Camping Diaries – Athenree Hot Springs & Holiday Park Camping

We kicked off the camping season by heading down to Athenree Holiday park over the Labour Weekend.  We left on the Friday morning (kid’s wagged school) so we could beat the traffic, which was so worth it.  We paid extra so we could get an early check in again, if you ever have that option especially when tenting, do it!!!  The drive down was great, only about 2hrs which makes it perfect when travelling with kids.  Once we got our site, you know what happens now, it’s set up time!

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Adam is looking a bit worried!
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All set up!

We put up the tent really quick and it was a family affair this time with both girls getting stuck in helping.  As you can see with our set up the cupboards from Kathmandu are great for storage, this year I trialled putting our clothes in one of them and it was great, a bit squashed, we may look at getting another one.  Yes, if you have noticed that is a fridge! Lot’s of my friends laugh at me for taking the fridge but it is so handy having everything there when you need it.  After putting the tent up and having some lunch, it was time for us to take a dip in the hot pools.  You are probably thinking we are crazy after being hot and sweaty from putting up a tent why would we want to swim in a hot pool??  Well the pool was perfect!

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The temperature of the pools are perfect I could have stayed in there all day.  The big pool is warm not hot.  Part of the big pool is a little shallower pool for toddlers, which the girls used as an island to play mermaids.  The adults only spa pool is much hotter about 39 degrees I believe.  There are no chemicals in the water which makes it great for those with sensitive skin.  Each night the pool is closed at 7:30pm where it is drained, then scrubbed down and fresh natural geothermal water is then pumped from the bore underground into the pool ready for the morning.  The pool is open to guests of the campsite from 8:30am – 10:00am and then after that the public get to pay and use the pools.  The day we were leaving everyone had a soak in the pools before packing up.

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The campsite is extremely neat and the grounds are immaculate. The facilities were all really clean, there is a laundry room as well as a TV room.  Whilst setting up our tent, I noticed there were a whole lot of campervans and caravans checking in, and we were looking around wondering where are the tents, are we the only ones?  Did we miss the memo?  Luckily on Saturday with the arrival of more caravans so to where the tenting families hooray we were not alone!  The groups staying around us too were all so friendly, that’s the best part of camping.  Here are some photos of around the campground.

There isn’t a playground on the actual campsite, but there is one just across the road, our kids ran off and played without us.  We did check in on them from time to time, but they are at the age now where we don’t have to constantly be with them.  It’s always handy having an older sibling too!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The difference I notice with camping this time of year compared to January is the temperature at night.  In summer we can sit out at night and talk for ages, this time on the first night Adam and I were sitting outside under the stars just the two of us (sounds very romantic) all the while freezing our bums off!  I said to Adam, “Why are we sitting outside freezing, when we can just go in the tent and talk!!”  We made a quick dash inside.  But I definitely felt the temp drop during the night, and off course the first night I had to wake up to go to the toilet 3 times because it was so cold!  Another thing to keep in mind, is there are a lot of sandflies around, I didn’t put insect repellent on and paid the price!

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You can hire these great carts from reception, it’s all pedal power and the kids loved going around the campsite racing them.  Camping with friends or other families as a group is so nice as the kids all play together and the adults can just hang out.  Here are some of the meals we had, who said camping food has to be boring!

We booked to stay 4 nights in a tent site, however the weather forecast was not looking that great for the day we were meant to pack up and leave, and packing up in the rain is no fun.  Luckily we were able to book one of the basic cabins for the last night, the owners of the park were so accommodating of our requests and tried to help us as much as they could.  Which means we had to pack up a day early, and boy was that stressful, funnily enough we were good putting up the tent, not so much taking it down!  We blame the heat for any profanities exchanged.

We had the best holiday, there is so much to explore around the area (stay tuned for more blog posts coming up on that).  In fact we enjoyed it so much we are going back next year!! If you would like more info on the holiday park click here.

Happy Camping!

Ronell x

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Olivado Oils

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Recently I have been sent some of these amazing oils by Olivado to try out.  All of Olivado’s oil’s are cold pressed, meaning that no heat or chemical additives were used to extract these oils.  I think now that people are starting to become more aware of what we eat and the nutritional value behind products, it’s time we also focus on the type of oils we are using.

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I tried out the Avocado Oil, and at first I thought it’s going to have a strong taste like some oils have, which can be off-putting and change the taste of the dish as well.  However this wasn’t the case with this, it was a beautiful colour and taste.  Olivado developed the worlds first artisanal extra virgin avocado oil in 2000. They use New Zealand Hass avocados and each bottle contains the oil of 20 avocados!  This is such a versatile oil and can be used for so many things like pan frying, roasting, drizzle over vegetables or as a salad dressing.

