• Faith,  Family

    Quick, shut the door on 2020!

    Auf weidersehn 2020! I am not alone in hurridly ushering out the worst year I can remember.

    I haven’t written here for several months – mostly because my brother-in-law was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in October. We’ve been so busy dealing with that, and then with Christmas things at church, that I just haven’t had the headspace for anything else. But I’m doing better now.

    I will never forget the shock of learning Eric had been killed. You know when you can’t believe the words that are coming out of someone’s mouth? It was exactly like that.

    If Tigger from Winie the Pooh was a person, he would be my brother-in-law. Full of energy, zest for life and fun, it still seems utterly preposterous that Eric is gone. His passing is made worse by the fact he and his partner were scheduled to put an offer on a house later that day, and they had recently decided to get married and try for a baby. It is the loss of that potential that has devastated us all.

    His partner is Korean, so of course thanks to Covid-19, her family are unable to come to support her. She is broken, and so is my mother-in-law and Rev G.

    Rev G and I were suprised at how many people said ‘Oh, this must have really tested your faith.’

    Let me categorically state that NO, it hasn’t.

    Do we think it’s unfair that a young man in the prime of his life has been killed? Of course we do. Are we angry and sad and devastated that it happened? Yes.

    My husband has lost his only sibling; my children have lost their fun-loving Uncle, and any chance of having cousins. We grieve for ‘what should have been’.

    Do we think that it’s God’s fault? Of course not. I know people who think God is up there playing Russian roulette with our lives, like he’s picking and choosing who to save and who to smite. I hear this type of thinking all the time. “If God exists, how could he let [insert atrocity here] happen?” I think you’re blaming the wrong guy.

    Bad stuff happens pretty much every second of every day around this broken world. Sometime it’s the result of greed, or violence. Sometimes it’s because we’ve stuffed up the environment, polluted the air, the waterways, leached toxins into our food. Sometimes there’s a pandemic raging around the planet.

    And sometimes people die because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    What happened to my brother-in-law was an accident. The Police may lay charges against the truck driver who hit Eric’s bike, but did that driver deliberately set out to kill someone that day? Of course not.

    I have seen Rev G feel nothing but compassion for the truck driver. As much as he wants his brother back, he knows what happened was an accident, and has forgiven the driver.

    We have been uplifted and carried by the body of Christ throughout it all, with unswerving support from our church. The first people at our door with a meal were an older couple from our congregation – both of whom had lost a sibling in accidents at a young age. We didn’t need to cook for several weeks due to the kindness of others, giving us meals.

    Rev G was told to take as much time off as he needed, and the church quietly set to organising the services and filling the sermon slots. We were prayed for daily, and a couple even gifted us some money to take a wee holiday.

    I had daily cause to thank God for the other friends that He has placed in my life, and for the way He has taken care of us throughout. I thank God that we were in Whanganui at the time of the accident – meaning that we were at my mother-in-law’s side within minutes. Rev G and his mum were immediately able to head for Napier where Eric and his partner lived, to be with Eric’s partner.

    I thank God for my friends A-M & J who we were staying with at the time. They took over looking after my kids for me; they comforted, cried and lamented with me. J even drove 6 hours to pick up Rev G from his brother’s house.

    I thank God for my family, and for the many messages of support we got from friends. They meant a lot.

    Shutting the door on 2020

    Despite all the sadness and grief, I feel as if I ended 2020 on a good note. Much to my gratitude.

    I spent hours working on a Christmas Extravaganza day at my church, and organised/directed/wrote the Sunday School play for the following day. It was exhausting, but SO MUCH FUN. I loved working alongside the creative souls from my church who took my ideas and ran with them, and made them into something wonderful.

    The weekend of the extravaganza shifted something. Everyone felt it. New life was breathed into the church, and the weeks following have seen renewed energy and enthusiasm and fellowship in a congregation that has been without a minister for several years.

    I have also had some new life breathed into me. I signed up for Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project over 2021. I have not been dreadfully unhappy over this year, but it has been hard, and I figure any help at improving my happiness would be great. I love Gretchen’s work, and her evidence-based approach to making small changes that have a big impact on one’s happiness.

    The course challenged me to think about what I want to change or improve upon, and what fun to inject into the year ahead. Because I’m Angela, I started my goals on Boxing Day, and have been making some small changes already. I have been religously doing my back exercises given to me after it was decided surgery on my spine (injury due to car crash) was too risky. I can be a bit sporadic with these exercises in times of busyness, but I’ve set up reminders throughout the day so I don’t forget!

