I think I was actually the most excited!

Us four at the Airport!

Two sisters, and two daughters 🙂

Us four very excited ladies on the transfer from the Melbourne airport to our Hotel.

The bonus was we had all afternoon free for shopping and then again the following morning. Melbourne is a great city for shopping!

Looks delicious huh!
and a bit of sight seeing

As it happened, my eldest son was also in Melbourne for work! How great was that! We all met together and had a very nice lunch and catch up 🙂

At the show and waiting for it to start
And there she is!

This girl can entertain! And her talent is amazing. The whole show was just wonderful, and I was just stunned at how many songs I knew, and could sing along to. The show was well worth going to.

We weren’t too far from the stage, but every now and then Taylor would be standing on a platform which moved out and across the crowd. She ended up singing almost right in front of us! And what a voice! Who said that Nanas can’t enjoy a good rock star hey!

This November, Taylor has another show. This time it’s in Sydney, and my eldest grand daughter is taking my 12 year old grand daughter, her sister. Do you think Nana Pam should buy tickets and go join them?

Christmas 2017

This Christmas has been wonderful! I have had all of my 6 adult/children home, along with their partners and children. The only one missing was our beautiful eldest grand daughter. She lives in Sydney, is starting a full time job as a nurse this March, and because of work commitments over the holidays, she had to stay home. She was certainly missed!

To get most of our family in one place and at the same time is a miracle!

We have one son, with his wife and two children, living in London; We have another living in Sydney, with his wife and three children; We have another son, and his wife, based in Sydney, but travelling all over the world; We have another son, and his three children, living here at home with us; We have a daughter living in Auckland, New Zealand; And we have another daughter living in our home town who is in the process of building a new home. Can you see how amazing it has been to actually get them all home?

We have had 17 of us living together over the holidays, and actually 18 for a couple of nights. My home has been full, and I have been so happy. A happiness that fills me to overflowing. It’s so hard to describe, but I feel like I am in love with each of my family members all over again! They are all great people, and I am so proud of each and every one of them. I am so happy with how they all embraced the time together, and how they all loved each other in spite of all the differences between us.

In honour of having us all together, I wanted to have a few family photos taken. I love photos, and the memory moments they give us all, forever! My eldest daughter is a very talented photographer (and the second to eldest as well), so we arranged a time, and a place, and Joanna took some photos. The last time we managed to get group photos taken was in December 2009. We have had four more grand children born since then, so I felt we really needed an updated photo.

Family photo from December 2009
Family photo from January 2018

Oh my, we have all aged in the last 8 or so years! But those years have been great, and we have all matured in personality, character and experiences. I can imagine the many stories each can tell from those past 8 years.

Our 4 grand children from December 2009
Our Grand children from January 2018. Our eldest grand daughter is missing from the photo.

The three eldest in the back row are the three with our eldest grand daughter in the photo above this one! Four more grand children added and three of them were born in 2014 in February, March and April!  Three grand children born within three months 🙂 The youngest grandson turned one last November.

If you have visited my blog before, you will see that I now have a new blog header (that is the photo you see when you get to my site) and that header is our new family portrait! That is my whole family, minus 2! Our eldest grand daughter and one daughter in law are missing, but all of my adult children are in there, and their families.

I love it!

 

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

For the last 15 months we have been opening our home to airbnb guests. It’s been really interesting. We have met so many lovely people, and we now have new friends from all over the world! For reasons which I will explain later on in my post, I have filled in the availability calendar for our home, so it is unavailable for a time, but we did have two guest rooms which have been well used. Here are the links to those rooms if you would like to have a look.

https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/5197223?guests=1&s=0RoqnXBa

https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/5232994?guests=1&s=0RoqnXBa

The summer months seem to have been the most popular for tourists visiting New Zealand. The most common places of interest that our visitors have been to see before they got to our home in little Waitara (Taranaki), has been the Waitomo Caves and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Most of our visitors travelled south from Auckland and were making their way down to the South Island, where they planned on driving down to visit Queenstown. The popular cities that I heard mentioned visited in the North Island were Auckland, Rotorua and Taupo. And, of course, I would promote a visit to our local city of New Plymouth, of which I have already written a blog post about!

New Plymouth – It’s a fabulous city!

When our guests spoke of the wonderful experiences they had seeing the Waitomo Caves, and walking / tramping the Tongariro Crossing, I would feel slightly guilty. Here I am a New Zealander, and I haven’t even been to either of those places myself, well I hadn’t! But I have now. In April I took my grandson to the Caves 🙂 We only went through the Glow worm cave but it was fantastic. I have visited the Jenolan Caves near the Blue Mountains in Australia, and I have to say that the Waitomo Caves are equally as good. Definitely worth the visit.

In March I joined a group of local people to travel North to The National Park to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and I have to say it was the highlight of my year so far! It was amazing, and what a sense of achievement to have completed it! Yes, I can definitely say it was on my bucket list (after hearing about it so much from our visiting tourists) and it has now been ticked off!

The distance of the crossing. We had a guide with us so we turned at the highest point of the crossing, carried on to Tongariro summit and then our guide led us back to the start point.
The distance of the crossing. We had a guide with us so we turned at the highest point of the crossing, carried on to Tongariro summit and then our guide led us back to the start point.
Full of excitement and energy as we start the crossing :-)
Full of excitement and energy as we start the crossing 🙂
This is part of the path from the starting point. By mid morning there is a steady traffic of people walking/climbing the crossing. It is a very popular and manageable climb but is definitely challenging as well.
This is part of the path from the starting point. By mid morning there is a steady traffic of people walking/climbing the crossing. It is a very popular and manageable climb but is definitely challenging as well.
The only toilets en route!
The only toilets en route!
One of our first stops. And look at the wonderful view!
One of our first stops. And look at the wonderful view!
Mt Taranaki way in the distance
Mt Taranaki way in the distance
Walking across the plain towards the climb to the Summit
Walking across the plain towards the climb to the Summit
further along the long plain
Further along the long plain
Looking across to Mt Ngauruhoe
Looking across to Mt Ngauruhoe
Looking over the edge :-)
Looking over the edge 🙂
Our little group of trampers- plus the photographer :-)
Our little group of trampers- plus the photographer 🙂
That was much harder to climb than it looks!
That was much harder to climb than it looks!
The big climb up to the Crossing peak
The big climb up to the Crossing peak
Just a little climb from here to where the main crossing walk starts the descent to the car park
Just a little climb from here to where the main crossing walk starts the descent to the car park
The last slope upwards
The last slope upwards
The view of an old vent on the volcano
The view of an old vent on the volcano
another view of the old crater vent. Can you seee the people climbing across the other side?
Another view of the old crater vent. Can you see the people climbing across the other side?
Daughter Joanna looking at the wonderful views with the lakes below
Daughter Joanna looking at the wonderful views with the lakes below
Mt Ngauruhoe with Mt Ruapehu behind
Mt Ngauruhoe with Mt Ruapehu behind, and the Tongariro summit ahead 🙂
Joanna with Ngauruhoe behind her
Joanna with Ngauruhoe behind her
Yay! We did it. Mt Tongariro Summit!
Yay! We did it. Mt Tongariro Summit!
My friend Julie with the two magnificent mountains behind her
My friend Julie with the two magnificent mountains behind her
Our lunch spot at the summit of Mt Tongariro
Our lunch spot at the summit of Mt Tongariro
From the summit looking back to the crossing
From the summit looking back to the crossing
The terrain we meandered down back to the carpark
The terrain we meandered down back to the carpark
Sitting on damp spongy moss for our afternoon tea :-)
Sitting on damp spongy moss for our afternoon tea 🙂
Such a wonderful feeling! We had just climbed Tongariro with Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu in sight :-)
Such a wonderful feeling! We had just climbed Tongariro with Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu in sight 🙂
The long walk back down! But it was sure worth the effort :-)
The long walk back down! But it was sure worth the effort 🙂

After four long years of just having my husband and myself at home, this year has completely changed for us. We now have two of our adult children living back home, and we also have three of our grand children living here with us as well. We are so spoilt to have company all the time, and activity filling our lives. Children are great at keeping you young. So, this is the reason that our airbnb is now closed for a time, but I am very thankful for the time we had our guests staying here. If it wasn’t for their wonderful recollections, telling me about doing the Tongariro Crossing, or seeing The Waitomo Caves, I probably wouldn’t have put the effort in to see them for myself!

