Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A day in London

Yesterday (30th) we spent the day in London. Lionel and Josh have been really looking forward to this trip as they have been wanting to visit the 7-storey Waterstones book shop...and yes they did manage to spend lots of money! We were lucky to get Lionel out the door so that we could get to the Garrick Theatre - he would have been quite happy camping there for the rest of our time in the UK!
We went to 'Zorro' at the theatre and all thoroughly enjoyed this show with fantastic characters as well as lots of aerial stunts, sword fights and pyrotechnics.
Josh: the show was really interesting and fun, my favourite bits were when there were 7 Zorros on stage and lots of sword fighting, favourite character - Sergeant Garcia.
Lionel: non-stop entertainment, I loved the sets and the magic bits especially when Zorro disappeared, favourite character Zorro.
Rebecca: loved the Spanish music, dancing & and costumes, favourite character Inez.
Amanda loved the whole entertainment package - music, set changes, sword fighting and my favourite character was Inez.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas in England

Christmas Day has been and gone and although it was very strange being so far away from friends and family at this time we have had a good week. The build up to Christmas over here was much more relaxed than what we were used to in New Zealand...we only had Christmas to prepare for and think about rather than the mad end of year rush.
On Christmas Day we opened pressies in the morning before heading off to church, we then had some time to play with our new toys before going out to a local hotel for Christmas dinner. I had turkey with all the trimmings (I have to say I didn't eat the pile of brussel sprouts on my plate...) and a yummy dessert (not as good as Mum's pavlova though). Then in the evening we went over to the neighbours for drinks, so it was quite a social day.
The 27th felt more like a NZ Christmas as we visited friends for the day - we went for a huge walk followed by another Christmas meal of ham, new potatoes and salad!!!
One good thing about having Christmas over here is that you get to enjoy the lights that people decorate their houses with because it gets dark so early (4pm)...It is very cold but unfortunately not a white Christmas.
We have spent time this Christmas thinking about the birth of Jesus, enjoying being together, and thanking God for our friends.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Amanda, Rebecca & Joshua went down to Chichester to watch the Youth Theatre production of 'A Christmas Carol'. It was a great show and we really enjoyed it - Josh loved the way the floor had moving sections, trap doors and props being lowered from above. We stayed the night at the youth hostel in Arundel - an old Georgian house (and not a lot had been done to it...) and then this morning we went to Littlehampton for a walk on the beach. It was very pleasant and only a few people out walking dogs...not at all like it would be in the middle of summer with the crowds and the amusement arcade up and running! It was great to get some sea air into the body and I feel quite refreshed after being at the beach.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Brooklands Museum

Flying the Vickers VC-10

Beside the Hawker Hunter

On Thursday 18th December me and Mum went to the Brooklands museum to see concorde. We also saw a Wellington bomber that had crashed in Loch Ness. There was also a Hawker Hunter. I sat in the cockpit of the concorde and a Vickers VC-10. The Vickers VC-10 was a private luxury plane that belonged to the Sultan of Oman.

from Josh

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What have we been up to...

Lionel continues to be busy at work. His job is to continue until the end of April and the possibility is that he will have work of some sort there after that and so that is really good. He is looking forward to a break over Christmas - finishing on 24 Dec and going back on 5 Jan.

Amanda is busy keeping everyone fed and clean, schooling Josh and trying to organise some travels for us in 2009. I will also write a Christmas letter sometime...

Rebecca is loving school, youth group, swimming and water polo. She had winter champs for swimming at the weekend and swam really well, finishing with all personal best times, 2 bronze medals and 2 times for the Hampshire County championships. She swam so well that the head coach has moved her up a group (no early mornings yet, just 4 evening sessions and 8am Saturday morning).

Joshua is continuing with learning fencing and is making the most of his final two weeks of being home-schooled. He is off to the local junior school in January and will be in one of the three Year 6 classes. Schooling at home was going well, but he reached a point where he was settled in England and was feeling confident in himself, so he was ready for more than just the two of us at home!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Josh's Birthday

We now have an 11 year old in the house!!
Josh is enjoying all the lego and star wars things that he got for his birthday. He has spent many hours working away at building the AT-TE Walker (Star Wars lego) which we bought him and having Star Wars battles with the game that Rebecca bought him. We had birthday tea last night with his requested banoffee pie - so that kept him happy! On Sunday he is going swimming and then to Pizza Hut with 3 of his friends - and that is our final birthday celebration for 2008.
Next our thoughts turn towards Christmas...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend in Cardiff

Millenium Stadium - pre-match entertainment

All Blacks supporter!

Awesome weekend!!! Great rugby result - All Blacks 29 Wales 9!
Gelynis Farm B&B where we stayed
Quad biking at Taff Valley Activity Centre
Josh: Our weekend in Wales was all good fun!
Rebecca: Quad biking was brilliant and blowing my hooter at the rugby was fun.
Amanda: We stayed at a great B&B just out of Cardiff - it was peaceful and had great views. Quad biking was brilliant fun and it was great to get out on a farm and blow some fresh air through the body. Millenium Stadium had a great atmosphere and I enjoyed being at an All Blacks game - especially since we won.
Lionel: Loved Wales with the quieter noise level and places where you can see for miles. It was great to be back on a farm and the right result in the rugby! Also had the hard case bonus of appearing in the crowd shot after Jerome Kaino's try - even if I had finished cheering and was looking towards the big screen to watch the replay.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rebecca's Weekend Away

