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My view right now (running in Copenhagen)

There’s nothing like a run in a new place to put an extra zest in the legs. Having a couple of weeks in Copenhagen, accompanying my husband on a business trip – but with three children in tow – has meant day time activities focused on keeping the young ones happy and entertained. Ever since we landed in Copenhagen (and after the jet-lag of travelling from the USA had passed) my legs have been pumped to get out on a pace of their own; independent of my beloved chick-a-dees.

When the opportunity presented itself I was out the door without a glance back. It was Saturday morning, 7am, when I hit the pathway alongside a picturesque waterway, known as Peblinge Sø (The Lakes, Copenhagen).

The Lakes, Copenhagen

My energy levels were so high with freedom and my legs fizzing to take me on an adventure to explore new sights. My view as I ran was all new to my eyes. Everything caught my attention and there’s nothing like running a route for the first time, not knowing what’s going to be around the next bend, to make a person want to keep on running!

My view was filled with large sweeping vistas as the three artificial lakes, divided into five basins, presented themselves in turn.

There were natural islands along the lakes, home to beautiful bird life.

Close to the pathway a mother swan slept, with one eye partially awake to watch over her baby cygnets. Whilst pedalo boats also took the form of the swans that grace the lakes.

The bridges that divided the individual basins were picturesque and led my eyes on down avenues of roads, that given more time (water and energy!) I would have continued to explore).

Residential areas bordering the waterways captured my attention as they came into view.

It was an absolute delight and I shall definitely be out running again before I leave beautiful Copenhagen.

Information on running in Copenhagen

Copenhagen running routes, including the Copenhagen Lakes.

Running Tours Copenhagen – Check out this company that provide various running tours of the city, from 6km to 15km.

Life and light at Søndermarken – Denmark’s first and only interactive running route consists of a system of lights on the fringe of Søndermarken, firmly resolved to pace runners to keep up their self-imposed pace, chosen at one of two start-stanchions.

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Linking up with ‘The Photo Gallery‘ at Sticky Fingers blog,
where the theme this week is, ‘My view right now’.

The Great Outdoors (in the centre of Copenhagen)

We are currently in Copenhagen, Denmark. In this city of bike loving, apartment dwelling, contented people are numerous gardens and playgrounds. We are still recovering from jetlag and all the children are on different body clocks – but we have managed to get out and explore one little playground in the central city, called ‘Skydebanehaven’, which has a lovely blend of space, play equipment, trees, flowers and nature touches; including bird houses and bird feeders.

If I wasn’t juggling three children single-handedly (hubby is here on business), and we’d fully recovered from the change in time zones from California, USA, to Copenhagen, in Europe, I would have been out exploring a lot more already – but we have a total of 12 nights here, so I’m pacing myself and hanging out for more fresh air exploring come the weekend and into next week. I thought we had the body clocks sorted yesterday – but then we fell asleep between 6 and 8pm – which would have been great, only Miss 4 awoke at 2am and the other two children at 4am!

Miss 4 rides a wooden horse on an imaginary adventure

Miss 4 rides a wooden horse on an imaginary adventure

Anyway, I’m just grateful for the few moments of outdoor time we are getting, as I get terrible cabin fever if I’m cooped up indoors for long. Thankfully there are some scrumptious eateries on the street we are staying and plenty of open spaces to escape to – even for a quick half hour or so.

Miss 8 practicing her balancing.

Miss 8 practicing her balancing.

I can’t wait to get out some more – and even head out for a run once hubby is home, to explore the great outdoor pockets of Copenhagen at my own pace!

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I’m linking up with ‘The Photo Gallery‘ at Sticky Fingers blog,
where there’s some lovely posts of other bloggers enjoying the great outdoors.

The Photo Gallery | Breathe

Saving a little lady bird

1.

She stops her splashing,
to stare at the life she’s saved from the water.
There on her fingers, the lady bird clings,
resting for a while, before taking flight.
Then she exhales, aware of her breathing,
and the miracle of life.

Silent breathe

2.

‘Look! There’s a rabbit!’ she wants to shout,
but muffles her voice with her hand –
so as not to scare the rabbit.

She turns to her parents, backlit by the sun,
to make sure they are watching.

They walk slower,
aware of the noise each step makes,
conscious of their breath,
every inhale and exhale.

In that moment they feel connected –
to all of life itself.

Sleep

3.

Thankful, for
the gentle rise and fall of her chest,
the sound of her breath,
the life force that flows through her,
that was once shared within me.

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Three children I’ve been blessed with,
carried into this world,
watched over whilst they slept through illness –
and rejoiced in the sound of their breath.

running on the beach

4.

Most of the day I just breathe,
without awareness, or appreciation.
Then I have a moment to myself, a gift,
to run on the beach,
or stretch out with a few sun salutations,
and am flooded with awareness –
and it’s an all encompassing,
mind, body and soul feeling,
of being truly alive.

