Hi!

How are you all? It’s been over a year since I last posted on here! So much has happened since I got back.  I got a job as a housekeeper in a hotel in Llandeilo, it was hard work and I definitely wouldn’t work as a housekeeper again. I worked there from I think June/July 2013 till January 2014, before I moved to Neath. I spent 3 months in a relationship with a guy from Llandeilo but that ended suddenly and unexpectedly in July 2013. A month later I met my now boyfriend, Jon, on a dating website.

In January 2014 I moved in with Jon. We’ve been together nearly a year now which is crazy, although it does feel like longer! We have a lovely 3 bedroom house with a small garden, in an estate. It’s a 5 minute drive (25 min walk) into Neath from here so it’s very convenient.

In March I found out that I was 5 weeks pregnant and I am now nearly 25 weeks pregnant. We’ve decided to not find out what the gender is until baby is born because we like surprises! My due date is Nov 7th but apparently first time babies are usually a bit late. We’re so excited about starting a family together! Baby is kicking like crazy and keeping me awake at night. We’re (so far) having a hot summer, which is torture when you have what feels like a sack of potatoes attached to your tummy!

Jon already has a daughter from a previous relationship. Bethan is 7 years old and I adore her! She lives in Milton Keynes and we see her every two weeks. She’s really happy that she’s going to have a new brother or sister in a few months, which is great.

I’m not sure how often I’ll update my blog before baby arrives.

 

Keri Keri and the Bay of Islands

Keri Keri is a nice little town at the top end of the KeriKeri Inlet. Brian and Denise live outside of KeriKeri in a gorgeous house with a big garden. It has a pretty good view of the sea too!

Usually when Heather & Bob visit, they all go to the golfing, golf is probably one of my least favourite sports, so mum and I didn’t go with them. Mum and I had a two hours left on our Flexipasses so instead of wasting the two hours, we topped them up so that we could go on two trips. The first trip that we went on was the Cream Trip (Day in the Bay), which was awesome. It’s an all day trip around the Bay of Islands, we went up to The Hole in the Rock (which is apparently a famous hole in the rock) and visited other islands in the bay.

Hole in the Rock - Cream Trip Cruise in the Bay of Islands - Little bit of Paradise
We learnt all about the bay, the beaches, rocks and things from the awesome boat skipper guy called Basil (great name). It’s called the Cream Trip because the cruise follows the path of the 1927 ‘Cream Trip’, which delivered essential supplies and mail to the residents in the bay. It’s difficult getting to the islands without boats, so if you don’t have a boat you’re pretty much fucked and have to rely on the delivery boats! We visited several places on the cruise including Cape Brett Lighthouse, the Grand Cathedral Cove, the Black Rocks and Marsden Cross. We had a stop over on the Urupukapuka Island for lunch and a swim in the sea, which was beautiful and warm.

Cream Trip Cruise in the Bay of Islands - Little bit of Paradise

For an extra $35 you could go swimming with dolphins, but since I did that in Kaikoura (unsuccessfully), I didn’t want to do it again. This time I had a great view of the dolphins from the top deck. As you can see, I got some good photos of them! The dolphins weren’t bothered about us, the pretty much blanked the swimmers! It was quite amusing, watching the swimmers trying to catch up with the dolphins!

People attempting to swim with dolphins but the dolphins weren't interested.

People attempting to swim with dolphins but the dolphins weren't interested.

The second trip that we went on was the Cape Reinga / 90 Mile Beach tour with Fullers Great Sights Company. The drivers for this company are great, this guy told us all about Maori history, the landscape and Maori legends. To be honest with you, I was so tired from getting up at 6.30am that I just wanted to sleep on the bus! Cape Reinga is right at the top of North Island. It’s where the Tasman and Pacific meet! I was quite disappointed when the bus driver told us that 90 Mile Beach isn’t actually 90 Miles… it’s 90 kilometers. They lied. Anyways, the driver wanted to take us all the way to the top of the beach but because the tide was coming in, we weren’t able to. It was also raining whilst we were driving up the beach, which was a shame.

Ninety Mile Beach (in the rain)

To get back onto the main part of New Zealand, we had to drive up a stream, past the HUGE sand dunes. We stopped at the bottom of one of the sand dunes, then grabbed body boards, climbed to the top of the sand dune and slid down on the boards. I was terrified but it was fun! I only did it once though because walking up the dune was super hard. Mum did it twice! Look, there she is!

Sand boarding down Giant Sand Dunes at Ninety Mile Beach (which isn't actually 90 miles, it's 90 kilometres)

After the excitement of the sand boarding, we drove up to Cape Reigna, where it also rained! Here’s the lighthouse, right at the top of New Zealand. This area is owned by the Maoris, it’s a sacred place for them, and they have set rules that visitors have to abide by like no food is allowed on the land. They’ve put information boards along the path, explaining the history and legends and things. I didn’t bother reading them, I just wanted to get down to the lighthouse as soon as I could.

