Archives for category: Uncategorized

Yup, this has to be my most imaginative blog posting so far…

The main purpose of this blog is to give friends and family a taster of our life in NZ so they don’t feel left out. So that includes EVERYTHING. Even the 60 minutes or so I had to kill before my work Christmas bash. Mrs. E couldn’t make it, so after dropping me off at the ferry terminal at Devonport I had literally about 60 minutes to get the ferry and travel across the harbour to the restaurant where our work bash was.

The journey from Devonport by boat to the ferry terminal in downtown Auckland is not long, so I had a bit of time to wander around the buzzing restaurant and bar area at the viaduct, by the harbourside.

p.s. To protect their identity, I couldn’t take any pics of work colleagues. Instead, you have picture of me with my roast snapper dish, as well as my whitebait fritter, which is a lot tastier than it sounds.

p.p.s. I have had a blogging break, but I’m now back on it, and I have a backlog of posts to add, so watch this <<              >> <——–(space)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

p.p.s. I’m thinking of saving up for a ”fancy” camera, as I’m beginning to enjoy taking photos. I’m not sure what to get, something reasonably priced but good enough for a complete novice like myself to produce some considered shots. Thoughts anyone?



…it sat there stuck to the leaf, and I thought for a fleeting moment someone had been very clever and stuck a garden ornament to a plant. I carried on with the weeding I was doing and then took a second look and realised it was a real, live frog! It was coloured such a bright green it simply didn’t look real. I grabbed my ipad and went up close, literally a couple of inches to take photos and it didn’t move. Clearly a brave little fella.

So I looked it up. It’s the Green and Golden Bell Frog, Litoria aurea. Apparently it was introduced from Australia by the Auckland Acclimisation Society in the 1860s.

They are quite unusual in the froggy world in that they like to bask in the sun and are active during the day, which makes sense as it was a bakingly hot day yesterday when I took this photo.

I am still getting myself familiar with the wildlife here. It is very different as you would expect given New Zealand is an island in the ocean.

I will keep you posted on what else I see…


Today has been a lovely sunny and hot day. Mrs. E and I have been busy working all day so we didn’t get to enjoy it until this evening.

The Spaniel and I headed down to the beach to watch the swimmers, skim boarders, kids jumping off the wharf, and to generally just sit on the sandy beach, mesmerised by the churning deep blue sea. Actually, I sat and The Spaniel dug holes…

A young chap came over to me and asked what type of dog The Spaniel was. I explained, and he replied, ‘Well, she is a very good looking dog sir!”. Between you and me (and the deep blue sea…) I think this gave The Spaniel an extra spring in her step.

Just before sunset, Mrs. E joined us for one more trip to the beach. The Spaniel had another swim, and then we all came home.

The Spaniel is well and truly pooped.

Me too…

Goodnight All

A while back, I found out that Bear Gryll’s was coming to town to do his Wild Night With Bear Grylls show. I mentioned it to Mrs. E, who later fessed up that she had already bought me a ticket to see the show for my Christmas present. I have a wonderful wife!

The evening kicked off with the  local international comedian Rhys Darby meandering onto the stage, followed by Bear dropping himself down from the arena ceiling somewhere. The evening followed an interview style, where Rhys helped bear take us through his adventures and to even impart some of who he was. At first I thought Rhys was fluffing it, but after a while I realised that was his laid back comedy style. He seemed to bring out the best in Bear, and brought Bear closer to the audience. It almost felt that me, Bear and Rhys were having a good old natter in a pub somewhere near you.

We were taken through various stages of Bear’s life, from his time in the SAS, his Everest conquest through to his time in the foreign legion and even his family life. Bear didn’t seem at ease at times, a little nervous maybe, but that’s what makes him human. A brilliant adventurer, yet human like us all. A hero, maybe yes, but a Dad, family man, and normal bloke. Bear also talked about his christian faith. He was apologetic for being awkard when talking about it, but he wasn’t awkward at all. He was quite eloquent about what is quite clearly a deep faith. The crowd even clapped when he mentioned it.

