running

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.

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’.

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…

My first half marathon – in the bag & for a great cause!

I woke at 5am feeling nervous about whether my ankle was going to hold out for me to complete the half marathon in the beautiful wine country of Santa Barbara, California. I wasn’t just running to achieve a goal for myself, or to take in the beautiful scenery surrounding of the Santa Ynez Valley, but running for a cause. A close friend in New Zealand has a wonderful son who battles with pain day and night. He has rare ‘Prune Belly Syndrome’, amongst other conditions. His name is Elijah and through all the pain he suffers he keeps his humour and fights to embrace life with all he’s got. His spirit is supported by his wonderful brother and sister. They are amazing in helping their solo Mum take care of Elijah.

running for Elijah

I’d given myself just eleven weeks to train for the half marathon. Before the training I’d never ran past 10 km (around 6 miles). I had to work to build up strength and stamina, whilst all the time feeling grateful and in awe of what my healthy body could achieve the more I trained. Along the way friends, family and strangers rallied around to donate to help Elijah, through the fundraising page I’d set up on Give a Little NZ – Running for Elijah (which is still open for any last minute donations!). I hoped to raise $NZ 500, but my hopes were gratefully exceeded.

Race day came and my hubbie woke early with me. We were lucky to have a friend staying from NZ and she’d kindly said she’d look after our three daughters, whilst hubbie drove me to the race (a 40 minute drive from Santa Barbara). It meant the world to me having him there.

He dropped me off at the start point, where I picked up my bib and took a swig of energy drink. Then I joined the lines of people waiting to use a porta loo, where the humour and pre-race atmosphere was high. In the sky above the throngs of runners, nearly 3,000 in total, a Go Pro camera hovered on a mini helicopter device, taking in the scene.

With minutes to the start time, of 7am, I dashed from the porta loo (made it just in the nick of time, phew!) to the race. I looked for the pacer holding the two and a half hour sign. I knew, if I wasn’t for my ankle, I could have lined up with the 1 hour 50 minute pacer, but I was planning to start out at a comfortable pace and hope to high heaven my ankle would hold it together.

Start line

In training I always had a tendency to start off fast, but there was no chance of that in the race. I was surrounded by a sea of bodies moving happily in the same direction and the pace was comfortable.

First mile

After the first mile I started to edge forward, until by the sixth mile I knew I was going to finish the race. The sea of bodies had turned into a gentle flow over the country lanes. I had space to run and had found my pace. The scenery was beautiful. I felt like I was back in New Zealand, in the wine country of the Wairarapa at the bottom of the North Island.

Beautiful scenery

Along the course locals stood at their gates with coffees in hand and cow bells clanging in support. Every couple of miles friendly folks offered up water at the water stations and gave words of support.

The course undulated over rolling hills and for every uphill push there was a flying down hill decent, which I leaned into and relished.

Up the hill!

By the tenth mile I felt a little lag in my legs, but just kept going. My energy levels were dropping a little, but my spirit was strong. The uphill sections felt a little tougher, but the supporters along the way kept me running, along with my inner voice telling me to just keep on going!

I was so relieved to see the finish line and the throngs of people cheering me in. I scanned the crowd, looking for my hubbie, but heard him before I saw him. ‘Sarah!’ he called out. Hearing my name from his lips was music to my ears.

As I crossed the line in 1 hour 57 minutes and 16 seconds, a friendly face handed me a medal and I slowly walked through the crowds to my waiting hubbie.

At the finish line!

I did it! I couldn’t believe it and was so thankful to my ankle for holding out.

Elijah’s running tags on my laces had given me strength and a sprinkling of fairy dust 😉

After strolling around Solvang, and getting in a post race latte, hubbie drove me back to Santa Barbara, with the top down on the VW and the sun smiling down on us.

Driving home

My daughters gave me a wonderful greeting when I walked in the front door and spent the rest of the day telling me how they wanted to race too. Miss 8 even took her Daddy out for the first stage of a couch to 5k training schedule (whilst I rested my ankle on ice!).

Linking up with…

❤ 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 😉

Prose for Thought & Writer’s Workshop | Something new I’m loving: I’m becoming a runner

There’s running gear going through the wash every day,
I’ll skip a latte for a smoothie or water.
The wine in the fridge is staying put longer,
When I sleep, it’s with complete mind-body exhaustion.

