Showing posts from August, 2017

Manukau Heads Lighthouse

Last summer we took a day trip to the Manukau Heads Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is on the tip of the Awhitu Peninsula, an hour's drive south of Auckland.  The Peninsula is 40km long and 8-10km wide and lies between the Manukau Harbour and the Tasman Sea.

There are public toilets and picnic facilities next to the car park.  A gentle staircase leads up to the lighthouse.  Once inside, there is a visitor book and you can buy trinkets (payment via honesty box).  You can climb up to the balcony and take in the views.

On our way back to Auckland we stopped at the vintage township of Waiuku for afternoon tea. There is a selection of take-aways and cafes on Queen Street, or you can drive out to the coast to Castaways.  It was a great day out.

Walk this way

A few years ago I attended a week long training course in Munich, Germany.  We were split up into groups and each given a pedometer.  The group that completed the most steps at the end of the week would receive a prize.  It was a great exercise for team bonding - not only did we get to explore Munich, we also got to know each other (we were a multicultural group from different work disciplines) and we all had the same goal - lots of steps!

Before the course, I'd never paid much attention to activity trackers.  I knew a few friends that had Fitbits but hadn't seen what the fuss was all about.  After the course I bought myself a Fitbit. There was something about the competitive nature of tracking my steps that motivated me to go out and get moving.  

Fitbit was founded in 2007 and tracks every part of your day—including activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep.  Admittedly I only use mine to track activity.  There are other competitors on the market such as Garmin, Apple and Sam…

Feminism is for all

Growing up, I confused the words feminism and effeminate and often used them interchangeably.  While effeminate is having qualities untypical of a man, feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.  They are quite different.

On 1 August 2017, Jacinda Ardern became the leader of the Labour political party in New Zealand. Jacinda is 37.  One of the first questions she was asked in a public interview after taking the post was whether she would be having babies.  Not only was this question a breach of the NZ Human Rights Act, I doubt that a male leader would have been asked the same question.  Bill English is the current Prime Minister and has 6 children.  As Gloria Steinem, a feminist and activist says "I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career."

Earlier this year I was tasked with orchestrating a desk move at work.  It was difficult, I hadn't realised just how attached my colleagues were to their de…

Hygge and winter happiness

Meik Wiking is CEO at the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark.  What a cool job!  The independent think-tank publishes reports on happiness.  He wrote 'The Little Book of Hygge' in an attempt to explain why Danes are said to be the happiest people in the world.  

Hygge (pronounced Hooga) is a feeling of cosiness, a snug atmosphere.  There are different ways to achieve this feeling including lighting, comfort food, Sarah Lund jumpers and great company.

We're all about hygge in our household this winter.  Unfortunately we don't have a fireplace and don't burn candles anymore after a horrific accident a few years ago.  So how do we get all cosy on a winter's night?  We turn all our lamps on and snuggle on the sofa with a book and hot chocolate.

The Danes would probably favour Danish pastries but my winter favourite is banana bread. Here is a simple banana bread recipeto get you through those winter nights.

Wrap up warm and happy hyggestund everyone!

Begin with the end in mind

In his book, 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People', Stephen R. Covet's second habit is 'Begin with the end in mind.' This means to begin each day, task or project with a clear vision of the destination, and then continue to make things happen.  Covey says that 'If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.' I just spent a lovely weekend in Tauranga with family, and my sister and I ran the 5km leg of Mt Maunganui Half-Marathon.  Usually when we visit Tauranga there is a mandatory trek up Mt Maunganui so it made a change to run round the base and take in all the scenery.
Training for runs is a perfect way to put Covey's 2nd Habit into practise.  The end goal is completing the run, and training makes it happen.   I love making lists and is a good place to set personal goals and track them. You can see my bucketlist here.

September 1st marks the first day of spring in New Zeal…

Daffodil Day

This Friday 25th August is Daffodil Day in New Zealand.  Started in 1990, this annual event raises funds towards research into the causes and treatment of cancer.

Cancer is a disease of the body's cells.  Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

When cancer develops, control is lost.  This may be due to a genetic mutation or exposure to a carcinogen.  The cells start to multiply and these extra cells can divide without stopping and may form tumours.  Benign tumour cells are non-cancerous.  Malignant tumour cells are cancerous and may travel through the lymphatic system.

The Cancer Society of New Zealand was established in 1929.  The organisation provides information and support for cancer patients.  1 in 3 New Zealanders are affected by cancer.  Like many people I know, my life has been touched by cancer.  I'll be wearing my daffodil on Friday.  Who do you wear …

Do you have a happy place?