Now I can be the ‘expert’ when we eventually open our airbnb again.

If you have 20 minutes to spare I have also made a movie file of the crossing 🙂

Scrapbooking while in Sydney November 2015

I know…   I know…  I seem to always be in Sydney 🙂

Eldest son Matthew and his wife had a trip to Las Vegas for a conference and some fun as well, and I am here to look after the two youngest grandchildren. The eldest is now 18 and very independent. She is studying to be a nurse, has a part time job and drives herself everywhere 🙂 I am feeling extra blessed to be spending time with baby Luke, who is actually not so much of a baby now. He is 19 months old and such a happy and busy boy. I’ve had so much fun with him 🙂

Luke loved playing with the hose on the trampoline :-)
Luke loved playing with the hose on the trampoline 🙂

And Casey has been such a great little girl while Mum and a Dad have been away. Every morning she got up and got herself organised for school, including making her own lunch. I had the priviledge of doing her hair some mornings 🙂

Just one of the hair styles (a little messy), But I did french plait as well :-)
Just one of the hair styles (a little messy), But I did french plait as well 🙂

I love to be productive no matter where I am, so while Luke has his afternoon sleep, and once the children are in bed at night, I have been scrapbooking. I love the feeling I get from creating a page and being able to finally look at the finished product. Mostly the pages are finished, but as I don’t have all my embellishments here with me, there will be a few little extra things I will add when I get back home.

This page was made using the scraps left over from an Echo Park Kit. It was lots of fun to make and looks great (well I think so anyway) The grandsons are so cute :-)
This page was made using the scraps left over from an Echo Park Kit. It was lots of fun to make and looks great (well I think so anyway) The grandsons are so cute 🙂
A fun photo taken at St Ives in Sydney. Paper use is Echo Park.
A fun photo taken at St Ives in Sydney. Paper use is Echo Park.
A portrait photo of Leeara and Jessica taken a few years ago.
A portrait photo of Leeara and Jessica taken a few years ago.
Simon and his boys Jayden and Christian. This page is mainly made with Echo Park papers.
Simon and his boys Jayden and Christian. This page is mainly made with Echo Park papers.
Christian talking to Uncle Ben on the phone on his 4th birthday. Created with Bella! papers and some Echo Park.
Christian talking to Uncle Ben on the phone on his 4th birthday. Created with Bella! papers and some Echo Park.
Leeara in Uniform and going to School. Her irst year at Willoughby High School. Page using Basic Grey and Bella! papers.
Leeara in Uniform and going to School. Her First year at Willoughby High School. Page using Basic Grey and Bella! papers.
At Dreamworld on the Gold Coast. Page created with Teresa Collins Papers, Tell your story :-)
At Dreamworld on the Gold Coast. Page created with Teresa Collins Papers, Tell your story 🙂
Beautiful eldest daughter Joanna at her graduation. Pages used are Echo Park, This and that.
Beautiful eldest daughter Joanna at her graduation. Pages used are Echo Park, This and that.
Photo of Leeara when she was about 8 years old. Papers are Echo Park.
Photo of Leeara when she was about 8 years old. Papers are Echo Park.
Jessica and Leeara on a quad bike! papers are Fancy Pants Designs, childish things.
Jessica and Leeara on a quad bike! papers are Fancy Pants Designs, childish things.
My friend Julie and myself after a bike ride. Relaxing with a coffee and chat :-) Echo Park papers, this and that.
My friend Julie and myself after a bike ride. Relaxing with a coffee and chat 🙂 Echo Park papers, this and that.
Another Leeara page. I'm trying to catch up on completing her album. this page was created using a Kaisercraft Kit.
Another Leeara page. I’m trying to catch up on completing her album. this page was created using a Kaisercraft Kit.
Another page using a Kaisercraft Kit. This one of Jayden and Christian while on holiday in New Plymouth.
Another page using a Kaisercraft Kit. This one of Jayden and Christian while on holiday in New Plymouth.
Christian on his 4th birthday using Bella! papers.
Christian on his 4th birthday using Bella! papers.
Our Scrapbooking Christmas party about 2 years ago.
Our Scrapbooking Christmas party about 2 years ago.
Photo taken 10 years ago. Page created with Authentique Paper, and the Delightful Kit.
Photo taken 10 years ago. Page created with Authentique Paper, and the Delightful Kit.

I still have another two days left in Sydney and then it’s back home to get my gardens tidied up. I really want to get our vegetable garden producing some great vegetables for us over the summer. So it will be all go once I get home, and no time for Scrapbooking!

I wonder if I manage to produce another page or two before I leave?

I did it! Two more pages 🙂

Leeara amd Jess with their milk mustaches. Teresa Collins papers.
Leeara and Jess with their milk mustaches. Teresa Collins papers.
These girls love having a face mask together. Echo Park paper
These girls love having a face mask together. Echo Park paper

And now it’s time to pack my bags!

 

Star Wars Party for Luke

We have just had the best birthday party ever!

Grandson Luke turned one year old on the 18th, and because his Dad (my eldest son Matthew) is a Star Wars addict, the theme for Luke’s birthday had to be Star Wars! You must know the conversation from the movie between father and son! This pillow is one of four Star Wars themed ones that are on Matthew and Rebecca’s sofa!

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Luckily Matthew has a very accommodating wife who not only wanted to make Luke’s birthday special, she also wanted it to be a celebration for Matthew as well. After all, Luke is the treasured son after two beautiful daughters!

Here is the birthday invitation.

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So the party planning began!

With the help of ‘Pinterest’ Rebecca began creating. One of the first things was a converted flip lid rubbish bin!

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Isn’t it amazing! A perfect R2D2!

And who would have thought that swimming pool ‘noodles’ and a little tape would make great light sabers? Look at this container full just waiting for all the little Jedis to have a training session during the party.

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And when ‘Luke’ the children’s party entertainer arrived, they all had a great time learning to ‘use the force’.

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The best purchase I felt that Rebecca had made in planning for the party was a long roll of black plastic. Originally designed for cutting into lengths as table clothes, Rebecca also splattered white paint on lengths cut for the walls to create Galaxy scenes.

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The main lounge became the dessert and Cake table and also the children’s dining area.

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The dining room became ‘Hutt Dog Station’ where we had yummy Hutt Dogs, cute little Han Burgers and delicious Pizza the Hutts to eat!

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The outside deck area became ‘Fueling Station Ergo’

And Rebecca purchased Star Wars accessories and labels to compliment the rooms that were set up for the party. Just look at the amazing entrance and backdrop for the photo booth.  The Fabulous backdrop was created by ‘Little Dimple Designs’.

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In this photo party boy Luke is in his mums arms (Princess Leia), with Leeara dressed as a storm trooper, and Casey dressed in style as well.

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And here is Dad, Darth Vader with his three children! (I told you it was the best Star Wars themed party ever!)

Now no party is complete without take home bags for the children. Just have a look at what these children got!