    Rev G and I have been ending the night with a guided prayer of Examen (check out Pray As You Go under retreats and resources). The music and talking is so soothing it gets my brain ready for sleep.

    And, just for fun, I am spending some time each day learning Norwegian. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, and amuse myself by declaring “Jeg snakker Norsk!” as often as I can to my startled family.

    Each month through the course I’ll be doing with Gretchen has a different focus, and I am very much looking forward to trying some new things this year.

    I don’t think 2021 is somehow going to magically fix the Covid-19 situation, nor make all my problems and worries disappear. It’s just a year. But I am glad to shut the door on it.

  • Family

    Life Update

    Gosh, it’s been a while since my last post! Not planned, but life has been busy.

    I’m enjoying my job managing social media and marketing for a local church. The work lets me unleash my creativity, and I have almost total autonomy, which is how I love to work. It’s a high-trust environment – if only all workplaces could be like that!

    I find myself baffled that it is September already. Covid-19 has interrupted the yearly flow of life. I have not done half the things I wanted to, nor caught up with all the people I want to see. My brain still struggles to comprehend the pandemic. The fear, the masks, the social distancing, families separated. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I’d like to just take a nap until all this is over!

    On our way to catch the bus – Level 2 style

    I was on a retreat by myself in Kerikeri when it was suddenly announced that NZ had moved back into Level 2. My ‘break’ turned into a very stressful time as my flight home was cancelled…then put back on but with no guarantee it would go ahead…

    As you can see, my retreat wasn’t all bad!

    I made it home just fine. And eventually I got to relax, just not in Kerikeri!

    So far this year has been spent in lots of pain, thanks to the injuries from my car crash. My knee is mostly better though, and I’m able to get around without noticing it now. I have seen the surgeon who thinks my spine and knee require surgery, but I am awaiting more scans before he can proceed. I find out in three weeks.

    The pain has made me tired and irritable and not very social. So if you’re one of the people on my list to visit with, sorry. I will get to you eventually.

    All four of us have spent most of the winter catching everything that’s going around. This is normal for us the first year we move somewhere new! Different bugs I guess. Rev G has been very rundown, and has been dealing with coming to grips with his new job, and dealing with settling estates for his father and aunt, and now is in the process of selling two houses! We’re praying for a quieter year in 2021.

    But having said that, I’ve met lots of new people through church and the two Bible/Prayer groups I’m part of. My faith has grown tremendously this year, and I’m about to start a discipleship programme that I’m really excited about. More to come on that in the future.

    We are enjoying our new church, we feel like we relate well to this congregation, and it’s been a good fit. I’m enjoying the wide variety of theology they embody and the things they are passionate about. I have many ideas of things I’d like to do there, but they are shelved until after I have surgery.

    Our church
    Matariki decorations at church

    Rev G and I have taken great comfort in our old friendships. It’s nice to just be Donald and Angela, and not the Minister or the Minister’s Wife to our mates. I was reflecting the other day how I find life in Wellington is much more stressful than I remember! I guess I prefer life in smaller places where the traffic isn’t so mental and most amenities are all in one spot. But here we are as a family nonetheless, and I trust that it’s for good reason.

    Miss E and Master D are thriving at their new school. Master D went through a phase of not wanting to go to school, after they returned in Level 2, and I was worried that perhaps the Montessori method didn’t suit him. But he got over that, and is happy as Larry now. Miss E has a BFF (her Mum runs an after-school forest playgroup, yes!), while Master D’s teacher says he’s friends with half the school (he’s very, very extroverted). He is now a sophisticated six-year old and likes to leave me little notes saying “Mum you I love.” and “poo”. Poo is hilarious when you’re six.

  • Faith

    Keeping the faith in a world falling apart

    Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar out.

    What a year so far! Bushfires in Australia. Iran facing off against the US. A global pandemic. Giant Murder Hornets. Anti-racism protests (which I fully support). Donald Trump being…well, Donald Trump.

    Like you, I have been reeling from this year’s events and 2020’s only half over. Having just come out of Lockdown, I then found myself uncomfortably confronted by the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Like most people, I would have never, ever called myself a racist. I’m one of the good guys, right? I too, have had to face my own prejudices and biases and gain a greater awareness of the systemic inequality towards BIPOC, here in New Zealand and overseas. My education on this topic is far from over.

