Lets go to Newtown!

The Newtown Festival came around again so we had an afternoon walking around the stalls and checking out the sights and sounds. We parked up near Catherine and Paul’s (amazingly finding a park quite quickly) and went for a quick visit to say hi and because Alayna likes visiting her Aunty and Uncle.

Checking out the cats tail

Checking out the cats tail

Later on at the fair Alayna was interested in many different things including every dog that walked by, any stalls with toys, all the other children and babies and balloons. She also wanted to take a ride on the first thing we saw at the fair, the giant inflatable slide (or the big! big! slide! as Alayna described it).

The Newtown Fair

The Newtown Fair

We returned to the slide as our last fair activity and Alayna eagerly took off her shoes and with a quick boost up was heading up the stairs. Turns out the stairs were a little bit long for Alayna to comfortably reached so it was nice that another girl on her way up slowed down to help. Once at the top Alayna got a big grin on her face and launched herself down the slide…only to find it was a lot steeper and faster than she was expecting and she tumbled down to end up in heap at the bottom. She was a little unhappy but shook it off quickly and after a bit of a snuggle was almost ready for another go. Deciding that it possibly wasn’t the best idea we instead headed back to New World for an ice cream treat to help cool down.

Balcony party

Balcony party

Back to the quiet of Catherine and Paul’s and we were treated to pikelets and a relaxing sit down. It was nice to have a quiet break before the drive home.

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!

What’s been going on?

As predicted we have been back to Pepe’s a few times now and they don’t disappoint. I’m sure you wanted to know that.

Over the last few weeks, in no particular order: we have had visitors from Brisbane and Hastings stay over (and continue to stay actually – mid-stay I’ll say); I’ve bought a bike and been for a ride out to Pencarrow Heads; Been out in Wellington On-Our-Own for the first time; Been out with others in Wellington and lastly I’ve had funny looks from people down the road while out taking photos.

In more detail then Paul and Jenny visited with their friendly little toddler Mathilde. We took them to a few sights of Wellington taking in the Zoo, Parliament, Mt Vic (can I call it Mt Vic, have I lived here long enough now?) and up to visit Sam and Jules in their new house. We had a good time and a nice few days of catching up before our guests drove further North to experience more of this island.

IMG 2928Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Proving it is not only domestic cats that like boxes, I present a curious Serval in a banana box.

IMG 2988Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Jenny and Mathilde

As the weather has been getting nicer I’ve been hankering to get some transport that doesn’t involve filling up with fuel. Finally after visiting a few shops and looking at bikes online and in store I decided on the place with the friendliest staff and ended up buying a Mongoose Tyax Comp from Glen at Cycle Science in Lower Hutt. My first choice bike was a more expensive Merida but the customer service wasn’t up to scratch at the store I visited, and it’s more convenient to get servicing done in the Hutt. Probably just as well, with all the extras (helmet, puncture repair kit, pump etc etc) I’m still under the price of the Merida.

With a few days off and nice looking weather I went for a ride out past Eastbourne towards the lighthouses on Pencarrow Peninsular. I haven’t ridden a bike properly for a long time (the Bolivian Road of Death excepted as that was 99% downhill) and while the 20 odd kms out was fine the 20 odd kms back was anything but. I should have realised I had made good time because I had a tail wind, I very much realised that I’m not really fit enough to cycle that far into a head wind. I even had to walk for a kilometre or so in Seaview as I couldn’t face cycling into the wind, very sad. I think this week I’ll restrict myself to smaller jaunts, visiting the Hutt River trail in the mornings perhaps.

IMG 3582Photo by Brendon & Keryn

My new bike and the Pencarrow lighthouse

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The old Pencarrow lighthouse looking good in the late morning sunlight

The trees that line our street are a mix of Pohutukawa and Kowhai and with spring coming on the Kowhai’s are currently covered in a profusion of yellow flowers. The local tui population is in raptures. I set out one late afternoon with my camera and long lens to see if I could capture any good shots. There is one particular Kowhai that is quite large and always seems to have one or more birds hoping from flower to flower and true to form there was one when I visited. I got a few half decent photos, I’ll be back for more while the flowers stay around. I got a few funny looks from neighbours down the street, maybe they haven’t seen anyone with a big camera standing around looking up at trees before.