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And that wasn’t all…

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Very cute shaped cookies! Four different designs in each bag! And those cookies and even bigger ones were available for adults too, along with other theme based food 🙂

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These were all on the sweets table or dessert table 🙂

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There’s those cookies again and some with coloured fondant on top!

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Leia’s buns were yummy cinnamon buns. Isn’t it amazing what you can create with a bit of imagination!

And now the masterpiece…

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That is the most amazing cake! Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker on the top just make it! And it was the most yummy chocolate mud cake, rich and very moist! So delicious 🙂 Many thanks to ‘Cakes by Koo and Cupcakes too’

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The table setting for the cake was perfect! The labels were from a purchase Rebecca made from ‘Hello My Sweet’ via Etsy.

Singing Happy Birthday to Luke. I am sure he knew the day was all about him 🙂

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The adults drinks were well catered for, but look at these very cute drinks for the children.

No kids party is complete nowadays without a Piñata. Rebecca made her own one to fit the Star Wars theme. Nothing better than a Death Star to destroy and free the goodies from inside!

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Friends and family were invited to Luke’s first birthday and each family group made the effort to dress appropriately with the Star Wars theme. They all helped to make the party extra special 🙂

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How cute are these two little girls! And Mum and Dad look pretty great too 🙂

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We had a few Princess Leia’s at the party but all the outfits were slightly different. This little Chewbucca was fabulous at nine months old 🙂

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Yes, I think grown men like to dress up too 😉

We all had a fabulous time. And I am sure that Luke knew he was the main ‘little man’ of the day. He loved it! Not a tear all day but a very happy little boy who thrived on all the attention.

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Happy Star Wars first birthday to my very special grandson Luke xoxoxo

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Mummy Rebecca is a very clever lady and she can now have a well deserved time of rest and relaxation. Three children’s parties in two months are over and each one very successful!

Until next year Rebecca!

May the Force be with you 🙂

New Plymouth – It’s a fabulous city!

I have been back home now for nearly a month, and I’m loving it!

It’s funny how you never really appreciate something until you have to do without it for awhile. The saying goes ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and although this saying is describing relationships, I also believe it covers things like homes, or familiar places, or towns. If you have been reading my blog over the past six months, you will remember that I left New Zealand on the 15th of August last year and didn’t return again until the 12th of January this year. That is nearly five months away from my country and home town of New Plymouth. Actually we live just out of New Plymouth at a small town called Waitara, but New Plymouth is just a short 15-20 minute drive away and is our nearest city, and yes, I love it!

Walking back into my home, I fell in love with it all over again. Yes it is old, and still has a lot of work needing to be done on it, but it is very comfortable, welcoming, peaceful, and spacious. It is our 16 year old renovation project that will probably never get finished, but it has served us well! It has been a family home to 5 of our 6 children and all the extras that they have brought here over the years. We have had many friends and visitors pop in to see us and maybe stay a day or more and I trust that they have felt the welcome, not only from us, but by the atmosphere that this house helps to create.

Look at this amazing view! This is what I see from my dining room table when the Wisteria is in flower.
Look at this amazing view! This is what I see from my dining room table when the Wisteria is in flower.
Looking across our deck towards the lounge French doors. The Wisteria is beautiful but does take a bit to keep under control.
Looking across our deck towards the lounge French doors. The Wisteria is beautiful but does take a bit to keep under control.

I have been thinking about why I am so happy to be home. Yes I do love my house and it’s in a great location in the country and yet handy enough to get to town within 20 minutes, so that is part of the reason. But I think it’s the fact that New Plymouth is such a fabulous city. We have everything here from a Mountain to the sea, and plenty of parks inbetween, as well as the fact that it is a great shopping city.

Let’s start with the view I see from my own front yard!

This is the view from my front deck. If you look through the tree you can see our Mountain!
This is the view from my front deck. If you look through the tree you can see our Mountain!
And this is the view of the Mountain from just across the road from our house.
And this is the view of the Mountain from just across the road from our house.

If I drive south for 20 minutes I would come to the small town of Inglewood. About 15 minutes away from my house heading towards Inglewood, I get this amazing view!

Our wonderful Mount Taranaki. I never tire of this view.
Our wonderful Mount Taranaki. I never tire of this view.

And every winter I try to get up the mountain to the snow at least once. It’s such fun to have our Mountain so close and to have the ability to drive up right to the snow.

A photo from our trip up the mountain last winter (2014)
A photo from our trip up the mountain last winter (2014)

And after a play in the snow and you are feeling a little hungry, a stop at Volcano View Café is great for food and play. With flying foxes available for use, and BIG carts to ride. The kids (and big kids) love it 🙂

One of the two Flying Foxes at Volcano View
One of the two Flying Foxes at Volcano View
There's a selection of Carts to ride :-)
There’s a selection of Carts to ride 🙂

Leaving Volcano View and heading towards New Plymouth and the next place to stop would be at Lake Mangamahoe. This lake supplies New Plymouth with it’s water. It is very picturesque and also a great lake for hiking around. When you get there, you will find that you can get a great photo with the mountain in the background.

Lake Mangamahoe and Mount Taranaki
Lake Mangamahoe and Mount Taranaki
Another beautiful photo of Lake Mangamahoe with our amazing mountain in the background :-)
Another beautiful photo of Lake Mangamahoe with our amazing mountain in the background 🙂

Next place towards New Plymouth is the ‘Meeting of the waters’. Here you can go for a walk to the river, swim, or take some rafts and get out on the river. It’s also a great place for a picnic, a walk or just for relaxation.

Take the family, the rafts and have some fun together at the Meeting of the waters :-)
Take the family, the rafts and have some fun together at the ‘Meeting of the waters’ 🙂
There are plenty of places to have a picnic surrounded by lovely scenery
There are plenty of places to have a picnic surrounded by lovely scenery

We have the most amazing park right in the centre of New Plymouth that is very popular and well worth a visit. There are many magnificent trees and gardens all over the park, along with a Fernery house to wander through. There is also a playground for the children that has recently been updated with new playground equipment, and the children love it.

The flying fox at the Park playground
The flying fox at the Park playground

There are two big lakes. One with a fountain and the other you can hire row boats and take the family or friends for a row. If you would rather have coffee or lunch than get out on a boat, then you can go to the Tea Rooms. There you can sit and relax and also have a lovely view of the lake.

The main lake at Pukekura Park and looking at Poets Bridge. Just above the bridge you can see the Mountain. A very popular photograph to take :-)
The main lake at Pukekura Park and looking at Poets Bridge. Just above the bridge you can see the Mountain. A very popular photograph to take 🙂
And here's Robin taking us out for a row on the lake
And here’s Robin taking us out for a row on the lake

The waterfall at the park looks great during the ‘Festival of Lights’ Christmas Season. The whole park is lit up over that time and is known about New Zealand wide. It is spectacular! There are also stages set up over the season and for a super evening, you can take a blanket, invite friends along and spend the evening relaxing and listening to the various performers on stage.

The lights on the bottom lake
The lights on the bottom lake
The top lake and poets bridge.
The top lake and poets bridge.
Another photo of the lights at the top Lake in Pukekura Park.
Another photo of the lights at the top Lake in Pukekura Park.
This is the grand childrens favourite part of the Festival of Lights. The ultraviolet lights :-) We all try to wear something white!
This is the grand childrens favourite part of the Festival of Lights. The ultraviolet lights 🙂 We all try to wear something white!

Walking through the park, you will end up at the “Bowl of Brooklands’. It is an amazing outdoor sound shell where we often have performers to entertain. There is nothing more special to sit on the hills with wonderful company, and listen to a well known band or watch a production/show. The Christmas at the bowl held each year is very popular and finishes off with a huge fireworks show.