Here are some of the health benefits with using avocado oil are:

  • it has the highest levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (in comparison to other oils)
  • up to four times more beta-sitosterol than olive oil, to assist in lowering cholesterol
  • high levels of alpha and beta-carotene, which protect against heart disease and cancer

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My Olivado extra virgin peanut oil accompanied me to my families latest camping trip and was perfect with the Pad Thai that we cooked up for dinner.  This oil smells so delicious.  The oil has a light golden colour with a mild peanut flavour, which is great for Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, salads or for sauteing as well.  Peanut oil is a good source of Vitamin E.  The cold extraction preserves all the natural goodness of raw, unroasted peanuts.  It contains no trans fats, additives, preservatives or artificial ingredients.

The oil that I am most looking forward to trying is the Extra Virgin Macadamia Nut Oil.  The Macadamia nuts used are from Queensland, Australia. This oil has a delicate, smooth buttery flavour which is perfect for pan frying or using as a butter substitute when baking.  I will be putting this to the test this coming week with some baking.

Olivado has a great range of oils including Sesame oil, Sweet Almond Oil, and their raw cold pressed coconut oil.  Alot of their oils can be used externally as well on the skin. If you would like more information on Olivado and their products you can click here.

I look forward to using these oils in my daily cooking and baking, knowing that I am using a great product which is good for my family and I.

Next time you are in the supermarket, look out for Olivado Oils and give them a try!

Happy Cooking!

Ronell x

Halloween – Trick or Treat?

Oh Halloween is almost upon us, yes the shops and malls have gone crazy with all their Halloween decorations out in full force!  Have you ever wondered why exactly are we all dressing up for and decorating our houses?

History

Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts who come out the night before All Saints Day (1st of November).  The reason why we all dress up is because the Celts wore ghoulish costumes so that wandering spirits would mistake them for one of their own and leave them alone. Others offered sweets to the spirits to appease them. I believe some cultures also celebrate Day of the Dead on the 31 October, remembering loved ones that have passed.

So there you go, whether you believe in it or not that’s another story.  I for one had no idea what Halloween was all about until I dug a little.  I can’t remember doing much for Halloween growing up, but gosh once you have your own children, every celebration or day is amplified and we get caught up in it.

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Halloween Masks

For my girls, it’s all about how much lollies they can collect!  Last year I didn’t buy any costumes, just these masks for them which they loved and I kinda left it a bit late to get with the program, so this was all that was left in the shops!  We didn’t decorate the house, plenty of natural spider webs around the place to give it an authentic look!  Actually I might still have those up from last year!

There are a lot of parents that are totally against Halloween and going around with their kids to collect lollies for a number or reasons, like what is this teaching our kids, taking candy from a stranger, giving into commercialisation of celebrations, lollies are bad for you, or just adding another thing to the already very long list of things to remember!  I know it’s also against some religions to celebrate this too. Everyone has their reasons.  Are we being to PC though?  What’s the harm and it’s all just a little fun right?

We have been caught short one year, I decided we are not doing anything for Halloween, I didn’t even get lollies for kids that would knock on our doors, so I went out to do my shopping and on my way back home, I looked around my neighbourhood and smiled as the streets were filled with kids and their parents walking around in their dress ups, everyone smiling and laughing (and me thinking fuck, I didn’t get my kids to do anything), so I turn into my street and I see a whole bunch of kids walking up towards our house!!!  Holy shit, I got out of the car and ran so fast, screamed for my husband to find every damn lolly in the house that he could or else it was pretend we were not home!  Luckily we had loads of jelly beans for some reason stashed away in the pantry!

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Ghost Cookies

One year I was so into it, I even made these ghost cookies!  Look at that, who said I never got into things!  This year I plan to leave a little note in our streets letter boxes accompanied with an orange balloon, and if the neighbours are going to participate in Halloween and have lollies to hand out, then tie the balloon to your letterbox!  That way those who don’t want to get a knock on their door wont!  You can even get a picture of a pumpkin and stick on it too.

There are lot’s of other alternatives to this, many local churches hold light parties so the kids can still go and have some fun and eat a bit of lollies.  You could leave a cauldron/box of treats outside your door so kids can help themselves or lastly, shut the doors and blinds turn the TV to mute when anyone approaches and pretend you are not home!

Happy Halloween Folks!

Ronell x

 

Book Review – Under Italian Skies by Nicky Pellegrino

I’ve just finish read this book and I was actually sad that it ended. I felt the story and the way it was written had absorbed me totally into this small little town called Triento in Italy. 

The great thing about this book first up is that it’s not your typical 20-30 year old looking for love and a new life it focuses around slightly more older women which gives it such a better depth of story. 

The characters are a lively bunch and have great hidden stories behind each one of them.  I don’t know about anyone else but whenever I read a book that is set in another country etc I find myself reading in that accent in this case Italian and British English. Is that weird? 

