Monthly Archives: January 2013

Huckleberry Friends


There is this great line in the song Moon River that I just love to sing, about your ‘Huckleberry Friend’.  I imagine this to mean friends who are up for adventure and love to share adventures with you.

I am lucky to have many such friends in my life.  And it is the adventuring attitude that attracts me to them.  I love to be with those who say YES!  Those whose energy boosts your own.  Those people who “fill you up”- that is you feel energised after speaking to them.

This weekend we just had the loveliest camping trip to a new beach, where a council owned free campsite is right on the beach.  This is at Porangahau beach, aka Te Paerahi beach.
Nearby you will also find the longest place name in the world!  (I love this sort of touristy stuff!!)


Here are Ollie and I posing by the only thing here…. a sign!

Porangahau’s best kept secret  is the home to the famous “Longest Place Name” in the World “Taumata¬whakatangihanga¬koauau¬o¬tamatea¬turi-pukakapiki¬maunga¬horo¬nuku¬pokai¬whenua¬kitanatahu“, which translates roughly as The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.


The beach was fantastic! Huge, fierce waves that provided great boogie boarding. Clear, warm water.


The beach was long and extremely walkable,  invitingly so….



There were rocks to explore….


Charlie and Henry had a base made pretty quickly in nearby pine tree



We had seven children  with us.  One day they worked for hours and hours digging two deep holes and building a connecting tunnel.  The bridge over the top was stong enough for an adult to jump on. Very cool piece of engineering.

It was so full of beauty.
And so full of fun being there with friends.  We played Bananagrams endlessly – even when the sun set and the full moon rose.
And of course there were Ukuleles! (and a guitar)


I certainly got alot of great energy from my early morning walks along the beach and pounding in the surf while swimming.
I also got alot of energy from being with  fun loving, ‘yes’ friends.
My huckleberry friends.
I am so grateful to have you in my life.



Hannah’s Medieval Camp


Several months ago Hannah said she wanted to run a Medieval Camp for some of her younger homeschooled friends.  She was very excited and bursting with ideas.

I saw this as such a wonderful  thing for Hannah to do.  It was  another passion of hers and I supported her to make it work.
It feels like unschooling keeps on working just on different levels as the children grow up.

One of the great things was seeing Hannah do what I usually do, thinking ahead as I do, planning all the food.  She was so appreciative of me and what I do, which was a very positive spin off and really showed how the whole thing was a prime learning experience for her . (Just don’t tell her…)

So after gear lists, food planning, menus, shopping and packing we made our way up to a relatively local, free DOC camp by a river.
The main focus of the camp was NO ADULTS!

This was strictly enforced by Hannah, as she wanted to assume the roles normally taken by an adult.  I was invited as responsible-adult-to-supervise -river-swimming (of which there was a lot!).  I had to camp outside of the main camp area, plan/organise  my own food,  not talk to anyone, or interfere with any mother type comments – eg  “Why don’t you….” or “It would be easier if you just ….”

I thought I did very well.  I managed to read three books.

The medieval theme was about dressing up, but also cooking on the fire.

They did some cool things….

IMG_4306                                                     Painting rocks


Doing chores (collecting water and doing the dishes in the river) was a popular activity!


They all made gifts from natural materials,


then played the “stealing game” with them.

IMG_4370                                              Mostly we all swam…..


& swam.


The girls found great hot rocks to warm up on after a prolonged session in the river .                     .


It was so lovely seeing Hannah enjoying playing with her younger charges.  The 7 girls were mostly 10 years old, with one 8yr old and  one  9.  Then Ollie and Tillie (both 12 yrs) were there as helpers.

Hannah was often in the role as camp mother – doing the things she has seen me do for years I guess – thinking about and preparing food, making sure they were all OK.


Hannah did a great job with the food, cooking over the fire.


The girls all peeling corn for the fire.


The damper was a big hit, there was so much of it they started to experiment with it and made banana wrapped in damper and chocolate and raisin damper….