This is the view from the stage! Imagine performing on this stage with a crowd seated all around in the grassy hills. Now imagine it at night with everyone holding candles. It looks amazing and has a great atmosphere!
This is the view from the stage! Imagine performing on this stage with a crowd seated all around in the grassy hills. Now imagine it at night with everyone holding candles. It looks amazing and has a great atmosphere!

And just up the hill from the Bowl of Brooklands is our very own zoo. Sorry but the most exotic animal are the monkeys, but it’s still a great zoo. It has a fantastic playground and is very good for young children. With gates and both ends, young Mums can relax while the children have fun in a safe environment. There are some elephants there but only the type seen in the next photo 😉

The three grand children with the elephants at Brooklands Zoo.
The three grand children with the elephants at Brooklands Zoo.

We have a famous garden just west of New Plymouth in the mountain range called The Pukeiti Rhododendron Gardens. Every year we have the Rhododendron Festival and it happens during the flowering season of the trees. Hundreds of tourists come into New Plymouth to visit the gardens and Pukeiti is extremely popular.

On your way to Pukeiti, call in for a stop over at Puakai Animal Farm. The children love it, especially to see the white tiger. And look at that mountain view!
On your way to Pukeiti, call in for a stop over at Puakai Animal Farm. The children love it, especially seeing the white tiger. And look at that mountain view and the mountain ranges!
Wandering through the grounds at Pukeiti Gardens
Wandering through the grounds at Pukeiti Gardens – Not at flower time unfortunately

After visiting Pukeiti, it’s just a ‘short’ drive downhill towards the sea and you arrive at Oakura. The best place to go for the New Years day beach carnival. Nearby is the river that is a favourite for swimming, games and BBQ teas.

The grandsons are enjoying the river on a lovely summers day.
The grandsons are enjoying the river on a lovely summers day.

You can carry on driving towards New Plymouth and visit Back Beach. Its a bit of a climb down and more of a climb back up but the beach is great, and at low tide you can walk over to one of the sugar loaf islands. But make sure you get back to the mainland before the tide turns. You can get caught out very quickly and end up stuck on the island!

Right next to Back Beach is Paritutu Rock. And it’s a huge rock! I have climbed it about three times (I don’t like heights!). Robin was very game and took the grandsons to the top!

Yes, it's not a climb for the fainthearted! But well worth the effort :-)
Yes, it’s not a climb for the fainthearted! But well worth the effort 🙂
At the top with the view towards New Plymouth and the coast North.
At the top with the view towards New Plymouth and the coast North.
The wonderful view from the top of the coastline towards Oakura.
The wonderful view from the top of the coastline towards Oakura.

Once you get to Paritutu, you are nearly at Port Taranaki. It’s just down the road and good for a look, and then play on the black sand, or swim at Ngamotu Beach. Follow the coastal road and you come to three of our lovely well visited cafes! All with seaside views!

The boys love the breakwater. Plenty of rocks to climb and usually a fisherman or two to see the fish they catch :-)
The boys love the breakwater. Plenty of rocks to climb and usually a fisherman or two to see the fish they catch 🙂

After a lovely stroll along the breakwater, you can find the start of our fabulous New Plymouth walkway! It is 12.7 Kms long and every step is worth the walk. There are magnificent views along the whole pathway. For all the information on the walkway please copy and paste the NPDC link below.

http://www.newplymouthnz.com/OurDistrict/Attractions/CoastalWalkway.htm

Robin and I with our bikes at the breakwater ready to bike along the walkway/bikeway :-)
Robin and I with our bikes at the breakwater ready to bike along the walkway/bikeway 🙂
The start of the walkway from the breakwater end :-)
The start of the walkway from the breakwater end 🙂
One of the amazing views along the wak. This one is just before you get to Kawaroa Park
One of the amazing views along the way. This one is just before you get to Kawaroa Park
These are the rock pools at Kawaroa. The kids love to look to see if they can find crabs or starfish.
These are the rock pools at Kawaroa. The kids love to look to see if they can find crabs or starfish.
This photo is getting closer to the centre of town. You can see our windwand which has become a landmark icon in New Plymouth
This photo is getting closer to the centre of town. You can see our windwand which has become a landmark icon in New Plymouth
And looking back towards the Port, the Chimney, Paritutu Rock and the Sugar Loaf Islands
And looking back towards the Port, the Chimney, Paritutu Rock and the Sugar Loaf Islands
This is the best spot to stop and reflect on our beautiful city, the joy of the walkway and the wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean. Love New Zealand, Love New Plymouth and I love my daughter :-)
This is the best spot to stop and reflect on our beautiful city, the joy of the walkway and the wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean. Love New Zealand, Love New Plymouth and I love my daughter 🙂
Look at the view! The walkway changes from concrete to wood at various places!
Look at the view! The walkway changes from concrete to wood at various places!
You can take the path up to a car park and town or carry on towards East End Beach.
You can take the path up to a car park and town or carry on towards East End Beach.
This photo is taken between East End Beach and the Wind Wand walking the other direction
This photo is taken between East End Beach and the Wind Wand walking the other direction
Sitting and relaxing and enjoying the view! Just what you do when on the walkway!
Sitting and relaxing and enjoying the view! Just what you do when on the walkway!
Playing at East End Beach and the rock pools at low tide.
Playing at East End Beach and the rock pools at low tide.
At East End you can veer off on the Te Henui walkway. You cross over the river and walk under the main road and further along behind houses and through parks to a total of 5.9 Kms.
At East End you can veer off on the Te Henui walkway. You cross over the river and walk under the main road and further along behind houses and through parks to a total of 5.9 Kms.
More very picturesque moments on the Te Henui walkway :-)
More very picturesque moments on the Te Henui walkway 🙂
Back on the Coastal Walkway and moving along to Fitzroy Beach. A great spot for swimming and playing in the black iron sand :-)
Back on the Coastal Walkway and moving along to Fitzroy Beach. A great spot for swimming and playing in the black iron sand 🙂 See Paritutu, the Chimney and the Sugar Loaf Islands in the background!
Look at our great Iron Sand. But be aware it gets very hot when it is dry and in the sunshine
Look at our great Iron Sand. But be aware it gets very hot when it is dry and in the sunshine
Next best place is the Waiwakaiho River mouth. A great spot for fishing!
Next best place is the Waiwakaiho River mouth. A great spot for fishing!
The river doesn't mean the walkway must stop. New Plymouth has built the wonderful Te Rewa Rewa bridge. This bridge has been the object of many many photos, especially as it can be used to frame Mount Taranaki if you position your camera correctly, and the Mountain isn't hiding behind clouds!
The river doesn’t mean the walkway must stop. New Plymouth has built the wonderful Te Rewa Rewa bridge. This bridge has been the object of many many photos, especially as it can be used to frame Mount Taranaki if you position your camera correctly, and the Mountain isn’t hiding behind clouds!
We haven't framed the Mountain in this photo, but the bridge still looks magnificent!
We haven’t framed the Mountain in this photo, but the bridge still looks magnificent!
Keep riding or walking the walkway and look back and this is the view of the place we started, Port Taranaki, way in the distance. And, you can still keep walking right to Tiromoana Crescent at the end of Wills Road!
Keep riding or walking the walkway and look back and this is the view of the place we started, Port Taranaki, way in the distance. And, you can still keep walking right to Tiromoana Crescent at the end of Wills Road!

Now don’t you think that the next challenge you should give yourself is to either walk the length of the Coastal Walkway or ride your bike the distance. If you don’t have a bike you can always hire one from the people that hire them out near the café between East End and Fitzroy Beaches.

One day the Coastal Walkway will eventually reach to Waitara. From our place we can already ride our bikes along Brown Road and cross the walkway bridge at the Waiongana Stream, keep riding and end up at the back of the airport.