© Sarah Lee, June 2014

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The Photo Gallery | Theme of the week ‘Up Close and Personal’

It’s scorching in southern California and this British Mamma & her Kiwi born daughters are seeking out ways to cool down (especially with the air conditioning broken and the temperature inside the house reading over 88°F 31.1°C!). Outside, around the swimming pool (thank the heavens hubbie rented a house with a pool!) it’s in the 90’s and there’s a choice of take shade or get wet! Miss 8 has the right idea… whilst I zoomed in with my camera to get up close!

Heatwave pool time!

My favourite place to sit is in the shade of the house’s verandah, watching the gorgeous little birds flitting about in the shade with me, building their nests. This little visitor was very friendly and photogenic.

Nest building is hot work for birds, taking a break in the shade

Miss 4 couldn’t quite decide what to do with herself in the heat, playing with the ribbon of a balloon she’d given me for Mother’s Day (or should I say, ‘Mom’s’ Day as it’s better known in the USA!). I don’t get out the camera and get up close enough, and this photograph reminded me that I should more often!

I love the beautiful green of her eyes…

Alice and Mom's Day Balloon

as much as her long lashes as she cherishes the balloon for a moment.

Miss 4 and the Mom Day balloon!

Before finally hitting the pool, Miss 4 joined her oldest sister, Miss 10, for a spell of Minecraft. Miss 10 is definitely more of a winter loving lass!

I love the way Miss 4 gets up on a surf board now (though she’s yet to sample a real wave in the sea on one!).

Miss 4 the surfer girl

Miss 8 really looks the part with her sun bleached Californian locks and tan!

Sophie surfer girl

All the swimming soon had Miss 4 asleep on the couch, enjoying a late avo siesta. Bless!

Siesta time!

She later woke up with energy to play with her best friend Ollie, who’d arrived whilst she was slumbering.

Miss 8 carried on surfing, splashing and cooling down in the water for the rest of the avo, whilst the rest of us sought out the shade (and a cool beer for Mamma and her visiting friend!).

Miss 8

Here’s hoping the air conditioning gets fixed soon, but at least we have ways to cool down – might have to put the bed sheets in the freezer before I go to sleep tonight though!!

Joining in with….

 

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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!).

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The Photo Gallery | Sport

It’s a special week of celebration on Sticky Fingers blog’s ‘The Photo Gallery’ this week.  Parenting bloggers in the UK put their heads together to create an event for Sport Relief this year which had the whole of the community buzzing – the Team Honk Relay. Bloggers up and down the land joined together to travel the length of the UK to raise money and awareness.

180 bloggers all over the UK who took on the baton (along with their family and friends), from Land’s End to John O Groats, running, cycling, swimming, roller skating, scooting, pushing buggies. They raised more than £30,000 (donations to ‘Team Honk’ are still open here).

So, to mark this momentous achievement, this week the Photo Gallery theme is: Sport.

My photograph is of my three daughters riding their bikes together (our youngest has just learned to ride a bike with stabilisers). I had one of those ‘Mamma heart swell moments’, seeing them riding together, and was thankful for my camera phone in my pocket to capture the moment.

Sisters riding their bikes together

It hasn’t been easy for them to leave their home in Wellington, New Zealand, and move to California, USA, for a questionable length of time. Our eldest, in particular, left behind a school she loved. They all left behind friends they loved and the home they’ve known since they were babes. On the flip side, they’ve bonded like never before. After a tried, and failed, attempt at school in the USA we made the decision to try home schooling and are now on a path of natural living and learning, where every day is a new day. The biggest value of this experience has been putting family first. Their relationship, as sisters, is more united than it ever was. As a family we are stronger than ever.

The aren’t involved in any sport teams or clubs as such, but they run, play, swim, cycle, dance, sing, and breath the same air together! They are learning in ways that money can’t buy.

Sport is more than beating a personal best, or another team or player, it’s about being active and embracing life, with enthusiasm and fairness. Seeing the three of my daughters together, playing tag or encouraging one another to try a new dive in the pool or a stunt on the monkey bars, is thoroughly heart warming. Love, love, love!

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The Photo Gallery | Yellow

Yellow, in the garden, drawing butterflies in –

In the garden

Yellow, in the setting sun, drawing my eyes to the horizon –

Yellow in the setting sun

Yellow, reflecting off the water, as I finish my evening run –

Sunset reflections

And yellow, of my youngest daughter’s pirate hat, blowing bubbles on a boat with her friend –

Yellow in my daughters pirate hat

Linking up with –

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Feeling Festive | The Photo Gallery

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It’s been so many years since we’ve celebrated the festive season in the northern hemisphere. It took me well over a decade to adjust to celebrating in the southern hemisphere – and just when I thought I’d finally done it… I went and jinxed it! Spending Christmas in Santa Barbara is a wonderful ‘best of both worlds’ place to be. The days are always sunny, the days – of course, being in the northern hemisphere, are shorter, the evenings cooler, but rarely freezing, and the lights – everywhere – are beautiful.

