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REVIEW: NZ Opera La cenerentola (Cinderella) – by a ‘non-opera go-er’!

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REVIEW: NZ Opera La cenerentola (Cinderella) – by a ‘non-opera go-er’!

On Saturday afternoon you would have found this ‘Mom’ out in the sticks wrangling a gaggle of teenagers at their outdoor Paintball extravaganza!

Saturday night you would have then found this same ‘Mom’ making a quick transformation, glam-ming herself up and heading out to the NZ Opera La cenerentola.

NZ Opera La cenerentola

Glam-med up yes!

But honestly…I left the house in bare feet carrying my heels… 😉

Why?  Because I had 9 teenagers in tow, to deposit at dinner and Reading Cinema first, before I even got to the St James Theatre.  So we had a short trek first to get down to Courtney Place.  Loosing my perfect hot roller-ed curls to the Wellington wind on our way.

I didn’t know anyone else going to the Opera and as a Single Parent I was flying solo and totally attempting to rock it by myself (yes girls you can totally do this in Wellington).

The St James Theatre was packed and brimming with excitement for the opening night of Rossini’s vivacious La cenerentola (Cinderella).

NZ Opera's La cenerentola Marcin Bronikowski Amelia Berry Rachelle Pike image credit Neil Mackenzieimages provided – credit Neil Mackenzie

I was warmly welcomed at the top of the stairs and treated to drinks and nibbles as I was being *hosted at the Opera by Spotlight Creative Media. I ended up chatting with the host and some fab ladies from The Wellingtonista before heading in at the sound of the bell.

As the lights lowered for the opening scene of La cenerentola…I chuckled to myself, as to where life takes me sometimes and the extremes of it.

This time last week (7.30pm) we were sitting on the try line at Westpac Stadium Mexican waving and cheering our lungs out watching the Hurricane’s battle it out with the Crusader’s (Wellington Chic – yes I am, but I am still a Crusader’s fan!).

Last week I was wrapped up in my winter woollies, rocking a beanie and eating Hot Chips out of a punnet where the tomato sauce gets on your fingers!

Tonight I was surrounded by Glitz, Glamour, Tuxedo’s, sparkly Evening Dresses, Champagne, Top shelf liquor and OPERA!

I worked out it had been 14 years and then 19 years since I had last been to the Opera

A friend and I had gone to the Opera in Auckland 14 years ago (which I ‘cough-cough’ can’t now remember the name of it) and my parent’s took my to my 1st Opera back in the 90’s to Phantom.

So I’m a total newbie, a novice, I don’t know ‘anything’…all I know is what I like and what I appreciate.

I’m not a traditional Opera reviewer…as you can see.

There are many fabulous reviewers out there and many technical and in-depth reviews listed on NZ Opera’s Facebook page…

So this blog review is just me sharing my experience of going to the opera as a normal ‘non Opera go-er’.

NZ Opera's La cenerentola Rachelle Pike Sarah Castle Amelia Berry image credit Neil Mackenzieimages provided – credit Neil Mackenzie

La cenerentola is sung in Italian, it follows along the story of Cinderella (kind-of), but with some unique twists along the way…

We see a glimpse of the life of Cinderella/Angelina, her two naughty Step Sisters Tisbe and Clorinda, and her nasty Stepfather the Baron Don Magnifico as their lives intertwine with the Prince Don, his sidekick Dandini and Angelina’s ticket out of the life she leads Alidoro.

I much appreciated that it was a story that I was familiar with (albeit different) as I had some anticipation of what was going on or maybe coming up, even if I wasn’t reading the Sub titles.

Is that what you call those things…sub titles…?

They very ‘helpfully’ have a long screen right up the top above the stage and one, off to the left and one, off to right that when read, give you roughly what they are singing about. .

What was amazing was you often didn’t need to read the subtitles.

The emotion, expressions, body language, themes, tone, set and how the scene played out visually almost told the story completely on it’s own.

But they were so helpful to have there when I had no idea what was happening and for picking up the funny lines and quirks.

What captured me instantly was the colours and the luxurious quality of the costumes, set and whole visual affair playing out in front of me.

Now I don’t mean luxurious in terms of expensive, I means in terms of ‘a luxurious lush depth‘ even when the fabric’s were ratty and old (Angelina) they still had a luxurious lush depth and texture to them.

NZ Opera's La cenerentola Sarah Castle John Tessier image credit Neil Mackenzieimages provided – credit Neil Mackenzie

The set’s that came out were truly amazing, Don Manifico’s shop where the Step Sisters and Angelina worked was epic!

It set such the tone for the scenes and there was so much going on in there, but I never felt it extracted from the actual Opera.

I love that they used the height of the stage for the set.  Above the shop was the families house with stairs running up the back and many scenes were directed from the large open house windows, which was just overall visually stunning and just looked seriously cool.

 

So…the Opera singing…was it good…did it give me goose-bumps:?

I know it’s what the cast train for years and years of their lives to do…and NZ Opera’s are regarded as a world-class productions…so I shouldn’t be too surprised…

But I was blown away by nearly each and every one of the cast individually.

I was already in awe of the voices, the notes, the clarity and the power behind the voices…annnnnnnd that it’s ALL sung in Italian!  Just imagine how hard that is to learn!

But then…goodness gracious me what a talent it is when there are 4 or 6 cast on stage singing their own huge song (fast and in Italian) on their own, not getting distracted from the others, but singing it perfectly in sync – but not in sync because their songs are different – if that makes sense.  And pulling it off perfectly.

That was my favourite part and total goose-bump coverage!

So, did I like it?

As I don’t know what is good Opera and what isn’t good Opera, all I can go on is how it makes me feel.

So, do I like it?

Oh my golly-gosh YES!

I didn’t realise that I had been missing out on this for the last 14 years.

The voices that made the hairs on my arms raise and catch my breath!

The notes that made me sit forward in my seat.

I was ENTHRALLED and absolutely captured by the characters and the story line.


What surprised me the most?

