Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A Weekend In Sydney

This past weekend Grant and I flew over to Sydney to visit some friends - friends who live in that big, beautiful city across the pond, and friends who were visiting there from Cape Town.

We spent Friday night at Andrew's house, catching up with him, Shane and Gené. We worked out that we hadn't seen Shane and Gené for probably 4 years, so it was fantastic to be able to spend time with them again - nothing beats face to face connection. And wow, spending time with them made me realise just how much I miss all my other Cape Town friends too! I'm thinking that it might be time for another visit... we haven't been back for so long.

On Saturday morning, we caught the train to the city, and walked around for a while before meeting up with some other friends from Cape Town. I got to spend time with a friend of mine from university days who has lived in Sydney for about five years now. She has a sister who lives in Auckland so between her visits to Auckland and my visits to Sydney, we manage to see each other quite frequently which is so wonderful. It is so great for us immigrants to have 'familiar history' and be able to spend time with people who share so many old memories. Love these guys!

We all had lunch at a wonderful Japanese restaurant called Saké, in The Rocks, and then wandered around that lovely neighbourhood, popping in for coffee and a chocolate treat at Guylian before walking around the market.

And after all that running around, we dashed back home to get ready to go out for dinner that night. We met another two couples at a restaurant called Ripples and had a fun evening together there before Grant's and my energy levels hit a low (that two hour time difference can make a big difference when you're busy and staying up late at night).

It was such a wonderful (and very quick) weekend away and so good to see old friends again. I'd forgotten just how big Sydney is, and how hectic the traffic is there, and I'd wanted to meet up with a school friend, but unfortunately I didn't get it together. I'll have to make another plan to get back there in the not too distance future because it's so special to see 'your' people in life and it's important to make the effort to connect.

And oh boy, yes, speaking of special people - it's nearly Christmas! I loved this Father Christmas made out of plastic crates that is part of a festive exhibit down at The Rocks in Sydney at the moment. People can be so creative and clever! I'm thinking that it's nearly time to get all of our Christmas decorations out of storage, and get that Christmas spirit flowing around here! Deck the halls and all that. Yes.

Okay, chat again soon, guys. Hope you're all managing to remain calm as the end of the year fast approaches us! x

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Throwback: Hawaii 2014

We ended our 2014 American trip in Hawaii, flying from San Francisco to Honolulu and heading straight to our hotel on Waikiki Beach. This was our first time visiting Hawaii and we were totally blown away by all of the beautiful beaches and the turquoise coloured water!

After a quick lunch at Duke's, a restaurant in our hotel that overlooked Waikiki, we made our way down to the beach and swam in that wonderful water. And it was heavenly! I'm a bona fide beach girl at heart. To me there's nothing quite like bobbing around in the ocean, with the sun shining down on you.

(And it was so fantastic to be winding down our awesome holiday - at the beach, especially after our busy time on the mainland which had seen us driving long distances, flying, seeing so many new and exciting places and having so many unforgettable experiences. It was the perfect end to our holiday.)

Below was the view from our hotel balcony, at sunset. I couldn't get enough of it - I think I took about a hundred photos of this view alone!

While we were there the kids and Grant did some surfing, which they loved. Here is Sarah on her first try after a few years:

And here are the boys: 

Waikiki is the perfect beach for beginners and those who haven't surfed for years! The only downside is that there are so many people out there competing for the same waves.

Hawaii seems to be very popular with New Zealanders. We bumped into some friends of ours from New Zealand, down on the beach:

I just can't get over how young Luke is here:

And Jess with darker hair:

And younger Sarah with one of the ring floats we bought at one of the numerous ABC stores:

We also hired a car one day and drove around the island - enjoying a delicious Jack Daniels burger at Buzz's Original Steak House and having a wonderful swim at Lanikai beach on the North Shore. We sampled the shrimp at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck (a well-known graffiti-decorated truck on the side of the road on the North Shore) along the way; and loved the rainbow coloured shaved ice we had for dessert at another roadside establishment. Enjoying this trip with the kids meant eating kid-exciting food and treats, and it meant we ended up eating at kid-friendly restaurants for the most part. Not altogether a bad thing, but it meant we didn't get to try any of the popular 'fancy' restaurants on this trip. (Oh well, another time perhaps?)

And after our week's stay on Oahu, we went back to the airport to fly home... or so we thought! Turns out our aeroplane had technical problems and we ended up staying on the island for two days longer than planned! Now that doesn't sound like much of problem to have, but in reality it was quite frustrating and tiresome. We were shuttled back and forth between the airport and various hotels on more than one occasion as they, first, worked on the plane and then, waited for parts to be flown in from New Zealand. Much of our time was spent in the airport lounge, doing things like this:

(Well some of us, anyway.)

We eventually got home - to the wettest, coldest weather ever! Ugh. But we were filled with the most amazing memories of one of the best holidays we've ever had together as a family.



It's been exciting to be back here on the blog and I love getting your comments - thank you for taking the time to stop by and connect! Although I'm playing a big catch-up game at the moment, it has it's benefits because I'm getting to look back at all the hundreds of photos I took so long ago and it's bringing back all the feels! I'm loving it!

As I mentioned in a recent post, I was dashing off to have lunch with my sister, Colleen, at the recently opened Spur. And we got there! And I had a vanilla milkshake (yum) and these beauties:

Don't those onion rings look good? Haha. So funny that I wouldn't rush off to the Spur when we lived in South Africa (unless it was a young kid's birthday), but as soon as the Spur opened it's doors here on the North Shore, bam! There I was! Aah, good old nostalgia. 

The salad valley hasn't made the cut over here, but most other aspects of the chain remain the same (I'm looking at you, birthday song). Oh, and Colleen wondered what had happened to the monkey gland sauce? Anyone know? Not popular enough? No longer PC?

Yesterday, this little munchkin came to visit us:

Isn't she just the cutest? They stopped by after Evie's gymnastics class; and while she was tucking into some snacks, I couldn't help but annoy her by playing with some snapchat filters! 


Poor kid, having a crazy aunt like me. ;)

We've all been missing 'gaga' and 'pa' lots over here (come home already, mom and Geoff!), but we're so happy that they had such a great time over in the UK with Leigh, Neil and the kids!

They're about to land back in Auckland as I'm typing this and we're all so excited to see them again! (Sorry about those plants of yours that perished under my watch while you were away!) ;)