Goleta cliff top UCSB

I do stretches at random moments in the day,
and play my children at tag with greater guile.
I greet my running shoes with a welcome smile,
and head out the door without hesitation.

Stretching out on Butterfly Beach

On strong days I pump my arms like pistons,
powering my legs as I stride out thinking,
‘I am really feeling like a runner!’

There are other days when I feel weaker,
When my throat dries with thirst at every mile,
and my tongue licks salty lips in need of a drink.
The air I breath in is hot and suffocating,
as I learn to run, where the temperatures are hot,
the sun relentless, the shade hard to find.

Cliff top above Butterfly Beach

My muscles are still getting stronger,
new yet to running and easily tender.
I hold back from over doing it –
my training schedule keeping me straight.
So tempted to run and run on those strong days –
but the risk of injury could lay me up for weeks.

Stretchingout

I’m learning as I go, loving the freedom of being out in the open, running, just like I was born to do.

© Sarah Lee, March 2014

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Linking up with:

Prose for Thought
Mama’s Losin’ It

Things I’m Loving

Had a beautiful week with my daughters and escaping out for runs. The clocks have swung into spring time in the northern hemisphere and having an extra hour of daylight in the evening makes a huge difference to our available ‘play time’.

Sharing here a few loves from my week…

❤ Hanging out in the garden with Miss 4, making a lei with freshly picked flowers ❤

Lei making

❤ Beautiful scenery on my runs ❤

Friday night's run

❤ Seeing dolphins alongside a paddle boarder at Butterfly Beach on Friday evening (a perfect ending to my longest run yet!) ❤

Paddle boarder and dolphins at Butterfly Beach

❤ Cooling down at the end of a run with a splash in the surf and some yoga stretches with little Miss 4 ❤

Warrior pose with Miss 4 at Butterfly Beach

❤ Meeting up with hubbie and friends on Thursday evening at the beautiful Goleta Beach Park, fitting in a beautiful cliff top run, and then heading out for pizza and beer. ❤

Goleta Beach Park

❤ Sunsets, good health, happy family and the time to run ❤

Monday night's run

❤ The little things and how much they hold such fascination for our youngest daughter ❤

A moth rescued from the pool

❤ Sisterly love ❤

Creativity and sisterhood

❤ The reopening of a much loved playground on Tuesday evening, where hubbie took the girls for a play, whilst I ran and then met up with them after ❤

Ship wreck playground Tuesday night's run

❤ Loom Love continues for Miss 10, as well as countless other crafty ideas ❤

Loom Love

❤ Miss 4 adds to her drawing book ❤

Miss 4 drawing

❤ Miss 8 loves making hand-stitched clothes for her dolls, bookmarks and little hand-stitched bags ❤

Learning to hand stitch, making dolls clothes and bookmarks

❤ Miss 4 celebrates a new outfit by sneaking into the shop window, standing stock still, and surprising passers by, who stopped to take a photograph, or ‘jumped’ in shock! ❤

Little model!

❤ Saturday morning breakfast in the lovely La Arcada, Santa Barbara, with my family ❤

Breakfast in La Aracada, Santa Barbara

❤ Sharing the love and linking up with my Wellington, New Zealand, friend, Meghan – who has posted up a great collection of ‘loves’ this week ❤

Running the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon – for a good cause & other reasons…

I’m into my third week of training for my first half marathon and loving it. The run is on 10 May 2014 in Santa Barbara’s Wine Country. I will have turned forty the month before, making it a great event to really kick start this next decade of my life.

Santa Barbara harbour

I plan on making my forties full of action, to keep pace with my three active daughters, and to rediscover a slice of the ‘old me’ that was always running off exploring in my twenties (before I got busy with making babies in my thirties!).

Running Santa Barbara beach

I am running for a great cause – ‘Running for Elijah‘ – (certainly helps to keep me motivated and stick with the training!); whilst staving off a mid-life crisis (although it could be argued – by some of my friends – that running a half marathon is a mid-life crisis in itself!) and dependence on wine & chocolate… (of course those still figure in my life – I’m just trying to make them minor blips – not full feature spreads!).