I had said to my daughter before I went, that I just hope ‘I don’t get bored’

There was NO trouble with that as I was sucked in hook line and sinker to the story.

Also pleasantly surprised by just how much of it was funny and how they slotted the humour in at intervals perfectly.

There was a well placed very clever line referencing ‘Cloudy Bay’ (wine)…that was by far a huge ‘lol’ moment for the audience!  😉

NZ Opera's La cenerentola Andrew Collis image credit Stephanie Do Rozarioimages provided – credit Stephanie Do Rozario


Who were my favourite Characters?

I didn’t quite realise it was possible to like ALL of the characters on stage.

I even really-really liked the Baron Don Manifico…yes he was a drunk, yes he treated Angelina appallingly…but he was still incredibly likable and a little mischievous.

I liked his bobbly, wobbly nature, his stick on comb-over that was hardly ever combed over and the fact he never had his pants done up!

The Step Sisters Tisbe and Clorinda were A-MAZING and pulled off their Characters to perfection.  Visually their Styling was equally perfection.

 

What caught me off guard?

The tension was building as we are leading to a peak scene before intermission.

Tears sprung from my eyes and rolled down my face.

I am trying to control what my body is doing and stifle the noise only letting it out when I can disguise it between the loud high notes

Trying hard to mask it ever so subtlety so those around me don’t hear.

The crowd erupts into applause and I let it out as much as I can.

As we walked out at intermission I was wiping tears from my eyes I was having trouble capturing a full breath at every intake…I’m sure everyone thought I was very-very moved by the performance

I would have been, as until that point as I was totally loving it…

BUT instead I was suffering the wrath of a poorly crunched Eclipse mint I had popped in 5 mins before, where a shard had caught in the very back of my throat causing me all this anguish!!!!

I had been stifling coughs and gags and was trying to choke away quietly and not disturb those around me!

I was then the one chic at the bar at intermission stuffing my face with potato chips and sculling my L&P trying to dislodge my mint shard.

Oh dear – classy aye!

At least my breath was minty 😉

 

What stood out in La cenerentola than the previous Opera’s I had been to?

What I don’t remember from past Opera’s was just how much is going on, on stage-at once.  That the whole entire scene is fabricated / styled / tweaked to perfection.

That the singing is oh so very important…but so is the costumes…the sets…the lighting and the tone…

In La cenerentola it was an entire package.

I loved the shop set, but the set in the Palace Gardens was my favourite overall, it was incredibly simple but was visually stunning.  It offset the costumes so beautifully.

The acting and expression of the cast are so very important and this portrays more than I ever realised.

The cast did an amazing job with this from the over the top accentuated expressions of the Step Sisters that were close on perfection to the subtle underlying expressions of the Chamber maids (gosh you were so funny ‘curly dark haired maid/dude’!).

NZ Opera's La cenerentola Sarah Castle image credit Neil Mackenzieimages provided – credit Neil Mackenzie

 

Did I cry?

Yup…and not just during the Eclipse Mint incident above.

When the singing was so perfectly synced/but not synced, (that I talked about further above) when there are 4 or 6 cast on stage singing their own song, but with others, but different.  Just stunning!

And a few other times.

 

Did I feel out of place?

I rocked up with faux confidence…and flying solo…and it was quite possibly my age group was in a minority than many other Opera go-er’s.

So it ‘would’ have been very easy to feel ‘out of place’.

Tux’s and evening gowns and very elegantly dressed peeps are the norm (is that just an opening night thing…or every night?).

But it also didn’t seem to matter if you weren’t in formal attire as there were still plenty of people in ‘going out’ clothes and also people of all ages.  Both ends of the scale and everything in between.  Octogenarians and also quite a few Kids :-)

It did encourage me thought to go all out next time and glam it up even more.

As the Opera is maybe not my normal thing…I only slightly felt out of place, but less than I actually thought I would.

I did get some looks up and down (you know the ones), but they kinda didn’t bother me, figured they were either:

  • …looking at me as I was a ‘newbie’ and they hadn’t seen me there before…
    or
  • …the were looking at my totally rocking outfit that I felt amazing in…
    or
  • …maybe I had toilet paper hanging out the back of my skirt, who knows 😉

 

What blew me away?

What was most-most surprising, was just how well received it was.

Yes, I LOVED it, but the appreciation and applause the show and cast received from the audience at the end was truly-truly amazing.

I have been to some great shows in my life, with massive crowds and standing ovations…but this topped all of them.

People were literally on the edge of their seats almost ready to burst with how delighted they were and they were all around me and across the entire crowd.

The very-very well deserved clapping was intense when the cast’s were taking their bow’s and accepting the applause.

I was teared up already through performance, but cried the most actually at this point.

I was awe at the delighted crowd, how appreciative they were for the cast and what they had just seen, it totally got me.

Yup, I’m a weirdo – who cries from seeing people ‘clap’ – yeah that would be me.

NZ Opera's La cenerentola Cinderella

 

Following my glamorous night at the opera, did I head off to an equally glamorous after party or cocktails with the cast…?

I walked out onto Courtenay place amongst excited chatter from those around me and rave reviews of how awesome La cenerentola was.

Then I head straight across the road to Starbucks to a tall Chai Latte and to await the arrival of my 9 energetic Teenagers from their movie (Pitch Perfect 2) to then get them all back to our place.

The week before, I was initially a little disappointed not to be heading to Pitch Perfect 2 with the girls, but La cenerentola was so-so-so much better…and I can movie any old day.

I’m writing this now to the sound of giggling, dancing, Hip Hop and Pop songs floating up the stairs of our Apartment and set myself in for a fun night of hosting this great bunch of girls.

I was an Opera go-er earlier that night…but after all of that when the glam goes back in the wardrobe, you wipe your makeup off and tie your hair up in a ponytail…I will always be a Mom

Digging snack food our of the cupboard for them, laughing at their funny stories and gathering up enough blankets to turn our house into a giant sleepover for the night.

 

Check back tomorrow where I will post my “Top Tips for heading to the Opera as a non-Opera go-er”!

