Happy New Year!

It’s nearly the end of January 2019 – how insane is that?! At the end of this year, it would have been ten years since I left high school, and boy does that blow my mind!

Christmas 2018 was hectic as it usually is, with lots of social events and lots of eating. Although it’s always hectic, it’s also a nice time to reflect on the year, and also take the time to appreciate the friends and family that you have around you. I definitely know that over the last 14 months, I have learnt a lot about the types of friends I have, and the types of friends I want to have around me.

“Surround yourself with people who have a positive impact on your life.”

I think that is something we should all do, and it doesn’t just stop at friends. It also includes making sure we follow social media accounts that lift us up and inspire us, or generally entertain us, rather than accounts that can make us feel bad about ourselves, which is all part of self-care.

The best self-care I could have done at the end of 2018/the start of 2019 was to go down to my cottage, a small home in Owhango. I spent a day or so with a close friend who drove us down, then spent time with my parents (and a few locals), got to finish a 1000 piece puzzle, and read two and a half books! I also got to take some awesome photographs, as well. It was a lovely week and a half of relaxing and spending some chill time doing things I love.

What did you get up to over the Christmas/New Years period? Whatever it was, I hope you had a lovely time.

See below for some of the pictures I was able to capture while I was down in Owhango:

Throwback: A trip home, in China

At the end of 2016, I won a scholarship to go and Au Pair in China. Although I ended up coming home after 6 weeks rather than 6 months due to a mixture of things, I value the experience I had there. However, there are a few experiences that are funnier now than they were at the time.

Here is a quick moment down memory lane, of an experience I had getting home from town one night by myself (I was living in Shanghai FYI).

“Now, we get to the horror ride of getting home. I looked up directions to get home, and Apple maps suggested that I catch a bus the whole way, or catch a couple of subways. Seeing as they took around the same time to get me home, I thought, why not catch the bus?! It took around fifteen minutes for the bus to turn up, and I was very thankful when it did, as it was freezing outside. The bus had HEATED seats!!! So, for the next hour, I was very pleased. We finally arrived at my last station, where Apple maps told me I had fifteen minutes to walk before arriving at home.

I was looking forward to dinner and bed. I started to follow the instructions, though, and I eventually came to a gated community. Apple maps told me I had to walk through it to get home. Surely I wasn’t reading it right. I kept on walking to see if any of the instructions changed, but it kept telling me to go back to the gated community. Perhaps it’s a gated community where you don’t need a card to enter? I tried and yes; you need a card. It was pitch black, and I was lost. Having no clue how else to get home, I thought I would try and catch a taxi. I haven’t had any problems with them so far, so what’s the harm in trying?! Well, I tried one taxi, and he indicated that I needed to go to the other side of the road. Okay, I can do that. I then waited in the cold for another ten or so minutes before another empty taxi drove past. I showed him the location of where I wanted to go, and he looked confused. Why? I’m not sure. He got a translator out and translated ‘Where you want to go?’, I once again showed him my phone. Unable to do anything else, I said no worries and backed away.

To hail a taxi, you usually have to physically hop on the road. So, I got back onto the pathway and FELL OVER. I was upset, lost, cold and so, of course, also had to add in a fall. Having a little cry to myself, I was feeling determined to get home. I walked all the way back to my original bus stop and kept refreshing Apple maps until it gave me a new option to get home. Eventually, it did, and guess what? It took a 3-minute bus ride to get home. Why, oh why, did it not suggest this to me in the first place?! I will never know. I arrived home, ate some food I had purchased on the way and gladly went to bed.”

Home was so close, that in the end I had to laugh.

Easter Vacation 2018

Having missed the Summer holidays (read why here), I felt like I needed to get away for the Easter break and luckily my friend, Kate, agreed!

We booked into an Airbnb that is located just outside of Hamilton and planned to have a relaxing weekend. What we didn’t plan for was the four and a half hour drive it took to get to the Airbnb, which would usually take only an hour and a half without Easter traffic. Nevertheless, we didn’t let the traffic get to us and luckily Kate bought some delicious snacks for the drive there!

We arrived at our Airbnb and I was delighted to see that the pictures provided didn’t do the garden justice – it was an absolutely beautiful vegetable garden with a great long-distance view, which looked breathtaking at sunset (and perhaps sunrise too, but ya’ll crazy if you think I’d get up that early).

On Saturday we decided to visit the Hamilton Gardens. I had seen lots of pictures of the Gardens online before, but don’t recall ever going there as an adult. Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to walk around too much, as I’m still on crutches, I was worried that the Gardens might be too big. Fortunately for me, a slow pace made the gardens bearable – although I made sure to take plenty of breaks along the way and was pretty shattered by the end.

 

After the gardens, we picked up a few extra groceries and headed back to our Airbnb. It’s so lovely to have the time to just chill out and relax, play on your phone etc. and not have to worry about work or chores!

On Saturday we (and by we, I mean Kate) drove us out to Raglan! We were blessed with a super sunny day and after making a pit stop at a local market, we decided to get some fish and chips for lunch. It was so awesome watching everyone interact so peacefully with each other – swimmers, waterskiers, people on kayaks, people on boats! After our tasty lunch, we headed towards Wairēinga/Bridal Veil Falls. I had researched the day before about things we could do, taking into consideration that I can’t walk very far and stumbled upon this awesome ‘accessible track’, meaning that the walk is assisted wheelchair and pushchair accessible and relatively flat enough for those like myself on crutches! Although it was a long walk for me, it only took around 10 or so minutes to get to the top of the waterfall.

The two viewing platforms at the top of the falls provide spectacular views of the falls and surrounding countryside. From here, the track descends steeply down stairs to a midway viewpoint.The track continues down more stairs to the bottom view bridge and information shelter where there is a magnificent view directly across the pool and up at the falls. – DOC

If you’d like to check out this walk, or others near Raglan, click here to view the Pirongia and Raglan tracks brochure.

 


We then spent the afternoon resting (after I may or may not have napped on the way home). It was great exploring the Airbnb garden, as we got to see some chickens (who enjoyed following us around), got to pick some passionfruit from their vine and some lemons from their tree and had a chance to take some photos of the caterpillars and butterflies that were around! I loved the variety they had in their garden, as well; pumpkin, butternut, capsicum, rosemary, basil, tomatoes, passionfruit, lemons, limes, grapefruit… the list goes on!

 

The drive home on Monday was delightfully fast-paced, clocking up to only an hour and a half – the usual time it takes to get to from my house to Hamilton!

It was super nice to spend the weekend away with my friend at such an awesome Airbnb. What did you do for Easter? Have any plans coming up for another holiday? Let me know!