Wiongana Bridge
Waiongana Bridge
Grandsons throwing stones into the Waiongana Stream. It's actually more like a river!
Grandsons throwing stones into the Waiongana Stream. It’s actually more like a river!

I haven’t finished showing off about our wonderful Coastline and beaches and favourite places to go yet! If you keep travelling north and head off to Waitara, there is another river mouth with another great Beach. The Waitara one!

Grandson playing down at the Waitara Beach on a windy day. Look at all the driftwood!
Grandson playing down at the Waitara Beach on a windy day. Look at all the driftwood!
While in Waitara it's a great opportunity to go for a train trip to the Waitara Road Station and back with the Waitara Railway enthusiasts.
While in Waitara it’s a great opportunity to go for a train trip to the Waitara Road Station and back with the Waitara Railway enthusiasts.
The children love it and with the stop for refreshments, the adults do too :-)
The children love it and with the stop for refreshments, the adults do too 🙂

If you still want to see more beaches you can venture further North to Onaero River mouth and Beach, or even further and go to the Urenui River and Beach. We’ve had many a BBQ tea and swim in the Urenui River. The mud flats on the town side of the river are a great attraction for the children, not so much for the Mums trying to get the clothes/swimwear back to their normal colour, I’m afraid!

The Grandsons enjoying the Urenui river.
The Grandsons enjoying the Urenui river.

So there you are! There’s still heaps more to see in our wonderful city and actually the whole province of Taranaki. So next time you go on holiday, don’t forget about New Plymouth, and you can visit the places I have shown and also discover some more places for yourself.

Robin and I have just joined www.airbnb.com as a host family. We’ve already met some super people from other countries. We love being able to share our big home and have some company, but what we love the most is having the opportunity of sharing our wonderful city of New Plymouth with them.

Now can you see why I said I am really enjoying being back home 🙂

So Very Thankful!

I have had the most amazing year! It started with a trip to Palmerston North, New Zealand, for the birth of Robin’s and my fifth grand child Ella in February. Then in March came a trip to Sydney, Australia, for the birth of our sixth grand child Luke. And following that in April our seventh grand child Sophie was born in London. Yes that’s right! Three grand children in three months! How often does that happen?

In May I had another trip to Sydney to catch up with that lovely new grandson, as well as two sons, two daughter in laws and three grand children, including Luke.

In August five of us left New Zealand for Poland. We had a wedding to go to! Second son Daniel was getting married to Marysia and nine family members were travelling over for the celebration. That meant I was meeting up with Matthew and grand daughter Casey, and Ben and Chloe from Sydney, as well as travelling with Robin, Judy (my sister), Len and niece Teresa. And, we were meeting little Sophie for the first time!

We stayed in Poland in a Palace! It was a fabulous place. Somewhere buried deep in my blog (around August 2014) is a picture of the palace. The wedding was amazing!

From Poland we went to Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania. This was all part of an ‘Insight Vacations’ tour called ‘The tour of the Balkans’. It was a marvelous experience and fully covered in previous blog posts as well!

After the tour I flew to London (alone) and arrived on the 15th of September. The rest of my family who did the tour flew back to New Zealand. I have had the most amazing three months here looking after my grand daughter Sophie while her Mum and Dad went to work. And I have made the most of that time! I have connected with a local Church and the super friendly people there by attending some Sundays, but also by taking Sophie to their playgroup most Friday mornings. It has been great! I also took Sophie to the local library most Wednesdays for music and movement in French! I loved it, and so did Sophie. That child just rocks to every beat of music with a huge smile on her face!

At every opportunity I went into London to ‘Hillsong London’ church and I would spend the whole day wandering around the popular tourist spots in the city. I spent a couple of Saturdays in the city as well so I could see everything! I have thousands of photos! I also took Sophie into London and met up with Dan and Marysia. After work we explored London by night. So completely different than during the day. The lights and sights are superb!

From the 4th of November until the 26th of November, my sister Judy came over from New Zealand to holiday with me. The second weekend she was here we flew to Switzerland for three days. We stayed in Zurich and discovered the city. We also did a tour of wonderful Lucerne and then went up Mount Pilatus by the cog railway. Oh my goodness those places are a must to visit! I have loaded heaps of photos here on my blog as well. Go have a look and be inspired to go there yourself! You won’t regret it!

Judy and I also went to two shows, ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Billy Elliot’, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We wandered through museums, shops, the winter wonderland and went on the London eye together. So many fun and memorable moments!

Dan and Marysia also took me to Oxford, and then Judy and I to Winchester to see the Christmas markets there! So many wonderful, amazing experiences! And it hasn’t ended yet! On the 19th, Dan, Marysia, Sophie and myself are flying to Sydney and meeting husband Robin, daughter Jessica and her boyfriend Conner who are flying the same day from New Zealand. We will all be staying with eldest son Matthew, Rebekah and grandchildren Leeara, Casey and Luke. And eldest daughter Joanna who is in Sydney already, waiting for us to arrive! We will be meeting up with youngest son Ben and Chloe before they fly to New Zealand to meet Chloe’s family for Christmas. We will be having a fabulous Christmas in Sydney together! It certainly will be a time of celebration.

When I think of all that I have experienced this year and of the wonderful provision from God to be able to do it all (and an understanding, loving husband), I feel amazingly blessed! I feel so full from all of the most wonderful experiences and relationships in my life, and feel so emotionally satisfied and happy. Sometimes I feel like my heart could burst with  joy from all these experiences 🙂

Now I am not sharing all this to show off, or to make you feel jealous of me, or to make you think that I am perfect, have an amazing personality, a great character, are better than others and somehow deserve this life. I am human, I make plenty of mistakes and I fail at times, my life hasn’t always been this wonderful in fact it has had many troubles. I am only in this place at this time because of my gracious and merciful God!

Here is the reality of my life, and a little of my past and the sadness I have experienced….

In 1989, when I was 33 years old, I was living in a half finished house and I was solely paying the weekly mortgage payments. I was a single mother of four young boys and I was supported by the New Zealand Domestic Purposes Benefit, which was barely enough to survive on. My ex-husband had left me and the boys and he wasn’t making life easy. I was continually under pressure to ‘hold it together’ for the sake of my children especially when their emotions were also in a mess. They couldn’t really understand the changes that had happened in their lives, and to be honest neither could I.

Emotionally I was a wreck! Not only was I suffering huge rejection from my ex-husband, but I also felt rejection from those who thought I was somehow not worthy of their friendship any longer as I was now a solo mother. I had lost the title of being a wife and had also lost status in society, as I was now officially on a benefit! Some women couldn’t associate with me any longer as somehow I became a threat to them. As a single lady, I was seen as available, I could maybe attract interest from their husbands (even though I had four children). From men, they felt it would ruin my reputation to be seen with me? Of course, having suffered the devastation of a broken marriage I wanted to go break another marriage and cause damage in their life as well! Really? And being a single women with four children, it actually hurt to be with couples and see their happy family, knowing our little family was broken and suffering.

My ex husband played the blame game often (of course it was all my fault), and I developed the habit of needing to defend myself both to him and to the many he had convinced of his innocence, and to our past friends. And I’m not saying that I was completely blameless, but I was completely faithful!

Divorce leaves behind broken lives! And it can take years for those lives to be restored. And even when you think you have it sorted, something happens and before you know it, you find yourself back in the middle of an emotional crisis again! And as a survivor, you do get yourself back on track eventually, but it is a process, believe me. And I have fallen many times over the years. I am a whole lot better than I was, but it is still very sad how deep rejection, or the feeling of being unappreciated, can wound the very soul of a person! It’s also very sad to suffer at the hands of those who have never experienced the hardships of divorce and all that goes with it, and they cast you aside when you show any degree of weakness in your emotional life. I take hurts very deep, and have reacted upon that hurt spirit, rather than see myself as God sees me… totally loved unconditionally, and totally understood. And, I have had prayer and ministry for the brokenness, and I believe that God has helped me incredibly. The upsets from the past come further and further apart now and are much less severe.

