Just So Festival

A festival aimed at families where we get to camp in the beautiful Kaitoke Regional park and take part in all sorts of events including a madcap tribal tournament? Sounds great! The inaugural New Zealand edition of the Just So Festival took place over the last weekend of February and we had a blast :)

We had left work early so we would have time to put up our tent and get settled before the festivities started at 5pm on the friday night. There were no queues and plenty of parking and from the car it was a short walk over to find our friends and pitch our tent. Once we had somewhere to sleep and everyone was ready it was time to head over to the festival site.

That evening and over the next couple of days we danced, crafted, paraded, rested, ate, marvelled, collected golden stones, played, talked, sang, dressed up, roasted marshmallows, chased bubbles, went inside bubbles, pillow fought and smiled. Hopefully you’ll see below some of the enjoyment and wonder that we experienced. We can’t wait for the next one!

Puppet dinosaur feeding

Puppet dinosaur feeding with String Bean Puppets

Learning some circus skills

Learning some circus skills

Campfire tales

Campfire tales

Kakapo shenanigans

Kakapo shenanigans

Misty morning camping

Misty morning camping

Conga line!

Conga line!

Dress up fun

Dress up fun

Festival buddies

Festival buddies

The lantern parade

The lantern parade

Campfire marshmallows

Campfire marshmallows

Fire dancing

Fire dancing

Inside camp curious

Inside Camp Curious

Inside a bubble

Inside a bubble

Checking out the aliens

Checking out the aliens

Knocked over by Fraser Hooper

Knocked over by Fraser Hooper

The penguin tribe leader

The penguin tribe leader

Pillow fight time!

Pillow fight time!

Let the feathers fly

Let the feathers fly

Tribal tournament

Tribal tournament

Summer days part 1: Otari-Wilton and Titahi bay

The last few days have blessed us with lovely weather so we’ve been out and about. On friday afternoon we took a walk at Otari-Wilton Bush. There was abundant birdlife with dozens of tuis and kakariki flying overhead, plenty of kereru around and also a pair of k?rearea circling around a tree on the other side of a valley. We encouraged Alayna to walk as much as possible partially by having her count the steps we ascended, she did really well and also enjoyed crossing bridges, throwing leaves into streams for races and walking over rocks whenever possible. We ended up at the flax clearing which would have been better described as the daisy clearing for our visit, a carpet of flowers punctuating the dry grass.

Crossing the stream

Crossing the stream

Family in the daisies

Family in the daisies

Daisy Alayna

Daisy Alayna

Keryn made Alayna a daisy head dress and Alayna chased me around the clearing while I snapped away. We took a few family photos after clearing some (but not enough apparently) of the more intrusive grass stalks. We had some of the gingerbread that was left over from Christmas and watched a procession of birds fly overhead. There was a large pohutukawa covered in fading but still resplendent red blooms and the tree positively humbed with its audience of bees. There was time for some silliness and then we were off back towards the parked car.

Fading summer red

Fading summer red

The happy frog

The happy frog

It being such a nice evening we took the opportunity to purchase fish and chips in Porirua and then head over to Titahi Bay beach for a picnic dinner. We sat on some steps near the middle of the beach and watched the people wandering along the beach, the paddleboarders crossing the bay and the brave few playing in the water while the southerly breeze keep the temperature a little cool. We attracted a growing flock of seagulls and Alayna took great delight in chasing them away, at least until the numbers got so great that they just circled around behind her. It was a very pleasant evening.

Titahi Bay

Titahi Bay

The seagulls were persistent

The seagulls were persistent

Alayna chasing seagulls

Alayna chasing seagulls

An autumn escape – Arrowtown to the Catlins

Last year I won a camper van trip in a photo competition organised by Bluebridge. We planned an Autumn escape down south and seeing as we were given a 6 berth campervan we invited Keryn’s parents along as well. We flew to Queenstown and picked up our vehicle then headed to a supermarket to get supplies. Finally we drove to Arrowtown to spend the night at the Arrowtown Holiday Park.