Being someone that loves food and everything about it the way food was described in the book it’s like I could smell and taste it all, it made me quite hungry!  

This book is truly great if you want to loose yourself into a another world and now I just want to know what everyone is up to from the story! Also I now want to move to a little Italian village. 

Happy reading!

Ronell x

Camping Diaries – Cooks Beach Resort – Mercury Bay

As each long weekend and holiday approaches the task of finding a new campground to stay at begins.  It’s not an easy task because we look at everything when booking somewhere, the area, what’s on locally, location, reviews from other travellers, etc We like going to different campgrounds each time as I think that’s the best way to see the country.  We settled for the Cooks Beach resort a couple of years ago over the Easter Period.  The drive down wasn’t too painful with the kids, and we got there nice and early.  Due to no one staying in our site the night before we managed to check in early, usually check in times at most holiday parks are after lunch.

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It didn’t take us long to set up, we were kinda getting used to it by now, there were still a few not so nice words exchanged during this time.  The sites were nice and big with loads of space for us to even park our car on it.  This holiday park is on the slightly more expensive side of things but you can see why, the facilities are top-notch.  You can click here to read about some of their facilities they have on offer, like free showers!  I like places that have free showers.  The bathroom facilities where fantastic, super clean and the shower cubicles where big enough to fit my two girls and I in it.

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Another fantastic feature is the kitchen!  Look at all that stainless steel!  There was just so much space to cook and plenty of communal fridges to store all your cold stuff in.  The only thing I would say was that the bins needed to be emptied a bit more often, during the busy periods these can fill up pretty quick in here.

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The pool area is fantastic with an adults pool, toddler pool and a spa pool.  The pools are solar heated but they were still a bit too cold for me.  Adam and the girls didn’t seem to mind so much, and we spent hours in this area.  It’s very pretty at night with coloured lights that come on all over the place.

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The kids playground was another popular area, however, I felt it was more suited to older kids, Chloe needed a lot of help with most of the playground.  I like the kinda playground where I can watch from a camp chair with a coffee in hand!

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The campground is nicely spread out with nice areas for the kids to scoot or bike around.  We always take the girls bikes, and they love exploring around the place.

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I mean look at these excited faces!  I didn’t even tell them to say “cheese”!

Nearby at one end of the bay is a beautiful lagoon down Captain Cooks Road, this is where most of the Cathedral Cove boat tours leave from.  It was great for the girls to paddle in a little, but we were not really dressed for swimming. Lots of grassy areas for picnics too.

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Here are the girls and I….hooray I’m in a photo!  Usually I find most mums are behind the camera!  I have no idea why I was wearing gumboots at that particular time, it certainly was not gumboot wearing weather!  On that point, always pack gumboots when camping, you just never know when you need it!

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One thing to note is the ants!!!!  If you know me well, you will know ants give me the heebie geebies!  Every day I noticed there seemed to be a few ants inside our tent, and they were not your small tiny ants these were fat black ones.  When it was time to pack up and head back home well, guess what we discovered?  Once the tent was pulled down and moved off the site, there were so many big ant hills under our tent…omg I feel like scratching my skin right about now!! They were not there when we arrived to our site but obviously came up during our stay.  Some people may not worry too much about this but thought I would mention it anyway.

Overall, a great holiday park, with good facilities.  If you would like to know more about the park click here.

Happy Camping!

Ronell x

 

Schools & No Parking Zones

I’m sure there are many schools here in New Zealand that probably face this issue on a daily basis, I know for sure here on the North Shore it is quite a common problem.  We have parents/caregivers every day parking in areas that are clearly marked “No Parking”, but they still feel the need to park there.  Whenever I speak to parents I always hear, “oh maybe they are foreign and don’t understand”, this could be the case maybe for some, but if you are told then learn from it, don’t be a repeat offender.

We have had the council parking wardens who come to our school from time to time and issue tickets, but from what I am told they can’t come everyday because they have to go to so many schools.  I reckon the council need’s to give me one of those ticket machines, and just watch me hand those tickets out.  We have many incidents where parent’s are told to drive along, and not only do they become abusive to the other parent but on occasions to the teacher on duty.  Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people?  Last term I rang and complained to the council advising them we need more wardens more regularly as people are just not listening.

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The signs are clearly not that hard to read, surely?  Another area, being the drop off zone is a problem, some parents obviously don’t know time, 2 mins is not 10 mins!!!  Drop and go people, if not drive further down and park!

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So here is my letter to the “Ignorant Parent”….