IMG 3315Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A tui in Kowhai heaven

In Wellington we’ve now been to a few more restaurants. We joined Pauline at Hede on Cuba Street and had good, reasonably priced Japanese dishes. It was Pauline’s birthday and there were friends and family of hers also in attendance, most of whom we had met before many years ago. Hede reminded me of Won Kei in London’s Chinatown. While one is Japanese and the other Chinese it was more the decor and experience (a bit run down, pack-em-in tables, really busy, efficient bordering on sometimes rude staff, really good food) than the menu that picked at my memories. We had drinks and cake afterwards at Enigma, good cake and really friendly service.

We’ve also been out in town eating at Ernesto’s again on Cuba Street before heading off to see Liam Finn and friends at the Opera House. Ernesto’s had good food and a friendly but a little bit absentminded staff. We got our table and food promptly enough but had to wait ages to get dessert menus after our table was cleared. Anyway, I very much enjoyed my black bean and chipotle chilli with grilled chicken and chorizo and will be back for more.

The full line-up at the Opera House was Connan Mockasin, Lawrence Arabia, Eliza Jane and Liam Finn. There were three sets with everyone on stage a lot of the time. I still find it strange to be seated at a alt-pop
concert, thankfully a large section of the crowd was of a similar mind and by the end I was perched to the right of the stage taking photos while a happy group danced and moshed in front. Good music and happy vibes make for a good night.

IMG 3393Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Connan and Liam

IMG 3563Photo by Brendon & Keryn

So much energy

A couple of weekends

A couple of weekends ago we journeyed back to the Wairarapa and stayed with my cousin Amanda for a night in Masterton. We were over the hill for a birthday party celebrating cousin Julian’s 30th birthday. We made the most of our time starting with lunch in Greytown with Amanda and Uncle Michael. Before the evening entertainment we had a walk in the Holdsworth area of the Tararua Forest Park. We had three dogs with us and all was going well until one disappeared. Amanda went off looking for the missing mutt while Keryn and I took the Gentle Annie track up to a viewpoint called Rocky Lookout.

The track wasn’t steep but did pretty much wind uphill for forty minutes of walking, so we were grateful for a rest at the lookout. The track is fairly new and looked it being well maintained and with very nice steps. Being the middle of the afternoon the sun was high in the sky and there was little in the way of clouds so the light was a bit harsh for decent photos, not that it stopped me snapping away.

IMG 2365Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Looking to the hills

Heading back into the forest I took more photos as we came down to the valley floor, the big trees and undergrowth looking good with the sunlight filtering through the canopy.

IMG 2393Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The remains of a grand tree

Amanda was waiting for us with the three dogs, the wantaway one having found his way back to the car on his own. A few more photos and then we were off back to Amanda’s for dinner and then it was on to Carterton for the birthday celebration. There were school collegue guests as well and we had a good evening of talking spiced up with a mamoth drinking game session. We left in the early morning (Keryn not drinking, therefore driving) and retired once back in Masterton.

A slow start to the morning turned into a trip out to Castlepoint for Keryn and I. We took in the lighthouse and the fishing boats lined up on the beach, sitting in large boat trailers with tractors positioned ready to take the boats into the surf. There was a clever sculpture made by nailing lost jandals (thongs, flip flops) to a post. The sculpture was labelled “Home of the lost soles”.

IMG 2438Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Castlepoint Lighthouse

IMG 2495Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Lost Soles

We had parked on the beach and moved the car to a carpark off the sand. While getting ready to walk to Castle Rock another car pulled up and out got John Howe, an artist known for his painting around the writings of JRR Tolkien (amongst other artwork). John is in New Zealand working on the Hobbit movie pre-production. We left him and (I presume) his family alone to enjoy the scenery and set off on our walk.