Our first evening and night was all about getting to know our new mobile accommodation and figuring out thing like who would sleep where and where to put all our stuff. One thing decided fairly early was that we wouldn’t be moving Alayna’s car seat from where we had installed it and it was a right pain to get in securely. The car seat was fitted to a seat that was in an area that converted to a bed. Thankfully Alayna still fitted in the bed with the seat in place. The beds were not the most comfortable given the mattresses were mostly seat cushions but it was good enough. We also discovered that we wouldn’t be easily getting Alayna asleep during the day (she normally has a midday siesta) and that meant she slept longer at night. The knock-on effect was we all ended up sleeping in each day, not the worst thing to happen on holiday.

The morning was largely overcast and the visible hillsides were to the east so there was no chance of a dazzling sunrise and then sunlight lighting up the autumnal colours of the trees. Still, the foliage and hills were still worth a photo or two.

Morning light on the hills

Morning light on the hills

Colour in shadow

Colour in shadow

Leaving the camp site we found a place to park nearer the town centre and went for a walk in the Arrowtown Recreational Reserve alongside the Arrow River. There were plenty of trees showing nice colours and the walk was very pleasant but Alayna wasn’t overly pleased to be walking and probably hadn’t had the best nights sleep either (everything being new and different). We didn’t get very far before the weather started turning and we walked back in a light rain. I ended up walking Alayna around town in her pram to give her some quiet time and we had some fun wandering through a few shops while dodging heavier bouts of rain.

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

Remains of a tree hut

Remains of a tree hut seen on the walk

Eventually it was back to the campervan and we left Arrowtown and started our journey south to the Catlins. Unfortunately we had a little mix-up with some over-reliance on the satnav that came as part of our hire package and we took a rather roundabout and longer than necessary route to our next destination. We had dinner in Gore and drove though the wet night to get to the Catlins Kiwi Holiday Park.

Part of the prize had been vouchers for Kiwi Holiday Parks but I’d accidentally left them at home. A quick conversation with my sister Catherine had the vouchers picked up and sent by courier down to the Catlins but they were going to take a few days to arrive. The staff at the Catlins Kiwi Holiday Park were very understanding and trusting in allowing us to sort out the costs of the stay once the vouchers arrived.

Our home for the next week

Our home for the next week

The 1st Birthday Party

Alayna is one in a couple of days and today we held a small birthday party. We had family and a few friends around to celebrate. Alayna had a wonderful day full of play, presents and happy interaction with lots of people. I’m pretty sure that Alayna won’t need any new toys for a few years now and she seems very happy with her new playthings. There were also a few lovely pieces of clothing, some books and we must not forget all the lovely packaging, wrapping paper and ribbons which provided Alayna with further entertainment.

1st Birthday Cake

1st Birthday Cake

The cats spent most of the time sleeping (as they do most days) but came out a few times on the lookout for any food that might be on offer. Earl was especially friendly and managed to photobomb some photos.

Earl photobomb

Earl photobomb

Its been a great year so far and Alayna has been a joyful addition to our family. We’re still learning from our little girl and it seems she is learning from us as well. One year nearly done and we’re looking forward to many more years of discovery and new experiences.

and baby makes three

A week ago Keryn gave birth to our baby girl. Alayna Bailey Huia Doran arrived at 5:35pm on Sunday 8th September and was a healthy 3.96 kgs. This past week has been an interesting and steep learning curve, as I’m sure all new parents will attest. The following is a photo essay of our first week as a family of three.

Keryn and Alayna meeting for the first time with Elaine looking on.

Keryn and Alayna meeting for the first time with Elaine looking on.

Keryn's mother Elaine holding Alayna for the first time.

Keryn’s mother Elaine holding Alayna for the first time.

Holding Alayna for the first time.

Holding Alayna for the first time.

Keryn and Alayna get to know each other on the morning following the birth.

Keryn and Alayna get to know each other on the morning following the birth.

Asleep at the hospital.

Asleep at the hospital.

Sleeping at home in the crib made by Keryn's father.

Sleeping at home in the crib made by Keryn’s father.

Asleep in the cot.

Asleep in the crib.

Chilling out at home with dad.

Chilling out at home with dad.

Alayna's first bath at home.

Alayna’s first bath at home.

Aunty Catherine and Uncle Paul come for a visit.

Aunty Catherine and Uncle Paul come for a visit.

Alayna at home, nearly a week old.

Alayna at home, nearly a week old.

There will be many more firsts and a fair few bumps along the way but as your parents we’ll love every minute. So happy first week Alayna!