 

The NZ Opera have a stunning 2015 season on, starting with La cenerentola and followed with Madama Butterfly and then Tosca.

La cenerentola is directed by Lindy Hume and was co-produced with Opera Queensland and features Opera stars from New Zealand, Australia and around the world.

Check out their website nzopera.com even if it’s just for the amazing graphics alone that have been created for each opera, the images are stunning!

The NZ Opera also has a great active Facebook page with lots of behind the scenes info and fab interviews and video’s, which is well worth a look to find out stuff you wouldn’t have otherwise known.

You can still catch La cenerentola in Wellington until the final night Saturday 16th May.

It then heads up to Auckland (the same day that Prince Harry leaves New Zealand…Prince Don heads to Auckland and Prince Harry heads home) and runs 30 May til 7 June, Tickets are available through the NZ Opera website.

 

* I was very-very kindly hosted by Spotlight Creative Media to the NZ Opera without obligation…but man…my experience going to La cenerentola was so awesome I just HAD to talk about it and share it with you on my blog.
What I wrote is just what I think!
Thanks for reading :-)

 

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Welcoming Teenagers into your home – Kiwi Families

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Welcoming teenagers into your home – with Kiwi Families.

My Mother’s Day started with 9 Teenagers scattered all around the lounge fast asleep after a late night of events, movies, music, singing, dancing and talking into the wee-wee small hours of the morning.

8 of which were not mine!  :-)

I don’t mind at all though, as they are all great kids (teens) and are lots of fun.

Do you host Sleepovers at your house?

What have you learnt that works well?

Here’s a link to an article I wrote recently about ‘Welcoming Teenagers into your Home‘ (Sleepovers) for the fab website that I write a little bit for kiwifamilies.co.nz

Pop over and have a read and let me know what your thoughts are?

http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/2015/04/welcoming-teenagers-into-your-home/

welcoming-teenagers-into-your-home-kiwi-familiesscreenshot image via kiwifamilies.co.nz

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Summer Time Bucket Lists – What we ticked off in 2013/14

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Summer Time Bucket Lists“Summer Time Bucket Lists” are such a fabulous way to make your Holiday plans.

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They give you tonnes of activities, events, and rainy day ideas both big and small to look forward to and plenty of ideas for when you can’t quite think what you should do that day.

We are putting together out Summer Time Bucket List for these holidays coming up 2014/15, that’s when I remembered I didn’t actually hit publish on my post about last years one (it sat 95% done) “Summer Time Bucket Lists – What we ticked off in 2013/14”!

So here it is:


 

For the first time last year 2012/13 I suggested to Miss 12 (at the time) that she make a “Summer Time Bucket List”…

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Things for her and I to tackle on our holiday that would be loads of fun, a mixture of both big and small ideas as well as things we $Pay for and free idea’s too.

We really enjoyed thinking of things to put on it totaling about 15 things on it all up.  Then we had the fun of her ticking off items like “Bungy Jumping” and mastering Water Skiing outside the wake etc…

So this Summer we made a new Summer Time Bucket List 2013/14 and a slightly more ‘ambitious’ one.

Below you will see how we got on, we still have loads of summer left and hope to get through many more before the sun disappears for Winter again.


1. √ Early Swim out to the Lake Wanaka Raft + treats

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … It’s in our nature to sleeeeeep in, but somehow my daughter (Miss 14) & I dragged our butts out of the Campground & down to the lake to swim out to the raft!

@ 5.55am – yup!!

Our arctic dash was helped along by our stash of Chocolate tucked inside my wetsuit to eat once we got out on to the raft!  (Freddo & Crunchie)

It wasn’t so cold coming back in and Miss 14 even stayed in the water for a bit :-) We were even back in before Challenge Wanaka people ‘uber athletes’ started their practice swim!!

Even though I put this on our Bucket List, it took us til 3/4 of the way through our holiday to finally achieve it (& our last day in Wanaka!).

45 mins later we walked back down to the Foreshore to Kai Whakapai Cafe to defrost some more and get Hot Chocolate!  The early morning swim was a great way to farewell 3 fantastic weeks in Wanaka.

Early Morning swim out to the Raft Lake Wanaka

chocolate treats for the raft

2. √ Foosball – Have a family Foosball tournament

FREE – If you already have it.  It may $Cost you bragging rights though.
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … The competition was hot on the Foosball table and many an hour was spent flipping away on it.  I didn’t win overall, but had a blast trying to.

If I had the space for game type things at my house, it would be a Foosball* table a Pool Table and Air Hockey!

Foosball

3. Single Ski/Slalom Ski

FREE if you already have access to the Boat, Gear & Petrol.
(Miss 14)

Yes … Miss 14 has been skiing now since she was about 7 years old and has progressed through the different stages over the years.
This year, her aim was to be able to ‘drop one ski’ and ‘Slalom or Single Ski’.

Well … SHE DID and it was hugely hugely exciting.

The day she did it we had head out to an amazing spot way-way up the top of the breathtaking area of Lake Benmore.  We launched off from Sailor’s Cutting and pretty much nearly had the entire Lake area to ourselves.
There was only 5 of us there that day and we had an amazing day on the Lake.

Not only did Miss 14 master the Single Ski much to her delight (and the rest of us), but we also got my wee niece up on the Ski’s for the first time too which was doubly exciting.  You should have seen the smiles on both their faces that day = Priceless.

As all great lakes days, by the time we had all skied our little hearts out, the Southerly was starting to come over and it was a quick dash pack up back into the boat for a very eventful bumpy ride back to Sailor’s Cutting to which we all got nicely wet again from the waves.

To top it off, hilarity continued when the car tried to drive off leaving me 1/2 un-wetsuited/togged hoping on one foot as I was doing a quick change beside the car!  They were as surprised as I was to hear me let out a yelp as I discovered my ‘cover’ was about to be blown with me hopping alongside the car trying as best as I could to cover up.