    So far I feel like 2020 is taking us on a funfair ride through the House of Horrors. The world is heavy. Our hearts are heavy – if they haven’t already broken, that is.

    Where is God in all this mess? How could God allow this happen?

    Such a good question.

    Personally, I don’t think God is the source of all this mess. I’m pretty sure God’s heart is breaking over all the deaths, sickness, disruption and civil unrest. The problem is us. People. What we do to each other and to the planet.

    Yet we can also be the solution.

    I see God at work in all those who are responding to COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, in the generosity and creativity seen over lockdown, the people willing to admit to their privilege and to learn from BIPOC.

    This quote from Anne Frank, whose writing I first encountered as a young teenager, has stuck with me all my life, because I believe it too:

    I do believe that people really are good at heart. I don’t know anyone, Christian or not, who doesn’t have the sense that the world is not as it should be. That we humans, are meant to be so much more.

    My faith gives me the blueprint for how this world was designed to be, and gives me comfort when it feels like the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

    Here are some faith things that have helped me during this roller-coaster year:

    • Upped my prayer life. I don’t normally follow the news at all, trusting that important information gets to me, but when New Zealand moved into Level Two back in March, I started to read and watch the news again to ensure I had the latest, correct information. And the news has been an unrelenting stream of badness. Most of the time the only thing I can do is pray for that situation or person. I often stop to pray when I hear awful news, and I have been grateful for my morning online prayer group where we our able to give our prayers and worries up to God.
    • Listened to Christian media. I usually have Rhema radio station on while I’m at home. While secular media was wall-to-wall doom and gloom, Rhema was an oasis of calm, measured reporting; with practical interviews on coping with lockdown, and they recently discussed the Black Lives Matters movement with wisdom, compassion, and a real desire for dialogue. God’s reassuring promises are played over and over through the great music they play and also through the wise teaching on their shows.
    • Studied scripture more. Over lockdown, God led me to several scriptures that stood out to me like never before, most of which were about trusting God’s promises.
    • Got out into Nature. I sense God’s presence the most when I am out in His creation. Over lockdown, I wanted to be anywhere other than my house – a forest, a beach, or a lake. Somewhere peaceful and quiet. I can’t always get that, but time in nature restores me like nothing else can.

    What has helped you during this time?

  • Uncategorized

    Level Two Love


    This will be my last post for the COVID-19 diary I’ve been keeping over lockdown, and I’m looking forward to resuming my usual blogging ways.

    New Zealand rejoiced as we moved to Level Two on Thursday. We are that much closer to ‘normality’.

    We surprise our parents with a quick visit to Whanganui, arriving unannounced in the evening.

    There are many, many hugs. The grandparents have been totally desperate to hug Miss E and Master D; lockdown has been hard for them. My MiL has found it particularly hard as she is on her own. Physical touch is her love language and the lack of hugs got her down as the weeks went on. Fortunately she was able to break her bubble in Level Three and hang out with her bestie, but friend-hugs aren’t quite the same as the enthusiastic, leaping-into-arms hugs she got from Miss E and Master D. You are much less likely to crack a rib from a friend-hug.

    Full body-slam-grandkid hugs are back!
    Oma gets put to work on the swing

    We stay with friends who have lots of space for us. They have children of a similar age to ours, and they are thrilled to have friends to play with again. Because their location is not somewhere they can walk safely around the neighbourhood, their children haven’t left their property the entire time over lockdown – although they are on a lifestyle block with tons of room to play.

    Because our friends + family would be more than 10, we are unable to celebrate all together. We have to spend the day staggering our time so that everyone gets an equal share of our time. Master D demands to know why we can’t stay for ‘twelve nights’. He is enjoying being back with his friend Z.

    But we have online church to get back to, school to get ready for, a new job to prepare for, and we must head back to Wellington.

    The trip does us all good. The change of scene is needed, the hugs are wonderful, the conversations are welcome. We come back with our tanks filled.

    The children are nervous about starting school. Parents are discouraged from coming on the the school grounds, and those who do must download a tracing app. The children have to line up on marked crosses and sanitise their hands before entering the classroom. They are told not to ‘freak out’ if they accidentally touch someone, but to go and wash their hands.

    My children come home talking about avoiding ‘moist breaths’ over their classmates. I can’t get out of them how their day was or what they talked about in class. But I do know the school was prioritising play and re-establishing connections, and I imagine COVID stories will feature for quite some time. Master D, in the meantime, comes home with serious bags under his eyes, and is already asking when he can have a day off!