The path took us through a stand of tall pines and along a ridge above the beach. We reached the rock after stopping to take some photos of the bay further down the coast, Christmas Bay. There isn’t a proper path up the rock itself but a track has been worn in by countless people passing this way. We made our way up and stopped at the edge where the rock drops away to the ocean far below. The wind was quite strong on this exposed edge and we didn’t hang around for long.

IMG 2456Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Christmas Bay

IMG 2460Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A photo from the edge

Down on the beach we could see a group going through surfing lessons. They were improving all the time, loud encouragement to be heard when ever anyone stood on their board to ride the incoming waves. We walked back along the beach and got back to the car. We bought some food at the local dairy/cafe and ate it in the car while looking out to sea. Then we started back heading for Wellington.

We took a last minute diversion when we spotted a sign for the Waiohine Gorge. Amanda had talked about the bridge over the gorge, the highest suspension bridge in the Southern Hemisphere and I wanted to take a look. The gorge road was unsealed and very dry so the car was soon dust covered and even more in need of a clean than it had already been. We drove till the road ended at a carpark and after looking at the map by the carpark we realised we didn’t have much of a walk to the bridge.

IMG 2498Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The bridge

IMG 2504Photo by Brendon & Keryn

From the bridge looking up the gorge

As indicated we walked for all of a minute to find the bridge and it was indeed very high above the river. I must be getting over some of my vertigo as I had no problems with the bridge and we were soon on the other side. We didn’t hang around on the bridge as we still had an hour drive back home, but when I found a path down to the river back at the carpark I headed down for some river shots. Sunlight was leaving the gorge so I concentrated on the water and finding patterns in the flow over the rocks.

IMG 2556Photo by Brendon & Keryn

River over stones

A final few shots looking up at the bridge and I was done. The drive back to Wellington and our place in Epuni was without incident and we had a nice meal of fish and chips from So Fine Seafoods to end our day.

The weekend just gone we joined some of my family in visiting Ohakune. We drove up on Friday night with Catherine and Paul in their car. We were staying in an a-frame holiday home and arrived well after dark to find Bridget already arrived and my nephew Adam already asleep in bed. Being tired we didn’t stay up for long.

Saturday we all walked into the town centre (five minutes down the road) and had a look at some of the shops and the information centre. On the way back we stopped at a bakery and got some lunch. Keryn and I then drove with Bridget and Adam up to Turoa skifield so have some time in the snow. The skifield itself was closed, the lifts shut down probably due to the high winds on the upper reaches of the mountain. We all wrapped up and walked on the snow and had a quick slide on a plastic sled bridget had bought with her. Adam seemed nonplussed by the snow, taking his first experience very quietly.

IMG 2636Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Bridget and Adam ready to slide

Heading back down the mountain we stopped at a signposted waterfall lookout. It was a very short walk to the lookout and the waterfall was impressive. I took a few photos and then we headed back to the house.

IMG 2653Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Lined up at the Mangawhero Waterfall lookout

Keryn and I went for another longer walk in the afternoon. We walked the Waitonga Falls Track through attractive forest and then on a boardwalk over a mountain bog. After the boardwalk the track descended into a valley, eventually coming out at a stream, the Waitonga waterfall visible ahead. We walked along the stream for a while looking for an easy way across without getting wet but didn’t find one so I settled for taking photos at a distance. After I had sated my photographic need it was back up the track heading for the car.

IMG 2681Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The boardwalk

IMG 2701Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The Waitonga Waterfall

IMG 2716Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Russett colours on the bog

IMG 2724Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The bridge near the start of the track

Back at the house Keryn and I cooked up nachos for everyone and we relaxed for the evening. The next day dawned wet so the planned walk to somewhere for breakfast turned into a drive. We had a nice breakfast at the Fat Pigeon Cafe, I had a very nice stack of pancakes with banana and berries on top. The rain stopped any plans for more walking so we returned to the house to pack and clean up, heading back for Wellington around lunchtime. We ended up stopping in Taihape to get some lunch and had one more stop in Levin to stretch the legs. It was good to get back to Wellington and have one last drive back to our house. Dinner was a pizza from the local award winning Pizzeria, Pepes Pizza Parlour. The pizza was good, I imagine we’ll be back for more in the future.