Followed by me 3 minutes later coming out of the bathroom and attempt to get into the completely wrong car, step in and get 1/2 into the seat before laughed my head off realising my mistake (they had moved further up) and amusing these unsuspecting fellow boaties wondering who their new bedraggled passenger was.
I’ll give myself some credit that the car was very-very similar and also had a boat attached on the back.  I got back to my car to all 4 other occupants giggling their little heads off 😉

If you’re not sure what Single Ski / Slalom Skiing is, have a lookie here at Thomas Degasperi (2 x World Slalom Champion) doing his thing, pause it at 52 seconds…yeah that’s pretty much where Miss 14 wants to be (& the rest of us) :-)

4. Χ Walk up Mt Iron, Wanaka…

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

No … Was disappointed we didn’t get to tick this one off.  Going to transfer our future jaunt up Mt Iron to our 2014/15 list as I know that the views from there are spectacular and it’s only meant to take about 1 1/2 hours.

5.  Water – Drink out of the natural spring in Wanaka

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … I knew about the Natural Spring and knew vaguely where it was, but oddly had never been there.  The spring comes out just down on Lakeside Drive between the Playground and the Boat Ramp, on the downhill lakeside.
We tracked it down and they have now made it into a Wanaka feature with beautiful slate stone and paving and easy to get to.  When it’s hot, the kids (& you) can have a wee splash around in the bottom pool.
Not only did the water taste great it was SOOO cold!  So after our long bike ride and nearly empty drink bottles, it was perfect timing.

Tip from Sept 2014 visit:
Cross the road opposite and have a look at where it naturally comes out of the bank and if you venture up through the wee gate and you will find fishes swimming in a wee pond (some really huge ones too).

Wanaka Natural Spring Water

6. √ Late night swim in the lake

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Kinda … It has been a stinking hot day and it was still a really warm evening.  The sun had gone down and it was getting dark…but maybe it wasn’t exactly ‘late night’.

7. Χ Water Ski Jump Start / Beach Start

FREE if you already have access to the Boat, Gear & Petrol
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Wellington Chic:
Tried … I was fortunate to have grown up with Water skiing almost in our blood.  Our family holidays revolved almost solely around Water skiing and finding the ‘best water’ which all of us kids were more than happy with as we loved it!

Jump Starting was the ‘cool’ thing in the 80’s & what my parents, siblings, cousins, friends and I always did.  What everyone always strived for to have a spectacular jump start and epic ski and master the art of coming in without even getting your hair wet! 😉

I ski as much as I can, but haven’t bothered to Jump Start for over 15 years…You get a little rusty and as you might only get to ski a couple of times a year, I would take the lazy route and just deep water start and drop one.

So this Summer it was my aim to get back into Jump Starting!

I tried & tried & tried to Re-Master the art of the Jump Start again…but alas no!

I think I get at least a point for trying so hard, as one day I had about 23 goes, but sadly this item is not ticked off this year and will be added to the 2014 STBL (but I did get some epic Skiing done, so I’m still super happy and I’m stoked I gave it a good go :-))

Miss 14:
No … progressed hugely this year, see No. 3 & No. 10 but not yet to the Jump Start.  That’s also on her 2014 STBL.

NB: I listed this one as Free, but may cost you Doctors and Physio bills after you wrench your arms out 😉

Here is a picture of me Face Planting it yet again and is probably about try number 21 in the stunning aqua waters of Twizel.

Water Ski Jump Start

Face Planting the Water Ski Jump Start

Here a link to a video of how a Jump Start it is ‘meant’ to look kinda, although this one is off a Jetty, we stand in the water up to our calf/knee.

8. Χ Play Tennis

FREE – If you already have the gear and use a free court
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

No … not this year.
We really like Tennis, we are not very good at it (even though I did 2 years of tennis lessons from age 14), but we have loads of fun.
My only suggestion for Tennis playing harmony, choose a court that doesn’t have tonnes along side it.  You know, just one court, with 1 really-really high fence all the way round it, so that you not having to run the length of 4 other courts to retrieve way-ward balls every 2 minutes.
You can find Tennis Courts to use at local Schools or you can pop up to the likes of Wanaka Tennis Inc. who have fantastic courts up there on Upton Street.  Court hire $20.00 per hour or $6.00 per person for non-members.

9. √ Go Stand Up Paddleboarding again..

$20 per person, per 1 hour
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … Loved it as much as we did last year.  You can read about it here when I wrote about it last, as we loved it alot!
This year we managed to get out x2 times while we were there.  Miss 14 managed to get to go Sup’ing a 3rd time too.
It’s so fun as it can be as relaxing as you want, as energetic as you want or as fun as you want if you want to have races and play around.  It’s also so very easy to learn.

You can find Wanaka Kayaks where we hire the SUP’s from on the Lakeside all Summer long.

 

10. √ Try Wakeboarding for the 1st time

FREE if you already have access to the Boat, Gear & Petrol
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … Whoop whoop, this was so exiting a new water sport to conquer.

Miss 14 did amazingly, getting up her VERY first time and staying on for a full loop.  Much cheering, clapping and hooting and hollering!  She as stoked!

I on the other hand face planted dozens of times and my record was all of about 8 seconds.  But I am still super happy with that as I stood up – I’ll take it.

Has now been added to 2014 Summer Time Bucket List “Stay up on the Wakeboard for longer than 8 seconds”.

Wakeboarding FacePlant

This is me swimming with the fish’s after yet another Wake Board Faceplant!

11. √ Bike the track round Lake Wanaka

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … We bike many times over the Summer, but did one big epic ride as far as our legs and lungs would take us from the Beacon Pt side to as far round as we could muster on the Glendu Bay side and then sat and ate Belgium biscuits as you do of course!

If you don’t have a bike already you can hire them from many places around Wanaka. We have used many times in the past Lakeland Adventures which is in the Log Cabin on the Foreshore.  Priced from $15 per hour.

IMG_4428

IMG_4429

12. Χ Sleep under the stars…

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

No … Just didn’t happen this year.