When we first started working in Auckland CBD we decided that it would be great to meet for lunch one day each week.  One of my colleagues is a real foodie and she suggested helpful websites like Heart of the City and Urbanlist to scour for suggestions.

So it came to be that last June we went to Remedy Coffee for lunch.  Excluding holidays and illness, we have come to Remedy every week since.  This small cafe is eclectic with a chilled out atmosphere.  There is a book exchange and board games.  Each time we come, I notice something I didn't see before.  Richard and his staff make us feel welcome, and remember our drinks order every time.

I look forward to our Remedy treat each week.  For me, this is my happy place.

I am not my hair

This week I stumbled across 'Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations' podcast.  Oprah Winfrey was an acclaimed talk show host. The Oprah Winfrey Show aired for 25 seasons from 1986 to 2011.  She founded the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2011 on which her daytime series SuperSoul Sunday is shown.  The show includes weekly conversations with top thinkers and inspiring speakers.

This month Oprah has released a personal selection of these interviews on her podcast Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations.  I've said before how much I love podcasts, and even Oprah's giving it a go, so there must be something to them!  

I listened to India.Arie (parts 1 and 2).  I wouldn't say that I was a huge fan of India.Arie but I do like her songs Video and I am not my hair.  Her lyrics are about worthiness and self-empowerment and she always comes across as a strong, not to be messed with woman.  So it was interesting to hear her talk openly about her struggles.  Her disappointment after being nom…

Eclipse excitement

On Monday August 21st 2017, there will be a total eclipse of the sun in North America.  The moon will completely cover the sun, and the sun's corona (atmosphere) will be visible.  NASA has created a website detailing the best spots to view this amazing event, the first of it's kind since 1979.  

What causes an eclipse?  NASA says:
Eclipses occur due to the special coincidence of the moon and the Sun being the same angular size. The Sun is 400 times wider than the moon, but it is also 400 times farther away, so they coincidentally appear to be the same size in our sky.I'm quite envious of US residents.  I've never witnessed a solar eclipse first hand.  In March 2015, while we were living in the UK, there was an eclipse.  I was at work and didn't get out to see it.  Hubby worked as a teacher at the time and the school girls all went out onto the field with their pinhole viewers.

The GE girls website has a 'Total Solar Eclipse Viewing' project.  There are instruc…

Pretty Pukekos

The best thing about my weekend run is watching the pukekos frolic in the ponds.  New Zealand is rich with bird life and the pukeko is my favourite.  Last year a friend's parents visited New Zealand from the UK.  They loved their travels but were disappointed by the lack of wildlife.  Compared to our Aussie neighbours with their koalas and kangaroos, we are lacking in wildlife.  But we make up for this with our native birds.

Pukeko is the New Zealand name for the purple swamphen that thrives amongst the reeds, rushes and swamps.  I tried to get close enough to take a photo but they're pretty fast and kept running away from me, much to the amusement of nearby builders!  There are great pictures on the Department of Conservation website.

We live fairly far south of Auckland in an area that was once home to small farms.  The variety of birds that I see on my runs is diverse.  I can't say I ever noticed birds much before moving here, probably because I previously lived in such b…

'Do you know what today is? It's our anniversary'

Do you remember this Tony Toni Tone song from way back in 1993?  It was a pretty long song - the album version was over 9 minutes!

Hubby and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary today.  Kind of.  He is in Wellington for work.  We preselected our own gifts (we bought them for each other and 'hid' them in the same place).  At the weekend my mum asked what the gift is for a 4th wedding anniversary.  I looked it up - appliances (modern) or fruit (traditional).  I'd chosen a stand baking mixer so inadvertently got that right!

But then I wondered, why do we celebrate wedding anniversaries and how did it come to be that appliances are given on the 4th year instead of the 3rd?  The tradition appears to originate in Germany, where a husband would present his wife with a silver wreath after 25 years, and a gold wreath after 50 years.  As time passed, other milestones came to be celebrated too and retailers seized the opportunity.  By the 1930s a traditional list covered gifts up …

3 things I learnt from podcasts this week

You've probably noticed that I love podcasts!  I spend 2 hours a day commuting and podcasts are a wonderful way to pass the time, and I learn so much!

Here are 3 things I learnt this week:

1. The first transaction on eBay in 1995 was a laser pointer pen.  
The BBC have a series called '50 Things That Made the Modern Economy'.  The episodes are only 10-15 minutes long.  This episode is called Seller Feedback

2. Polish football fans do not queue. 
The show hosts went to a Germany vs Poland football match.  The Germans went to the back of the line while the Poles made the line wider. Freakonomics Radio explores the hidden side of everything.  This episode was a rebroadcast (as they're off for the summer holidays) and is called What are you waiting for?

