Day 167 16 June – figgy

My daughter went to the Auckland Botanical Gardens today on an educational field trip. She is one of the school’s head gardeners and a small team of 4 went along with the head of their conservation department. They had an opportunity to plant more trees and in the process learn about certain tree and plant types.


While they were walking around, one of the educators handed Annebell this strange looking greenery. She was told it is a fig, but I am not convinced. It looks more like an artichoke to me. But I must admit, when you slice it open it does smell like a fig, but I can’t tell if any of the flesh is edible.

Nature surely is mysterious.

Day 155 4 June – mystery


Plant? Fruit? Seed?

I found this strange looking plant in our garden today, in different areas. I can’t help but hope that it is some sort of erotic fruit.

I have had some responses to this photo, with most leaning towards a horrible weed that carries a warning from Conservation New Zealand, especially in the rural Auckland areas, in which case it needs to be burned, literally!


Day 154 3 June – cheers

It is the LONG weekend, celebrating Queens Birthday. And what best way to spend it than having my sister come for a visit! And as per our family tradition dad took us all out to dinner at the Five Stags in Whitford. It is your typical steakhouse and has a lot of personality. And the food and drinks are top notch, although this time we did wait a very long time for our main meals. We did however receive 5 complimentary drink vouchers as an apology for the delay.


Cheers to the long weekend!

Day 148 28 May – dessert date

Tonight we had a girls night out with my daughter’s best friend and her mother. The girls had been very excited to go into the city and visit Milse dessert bar. We took the train into Britomart (I know, again) and took about 15 minutes to find the dessert which was less than a 5 minute walk away. I blame Google maps!

Milse is a very small and quint contemporary eatery, with less than 4 tables indoors yet they have an incredible selection of desserts. We gawked at the display cases with the colorful array of what I can only call pretty, elegant, sophisticated. Each dessert is hand crafted, with unique flavors. From assembled chocolates, gateaux, verrines, tarts and macaroons to their world famous gelato sticks.

Obviously we wanted to sample everything, so we cleverly decided to each get at least 1 dessert, place it in the middle of the table then we can all have a taste. My daughter and I took 2 dessert each (honestly, you have no idea the sweet tooth we have!) which means we had 6 plates to share.

I might have given a soft squeal when the desserts arrived. Each armed with a spoon, we ate to our hearts content. The portions are big enough to comfortably finish a small plate and by the end of my second helping I can say I certainly had enough sweetness for the day.


We left the dessert bar not hungry but in need of food, but more in particular, burgers. Around the corner from Milse is yet another small eatery called Better Burger. Their menu is limited, but this does not take away from the quality of food you receive. All the produce is fresh, and the burgers are juice and tasty. Myself and my friend had the vegetarian burger, which is a giant Portobello mushroom lightly coated in a crumb, fried and served on lettuce, tomato and sauce. The girls each had a beef burger and as to my daughter’s reputation, included a meal (served with chips and a drink). she not only finished her meal, but was offered the last few bites of her friend’s, which she finished too.

Literally rolling out of the eatery, we took a leisurely stroll around Britomart. The city with its lights is by far one of my favorite places to be at. The lanes are all adored with fairy lights which made for great photo opportunities. It was relaxed night out, one we desperately in need of.


Day 132 12 May – skullz


We found ourselves in Auckland Britomart again, after a train journey to watch a local rugby match. My husband received free tickets from work and not having much to do, we decided to make a night of it.

I particularly liked the advertisement placed cleverly on these stairs. Not only is it quite striking, dark and mysterious, but with hundreds (if not thousand) of people coming into Britomart on a daily basis, it certainly makes a specific statement…GO TO THE MOVIES SOON!

It is certainly on my to-do-list this May.

Day 84 25 March – horror

A few months back I noticed the advertisement for Horror, a stage production from the Jakop Ahlbom Company, which pays homage to the horror-movie genre and will show during the Auckland Arts Festival. I jumped at the opportunity to see this piece of work and booked 2 tickets, one each for myself and my husband, and it is yet another excuse to spend an evening in Auckland city.

Tonight is the night! We took the train in as coincidentally this is the same weekend Adele is performing in Auckland. The roads would be manic and you save a lot of time and money using public transport. We took the train into Britomart, and took a short 15 minute walk to the Civic Theatre and Aotea Square. The streets were alit, lively and packed with city goers. There are a few small eateries opposite Aotea Square and we decided on Shawarmas and burgers. The food was so tasty and extremely filling. After dinner we slowly made our way to the Civic Theatre where a large crowd gathered inside. I knew the show is very popular but I honestly didn’t think that so many people would attend. We each got a drink, made a quick stop at the restrooms as we were warned that once they close the doors you will not be allowed to exit, or re-enter.

