Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand

I’m back! And that means it’s time to bore you all with tales from my New Zealand trip. Sorry, not sorry 😉

We landed at Auckland airport at around 11 a.m. on 20th March, but by the time we’d got through passport control, collected our bags, done the security thing and my cousin, who had come to pick us up (so many thanks for that!), had driven us into town, it was afternoon. We quickly showered at the hotel then walked down Queen’s Street (the main shopping street) to jump on a ferry to Devonport, where my cousin lives.

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On the ferry to Devonport

Originally a fishing village, Devonport is now a suburb of Auckland city. It’s located on the North Shore, so to get there you either have to drive over the harbour bridge (incredibly annoying at rush hour!) or take a ferry. I certainly wouldn’t mind using the ferry for my daily commute!

While we waited for my cousin (who had gone to her boyfriend’s while we freshened up), we had a walk around the wharf area and watched the seagulls and other birds that were gathered around.

Once my cousin arrived, she took us for a drive around Devonport, up the various hills (which are actually volcanoes) and then for dinner at her local pub, The Patriot. I can’t remember which photos were taken from where, so here are just all of them. Views from North Head and Mount Victoria:

At dinner, we had our first taste of Kumara, the New Zealand sweet potato that the Maoris brought with them from Polynesia, and also tried our first New Zealand beers. At around 9 p.m. we decided it was probably time to get moving since my cousin had to work the next day and we had another flight to catch – to the South Island, where we would be spending the next five days. After a ferry ride back to Auckland City and a walk up Queens Street that felt much longer than the walk into town we were finally in bed, where I at least fell straight to sleep.

^ terrible attempts to get a night shot as we were coming in to Auckland city harbour!

Next up is South Island. Stay tuned!

* New Zealand is my April trip for 2016’s take 12 trips retake! *
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Stamp of Approval Staurday: Books and Music

books & globe
Photo credit: reenoreluv

For this week’s Stamp of Approval Saturday, I wanted to share this story of a woman who set herself the challenge of reading a book from every country in the world in one year. And I thought my plan to read all the books from the BBC Big Read in the next five years was ambitious!

While we’re on the subject of books, take a look at this Mashable list of 15 Young-Adult Books Every Adult Should Read. I have read two of them and naturally all the rest have now been added to my to-read list. If only there were more hours in a day…

Finally, I would like to share a music video with you. I had never even heard of the band Big Sixes until two weeks ago, then this link was posted on Facebook. The video is admittedly kind of boring, but please have a listen anyway…  they teamed up with some young musicians, and the cello player is my 14-year-old cousin!

For more stamps of approval, check out Alex’s blog,  Ifs, Ands & Butts!

New baby card

I mentioned on Friday that I have a new baby cousin – the first on my dad’s side of the family! Although my family is large on both sides, my dad only has one brother and until now he had no kids (that we know of). On Wednesday that changed – my new cousin was born on 12.12.2012 (what a great date!) at 10:50 a.m. Melbourne time (my uncle and his partner live in Australia).

Here’s the new baby card I made to send them:

Welcome babyUnderneath the lion it says the baby’s name. I blurred it out here because I don’t think I have the right to broadcast other people’s baby’s names across the Internet even if my readers have no real way of finding out who she is.
Here’s the cross stitched part of the card in more detail:

baby card detailIt went in the post along with a small gift on Thursday. I hope they like it!

It’s Friday letters time!

Another Friday, another chance to write letters to life, the universe and everything…

Letters
Letters (Photo credit: alto maltés)

Dear spammer. Thank you for giving me a laugh this morning. “Your website is like an encyclopaedia for me, thanks“. That’s very nice, but I’m still not clicking on your casino link!

Dear post office. You have made a small fortune off me this week – and I’m not finished yet! Still three packages to be sent…

Dear Karlsruhe Christmas market. I haven’t been to you once yet (passing through doesn’t count). Something needs to be done about this very soon!

Dear new cousin. Welcome to the world, little baby girl! I hope I get to see you one day, even though you live in Australia.

Dear relatives. Only 10 days til Christmas! The chances of my packages reaching you in time are now slim. I hope you don’t mind opening New Year’s presents instead! (Actually, I know at least one person who will. Sorry Grandma!!)

PhotobucketAnd now I’m going into town. In the pouring rain. I need to get at least one of the aforementioned parcels sent (at the only post office that’s still open… and just happens to be halfway across town!) then try to get presents for the last few remaining people on my list. Right now, I’m just not feeling the Christmas spirit!

Slow down!

I found out today that my cousin’s daughter is now six months old. Six months!! I mean, she was born in January, so obviously it was going to happen some time soon.. but it only just was January… wasn’t it? Except no. It’s July. How did that happen? It’s not even like I’ve been doing loads – which would at least explain where the time has gone (time flies when you’re having fun and all that). I tried to write a letter to someone the other day with all the things I’d been doing since May in it – May being the last time I wrote to them because I’m almost as useless at letter writing as I am at blogging. I came up with the following: Went to Jan’s dad’s 60th birthday party, had visitors and went to Ettlingen with them, took a day trip to Calw, went to a christening (the final one was last weekend). That’s four things. Four! In two months!
Clearly somebody needs to slow the world down for a while and give me a chance to catch up!