Tag Archives: Kids

When in Rome…

July ’13

Last weekend I took Billy the Kid and Cat to see the Roman Machines exhibition at Te Manawa.  Billy has been a huge fan of Roman militaria for many years.

When we arrived we discovered that the statue of Charles Monro outside the museum had been “Yarn Bombed”.  He’s dressed as a Roman Gladiator – in pink!

Charles John Monro

Charles John Monro

We found the Machines easily enough – but got distracted by a Roman game laid out to try in the entranceway.  It’s a game very like noughts and crosses, only the grid is bigger and it’s played with counters (in this case gray and white stones).  The kids had fun playing a round.

Board game

Roman Noughts and Crosses

I note that the basket holding the counters looks rather less Roman, and more like an object from closer to home….

Admit One

Roman Machine @ TeManawa

After the game we moved on and bought our tickets.  There were several other families already checking out clever wonders of the Roman era.  The exhibition has a range of scale model replicas of the devices that the Romans invented, many of which are still used to this day.  Cranes and catapults, water pumps and pulleys – all fully interactive.  There’s a scale replica of the form used to build stone arches.  Billy and Cat had a go at building an archway, carefully placing the keystone at the top.

Roman stonework

Building an arch

Each part of the exhibition is accompanied by interesting details that tie it back Continue reading

Your body is a machine!

31 May ’13

I put my hand up to help out with transport for Billy’s class to go to an exhibition at Te Manawa.  Body in Action is a fabulous, educational exhibit that teaches kids how our amazing bodies work.

Palmerston North Museum

Room 1 at Te Manawa

First stop, after the obligatory photo on the museum sign, was the classroom. Here Barbara, with the help of Vanessa, demonstrated how food is processed through our digestive system.  I have to say that bread and tinned spaghetti looks pretty gross once it’s been mashed with “saliva”, whizzed with “stomach acid” and “bile” then squeezed out through a stocking “large intestine”.

Te Manawa Classroom

Barbara and Vanessa “digesting” spaghetti on toast

It was all too much for poor Gabby, who had to leave the room.

Next we all trouped up stairs to the “Body in Action” exhibit.  The kids had fun testing their sprinting skills, playing ‘guess that smell!’, working out puzzles and trying to ring the bell on the hammer game.

Te Manawa

Sprinting to beat the clock

My group of boys had a game of Gut Run.  Doesn’t that sound delightful!?  It’s a dice game through the digestive system, complete with gurgling and farting sounds.  Just perfect for boys.

Te Manawa

Gut Run

To win, one must pass out through The End.  Of Course.

It’s a fun, interactive and educational exhibit, thanks Te Manawa for bringing it back to Palmy.  Spending a morning with Ashhurst School’s Room 1 was a pleasure, and it beats working.

Eggs and Bacon

02 April ’13

We’ve spent almost every Easter break for the last 13 years at Mangaweka .  The weather has varied from sunny and warm, crisp and frosty to wet and miserable. But every year, whatever the weather,  there’s always been an egg hunt.  One year the neighbour’s dog came over after the Easter Bunny had set out his eggs and scoffed the lot.  That was not a good year.  Another time there was a map with clues.

Rabbit map

An Easter hunt

And every year the kids have got bigger and bigger.

Egg hunt, Mangaweka

Easter hunt 2008

We wonder… “Are they getting too big for Easter hunts?”  Nah, we’ve always decided.  Besides, the Easter Bunny has loads of fun setting them up.

Egg hunt, Mangaweka

Easter Hunt 2009

This year there were clues framed as riddles leading to locations all over the Continue reading

Food and Culture

19 March ’13

The Festival of Cultures in Palmerston North has been getting bigger and more popular every year.    The “boys” and I headed in to the Square just before midday so we could sample the delicious foods and call it lunch.

The first culture we encountered was the Rosewood Morris dancers, the very same dancers we saw at the Medieval Market in Levin.  They’d roped in a bunch of onlookers and were trying to teach them some moves.

Festival of Cultures

Morris Dancers in the Square

We didn’t see any food on offer though.  I wonder what Morris dancers eat… Bangers and mash?  Yorkshire pud?

We moved on in search of edibles.  We found it in spades.  Cambodian pork fried bread, rice and beef stew from the Philippines,  sticky steamed buns filled with pork and relish.  Oh my gosh, international culinary heaven!