On one hand a little gutted, as it’s always such a thing to look forward to.

But on the other hand…Early morning dew…Hedgehogs…Possums…Rain…Thunder Storms…

Maybe we just need to stay somewhere with a retractable roof that has a rain sensor and we would have the best of both worlds!

Added again to 2014 STBL.

13. Χ Roast Marshmallows & make Smores

FREE – Except Marshmallows and Biscuit supplies
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

No … Somehow that just didn’t happen either.

We weren’t camping in places that accept open fires which is one of the limiting factors.  But we still missed out on all of this deliciousness.  If we can’t find a suitable place to have an open fire, then we need to find a place we can safely have a brazier or something.

Added to 2014 STBL.

Toasting Marshmallows - School Camp

14. √ Make Shadow puppets on the roof of the Awning

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … even if it was just by myself one night.

The Bunny, the Dove, the Dinosaur…the peace sign…the OK sign and finally the thumbs up.  I should probably enter a competition or something 😉

15. Χ Introduce Miss 14 to ‘Damper’

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Ahhhhh…..damper an unleavened bread made of flour and water baked in an open fire and smothered with melted Butter and Raspberry jam. Nom Nom.

Kinda for the same reasons as the Smores, not so easy to do it.  But this has also been added to 2014 STBL.

KidSpot have got Recipe for Damper over here that we will use when we make it.

16. √ Play Spotlight…

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … We were super fortunate to run into in the same camping ground “Old Family Friends grown up daughter who now has a family of her own” that we didn’t know was going to be there.

They have a daughter the same age as Miss 14 and they quickly became great Summer Holiday friends.  So Miss 14 played Spotlight many times with their little gang of siblings.

17. Χ Tyre tube down River

FREE – If you already have the tubes, Lifejackets
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

No … We did this many many years ago in Glenrock Station, way up in the South Island High Country on the Rakaia river sort of near Lake Coleridge.  It was so so so much fun and definitely got the adrenalin pumping.

But didn’t happen this year.  Added to 2014 STBL.

NB: Tyre tube on the River at own risk.  Plan very carefully.  Don’t tube on a swollen river.  Have a good walk up and down the river first and check it all out. Watch for fallen trees, submerged logs and currents.  Have multiple spotters and pick up people on the shore for you.  Know where you are going to get out.  Get your spotters to put something big and colourful on the river side so you can see it in advance, as the river looks different once your in it.  Ensure you are not going to end up in the sea!

Wear Wetsuit, Lifejacket and Water Shoes as they are a must for helping you get grip to get out and not knock those toes on the rocks.  Have a plan C for if you still over shoot your pick up points.  Lots to plan, but it is fun.

18. Χ Teach my nephew to say my name 😉

FREE
(Wellington Chic)

Tried … But nope he wasn’t quite there yet.  But I did teach him to stack his Stacker toy from bottom to top perfectly everytime (even when everyone else thought he was too young to get that yet).

That’s my nephew, super intelligent :-)

Jump to Sept 2014, he can say my name now, whoop-whoop.

19. √ Don’t get sunburnt

FREE – except for the cost of good Sunscreen
(Wellington Chic)

Yes … I try hard to be really careful in the sun, but usually at least once a year I get caught out somewhere (bad) – but this year success.  I slathered on loads of sunscreen, covered my shoulders alot and found plenty of shade.  Tanned but not burnt.

I got to try out the Oasis Beauty Oasis Sun SPF30 sunscreen this year and it’s kinda fabulous! It has 94% natural ingredients, so great for all sorts of sensitive skins and little ones :-)

I just read on their Facebook page this week that Hardy’s Health Stores are offering “Bring in your old sunscreen and get $10 off an Oasis Sun 250ml”, now that’s pretty cool.

Suset

20. √ Rodeo – Go to our first Rodeo

$20 Adult, $5 under 16, Family Concession $40.  
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … Can’t believe I’m 30 something and had never been to a Rodeo!

This year the timing (& weather) worked and it saw us head off to the Wanaka Rodeo and it was actually really cool.

The 2015 Wanaka Rodeo is set for the 2nd January 2015.  Hope to get there again this year if we are in town.

Tip: Take Blanket to sit on and if you need chairs, take LOW ones.  Take extra money for the fab food they have there and the Carni games :-)

Wanaka Rodeo

 

21. √ Raft – Swim out to raft on Lake Wanaka foreshore

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … Many many many times.  It never gets old.  See No. 1.

My Tips are: Take a Boogie Board or something to float on.  Even if you don’t have to use it.  It’s always amazing how far out it is.  The one we swam out to in Kaiterteri a few years ago was miles out and way longer than even I anticipated.
In my mind Kids have to wear a Lifejacket & Teenagers have to either be proven strong swimmers or have a Boogie Board attached to their ankle each.  Kids & Teenagers always think it’s going to be a piece of cake and are annoyed that I’m taking a flotation device with us.
But many-many-many of these kids and one teen once have been very thankful to hold on to this Boogie Board part way out there.

22. √ Eat Gelato at least 3 times a week

$$$$Can’t recall the prices, but best food money we spent
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … Wanaka has the BEST Gelato shop in the land.

Mr Black Peak Gelato man in Wanaka changes the flavors up everyday so it’s always exciting to see what is on offer. They have super friendly staff, beautifully clean premises, are right opposite the lake and are open until LATE most nights in Summer.

Always leave room for Gelato!

My favourite Gelato combination is Pavlova and Peanut Butter!  Yeah I know, crazy aye!

Black Peak Gelato work out of their Ardmore Street store (just look out for the pink bike) and also sometimes out of their ‘Icecream’ van.

Black Peak Gelato

23. √ Pot – Look for the ‘pot’ every night in the stars

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … When your camping this is one of my simplest, but favourite things to do late at night.

On our last wander to the bathroom before sleep, I would always always look up at the stars and seek out the Pot…and the Southern Cross…and the…actually they are the only ones I know!

