beach

A coastal run in North Wales

Whilst holiday in North Wales I was delighted to escape out for a couple of runs along the gorgeous coastline that borders the Hafan Y Mor Havan Caravan Holiday Park. If the pull of spending time with my family hadn’t been so strong I would have strapped on a backpack and disappeared for a whole day! The bays that weave along the coastline, with the undulating land rolling into the sea, are a living, breathing gallery of art.

Coastal footpath

The pathways, cut into the dense, fern covered terrain, lead over land that has witnessed centuries of human history.

Ferns, sea & mountains

As I looked toward the magnificent hills of the Snowdonia National Park my eyes kept being drawn to Criccieth Castle, built around 1230. It’s not really visible in this photograph (the zoom on my phone camera wasn’t sufficient) but to my eyes it was a dominant feature on the landscape. A historic marker of the people that have inhabited this land.

Looking toward Criccieth

Running along the trails and along the foreshore, whilst the tide was out, felt so invigorating to my legs. The terrain mixed with the scenery filled my legs with energy to keep on going. My mind travelled from being blissfully in the moment, with the natural surroundings, to stepping back in time to a land that never knew caravans!

Toward Snowdonia from Hafan Y Mor

And then, as I turned inland, I stumbled across a country scene so reminiscent of New Zealand, my home for some seventeen years, and where we are heading back to live as a family in October of this year.

Country scene

But it was the sea that drew me back. Seeing the magnificent blue of the water, surrounded by green hills, under a beautiful blue, summer sky.

A path of natural beauty

And when my run was done I turned to bid the clouds (the non-threatening kind!), dancing their shadows over the distant hills, farewell; grateful for their presence after a year of living under a Californian blue sky.

My body and mind shan’t forget the feeling of running on the North Welsh coastline. I left footprints, I took photographs and Wales left my heart marked with love for its natural beauty so steeped in history.

The Photo Gallery | The Longest Day

It’s normally at this time of year, in New Zealand, that I’m rugged up with a Pinot Noir, glaring at a flickering candle and wishing I was somewhere warmer. There’s a certain romanticism of tucking up and hunkering down for winter – but it wears off pretty quickly (unless of course there’s a ton of fresh powder snow on a mountain nearby!).

This year, I am in the northern hemisphere, seeing in the longest day, and feeling very appreciative of the sunshine, warmth and long daylight hours. I looked at my Facebook feed of updates from family and friends in the northern hemisphere with shared appreciation and not a shred of envy. Meanwhile, I looked at my southern hemisphere pals in New Zealand with admiration – as some were running marathons and half-marathons, others throwing themselves in the water at Lyall Bay for a mid-winter swim and some hitting the snowy slopes.

I suppose I could have thrown myself in the Pacific ocean for a swim, but went for a run instead. I finished up with a beautiful walk along the beach, at high-tide, getting splashed by the break waves hitting the rocks as I carefully made my way from Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach.

Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach at high tide

I wasn’t alone on my walk. This beautiful pair of white heron were never more than ten yards from me. They kept a wary eye on me, not entirely pleased to be sharing their spot with a bumbling, bare-footed, human. I did try to channel my inner mountain goat spirit whilst scrambling over the rocks, but really didn’t look very graceful – although I managed to complete my walk without a twisted ankle, so that’s a result.

White Heron

I feel very fortunate to be here at the moment, knowing that when the daylight hours start to decrease toward winter, I shall be back in Wellington, New Zealand, just as summer approaches. I shall take the memories of this year in southern California with me, where the sky has almost always been blue and outdoor celebrations have rarely needed a ‘Plan B’. There were two summer-solstice weddings set up on the beach, with typical Californian confidence of the weather being good.

I love the light. I can cope with cold, wind and rain, but natural light is like water to my body and soul. It’s been great to have such a good dose of it this year! Definitely good for my health. 

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Joining in with ‘The Photo Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers, with this week’s theme of ‘The Longest Day‘.

