Saturday, November 20, 2010

From suburban mouse to city mouse

After 6 months in this amazing country, we have made the move from one home to a new one. Yesterday morning, we borrowed the panda-mobile and made the move to an apartment much closer to downtown and right near the beach. We didn’t have much to move –a few backpacks and some bikes. The new place is amazing! We’ve lost the stellar view but the one we’ve got now still beats the one we had out of our window back home… Not that I don’t appreciate littered alleyways and noisy subway tracks…

We’re now in a two bedroom, fully furnished flat in a neighbourhood called Mt. Victoria. What was once a 30 minute bus ride into town is now a 5 minute walk to the farmer’s market, to my yoga studio, to the beach. Now seriously, what else does one really need?!

Our new home!

 View to the left...

And to the right... 

A giant Christmas tree has been set up in one of the central parkettes right by the water. Not a real one, mind you, but rather a beautiful one made up of dozens of strands of Christmas lights. Very pretty and oh-so festive. Still finding it hard to get into the Christmas spirit here. The manufactured snow flakes just aren’t quite the same. While everyone back home is swapping their summer clothes for scarves and toques, I’m grabbing my shades and throwing on my ‘jandals’ before heading out the door. Hmmmm… I think I could get used to this!

 It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

After the move, Pete and I headed straight for the beach and just watched the world go by. There was a sailing regatta going on and we just caught the last stretch of the race. The boats had their spinnakers out which was really cool and quite beautiful. Sadly no camera was in hand and so you will just have to take my word for it and imagine it for yourself.

 An afternoon by the beach.

Whale tail!

Early to bed and early to rise. A fantastic yoga class followed by brunch with a dear old friend. A short jaunt through the botanic gardens and along the waterfront to stretch the legs then home to write this note to you all. Yup – I think I’m going to like our new digs…

 Brunch with Beaner = perfection!

 A view from the treetops

 Butterflies by the bay

A merry tui christmas to all!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A quiet and tasty weekend among friends

After a weekend spent amongst the mountains, it was time for a weekend spent amongst friends and yummy food! On Saturday eve, we invited a bunch of my colleagues over for some cocktails and appies. It was nice to hang out outside of the office and get to know them a little bit better. Such nice folks. The panda family really does reach worldwide!

The rest of the weekend was spent running errands and sticking my nose in my book. A quiet weekend sandwiched between two crazies. Next weekend is the launch of our national oceans campaign followed by the big move to our new apartment (a two bedroom flat by the beach – yeah!) The weekend after that we’re blowing this pop-stand for a 5-day canoe trip down the Whanganui river. Oh how I love these summer days in November!

Beautiful Peonies!

 Pete prepping the goodies

 Baked brie two ways: 1) With pesto and parmesan and 2) with roasted garlic. Yummmm!

  A full fridge is a happy fridge!

From the fridge to our bellies

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Run an adventure race in New Zealand... CHECK!

Imagine, if you will, a lobster fresh out of the pot – rosy pink to perfection. Although I am far from perfect, I am about as pink as they come! This past weekend was filled with everything I could ask for: fun, adventure, the great outdoors. Unfortunately it was missing one key ingredient – sunscreen!

This past weekend, Pete and I participated in the Queen Charlotte Classic – an adventure race that took us along the Queen Charlotte Track and through the Queen Charlotte Sound. The race included a 14 km run up and over a mountain range (me), a 50 km bike ride along the beautiful (and steep) coastline (Pete), finishing off with an 8 km paddle (tandem). On race day we woke at 5:30 in the morning and psyched ourselves up with some oatmeal and positive thoughts.

Pete ready for action!

The walk to the start line at 6 am in the bustling town of Picton

I think there were over 350 competitors all lined up along the beach ready to go. The first leg of the race was the run and we hopped on to a water taxi for the 30 minute boat ride to the starting line, in a spectacular place called mistletoe bay. On the ride a couple of veteran racers warned me that the first leg of the run was ‘steep as’. For those of you still learning the kiwi lingo, that means a few degrees short of a cliff. Good times.

Luckily, I had been training on hills for the past few months and, for the first time in years, I was actually able to tackle it without feeling the need to pass out or throw up! Plus, I managed to finish the run under an hour and a half which was a personal best for a single track mountain run! Yay me!

And we're off!

Pete took this shot from the boat after they had dropped off the runners at the starting line. The run took me over this mountain range.

A loyal companion waiting for his chauffeur

Pete killed the bike portion of the race even though virtually the entire 50 km route was uphill. Good thing the view was so spectacular. It provided a wonderful distraction from the task at hand. I was so proud of him!

Pete pulling in to the transition area. 50 kms and still smiling!

Sadly by the time we were ready to take on the paddle section of the race, the wind had picked up so much that they canceled it altogether. Apparently the majority of the lead racers who had gotten out on the water ahead of us were all capsizing. The rescue team couldn’t keep up with all the flipped boats and so they had no choice but to cancel the paddle portion. Sad news. But this did mean that we got to hit the pub even earlier. A decent compromise ☺

The afternoon was spent wandering the town (which didn’t take long) and enjoying the scenery. The Queen Charlotte Sound is definitely one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. They also, as we discovered, have the best fish and chips I have ever had! Nothing beats a cold beer and some tasty fish ‘n’ chips after a long day of fun in the sun!

Captain Cook was here!

Picton harbour

Mmmm... Fish 'n' chips.

Luckily, in lieu of missing out on the Saturday paddle, the kayak rental guys let us have the boat on Sunday for a day of paddling and beach hopping. We explored the many bays that make this area so truly stunning. We puttered around in the shoals and enjoyed a yummy nap on a secluded beach.
Shags soaking up the sun.

Beach stop #3. Too beautiful for words.

Peter in deep thought. Trying to come up with a cunning plan that would let us stay in this moment forever.

Crystal clear waters

At one point, we came across thousands – yes, thousands – of jellyfish. It was quite incredible!

First there was one...

...And then they were everywhere you looked. All those blurry white spots... Yup. Jellyfish...

Back to the harbour to wait for our ferry. Two hours late, but we didn’t mind. We just sat on the beach, fed the ducks, and watched the sun slowly fall behind the majestic mountain range.
She was my friend. I was her "bread dispenser"!

The ferry ride home was a bit of a blur as we were completely wiped from the weekend of fresh air and fierce sunshine. The term ‘sun kissed’ is an under-statement. We’re more like ‘sun smacked’. But oh, it was allll worth it!