Chocolate damper dough hands!


Ollie was there in his capacity as “fire” man – and  was also a great source of teasing to the group of girls, which he mostly took in his stride…


Playing “truth and dare” was always accompanied by much giggling!

The girls are all really good friends, a tight support  group  for each other as they grow up.  It was such a privilege to be trusted with other people’s children, for Hannah and for me.  No one expressed concerns of any sort beforehand and the parents gave Hannah a bunch of flowers, a card and gift at the end as an appreciation of what she had organised.   I was so proud of her.


I loved hanging out with the girls, usually just when swimming.  I felt like one of their friends.  I love being with children who think of you as a person, not always an adult.   When they consider you as good a play mate as one of their peers,  I know I will enjoy their company.

I also love being around people of any age who derive so much pleausre from life and who laugh so much.  I felt honoured to be there in such delightful company!



Even packing up is fun – they made giant legs out of bedrolls, then supported each other to have a turn with them!


Which then progressed into other crazy spinning games, so much fun with a roll of foam….

On the way home Hannah started to plan next years camp.
I can’t complain at all as sometimes it is like looking in a mirror….

summer holidays


Just so you know I am having a lovely summer holiday.
It is just that it involves much sunshine, swimming and fresh fruit but not so much computers, internet  or sitting down inside…

Sunday we had a classic family day at the beach, which is a rare experience.  It is not often it is just us five, no extras, all kids present and correct.  (Excepting our older two…)



It was hot and sunny.
We all swam together, boogie boarded on the wild waves, walked for miles along the beach.

We ate ice cream and cherries, had a sandy picnic with avocado and brie and built barricades  against the incoming tide to protect our castle.

When the surf lifesaving guys packed up at five o’clock we got out the cricket gear and played and played.








We stayed on until the sun was low in the sky.

It was a really special day and one that reminded me of the joy of having family time together.  The importance of upholding our family culture.

As the older children get more and more independent it is so easy to be away from each other.  This showed me how easy it was to be together as a family and the value in that.

Trying to meet everyone’s needs can seem like a burden at times, but when we were out in the sea, waiting to catch a wave, Hannah told me how happy she was and how much fun she was having.
That just made my day.


Abel Tasman New Year Adventure


Happy New Year!

We are returned from surely one of the most beautiful places on earth – Golden Bay in NZ’s South Island.

A week of colours like this!


It has to be good for you to be saturated in such beauty and such vibrant colours.  Although I could not get enough of them and was sad to leave, I also feel totally filled up with nature after being completely outside for a week.  We are so blessed to live in a land where we have so much freedom to explore so easily.

So our trip….

We had a bit of sightseeing.  Charlie and I took the boat on the first day up to Anchorage with all the packs so the other four could walk up and meet us.


Here’s Split Apple Rock.  The water is so clear in the Abel Tasman it is just beautiful.  I found myself running out of adjectives while the whole time wanting to express my love of it all.


Even though there were many others around kayaking, tramping, swimming and picnicing with boats running up and down it never seemed crowded with so much open space, huge mountains protecting us and the endless sea always there….

We enjoyed a bit of wild life – very tame quail wandering about the campsites with many small fluffy babies in tow…

baby quail off for a walk

Baby quail wandering happily around the campsite

Paradise ducks, who mate for life, shared our new year’s eve campsite at Bark Bay.  This couple just had one youngster, again very tame.


A shag sat for ages seemingly unaware of us nearby on the rocks.


Then of course there were the Possums!  A family at Onetahuti Beach seemed very organised with their nightly raids!  Our (human) neighbours told us how possums had come into their tent and dragged a large chocolate bar out in to the bush the night before!  That night we had some possum adventures, then after all the excitement I was wide awake so at 5am I wrote this poem….

