Thursday, December 18, 2014

A brief taste of summer!

The kids have stopped sleeping. We have intermittent and frequent tears over nothing. They are unable to concentrate on anything for longer than ten minutes. Therefore it must be nearly Christmas!

I am sure I was not like this as a kid. Although my parents assure me I was. My girls have dark circles under their eyes and have this vacant look about them. They are so excited about Christmas and our subsequent holiday on the South Island they are barely holding it together. I must say I am also pretty excited myself!

Thankfully we have lots to distract us at this time of year. We had a brief taste of summer with two days where the sun came out uninterrupted and the temperatures reached the mid twenties. It was gorgeous! The girls finished school at mid day on Tuesday and a group of us headed down to the beach and spent the afternoon soaking up the sun, sea and a lot of sand.

This gorgeous beach is unbelievably at the bottom of our road. We can walk there. Yes, I do know just how lucky we are!

A friend of mine has returned to the UK for Christmas and I just received an email describing how shocked he was to have to compete with the crowds in the local Waitrose just to buy a loaf of bread. He assumed it was just due to the nearness of Christmas but was told that this was just normal. Shops over here do get crowded at Christmas and I was shocked to actually have to hunt for a parking space this weekend at the local mall. But it is nothing like the manic rush and crowds I used to have to deal with in the shopping malls of the south east of England.

Christmas over here is still about the presents (don't want to give anyone an idealist view of Christmas in NZ - it is still the consumerist celebration it is elsewhere) but it is also about beaches, camping, road trips, tramping and being out enjoying the sun. Christmas dinners are planned but are lighter and less important that making sure you have packed the snorkel and  boogie board in the back of the car for the afternoon trip to the beach.

Unfortunately the last couple of days have seen a return to the drab rainy weather you often get at this time of year. The air is warm and muggy but the clouds are dark and grey and emit the drizzly misty rain that can inexplicably make you really wet in a very short period of time.

The sea is also not looking very inviting.

However I am optimistic that the good summer weather will return for Christmas and we will get to enjoy the beach on Christmas day. We are so lucky to live in the beautiful Porirua.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Some early Christmas pressies!

My girls have a day and a half left of school this year!

The kiwi academic year is a long slog to Christmas. The school year in the UK is split fairly equally between Christmas and the summer holidays, plus Easter and half terms thrown in as well. The new Zealand school year is split into 4 terms. So it runs from the end of January to Easter and then Easter to the mid winter break. There is then another break around October and then it's the long run until Christmas.

With Christmas and the summer holidays occurring at the same time it feels like you wait all year for the celebrations to begin. Although we have a similar holiday structure to the UK, without the mid winter Christmas cheer, you don't feel like you have had a real break from the day to day drudgery.

With the holidays so close now we have indulged ourselves and bought some early Christmas presents!

The best day ever according to Ally :)

Kayaks are awesome! We are so lucky to live near a large inlet so although we are on the sea it's nice and safe even in the choppy water we found ourselves on today. The girls were able to manoeuvre these little kayaks easily and the water was surprisingly warm so when they did jump in it wasn't too shocking.

I can't wait until the real summer weather hopefully arrives in the next few weeks!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Seasonal Pukana

Pukana = (verb) to stare wildly, dilate the eyes - done by both genders when performing haka and waiata to emphasise particular words.  

Kapa Haka = (noun) concert party, haka group, Māori cultural group, Māori performing group.                                                                   

Nativities and traditional Christmas plays don't seem to be the done thing over here, unless you attend a religious school. As we are committed atheist/jedi/wika/agnostic (depending on what side of the bed I get out of) our kids attend the local non committed primary.

It has been a bit of a revelation to see what local schools get up to a Christmas and this year ours decided to produce an end of term Pukana Kapa Haka. This involved the whole school performing in the evening on the playing field. The lucky parents had picnics and strawberries and cream whilst cheering them on. It was rather awesome and the kids were so enthusiastic you could hear their voices echo off the surrounding hills.

My girls could sing all of the songs in Maori and have even got the hang of using the poi (the ball on the end of a string which is swung about rhythmically during the dance). Unfortunately they don't know the meaning of everything they sing but I'm impressed that they have learnt the words in such a relatively short period of time.

So my two girls born in the middle of the traditional English counties of Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire are now performing Haka's at Christmas on the other side of the world. Rather cool really :)