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It gets dark at 5pm and with little wind, or inclement weather, outdoor decorations are able to be on display without risk of failure. It’s glorious to be out in the evening and enjoy the festivities, of which there are plenty. Just this weekend there was a Christmas Parade on Friday evening and a wonderful ‘Festival of Trees’, where Miss 3 was awe-struck to see Santa ice-skating. She also had a jolly good go at it herself, as well as decorating a beautiful stocking.

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Of course my heart is still in the two places I love – my birthplace and home of some twenty-three years – the U.K. – and my ‘adopted’ country and place that welcomed my three daughters into the world – beautiful New Zealand. I miss the beautiful red, flower of the Pohutukawa tree in New Zealand – it’s bloom always arriving to welcome Christmas and summer simultaneously, and the long days and light to savour celebrations at ease with my family and friends. My heart is also with my friends and family in England (though, admittedly, I have less of a desire to be there, in the frigid conditions of winter, where it’s dark at 3.30pm and the days quite often grey and overcast – at least with children in tow – however I could definitely enjoy some couple time with hubbie in the many gorgeous pubs and strolling the lit streets of London town!).

But despite my heart feeling forever torn, there is enough room for it to feel happy in Santa Barbara this year. We are blessed with the excitement of having my parents visiting from the UK to celebrate the festivities and a wonderful house to call home for a year. It’s easy to make it feel festive, with a few twinkly lights and some adornments to remind us of a summer Christmas and our roots in the U.K. There have been a few additions to mark our time here in the USA too… Mickey Mouse couldn’t help but make an appearance!

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Our lovely landlady here gifted us some decorative delights, including red flowers that tie in both the beautiful Pohutukawa of New Zealand and the poinsettia, one of my all time favourite Christmas flowers. Our lovely New Zealand neighbours, that recently visited us, sent a gorgeous poinsettia as a thank you, which brings us so much love and happiness.

And, the lights, everywhere, lining the streets and shopping malls, are totally magic. So with memories of our recent visit to a Christmassy Disneyland  and the company of our New Zealand friends, we are feeling ready to celebrate the festivities and welcome in 2014!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! xxx

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Linking up with other lovelies on the theme, ‘Feeling Festive’, here…

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The Photo Gallery: November

When I read the challenge for this week’s ‘Photo Gallery’ at ‘Sticky Fingers’ blog I was stumped – one photograph for the month of November! How could I possibly sum up a month in one photograph? Then I had my light-bulb moment. This year we are in the USA for November and our contribution to ‘Thanks Giving’ has been making a decorative leaf wreath for our front door. I asked the girls what they were thankful for and then wrote their answers on the leaves.

It’s been a very exciting month, counting down the days till our New Zealand neighbours flew over to see us and holiday in Disneyland California. This photograph, of our wreath, probably sums up enough. We returned from Disneyland last night and our New Zealand friends are with us for another week, before flying home. It’s so great for me to hear the house full of children playing and having my husband home from work for the week. This is my November! Very thankful indeed.

Thankful for

 

 

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The Photo Gallery: Nature

Elephant at Santa Barbara Zoo

I don’t enjoy seeing elephants in small enclosures. I’m thankful that the majority of zoos across the world are no longer breeding elephants. The ones that remain in zoos, are hopefully the last. They belong in the wild, or in large landscapes of protected land. They belong with their kin.

When I do come across one of the remaining generation of elephants in zoos I feel a certain bitter sweetness. I feel blessed to see one. I feel in awe of their grace, strength and dexterity. I watch them, without wanting to stare, through downcast eyes and with a tinge of sadness.

The elephant in this photograph is one of two at Santa Barbara Zoo in California. I found myself watching with quiet reverence. My children, running around beside me, weren’t in the mood for listening to my speech of awe and wonder. I stood, motionless, apart from moving to take a photograph. The elephant stopped to look at me when the shutter of my camera blinked to capture the image I sought. I felt guilty for intruding on the moment, trespassing on the little space that was the elephant’s home. If I could have spoken ‘elephant’ I would have asked permission before taking the photograph. Instead I bowed my head in respect, hoping the elephant could read my thoughts.

Nature is wonderful, but I’d rather capture it in a natural setting. I hope these beautiful, intelligent animals of grace and strength can live a more peaceful life in the future, free to roam without unnatural threats from certain people who do them harm.

I am a great supporter in WWF and TRAFFIC and the work they do in the war against wildlife crime.

 

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