As you would know (if you have read ‘About me’ here on my blog) I am a Christian. I know the love, value, acceptance and belonging that comes from receiving Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.  I know peace and joy, and I live a very rich and fulfilled life. I’m not saying that if you become a christian, you will have problem free living. I haven’t had life easy as a Christian, but I have a God who says ‘Cast your cares on me for I care for you’. And He never fails to bring comfort and joy. Yes… it is well with my soul! That doesn’t mean that the echoes of the past don’t come back to haunt me, and that you forget the events of the past, but with God’s help you can forgive and the memories are much less painful.

Many years ago a lady came to me in church, and said that she felt she had a scripture for me. It was Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Well I think God has blessed me with the reality of that scripture for a few years now but even more so in this year. Yes I am so very thankful for the wonderful year I have just had and I thank God daily for it! And I am so thankful for my wonderful family who I get to share this life with. And, I am also so very thankful for the friends I have, who have stood by me and loved me no matter what, and still encourage me to be the best me that I possibly can 🙂

I love you all xoxoxo

I wonder what God has in His plans for us in 2015!

Isaiah 61:3 To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of dispair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.

Pre-Christmas in London

I am amazed at just how much effort is put into making the Christmas season so very special here in London. I guess we are no different in New Zealand but the largeness of this place just seems to make it all the more extravagant!

Firstly there is the ‘Winter Wonderland Show’ at Hyde park. Judy and I walked through on a Monday night after it opened over the previous weekend. Fortunately Monday night wasn’t too popular, and it was an easy walk through and very enjoyable. By the next weekend when I went again, it was crowded. You could hardly move with all the people, but there was a great atmosphere. People were happy and having so much fun. I took heaps of photos but think this you tube clip will help show just how BIG the place is!

The streets are all lit up with amazing Christmas lights but the shop windows have become like a super competition to see who produces the most WOW factor. Let them fight it out I say while I wander through the crowded streets and admire their efforts!

There are plenty of you tube movies about each store as well, especially as they finally unveil their window displays to the public. Here is a Harrods video…

And another store that is very well known. It was voted the best department store in the world!

Here is a sample of their in store decorations! They really are amazing!

Another store with the big reveal is Fenwicks. This Fenwicks is in Newcastle but there is a huge store in Bond Street, London.

Walking home one night Daniel and Marysia took us into the store Fortnum and Mason. I’d never heard of the store before but I was certainly in for a treat. This store is for the RICH! I’ve attached a you tube clip of this store. Its by a chap who seems to make a living making You Tube videos about London.

John Lewis is another big department store and it’s Christmas lights are turned on with the Oxford Street light up, but they have an advert which is televised during the Christmas season. The little penguin named Monty has become very popular. Everyone wants a Monty Penguin and his little girlfriend Maude.

I frequently buy online from Debenhams Store for presents for London friends. Here is their Christmas advert and you can see some of their instore decorations as well.

Here is a link I found with a write up about each shop and their window display.

https://www.central-london-apartments.com/blog/londons-christmas-window-displays-2014/

And here is what Covent Garden got up to getting their 2014 Christmas decorations up! And believe me it all looks amazing!

We were lucky enough to wander through Covent Garden and see these wonderful decorations in person.

Another big thing is when the Christmas lights get officially turned on. The public come out in force to celebrate the event. It’s like a huge concert and goes on for hours.  Here is Regent Street lights switch on 2014

I could only find a longer video for Oxford Street but what a celebration it was!

This short video is a general shop window one…

Libertys of London had a real celebration for the window display reveal. Once again it’s quite a long video but shows the excitement involved in this Christmas season at Liberty. It’s a wonderful store but once again quite expensive!

And if you walk along Southbank, the River Thames walkway you will also see the Christmas Markets. Actually this guy has done heaps of video clips on You Tube about Christmas in London.

I have noticed that there is a huge lack of Nativity scenes in London’s Christmas Celebrations. How sad is that! We are definitely seeing Christ taken out of Christmas, and with the stores each competing for sales, I guess ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ doesn’t help provide them with store purchases. The meaning of Christmas has become buy buy buy! Gift giving even when you can’t afford it. Well gift buying anyway!

The best gift of all and it doesn’t cost a cent is the gift that God gave 2014 years ago. It was in the form of a little baby, God’s son Jesus Christ. He died 33 years later as a sacrifice for our sins, and so that we could have eternal life. This gift of salvation is free, you only have to accept it! John 3;16. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that he who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

Having attended Hillsong London a few times while in London, I have been amazed at their influence in this city. The church is huge and is growing daily! Now they are having a Christmas celebration and it does include Jesus! It does has Father Christmas but would certainly share the true reason that Christmas is part of our lives today. Here is a video of last years production. It is 29 minutes long but a great look! If that sounds too long for you though, there is another link on my page for this years service, go to that one 🙂

To find out more please open/download the link below and check out the provided information 🙂

Hillsong Christmas Carols Press Release_CVH (1) (1)

So… it will be at Wembley Arena again and the cost is 5pound per person. The 7.30pm Carol service is full already but there is another service at 3pm. This will be a Christmas celebration that you won’t forget in a hurry. In fact it could be life changing for you 🙂

Have a look…

I’m actually really sad that I can’t go to this Christmas service. I leave London on the 19th of December, but for those of you who live in London, don’t miss out!

Don't miss out! I'm sure it will be a Christmas Concert you will remember and be thankful for...  for eternity
 Please share with me how the evening/afternoon went. I’d love to hear all about it 🙂

Three Wonderful Weeks!

Last Wednesday I took my sister to Heathrow airport and said goodbye to her! It was a really sad time! And for a couple of days I missed her terribly. Having someone to share my everyday moments with had been so very special. Talking to a baby all day just isn’t quite the same. And because I am only here in London for three months, I haven’t the same friendship base that I have back home in New Zealand. I must drive Daniel and Marysia to despair when they get home from work. I chat about every little thing that Sophie and I got up to during the day, and believe me it’s not all that interesting. But still, I am loving my time here and I do try to make the most of every day. And, I am happy 🙂

Judy had flown over from New Zealand to London to keep me company for three weeks, and we certainly made the most of our time together. Not only did we see some amazing places, but being together did something in my soul. I felt such joy at being able to share my ‘life in London’ with her and also seeing new places with her by my side to chat over details and laugh! Boy did we have some good laughs! I am so spoilt to have a sister that I get on so well with and we enjoy each others company…. lots!

Judy arrived on her birthday, the 4th of November, and that is the day our fun together started. Sophie and I got up early to catch a bus to the train station, and then the Piccadilly underground to Heathrow airport, terminal two. The trip takes approximately an hour and a half on the tube, and ten minutes on the bus. It was a good trip and we stood at arrivals and waited excitedly to greet Judy as soon as we could see her. And then it was back on the tube with baby in pram, and my sister and suitcase in tow! Then dragging that suitcase on and off the train, up the escalator, on the bus, off the bus, and then down the road to home 🙂 All to be reversed the day Judy left hehe 🙂

The next day Marysia stayed home with Sophie, so Judy and I could spend the day in London together. Our first stop was Harrods!

Me with my cup of tea :-)
Me with my cup of tea 🙂
Judy with her scones and clotted cream
Judy with her scones and clotted cream

Our plan was to go and book in for the tour of Buckingham Palace. Both of us have been to London before and had the celebratory photo taken outside the palace gates, but we hadn’t been inside. We ventured off feeling very excited at the prospect only to be told once there that the palace was now closed to visitors until after Christmas!!! How disappointing! But we were told we could tour the Royal Mews instead. The stables with carriage houses? Why not? So off we went and if you have a look at the photos, you will see that we had plenty to look at. Actually it was really quite interesting.