Hey Guys! Hows things? I've been away in the Forest Of Dean or somewhere near there for the weekend with the edge, my youth group. We had a lot of fun and it was really good 'cos my mate Poppy was there too. On the Friday we were driving up there in mini-buses which was quite an adventure - me and Poppy were navigating and managed to get our van lost! On the Friday night after we arrived we had tea and played a couple of fun outdoor games like Capture The Flag. We then watched a movie which didn't finish until 12.00am or thereabouts! We didn't get to sleep until bout 3.30 that night! The next day we got up for breakfast at 8.00. After breakfast we had a talk on the Lord's Prayer from one of the leaders, Michael. After that we had 1/2 an hours free time. After our free time we had lunch and then after lunch we had a choice of activity. Me and some other friends of mine chose to do the photo challenge. It was really fun you had a series of things you had to do/find and capture on camera. After the activity we had some time to start getting ready for the formal dinner that night. After about an hour we had another talk about a different part of the Lord's Prayer this time from Rob another leader. After the talk had finished it was time to go get ready for the dinner properly. Dan, the main leader told us who we'd been paired with to go to the dinner and then we all went and got changed. The boys then escorted us to the dinner room in the other building. When we got there it had been all done up nicely, before dinner we had to have our photos taken. When the photos were done we went through to the dining room and sat down. The boys all had to go and get our meals and then we ate. After our main course there was a yummy dessert which the boys also had to fetch. After dessert we went back to the main building and changed out of our good clothes. The older kids (yr10 and up) went on a night hike but anyone younger than that had to stay behind and watch a movie. After the movie finished at 10 we were all sent to bed. We didn't go to sleep until around midnight though. The night hike people arrived back at 2 but didn't come to bed until around 3. On Sunday we didn't get up until 8.30 and breakfast was very unorganized. After breakfast we started cleaning the rooms out, then at 10 we went to the lounge in the other building for Hannah's talk. Hannah's talk lasted approximately an hour. After Hannah's talk the youth band, all of whom were on the camp did a few songs which was good. Very loud though! When the band had finished we had to continue packing and cleaning. In the end we left at about 3pm. Poppy and I were navigating again and somehow managed to take us on a detour to Wales! The journey back wasn't too bad, everyone was quite tired so it wasn't as loud as the trip up. We got home at around 6pm, which was on schedule.
That was basically the edge weekend away! So see ya later!
Rebecca x

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bovington Tank Museum

One of the World War I tanks
Challenger I tank

On Saturday Dad & I went to the Tank Museum in Bovington. There were lots of tanks from all over the world including one from New Zealand. There were tanks from lots of different eras. Tanks from World War 1 until tanks they use today. I enjoyed seeing all the tanks and there were lots of different sized barrels for all the tanks.

Remembrance Sunday

Cenotaph in Whitehall, London

Some of the wreaths (including the Royal ones)

Rebecca was away at youth group camp (she will tell you about that soon), Lionel & Josh were away for their boys weekend (Josh will tell you about that soon) and so I had the weekend to myself!

On Sunday I decided to head into London to go to the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph. As you can imagine there were crowds and crowds of people but it was quite amazing to be there to celebrate 90 years since the ending of WWI and to remember those killed in conflicts past and present. Being part of two minutes silence in the middle of London and then hearing the Last Post played was very moving.

I then went along to Westminster Abbey where there was a Field of Remembrance set up, with white crosses and poppies, where families could record names of those killed in conflict. It was really quite moving, especially as we hear every day about British soldiers in the Iraq and Afganistan conflicts.
NZ area in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bath, England

Bridge over River Avon at Bath

While Rebecca & Josh were away all day Saturday at the Puppet Festival we took the opportunity to go out and do something the kids would not be so interested in, so we went to Bath for the day. Lionel & I really enjoyed our day out together and it certainly was good being able to do what we wanted to for the day - drinking coffee and strolling around looking at things in our own time!
Bath is an impressive looking city set around the hills and I can imagine how busy it would get in the summer months - there were enough people around on a very cold, Saturday morning in November! We weren't sure where we were going when we arrived in Bath and so we just pulled into a car park close to what looked like the city centre - we did well because it was only a 5 minute walk to the Abbey and the Roman Baths.
Bath Abbey with Roman Baths to the right

Our first stop was Bath Abbey - this is an amazing example of medieval architecture (built between 1499 and 1616) with a huge fan vaulted roof and very impressive stained glass windows. We also quite liked the western exterior where angels are carved climbing up and down stone ladders.

Right beside the Abbey are the Roman Baths. We looked around the site listening to an audio guide to get any information that we wanted. The springs come up out of the ground here at a temperature of 46 deg C and the Romans created an extravagant series of bath houses to take advantage of the springs. A great day out...
Our weekend was topped off with a trip to the movies to see the latest James Bond movie 'Quantum of Solace'. In Amanda's humble opinion it wasn't the best Bond - there was definately lots of action but none of the usual Bond gadgets.

European Puppet Festival

Rebecca & Josh had a great weekend at the European Puppet Festival which was held about 40 minutes from where we live. They did a variety of workshops to do with using their puppets and also creating props and back drops - Rebecca & one of the other girls also went in a lyp-synch challenge (harder than it looks!)

There were also showcase performances and competitions over the weekend and so it was really good for our young puppet team to see some more professional performances.