Down South

We took a long planned trip down to Timaru on the weekend. Keryn finally got to meet Liam and also got reacquainted with my Aunty Helen who provided the transport between Christchurch and Timaru. We had a fairly chilled time hanging out with family, no stress or bother. I ended up providing willing entertainment for Keira though I realised today that my arms are sore from all the lifting and jumping performed in the name of fun.

Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Liam takes a rest.

MG 6135Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Keira, not resting.

MG 6152Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Climbing the web down the bay.

MG 6165-2Photo by Brendon & Keryn

What makes me dizzy makes Keira reflective.

While playing at Grannies I also managed to get a few shots of lovely garden blooms and a few other little details.

MG 6195Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A pink rose.

MG 6226Photo by Brendon & Keryn

More roses.

MG 6229Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Orange this time.

MG 6246Photo by Brendon & Keryn

In the garage.

MG 6249Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Preserves.

MG 6272Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Tomatoes.

It wasn’t just the flora and Keira having their photos taken.

MG 6292Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Crossword time.

MG 6297Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Dad.

But there were plenty of Keira photos here as well.

MG 6257Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Mostly patient with the photos.

MG 6282Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Dancing around.

MG 6302Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Inside with the toys.

Leaving Timaru with Helen I stopped us after crossing the Rakaia River and I headed back to the river to try and get some photos of the view we had seen while traversing the span. Dust from the riverbed had turned the horizon downriver into a white haze but the dust had gone by the time I arrived at the riverbank.

MG 6324Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Beside the Rakaia.

MG 6330Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Helen and Keryn.

MG 6334Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Countryside.

Our next flight will take us to Australia for the Wedding of Roger and Kate, which reminds me that Keryn and I need to get new passports. Oh, and there are plenty more photos on the flickr, this link would be a good place to start.

Before the rush

Keryn’s parents are here to celebrate their 40th Wedding anniversary and Travis and Sophie came down as well so we’ve had a busy few days. Zealandia was open for free to Wellington residents and I’ve heard it was crazy busy on Saturday (today has been strong winds and a bit of rain, so maybe wasn’t as popular) and guessing this would be the case we went to Zealandia on Friday, even though it was overcast, drizzling and with low mist sweeping through the city. There was however almost no wind and because it didn’t look nice (and being a weekday) there was next to no-one at Zealandia which made it the perfect time to visit.

We saw all sorts of wildlife, there was even one tuatara out braving the not so warm weather. Spring was in evidence as well with a couple of ducks out leading their broods of ducklings around. While visiting Zealandia on a nice sunny day may be slightly more pleasant I think that visiting on a grey day is better as there will be less people and the light is generally better for photographs of the flora and fauna.

MG 6470Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A tui feeding amongst the kowhai flowers.

MG 6425Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Mum and ducklings.

MG 6539Photo by Brendon & Keryn

One of the recently released red crowned parakeets (Kakariki).

MG 6604Photo by Brendon & Keryn

An obliging Californian quail.

MG 6607Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Kowhai flowers with a coating of water.

With the weather on Saturday much better in the Wairarapa we headed over to visit a few wineries. We had a ho-hum lunch in Martinborough before heading out to sample the vino and I have decided that next time we’ll eat at Vynfields, the location is just so lovely.

MG 6648Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Tasting at Vynfields Organic Winery.

MG 6638Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The heart of the wine.

Family Christmas

We travelled down to Timaru by car, taking the Blue Bridge ferry across Cook Stait. We had Patricia and Sam with us and Patricia has inside knowledge for the first ferry, running off to find us a cabin upstairs. It was nice to have an area we could relax and have our own space.

IMG 7016Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Peeking in to our cabin

Heading south from Picton we stopped just out of Blenheim to eat lunch at the viewpoint looking over the old single lane Awatere Bridge.

Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Looking over the rail bridge

We had another stop before Kaikoura to have a look at a seal colony, smelly fur seals relaxing on the rocky shoreline.

IMG 7078Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Discussing who gets to sit on the rock

The day after arriving in Timaru Keryn and I drove back to Christchurch to pick up Catherine and Paul who had taken the train. We also caught up with my old flatmate Karen, the last time we’d talked was way back at our leaving drinks before we headed over to the UK.

Our late Christmas was good. We did the normal family things; Christmas lunch, presents, lawn cricket and mini golf (I was joint winner with Dean).