Walking into the theatre feels like a step back in time. The décor is a famous example of the atmospheric theatre style in which lights and design were used to convey an impression of being seated in an outdoor auditorium at night, creating the illusion of an open sky complete with twinkling stars. I feel like I should be dressed in Shakespearean style clothing watching Romeo and Juliet unfold. We took our seats and awaited the opening with anticipation.


What an amazing, well constructed and immensely clever show. There were so many tricks that leaves you wondering how did they do it without the gadgets and camera work of an actual movie. The sound is intense, you feel how your seat vibrates with each beat. The actors/actresses do not speak one word (apart from a single ‘Hallo’ during one of the scenes). Spoiler alert, there is blood! And lots of it. The show was 1h20m long but surely didn’t feel like it. It has you in its clutches throughout and I personally jumped a few times, but there is a bit of humour worked into it to break the intensity. You can get a sneak peak here.

Once the show was over, we leisurely walked back. We made a quick stop at Starbucks and with drinks in hand made it back to the train station. It was such an adventurous night out, one for the memory bank.


Day 79 20 March – patisserie


Ah, there is nothing better than taking a short 5 minute break and walk across the courtyard to the French patisserie, Cuff Café, and ordering my regular single shot flat white, with a baked goodie. The soft instrumental music playing in the background, the glass display case filled with decadent patisseries, the aroma of fresh brewing coffee and the welcoming smile of the owner makes my Monday a little bit sweeter.

I have always been fascinated with France, Provence to be exact. I don’t know if it is because I am of French decent, or if it’s the old romantic in me. I often day dream of strolling through Old Town, visiting historical museums or taking in the capturing sights of the lavender fields.


C’est la vie.

Day 78 19 March – city of sails

It is that time of the year again, having to organise leotards for this year’s rhythmic competition season. It is unfortunately a costly affair but I have found that if the leotards are made slightly bigger, it lasts at least 2 years. We have always opted for custom designed leotards, suited for not only my daughter’s shape, but also adding to the equipment used and routine theme. Even though New Zealand doesn’t have many designers and seamstress within the rhythmic world (a total of 3 to be exact) to choose from, we have always kept our business within local grounds.

Today we visited one of the designers for a consultation. She had been making leotards to sell for approximately a year but have gained some attention as she not only has New Zealand customers, but also gymnasts from Australia who are ordering her designs. She lives on the North Shore, and the only way to get to that part of the country is to cross the infamous Harbour Bridge. It is a well designed bridge but a nightmare to cross in peak traffic. Thankfully it is Sunday afternoon so you would think the traffic has eased off, right? No! The bridge lanes are very narrow and my anxiety kicks in half way across. The more I focus on staying within my lane the more it seems as if I am getting closer to the barrier. The speed limit is 80 km/h but once on the bridge it feels as if you are travelling a 100 plus. I really don’t like crossing this bridge.


The only good thing though about travelling to the North Shore is seeing the beautiful Auckland city from afar. The Sky Tower stands tall and proud above the rest of the buildings, the harbour buzzing from tourists coming in with the ferry, the crystal blue waters shimmering in the glistening autumn sun and the sail boats adoring the shores. It is always a breath-taking view and I can’t help but feel gratitude for living here. Yes it is very expensive to purchase a home in Auckland, traffic is everyone’s Achilles heel and the population is increasing every day. But in saying that, the greater Auckland offers work opportunities, it has bays, beaches, forestry, hills, mountains, dormant volcanoes, waterfalls, walking tracks, indoor sports and activities, zoos, museums, outdoor domains.

There is always something happening in Auckland and I am loving life in this multi-cultural city of sails.

Day 68 9 March – meeting Manu

A dream come true!

Manu Feildel and Pete Evans are currently in New Zealand shooting the third season of MKR (My Kitchen Rules). If you do not know what MKR is all about, you are welcome to have a read here 😊 It is an interesting collaboration of home cooking, challenges and clashing personalities and you have the presenters/judges, Manu and Pete. We were first introduced to this Australian television show shortly after arriving in New Zealand, and I haven’t missed an episode yet!

