New Zealand – A Trip Down Memory Lane [Part 3]

Coming to New Zealand has been such a fun experience, and it’s been great to see so many things that I remember from when we were last here. I have enjoyed seeing all the similarities and differences from what I remember – so I decided to write them down into a blog post – enjoy Part 3 of the series – a special, Meadowbank Memories edition!IMG_4705.resized

The ‘Duck Bridge’
I have good memories of crossing this bridge on our 10 minute daily walk to school. The wooden bridge was fairly narrow, it could probably fit 2-3 people side-by-side, and was about 30m long; but what made it very interesting was that 1. It was over a tidal marsh – water at high-tide, marsh at low; and 2. When we were crossing over it as a marsh, a group Puekekos (a beautiful, large, blue-feathered and red-legged marsh bird) would also be searching for food. On days when we had a little spare time we would often stand quietly looking down to watch them feeding, and for old-times-sake we did it again on our visit – they may never have been in a ponga tree (Kiwi 12 days of Christmas – Warning: Auto-play Music) but it was always lovely to see them – when the gate of the basin allowed the tide to go down, which is done less often now. We had to go elsewhere to see our Puekekos, which, of course, were still not in a Ponga tree – they are wading birds that aren’t excellent fliers after all!

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Chicken Drumsticks
I remember many, many Saturday nights spent eating chicken drumsticks from a local shop in Meadowbank – nowadays I’m not really into takeaways, however, chicken drumsticks is probably something I could never get tired of! I remembered the corner just opposite the church we went to, it was quite distinctive and it helped us track it down, it was a lovely experience re-living our old family tradition one more time.IMG_4666.resizedIMG_4667.resized

Meadowbank Train Station
I remember the fun Megan and I had, running down the central platform, or the grassy bank at the side – waving frantically to the nice train drivers who almost always smiled and waved back, to us as they pulled out from the station. The station had two lines which split around the central platform, there was no point having two platforms as there would need to be two bridges, plus the station was only accessible from the one side. I remember going on the train into Auckland city, and the fun and excitement the train held for me and Megan in those days – usually the train meant an evening out, a trip up the Sky Tower, or a tour of the city, but it was always fun seeing how Auckland’s City transport worked.

[This is my last memories post – but hang on! Expect a Part 4 from someone else, who is it – nobody knows…]

New Zealand – A Trip Down Memory Lane [Part 2]

Coming to New Zealand has been such a fun experience, and it’s been great to see so many things that I remember from when we were last here. I have enjoyed seeing all the similarities and differences from what I remember – so I decided to write them down into a blog post – enjoy Part 2 of the series!

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Sky Tower
My memory of going up this building, the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere, was fairly vivid – and it’s been a big ‘Want to do’ thing for me. I remember standing near the base of the building, giving the sense of the immense size of it, looking at a massive pillar of concrete in the foundation and realising it was one of 16, and then going up the lift, which took quite a while to ascend the first proper floor after the elevator shaft – I hadn’t remembered the glass floor in the lift, though! One of my favourite memories of the sky tower was probably standing on the glass flooring and looking down more than 150m to the city below, but I also enjoyed watching the sky jumpers flying off the tower on a rope and a harness – there was a countdown timer by one of the windows so we could be ready to watch.

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Waiwera
Waiwera, a place where there is a swimming pool for almost anything you can imagine – warm pools, hot pools, very hot pools, baby pools, slide pools, even a Movie pool – you probably wouldn’t be surprised if you found a back-filp  diving into free Wifi pool!!! -so wish that was a thing! I have fond memories of spending an afternoon relaxing and swimming, changing pools whenever it suited – it was a brilliant experience and I’d been looking forward to doing it again. One of the things I remembered best was the slide tower, which you had to climb up to do the big flumes, of course, I only remember the little slide as I was too small – but, this time I got to go on one of the massive, twisting slides. It was very exciting speeding down, slowly at first, then faster, then faster, then eerily fast, then, when you were wondering if it would ever stop – SPLASH!! -you were slowed down to a halt in what felt like less than 2 seconds. I had a lot of fun swimming there, though some of the pools were just too hot – the more than 48°C Lava Pool was definitely too hot by some way, at least for us – but on the whole it was an amazing experience!

Sugar Cane
Another memory, as well as something I’ve really been looking forward to is eating raw sugar cane, very tasty and unusual, it’s just a shame you can’t get them in Britain. When we had them on our 6 month visit, we had some large bought cane – this time when we had it we ate some relatively narrow sugar cane grown in Nan an Granddad’s garden. Sugar cane is certainly very sweet – but often the best things are hard to get at: it took quite some time to work out how to dissect it to eat it!

New Zealand: A Trip Down Memory Lane [Part 1]

Coming to New Zealand has been such a fun experience, and it’s been great to see so many things that I remember from when we were last here. I have enjoyed seeing all the similarities and differences from what I remember – so I decided to write them down into a blog post – enjoy Part 1 of the series!

