Category Archives: Passions

New flag designs


Charlie woke up this morning to reveal he had Chicken Pox! Yipppee!
I envisaged a day(or several) of playing board games, sitting and distracting him while dabbing on baking soda paste….

But after  leaving him with his drawing pad and felts I returned to find him designing a new NZ  flag.  He has continued, all day now on to his 4th design.

There has been some discussion, in the media and around the dinner table, as there often is when an election is coming up about a new flag….


Design 1: Kiwi, Silver Fern, Southern Cross

Design 2 : No Kiwi….


Design 3: Still the Southern Cross with Silver Ferms




Mmmm, the fourth design is looking interesting too…different….

A big part of this has been a chart accompanying each design and everyone who has been here today has been asked to tick a like/dislike column and add comments and ideas.
Even in the spotty and scratchy space he is in, his imagination is on fire.  He has just had a fever for 2 days prior and this is a common thing to come out of a fever bursting with new ideas.

Very exciting and, handily destracting too….







Ollie being trying




Ollie has just completed the Weetbix triathalon, an old hand now!  He was so confident and gave his all, enjoying it so much.


He has been swimming 4 times a week as a squad member and really enjoying, pushing himself while getting fit.
Always so proud as a parent to watch him growing up, becoming so confident and  so passionate about what he is doing.



Thanks Ollie!





Jamboree dreaming


Ollie has returned from 10 days of heaven on earth.  What an amazing time he has had at NZ’s 20th Jamboree, luckily for us just in the next town.




The “Palmy Panthers” had a great camp set up when we visited for a day.



The entrance to their camp was really rustic.  There were some incredible gateways to been seen wandering around.  I liked their homemade, lashed gate with turnstile.




There was such a lovely laid back vibe about the camp, so much fun, so much comraderie, wild activites plus down time and badge swapping galore for Ollie!


IMG_4532Nearly 4000 scouts setting a world record for the most people wearing paper hats at one time!



They had the huge staduim that they used each evening for  events – party at New Years, circus, movie, opening ceremony etc.



IMG_4538Followed by a massive water fight with coloured water and fire engines!

Ollie has self diagnosed PJD – post Jamboree depression and has spent the last few days organising and now sewing badges on to his campfire blanket – he has 164!





He has returned walking taller and seems older somehow.  Here is a cool Australia shirt he swapped with one of his many new friends.  Ollie was just on a high the whole time, he really was.

Scouts is such a big passion for Ollie. I really loved to see him just buzzing, being a great leader, making friends and living like family with a huge bunch of like minded teens for ten days.  It was such a dream he really did not want it to end.  I totally understand that feeling.

Next stop World Jamboree, Japan 2015….



Living the dream


It has been interesting coming home and settling back in to normal life again.  I have been through several different phases.  The best thing has been the perspective it has brought me.
And guess what?  I am living the dream!

You know how sometimes in life it is good to look around and realise that you have everything you have wished for?  Life can be such a revelation when that happens.  I remember years ago as a young teacher doing this.  One day I suddenly realised that I was –

– teaching
– living by the beach in a cottage
-playing Irish music in a band
– very happy doing what I was doing

The very things I had been dreaming about and wishing for!
So it is good to take stock, look around and check out your life sometimes.

Having been home  7 weeks now I am really appreciating all the good things in my life.  I truly live a blessed life and am so very grateful for it.

One of the biggest insights I have had is about my work.
I have been teaching music, at home,  for 5 years now.  It has always just been a part of our weekly rhythm.  Suddenly, this term, I have been innundated with students, old and new and my two teaching days are pretty full.  WOW!!

I realise how fantastic this is.  I work at home, my kids can just be here doing their own things, I am  doing something I love doing and am good at (teaching &  playing music), it is flexible, fun, I get paid in cash each week, every student is a friend and I have  a relationship with each of them.  I get so much satisfaction working one on one, developing a programme to meet their needs and seeing their progress each week.
I have remembered how much I love teaching and surely private tution is the very best.

What a blessing!



Here is Charlie in the music room – our gorgeous red, instrument-filled room I teach in.  This night Charlie and I were boogying away to Old Crow Medicine show, using ribbons on sticks for extra effect!
“Music gives a soul to the universe,
wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination,
and life to everything.”
~ Plato ~




Charlie reads alot of comic books set in 1950’s America.  One thing he has always wanted to do , influenced by this I am sure, is have a lemonade stall.