Festival of Cultures

Boys chowing down

A dish of rice, noodles and beans in a tasty red sauce from the Congo was served to us by a lovely lady in a fantastic headdress.

Festival of Cultures

A lady of the Congo

Now in search of drink to wash it all down with we shunned the overpriced cans of fizz and went for a delicious and refreshing cup of homemade lemonade. Perfect.

While that we’d been sampling these tasty treats all manner of people in costume and customary dress had been wandering about.  These girls in bright dresses Continue reading

Relay for Life

14 March ’13

Every year since 2001 the city of Palmerston North has held a Relay for Life to raise awareness and cash for cancer treatment.   It is also a time to remember and celebrate those who have fought cancer, the survivors and the people who lost the battle with this devastating disease.

Jacob was invited to join the Palmerston North Cadet Unit team to take part in the Relay.  His friend Brittany is a cadet, and they needed some more bodies to make up team numbers.  Jacob jumped at the chance to be involved, and we were happy to support him.  Sounds like he’s made a bunch of new friends.  Jacob took his camera with him  and got a couple of shots.  Here’s one of the group relaxing between laps.


Cadets at Relay for Life – Credit Jacob Loach

The Lovely Man and I drove in to town on Sunday morning to check out the action.  Lots of tired bodies in a tent city was what we found.  No sign of Jacob though, and we didn’t have any idea what their tent looked like.  After wandering around a bit, considering sending him a text, we fluked locating the boy.  He walked past us with a large sheet of cardboard on his head, taking it to the recycling bin.  “Hi Dad!”  Well, that solved that problem.

They were packing up their tent and gear, so we walked about a bit to see how other teams were getting on.  Runners and walkers, young and old were doggedly completing their circuits of the relay track.

Walking laps

Relaying for Life

The people wearing sashes and leis are cancer survivors.  Kia kaha.

Young girl running

A young relayer

We even managed to find Waldo. Continue reading


4 March ’13

Blackberry –  yes, we know it’s a weed, but those little glossy berries are just so delish.  The hot, long summer seems to have produced a bumper crop this year. So we discovered when we went for a drive on Saturday.

Cat was staying with a friend,  me and the boys (large and small) went out for a drive to the river. There we spotted a man blackberrying.  “Ah ha!”, thought we,  “That looks like a fine idea.”    After we’d checked out the little creek that runs down to the river – the reason we’d gone down there in the first place –  we headed on over to the berry canes.

Blackberry fruit

Billy and the blackberries

I can’t remember the last time I saw such a huge crop of blackberries.  Juicy and sweet, they stained our fingers as we sampled the fruit.  Warm and fragrant in the sun, the memories came flooding back of the blackberries we’d found in Ostia Antica last year.

Italy, Rome

Blackberries in Ostia Antica, Italy

We went home for lunch, then headed back with pots and containers to gather some of nature’s autumn bounty.

Picking blackberries

Boy in berries

It did not take long for three of us to gather enough for a cook up. And all the scratches were totally worth it.  We had enough to make a berry crumble to have Continue reading

Steam Attraction

 28 Feb ’13

The romantic era of steam. It holds an irresistible attraction for both the Lovely Man and I.  I’m not any sort of petrol head, but I’ve long held a fascination for all the shiny brass bits, the might and the power of steam driven engines.  I love the fact that you can see all the working parts, pistons and cams and gears.

The Steam Traction Society, based just outside of Feilding, held its Great Manawatu Steam Fair over the last weekend.  We packed up yet another picnic (I’m getting well practiced at baking up goodies on Saturday afternoon for our Sunday excursions.),  gathered up our kids and  a couple of hangers-on and headed over.

The Steam Traction Society Feilding

Steam Traction Engines

Wow.  The sight of a field full of working traction engines is quite something. I didn’t count how many, they kept moving around, but there must have been at least eight.  Which might not sound like much, but truly it was a sight to behold, all chuffing and smoking stacks.  And huge wheels.  Awesome.

First up we all jumped in the people carrier trailer for a turn around the paddock behind  a smoking, steaming beast.  Even Billy had to smile as we lurched along.

Steam Traction Society Feilding

Trailer ride behind old smokey

That’s smoke in the air, not lack of focus.

And the best bit was yet to come.  We could have a turn at actually driving them! Continue reading

Happy 100th!