The minute I heard of this opportunity I informed my husband and we decided we will go as a family. I am not the only MKR fan (more precisely Manu fan) in the family. I reserved our spot and kept it a secret from the kids.

We arrived early at Paper Plus in New Market. I wasn’t sure what the correct process is for an event like this. Even though they were officially closed to the public, the doors were open and the event signs up out on the sidewalk. I noticed a few people already seated. The kids had relentlessly been asking me questions  in an attempt to solve the ‘surprise’ night out. My daughter had narrowed it down to meeting an author, but it wasn’t until we approached the doors and I turned her head to the sign, that she shrieked from excitement. I bought his cook book and we took our seats. The room was filled with a buzz, everyone speaking either of MKR or of Manu himself. Every time the back door opened up my daughter would perk up, hoping that he is making his appearance earlier. She couldn’t believe that Manu will be here, in the same room as her. My son was more interested in walking around the store, looking at the books.

The moment arrived, a moment captured in memories. He peeked through the door opening and made a dramatic entrance. I don’t think there was a sound made when he walked in and then everyone clapped. Manu is calm, smiling at everyone as he quickly makes eye contact with several people. There is no denying that he is handsome, even more so in real life. His accent is soothing and he speaks with passion when he talks about his family, upbringing and cooking. He is such a casual guy and no question or comment was off limits. He is funny, witty and really knows about food (obviously).


After the interview and questions from the guests, it was time for the book signing. As we were seated towards the front of the room, we were of the first few to have our book signed. My son was greeted with a high five from Manu and he giggled back at my daughter who couldn’t help but giggle out loud. He signed our book and we had a photo taken together as a family. My kids, bless them, then asked if they can get a ‘Manu’ cheek kiss each. Being French he does the traditional double kiss. He thanked us for being there, shook my husband’s hand and the next person walked up.

Our night finished with dessert at Movenpick. We each chose a flavour of lovely smooth Swiss ice cream; double cream meringue with chocolate sauce, mint choc with caramel sauce, panacotta, raspberry & strawberry sorbet.

Great night out in Auckland city again, cheek kisses and all.

Day 48 17 February – train ride

My husband got 4 corporate tickets to watch the T20 cricket match between South Africa and New Zealand. Seeing as this year is all about making memories by taking on new experiences I thought “Why not”. Our public transport is free with an accompanying sport event ticket, so we decided to take the train to Eden Park instead of having the same traffic congestion as we did for the lantern festival. You could spot my excitement a mile away, as I have never been on a train before. My husband takes the train into work everyday so he knows the schedule, timing and destination of the trains, but I was still hesitant about getting there. We boarded the train, and the train manager blew the whistle (I thought that was super cute as it was an old fashioned whistle and the sound immediately made me think of travelling during the early 1900’s). The doors closed and very silently the train departed. It wasn’t as smooth of a ride I thought it would be, with some little bumps and unevenness as the train automatically follows the tracks from the one stop to the other. We had 16 stops before reaching Kingsland (Eden Park). It took approximately an hour to get there, but knowing how much it would have cost us in fuel if we took the car it was well worth it.


At the venue we had a short 2 minute walk before entering the gates of the cricket stadium. The game had already started when we walked through the gates looking for the corporate section, when the crowd erupted with celebratory cheers. The atmosphere was electrifying. We took our seats, which was in a covered section and I sat amazed at the size of the venue. The bright lights shining unto the field and the players, how small they suddenly look. We usually watch cricket on television and are use to having the commentators talking you through what is happening but watching it live you basically absorb the energy of your neighbouring supporters and cheer when your team is doing well. We were in the minority supporting South Africa, but honestly, the best team will win on the night and that is absolutely okay with me. I am not a die heart fan of any sport in particular and enjoy watching it for the entertainment value.


Our kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves too. They were exited for the sake of excitement. My daughter was anxiously waiting for a Mexican wave to start. And when one did, at the opposite end of the stadium she was cheering it on to come all the way around to us. It did! She was almost hanging of the edge of her seat as it approached our section, and exuberantly threw her arms in the air as it came past. I love how much pleasure she gets out of the small things in life.

When the game was over (South Africa won by 79 runs), we made our way back with the rest of the 1000’s to the train station. Our trip back home took 2 hours as we had to wait over an hour to board the train. The trains were packed to the brim with an assortment of people, but what I appreciated the most was that everyone was in good spirits. No sore losers, no fights, arguments or negativity. Just people making their way home after an eventful night.

Sportsmanship at its best!