So yesterday was the day.

With 3 others they went off foraging for lemons.
They made signs, set up a table, made heaps of lemonade, bought cups and then developed marketing strategies…..(This took about an hour)



Signs were re-written, put on each side of the road, wiggled at drivers….




They are keen to continue as they are raising funds for a good movie camera to make films on…


Getting that foot tapping again…


Charlie has started busking again, after lugging his banjolele around the world…


He really loved it, said he has missed it.   People here were certainly very taken with his playing as they are back home.  It brought  a smile to faces, set toes tapping and  those who enjoy a bit of Johnny Cash stood and watched while they sang along!


After just half an hour he made 34 pounds, which with the very favourable exchange rate is a decent hunk of the dog he is going to buy on our return!


Along with gathering the funds we have been hanging out with dogs as much as possible all in the name of research…In Devon Charlie was lucky enough to get to  take the lovely “Lolly” out and about, a good test to see if it is true what they say about Spaniels….It is!  She has an in exhaustible amount of energy!


Perfect for Charlie really.  She was just adorable and totally happy to come off wth us, Her owners were very generous too.



Charlie got the whole experience from doggy bags to bathing!



Hannah taught her self to read at age 4 so she could read Harry Potter.  She directed her first HP film at age 5, she was Hermione for years and years (even though she wore a Durmstrang fur coat…).
We have queued for each new book when it came out, then waited while Hannah would read it all in just a few hours, before we were alowed to touch it.  I have read aloud the whole series to each child and to myself.
Hannah used to be able to quote bits of the books she knew them so well.
The boys were not immune to the charms that J K Rowling wove either and happily took part in HP themed games and movies.
At age 11 our kids receive their Hogwarts letter, in green ink written on parchment, delivered by owl….

We even have a whole syllabus I developed for Hogwarts that Hannah used to attend at home. This did require some dressing up and acting on my part…(Perfect homeschooling really)

So you see we have lived and breathed Harry for ten years too, just like those who lived here making these movies.

Yes here we are.  Leavensden Studios, near Watford.  I know three families that have been here (it has only been open a year) and they all just loved it.  One very well travelled person went so far as to say it was THE best tourist attraction they had been to.
If you have a connection to Harry Potter, as so many of us do, then I would say…”what’s not to like…?’


To fans these will all be self explanatory….
Needless to say there were hundreds of photo opportunites as we explored sets, props, behind the scenes work and were introduced to the magic of the movies.


The Great Hall…we were all blown away by the detail and the dedication of those who work in the industry.


Umbridge’s decrees!



Me in the mirror of Erised….(Sorry I can’t tell you what I saw…)

It really did seem as though it was ten fun years where all those who worked here were one big family.  I guess those in the film industry are truly living their passion so why wouldn’t you be happy at work?


Me in Privet Drive.


The kids had some Buterbeer to drink as well, sweet and butterscotchy and quite drinkable…Then tried out Hagrid’s motorbike.



Ollie was always Ollivander when he played Harry Potter – he once made a whole lot of wands and set up shop.  So exciting for us all to see all these things that filled my children’s childhood imaginations….



Diagon Alley was delightful, again so much detail, we were blown away. (To me being a big picture person  not a details person this is doubly impressive!)





This guy  had an amazing story and worked in an extremely moving room at the very end….
He had been called in by a mate to help out with catering, on site here,  halfway through the ten years of filming.  He loved it. So much he stayed on, working 5 hours a day.  But he worked every day of filming for 5 years and got to know everyone in the set. (He was supposed to be retiring).
He now spends his day in this room of dedication, thousands  of wand boxes each with the name of  someone who was involved with the making of the movies.   Everyone.  And not only has he met them, but he can tell you where in the room their wand box is!!
He was a fountain of stories…I found it all very moving and could have stayed on all day listening to him…



They are all mixed up too, but he can point out anyone.
Here is one cool story he told me…..You know the baby Harry in the very first film?  They had a set of triplets for filming, so they could use which every baby was awake at the time they needed him.  (Clever ay?)
Well the three boys were never told of their part in the film as their parents didn’t want it to colour their childhood.  Until a few weeks ago when one of them was coming to visit the studios, (teenagers now) so their parents told them about it and the boys were understandably blown away, especially when they arrived to find they had their own wand box!!

A magical day for us and I am sure for many….
(except when our purchases at the shop are converted into New Zealand dollars….)  Gulp!