Halfway down the stairs

The day to day thoughts of mother of three, fledgling gardener, and policy analyst.

We’re all going on a summer holiday…. January 19, 2010

Filed under: christmas,holidays,working — halfwaydownthestairs @ 8:57 pm

OK, so it’s been forever and a day since I last blogged. My apologies. My poor excuse is that I live in New Zealand, and as any New Zealander knows, nothing happens in this country AT ALL from Christmas eve right through the first three weeks of January. Nothing. The reason for that is that we are all off at a beach somewhere, camping, or staying in a bach, playing cards, swimming, fishing, and drinking wine. Which is pretty much a summary of our Christmas holidays. Christmas day was awesome… There was backyard cricket:

a sunken pavlova (see the Night before Christmas post), and quite a bit of afternoon dozing on the couch.

After Christmas, our nuclear family took off to the beach. Omapere, to be exact.  Omapere is in the Hokianga harbour, on New Zealand’s west coast, for international readers. It’s about an hour and a half past Dargaville.

On the way there, we got stuck in a uniquely NZ traffic jam….

Are we moooooving yet? (Sorry.)

Our bach looked across the harbour to the giant sand dunes. Northland Maori tell the story of how these sand dune mountains were created. It is said that a great forest of Kauri trees once covered the entrance to the harbour. Kupe, the polynesian explorer, landed here, on his journey from Hawaiki. He was so happy there, he stayed until he was an old man. In his old age, he wanted to return to Hawaiki. One of his sons was so angry at being left behind, that he lit a fire which burned down the whole forest. Apparently you can still find charred remains of Kauri trees under the sand….

Whatever the reason the dunes are there, masters 6 and 3 had an awesome day with their Dad sliding down them on what passes for a toboggan. I stayed home  – master 0 not being quite up to board riding just yet – and watched them as tiny dots through binoculars.

It was idyllic. Just the sort of place you could sit and watch the sunset, and (lucky us) watch Orca whales cruising by as they chased sting rays for a summer snack.



Out the other window, we had a view of this:

Does the happiness of small boys know no bounds??  They delighted in watching the engine go in and out of the shed, get washed, and see volunteer firepersons come and go. I even think it was worth the completely predictable new years eve call out at 3am where the siren sounded and woke every single one of us up. Still, we could watch out the windows, and the volunteer firefighters waved as they ran into the station to get their fireperson gear on and go save the world from an actual fire, we found out later, down the road a bit in Rawene.

The boys played in rock pools, at the beach, went fishing (master 6 caught a snapper!) and otherwise had the sort of holiday small boys love. I largely hung out at the bach with the baby, who was a bundle of loveliness as usual. It was waaaaay too hot to be taking him outside for much of the day, so we were a bit home bound, but we made bread, did the usual laundry and dinner routine, but also had a bit of time for napping and reading, so that was OK.

So we came home, the more to holiday here. Busy husband was at home right up until yesterday, and did an amazing job taking the big kids hither and yon and hither again in their quest for world domination. And just when we had completely exhausted him, he got to go back to work. Where there is air conditioning. And quiet time. I’m sure he is loving it. 🙂

So we have two more weeks of school holidays to get through before relative order is restored with the arrival of school and daycare. And until then we have holiday swimming and holiday tennis and holiday cooking to do. In fact, the reason I came on to write the blog was to write about the cooking, but that will have to wait for the next one, as this one has turned into quite the holiday piece.

In some ways, one could say that I’m on one loooong holiday now – I quit my job the other day. OK, so I was on maternity leave in any case, but I did have a reasonably clear plan to return to work. I had enrolled master 0 in daycare and everything. But after a lot of thought, I chose to give this particular job up.  Largely this is because the cost of full time childcare for two, and before & after school care for 1, would eat up too much of my salary for me to be happy to work. I will miss it, specifically I will miss the worky challenges and coffee and the people and the peace. But I hope I can get some work done as I have done before, as a self-employed sort, creating policies and other documentation for businesses. Watch this space. (And, for the record, being at home with 3 children is no kind of holiday, in case you were wondering.)

Enough for now. I hope your summer holidays have been as long and as relaxed as mine. And that those of you in the freezing northern hemisphere are full of hot chocolates and warm jackets and white fluffy snow, and such.

See you on the stairs



O Holy Night December 24, 2009

Filed under: christmas,cooking,gardens,pavlova,Uncategorized — halfwaydownthestairs @ 1:51 pm

Well, now it actually is the night before Christmas. Well, at least the day before. The sun is shining – it’s so hot that you can’t go outside. Our house is unnaturally quiet as masters 6 and 3 have gone to terrorise their grandparents, OVERNIGHT, and won’t be back for one more blessed hour. This has meant that I have wrapped all the gifts, been to get the fresh fruit, and been to the supermarket, and am generally entirely ready for the big day tomorrow. As usual, Santa has completely over-bought for the children, and the lounge was a sea of gifts and wrapping paper – just wrapping it all up.

I have a pavlova in the oven from this recipe, and it looks as though it just might work out. I’ve never made a pavlova before, but this was truly so ridiculously easy I will never buy one again. It will be topped with cream and strawberries though, not that healthy yoghurt stuff! It is Christmas after all. The Christmas cake is all made too, and has been sitting quietly in it’s tin sipping brandy for a couple of weeks (shame I can’t say the same) and the mince pies I made have mostly been eaten… perhaps I can summon up a few more this afternoon.  The last thing I have to do is pick the vegetables from the garden to bring to the Christmas table. (Cue sigh of happiness.)

Tomorrow we will be off to the family homestead, and after mass will begin feasting on:

Warm chelsea buns, and scones with jam and cream

then for lunch…

Chickens (3) Pumpkin, red onion and feta salad, with sugars nap peas from the garden, roast vegetable salad, green and yellow beans from the garden as well as freshly shelled peas.

And for afterwards…

Christmas pudding, perhaps brandy butter…?

Pavlova, perhaps even small meringues?

Christmas Cake

I know I know, no turkey or ham, but really this year with all of us facing some fiscal challenge or other, chickens seemed just as good, and far less expensive than the turkeys and hams for sale. And what’s it all about other than spending time with family in any case?

So the halls are decked, not with holly but with summery things, in this southern hemisphere Christmas.  Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas, and a new year full of hope and challenge.

See you on the stairs,


PS – If you are super lucky I’ll post a Christmas photo or two.

PPS – The pavlova sunk.