Coloured Traffic Light Arrows

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One of the first interesting things I remembered I saw as we drove over to our wonderful cottage from the airport were the coloured traffic light arrows, unlike the boring green ones we have back home. The traffic lights at a relatively busy junction had red and orange arrows, as well as the usual green ones, which I thought was really exciting to see – though it must be quite mundane for people who see them daily. I remembered the lights from the reasonable amount of driving we did in Auckland when we stayed for the 6 months in 2009; however, despite the orange and red arrows being really cool – but couldn’t they stay green just a bit longer!?!

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‘Tunnel’ Between the Armchairs
This memory was a more family related one, being at Nan and Granddad’s house, reminding me of all the fun Megan and I had when we went to their house on a Thursday after I finished school. Between the two armchairs in the lounge in their house was a gap underneath the chair’s arms – about big enough for a P1 5-year-old, but maybe not a S1 12-year-old (see selfie above)!! When Megan or I weren’t hiding there in a game of hide and seek, Nan and Granddad’s cat Bobby used to sleep or rest in there.

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Dunkin’ Donuts
I remember Dunkin’ Donuts as being a small shop, just part of a small square building off one of the main roads, I remember that they sold delicious donuts (which you can probably already tell from the name), and also that we visited many times. From what we saw, it hasn’t changed much – but I don’t remember the violent downpours of rain trying to stop us from getting into the shop! We often used to stop there, usually on a Saturday to get some donuts to eat for morning tea.

Our New Zealand Holiday so far

When we arrived on Saturday we went to our awesome house and unpacked. Then we went to Nan and Grandad’s house and we spent a lovely afternoon with them. Then on Sunday we were going to go to church, but we were too tired so we stayed at home. Then we went to Nan and Grandad’s to see Auntie Heather and Uncle Martin. We had a lot of fun playing Qwirkle, but sadly I lost. Aidan won the game and Auntie Heather came second.

On Monday we went to Mission Bay with Auntie Heather and Uncle Martin. We went swimming in the sea and Aidan and I went foraging for shells and I kept finding oyster shells. Then we also had ice cream, despite the fact it was melting extremely quickly – it still was delicious. It was really fun and I really enjoyed it.

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Selfie at Fairy Falls, Waitakere Ranges

Then on Tuesday we went to the Waitakere Ranges (the NZ rainforest near Auckland). We had a lovely walk through and we saw a beautiful waterfall as well as a massive kauri tree. Then later on we went to a place in Meadowbank and we got some chicken drumsticks (they were the best chicken drumsticks I had ever had).

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Us in the Waitakere Ranges (Fairy Falls track)

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The Summer Gravel Snowman (wearing my new hat!)

Then on Wednesday Nan and Grandad had an appointment to go to and Daddy was going with them. So while they were gone Auntie Heather, Aidan and I did some marbling and we made 16 really pretty sheets of marbling paper (it’s so easy to make hundreds!). Then for afternoon tea we went to Dunkin Donuts where Aidan got a cinnamon donut and I got a chocolate donut.

The next day was Christmas Eve and we went to Sylvia Park shopping centre for some last-minute shopping. I got a pair of gorgeous kiwi paua shell earings and necklace. Then Aidan got a mini Maori carving that had paua shell eyes. Then for lunch Mummy and Aidan had delicious sushi. I had got my lunch from Oporto (take away fried meat shop) and got  delicious chicken drumsticks and chips (Again I know!).

Friday was CHRISTMAS AT LAST!!! First we opened our stocking presents and I got my first ever pair of dangly earings. Then we went over to Nan and Grandad’s house for Christmas lunch it was delicious. Then later that day two of Daddy’s friends came over and we had a lovely walk along the beach. We also had a walk through the water and discovered it was really warm so we all walked through the water.

Then on Boxing Day we went to Meadowbank and visited my kindergarten and Aidan’s old school. Then in the afternoon we went to Panmure Basin and walked all the way around it. Then in the evening we went to Tahuna Torea (a beach) and Aidan and I went swimming in the sea (it was lots of fun). Then we went to see the lights and we also drove up to One Tree Hill. 

Then on Sunday we went to church and we had a lot of fun. [I’ll tell you more about our afternoon in another post].

Today, Monday, we went to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Centre. It was a lot of fun we saw lots and lots of penguins. Then we saw some elephant sharks wich looked very cool. Then we saw lots of fish and we also saw some sharks too which was absolutely awesome. Then after that we saw some awesome sea horses and we saw some species I had never seen before. Then we had a look at some star fish, I even got to hold one!

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Mr Shark

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This was AWESOME! (megalodon shark)

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Just chillin’

 

Prayer of Intercession

Aidan gave the Prayer of Intercession in church today. It was the Dedication service for the Brigades and other youth organisations. Here is the prayer he wrote and read out:

Prayer of Intercession

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank-you that you that you are our ever-faithful God, and that you always respond to our prayers – even if in a different way to what we expect. Lord, we pray for the refugee crisis in Europe, and for all those poor refugees who are traumatised or have lost family members on their perilous journey. We pray for those brave Christians who are out there, taking risks to serve you and to serve the refugees through charities like Christian Aid.

We pray especially for those fellow Christians who are fleeing for their lives from the Islamic State who have destroyed their town and cities. We pray that they would know your peace, and that you would be with them no matter what. We too pray for those Christians who couldn’t escape, and for all those around the world who are suffering or imprisoned for your precious name: we pray you would give them comfort, and security in your love for them – and that they would receive your awesome strength.