Cape Reinga

The final part of the trip was a visit to the Puketi Kauri Forest, the forest is home to some ancient Kauri trees that have been there for thousands of years. Mum wanted her photo taken with one of the ancient trees. Oh and on the way back we had Fish and Chips, from the ‘World Famous Fish & Chip Shop’ (According to them they’re World famous)

Puketi Kauri Forest

The Cream Cruise was my favourite trip from the whole holiday. It really is worth the money. The Bay of Islands is a stunning place and it is a must see if you come to New Zealand!

This will probably be the last blog post I do whilst I’m on holiday. This weekend will be spent with my amazing family that I will miss terribly when I leave so I probably won’t be blogging at all. I’ll be too exhausted on the 21st to do any internet stuff, but I’ll try to do the ‘I’m home safe and sound’ blog post on the 22nd, after I’ve turned the heating on! 

Thank you for reading my blog! <3

A Personal Tribute to Alice Pyne

Sorry to interrupt my holiday posts, but this is an important one that I want to write.

A very special 17 year old girl called Alice Pyne passed away on Saturday. Alice had suffered from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (a type of Cancer) for four years, living longer than all the doctors thought that she would. Alice started a Bucket List for her friends and family to read but she didn’t realise quite how well known it would become (461,1474 hits) . She was able to do most of the things on her list, the most impressive one was to get as many people as possible to join the Bone Marrow registry. She has inspired more than 40,000 people to join the registry already! That’s pretty good going eh. If you’re able to, please do so, you may just save a life. I wanted to join but unfortunately I can’t because of my Epilepsy which totally sucks.

Alice and her sister founded the charity Alice’s Escapes, which provides holidays for families with seriously ill children.  It’s a small, privately owned charity that relies on the support and generosity of the public to keep it going. I’ve donated directly and I’m hoping to host a fundraiser in Second Life for the charity. (It won’t happen until I have permission from the charity people first though) because the residents of Second Life are incredible generous and will offer their time and support to help a worthy cause. 

Alice had won numerous awards for her hard work and dedication, including a Pride of Britain award (Teenager of Courage award) in November 2012. She was told by David Walliams that she’d won the award whilst she was on a day out at London Zoo with her family. David pretended to be a zoo keeper! 

I didn’t know Alice personally, we had messaged on Facebook briefly but I’ve been following her blog and Facebook for a long time. She became a virtual friend who I have admired and been in awe of since I first read her blog. She will be greatly missed, by her friends, family and all the friends she’s made over the internet. 

Rest in Peace Alice. 

Alice Pyne’s Official Facebook PageAlice’s Escapes Facebook PageAlice’s Escapes website, Alice’s Bucket List Blog and Alice’s Sister, Milly’s JustGiving page

 

Russell – Bay of Islands

Russell is a beautiful seaside town in the Bay of Islands, situated at the top of North Island. There are tons to do there but the thing we did most was sit on the beach and swim in the sea. Susan had booked a holiday house for a week, so Andre invited Bob, Heather, Mum and myself to stay with them for a couple of days. There are several shops, cafe’s, museums and art galleries in Russell. There’s The Strand, which is lined with cafe’s and bars and has a great view of the harbor, all the boats and people on the beach.

Russell

The view of the Bay of Islands from Flagstaff Hill. Isn’t it stunning?

View from Flagstaff Hill

Most of our time in Russell was spent on the gorgeous beaches, building sand castles and swimming in the sea.

Enjoying the sun & sea in Russell

One evening we went out to one of the bars and had a few drinks. Heather didn’t come out with us because she’d agreed to make food. Planning to go out with these guys turns in to a right palava. We were told that we can cook our own steaks when we get home because we’d all be going back at different times. There was a hole kerfuffle about who goes in which car and who drives and who walks and should we go in Susan or Bobs car, who wants to go and who doesn’t…. Are all family holidays like that or just ours? And then there was a misunderstanding between Bob and Andre after another kerfuffle about whose walking and who’s going in the car because Andre wanted to take the kids home but didn’t want to make them walk or something silly.

Drinks with the family in Russell

Anyways, eventually  the others went home, Susan, mum and I stayed out until the sun went down, had a few drinks, some mussels and yummy battered calamari. The bill was a bit higher than we thought it would be because all the others had gone without paying for their drinks, so we had to! Cheeky sods.

Sunset on The Wharf in Russell

We had a good few days in Russell, but it was definitely too short, for all of us. We would have loved to stay longer.

Heather, Bob, mum and I are now in Keri Keri, just across the sea from Russell. We’re staying with Brian and Denise, two of Heather & Bobs friends. On Friday we’re going back down to Auckland, where mum and I will be staying with Mark and Sarah until Sunday, then Sunday night we’re going to the airport to fly home! Less than a week left of my two and a half month holiday. It’s also started snowing in Llandeilo now, so I’ll have lovely cold weather to greet me on my return! I’m actually looking forward to it!

Holiday Update!