3. Eva Longoria enjoys watching subtitled movies.  
Anna Faris is an American actress (Scary Movie, House Bunny).  In her podcast 'Anna Faris is Unqualified', she interviews comedians and gives listeners 'unqualified&#…

Do you yoga?

For those who have never practised yoga, there can be many misconceptions.  Perhaps images of incense and amethyst crystals come to mind?  Or maybe thin, female vegans?  The truth is that anyone can do yoga.

So what is yoga?  Derived from the Sanskrit word 'yuj' meaning 'union',  I like to think of it as the union of the body, mind and soul.  Yoga is about being aware of the breath while going through different poses and sequences.  Timothy Burgin of Yoga Basics says 'the development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, but some researchers think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old'.  Today there are millions of people practising yoga around the world.

I've been practising yoga for 7 years.  I still attend beginner lessons and leave classes feeling calmer and more centred. I've tried several types of yoga - Hatha, Yin/Yang and Ashtanga.  Each has different benefits but the thing I like the most is that your practice is your own, there i…

Get crafty!

My mother-in-law is wonderfully crafty.  She quilts, knits, sews and creates beautiful art.  She has a stall at Craftworld in West Auckland, a big warehouse-like real life version of Etsy.

Auckland is not short of craft markets, from Matakana market in the North to Clevedon Village marketsin the South. 

Alas, I am not crafty in the least but I do like to admire the skill of independent sellers so we went to the General Collectivemarket at the ASB showgrounds.  The turnout was massive, we spent ages trying to find a parking space. The variety of stalls and goods was vast, from children's toys to lovely ceramics.  I also discovered Felt - an online marketplace for New Zealand made goods, where many of the exhibitors sell their wares.

There were lots of food trucks and stalls too.  We had empanadas from Sabores and cakes from Scratch.  It was a lovely day out.

If you missed this one the next market day at ASB showgrounds in on 5 November 2017, great timing to get some early Christmas sho…

Sunday scones

Teatime treats on a Sunday?  Scones are perfect.  Here is a delicious recipe that I got from my cousin Jenny, a legend in the kitchen.  Check out her scrumptious scones on Instagram.

Jenny's Scones

225g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons caster sugar
55g butter
3/4 cup milk, water and 1 beaten egg mix

1.  Preheat oven to 200'C (180'C for a fan-oven)
2.  Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and add the sugar.
3.  Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
4.  Add the milk mix and knead lightly into a soft dough.
5.  Toss with floured hands until smooth, then roll out about 2cm thick & cut into rounds.
6.  Bake for 10-15 mins.  Serve with strawberry jam and cream

Orakei, Auckland

While Wellington may be (in)famous for earthquakes, Auckland contains at least 50 volcanoes, none of which are expected to erupt again (hopefully).

The Orakei Basin was once a flooded volcano crater and is now a beautiful basin of water with a Walkway covering 3km in a loop around it.  This is a perfect spot for a walk on a sunny day.

I spent a delightful Sunday morning at the basin a few weeks ago.  We started our day with a delicious breakfast bowl from Bowl & Arrow in the Orakei Bay Village.  The village is relatively new and there are lots of options for lunch, e.g. Ampersand(&), lovely boutique shops to browse and even a Kings Plant Barn for gardening gear.

It took about an hour to walk around the basin.  Most of the Orakei Basin Walkway is paved but some parts can be muddy so don't wear your best trainers!  We enjoyed the peaceful walk, taking in the calm water and the Auckland city skyline in the distance.

What are your favourite things to do on a Sunday?  Comment on th…

Mystery to mull over

I flew to Wellington for work yesterday.  Wellington is absolutely stunning on a sunny day but is renowned for being the windiest city in the world (never mind the odd earthquake!) Luckily I've yet to experience the wrath of the wind whilst visiting.  It was raining when I arrived so the mountains were drowned in misty murk.  It reminded me of a crime scene in one of those old TV mysteries, all that was missing was the eerie music!  Here are 3 of my favourite whodunnit podcasts to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Serial Do you remember what you did at 2pm last Tuesday?No, me neither.But can unlocking the events on one day 15 years earlier lead to freedom for Adnan Syed?You'll be hooked on this cold case.
Mystery Show Apple named Mystery Show the Best New Podcast of 2015.Solving a mystery without the Internet?  Starlee Kine does just that.My favourite episode is Case #2 Britney.
Missing Richard Simmons I admit that I had no idea who Richard Simmons was before this podcast.Googling …

Resolving conflict at work

Ever felt like you're constantly at loggerheads with a colleague, despite trying to achieve the same goals?  The last few weeks have been tough, there have been angry phone calls and passive aggressive emails.  What can be done?