Running in the heat of the day

I’m also running for my daughters, as there is no better way to teach than to lead by example. They are all active individuals already, but seeing their parents continue to be active throughout life will help to set in place that lifestyle for them too. We all motivate and spur each other on, in our own ways, and I’m so grateful that they realise how important exercise is for us all (thank you my girls – Mamma is a much happier Mamma when she can run!).

Santa Barbara beach

I’m also so thankful to my hubbie for making the extra effort to be there to look after his gorgeous daughters, whilst I go out running. Just tonight, we met him down the beach, near where he works, so I could run whilst they played around at the park.

I’m following a great training schedule, that’s building my strength and endurance gradually, without me risking an injury early on. I am so tempted, every day I go running, to run more and more, to keep going until I can’t move my legs anymore; but, the training schedule holds me back and keeps me from doing that.  It’s exciting to build up to race day and I’m enjoying not just the focus of having a ‘race day’, but making running and exercise a priority for me.

Santa Barbara bird reserve

I’m also loving the scenery and opportunity to explore parts of Santa Barbara, whilst I run. I’m grateful for the time to pause and take in the landscape around me.

Whale tail Santa Barbara harbour

I run on sand, on trails, on road and footpaths. I run whenever I’m free to run. I run because I love to run and running makes me feel free.

Santa Barbara

An active week in Santa Barbara – and yes, I am running a half marathon…

Between the game play (Minecraft), the crafting (Rainbow Looming) and all the preschool arts and crafts (baking ginger-bread men, sand play, painting, imaginary story telling and so on…) there’s been a lot of action in the house in California this week. My New Zealand born children have been energised with slightly cooler temperatures and rain (yes, rain!). We took a trip to the the local zoo in Santa Barbara (we signed up for annual membership, since we are here for a year) and spent a few hours enjoying some action, with a touch of animal education – but mostly ‘physical education’!)…

We also visited a fav park – Goleta Beach Park, for a kick around, as well as a park near the Zoo – where we played ball-tag, baseball, climbing and anything that stretched a limb!

Opposite Santa Barbara Zoo park

After my 8km run on Monday (in training for a half-marathon – my first – in May) I was on ‘cross fit’ day – so certainly got my exercise in – in a round about way! Why a half-marathon? Well, I’m turning forty in April, so it seemed the right thing to do – plus I’m doing it for a very good cause (yes, I need the motivation!). Also, the run is in ‘wine country’ – the ‘Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon’… aye, I’m no saint!

Monday's run

Oh and, whilst I’m at it, I did a decent run on Friday too (which was followed by reading Facebook updates of forty something friends in NZ completing a half-marathon in Wellington… which resulted in me signing up to do one – inspiration through Facebook – it’s real!).

Friday night's run

The run on Friday was swiftly followed by a vegetarian curry (thanks hubby and the wonderful curry house ‘Tamira Santa Barbara‘ that made it). Sunday, I should have gone for a run – but had friends around for a pirate shin dig (but that’s another post), in honour of our youngest lass having just turned four (didn’t seem real till we’d celebrated with some ‘Kiwi’ mates!). A pirate shin dig wouldn’t have seemed right without a few drinks to wash down the salty BBQ food.. ahem… (any excuse) so I indulged as any pirate would (given the chance) and set the world to rights (on the running front) on Monday.

Tuesday and Wednesday were followed with lots of planking, squatting, yoga moves and gentle weights throughout the day – combined with multiple trips up, down, round, square and figure of eight; chasing dirty laundry, plates, children and chaos. And now, Wednesday night, I sit listening to the wonderful (and extremely rare) sound of rain thinking, ‘I really should have gone for a run today as I’m drinking far too much wine!’. Tonight, along with drinking wine, has been a fun one of putting out multiple rain catching containers with Miss 4 (she obviously recalls the drought in Wellington, NZ, of summer 2013, which I wrote about here and here, over at ‘Catching the Magic’), baking gingerbread men (she found the cookie cutters, whilst emptying a large plastic box – to use for rain collecting, and decided baking was the needed… and boy am I glad she did… as I sit here typing, wine fuelled, with the munchies!) and drinking rain water (well, wouldn’t you if it hadn’t rained more than 3 days in six months?!… never mind the water might be polluted!).

So, there you have it. A little post for the week to link up with the lovely active folk over at ‘Country Kids‘ who make the most of the weather in the wonderful UK, whatever it may be, and get out with their children to enjoy a bit of action x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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