This is the puppet which Josh uses as part of the 'Hands Up For Jesus Puppet Team'.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

6 months in England

It is 6 months since we arrived in England - hard to some ways it feels like last week that we left NZ (it was snowing then too!) and in other ways it feels like we have been here for much longer. I asked everyone what they missed the most about NZ and what they most like about being here, so here goes...
Everyone misses friends and family and we wish you were all close by, but we are also enjoying getting to know new people.
Lionel...misses the scenery in NZ and looking out onto the mountains, hills, river and paddocks BUT he is enjoying being able to go to places like Twickenham, Millenium Stadium and he loved our weekend in Paris. Of course Lionel is also enjoying the bookshops and accessibility to a much wider range of reading.
Amanda...misses the big, starry night sky BUT is enjoying being able to go to a variety of shows, events and places.
Rebecca...wishes that the people, the farm, the Oreti River and Lake Dunstan could be shifted over here so that they are close to her new friends and she never wants to shift again.
Joshua...misses the open spaces and the country side in New Zealand and he can't wait to go back to NZ BUT he does like the massive shopping malls (if not the crowds) and the good prices (especially of books and play station games).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our first snow!

Yes, we did go out for a quick walk yesterday but it was bitterly cold and this is what we woke up to this morning....our first snow of the winter!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What's happening in November...

November is looking like being very busy - here are a few things we have happening...
* Oct 31/Nov 1 Rebecca & Josh are at European Puppet Festival
* Nov 7-9 Rebecca is at 'the edge' (youth group) camp
* Nov 8-9 Josh & Lionel away for boys weekend (Josh's 11year old weekend away)
* Nov 15 Amanda & kids at Haydock's farewell before they head back to NZ (Lynden Prebble's sister)
* Nov 15 Amanda & Lionel going out to Italian night at church
* Nov 21-23 In Cardiff for All Black vs Wales at Millenium Stadium
* Nov 27 Amanda going to Ladies Night at church - coffee & dessert and 'Mamma Mia' movie

That's just the extra things...we also continue with swimming (winter champs coming up in December), hockey, acting academy, fencing, running and school!

Daylight Saving Ends

On Saturday night we put our clocks back an hour and so Lionel is now walking home from work in the dark at 5.15pm!!! We have also had a couple of really good frosts this week - on Saturday morning I had to scrape the car windscreen before taking Rebecca to swimming at 7.30am. I thought that would mean a nice fine day (as in Southland) unfortunately it didn't turn out that way...We had another frost this morning but we also have clear blue skies and the sun is shining so we will get out for a walk this afternoon.
We are on half term break at the moment and so Rebecca is enjoying being out of the school routine. We went out to friends for lunch on Sunday (yes, another roast dinner...) and Rebecca ended up staying the night there with her friend Poppy (a church friend).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lionel's Birthday

Lionel is now another year older and another year wiser...

He decided that he wanted to spend the day in London and so on Saturday we caught the train up to London for the day. We had decided to walk through the parks from Waterloo Station to Hyde Park for lunch. We loved walking up through Green Park and St James Park with lots of green space and the trees changing colour for Autumn. Josh had great fun spotting squirrels and at one stage he had one come right up to him.

I love all the unexpected things which can happen when you are wandering around a place like London - much better than the crowded touristy events. My favourite unexpected event today was at Wellington Arch (near Hyde Park corner) when we saw the Household Cavalry riding up through the arch, after being at Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

We had lunch at a cafe by the boating lake in Hyde Park, unfortunately there was a cold wind by this stage and so we ate inside. Lionel loved being in Hyde Park and with it being so big you are away from traffic noise and you don't feel like you are surrounded by lots of people.

From Hyde Park we headed to Harrods - quite a different feeling as it was noisy and crowded! However, Rebecca wanted to take the boys to Harrods and the kids had some money to spend here. The choice was so huge that they found it quite difficult to make a decision about any purchases, but they both came home with something.

On Sunday we were invited around to friends for lunch and we were treated to a good Sunday roast and an afternoon with some new friends!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Rebecca played in a Hampshire Under 13 water polo tournament yesterday. She was in the Basingstoke 'A' team and played really well. There were five teams in the tournament and Basingstoke 'A' won all their games and so came away with the shield.

Here are a couple of photos of Rebecca.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rebecca's Swimming

We went to the Reading B grade swim meet on Saturday night along with hundreds of others from the Hampshire area. This meet is at about the same standard as the A grade meets that Rebecca was involved in with Southland. She swam really well and came away with a gold medal for her 100m butterfly and seven personal best times!! Josh & I should have a gold medal for sitting in the REALLY hot pool for seven hours...

Josh & I went along to the Open Night for high school (The Vyne, same as Rebecca) last night and he begrudgingly thought it might be alright to go to high school next September! He had a great time in the Maths and Science departments and did lots of activities on the interactive white boards throughout the school. I was very impressed with the Head of Year 7 teacher and it is her specific job to visit the Year 6 students in their schools to make their transition to high school smoother. She is going to make an effort to include Josh in some of her Year 6 activities at the local school and any activities at The Vyne which would be suitable for him.