The highlight of the evening for me was when Bear invited the Prime Minister John Key onto the stage to eat some bugs. The PM was sat two rows in front of us, and promptly got up and walked onto the stage. He took great delight in eating crickets, but I think he struggled when the huhu grub was trying to wriggle back up his throat (see the before and after pics below). As the PM left the stage and walked through the crowds, he was high fived and cheered by everyone. Classic Kiwi encouragement. I can hardly see that happening in the UK. David Cameron, Tony Blair?

It was a brilliant evening, I loved every second of it and I came away feeling inspired. Bear encouraged the kids in the room to ignore the dream stealers and go for their dreams. OK, so I’m not a kid anymore… but I think we all have dreams but too easily others snatch them away. I thought it was a pertinent point for everyone in the room.

You can read more about Bear in his book, Mud, Sweat and Tears.

Thanks Bear (thanks Rhys)

Pics below (click each individual picture to see more clearly)

Yesterday, we popped down to Mairangi Bay’s Santa Parade. As mentioned in an earlier post, it really  wasn’t feeling like Christmas with all this sunshine and warm weather, so we thought it would be good to catch a bit of the Christmas Spirit at the Santa Parade.

Two out of 3 of us loved it. Mrs. E was even dancing at one point. It was a lovely community event organised by The Lions (similar to the Rotary Club) in the UK and various community groups, schools etc.

Unsurprisingly Santa turned up… We had an ace time, well all of us apart from The Spaniel who just seemed to be in one almighty grump… (see the pic of her below).

Good fun, the Santa Parade helped ease us into the Christmas Spirit. All we need now is some snow (perhaps a tall order), mulled wine, mince pies and a Christmas Tree! Given we were not allowed to bring Christmas decorations with us, I suspect we decorations may be a minimum this year (we do have twinkly lights though!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Unfortunately, we found East Coast Bakery & Lunches driving home from church one Sunday. We’re very good over here and we eat very well, as there is so much fruit and fabulous fresh veg – all reasonably priced. However, today was definitely an East Coast Bakery day!

Boy, do they have some fabulous cakes, pies and treats. A real kiwi favourite is mince and cheese pie (VERY tasty). Lollie cake is another favourite. I opted for a apple and cream apple turnover and a vegetable quiche, and Mrs. E had an egg sandwhich (never let me here you say this blog is full of mundane details…)

Pictures below (it was a very sunny day with lots of reflection). I hope the pics don’t make you salivate too much…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today was a funny day, we were both feeling a little shattered and together with a phone call to the UK in the morning, our Sunday wasn’t a usual Sunday for us. By late morning it was getting pretty hot, so I took Mrs. E to Long Bay Beach which is part of Long Bay Marine Reserve, which I mentioned previously.

We had not been to this beach in the summer, and it was a corker. It is a great long beach and although there were quite a few people there, it was by no means busy. We nustled into a corner of the beach in the shade. Although it looks a little cloudy, the sun was very hot. Fortunately, I had my kiwi hat to protect me (it was definitely a flaps down day), and we both put on lashings of sun cream.

Lots of people were also on the grassy strip by the beach, huddled around barbecues. We had a little potter around after our time on the beach, and saw the Vaughan Historic Homestead (the farmer’s house, when the reserve was a farm back in the 1800’s).

I took LOADS of photos, but for some reason most of them came out blurred (yup, likely user error), but here is a taster of what it looked like.

It was a hot, lovely, summer’s day.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.



I love to have a place I can go to, a place where I can run or bike to my heart’s content. A place of tranquility, a place for ”me’ time.

I hadn’t really found that place in Auckland until I found Long Bay Marine Reserve the other week. It sits just at the top of the North Shore on the East Coast, a few kilometres north of our flat in Murray’s Bay.

