We’re enjoying wonderful weather here in NZ. The days are getting quite warm. Some unsettled weather but, on the whole, coolish mornings followed by glorious bright blue sunny days. The cherry blossom in the front yard is in full bloom. I look forward to its appearance every year. It only blossoms for a few short weeks and that’s that.

Zeph and Zsa Zsa love spending time under the cherry blossom. Since the tree is right next to the stream in the Secret Garden, insects and small white butterflies buzz around. Both dogs love to chase fluttering things.

Walking back to the house the other day, after walking the dogs in the paddocks, I spotted an amazing cloud formation. Looks like a speech bubble to me.

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Weird cloud formation.

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Zeph leaps after an insect – under the magnificent cherry blossom.

Remember Zeph’s daughter, Maybe? For Zeph’s fourth birthday last week, we took him for a visit to the kennels. He loves going there as he is one of two males, the other being his brother, Wot. Of course, they both strut around huffing and puffing but the breeder is very good at keeping them apart.

For his visit, he met his daughter for the very first time. Of course, he’s seen her when staying at the kennels but we were all waiting for Maybe to be a little older before she met her Dad. Maybe is now 10 months old and what a bundle of energy. I thought Zeph was a handful but Maybe is double Zeph’s energy capacity!

She looks so much like Zsa Zsa; I can’t get over it. Zeph and Zsa Zsa share the same great-grand parents so no doubt, if I do some digging around, I’ll found out how Zsa Zsa and Maybe are related.

In extra exciting news, Maybe will be coming for a visit to our place in the next month. The friend of ours who has five Pointers (including Zeph’s dad, Sam) is training for sled racing. She regularly races with her Pointers and the breeder, in an effort to burn off some of Maybe’s puppy energy, has asked our friend to take her some weekends and introduce her to sled racing. Maybe will pop in for a visit on those weekends and we’ll let her run in one of our large paddocks. Can’t wait!

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It’s me, Maybe! But don’t you think I look like Zsa Zsa?

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Zeph meets his daughter for the first time.

Zeph is having a birthday week. He’s turning four years old. Where has time gone? He is the world’s most delightful dog – quirky and expressive.  He’s enjoying birthday bones and lots of cuddles this week. Wait…that’s every week!

Happy Birthday to my Zephilicious.

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Saffy is rising three….can’t believe it really. She’s been spending more and more time with Miss Rosie. Her mum, Karma, seems to be quite chilled about this and I often find her somewhere along the horse track system by herself, nibbling on grass, sleeping in the sun or seeking shade under a tree. The horses have a huge, walkable track that we’ve created around several paddocks and they enter a grazing paddock from the track. Only one paddock is open to them at a time and this is strip-grazed.

More often than not, I see Saffy with Rosie – usually standing right behind her. I guess Saffy is in her teenage phase of being embarrassed by her parents hahaha! The other day, I found Rosie and Saffy together on the track that passes the arena – you can see the photo below. Isn’t it the sweetest thing?

They had been mutually grooming and then just stayed together for ages. Karma was way, way down the track and didn’t join in the love fest.

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I promised to get a photo of Splash’s calf. Not a calf anymore as he was born in early December 2013, whilst I was working in Bhutan. So he’s now nine months old.

His name is….well, I have to provide some explanation first. I was going to name him Ashton, no idea why. But a friend of ours was looking after the property at the time. She had her two pregnant cows here to keep Splash company. One of them gave birth to a beautiful boy; the other one delivered a dead calf. Apparently, she had some complications and my friend couldn’t get to her in time. She’s still here and is a very stern Auntie to our calf.

Because I was in Bhutan, my friend was joking about yaks. I only saw a yak in the zoo in Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. She had visions of yaks being everywhere in Bhutan. She started calling all her animals something-yak. So the live calf was called Rudyak because of his reddish colouring; another calf she adopted was called Sittingyak because he spent time sitting next to one of the mums.

Our calf was bestowed with the name Ashyak, which is a combination of Ashton and Yak. My friend even called her horse Not Yak. We’ve had quite a lot of fun with this yak business and I even brought her back a hat with yak fur.