Friday, October 3, 2008

October 2008

Josh & I had a fantastic time at Intech last week and in the end I had to drag him away without 'playing' with all the activities. Intech is a large version of 'Science Alive' in Christchurch or 'Scitech' in Perth, both of which we have thoroughly enjoyed. We had great fun looking at the viscosity of different fluids and doing different experiments with a variety of fluids. We have also made contact with a homeschooling group who occasionally book science class shows at Intech and so we can go along to some of the group activites they do, so that will be good.
Josh & I have been out each week doing the fitness circuit at Eastrop Park (some parts of it get easier, but we hate the chin lifts!!!) Athletics on a Thursday night is great for Josh and really pushes him, his coach is fantastic but she will only continue with this group as long as there are the numbers and apparently the numbers drop off now that it is getting darker and colder.
Rebecca continues to love being at school (even with a grumpy geography teacher). However now that the mornings are darker and colder it is harder to get out of bed! She has an inset day (teachers only day) next Friday and half term break is at the end of October - then it will be the count down til Christmas...Rebecca gets 2weeks holiday at Christmas.
Rebecca has a B grade open swim meet in Reading tomorrow and so it will be great to see her swim in an individual meet and get some UK times recorded. We also have our club winter meet coming up in December and Rebecca is keen to enter the 800m and 1500m so that will be interesting.
We have been busy planning our summer holiday for next year...a long way yet I know but we have NZ friends coming over (Jane & Hannah from Invercargill) and we are going to Italy for 3weeks and so to book villas in Tuscany you have to be in early. So we are really looking forward to that and it will help us get through these cold, dark months as all our friends in NZ & Australia are enjoying the beach, lake, camping and sunshine!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September 2008

The sun is shining today, which we are very pleased about...but there is a definite chill to the air in the mornings and the evenings are getting dark earlier and earlier - Autumn is here.
The new school year started last week and Rebecca is now attending a local high school - The Vyne Community School. She went down last week to sit entrance tests, then it was off to buy a school uniform and she started at school on Monday. Rebecca is in Year 8 and is loving the wide range of subjects that she is studying - English, Maths, Science, PE, Art, Drama, Music, History, Geography, French, Religious Education, ICT and D & T (Design & Technology). She came home very excited last night because they got to light magnesium over the bunsen burners in Science and their Science teacher had combined some other substances to make terrible smells (which they all thought was wonderful...)
Rebecca catches to bus to and from school and so she leaves home at 7.30am and is home again at 3.15pm, the bus stop is only about 3 minutes walk from home so it is great.

Josh is enjoying being at home, but the level of work has increased and I think he quite liked the idea of the science Rebecca was doing at school... who knows he may even go to high school next year when he will be in Year 7. We are off to Intech (a great science discovery place) next week and so hopefully there will be options for him to do lots of hands on stuff down there. Josh's French lessons started last week - a bit of a shock to the system but we will get there, and he has joined an athletics club which is on a Thursday night. Josh felt his lack of fitness last Thursday and so he and I have done a fitness circuit one day this week and went for a run yesterday (it will be good for both of us!)
Rebecca & Josh have both joined the puppet team at church which they are enjoying and they have two major events coming up - in October they will take part in a European Puppet Festival and in December they are going to be part of the entertainment at a birthday party, as well as being involved in family services at church and Christmas events.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lionel at Twickenham

This was one of my 'things to do' - Twickenham to watch the rugby. I had been hoping for it to be the All Blacks but a double header sounded good and it certainly proved to be.

The adventure really began when we changed trains at Clapham Junction, the busiest station in Britain, we can believe that after Amanda & Josh squeezed on to one train and Rebecca & I had to catch the next one. Fortunately for Rebecca & me the next one was a Rugby special and was virtually empty before our horde joined it. We got back together with Amanda and Josh at Twickenham Station, not before they would have watched hundreds of people go past. It was then time to flow with the tide of people down the closed streets towards the ground, the only gaps being people dodging the horse manure from the police horses. Past the scalpers, the Referees links sellers (yes you can get a radio link to the Referees microphone for five pound), stopping only to buy a programme and the obligatory bag search to enter the ground. Once in we grabbed some overpriced food and then made our way by Escalator to our middle tier seats in the South West corner of the stadium. The atmosphere of the fully enclosed stadium was grat as the London Irish supporters, complete with drums, filled our end of the stadium with sound. The view was pretty good from anywhere only interrupted by the constant flow in and out of people on a scale which I had never struck while the game was going on. It was obstructing because leg room was not great so everybody in a row had to stand up to let people in and out, which obstructed your view if you were within two to four rows of it. I'll put some of it down to the fact it was a doubleheader and supporters from all teams were mixed in together. It was something different from crowds I had been a part of in Australia and New Zealand.

To the contests - a good win for London Irish, who we expected to include former All Black and Southland Clarke Dermody (he must have an injury from preseason) over London Wasps, last season's champions 26-14. Then Harlequins (featuring Nick Evans) beating Saracens with Chris Jack 24-21. The rugby was certainly a better standard than the Air New Zealand Cup but not up to Super 14 yet but the difference is shrinking. I thought they can't have a bonus point system by the way Wasps played out the last 5 minutes but they do I discovered later. Therefore maybe its the length of the season that changes the express need to grab every point, as the competition that started today has its final in May next year.

London Irish v London Wasps at Twickenham
Crowd: 52,087

Friday, September 5, 2008

What's been happening...

Summer holidays are at an end for UK schools and weather wise summer is at an end too. According to the newspaper, August 2008 was the dullest and coolest in English record - oh yay!
In the last couple of weeks Rebecca, Josh & I have managed to get out and about along the roadsides and hedgerows and picked blackberries. We have found a great patch not far from home and so we have been enjoying fruit smoothies and apple & blackberry pies (yum).

Much to Lionel's delight rugby season is starting over here and so this weekend we are off to Twickenham to watch London Irish v London Wasps, it is a double header with Saracens v Harlequins to follow. It depends on the conditions as to whether we watch both games. We also have tickets for All Blacks v Wales at Millenium Stadium, Cardiff in November, unfortunately that will be the only All Blacks game we see as the price of the tickets was horrendous. Lionel is really keen to visit the major sports stadiums and so he is really looking forward to these games.

