Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sun, surf, and a party load of rally cars.

My legs ache, my back aches, my shoulders ache. But it’s all from good stuff so I can’t really complain. Decent weather, good times, great outdoor activities and stories to share. And so I type…

Spent my Saturday morning on the trails trying to get the legs ready for our race next weekend. I can’t believe we’re only a week away! I normally wouldn’t be too nervous about these distances, but it’s not the distance that has me biting my lip. It’s those darn mountains that get in the way! Any marathons I have ever run in the past have always met my number one criteria – that they must be flat! As many of you know, I am no friend to the hill! That being said, I’ve been diligently training on a few for the past couple of months and I’m feeling a bit more confident. Ah well – we’re just going to have a good time, right? So there’s no need to worry (too much). I just can’t wait to check out the Queen Charlotte Track. We have yet to explore this region and it’s been on our to-do list ever since we landed in this fine country!

Saturday afternoon found us roaming around town hitting a few shops to look for Christmas presents. Can you believe it? I just typed the word ‘Chrismas’! Yes – it’s getting to be that time of year again. But being on the other side of the world requires us to be ahead of the game in terms of gift purchasing as mail can take anywhere from a few days to (apparently) a month to reach the Great White North. While we were downtown we came across a mosh pit of rally racing cars all arriving and parking themselves right outside of the Te Papa museum. Turns out we had stumbled across the finish line of the Targa car rally in New Zealand. Who knew?! People had come from across the globe to race, including some fellow Canucks. Dunno who ended up winning and quite frankly we didn’t really care. But some of the cars were pretty cool.

Bad day.

Canada represents! (...but doesn't win)

Loved this car. Loved the bottles of bubbly sitting on the roof even more!

The Targa NZ Rally finish line. Drivers lining up for the interviews.

Lining up post race.

Hello luvr...

Afternoon drinks before catching the All Blacks match (not live... I wish!)

Beanbags on the bar patio by the beach = brilliant!

Our Sunday was also spent out and about tho this time the bike was our transportation of choice. We biked along the coast out to an area called Lyall Bay. It’s where all the watersport enthusiasts go to play. We sat on the beach and watched as surfers caught waves, kite boarders caught air, and windsurfers flew past us at a frenzied pace. Pete was in heaven!

Kiters catching the waves

Pete enjoying the view and wishing he'd brought his wetsuit.

Hataitai Beach

One of the many boathouses peppering this stretch of Wellington coast. A band was rehearsing inside as we biked past and we could hear the drummer working away on his solo. What a cool place to call home!

Along the waterfront one can find poems among the rocks. part of Wellington's "writers' walk". Beautiful and inspirational.

3 and a half hours later, we rolled through our front door and flopped down for the rest of the afternoon. Am now taking a break from reading my book to write to you all. Not a bad weekend, I must say!

Thinking of everyone at home as you don your witch hats, devil ears, and tiaras.
Wishing you all a festive and happy Halloween! May both your tricks and treats be sweet!

PS – If you haven’t yet, please check out my fundraising page for the race online:
Pete and I will be running, biking, and paddling our little hearts out to raise awareness and support for WWF's campaign to protect our oceans. Support an important cause, give generously and tell your friends! Thx so much!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A spoonful of Canadiana

It’s labour day weekend over here and what a glorious weekend it has been! For the last 48 hours, I have been catching up and cruising this grand city with one of my oldest and dearest friends - Courtney Wotherspoon!

We had to make the most of the 48 hours we had available and so we immediately headed to a nearby pub for a few. Man, it was great to see her smiling face! Lots of catching up on the homefront and showing off this fantastic city to her! The weekend was filled with superb brunches, a tour of Te Papa (and a few shops to Pete’s great delight!) and several bevvie bars where we were able to quench our many thirsts throughout each afternoon.

Cool structures outside Te Papa

With the World Cup. "Touristy"? Yes. But the pics were free!

An afternoon of brewskies and scrabble

Mac's brewery (like a 50's living room)

On the second evening, we caught the NZ vs. England rugby match at the stadium. Great times and awesome atmosphere. Oh ya – and the game was great too (NZ crushed England)!

Excited for the game!

No I'm not giving the finger - I'm holding the bottle cap! :P

Kiwis score!

The waterboy (aka rehydration facilitator - the dude in yellow) takes his job very seriously!

The two days absolutely flew by but it was so great to see a friendly face from home.

Miss you already Court!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A very merry thanksgiving

Traditional thanksgiving is not recognized over here among the kiwis (plus it’s springtime so there’s not much harvest to feast over!) Nonetheless, for me this past weekend was about giving thanks to everything and everyone I have in my life. I sit here with a lovely glass of vino after a day at work overlooking the Wellington harbour and I can’t help think about how unexpected this course of events has been. I could not have predicted a year ago that things would have turned out this way. It has been one helluva year but in many ways, I am grateful for all that I have experienced and everyone from whom I have learned so much – family members, friends, and even many strangers.

