beaches

The Photo Gallery | A Favourite Place – South Coast, Wellington, New Zealand

Less than fifteen minutes walk from our home in Wellington, New Zealand, lies the stunning South Coast, encompassing Lyall Bay, Princess Bay, Houghton Bay, Island Bay and Owhiro Bay.

Princess Bay, Wellington, New Zealand

The bays are met by the shoreline, which gradually rises up into the hills of Wellington. The hills are dotted with houses, balanced out with lush green bush in the town-belt strips; for the local population and visitors to enjoy. The bush has footpaths running through it, inviting explorers to enjoy the native vegetation and greet the birds that call this their home. Whilst Fan Tails flutter in and out of the trees, following your footsteps as you walk, Tui call out from the branches, seeking the nectar rich flax to feast on.

Wellington's south coast

The rugged coastline is of mixed terrain, from rocks to scramble over, and pebbled shorelines, to sandy beaches, that welcome the toes, and sand dunes that invite a picnic, a sketch pad and a book. This isn’t a coastline of long, straight, never ending beach, with uniform sand leading to an overwhelming ocean. This is a place that feels like magic, with nooks and crannies, full of adventure . The water that rolls into the bays is the Cook Strait, a band of sea stretching between New Zealand’s North and South Islands.  On a winters day the snow cloaked mountains of the South Island can be seen from the shore.

Seagulls caw overhead, soaring on the uprising wind currents by the cliffs. This is a place that I feel completely at home, whilst also having a deep sense of wonder and desire to explore. I feel uplifted by the sea, whether it’s like a mirror or a white-water froth of white horses.

The sky is always changing, with the four-seasons in one day weather that the people of Wellington are accustomed. It’s a place that offers a thousand living works of art, that are in constant flux and motion. I am missing it so much right now.

As much as Santa Barbara, California, USA, is beautiful too – it’s dry, drought exhausted land, doesn’t offer the lushness of vegetation I love. There are cactuses and succulents clinging to dry land and trees that stand tall, with little fullness. The beach rolls on and on, with few pebbles and shells to marvel at, and the expanse of the Pacific Ocean feels overwhelming to look out upon. I know many people think I’m nuts to not want blue sky and no rain almost every day of the year, but it just feels too bland in comparison to the drama I’m used to living in Wellington. My personality is one of ebb and flow. On the south coast of Wellington I feel at home, at one with the forever changing landscape of nature.

… and there’s always a good cafe nearby, full of character and rich with community spirit, serving an amazing Latte too (miss you Maranui Cafe, The Bach CafeQueen Sally’s Diamond Deli and, a new one for me to check out when I’m finally home, the Spruce Goose Cafe!).

__________________________________________________________

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

❤ Paper towel art, birds, snails, ice-cream, wine-tasting & running!

A few things I’m loving from the past week…

❤ Colourful paper-towel art – dipped with fascination, in food coloured water; observed in awe, as the paper towel absorbed the colours; unravelled with surprise, as the pattern was revealed; put out to dry with love and a toy animal, to stop the breeze blowing away the artwork; and finally taped up on the kitchen windows to enjoy in the light.

Colourful paper dye artwork

❤ Loving the ‘Scoop‘ in Montecito, for its amazing ice-cream, frozen yoghurt, gelato, fresh waffle cones and welcome, heart of the community vibe, plus a good latte  (much appreciated from a coffee loving Mum, used to only the finest; from the coolest little capital in the world – Wellington, New Zealand; recently mentioned, by CNN, as one of the world’s great coffee cities!).

We went along on Sunday for the Scoop’s tenth Anniversary celebrations and spent a very entertaining hour watching a fun magician. The man of the house, Miss 4 and Miss 8,  volunteered to be the magician’s assistants… well, the man of the house not so much volunteered – but wasn’t going to let the team down! Ha!

Entertainment at The Scoop

 Loving Miss 4 and her nurturing of animals, from Sea Monkeys she has grown from eggs to ‘pet’ snails she has taken in from the garden.

Miss 4 and her pet snail

❤ Loving the beautiful birds that visit the Santa Barbara garden of the house we’re renting.

Santa Barbara garden visitor

We love to watch them drinking and bathing in the water fountain.

A beautiful bird in the garden

❤ Loving a few hours of wine tasting, with a yummy Mummy friend, exploring the ‘Funk Zone’ of Santa Barbara and sampling some delicious wines.

We found a wonderful place called ‘The Lark‘, which reminded us of Wellington’s cafe and restaurant scene, in that it had such originality in its decor and ambiance – not just a run of the mill place. Every piece of furniture had a story to tell. There were old bath tubs overflowing with wild flowers, antique cutlery, picked piece by piece, from a pre-loved home.

At The Lark

The bill even came in a novel way – tucked inside an old book (I’m sure the title of the book was chosen dependent on the client – I received, ‘A Fat Old Englishman’, my friend, ‘The Road Less Travelled’). Inside the pages, there were only a few – most had long gone, people had written their comments on their own experience at ‘The Lark’. A wonderfully novel and entertaining idea!

A bill with a difference at The Lark

❤ Loving that Miss 8 and 10 entertain themselves so well and are getting on the best they ever have since they were preschoolers (school, unfortunately, put a wedge in their relationship for a while). They are still loving rainbow band looming and Minecraft gaming. They are super duper with Miss 4 too, who I spend most of my day with. She shadows me in the home, helping with all the daily tasks and filling them creativity, song and her smiling face.