After much talking, soul searching and prayer we have decided that school is a better option for Rebecca than home schooling. Once we made the decision for her to go to school we thought it would be an easy thing to enrol her...NO. Most of the schools are over subscribed and especially schools with a really good reputation. After many phone calls (and again lots of prayer) I spoke with a school in our zone and they have a place for a Year 8 student and so we have a meeting there on Monday - we will see what happens...

Josh will continue with home schooling and we have lots planned for the term including French lessons, football (hopefully), scouts (on the waiting list), swimming and trips to various places including a great science & technology place with lots of hands on activities.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


On Saturday morning we caught the Eurostar train from St Pancras Station, London to Paris. It took us about 2 1/4 hours to get to Paris and we were only under the English Channel for about 20 minutes. When we arrived in Paris we were at Gare du Nord station and we took a taxi to our apartment on Rue Boileau. That afternoon we went to the supermarket and got some food on our way back we got some fruit from a man selling fruit and veges - Mum tried to speak French. We got some pain au chocolat (chocolate filled pastries) - they were good.
The next day we took the metro to Trocodero and we saw a big water feature in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Looking up the Eiffel Tower
Looking down from the Eiffel Tower to the Trocodero
The tower was really tall and we took the lift to the top floor - we didn't do any walking on the stairs. We walked along a little island in the middle of the river Seine which has France's Statue of Liberty (which I saw in the National Treasure - Book of Secrets movie).
Looking up towards the Statue of Liberty
We also took a bus tour on Sunday and saw all the land marks of Paris (Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysee).
Notre Dame Arc de Triomphe

The next day we took the Eurostar home.
By Josh

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rebecca's Watersports Camp

The first day that we arrived at camp we played some games and met people - later on we found out who was in our rooms. There were 4 people in each room and we were also split into groups for activities. I was in group 4 - 2 rooms of boys and 2 rooms of girls. The girls team leader was called Cat, the boys team leader was Matt. That night for tea we had a choice of fish cake (ew) or beef pie (ew) luckily there was some salad as well, for dessert we got a piece of fruit or orange segments & cream (really ew).
The next day we started our activities. In the morning we had windsurfing which was really cool, the instructors were called Chris & Dave and they were really good teachers. Everyone managed to stand up by the end of our session. In the afternoo0n we had our first sailing session - I didn't like sailing because it was very boring all you did was sit or capsize. Capsizing wasn't fun, but neither was sitting. I got hit on the head by the boom about ten times but that didn't matter too much cos we were wearing helmets. We got a cooked breakfast that morning, for lunch we got a sandwich, apple, packet of chips and a chocolate bar (that is what we had for lunch every day). For tea, after sailing, we had lasagne (fairly nice). We went to bed at 9.30 (the 12 & unders), the older kids got to go to bed at 10pm.
On Tuesday, in the morning, we were raft building and in the afternoon we went cata-canoeing - don't know what we had for tea that night.
We had to get up at 7.30 and on Wednesday we had archery in the morning which I was no good at but some of the boys were really good. In the afternoon we went kayaking on the river. Kayaking was really fun and at the end we had a big mud fight and got to go down the big mud slide. For tea that night we had jacket potatoes with cheese & baked beans.
Thursday was our last day and in the morning we went sailing for the last time and in the afternoon we we canoeing. That night we had our disco - there was a VIP area and to get in you had to have won the VIP points competition (our group won!) The music was really wicked it was loud and brilliant and everyone danced and there was lots of jumping. It was awesome. We got to go to bed late that night.
On Friday morning we came home. Windsurfing was my favourite activity.

from Rebecca

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Camping in Cumbria

We got back from camping yesterday and today we have been busy with loads of washing, scrubbing and drying dirty, wet tents, and scrubbing muddy gym shoes.

We had a wet week in the Lake District and the camp site became quite muddy in places - especially the path to the toilet block... In fact we had to buy a pair of wellies at the camp shop just so that we didn't disappear in the mud! I had wanted to write about how we had a week of glorious sunshine in the Lake District...nevermind. We did get some clear patches and we were able to bundle up in our jackets and get out and about (true Southlanders!) The only disappointing thing about the weather is that we weren't able to get into and onto the lake as much as we would have liked.

Our flash wellies that saved us from being covered in mud every time we trekked to the toilet!
Highlights of our time in the Lake District...

* having a climbing lesson at Keswick indoor climbing centre - Rebecca & Josh spent the afternoon climbing with Amanda belaying them.

* visiting the Rheged Centre and watching two IMAX films. The first film was about climbing Mt Everest and followed a team which included Tensing Norgay's son and they were on the mountain the same time that Rob Hall (NZer) died on Everest. The second film was about the Grand Canyon and we explored through the ages as people went down the river in canoes and also had film flying along the Grand Canyon - it was very impressive.

* Rebecca & Amanda went pony trekking on the fells.

* We went for a couple of good walks - one took us up a hill and gave us a great view along the lake (Ullswater). Then we saw the weather coming in and had to run down the hill - still managing to get quite wet!

We had a fantastic time and were pleased that the new tent stood up to the wind and rain of the Lake District - oh the joy of camping in England in Summer...