Here I am with one of the first carriages we saw
Here I am with one of the first carriages we saw
And Judy with another
And Judy with another
The Gold carriage
The Gold carriage
The set up for the Gold Carriage
The set up for the Gold Carriage
One of the Royal cars
One of the Royal cars
And we did get another photo taken in front of Buckingham Palace :-)
And we did get another photo taken in front of Buckingham Palace 🙂
Judy outside Buckingham Palace
Judy outside Buckingham Palace
A lovely view on the walk from Buckingham Palace
A lovely view on the walk from Buckingham Palace
Walking towards Trafalgar Square
Walking towards Trafalgar Square

And as we were going to Piccadilly Circus for tea and a show so we just had to have a look at M&M world!

A very English Red M&M
A very English Red M&M
Judy with Yellow!
Judy with Yellow!
And now with Green!
And now with Green!
What colour is your favourite????
What colour is your favourite????
All together now!
All together now!
Three stories of M&M produce for sale!
Three stories of M&M produce for sale!

Our next venture into London was to meet up with my friend Bessie. We decided that Westminster Abbey would be a great place to start. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that there was a huge ceremony going on in town to remember the soldiers from world wars one and two. The town was crowded and the two places we wanted to see were just packed with people.

Westminster Abbey on a very busy day in November. Celebrating and remembering 11/11/1945
Westminster Abbey on a very busy day in November. Celebrating and remembering 11/11/1945
'Lest we forget'
‘Lest we forget’
Little crosses in place in rememberance of the lives lost
Little crosses in place in rememberance of the lives lost

And a little video of my visit to Wesminster Abbey in October…

Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings
Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings
The Parliament Buildings and the Clock Tower, Big Ben!
The Parliament Buildings and the Clock Tower, Big Ben! View from the Westminster Bridge.
The courtyard of Parliament Buildings.
The courtyard of Parliament Buildings.
At Westminster beside the Thames is this artwork!
At Westminster beside the Thames is this artwork!
A closer look! 3D art!
A closer look! 3D art!
More on another wall :-)
More on another wall 🙂
We walked to Covent Garden and saw the Christmas decorations there
We walked to Covent Garden and saw the Christmas decorations there
It was amazing at just how much effort had gone in to decorate the buildings
It was amazing at just how much effort had gone in to decorate the buildings
Walking through Covent Garden
Walking through Covent Garden

And then as it was getting late in the day we caught the bus to london Bridge and the Tower of London. the traffic was horrendous and the bus trip took way longer than it should have. We arrived as it was getting dark but we still managed to see all the wonderful ceramic poppies that were ‘planted’ in the Tower of London, also to help us to remember the lives lost in wars.

The Poppies explained.
The Poppies explained.
The poppies in the ground of the Tower of London with London Bridge in the distance
The poppies in the ground of the Tower of London with London Bridge in the distance
Thousands of ceramic poppies
Thousands of ceramic poppies
Another wall of the Tower with the poppies below
Another wall of the Tower with the poppies below
It was as if they were pouring from the wall!
It was as if they were pouring from the wall!
The poppies surrounded the whole Tower
The poppies surrounded the whole Tower

Now there is a train station by the Tower of London but it was packed with people. It also had steps and we had Sophie in the pram. So after a long walk Judy and I managed to get to another station that had a lift and us three very tired people managed to get home again. What fun!

On our next venture into London we visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

Waiting patiently outside for our turn to go into the house
Waiting patiently outside for our turn to go into the house
Judy  in Sherlocks Lounge :-)
Judy in Sherlocks Lounge 🙂
Judy with Sherlocks hat and pipe :-)
Judy with Sherlocks hat and pipe 🙂

We wandered down to Oxford Street and walked through Selfridges. Selfridges is voted the best department store in the world and has all the designer collections and must haves (toys and gifts) for the whole family.

This car was in a window display
This car was in a window display
Now who could buy me this for Christmas?
Now who could buy me this for Christmas?
Just a small portion of the Play-Doh display
Just a small portion of the Play-Doh display

 

Selfridges had the most amazing Christmas decorations!
Selfridges had the most amazing Christmas decorations!
I think I could make these amazing Christmas Stockings!
I think I could make these amazing Christmas Stockings!
A new bike seat maybe?
A new bike seat maybe?
Selfridges had a room that was just about Paddington Bear!
Selfridges had a room that was just about Paddington Bear!
Lots of them for sale!
Lots of them for sale!
And their window displays were a work of art inside and out! Fully decorated :-)
And their window displays were a work of art inside and out! Fully decorated 🙂
And then we move on to John West Department Store and their Christmas toy is the Penguin named Monty. These sell out every day!
And then we move on to John Lewis Department Store and their Christmas toy is the Penguin named Monty. These sell out every day!

Here is a link to their very cute Christmas advert…

We finished off the day with a meal at Bubba Gumps Restaurant... Yum!
We finished off the day with a meal at Bubba Gumps Restaurant… Yum!
Our next venture into London was to see the British Museum
Our next venture into London was to see the British Museum
The most fabulous ceiling!
The most fabulous ceiling!
And then on to the Victoria and Albert Museum
And then on to the Victoria and Albert Museum
Here's Judy on the steps. The place is huge!
Here’s Judy on the steps. The place is huge!
A photo inside this amazing building!
A photo inside this amazing building!
Still the museum but the other side of the inner courtyard
Still the museum but the other side of the inner courtyard
And this is the cafe!!!
And this is the cafe!!!
Our first view of the Prince Albert Hall
Our first view of the Prince Albert Hall
And here it is! The Prince Albert Hall
And here it is! The Prince Albert Hall
The Prince Albert Memorial Statue!
The Prince Albert Memorial Statue!
Walking through Hyde Park
Walking through Hyde Park
On our way to the Zoo we stopped at Camden Town. Well known for the shop fronts, Goth clothes for sale, the markets and the Camden Lock.
Next day! On our way to the Zoo we stopped at Camden Town. Well known for the shop fronts, Goth clothes for sale, the markets and the Camden Lock.
more shop fronts!
more shop fronts!
The Camden Lock.
The Camden Lock.
And evidence of our very short trip to the London Zoo. Sophie was having an off day and cried the whole time.... so we left!
And evidence of our very short trip to the London Zoo. Sophie was having an off day and cried the whole time…. so we left!
London by night.. along bankside :-)
London by night.. along bankside 🙂 The top of St Pauls in the middle!
Early on in our walk along the bank of the river Thames. Great views.
Early on in our walk along the bank of the river Thames. Great views.
A Carousel by night :-)
A Carousel by night 🙂
Lovely photo of the eye at night.
Lovely photo of the eye at night.
The Aquarium :-)
The Aquarium 🙂
The Parliament Buildings and Big Ben at night
The Parliament Buildings and Big Ben at night
Looking across the Thames at the London Eye :-)
Looking across the Thames at the London Eye 🙂

On the last Friday that Judy was in London, we caught the train into London again, but this time we were to meet up with Dan and Marysia after work.

We went to Borough Market for lunch with Marysia and afterwards went for a walk to St Pauls to meet up with Daniel after work.
We went to Borough Market for lunch with Marysia and afterwards went for a walk to St Pauls to meet up with Daniel after work.
Outside The Shakespeare Globe Theater
Outside The Shakespeare Globe Theater. The ‘YOU+’ Sign was for a friend 🙂
Crossing The Millenium Bridge with St Pauls Cathedral at the end.
Crossing The Millenium Bridge with St Pauls Cathedral at the end.