❤ Loving running (but will be glad, in a way, when the training for the half marathon is done!). At the moment I am focused on getting in the miles and building strength and speed for the half marathon on 10th May. I’m amazed at how the progress is coming along. The hours I’ve put in have been well spent. I’m feeling fitter than I have in years (which is a great way to feel when my fortieth Birthday is only a few sleeps away!). I feel guilty when I stop to take a photograph and enjoy the scenery – as I’m just so focused on the training! I shall enjoy resuming normal ‘running’ for pleasure and fitness and the pure fun of it after the race!!

Running for half marathon training

Last night I was supposed to run 9 miles, but on the way back I became mesmerised by the full moon coming up on the horizon and had to stop on the beach to savour it.

Full moon on Santa Barbara beach

Tonight, I shall make up for those lost miles, but I’m still proud of myself for running nearly 6 miles last night, in under 8 and a half minutes a mile. That’s a big improvement on what I found do-able five weeks ago!

Running

Hope you are finding lots to love wherever you are in the world too x

Oh, and Miss 4 requested I share her sea monkeys with the world 😉

Gems of family life in Santa Barbara

Two weeks into staying in the house we have leased for a year we are beginning to feel a little more settled. We are finding our way, had friends round for drinks (all be it friends from New Zealand that are also setting out on this new journey with children in tow), been out for a meal at the local restaurant, enjoyed a couple of family weekends doing regular things and are all feeling more positive about embracing this adventure (the only downer is fitting all the fun around the man of the house’s work – they work HARD here in the USA and he has only four weeks annual leave – so we are making sure we fit plenty of exploring around the weekends!).

Thankfully we are living with beautiful beaches a short drive away and the climate is beautiful year round – so even though it’s officially ‘Fall’ (and our New Zealand minds are revved up for spring) we can still enjoy being out in the evenings, despite the sun setting earlier.

Summerland Beach, Santa Barbara

There’s a lovely pathway along the main waterfront of Santa Barbara – Cabrillo Boulevard – friendly to people on foot and wheels (and dogs – there’s always a lot of dogs here!). It’s my new favourite place to go for a jog – plus my Miss 7 (a keen roller-bladder) can come along too (though I’m mostly trailing her – not the other way round!). There’s always plenty to see (even the occasional wedding) and every Sunday there is a fabulous arts and crafts show (I just need a child free morning to explore the arts and crafts leisurely!).

Santa Barbara Waterfront

The warm, calm weather also makes playing, reading and painting outside a pleasure. I don’t have to clear up at night, just incase a howling gale force wind comes blasting through (oh, Wellington – don’t worry – I still love and miss you lots!). Came across this great book ‘Goodnight iPad’ (a parody of  ‘Goodnight Moon’) this week – had to get it – reading it sums up my ‘love / hate’ relationship with modern technology and parenting! It is a constant battle of awareness to balance out the time on electronic gadgets with time in nature, enjoying baking, crafts, reading and art.

reading

In the past week we’ve also found a couple of other new indulgences – not all beach and games.

The girls have sampled ‘Root beer float’ and think it’s kind of cool!

Root beer float

Whilst I have found a little time to enjoy playing the wonderful 100 year old piano in this house (with a little wine, naturally!). If this piano could sing it would surely have some amazing songs to tell!

piano

Then there’s plain ‘ole fun in the garden in the evening. The man of the house is definitely enjoying the BBQ weather, spa and pool. Most evenings he is out with the girls splashing around.

I’m enjoy stretching out with a little yoga every day (there’s even a local Santa Barbara yoga show on one of the many hundreds of channels on the TV here). Last night the whole family got into it (well, the man of the house nearly did – he spent the first half of it half in awe and half in fits of giggles at the ‘heavy breathing’ sounds – by the time he decided to join in the ‘meditation’ section had started – so he just lay down and did some of his own heavy breathing!).

There’s been some strange red ninja figure around the house too (the build up to Halloween starts early here – the pumpkins are everywhere, HUGE and plentiful).

Red ninja

And of course there’s been a lot of nail biting at the America’s Cup racing… not so sure the Kiwis will take home that cup now (but of course we have to keep strong!).

Still, we’ll get over it. There’s plenty of wine, good fruit and craft beers to keep us smiling here and ‘The Funk Zone‘ – that we really need to check out (without the children, preferably).

Man of the house

And we’ve found a good couple of playgrounds to keep the children swinging around like the three wise monkeys that they are – Alameda Park and Chase Palm Park the favourites to date (nothing compared to Wellington’s 102 top class playgrounds… but I shan’t get into that comparison expat game…!).

Alameda Playground

The Alameda Park is a great wooden, towering structure, combing fun and art – loved by Miss 3 & 7, but ‘too many bitey things’ for Miss 10 (it’s a tough job pleasing everyone all of the time!).

Alameda Park playground

Chase Palm Park, on the other hand, has the approval of all three children. It also has the benefit of being opposite the main waterfront of Santa Barbara, closer to eateries and other entertainment.

Chase Palm Park

So, there you go! Some little gems from our life here in Santa Barbara (oh, and don’t worry folks – the girls are learning and doing ‘school’ fine at home too xx).

We’re really looking forward to taking the coast road from Santa Barbara up to San Francisco this coming weekend, stopping at Monteray Bay and Aquarium. Dan will work Monday to Friday in San Francisco, whilst I give the children plenty of educational and fun adventures, and then we’ll take our time driving back to Santa Barbara the following weekend.

Oh, and BIG NEWS, our goodies from New Zealand have landed! We are waiting to see how quickly they can clear customs… but, with a bit of luck, we may have them delivered before we hit the road (would be great to have my decent camera for the trip – and a few extra jumpers for the cooler temperatures in San Francisco).

Hasta ahora, Sarah x