Friday, August 1, 2008


Lionel has 2 weeks holiday coming up and so we are looking forward to getting out and about with him. On Wednesday we head up to the Lake District where we will be camping at Ullswater for a week. We have bought ourselves a family tent to go along with the small tent which we shipped over from NZ, so we will have plenty of space. We are a bit short on the 'luxuries' of camping which we were starting to build up in NZ and we certainly will miss camping with friends (Mahenos and Comerfords!) however it will be great to get amongst the mountains and lakes. I say mountains but actually they don't even quite reach 1000m and so really just big hills...

We have a few days back home from camping and Rebecca heads away for 5days on a 'Watersports Plus' camp and so as you can imagine she is really excited about that! It is up on the River Severn (near Gloucester) and is run by the Youth Hostel Association.

Rebecca just gets home from camp (22 August) and we have a night in London before catching the Eurostar over to Paris for the weekend. It is a long weekend and Lionel gets the Monday off work and so we will make the most of that!

All in all the next few weeks sound very busy, but also very exciting!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Le Tour de France (2)

After 3 weeks of racing, 21 stages and 3500km Carlos Sastre was the 2008 tour winner by less than a minute! What a fantastic time trial he raced - bad luck Cadel, maybe next year.

Rugby...Lionel & Josh watched the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday morning and there was much shouting at the TV! Lauaki needs to catch the ball, Mealamu needs to throw the ball straight and the ref needs to open his eyes are some of the impressions of the game that I got from my boys. You Aussies don't need to gloat - we'll be back next week!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Le Tour de France

We have been enjoying following the Tour of France and generally watch the very good ITV4 highlights package in the evening. Mark Cavendish captured our attention and as a British rider he got a bit of coverage - he sure can sprint and with four stage wins what a great effort. He pulled out before the Alps (I can understand that, who would want to bike up those mountains!) to concentrate on the Olympics. We get the occasional mention of Julian Dean (the New Zealander) but only in passing and now everyone's attention is on Cadel Evans as we head into the final stage and time trial today. If a New Zealander can't win the race then an Australian might as well!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Big Wheel Bike Ride

Ready and waiting at the Start

This morning (Sunday) we took part in a local fundraising event for a Hospice here in Basingstoke. This is an annual event and we had heard that it was a great family bike ride.
There was three different circuits which you could take part in - 45 miles, 24 miles or 7 miles. We chose the the 7 mile circuit which took us out of Basingstoke along some country roads to a village called Oakley and then looping back into Basingstoke.
There were about 1500 people registered for the ride but most of them were doing the longer rides which left before us and so it wasn't crowded at all.

We were loaded up with water bottles and mini Mars Bars and headed off with quite a few other 'short circuit' bikers. Not far out of Basingstoke Rebecca was off and so Lionel went with her and Josh and I carried on at our own pace. At about the halfway point Josh and I stopped for a drink and Lionel came back to see how we were getting on - he decided to stay and bike with Josh and said that Rebecca wasn't too far ahead and so I went into top gear and took off to catch her up...I kept spotting Rebecca in the distance but it was only once we got back into Basingstoke and she was held up by a traffic light that I caught her!
We had a great morning out riding and everyone is very proud of their achievement!

Josh & Lionel along a country road Josh racing through Oakley

Farnborough Air Show

We went to the biennial Farnborough Air Show at Saturday. It was one of the things on Lionel's list of things to do and he said it was one of the best days he has had in the UK yet! This year celebrated 60years - the first Farnborough Air Show was held in 1948. It is a week long multi-national event which allows aerospace companies to show case their latest innovations and products. The final Saturday & Sunday are public days with a 4 1/2 hour flying programme.

The weather forecast wasn't great and we headed off in the morning in the rain, however the day cleared up and the rain had stopped by the time we had made it to Farnborough Station - we had decided to take the train to avoid the traffic (good decision!) In fact the sun came out and at times it was quite hot.

We looked around a few of the static aircraft displays before finding a spot to view the flying displays which started at 12.30pm. The flying programme started with a Spitfire which Lionel enjoyed since it didn't make it into NZ for 'Warbirds Over Wanaka'. Our absolute favourite was watching the 'Red Arrows Formation Display'. Their formation flying was incredible - tight formations at high speed and the use of the red, white and blue smoke to form 'pictures in the sky' was very impressive.

Josh was also very taken with the 'Eurofighter Typhoon', the 'F-16' and the 'F-18'.

Lionel, Rebecca & Josh went for a ride in the 'Typhoon' flight simulator (that was a wild ride).

How did it compare with Warbirds Over Wanaka...the setting in Wanaka is absolutely second to none and the length and quality of flight displays at Wanaka is also right up there. The thing which Farnborough has over Wanaka is the variety of large aircraft and modern jets which can land here and fly over the airfield. We didn't like the queues and crowds at Farnborough but it was a great day out!

The 'Red Arrows' were spectacular!

Josh had a great day!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rebecca's Busy Weekend

The Basingstoke Invitation 15 & under water polo tournament took place on Saturday afternoon at the Aquadrome. Basingstoke put in two teams and we fully expected Rebecca to be in the 'B' team since she is only 12 and has only been playing water polo for about 5 weeks. However, when we got there she was delighted to learn that she had been placed in the 'A' team! She really improved as the tournament went on (2 round robin games and a play off) and playing with the more experienced kids certainly helped her confidence, as they were always talking and telling her where to be in the pool. Basingstoke A finished the tournament with third placing (out of 6) and so it was very worthwhile and Rebecca had lots of fun.