    I have found my new job to be very energising – and definitely got the job thanks to my writing and blogging skills. The hours are flexible, and easily worked around the needs of my family, so I am very grateful to have it!

    Most people have no idea how difficult it is to find part-time work that is actually family-friendly. I’m serious, go check your local job search website. The majority of part-time jobs expect workers to be available to come in 24/7 (often on a casual basis), and almost always include weekend work.

    It may sound strange to you, but I’ve been saddened to read over and over again reports of workers being able to ‘reconnect’ with their children over lockdown, or for the opportunity to ‘slow down’ from the busyness of normal life. I am not bagging working parents at all(!), but surely the pandemic has highlighted how much the way in which we work and do business has to change? To stop treating workers like they don’t have family, or other commitments in their lives? Getting any work/life balance is impossible for most people – one of those things always loses out. When it takes a pandemic for workers to be able to spend quality time with their families then something is terribly wrong.

    While Level Two has reunited me with my loved ones, I am nervous of what is to come over the next few months. The recession, the job losses, the hardships. Life is not going to be ‘the same’. Nor should it be, but it is my prayer that good things will eventually emerge from this worldwide mess.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 16: The last day of Level Three

    I catch up with several people online. We are all looking forward to moving into Level Two tomorrow, even the more introverted ones.

    We are planning a quick surprise trip tomorrow to my home town to reunite our children with their grandparents. They have missed each other greatly. Zoom hasn’t worked for my kids, they only last a minute or two on a call with family, but they have been asking and asking when they can go to Whanganui, and when is it okay to hug Grandpa again?

    The government reports zero COVID-19 cases again. This doesn’t stop a lot of fearful posts about social distancing etc on Facebook. Understandably many people will be anxious about venturing out again.

    After almost 9 weeks in isolation I am more than ready to get out there. Whilst my time in lockdown hasn’t all been bad, it hasn’t been a cake walk either. I am looking forward to moving about freely, seeing my friends again, hugging my family. If there is one I have learned through all of this, it is that am not designed for the life of a hermit.

    I am however, very grateful that New Zealand is on its way to stamping out the virus. This has come at a huge sacrifice to the livelihoods of many, and we will have to deal with effects of this for a long time to come.

    The need to shop locally has been highlighted like never before for me, and I plan to make future purchases with even more care and deliberation. If the skies in Delhi and LA can clear and the canals of Venice return to blue, we have been shown how the collective actions of individuals can impact the environment for better. My family plans to double our efforts to reduce our waste and carbon footprint.

    Mostly, I think I need time to process this whole event. It’s not until I get distance that I can see the lessons learned during a situation, and this has been an event of Biblical proportions.

  • Uncategorized

    Back to school feelings

    The children’s school has been great at helping them process life in a COVID pandemic, without dwelling on it or scaring them. For their schoolwork today they are asked to draw a picture and write about how they are feeling about returning to school next week.

    Master D gets to work and draws a picture of himself and a friend driving a robot each. I’m not sure if he was trying to make a statement about the increased use of technology in the classroom or the perhaps the perils of artificial intelligence (as one of the people in the robots doesn’t look too happy)? I’m sure one of those options is correct. Deep, Master D, deep.

    Miss E draws a thumbs in the middle (neither up nor down, my little Roman historian). She writes that she doesn’t feel that good about going back to school.

    Worried about her anxiety, I ask some probing questions before she finally reveals her reticence about school…she won’t be allowed to trade Pokemon cards anymore.

    Yeah, I think my kids are gonna be fine.

    We potter about. I make two batches of cheese scones – it is a pain to be gluten free. We are cheese scone addicts I confess, although I must make a batch of plain ones after discovering you can actually buy clotted cream in NZ now. My mother has been waiting to try it for her entire life after reading about it in books.

    Our mail brings a nice surprise for me, a supermarket voucher as a thank you for participating in a university study. I ALWAYS participate in uni studies whenever I meet the criteria as having run several studies at uni myself I know how low the take up rates are. I am also part of a pay-for-taking-surveys site, which is an easy way to make some free money. You won’t get rich, but I have made over $100 this year already just by taking a few minutes each day to take part, and I think that’s not to be sniffed at.

    I spend the afternoon refreshing my social media skills, and taking a few free courses as research for my new job that starts next week. There are some cool new tools I have discovered which will serve me well.

