Thoughts: Auckland is 175!

Sitting here in the sun, I find myself in a somewhat reflective mood.

I arrived in Auckland in 1990, having moved from the untamed flat wilds of Palmerston North. I’d visited the Big Smoke on many occasions, but never for a decent length of time, certainly not long enough to get a feel for the place.

I’d only ever had good experiences on those visits, meeting interesting and hospitable Aucklanders, and that probably set me up with the intention to stay.

Over the last 25 years I’ve gotten to know this place. It’s actually pretty cool.

However, I can’t help but feel that it’s still a little young, a little immature.

This city is being gradually shaped by those who dwell here, as well as by those who don’t.

There is an insecurity here. Like Auckland is still trying desperately to make its mark and be noticed. We are a bit envious of our older siblings, Sydney and Melbourne. They just do things a bit better. Especially fireworks.

I don’t think we have been served well in recent years by our Leadership. I’m not sure how well our Council-run Organisations are doing with respect to infrastructure and catering for future growth.

Still, it’s a city that is on the cusp of greatness. The next 25 years will be exciting (hopefully). At the moment it’s an angsty pimply teen, but the potential is there.

It is up to us to enable that potential to be realised and unleashed.

Happy Birthday Auckland!

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Thoughts: Camping Pt 4

And we are heading back home to Auckland today.

It’s been a very good week. Spontaneous hugs and conversation attest to this.

However, yesterday started a bit weird. Declarations of boredom led me to take the kids to Craters of the Moon. This is a geothermal tourist trap North of Taupo. However, my daughter was not in the right frame of mind, was never going to enjoy it, and whined for 45 minutes. Horrific. My assessment of CotM is that it’s probably priced right but there really isn’t much there to see. In Autumn, Winter it’d be more impressive.

I have appreciated the hospitality of the locals here in Taupo. In the early afternoon, Miss 9 was whisked off for five hours of play with her new friend. She got to spend time with a family that isn’t tech-focused. “They have chickens“! And now she has someone that she will be able to write to.

I took the boychild to a place called Mind Junction. A slightly extortionate tourist destination that features puzzles, a maze, minigolf, a Lego display, a shooting simulator and much more. I thought it would be a bit lame but it turned out to be fun. We spent an hour poring over the Lego looking for specifics: “the mermaid”, “4 sticks of dynamite”, “the man in a chicken suit” etc. Very distracting.

On the way back to town we stopped off at Lava Glass – a glassblower factory and gallery. We watched a man craft a vase. Amazing. I can’t get my head around how this is done. I really do like learning about new stuff.

And now I’m waiting for the tent to dry. Why it had to rain on our last night…

Taupo Top 10 is a good campsite. The new pool should be completed by Easter 2015. My kids have enjoyed it here and are actually angling to return rather than try a new destination next year.

I do think that these places go a bit overboard in charging for everything that they can. Usually things that bored kids want to do. Still, I guess it’s their prerogative.

Once again, a successful adventure. These weeks I spend with my kids are so great and so important. They remember. They talk about them. They look forward to the next time.

^sd

Thoughts: Camping Pt 3

There are some things I am trying to encourage with my kids in their camping experience.

They have a fairly safe existence with their mother, and yes, I do keep them pretty close when they’re with me in our normal routine, but when camping I give them a much longer leash.

After last year, my son told me that he loved how I let them pretty much do whatever they wanted, on their own terms, in their own time.

Today, Miss 8 said that one of her goals this week was to make a new friend. This is challenging for her as she is a bit shy. She had a definite strategy though. A cluster of local Taupo girls arrived to have a birthday party and make use of the pool. My daughters idea was that she’d do underwater handstands until she was noticed. The handstands went swimmingly well, but the other girls were also a bit shy. One of the other girls, however, started doing handstands also. After 15 minutes and seeing a look of frustration arrive on Miss 8’s face at the lack of contact, I did ’embarrassing Dad’ and introduced the two. From that point on, sorted. A new friend, hours in the pool, and a play date for tomorrow (the Mum will swing by and collect my daughter for a Taupo day). I’m a bit proud.

Master 12 has also found boys to play with. Of course the dance of introduction is quite different. Bonding to the lyrics of ‘Spiderpig’ is somewhat less sophisticated.

As we needed to head out for supplies, I decided to risk it all and play minigolf. There is history here: Master 12 (who despite being smart, seems to have a complete lack of understanding of rudimentary physics) has a few issues with dealing with performing poorly on the course. He was prepared, warned and made ready, so in theory any chance of a tantrum was lessened. He really was on his best behaviour. Then I did something that, in hindsight, I should not have done. He’d placed his green golf ball, then went to see where the course went. I of course picked up his ball and hid it in my pocket. For fun of course. The outcome wasn’t what I expected. When he couldn’t find his ball, he saw a moving green golf ball at the hole we’d just completed, and grabbed it. Yes, it was someone else’s ball and the resulting embarrassment caused was a little too much to bear.

You’d think I’d know not to do such things, but… ya know??

I managed to talk him down from the precipice of despair, and we got through the game. It ended up being fun! Although I had to bribe them with Bakers Delight goodies.

^sd

Thoughts: Camping Pt 2

I’m starting to get into the pace of camping life.

I am experiencing a gradual decline into feral. I spent all day yesterday in my togs. I never spend all day in togs.