Today is our last day at Lake Taupo. It’s very sad to say bye but I shall be back (when I can afford it)! Tomorrow we’re heading up to Auckland for the night –  we’re staying at Susan’s house but going over to Mark & Sarah’s house for a barbecue in the evening. Then on Wednesday we’re heading up to Russell, Susan has rented a cottage up there so we’re going to stay there for a couple of days. After that, we’re going up to Keri Keri in Northland to stay with Brian & Denise. (Heather & Bobs friends). 

Then back down to Auckland for a couple of days before mum and I leave New Zealand on the 21st! 

I’m not sure what the access to internet situation will be like in Russell but hopefully I can use Brian and Denise’s computer when we’re in Keri Keri. You might see more from me on Flickr rather than the blog though, so keep an eye on there too. http://www.flickr.com/photos/62919736@N04/

Thank you for reading my blog, sorry it’s not that interesting at the moment! <3

Taupo Rodeo

Hi you guys. Sorry for the gap in my blogging. We went to Taupo Rodeo a few days ago. There were tons of people – families, kids, teenagers, old people and people dressed in cowboy/cowgirl stuff! There was a Bucking Bronco and bouncy castle for the kids and a few food stalls. There wasn’t much choice of food though, you could have chips, battered sausage on a stick, ice cream, candyfloss, coffee, beer or popcorn. We should have taken some sandwiches!

Taupo Rodeo

Before the competitions started, all the riders came out, some girl sang the national anthem and then the guys did the Maori Haka dance (which was quite amusing)
Taupo Rodeo

The event involved a lot of men falling off bulls, a few calves being tied up (not injured) and some very pissed off horses!

Taupo Rodeo

The highlight of the event for me was this random guy who was dancing and playing the air guitar when the DJ (yes, they had a DJ) played We Will Rock You! It was hilarious!

This guy was awesome. He was dancing to We Will Rock You! So funny

Oh look, it’s Heather, mum and Bob! The weather was hot and sunny, hence the umbrellas. It got to the point where we couldn’t stand the heat and we got bored so we went home! 

Heather, Ros & Bob

Christmas in Auckland

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate it)! We spent Christmas up in Auckland with Susan, Andre, Toby and Rufus. Unfortunately, Mark and Sarah and their kids have gone to Australia to spend it with Sarah’s dad. We went up on the Sunday (23rd December), a day earlier than we planned because Andre and Susan were both working Christmas eve so they needed us to look after the kids.

We visited Susan’s shop, Vanilla Ink, on Sunday afternoon. Susan makes beautiful clothing for us ladies She uses gorgeous fabrics, mostly silk and she uses bold colours and patterns. Her items are a tad pricey though, so they’re not suitable for all budgets. Even if you can’t afford to buy anything, the staff in the store are more than willing to offer advice on what would suit your shape, how to wear the garments and things. They will make you feel welcome. You may even see Susan there as she creates all her items above the shop. They even have items from other designers, including Betty Basics and BYU.

My cousin, Susans shop! Vanilla Ink - women's clothing on Dominion Road in Auckland

On Monday, whilst Andre and Susan were both at work, we took the boys to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. There was a lot more than just stuff about the war! There was Maori history, some items from the World of WearableArt, an exhibition about Volcanoes, Natural Science and more. We also went to the Winter Garden which is close to the museum. There are tons of beautiful flowers there, all different sizes, shapes and colours. Each one had a different smell too. It’s a stunning place, mostly indoor so it’s a good place to go when it’s raining.

Winter Gardens in Auckland (not very wintery!) Amazing how a filter on the flickr iphone app can make pictures look arty eh lol

Winter Gardens in Auckland (not very wintery!) Amazing how a filter on the flickr iphone app can make pictures look arty eh lol

Winter Gardens in Auckland (not very wintery!) Amazing how a filter on the flickr iphone app can make pictures look arty eh lol
Christmas Day was good. It wasn’t what I was used to though. 23°C heat is not the weather that I associate with Christmas. It’s meant to be winter at Christmas, not summer! In the morning the kids didn’t seem that excited about the presents, not like when my sister and I were young. We used to get all excited, run into mum and dads room, jump on their beds and kept asking “CAN WE OPEN ARE PRESENTS NOW?!”. They did get excited when it was time to open the gifts.

christmas tree :D
We got some great presents, Susan gave me a dress that she’d made (see pic below), mum gave a black dress and t-shirt to wear under it, Heather & Bob gave me a $30 gift card for the store Farmers and a Vietnamese book mark. I also got a really cool picture frame from Susan and the family.

me in my new dress created by Susan Duckworth, owner of Vanilla Ink.

In the afternoon, mum, Heather, Bob and Susan went for a walk to a beach, I stayed in and watched Pride and Prejudice (sad to say it wasn’t the Colin Firth one), Andre went to bed and the boys sat in silence playing their new games. The evening was spent eating an amazing Christmas dinner made by Susan and watching a film called The Way, which I quite liked.

On Boxing day, Heather, Bob, mum and I left Auckland and drove back to Turangi. We’re going to be here until around the 7th January, so there might not be much to blog about!

p.s do you like the arty pictures? My iPhone Flickr app has a filter so you can make the pictures look arty farty, which I love!

Anyways, until next time, whenever that’ll be, goodbye! <3

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