While this past weekend was a quiet one it was just perfect. Pete and I spent Sunday afternoon wandering through the botanic gardens, which, ironically, I have seldom done. We walked the trails, visited the community herb garden and sat and watched a family of ducks maneuver their way from the local fountain to their home – a quiet little pond nestled next to a waterfall. We watched the mother and father shuffle 6 little ducklings through the rose garden, across a path, and into the safety of their pond. The little ducklings stayed out of mischief and followed their mother in step. Adorable! All this in downtown Welli – amazing!

Path through the fragrant garden.

The community herb garden

Tulip garden

Lady Norwood rose garden sans roses (yet to bloom)

Manufactured landscapes.

Mother duck with her little ones.

How did the ducklings cross the road? With mama closely by their side :)

On the edge of the garden we came across a cemetery nestled away amongst the flowers. This was the first cemetery of Wellington, which was created in 1840 on what was, at the time, the outskirts of town. We walked the trail through the cemetery, which gave a glimpse into the life and times of this growing colony. Stories told on the headstones reflected the struggles that many people at that time faced – poor sanitation, fire, earthquakes, racial tensions, injuries from wars. By 1892 due to limited space and concerns around sanitation (by this point the cemetery was in the centre of town) the cemetery was closed and new ones were created that were further out of town. It’s quite a peaceful place with vibrant flowers growing everywhere and massive trees protected the headstones from the weather.

It was a truly lovely afternoon spent giving thanks, relaxing away the hours and touring one of the capital city’s most amazing sights.

Happy thanksgiving to all!

Follow the flower petals through the garden.

A mural of native wildlife painted by a WWF supporter (on the side of the treehouse)

Spot the panda!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Do Wellingtonians ever get bored of all this amazing-ness?!

Finally – some seriously stupendous springtime sunshine! This weekend brought with it, by far, the best weather we have had to date. Not only was there an endless blue sky free of clouds, but the wind was nowhere to be found! And a day in Wellington without wind is like a day in Toronto without the subway breaking down - it doesn’t happen very often!

Friday night was spent de-stressing after a long week. Some drinks out with friends, dinner at an amazing Indian resto, then home. For those of you who know Pete well, you will know that he claims to “hate” curry. I have made it my personal mission to make him like it and on Friday, he actually stated that the meal was “the best meal he has had since arriving in New Zealand”!!! Point for Erinn!

Saturday morning I awoke to sun streaming through our windows. Pete wasn’t up for a day of walking so I headed out on my own and grabbed a coffee by the beach. I then hit a trail to Mount Victoria, which has one of the best views in the city. It was truly amazing.

On my way up, looking back at the city.

Imagine calling those amazing places 'home'!

City shot with Mother Nature's picture frame.

Can you believe this is literally 5 minutes from downtown Welli?!

View from the top

Looking south to Lyall Bay (Picton ferry in the distance making its way to the South Island)

Maori statue

I worked my way up the trails to the top, took some pics with all of the other tourists and then plunked myself down with my water, snacks and light reading (just a bio on Ernesto Guevera – a real knee slapper…!)

Saw tons of birds including bellbirds, tuis, and this little critter who was quite inquisitive. He kept hopping closer and closer to where I was sitting. We were buds by the end of the day. I'm really not much of a birder but since arriving here, I have definitely developed a greater level of respect and admiration for our feathered friends, especially since so many of them are endangered over here due to the introduction of invasive species like rats, stoats, and possums.

My avian friend!

I fought the puddle but the puddle won :(

Headed back down the trail to the waterfront where a street performer was attempting to wow the crowd. He asked how many people were from out of town and about half of the audience raised their hands. I guess we’re starting to get into tourist season…

An early dinner with Pete and back home for a rompous Saturday night curled up on the sofa with a cuppa tea watching movies.

It’s now Sunday afternoon and as I type, I am sitting on our deck watching the last of the sun go down. Pete’s in the kitchen baking bread (yum!) and I’m writing to you. Not a bad way to end a perfectly perfect weekend!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Your feel-good story of the week!

This past Monday evening was our usual puppy squad. We met the group at 6 downtown and wandered along the waterfront with about a dozen puppies from the SPCA shelter, exploring the streets, chasing the birds, and discovering the beach (my pup tried to go swimming!).

I was telling my colleague about the puppy squad and she asked if she might be able to interview the organizer. she hosts a local radio show and wanted to feature the puppy squad as the feel good story piece for that evening's show! So exciting! The interview went well and over the next few days, the squad organizer received three inquiries to volunteer!! Hopefully we'll have even more people (and therefore more hands) to walk puppies next Monday!

But the most exciting story that I want to share is about one of the lovely canines that joins us on our regular walks. Percy, a friendly little guy, has found a home! ...But not just any old home.

It's so great when animals find great places to call home and this one is certainly amazing! An amazing feel-good story of the week!

My pup Oolla (sp?) with her stylish 'find me a home' vest on.

Exploring the water fountain. Some are always a little nervous by the flying water. Others leap right in!

Benji paying no attention to Pete!
(ps - for those interested, that's the National Museum - Te Papa - in the background. Very cool place and it's free entry. Amazing!)