I’m getting a lot of reading done, which is excellent, but I seem to be spending the majority of my time looking for places to stay cool. I found the camp kitchen yesterday. Near the fridges.

This site has many trees but the sun seems to ignore them. The 93% humidity is brutal. I can’t complain though. We are all happy.

My kids are having fun. There’s enough here to keep them interested and when they’re done running around, they’re reading. They’ve also become more helpful around the routine. Cooking etc. Forget tidying though. Their end of the tent is making my OCD hurt. They’re not particularly interested in exploring Taupo and Surrounds. This doesn’t bother me as it means they’re satisfied with what they’re doing.

Adult interaction isn’t really happening. You have those passing conversations with other parents but they’re usually about kids, about entertaining kids, about work. It’s a life stage I think.

I also may be in trouble with the mother of my kids. Sun block isn’t blocking quite enough and the healthy rouge (glows at night) on their faces may elicit complaints on their return. Oops.

^sd

Thoughts: Camping Pt 1

It’s underway!

A few years back I decided to try my kids with camping. You know, the whole “drive someplace, set up a tent, swim, eat, sleep” thing.

Their mother is more a “motel, hotel” kind of person, but I can happily report that they have taken to it and in fact, look forward to it every year.

This year I left booking a destination a bit late, but have ended up in Taupo. This is not a bad secondary choice.

The Top 10 is quite nice. The facilities are clean and well-equipped. There is a pool which dominates our schedule, and by next year the current worksite will be transformed into a pool of beauty and magnificence.

Master 12 has noted, with some disappointment, that most of the other kids he’s spotted are girls. He’s not yet at the point where this is actually a very fine thing indeed.

We are definitely getting more efficient at setting up the campsite, although there were tears of frustration when the camp stretchers were unfurled. Terrible things really.

One thing I’ve enjoyed is seeing my daughter take an interest in cooking (well, BBQing things) and being helpful.

They’re not inclined to go play tourist, which will make for a much cheaper week. We visited Huka Falls which interested them for a minute before they decided an icecream was a much better thing to obsess about.

Anyway, I’m starting to relax into the week. It’s a valuable time, not taken lightly.

^sd

Thoughts: Goals for 2015

I’m a bit shit at setting New Year Resolutions.

I’ve determined that this is because New Year Resolutions involve implementing change in one’s self.

Being a bit older than I was, change is actually hard. And quite frankly, I don’t see anything that I really want to change about myself. I’m quite content for the most part.

A common Resolution: I could resolve to return to the gym. But I know that I get bored in the gym and I’m not that worried about my physical shape. Yes, it would be wise from a health perspective, but so would cutting out wine (Wait, what???) and cooking less interesting meals. Meals which don’t have glorious flavours and dairy and carby goodnesss…

Not going to happen.

Therefore setting Goals it is.

What Goals do I have for 2015?

Looking back at those set last year, I categorised them: Technology, Personal Development, Exercise/Sports, Travel. And I pretty much missed on all. Like I said 2014 was a bit of a shocker. Available funds and  available time were lacking somewhat, and I had to make hard decisions around things to focus on.

Let’s try again.

I’m older, wiser and more experienced so perhaps this year I’ll achieve a few more things that I actually set out to achieve. As opposed to achieving a lot of things that I didn’t intend to, but was forced into by circumstance.

Top of the list: Personal Development:

– Learn a language. I really want to learn Japanese, but Mandarin is probably going to be more useful and certainly I have access to language resource and conversational speakers. Let’s have a crack at that then.

– Continue to Read obsessively. I have a love of knowledge and I’m constantly reading. I need to ensure that I have the time to do this.

– Formal Study. Perhaps do some Management courses? Certainly I’d benefit from this. I’ve learned this year to talk the language of CEO’s and CFO’s from a sales point of view. But it’s been learned by osmosis. Could do better. Perhaps some Writing courses? I have many words and it would be beneficial to learn more of the craft of writing.

Travel:

– I need to get to Cambodia, Laos and/or Thailand. I think I need to put a little $ aside each week and make it happen. It’s important to me to visit countries which challenge and stretch my life experience. I have not done this for a few years and I’m very twitchy.

Sports/Exercise:

– If I’m not going to get back to the gym, I need to get out walking. So let’s set a goal of 1000kms to be walked in 2015. And not kms walked between my home and the local supermarket, despite the fact that you can log at least 2kms walking up and down aisles. ‘Cos that’s cheating innit?

– Snowboarding. My nemesis. I will get to Snowplanet. I will get to Snowplanet. I will get to Snowplanet. And learn to Board. And not break things. Despite my eld.

General:

– Family. I do do a lot with my kids, but I do think I could do more. I need to work on this. (and not use the word ‘do’ that many times in a sentence ever again).

– Be more social. Get out to more events. Invite more people over. These aren’t specific things, more lifestyle aspirations – so I won’t set defined expectations (as one should for a goal).

One good thing I’ve noted is that I’ve left out the acquisition of things as being important. I’ve really made some growth in that area. That being said, there are always nice things that come your way that you simply must have. I do feel a personal responsibility to do my bit to ensure the survival of Apple.

So that’s it. Achievable. Beneficial.

I need to Live and Laugh more.

What Goals do you have?

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