I crossed this bridge earlier in my time in London with Sophie after visiting the Tate Museum.

The wonderful view from the Tate Museum
The wonderful view from the Tate Museum
Pushing Sophie across the Millenium Bridge
Pushing Sophie across the Millenium Bridge
St Pauls Cathedral.
St Paul’s Cathedral.
We had time to spare so we went to the Museum Of London. And it was well worth the visit :-)
We had time to spare so we went to the Museum Of London. And it was well worth the visit 🙂
The night Sky at St James Square. Walking to Piccadilly Circus for tea.
The night Sky at St James Square. Walking to Piccadilly Circus for tea.
After Dan and Marysia finished work we all went to The Rainforest cafe for tea. A great experience and Sophie loved the animals.
After Dan and Marysia finished work we all went to The Rainforest cafe for tea. A great experience and Sophie loved the animals.

Here’s a short film of Sophie with the gorillas at The rainforest Cafe…

We visited Fortnum and Mason on our way to the Train Station. A very extravagant shop! Here is one of the displays.
We visited Fortnum and Mason on our way to the Train Station. A very extravagant shop! Here is one of the displays.
Another shop display. Just one of the very many I could have taken photos of. They were all very special.
Another shop display. Just one of the very many I could have taken photos of. They were all very special.
Here's another example of the fabulous displays in this shop.
Here’s another example of the fabulous displays in this shop.
The wonderful shop decorations.
The wonderful shop decorations.
The Fortnum and Mason Christmas Display
The Fortnum and Mason Christmas Display
Just great for Christmas Cards?
Just great for Christmas Cards?
No! This one is definitely better :-) Sorry Judy :-)
No! This one is definitely better 🙂 Sorry Judy 🙂
A mall with it's christmas decorations... but it was closed this night.
A mall with it’s christmas decorations… but it was closed this night.

On Judy’s last Saturday we all went to Winchester to have a look at their Christmas markets. It is a two hour drive south of Barnet where Dan and Marysia live, but it was definitely worth the trip.

The Winchester Cathedral
The Winchester Cathedral
One of the many stalls selling food and Mulled wine.
One of the many stalls selling food and Mulled wine.
The brave people trying out the ice skating rink... in the rain and cold!
The brave people trying out the ice skating rink… in the rain and cold!
The stalls were all around the Cathedral and on the main streets
The stalls were all around the Cathedral and on the main streets
Judy in amongst the crowd!
Judy in amongst the crowd!
The main street with the old buildings and crowds of people
The main street with the old buildings and crowds of people

So on the Sunday, the last day Judy and I could venture out without Sophie we decided to do all the other things we had planned to do, but just hadn’t had time. We left nice and early and caught the tube to Baker Street station. The first place to go was Madame Tussards Wax Museum. What a lot of fun!

Yes that's me and Johnny Depp!
Yes that’s me and Johnny Depp!
Looks like Judy is trying to push Marilyn off the stage hehe
Looks like Judy is trying to push Marilyn off the stage hehe
Me and Shrek!
Me and Shrek!
Judy and Jonah :-)
Judy and Jonah 🙂
Why oh why Robin??? You look so happy here, and were so successful and loved! Money and fame sure doesn't bring happiness!
Why oh why Robin??? You look so happy here, and were so successful and loved! Money and fame sure doesn’t bring happiness!

The wax museum was very interactive. You could pose with all the models and the 4D movie experience at the end was all laughs. Judy and I had so much fun and were so thrilled we went!

And from the wax museum it was onto the London Eye! What an amazing experience, even in the rain!
And from the wax museum it was onto the London Eye! What an amazing experience, even in the rain!
Here's Judy in the eye :-)
Here’s Judy in the eye 🙂
At the top!
At the top!

The fantastic view, even through wet windows!
The fantastic view, even through wet windows!
Looking down!
Looking down!

And after that fabulous experience we went on the London Dungeon Tour. I have seen this advertise the last twice I was in London but thought it would just be all touristy and not really worth going to, but it was well worth it. It lasted an hour and a half and was entertaining the whole way through. Great actors and also great scene sets!

Lastly for the day we wandered through Hyde Park and the Winter Wonderland. Luckily this was the first weekend it had opened. We were able to wander around and enjoy the place. I went again the following Saturday night with Marysia and Sophie in her pram and it was a nightmare. The people were squashed in like sardines! And we had to find Daniel. Consequently we didn’t stay long!

The Entrance to Winter Wonderland
The Entrance to Winter Wonderland
The ferris wheel!
The ferris wheel!
One of the theme park attractions
One of the theme park attractions
The Haunted house. The only ride Judy and I went on! It was great!
The Haunted house. The only ride Judy and I went on! It was great!
On our ride. Like kids again :-)
On our ride. Like kids again 🙂
Looking at the lights!
Looking at the lights!

Monday we relaxed, Tuesday we walked to Alexandra Palace and Wednesday was the trip to Heathrow Airport by the Piccadilly underground line!

It was uphill all the way to the Palace, but a great walk :-)
It was uphill all the way to the Palace, but a great walk 🙂
Alexandra Palace. This isn't far from Dan and Marysias place. Judy and I walked to the Palace, had a super lunch,  and then back home again in the dark.
Alexandra Palace. This isn’t far from Dan and Marysias place. Judy and I walked to the Palace, had a super lunch, and then back home again in the dark.
Another view of Ally Pally :-)
Another view of Ally Pally 🙂

Now in amongst all the above places and things we saw, Judy and I also went to two shows, both were wonderful! We went to Les Miserables after our first dinner at Rainforest Cafe. Both great experiences! And we also went to Billy Elliot. That was actually Judys Birthday present as she arrived in London on her birthday 🙂

We also had the three day weekend in Switzerland. So all in all we definitely had three amazing weeks together. And can you see why I missed her so much when she left?

Mount Pilatus – One of my most memorable places to visit.

How would I describe my trip to Mount Pilatus?

Scary – thrilling – exciting – adrenalin pumping – wondrous – magnificent – spectacular – fabulous – great – cold.

Actually no matter how much I try to describe our trip to Mt Pilatus, I will never be able to help you understand just how marvelous the experience of going there really is. It is a place that you have to go and experience it for yourself to fully understand what it is like.

Now if you don’t know anything about Mt Pilatus, the first thing you need to know is that in order to get to the top of the mountain, you can either walk one of the tracks which will take approximately four hours (if you are fit and healthy), or by the cogwheel railway. In fact the cog railway track up the mountain is the steepest in the world with 48 degrees at the steepest part! The way down is by the same railway or by gondola. The Goldola was being refurbished at the time of our visit so we did the trip up and down via the cog railway.

The highest point of the mountain is 2128 meters and the next  highest point is 2119 meters. Between these two points is the landing point for the cog railway system, two restaurants and a hotel!

Now I am going to add some photos, they are great, but still not good enough to show the reality of the experience. I’ll just number the photos rather than describe each one 🙂

The base of the mountain and station for the cogwheel railway
The base of the mountain and station for the cogwheel railway
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The crane is there for doing repairs to the Gondola station
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The cogwheel railway coming up the track
The cogwheel railway coming up the track
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Can you see the little church on the top of the ridge?
Can you see the little church on the top of the ridge?
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The views are spectacular! the zig zag pattern you can see in some of the photos are the paths that the trampers use to climb up and down. There is another walk along the peak of the mountain that is very dangerous to walk, but is used by many and it leads to a place that can be reached by road. But it is only walked by expert mountain climbers. We wanted to go up the path on the other side of the restaurant/cog railway station but it was closed because of the snow. We walked up to the highest point on the opposite peak and while we were taking photos it started to snow! It was such a special experience to be there and have it snow as well. Just amazing!

And here is a short video of the view at the top…