Things I’m Loving – whilst I can’t run – WINE :)

It’s International Sauvignon Blanc Day in New Zealand – 16 May – and whilst I sit here sipping a local Napa Valley, Californian white, I came across this beautiful little video about the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines (a fav spot of the hubbie and I – and the sweet spot where he proposed to me back in 1997!).

I’m out of action on the running front at the present time, with an ankle injury, but my wine glass tipping wrist is in perfect form and couldn’t be more delighted that I’m on a forced break from training (though I am feeling a little guilty at the lack of physical action and have hence signed myself up for a beach yoga class this coming Sunday – got to love this southern californian climate – where beach yoga is something that can be pre-scheduled and rarely need a ‘Plan B’, due to the almost constant blue sky, sunshine, minimal wind climate (though the Santa Ynez winds can be a nightmare, especially for the firefighters – currently fighting a seasonally early outbreak of fires around the San Diego area).

So, we have wine, yoga, beach, sunshine and running (when not injured) on the ‘Things I’m Loving’ agenda thus far.

I did try a brief run on Monday, with Miss 8, who was so enthused by my return from the half marathon race I did on Saturday (blog post here) that she’s signed herself up for a 5K in August (after checking out the community section of the Santa Barbara Running Company website)!

Unfortunately the mother-daughter run was short lived. After 2 km I needed to phone hubbie to pick us up, as my ankle gave way – too much, too soon.

She’ll have to stick to training around the house and with her Daddy for a couple of weeks!

Aside from wine and talk of exercise (as that’s all I’ve done this week, given my jaw a good work out!), I’m also trying to embrace a heat wave this week. I’m so not used to temperatures over 30 degrees C (86 F) and it’s been close to 40 degrees C this week! It’s great weather for being a lounge lizard, flouncing around in summer frocks, diving in the pool and drinking lots of aqua (and wine), but so hard to do anything (unless it’s in an air conditioned building – and our AC hasn’t been working this week – so that’s not been great…). In the face of no AC we did escape for a teensy spot of cafe and retail therapy (I sound like a complete wimp right now – especially to my buddies in Perth and on the Gold Coast, but hey – I’m a British lass at heart – that’s spent 17 plus years living in windy Welly).

My Miss 8 took a brief pic of me sporting a floaty summer frock, which I’m digging (especially as it was a bargain from Zulily online shopping).

Summer frocks

 

I’m loving the big sister patience of Miss 10 with Miss 4, as she enthuses over Minecraft architecture! Downside of all this Minecraft action is I end up with less time on my computer (it’s a hard life!). I sit alongside them, listening in on their chatter and enjoying the sound of rainfall in Minecraft land (seeing as rain is such an extreme rarity in drought stricken southern California!).

Also loving Miss 8’s every present energy and determination to keep everyone active (she’ll make a sterling personal trainer!).

Miss 4 is keeping me busy with her story telling talents. Every morning Miss 4 and I wake before the other girls to do the chores in the kitchen and laundry, whilst writing stories. I’m usually multi tasking between making coffee, breakfast and doing dishes, whilst she’s drawing pictures and telling me the story behind them – I then sit down and write up the story to accompany the drawing (she has a pretty wild imagination – as this morning there was a picture of ‘Mummy in a wood, jumping up a giant daisy and leaping off the stem onto the fuzzy chest of a wolf – who was a good wolf – but then Mummy got caught in a booby trap by a baddy and ended up in a cage – luckily the flowers came to the rescue….’). We then usually take a break (whilst I drink coffee) to read some books and play with some sand or play dough outside under the verandah. Bird watching is another fav activity that Miss 4 and I do whilst waiting for the night owls to finally awake from their lie ins!

Finally, we’re loving the memories of the past couple of weeks – having our good friend Frances visit from New Zealand. We miss our home there very much – the children miss their friends especially. We’re thankful to a good friend house sitting all this time we’ve been gone and having caring neighbours over in New Zealand too.