I really must learn some more about our Night Sky*.  Maybe we need to add to our 2014 STBL a trip to the Earth & Sky Planetarium in the stunning location of Lake Tekapo.

I’ve just been reading that Aoraki Mackenzie is not only the World’s biggest, but the Southern Hemisphere’s first ever Dark Sky Reserve because of it’s very nearly light-pollution free skies.
Translation: It’s real dark there and you see LOADS and loads more stars than anywhere else – wooohooo!

Yip, it’s sorted, we need to go.  Added to 2014 STBL :-).

24. √ Skim stones

FREE
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … Any chance we got.
Such a simple pass time, but so fun.  We found the best skimming stones on our Bike Ride on the Glendhu bay side.

As kids, my Mom would be worried that we would knock someone out when we skimmed stones, so she would ensure we all lined up in line with each other first before we started.

It annoyed us greatly when we were kids, as we just wanted to get on with the skimming already, but she saved us all getting concussion from a reckless throw from one of the cousins from left field.

Skimming Stones

25. √ Movie – Discover the wonder of Cinema Paradiso

Adults $15.00, Youth $9.50
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … We had heard about Cinema Paradiso for soooo many years from many people, but had never been.
Wow, I’m so glad I finally did as I seriously love it there.

A very friendly comforting place where the walls are lined with both old and new movie posters that we spent nearly an hour perusing.  I just got lost in the memory of all those movies, where I had seen it and who with ;-).

Comfy old Seats make up the rows within the theatre and a Morris Minor Car sits pride of place in the theatre (that you can sit in) and it’s bumper pokes out through the wall to the other side.

We watched the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty* starring Ben Stiller, which we didn’t really know much about going into it, but we both really quite liked it’s quirkyness.  So pretty cool that both a 30 something and a 13 y/o both liked it.

Cinema Paradiso still offer an ‘Interval’ part way through the film where you can stretch your legs, stock up on more food / drink as you have usually eaten it all by then or you are pleased to use the toilet as you have drunk all your drink.  This place is great for a rainy day, when you have had enough sun and want to get out of it for a while or just unwind.

Know for next time:
What I didn’t know about Cinema Paradiso was that they make and sell famous / delectable Hot Fresh Cookies.  I was in-sainly jealous of the aroma that was wafting through the cinema after the interval and will not miss out next time!

Cinema Paradiso

26. √ Puzzling World – Get lost in the maze

Adult $17.50, Child $12, Family Pass $59
Prices are a combo, for both The Great Maze and The Illusion Room
Puzzles on table FREE if you are eating at the Cafe.
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … We try to get to Puzzling World every year as we are always finding things we didn’t see last time.

No matter how many years we go, it doesn’t help us to complete the maze any faster though.  This year we attempted to do the Maze the ‘correct’ way finding all the towers in the correct order, this made it even harder for us.

We were in scorching heat this year but were delighted to find the little dead end corner that has a tiny spray system built into it to mist you with cold water to cool you off.

After coming out of the Illusion Rooms which always are a delight, we can spend hours upon hours playing with the 100’s of puzzles on the Cafe tables afterwards.  A great  activity for the young, old and in between and all season round.

Puzzling World

27. Soak in the Hot Pools at Tekapo Springs

$22 Adult, $13 Child
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … It was a seriously impromptu trip as I didn’t think it was going to happen this holiday.  We were staying in Twizel and it was already late-ish.  We floated the idea, looked at the clock and figured it was worth it even for a quick dip.  It’s about 58km away and about 40min drive.  By the time we got there, changed and in, we would still have an hour to soak.

We head off for Tekapo Springs stopping for a Pie from the Service Station for dinner on the way (yup, all class, but needs must).
As soon as we eased our way into the first pool, we knew the quick dash was 150% worth it.

If you haven’t seen Tekapo at Sunset either you are in for treat. Sitting in the Hot Pools looking out over the Basin, the sun has dipped down behind the hills, but is still hitting the hills on the other side of the basin and has bathed it in this unique warm golden, brown hue that is like something out of a photo.  But here you are in this reality in this magical place.

Soak, wallow, turn over, push yourself along to another section, soak, wallow, lift your feet up, sit in front of this jet, soak, wallow, now try this one…yup, that’s the Hot Springs shuffle!

After a while, we get a little distracted and end up trying to dunk each other and then I need to get out and Pee!  What is it with Pools and making me need to Pee even if I’ve just been!  Anyone else?

But then a cold dash back into the Pool to soak some more.  They are open right up until 9pm, so a great after dinner treat.

This was a brilliant idea.

Tekapo Springs Hot Pools

28. Χ Race down the Queenstown Luge 

$53 Adult, $44 Child includes ride up Gondola or you can buy other combo’s
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

No … Last year we excitedly ticked this of our 2012/13 STBL and had such a blast with a large group of cousins to race down the Skyline Luge Queenstown track with.  Even in the misty rain all you could hear were laughing and squeels of delight as we shot out of the gate and into the first turns.

But alas, we did not get back there this year.  The pricing may seem steep, but it also includes your ride up the Gondola which is normally $30A, $19C on it’s own. You can spend as much time as you like up at the Gondola, perusing the view and watching all the goings on up there.

We would love to go back again this coming 2014/15 Summer.

29. Have a beer at the Cadrona Hotel, Wanaka

$Just the cost of your Beer or Cider or hot chocolate or Spider + you will probably be tempted by watching other people’s food come out
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Yes … If someone asked me ‘Why do we like the Cadrona Hotel so much, as it’s old, little and way out of town’…I don’t quite know how to answer…except “We just do”.

It makes me smile everytime we drive past it, maybe it’s just the familiarity of that. When you walk in side you are enveloped with a great sense of warmth and acceptance.  It almost wouldn’t matter if you were in your beach gear, your Snow Skiing gear, your Swanni off the Farm or a Space Suit, come on in, take a load off and have a beer.  So we do.

On a beautiful day, there is nothing better than heading out the back to the massive beer garden scattered with wooden benches, fire pits and unique old paraphernalia.  We just sit, spin yarns and chill.