Sunday night saw Rebecca head out for 'The Edge' youth group break up for the year. There were close to 70 kids there aged 11-18 and it sounds like there was lots of activity...The biggest bouncy castle in Hampshire, water pistols, Sing Star, air hockey, table tennis, pool, paddling pool and water pistols and a BBQ. That was the last night of youth group until September.

Things are starting to wind down now for the summer with most schools on holiday from this coming Friday and not back until the beginning of September.
The big talk over here seems to be how many people are cutting back on their summer holiday plans because of the thought of recession. Apparently not so many people are heading abroad for their holidays and are taking 'Britain' holidays instead. It would appear more people than usual are planning camping holidays as a less expensive option - as long as they don't all head to the Lake District!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What's coming up...

We've got a few things coming up so I thought I would just jot them down for you and then we can update things as we go along...

Saturday 12 July Rebecca has a waterpolo tournament
Sunday 13 July Rebecca has a 'beach' party for the youth group break up
Saturday 19 July Farnborough Air Show
Sunday 20 July Big Wheel Bike Ride
6-13 August Camping in the Lake District

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rebecca & Amanda in London

The girls have just had the weekend in London as part of Rebecca's birthday present. We took the train into London on Saturday and after checking in at the hotel we decided on a trip to Harrods... We saw only a small part of the store but what fun we had! It was the middle of Harrod's summer sale and so there were huge discounts, but we bypassed the clothing departments and went to the books, toys and sports departments. The toy department was amazing with a huge selection of all sorts of toys - as you can imagine the soft toy part was a huge temptation for Rebecca. There were Harrod's employees in the toy department demonstrating some of the toys and there were areas set up for kids to try out toys - you could spend all day there! We decided to buy some books and then head quickly for the exit. On our way out we went through the food halls - very hard to describe...much like a huge, exclusive street market. There was fresh meat with carcasses hanging, there was a fish department with a huge display of fresh fish (and it smelt like a fish market!) and best of all the chocolate department (very tempting)!

Following our afternoon at Harrod's we got our first ride in a black cab to the Hammersmith Apollo to watch 'High School Musical'. When booking the tickets I didn't realise it was the night of the London premiere and so we were surprised to see the red carpet out and heaps of photographers. There were lots of celebrities arriving with their children (but we didn't know any of them). We really enjoyed the show and it was great being in a huge theatre watching the live show - such a great atmosphere.

On Sunday we got the train back to Basingstoke and headed straight to church where they were having a BBQ lunch to welcome new people. This was great and we met some of the leaders of the church and got to know some others a bit better. Josh enjoyed helping his Sunday School teacher get the charcoal BBQ going and helped to get the burgers ready.

For those of you who watched the Wimbledon men's final you will know that our weather has taken a cooler, wetter turn and today is definately an inside day.

So, for those of you who want to hear some of the downers of our life...

# riding on the tube can be hot, noisy and smelly

# having an outside BBQ is proving impossible

# we miss the companionship of 'old' friends

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Rebecca has just had a fantastic few days with Zara (a friend from Dipton) who is over here visiting family with her mum & grandma. Zara came and stayed for the weekend and so there was lots of talking!

We took Zara back up to Birmingham on Monday morning and then Josh, Rebecca, Zara, Kim & I went down to Stratford to visit Shakespeare's home town. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and it is great to be able to visit these places outside of the busy tourist times. After we had stopped for lunch at a canal side pub we went to Anne Hathaway's Cottage. This is where Shakespeare's wife grew up and is a thatched cottage with the most amazing cottage garden and garden walks. We sat out in a willow cabin listening to some of Shakespeare's sonnets.

Anne Hathaway's cottage

Rebecca, Josh & I then stayed at a B&B in Stratford and the next day we went to Mary Arden's Farm. Mary Arden was Shakespeare's mother and this is where she grew up. I thought this would just be another cottage to visit but how wrong I was... This was excellent and we spent about 3 hours here. There are volunteers who work here and they dress up and work the farm as in the Tudor times (15oo's). We saw them cutting up wood for the fires and the man told us about how they grow hedges and coppice the wood so that it kept in a sustainable way. Then around the front of the house was a man working up the garden to plant herbs, the vegetable garden provides them with most of the vegetables which they use at the farm. Inside we saw some women in the kitchen cooking the dinner - they were having a chicken which had been killed by a mink and they were cooking it over the fire. They had also prepared all the vegetables for the meal, baked the bread and made the beer.

We also saw a falconry display with a kestrel. These are quite small birds and would have been used to teach the Tudor boys how to train birds for hunting.

at Mary Arden's farm

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rebecca's Birthday

We have a 12 year old in the house!!

Rebecca's birthday celebrations started on Wednesday when Ellie, a swimming friend, came over after school. The girls had a good time together and they made pizzas for tea followed by birthday cake. Ellie added a large round hedgehog to Rebecca's soft toy collection.
Josh added to Rebecca's book collection with 'The Killing' from the Cherub series and we added to Rebecca's cell phone fund with some money. We also gave Rebecca tickets to 'High School Musical' at the theatre and so Amanda & Rebecca will have a girls night out in London on July 5.

Tomorrow Rebecca & I head up to Birmingham to pick up Zara who is coming to stay for the weekend and so Rebecca is really excited about seeing a Dipton friend. She is also looking forward to taking Zara along to Youth Group to meet some of her English friends!

Rebecca has really enjoyed all the cards, emails, gifts and telephone calls which she has received. Thanks so much to everyone for making this a really special day even though we are so far away!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


We are really starting to feel at home here and Friday had the feel of being involved in the community and starting to be settled.