The coastal aspect contains sandy beaches, cliffs and rocky reefs, whereas inland there are areas of native shrubs, grassy fields, and lots and lots of hills (greating for trail running and mountain biking). Apart from the native seabirds you would expect, there are a wide array of native birds in the fields and native shrub. These include birds such as tui (whoops not the beer, the bird), kingfishers, shags, kereru (quite a graceful pigeon), pukeko, and fantails. I love the pukeko, they are a bit chicken like in their movement, and a little bit bizarre to look at. There is a bird I don’t know the name of, anyone know? Please see the pic below.

It is quite a magical place, and I’m trying to get out there as much as I can on my bike at the moment. If I am in the mood for it, I can cycle there from our flat. Unfortunately The Spaniel cannot come with me due to the bird life (dogs are banned, and The Spaniel LOVES birds in a way that is unhealthy for the bird, not a good combo). Mrs. E hasn’t been there yet, but I am sure she will love it, particularly Granny’s Bay, an idyllic little bay with a beach. We’re actually hoping to go there later today for a picnic, and I am sure I will blog a little more about Long Bay, it’s a place we will visit often.

A haven in the hustle and bustle of city life.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

New Zealand has very strict dog laws, which could be a problem (but we ain’t no whinging poms), so we roll with it. When we got to Seabreeze holiday park one of the first things we asked was where were we allowed to take the dog. Sailor’s Cove was the answer, some place where a sailor died in the 1840’s. Doesn’t sound inviting does it? But it was. In fact it was a haven of tranquility, a little cove with white sandy beaches buffeted by a gentle surf.

We chilled out.

We read.

We just sat.

We fished.

We swam.

We body boarded.

The Spaniel ran, and ran

The Spaniel had  surfing lesson (that didn’t go down well)

We had a picnic.

We had a little stroll.

We had fun.

We loved it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back to our trip to the Coromandel (I’ve not quite finished yabbering on about it…).

We stayed at Seabreeze Holiday Park, near Hahei beach. It was a delightful little place, which used to be a dairy farm. The owners were very friendly and helpful. and they allowed dogs! (Not all kiwi campsites do…)

The night before we set off, we packed ALL of our camping stuff (knives, forks through to chilly back, ice packs, etc.) expecting a similar set up to a UK campsite, ie toilets, shower block, and cooking at your tent. However, we soon found out that kiwi campsites have EVERYTHING you need. Seebreeze has a backpacker section, together with games room, lounge, and kitchen. The kitchen had cups, plates, in fact, all of the cooking intensils one needed, and camp fridges and freezers. It was also a VERY sociable place. We met an irish couple who were travelling around New Zealand in a campervan, a sweet German girl who was travelling too, and of course we met Warwick, Shirley (and Jess) of Disney Crib fame. We loved the sociable aspect of kiwi camping, and of course the lounge kept us warm on two of the more chilly nights.

Now, the tent… we had a brand new Kathmandu tent. I had never heard of Kathmandu until I came to New Zealand (sorry Kathmandu), but they make some high-quality stuff, particularly tents (actually, so far I have just bought a tent and hat from them, both were ace, ergo I am presuming everything else they make is ace!) Our Retreat 120 Tent is an excellent leisure camping tent – it has two rooms, lots of handy pockets for storage and clips for hanging torches, and insect mesh screens etc. and so much more. It is most definitely the best tent we have ever had. Thank you Kathmandu! p.s they are not paying me to write this… we loved our little tent. The insect mesh screen came in particularly handy, Mrs. E and The Spaniel particularly appreciated that one evening when we played a board game in the tent when the midgies were abundance (we still seem to be fresh off the boat blood).  I was in the lounge protected by a dowsing of insect repellant, whereas Mrs. E and The Spaniel enjoyed the protection of the insect mesh in the bedroom. A TOP TENT.

Our first camping trip was ace, made good by a great tent and a great, sociable camp site.

Check out the pics below…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.