I have been fortunate to have visited many times in Winter too including just recently in September and it’s completely different experience, but the same all enveloping feeling when you walk in to warm your hands and toes by the fire.

It will be on our Summer Time Bucket List every year that we venture to Wanaka :-)

Cardona Hotel Wanaka

30. Χ Paddleboard in Wellington harbour

$25 per person, per 1 hour
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

No … fully intended to and we planned to many times, but it just didn’t work out this year.

Fergs Kayaks on the Wellington waterfront offers not just SUP hire, but also a wide range of other water sports to be able to enjoy our harbour from.

Been thinking this would be a great way to celebrate the last day of term/school year that’s coming up!

31. √ Go Fishing in Wellington harbour

FREE – if you have the gear
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

Kinda … We didn’t actually tick this off in Summer, but we did just a few weeks ago tick it off.

We head down to the area where the new and completely fabulous Apartments are at Clyde Wharf Quay.  I have loved this area ever since I first moved to Wellington some 17 ish years ago!

They have a great new Fishing platform right out the end of the wharf that’s tucked down off the top, so not quite as windy and has tapped water, lights and even a bait cutting chopping platform.  Great location.

When it comes to Fishing, we really know nothing and keep it really simple.  We own just 2x Hand Reels that we bought from The Warehouse a good 10 years ago and they are still going strong.  This time we had borrowed a rod also, but I kinda still liked chopping a changing back to the Hand Reels.

We had tonnes and tonnes of bites, but in the end only caught one tiny-tiny we fishy, like about 15cm long, so back in he went.

But what we did see more excitingly was about 8 Penguins swim, frolic and taunt us in the water.  They were seriously cute and such a delight to see.  I never knew they would be in such a populated area, so it was awesome to see them.

Fishing in Wellington Harbour

32. Χ Go Camping in Wellington

$$$ See below
(Wellington Chic & Miss 14)

No … Didn’t quite happen this year.  Nearly all of our camping gets done in the South Island, bar School Camps and Church Camps up here.

So we fully intended to at least have a night/weekend of camping somewhere in Wellington.  These were some of the places we were looking at heading.  We have been to all of them before at some point and all have their unique features.

Kaitoke Regional Park – Upper Hutt
$6 Adult, $3 Child Camp Site

We have been out here for Swimming in the River, Day trips and also for me to be in Wedding Photo’s once as a Bridesmaid for an amazing old friend of mine.  It’s gorgeous out there, and has some basic facilities making it any easy weekend getaway and is incredibly low priced also.

El Rancho – Waikane
$28-$34 Camp Site

Ahhh, El Rancho you are a unique gem.  With extra things for the kids to do, a Pool and the beach nearby.  We had our Church Camp here a few years back and really loved our time there.  You must check out the Water Slide!

Otaki Forks – Schoolhouse Flat – Otaki
$6 Adult, $3 Child Camp Site

I always thought Forks was such a weird name growing up!  We ventured here for a short one night Leadership camp for School in Year 8 and I was asked to be Parent help on.  Even though it was only short and sweet it was a great place for a short camp.  Lots of space to spread out and do activities, the river just nearby for swimming and a fabulous crop of wild Boysenberries to pick from.

I wouldn’t camp here by ourselves as its too quiet, but in a group of others it would be awesome.

Castlepoint – Wairarapa
$36 for 2x Adults Camp Site

Each time I have been to Castlepoint I have discovered something new.  I have great memories from here being a School Camp Parent multiple times here in the past.

It’s also where I got to learn how to surf for the first time (well to balance for 5 seconds).  Each time we have been we have stayed at camps further away from here, but I’m looking forward to one day be able to camp in this one by the beach and in it’s centre.

Learning to Surf - School Camp

 

Add all of the above added to Sleeping in lots, hanging out with our Family & friends, Playing with the nieces and nephews and cousins, lots of Eating (all the time), playing Cards (Speed) Bananagram and Heads Up, doing Dishes (all the time), Walking all over the place, going to the Supermarket (all the time – we spend tonnes of time in that supermarket and in Summertime Queues, but they have got clever and now offer Free Wifi, so I can check the news, download emails if I reallllllly want to while leaning on my trolley making new ‘line friends’), spend lots of time People watching, Making new friends, finding new Markets and Fairs, oogling at both new houses and the gorgeous older ones House, Caravan moving, Storm repairing and Flood cleanup’ing led to an absolutely amazing Summer.

So we did pretty good 21/32 things ticked off!

So-so many amazing experiences in that and awesome Summer Memories as well as Mother – Daughter memories.

Can’t wait for Summer 2014/15 and we have been slowing putting things on our Summer Time Bucket List for these Holidays.

Do you have a Summer Time Bucket List?

Even if your staying at home in your own city, you can still make one and fill it with things big and small and there are loads of things to put on it even in your own backyard.

Would love to see yours if you have one, so please post your link in the comments.

Have we inspired your to add any of the above to your list this year?

Any suggestions of what we should add to this years list?


 

NB:
*Affiliate Link – If you see an *Asterisks, that means there is an affiliate link to Mighty Ape, these are marked with an *.

The rest of the links to places, events and sites are just because I love these things and want to share the love in this post:-)

 

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Today this is Single Parenting

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Today this is ParentingI stood in the shower staring up at the ceiling letting the water wash over me until it ran cold.

Averting my eyes from the floor as I knew the stainless steel needed a good scrub and pretending it wasn’t there.

Today this is Single Parenting.

Reaching out to turn the faucet off many times, but hesitating as I didn’t want to leave this comfort, this cocoon of warmth, this moment of respite.

In the mornings in our house, our Showers need to be quick as our Apartment Hot Water tank isn’t the biggest.
So come the weekends (when we are not rushing out to early morning sport, friends or events) I love having long leisurely showers when it isn’t about getting up and ready for the day, it’s just about enjoying the shower.  Today’s shower featured really-really late in my day.

A shower always makes me feel better, even if only a tiny bit, it’s a refresh, a washing away, a re-gathering of thoughts and a small respite from what ever is happening in your life.