IMG 7087Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Adam with Richard and Keira being read a story by Bridget

IMG 7128Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Presents

IMG 7139Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Cricket

IMG 7174Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Catherine and Patricia on the Caroline Bay Carnival Ferris Wheel

While in Timaru Keryn and I took an early morning trip further South to the boulders at Moeraki. We were joined by my Uncle Michael and we had a cold half hour walking down the beach and looking at the boulders, warming up at the Bolder Cafe (the much more famous Fleur’s Cafe in the Moeraki township was closed for the holiday season which was a pity).

IMG 7141Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Dried seaweed on a boulder

IMG 7162Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Beach boulders

IMG 7165Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The small harbour of the town of Moeraki

When it came time to head back towards Wellington we had a nights stop over in Marlborough to break up the journey. Staying at the Korohi Vineyard B&B near Renwick we were right in the middle of the wine region, so we visited a few vineyards for some tastings. The afternoon we arrived we visited Drylands, the Moa beer brewery and the Makana chocolate shop. Good wine, fine beer and delicious chocolates made for a good afternoon.

After dinner I went for a walk through the local vines, and later on was joined by Patricia and Keryn to head down to the Wairau River for another walk. It was cloudy and windy, so it was moody rather than pretty photos that came out of the short exploring.

IMG 7219Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Wind in the vines

IMG 7226Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Slowly rusting away

IMG 7231Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Clouds hide the evening light

The next morning we visited three more vineyards before we had to head to Picton for our ferry. First up we went to Spy Valley Wines and were there for the first tasting of the day. It was good to be the only people being servered and the hostess was friendly, informative and not holding back with the wine, letting us (well, not me, I was driving) taste eight different wines.

We got a recomendation from Spy Valley for a couple of nearby smaller vineyards. Next we visited the Seresin Estate, an organic vineyard. There were more people here when we arrived but the welcome was just as friendly and the wine good as well. The final winery had the most interesting Cellar Door; a small shack integrated with a lovely little outdoor garden area. Bladen Wines were one of the first vineyards in the area and we had a nice talk with the one of the owners, Christine Macdonald. All too soon we were having to head away so we could get to Picton in time for our ferry crossing.

We had a different ferry on the return journey and it didn’t have the same cabins available, but we found a table in one of the cafe areas and claimed it as our space. It was a colder and windier crossing but the swell was low and the journey smooth.

IMG 7247Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Grey skies in Cook Strait

Family and Tori Amos

We’ve been busy over the last few days. I’ve had siblings ring me at work from Melbourne, I rang my Dad to say happy birthday, we’ve had Pauline ring after coming back from NZ last week and Keryn called Steve and Chris in Melbourne as well. We’ve spent a bit of time looking at Australian news sites (mainly Nine MSN) trying to figure out if Sam and Patricia are OK what with the fires going on in Canberra. It looks like they’ll be close to the action – they live in the area called Belconnen which is on the west side of Canberra, and it’s the west where the fires are worst. However, it looks like the really bad parts are the areas of Stromlo and Duffy, which are south and west of where they live (you can look at a map of Canberra here, Belconnen the suburb is in the middle of Belconnen the region, Duffy is in the region of Weston Creek). Hopefully they’re OK.

As well as talking to people we’ve been out and about a bit. We went to a Tori Amos concert at the Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday night. I took my camera hoping for some good concert shots but the security was the tightest I’d ever seen at a concert. They separated everyone into male and female rows and searched everyone’s bags and patted everyone down looking for recording equipment. Because of this I left my camera with my jacket in the coat check. In spite of this plenty of people still got their cameras in, hopefully I’ll find some photos on the Internet somewhere. I did get a few photos of Tori before the concert – she does a meet and greet with the fans before each show. Here’s the best one.

Tori signing for the fans, 16 Jan 2002, Hammersmith Apollo, London

The concert itself was great, I might write something up later. Friday night we went to a show in the west end – our first in nearly two years living in London. We saw the Reduced Shakespeare Company perform ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged’, and it was absolutely hilarious. Again, I might write more on it later (or get Keryn to write something). Last night we went to a work do, Keryn’s New Years party at the St. Ann’s Hilton near Woking. A good night out and a nice sleep in a fancy hotel. I also got to meet all the people Keryn keeps talking about. Thats it for now, this week we’re off to see ‘The Lion King’, again in the west end, and also going out for drinks with Ben and Jim.