Dear Ignorant Parent, 

I have two very precious girls aged 5 & 10, who walk to school everyday and love it.  They want to be independent like big girls and walk by themselves without me.  But you see, every time they leave home, my heart goes with them.  You are probably wondering why, well I have seen you “the ignorant parent” at school drop off’s and pick up’s doing 3 point turns and U turns into private driveways across the footpaths that my girls walk on.  There have been so many incidents were kids were almost run over.  I as a parent would hate to get a call to say my child has been in an accident, nor would you want to get that same call about your child.  We all want our kids to be safe, and being part of a close-knit community (as many are), we should all be looking out for each others children and protecting them, not endangering them because you are too lazy to get off your arse and walk a few extra metres to the school gates.

Do you think the rules don’t apply to you?  Are you above the rules and better than the rest of us? Well here’s the thing YOU ARE NOT!!!  My oldest daughter has just begun her duty as a road patroller, which is a big deal for the kids and quite nerve wrecking too, and when you park in areas that is clearly No Parking, the kids can’t see past the blind corner, so how are they to safely help hundred’s of kids cross the road?

So the next time you decide to illegally park or do dangerous turns, think about your own child for a second and then maybe the rest of our children will be safe!  Just remember, we will all be watching you!

If there is a school somewhere that you know of or your kid’s school and they have this problem under control please share this with me as I would love to learn about way’s that we can overcome this issue.

Ronell x

 

The Unsupported Boob

How many of us can truly say we love shopping for new bras? Unless you a Victoria Secrets model then maybe.  I often hear people talk about how after they have children their tummies and hips will never be the same, or about the stretch marks that we now have for life, but what about our BOOBS?? Oh these poor things take a hammering!

I’m writing about this because you see my sports bra and I have an odd relationship but before I get to that, let’s talk about what our boobs experience during pregnancy and after. I have always had slightly larger boobs pre pregnancy and they were the perfect size and shape too.  Then I fell pregnant and they started to expand. Now at this stage, we all love this new feature of pregnancy, walking around like we just had a boob job, loud and proud! Then the baby arrives and yes they are finally put too good use and serves it’s purpose to feed!  Unfortunately for me, this didn’t happen and I couldn’t breastfeed my girls.  So then they fill up and it’s like you are walking around with rocks on your chest…oh the pain…even worse, some ladies end up with really bad mastitis.

Once the milk is gone and they are back to being just your boobs (no husband’s they don’t belong to you) you take a good look at them and then shock horror!!!  It’s like looking at two socks that have tennis balls in each one hanging quite low!  So now I have one boob that is slightly bigger than the other, is it just me or does this happen to every women, where one side is larger than the other? Also gravity is not helping the situation. I said to my husband, if we ever win the Lotto, I am going for a breast lift and reduction!  Big breasts are not all what they are cut out to be I would much prefer smaller size boobs that stay up in my opinion.

I recently got fitted for some new bra’s at Bendon and managed to buy three but really only rotate two which are more t-shirt bra’s just plain in beige and black (I may need to get me some sexy looking ones in colour I think), I’m sure everyone has their favourites that they use all the time! Also I bloody hate bra fittings, in all honesty it doesn’t take long or anything I just don’t like it! Now let’s get to the sports bra!

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This year I started running again and I had this sports bra on (above photo) which I bought from Rebel and didn’t get fitted just bought my usual size, as you can see, one side the fit is a fuller fit and it fills out the cup more (thanks to odd sized boobs).  So here I am running past some shops on my morning run and I decided to have a look at my reflection on the shop windows (as you do), well let me tell you, I never put on a jacket so fast in my life, these things were freaking bouncing all over the place like no ones business!! It was so hot and here I was running with a rain jacket on with my arms really close to my chest so to cushion the bounce…..I’ll just let you think about what that looks like for a bit……it doesn’t look good!

So the next time I tightened the bra strap’s, another thing that always seems to slowly slip each time I exercise oh and I kept my jacket on this time!  Running along the main road and all of a sudden I feel a sharp poke in my boob, off course I couldn’t stop and put my hand down my shirt, in front of all the peak hour commuters, no,  I made it home and what did I find!  One of the underwire had completely snapped in half and was trying to deflate my breast!  This is the 3rd time this has happened where the wire on one side snaps, I found this with my previous sports bras too.  My boobs must be far to heavy and all that bouncing sure isn’t helping, so I continued to use a one wired sports bra that did nothing for me for a little while longer.  However now, I think though it’s time I go shopping for a new one, I just wish they weren’t so expensive!  How many of you actually get fitted for a sports bra?  Also with sports bra’s do you usually have to go a cup size or two smaller so they squish them in nice and tight eliminating bounce?

A recent article in the NZ Herald called The underwear mistakes we’re all making cover’s a few things that women are doing wrong when buying bras! So have a read through that and see if any applies to you.

But for now this bra is going in the bin, an it’s time I get a new one!  Much to my boob’s delight!

Ronell x