  • Uncategorized

    Welcome to Level Two!

    Will restrictions ease soon?

    We have a good morning of school work. Avoiding the daily Zoom call is working, and Master D has a much better attitude towards school. Today is Te Reo, specifically looking at colours and numbers. Rev G whips out the guitar for several rousing renditions of ‘Ma is White’, and we sing Anika Moa’s ‘Tahi, Rua, Toru, Wha’ at the top of our lungs.

    After a couple of rough days last week, it feels like we have got our groove back.

    We study the seasons and the months of the year – again, I have another song (about the months of the year) in my repertoire. Master D is over all the writing, so I set him the task of writing August, his birth month, which he does with great gusto, and reminding me of the things he would like to get for his birthday.

    I am excited for the government’s announcement at 4pm, hoping they will announce we can move into Level Two. I am so keen, I make dinner early so I don’t have to miss any of the news!

    Rev G and I sit holding hands. Seldom have we felt like we were watching historic moments, but these last few weeks have certainly felt that way.

    I worry that this time will be romanticised in the future, a bit like the Blitz. An elderly friend who was a teenager during the Blitz said it was terrifying and scarred her for life. There was no help, no support, she said there was no choice but to ‘keep calm and carry on’, but it came at a cost to mental health.

    I wonder if we will be fed a narrative of ‘that wonderful time when we were made to stay home and watch TV and play with our children’. Some people have had a marvellous time, but I hope the huge inequalities the pandemic has highlighted are not forgotten.

    A friend works at a Decile 1 school, and said the school has many families who haven’t engaged with the school AT ALL since Term 2 began, and many families who were given devices don’t know how to use them. The digital divide is real. Many seniors have also been left out, unable to navigate online shopping or video calls.

    Another friend is a single mum of three children under seven. This has been the hardest, most exhausting time of her life. All of her support systems and people were gone for a whole month.

    The only people I know who’ve had a great time are young and child-free. I don’t begrudge them, but I hope stories of the lonely, the people who have lost jobs and businesses, and the grieving are not drowned out by those who were living their ‘best life’ under lockdown.

    Jacinda takes the podium and announces that we will indeed move to Level Two on Thursday.

    Thank God.

    School will go back on May 18th (just in time for my new job!), we can travel regionally again, cafes and restaurants and malls can open up again.

    We are a bit shocked to hear that churches are not allowed to open yet. In fact, social gatherings of any kind are limited to 10. Bars are also lumped into this category. I can understand why. Churches, bars, funerals, weddings, concerts etc have been major vectors of COVID-19 transmission.

    Church is a place where people from all walks of life gather to worship, and to have fellowship. There are always vulnerable people in our midst. We sit together, sing together, hug, mingle over morning tea, lay hands on each other in prayer, take communion together. It may be a few more weeks before we can gather normally again.

    I look forward to school returning, both so I can get a break(!), but so the children can reconnect with their classmates and friends once more. Lockdown has been tough on my two extroverts.

    I’m looking forward to seeing my family, to hanging out with friends. Going to the museum; walking where ever I choose.

    And no one hoarding toilet paper.

  • Uncategorized

    Level 3, Day 13: Mother’s Day

    My monkeys

    I am woken by my very excited children; ready to give me breakfast in bed and some presents for Mother’s Day. After breakfast my son climbs in bed for a snuggle.

    “Why don’t you get a book for us to read together?” I say.

    He comes back with ‘Where’s Kiwi Celebrating?’, which is basically a New Zealand version of Where’s Wally/Waldo, and we go cross-eyed trying to find all the characters. They are definitely not the books for you if you have an eyesight problem!

    Like many mums, I had bought my own gift. Not because Rev G is useless, but this year it was because I was ordering things for our homeschool anyway and we may as well save on postage. I bought myself a ‘new’ Sherlock Homes book (a homage, or pastiche book by a modern author), and am looking forward to getting stuck into it. It looks pretty decent.

    My Mother’s Day morning is so much like the ones I remember for my own mother. Beautiful, handmade cards. My son’s reads: Mum To Daniel From. Adorable, he’s only five, and getting the words in order isn’t exactly a priority when you are five. The children wrap some of their own things to give to me: I get some Transformers to play with, and a necklace and two pencils. I am given a small box of chocolates, which the children are almost drooling on as they pass it to me – so naturally they get the lion’s share when the box is opened.