In the afternoon I was invited along to a ladies group from church, which is a social gathering which happens some Friday afternoons. Rebecca & Josh came along too, and there were some other kids there as the junior part of the Christian School have Friday afternoons off. It was good to meet some other ladies and have an afternoon out.

Then it was off the the Aquadrome for Rebecca to play waterpolo. She is really enjoying this, but is still a bit tentative as she is unsure of the rules - it won't take her long and then she will be in the midst of it all!

After waterpolo it was off to Lionel's work place where they were hold there summer BBQ. They put on an amazing spread of food and there was entertainment for young and old. The kids enjoyed this amazing soccer game where they rode on electic carts in the form of soccer balls, they were in an enclosed area and had to get a giant sized soft soccer ball into goals at each end. There was also giant sized 'connect 4' and chess, table soccer, and a coconut shy. Josh managed to knock 3 coconuts off and so we came home with them...what to do with 3 coconuts (anyone know how to open coconuts???) The kids were delighted to see the ice cream van arrive for dessert.

Unfortunately the English BBQ season is a bit like Southland (you can't always guarantee good weather), and after lots of hot sunny days it was cool and damp! Nevermind we made the most of it.

Rebecca is away ice skating with youth group on Sunday afternoon and then the week will begin again.
Josh will have cricket practice again on Monday night at Old Basing. It was his first time last week and he found it hard when he had to bat with all the gear on (gloves, pads and helmet) but with practice it will get easier. He & Lionel are currently sitting at the table working on a model tank which Josh bought - it is a very delicate process with lots of little pieces!

Tower of London

On Tuesday Rebecca, Josh and Amanda headed into London on the train - the fast train from Basingstoke to London only takes about 50 minutes and so it isn't a bad trip.

We have been wanting to go to the Tower of London and enjoyed our time here - the guided tour with a 'Beefeater' (Yeoman Warder) was very interesting. We were surprised how big the complex is once you get inside and we spent ages inside. Getting to see the Crown Jewels was amazing with lots of gold, silver and huge jewels and diamonds on display. We also enjoyed the armoury with huge displays of swords, rifles and armour. We walked up and down lots of spiral staircases and we explored the many towers and also had fun walking along the top of the walls.

We were all hot and tired at the end of our day in London and were pleased to get back on the train and head home!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


We have just had a fantastic weekend down in Cornwall with Steve and Margaret.

We stayed at the Golant Youth Hostel which we used as a base for the weekend. We drove down on Saturday morning and it took us about 4 hours to get to Golant. On Saturday afternoon we visited the Eden Project which has a group of huge biomes which are set up with different climates. The rainforest biome was very hot and humid and after 30-40 minutes in there we really felt as if we were in the tropics! The Mediterranean biome was a much more enjoyable temperature but the plantings and sculptures in the whole place were quite amazing. Josh was most impressed by the domes (mostly because they featured in one of the James Bond movies).
The Eden Project

Sunday was very busy with quite a bit of travelling. In the morning we headed down to Mevagissey and that was a beautiful little fishing village. Our main reason for going there was to see a model railway museum that we had read about - it turned out to be a very worthwhile visit and the adults enjoyed it just as much as the kids! It was really hot and so we stopped for an ice cream before getting back in the car.


Our next stop was Charlestown where we wanted to visit the Shipwreck Museum - this was also very good with lots to see and do. We had a bit of a walk around Charlestown and around the rocks on the beach. We had lunch at Charlestown - when in Cornwall you have to eat a Cornish Pasty and I have to say these were quite delicious!

We also wanted to visit Polperro where there is a Smugglers Museum. Polperro was on the other side of the river so we took the car ferry across to the other side - it only took about 2minutes and was a great adventure. 'Jane' (the voice on our satellite navigation) took us on the back road to Polperro and we went on some very narrow country lanes (the grass was hitting both sides of the car at the same time). Polperro was an amazing little fishing village built around the cliffs - lots of tourists though and unfortunately the Smugglers museum didn't live up to the excitement of its name! The kids were pretty tired by this time so Lionel took them for an ice cream while Steve and I went up to the cliff top for some photo opportunities.


Lionel Has A Job

On Thursday Lionel had his first actual job interview, and he has the job as an Interim Accountant doing budgets and forecasts for a commercial business right here in Chineham. It is a 6 month contract and he is really pleased with it as a first job in the UK - it will give him great experience and is an extremely good rate of pay. The best thing is that it is only a 10 minute walk from home and so most mornings Lionel walks to work and he walks home at night. The company he is working for is a Japanese Multi-national making compressors for car air conditioning units. Lionel is doing the budgets and forecasts for the European arm of the company, which is based in Germany.

He is pleased to be working again (after 8 weeks on holiday!) and it is good to have some pounds coming into the bank account. Rebecca is excited about that too, as it means she can start getting her allowance...

We are really pleased with our house - it is in Chineham which is a suburb of Basingstoke and has a really nice village feel to it. There are lots of wooded areas with pathways through them and we can walk down to the shopping centre without going on too many roads. The village hall has a large play ground and playing field and so we often take the cricket gear down there and have a hit around - this usually ends up involving several local boys as well and we have had some NZ vs England cricket matches (we did better than the Black Caps!)

Our house is detached (not one of those Coronation St terraces...) and has a small back yard. We have 4 bedrooms (so room for visitors) and 2 reception rooms (that just means a separate living room and dining room). The dining room has French doors out onto a paved area and the back lawn so we have plenty of space to spread out.