On the Abel Tasman track one warm summers night
While camped at Onetahuti we sure did get a fright
As soon as night fell and we were all tucked up in bed
Some cheeky possums thought it was about time to be fed
So down they came and to our camp they wandered freely in
And soon discovered, swinging from a tree, our rubbish bin
So one managed with his little paws to carefully unpack it
While balanced on the branch he rifled through each packet.
Another jumped on to the table and kicked up cups, flipped off a plate
Then screeched an angry “Yeeeeaarrrccchhh” to his rival possum mate
They ate a tin of tuna, half an apple too
They munched through bags to get to rice , gave many things a chew
When Granny got up still half asleep and went to have a pee
She got the fright of her life to see not one possum but three!
Unafraid one ran nearby, one dropped down from the tree,
She screamed and lashed out with a stick, Finn called out”What’s up Granny?”
She dived back in and then a possum bounced upon the tent,
Nana sat up with a start to see what made the dent

They rustled and they prowled about those nocturnal scavengers
They left our campsite looking trashed by their night time ravages.

I got the giggles the first time I looked out of the tent as a possum was sitting there perfectly displaying a dried vege packet, like it was in an advert!  This made me get my camera, but the pose had gone…

Nothing new for Kiwis who camp,  I know.


The posing possum

So we had plenty of swimming and lazing around.  The clear water and golden sands were very alluring.  I worked out I had tramped the track 9 or 10 times, Finn asked me if I didn’t get sick of it….
Sick of this?  Ummmm, no.


We managed a bit of walking….


We had plenty of good food to eat.
Food was  a big part of the planning.


Ollie and Finn cooking their dinner

Once sorted out though it was such a treat to not have to think about what to cook.  There are some gorgeous lightweight food options available and I also had some yummy dehydrated raw snacks. Ollie and his cousin Finn planned, carried and cooked their own food which made it very easy.

DOC (Department of Conservation) have done a great job and there are now flushing toilets and wonderful cooking shelters at each camp which makes for a very comfortable experience.


There were also fireplaces to cook on with wood provided.  Charlie kept the home fires burning and  we didn’t use any of our own gas until day four.


Charlie carried and made his own lunches – crackers, peanut butter and cheese.

As with any trip there were those poignant moments….


One of many beautifully woven putiputi (flowers) left in a tree.


A shell message greeting us on Jan 1st.

Kia Ora is a well used Maori greeting literally meaning “be well” and used as hello, thank you and a general salutation.

We had a  party where we exchanged gifts and many giggles….


Presents were homemade from natural materials….


Charlie with leaf earrings


Ollie with a flax-handled knife

We had the trip gags…


Like the time Charlie let the boys tent down with them still in it.



While at Awaroa inlet the boys and I decided to intentionally strand ourselves up the far end of the inlet during high tide.  So armed with supplies we waded up, racing the incoming tide . We got as far as we could and found a bush walk to an old steam engine where we had lunch.


We then got on to a beach and were deciding what to do/play/make to pass the time. (About 4 hours…)

Suddenly the friendly DOC ranger whizzed up in his nifty little boat and offered us a ride!  We felt it would only enhance the adventure and  got a lovely ride across the full inlet, (stopping on the far side to clean a toilet) and a tour of recent and very large landslides along the shore line while learning of the history of the area.


This is about 15 minutes before high tide, the water came right up to where the boys were.


The free boat ride across the inlet.


The boys were great walkers….


And so were the two Grandmothers!


A rare shot of Marion!  (thanks!)

It was so fantastic to have mine and Wayne’s mums with us.  I feel so lucky to have such amazing role models in my life…and ones that are up for such an adventure.


Mum and I lazing on the beach.

Big brother Dane managed to join us for our last night at Totaranui…


For some rough’n’tumble.



At dusk a lone bagpiper appeared and drew us down to the waters edge with his haunting tunes, which seemed both surreal & out of place but also very soothing and perfectly fitting for the surrounds and for our final night in the park.

The final few moments before our boat ride back to civilisation....

The final few moments before our boat ride back to civilisation….