    The rest of the day is lovely too. Church is well attended. I had pre-recorded a children’s talk where I do my best Suzy Cato impression. It goes over well. We are all hopeful that tomorrow we will hear the country is moving into Level Two on Thursday. Almost everyone in the congregation plans to return to worshipping together if that happens. They are eager to see each other again.

    I had ordered my own mother’s gift back in March before lockdown and it has not arrived. I get some supermarket treats delivered instead, and she is thrilled to discover it includes some neenish tarts – her favourites. I am relieved that everything in the order is actually included as Whanganui supermarkets seem to be particularly bad for having things in stock. I hear similar reports from other friends in different parts of Wellington too, but our local supermarkets have managed to have almost everything in stock.

    Rev G and the kids visit Rev G’s step-mum. Rev G’s father passed away almost a year ago now, and she is lonely rattling around in their big house on her own. Her loss has only been exacerbated by lockdown. I don’t go with the others, only because I had already arranged an online catch-up with a friend, but I am looking forward to seeing my MiL soon.

    I spend some quiet time sitting in the sun, reading my new book, thinking this is just what I wanted for Mother’s Day.

  • Uncategorized

    Level 3, Day 12: A visitor!

    We rush around in a frenzy, tidying up the detritus of two months in lockdown. We have an important visitor arriving soon, the first person to ‘break our bubble’!

    It’s…the handyman.

    Yes , we’re happy to see you too

    It is non-stop excitement around here, I tell ya. Our roof sprung a leak in the deluge last Sunday, and our kitchen sink is coming away from the bench. Our landlords have a great relationship with a local builder who did heaps of work on the house for them before we moved in, and he is more than happy to come around to take a look.

    “Can we touch him?” asks Master D.

    I don’t recall Master D ever being in the habit of embracing tradespeople in a hug before lockdown, but it’s a fair question.

    “No”, I say. “But if you keep your distance, you might be able to see him at work”.

    His little face lights up, doubtless thinking about all the awesome tools tradies have.

    Ah, lockdown life.

  • Uncategorized

    Level 3: Day 10 & 11

    Thursday is a much better day.

    The kids do a bit of school work, and some art, and somehow the morning is gone.

    I turn on the TV, eagerly waiting for Jacinda Ardern to update us as to what Level Two will look like.

    It is great news. When we move into Level Two is yet to be decided. But at Level Two means school will go back, most businesses can operate, and we are free to travel domestically again. Libraries, swimming pools, art galleries and museums can open again, and we can ‘break’ our bubbles to see our friends and family once more – although we all need to keep practising social distancing with strangers.

    Roll on Level Two!

    Whether we move into Level Two next Wednesday night, or remain at Level Three a bit longer, is for the boffins to decide. I am incredibly grateful we are almost at the point where we can ease off restrictions. I talk with a friend who lives in Oklahoma, USA where the virus has a hold but many people aren’t taking it seriously. She’s been in self-isolation for two months already, and the end is not in sight. She tells me that in her city some workers at McDonald’s were shot because a customer was angry that they couldn’t dine in! Can you imagine???

    On Friday I hear that I have got the job I applied for, yay! It’s only part-time, and whether it continues after a few months is up to securing a grant. But for now, I will be working for one of the churches in my suburb doing their communications. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the work. It is a small church, but they do some cool things.

    We have a dance party to celebrate, and we finally get out to the beach.

    I cannot tell you how much I have missed the beach. When Rev G and I were considering where we might move to when his internship finished, we had considered Hamilton – but the fact that it is landlocked was a big X for me. I don’t have to live right at the beach, but like many Kiwis, I take having access to a beach almost as a fundamental right. We are very lucky – I remember many of my schoolmates in Kansas had never seen the ocean in real life before.

    Anyway, we all love the trip out to the beach, even though our local one is a bit crappy. It’s black sand, but mostly stones, and it’s almost always windy there, given its close proximity to the Cook Strait.

    Miss E, I swear is part-mermaid, and she runs into the embrace of the waves like she would greet an old friend. The water is freezing, but she pays it no mind. Master D decides to exercise by digging a hole and by filling his pockets with the beach stones. I guess it’s a form of weight-lifting?

    Rev G and I realise that the last time we were at the this beach was 9 years prior, just before we got engaged. It feels like a lifetime ago; I mean that in a good way. The beach is not busy but the walking track nearby it is packed. I’d like to take a walk there myself, but I can’t see how any of the walkers can possibly keep the 2m distance we’re supposed to. I will definitely leave it for Level Two.