I always get a tonne of thinking, planning, decision-making and day dreaming done in my shower.

Today’s shower though…saw me second guessing all the decisions I make for my daughter and I and trying to figure out if I’m just royally messing it all totally up.

You see, my daughter hasn’t spoken to me for most of the day…and I’ve kept my distance purposely to give her some space.

I had made the decision to say no to something she wanted to do and had to tell her that earlier.  I’m more than comfortable with my decision and know this one is right, but it doesn’t make being on the other end of the silent treatment any easier and having my daughter not talk to me still does hurt nonetheless.

But hey, if I was her, I probably would have done the same thing to my Mother, thinking that by me not talking to her that this was going to send her a clear message that she was wrong and that she would change her mind.  Or that this will just show you how much I really don’t like her at the moment.
I’m sure I did this many-many times throughout my teenage years – sorry Mom!

In my shower today I wasn’t second guessing my decision to say no to her request, as I was still confident about that.

I was second guessing if I was “Doing it right”, this “Parenting thing”, this “Single Parenting” thing.

 

Love

 

Things Like:

I’m confident that setting boundaries and having consequences for actions is the right thing.
…But second guess the level at which I set those things and if they are ‘right’.

I’m confident that I love my daughter whole heartedly and try to find ways to show her this daily so that she knows she can always rely on that.
…But I second guess if she will pull on this when she needs it most in the future.

I’m confident that spending the quality time with her, alongside her, being an involved parent, cheering her on throughout her up bringing has been such a huge part in building strong foundations in who she is, how loved she is, how important she is, that she matters.
…But I second guess if it is ever – enough.

 

I’ve been Single Parenting for a really long time, first becoming a Single Parent some 13 years ago now.

For 6+ years of this time I was in a Relationship/we then Married – Single Parent, but then for the last 7+ years it’s been just me completely on my own.

Doing this without backup, without that sounding board, without that support, without that encouragement, without that load share-er and without that ‘hey you are doing ok’ and without that ‘I’ve got your back’.  Let alone the Love part and sharing your life with someone (that’s another post).

Today though, my Shower was my Sounding Board, my Supporter, my Encourager, my Load Share-er and my Back stop.

Sounds cheesy I know, but it was.

It didn’t talk back to me, except to say “awwwwhhhh, here you go, have some more nice warm caccoooney water”.

 

Evening

 

Staying in there for 20 mins right until the water ran out was the best thing for me today.

After getting dressed and ready, my Shower let me go down stairs and curl up behind my daughter and give her a hug.

To which she snuggled into me and said, I’m sorry Mom.

…..scratch that…reality is…..no she didn’t, she shrugged me off, pushed my hand off and grumped something at me!

But, it didn’t matter, I hugged her for a brief moment anyway, let it be and was able to pick up and carry on knowing that as much as I was second guessing myself earlier:

* This to shall pass

* It will be OK

* Tomorrow is yet another day

Today this is Single Parenting :-)

 

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Morning chaos makes way for moments of still

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You know how you read about ‘those’ people who Love mornings and get up ‘on purpose’ at like 5am (or before) to seize the day!

 

Sun flare - Christchurch

 

Yeah, well…that’s not me, I LOVE my bed…love love love it and I LOVE sleep!

My bed is so comfortable, so cozy, each day it is incredibly hard to get up out of it as it’s just so damn good and sleeping is so much more awesome in the mornings – am I right?

I sleep in whenever I get the chance!

That coupled with the fact that I am a serial ‘Snoozer’ doesn’t make for easy mornings and I still struggle daily with the opening of my eyes, sitting up and swinging my legs out of bed.

But, once I’m up, fortunately from then on it’s all ok, I’m off and going.  I’m then wide awake and it’s all on from there.

I also am quite happy to be up and out early…once I’m actually up and out.  But its the getting there that’s tough.  (#FirstWorldProblem I know)

Because we leave for School and Work fairly early, each weekday see’s Miss 14 and I begrudgingly up at what I call ‘Ridiculous O’Clock’ (or seize the day time in other people’s world).

This is so her and I can cycle through showers and still have plenty of time (for her) to get ready.

Because I like to use the bathroom before Miss 14 gets in there, it means then I am 100% ready at least 30 mins to 1 hour before she is.

Parenting for 14 years has taught me, that in our house, our mornings run 98% smoother and easier if I ensure to allow her plenty-plenty-plenty of time to get ready.
If I don’t have to ‘say’ anything to keep her moving and she can get done all of the things she wants to do, it makes such a difference to the ‘feel’ of the day.
(It’s a whole other thing on early morning Winter Sports training days though when it feels like we are leaving the house in the middle of the night!).

So I have learnt, give her plenty of time, even though it means getting up at ridiculous o’clock, but its a compromise I’m ‘usually’ willing to take.

The plus is, I’ve come to really enjoy that extra time I then get in the morning once I’m all ready.

I have found in amongst the Morning chaos, moments of still.

Time to just sit for a bit.

Have some quiet time with God and read my ‘The Word for Today’ and my bible.

Then I aim to work on some writing for a little while.

Have a little calm before the storm of the day.

Last term I found myself leaving more and more chores to “Oh, I’ll just do that in the morning” and when I got to the morning being really annoyed with myself, that I had left those jobs til the morning, as it was eating up all my ‘morning’ time.

It does mean we always need to be completely organised the night before.  Lunch is packed (minus fridge items), bags are packed and by the door, sports bags, extra bags and rubbish is ready to pick up and go.

But today is a new day, the first day back of the School Term and I sit here early once again to do some writing with 45 mins up my sleeve.

I like it :-)

I really hope I can be disciplined again throughout this term to keep ensuring I have this ‘still’ time in the mornings.

Have you found some little pockets of time throughout your day, that give you time to just take some breaths, some moments of still?
How do you make it work?

Update: It’s tomorrow now as I publish this, I didn’t give us quite as much time this morning as I should have, but it wasn’t too bad :-)

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