But, for some reason, we don’t called our steer Ashyak. We tend to call him Little Boy. Hilarious really, since he’s now bigger than his mother, Splash.

I’ve been lurking in the bushes for the last few days, trying to get a photo of him on his own and next to his mum. He’s quite shy, although very curious. Splash allows us to cuddle her but Little Boy isn’t quite there yet. Splash we raised from a baby, so she’s very used to human contact.  Little Boy is a very handsome fellow. His dad is an Angus bull.

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He has a cute white face.

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His mum, Splash, is on the right.

The North Island is actually quite different to the South. I used to come to New Zealand with my Dad – both my parents were born in Wellington, as were my maternal grandparents. I did the whole North Island tour thing with Dad (as well as the South Island). He hired a car and we visited relatives in Dannevirke, went to Rotorua, Lake Taupo and so on. Each time we hopped across the ditch from Sydney, my mother refused to come with us.

Once she left Wellington, she vowed never to return saying it’s a small, boring, windy city. I never understood her dislike for NZ’s capital city. I think it’s the quirkiest city and the coffee you get in cafes is sensational. What’s a bit of wind? Heck, we have gale force winds in Canterbury where I currently live in the South Island.

We decided awhile ago that the South Island isn’t for us long term. Sure, it’s majestic and has less people (a bonus since I dislike over-populated areas) but the Nor’westers are a major issue for us. We’ve lost around 20 large eucalyptus trees since we bought the property nearly five years ago. Previous owners grew these water-suckers for firewood but never trimmed or chopped them down.

Where we live is also probably a little too isolated, although we are close enough to Christchurch to go there for a big day out. Christchurch was, of course, basically flattened by the 2011 earthquake so we feel we’d rather be nearer Auckland or Wellington. El Hubs also wants a warmer climate and parts of the North Island get pretty hot in Summer.

We have chosen the area we wish to live and I’ll tell you that it’s the Wellington rather than Auckland area. I’m happy about this because I have an emotional attachment to Welly since my Dad was born in Island Bay and my mother in Lyall Bay. Now that we’ve made the decision, we will choose the time to move. Could be within a year or maybe a bit longer. I’m looking forward to being able to spend the day shopping in Welly or just walking along the promenade around the harbour.

Zeph, Zsa Zsa and the horses will come with us and we think we’ll probably take Splash and her baby too. That reminds me, I don’t think I’ve posted a photo of Splash with her baby (who is now 9 months old and no baby). I’ll get a photo soon.

What I’m really looking forward to is downsizing. I carted a lot of stuff with me when we moved from Oz. I thought to myself: I might need this; I might need that. But there’s a lot of stuff I haven’t used since we arrived, so I’m going to radically prune things when we move. Get rid of some furniture, books, clothes and so on.

For personal items, if I haven’t used it within the last year, it’s going. For furniture, we’ll take minimal stuff because we’ll be building a house up North rather than buying one. Since El Hubs is an architect, it’s the opportunity to finally design the proverbial dream home. The problem with architects though is that nothing is ever perfect hahahaha!

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Soft rolling hills are a common sight in the North Island, plus lush vegetation.

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It’s New Zealand so of course – sheep!!

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The beaches are hauntingly beautiful. It’s not the golden sand I’m used to of Sydney’s beaches. But you often see soft, sandy stretches of grey or black sand, complete with driftwood.

Been up in the North Island this last week. We’re still scouting around for a new place to live. Not now; maybe in a year or two. We stayed at a B&B and our hosts were in their 70s. Wonderful people.

In a nearby cafe, they had some newspapers from the 1950s. The one I read was from July, 1959. The most noticeable thing was the different use of language. Far more formal and stilted. And then we have the word gay. Before gay took on its current meaning, it used to denote happy, wonderful, bright or carefree. My mother used it a lot and I’d often hear her say something like we had such a gay time shopping today.

I had to chuckle when I spotted the advertisement for formica. Remember when formica was popular for kitchen benches? My childhood home was festooned with formica. So it was double fun for me when I turned the pages of the newspaper and saw the ad below (click on photo to enlarge).

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So gay, so efficient!

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