I had the pleasure of working for GE for over 3 years.  At first I was surprised by the culture, I felt like an outsider looking in on a secret world.  By the time I left, I was a convert.  GE is a great place to work and the training offered by their Crotonville campus is world class.  Reflective listening was a topic that came up time and again.  In retrospect, I could have used reflective listening to help diffuse the situation and resolve the issues with my colleague.

What is reflective listening?  It is actively listening and understanding what the other person is saying.  There is no interjection, and once the speaker has finished, the listener restates or reflects back to show active involvement.  In order to listen effectively, there needs to be no b…

Been to your local library lately?

Growing up in Bulawayo, one of my favourite things to do was visit the public library.  I would get lost in the children's section downstairs and later in my teens use the reference books in the 'big' library.

Fast forward many years later and there are so many modern alternatives for libraries. Ebooks, audio books and the internet replace the traditional hardcover or paperback. Prices of physical books cost much more than paperless copies, yet for me nothing beats the feel of turning each page.  

So why should you join the library?

It's freeIf you prefer to read electronically, many libraries offer ebooks via apps like OverdriveIt exposes you to more variety.  When buying books I'll often select from the top 20 bestsellers, because if I bought a book I didn't like it would be a disappointing (and expensive) mistake.  In a library, you can choose genres you wouldn't usually explore and if you don't enjoy the book, you don't have to finish it!
My local l…

Food, glorious food!

August is a great month for foodies in New Zealand.  Last weekend we spent an afternoon at the Auckland Food Show.  It was a great day out with lots of tasty treats to try.  There were cooking demonstrations, independent food producers and lots of wine.  The food shows are held annually in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.  Here is more information.

This week marked the start of Auckland restaurant month.  There are special offers and events throughout the month, with mouth watering treats for everyone.  Over in Wellington, Wellington on a Plate starts on the 11th August.

Here are my favourites to try in Auckland:

Lucky Buddha
Asian fusian at its best - the pork buns are my favourite!

Romantically set amongst the fairy lights in Britomart, this is a great place for a first date.  The food is delicious but the best part is undoubtedly the gelato on a stick.

Cafe Hanoi
Only one word to describe this Vietnamese restaurant - yum!

Hope you enjoy the food this month!

5 Days in Waikiki

Our family took a trip to Hawaii last June.  This is how we spent our days...
Day One - Waikiki WelcomeSaturday morning and a sunny Aloha welcome to Waikiki. We spent the morning along the beachfront, basking in the sun and enjoying all the activity on the beach and in the water. We checked in to the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, across the road from the Duke Kahanamoku statue on the busy stretch of beach.  The hotel offers spacious rooms in two tower buildings with either sea, mountain or city views.  The hotel pool is on the 3rd level, and overlooks the beachfront.

In the evening we had dinner at the Hula Grill Waikiki in the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel.  We sat in the bar area and had a choice of the bar menu (burgers, ribs, tacos) or the full menu (market fish).  Below the Hula is Duke's Waikiki Restaurant, a bustling beachfront bar and restaurant (booking recommended).
We took a leisurely walk back to the hotel, taking in the live music and street performers and the general hustle bustle …

Podcast of the Week - Ever been scammed?

A few months ago, we started receiving calls on our home landline where the caller tells us our Microsoft Windows account has been compromised and they need us to turn on our computer so they can fix it.  The call centre is based in India and we've had different callers including Rosie and Michael.  At first we played along pretending to start up our computers before telling them that we knew it was a scam, but after a while it became easier to hang up.

I've also recently read about a scam where easy trading on the stock market is advertised and after signing up on the website, aggressive salesmen convince users to transfer money for 'sure thing' deals.  And then... they never hear from them again.

We definitely need to be extra careful these days, it is so easy to be caught off guard.

I was delighted to listen to this week's podcast episode of Reply All by Gimlet Media.  You can listen to the podcast here. The show description outlines it perfectly:
This week, a telep…

Today is your day!

Welcome to Relax and Roam.  As a child Dr Seuss was one of my favourite authors.  A quote from his book 'Oh, The Places You'll Go!' came to mind as I started to write this blog:
“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!” 
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!So, let's get on our way!  Over the coming weeks I'll be covering the best in travel, wellbeing and home life. I hope you'll be inspired by the posts and will enjoy this new adventure!