I was reflecting on some old pics earlier this evening and came across this sweet one of Miss 4 (would have been 2 turning 3 in this pic) in front of her play house in our Kiwi garden – of course in bare foot natural pose – the Kiwi way. Love x

Kiwi fun for a 2 year old

 

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Joining in with…

The Sea Princess & the Pebble Shell Castle

The winding steps, walled with pebbles and shells,
whispered to the Sea Princess on the beach.
The beach castle needed her help.

She peered through the gaps in the pebbled walls,
careful of the witch, who could turn her to stone.

Hendry's Beach, Santa Barbara

The castle walls spoke to her, telling the Sea Princess to seek out a magic amulet,
with which she could talk with the mermaids.
She would need their help,
to defeat the witch, and protect the castle for ever more.

The sword in the stone marked the way,
to a shell trapped in the wall.
She pressed on its swirls,
unlocking her voice to the sea.

Hendry's Beach, Santa BarbaraShe called out to the mermaids,
‘Come banish the witch!’.
‘Bring the sea mist to take her away
and entrap her in the kelp beds for eternity.’

And so the mermaids rode in on the waves,
bringing peace to the castle once more.
The Sea Princess swung on the turrets,
singing a song of triumph.

The castle of pebbles and shells,
stood safe and strong,
a look-out over the ocean deep,
a place where anything was possible.

© Sarah Lee, 6 November, 2013

(Written with the wonderful help of my 3 year daughter’s imagination)

Weekending It! All action!

Having the man of the house home at the weekend gives us family time to get out and really explore this place – and we certainly had an action packed weekend of it!

The man of the house

Whilst the rest of us were barely awake he headed off for an early morning paddle board, returning back mid-morning for a quick appointment with a lady from a tutoring business, as we’re organising tutors for our older girls in some key subjects, to compliment their ‘natural learning’.

Then we all headed out for a family time of biking along the beautiful Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara, to the marina area for lunch.

We found a great cafe called, ‘Endless Summer’, right next to the Maritime Museum. It was the most relaxed, family lunch we’ve enjoyed in a while. A perfect setting, beautiful scenery and a fantastic, affordable, children’s menu (win, win!).

View over marina from Endless Summer Cafe

After lunch, and cycling back towards the central town of Santa Barbara, we enjoyed a little browse in the ‘Funk Zone’, where we found a gorgeous antique shop, jam packed, from floor to ceiling, with treasures, as well as a cute little surf museum.

Funk Zone Santa Barbara

After a busy morning, we went home for an afternoon rest before visiting friends in the evening.

Sunday was another action packed day.

We decided to head south to Santa Monica Pier and the fairground there.

Santa Monica Pier

We all had a fabulous time, with lots of rides to keep our youngest child amused, as well as the older ones.

Fun at the Fair

 

Santa Monica Pier

Just as we were heading back to the car, for drive home to Santa Barbara, we saw a man with two snakes! Our Miss 10 would so love a pet snake, but our rental agreement wouldn’t allow it – not to mention we wouldn’t be able to take a snake back to New Zealand with us! It was a dream come true for her to hold the snakes. She did so well holding the weight of two rather large snakes – combined weight of 60 pounds!

Miss 10 and 2 snakes!

On the drive back, as the sun began to sink low in the sky over the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at a huge sand dune, over looking a beautiful bay.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean

Of course sand and children are always a fun mix – especially when sand is banked up very high for climbing up and running (or rolling) down.

Sand dune fun California

Next time we pass we’ll have to make sure we have a boogie board in the back, or a piece of cardboard… it reminded me of an adventure Dan and I enjoyed on Fraser Island years ago – boogie boarding down a dune into a lake!

Sand dune fun

We got home just after sunset and whilst unpacking the car (looked more like we’d been away for a week!), the man of the house got in the pool with the children. Just when I thought we were done for the day, and steering towards bedtime, a Suzy Cato DVD inspired an experiment with purple cabbage on the different between acid and alkaline (fact sheet, thanks to Suzy, here). Being in a natural learning way, we embraced the moment and did a science experiment before bedtime (as you do!).

We all finally got to sleep – close to 11pm!