 26 Feb ’13

In our quest to Live More Awesome (while we’re not trying to beat depression, this seems a good way to live one’s life) we’d found this event and decided to attend.  The lighthouse at Castlepoint has been a Beam of Bright Light for 100 years, protecting ships and sailors from the rugged coast. To celebrate this milestone the Centennial Committee organised a weekend of activities, including the chance to walk up the lighthouse.  Cool!

Castlepoint Lighthouse 100yrs

Saturday I’d baked up a storm so we’d have goodies to take for a picnic lunch on Sunday.

Courgette Tart and Sausage Pie

Picnic Goodies

The Courgette Tart was inspired by a recipe I’d read in the Herald, and by a glut of yellow and green courgettes in our garden.  The sausage pie was the very first thing I cooked at Manual (now called Technicraft) at school.  It’s a family favourite and really easy to make.

When we arrived the sun was shining and a light breeze was blowing.   I’ve never been to Castlepoint, or spent much time at all on the east coast of the Wairarapa. The coastline is very different from our side of the island.  The sand is golden, it is more rocky and a devilish  wind blows up from the South.  We decided to slog up the hill and join the queue to enter the lighthouse.

Castlepoint lighthouse centennial

Queueing at Castlepoint

After standing in the queue for about 20 minutes, a queue that didn’t seem to be moving despite a few people popping out on the lighthouse balcony above us, the Lovely Man went to see what was going on.  It turned out that only 36 people an hour were able to get through, and there were about 50 people ahead of us. We figured it just was not going to be worth standing there for and hour and half with bored and grumpy children, so we went exploring instead.

Wairarapa coast

Castlepoint Lighthouse

I love it.  No fences.  There’s a handrail for people climbing up the path to the lighthouse and the lookout, well built stairs and rails down the other side.  But after that there are no restrictions.  No PC, wrap-us-up-in-cotton-wool-we’re-too-stupid-to-not-fall-off-the-side nonsense.  How very refreshing.  So we explored, climbed over rocks, discovered fossils and watched the seagulls and terns soaring up the steep cliffs from the Pacific Ocean below. Continue reading


6 Feb ’13

On Friday afternoon we headed up to Trev’s bach at Mangaweka for a weekend away.  We had no particular plans in mind, just hoped the weather would continue in its glorious, sunny vein so we could take the kids swimming on Saturday.


It did, so we did!  After a leisurely morning at the house and a “fix your own sandwich” lunch we packed up the car and headed out.  Trev’s neighbour had loaned us the key to a gate allowing access down to the Kawatau Stream, to a new swimming hole that we’d not visited before.   Wow – perfect.

A shady spot under the old manuka trees, right on the river bank, perfect to set up our picnic table and chairs.  Always the table and chairs – why not picnic in comfort, I say. Slathering sunscreen on the kids is becoming increasingly time consuming. Half a tube (almost!) is required to cover Jake’s back, and I just about need a step ladder to reach his shoulders.  So once they were all coated and protected from the sun, in they went.  I regretted not having brought my own swimming togs.The water was the perfect temperature, having meandered for miles over sun-warmed rocks.  And crystal clear, much clearer than I’ve ever seen the Rangitikei River, just around the corner at Toe Toe Road.

Kawatau, Rangitikei

Kids in the Stream

As the kids splashed and swam about in the company of their father and under the watchful eye of their Grandad, I took the opportunity to head up to the quarry for a mini photo walk on my own. The stone crushing equipment makes for some interesting shots.

Quarry equipment

Stone crushing machinery, Stand clear

It is HOT when you’re surrounded by dust and piles upon piles of rocks just soaking up all that sun and radiating it back on all sides. Continue reading

WeekFifteen – Him again?

8 – 14 April ‘ 12

Easter weekend at Weka – the traditional Easter Egg Hunt yielded a huge haul.

Billy missing a tooth

"I loves me some chocolate!"

F-stop                f/5
Exposure           1/200sec
ISO speed         ISO-200
Focal length      35mm
Flash                 Flash fired

 I am not at all happy with this shot.  I know it’s a poor tradey who blames her tools, but I’m really struggling to make the 18-125 focus correctly. This picture’s only redeeming feature is Billy the Kid’s gap-toothed grin.  One for the album on the strength of that missing tooth.