Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good bye Auckland city, hello Hauraki Gulf

Finally we set sail. It's been way too long since we were last in the Hauraki Gulf anchored up somewhere. It's been one very busy year indeed and finding the time to use the boat has been difficult. But once we have set sail it feels so wonderful and you make all these promises to yourself that you'll try harder to make this happen more often. On Monday 28th we left our Westhaven slip and said good bye to Auckland central as we sailed off.

We haven't been out much this year on the boat, mainly because Kien gets rather sick if it's too bumpy. But now that he's big enough we get to try sea sickness medications for him. I got him some Sea Legs as well as some homeopathic lollipops. They seem to have done the trick!

We anchored at Motuihe for the night. This island is always a nice stop that's relatively close and easy to get to.

Ducks almost always come to visit us when we are anchored here. I came prepared with stale bread at the ready.

He loves feeding the ducks.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas this year

Working right up until Christmas Day ain't fun, and lots of people in my office did it this year, including moi. I took Kien in as a treat (for whom I'm not entirely sure).

On Christmas morning Kien woke up and for some reason thought Santa was coming that night. He wasn't even interested in looking downstairs for presents. We had to prompt him. Once he saw the pile though it was all on.

Show us some teeth, will ya? Ah, that's better.

We want to my dad's for lunch - a typical Vietnamese feast of baked fish which we had in fresh summer rolls with herbs and dipping sauce. After lunch we celebrated an early birthday for Kien which we do every year since dad used to only have 1 day a year off from working, and that's on Christmas day.

Then it was off to Grandma Gun's and Rod's place in the late afternoon. Good to see second cousins getting along so well after not seeing each other for a while.

Thomas is a big boy now and will be off to school next year. I love his long locks.

That wraps up another Christmas. It seemed more rushed this year than previously. But then again I think this year seems like a rush!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

In the garden

It's past spring, but not yet consistently warm enough to call it summer in my mind. It doesn't matter; the chill is definitely out of the air, the days are much longer, the smell of BBQs are all around the neighbourhood, and the garden is in full production! I've got seedlings on the window sill, and finally the winter crop are looking the way they are supposed to look. I've been a busy bee out there in the back, and Jef has been equally busy in the front - but in a more technical capacity. So here's what the garden looks like in December 2015.

My red cabbages have finally formed into more than just random leaves. I've also been harvesting celery and love it in practically anything that lends itself to having that radishy spicy flavour permeating through.

My other winter vegetables also look the way they are supposed to - broccoli that has a head and not just leaves, brussel sprouts with actually nodules sprouting out from the stem, and carrots that don't look anaemic.

The silverbeet are sweet and tender, and the garlic companioning with my herbs are making me look like I'm a pro at this gardening thing.

As for my summer produce - they are just beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, I decided to do some potted colour this year, and planted them with my lavender. My pots are so pretty and make me smile every time I look outside.

Then there's the window sill. I've seeded bok choy, cos lettuce, coriander, more carrots, and the kumara is ready to be chopped and planted this weekend.

Auckland in the summertime is fabulous! I can't wait to try my hand at foraging.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Just like a postcard

Edit: This post has been sitting on the internet half written for the last few weeks since we've been home. I've been extremely busy (and I hate saying that because everyone seems to have busy lives and whenever I say I'm busy I feel like I'm just making excuses...which, of course, I am). Work is hectic again. I've been handed an urgent piece of work that has to be in 2 weeks before Christmas to cater for the rush, and my developers are in Singapore and the RĂ©union, so its going to be a rough 3 weeks of orchestration on my part to get this thing across the line. I'm also managing an interesting lineup of testers to help me with this, so I've been contemplating staggering their shifts so that I have people working the same hours as my developers. Oh boy, I'm tired just typing this!

Then, of course, the tragic events that unfolded over the weekend in Paris. It's devastating, especially since its just over a month ago we were there, soaking up the Parisian atmosphere and feeling so lucky and privileged to be in such an amazing place. Now I feel extremely grateful for our time there; blissful and innocent. I can only imagine how chaotic Europe would be right now. I'm so grateful to be home, so glad to be in little NZ.


Venice is just how I imagined it to be, from the narrow alleyways that take you to squares that branch off to bridges and canals, and all the while there are boats or gondolas passing by, and birds that are not people shy and come up really close to peck at the crumbs you drop. Venice is exactly the way I expected, just like a postcard.

I was planning for us to leave Venice on Sunday (25th October), but when I checked flight timings and availability it was a lot more manageable to fly out on Monday instead. So that worked out really well, because we got a chance to explore some more of what Venice had to offer. We headed off on the water taxi and decided to get off one stop after San Marco, on the other side of the grand canal. The nearest bridge was about a kilometer away, so it was a good chance for us to have a wander around. This side is a lot quieter and just as interesting, I reckon. We hopped off the taxi practically right in front of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.

It was nice walking around here; definitely not as busy, so give us some space to look around the beautiful shops full off beautiful Venetian glass. We explored the streets that weave around the canals connected by bridges.

We wanted to find a supermarket so that we could buy some stuff for another picnic - no point going to expensive restaurants when we can get high quality delicious food for a fraction of the price. We happened to stumble across a supermarket just as it was about to close for the day - I think it was only 1pm or so. That was very fortunate. We sat across the road from it and had our lunch, and Kien loved feeding the birds.

After lunch we walked to St Marco square, which wasn't far from where we lunched.

The pigeons at the square were a lot less wary of people, and would eat straight out of your hands, much to Kien's delight.

And that's all folks. The following day we caught a very long water taxi ride to the airport. Getting out of Venice is a story and a half!


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