We too, Lord, have issues, even in our local area. We pray for everyone in Falkirk who is without food or a decent house, and for the committed volunteers giving up their time to serve you. We pray for the work of the Foodbank, who are helping get food to thousands in Falkirk, something that so many of us take for-granted. We also pray for other charities in our local area, like Home Start, who support parents with young children who are struggling to cope; we pray that the volunteers would know how to help the families they support.

Lord, we pray for those in this building today. We pray that you would comfort all those who grieve or mourn – we pray that you would fill the emptiness of their broken-heartedness with your eternal love. We pray as well for those who are sick, disabled or in pain, we pray that your loving kindness would rest with them also.

And finally, we pray for all the youth workers in the church, for your presence to be with them, and for you to show them the way to lead those children under their care. We also pray that they would know that their amazing work is both appreciated and crucial to our church family and to the children’s lives.

We ask all these things in the name of your Son, Jesus,

Amen.

Castle Campbell and Dollar Glen

On the Falkirk holiday Monday (7th September) we visited Castle Campbell, nestled at the top of the stunning Dollar Glen.

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It’s a pretty impressive 15th-century castle, small but perfectly formed and clearly a rich and ostentatious dwelling.

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The views from the top were remarkable – it was a bit hazy but we still had excellent views of the Forth Valley… from the opposite angle to what we usually experience.

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At the top was a colony of swallows – many resting on the ridgeline, many swooping hither and yon. We found one in the upper bedchamber, unable to find its way through the window – it was surprisingly easy for me (Keith) to carry it to an open window and set it free. I’ve never held a wild bird before. It was surprisingly warm. Megan also found a beautiful butterly resting on a warm stone, and a colony of bats in the rafters.

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The glen is also lovely – a network of paths on both sides of a Y-shaped burn, well developed but right in amongst the nature. Oak woods, moss, ferns – Aidan picked a bunch of blueberries as we walked which were delicious.
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Aidan practiced his Bear Grylls technique on a fallen log across the burn.

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Homeward bound at the end of the day – not just a castle ticked off, a fabulous walk, views across the valley, and a new destination for a return visit!

Then and now

I was surprised by a reminder from my phone last week to take a photo. Nine years ago we took a photo of Aidan (aged 3) at the entrance to our estate. Last week we took another, in exactly the same place. Spot the difference!

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Aidan, 15th July 2006 (age 3)

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Aidan, 15th July 2015 (age 12)

Aidan’s certainly grown a lot, but he still has the same happy grin! (I can’t help noticing that the estate has greened a lot too!)

(original post, members only)

Not the walk we planned

Yesterday we’d planned to go for a walk as part of the 45-minute project. Carolyn spotted a lovely-looking walk just west of Stirling, around the North Third Reservoir.

When we got there, it was indeed lovely – but it was also very wet indeed!

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Megan and the rest sensibly elected to stay in the car. In the ten seconds it took me to get this photo my jeans got soaked.

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The rain radar showed there was no prospect of it letting up.

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So instead we used our Historic Scotland membership and visited Stirling Castle. In the Great Hall at the moment is the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

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This is quite some tapestry – 160 panels telling the history of Scotland from 450mya to present day, all stitched by local groups over the last four years. There were lots of beautiful details, and as a whole it told the story really well – I certainly learnt a few things!

Address to the Lassies

Aidan gave his Address to the Lassies at the Wallacestone Primary 7 Burns Supper and Ceilidh tonight. It went brilliantly! See the video on Youtube. We’re so proud – so many people have told us how good it is and how well he delivered it. Thank you to all who helped and supported!

Here is the text – he wrote it all himself.

To the Lassies of Wallacestone,

I would like to wish a good evening to you all,
And I hope that you are having a ball;
I would like to say thank-you, like a perfect gent,
For making this such a fantastic event!

But the Wallacestone Lassies, I must admit,
Are often annoying, and pushy (a bit);
You seem to think you are always right,
And you never give in without a fight!

Now don’t get me started about your make-up and stuff,
You spend hours staring at mirrors – it must be rough!
And can you imagine wearing every single day –
All those weird powders and strange-looking sprays!

And hairstyles, you love to change them so many times,
You try more in a week than me in all my years combined;
You buy lotions and curlers, bows, ribbons and pins,
Not to mention mountains of bottles and tins!

Your obsession with phones seems absurd to me,
Constantly calling and texting – just as if it’s free;
You seem to spend a fortune just texting ‘Hi’ to a friend,
Whereas us laddies, it’s only important things we ever send!

Now your love for shopping takes you both near and far,
But to me shopping for shopping’s sake is totally bizarre;
You seem to buy a new pair of shoes every day,
Or maybe not that much, but it’s still loads to pay!

Now after all that, I must confess,
This was probably not the kindest address;
But Wallacestone Lassies, without a doubt,
You’re actually great lassies to be about!

Kind and helpful, and caring I know,
The bonnie Wallacestone Lassies are the heart of this show;
I thank you for listening, I hope you enjoyed,
And now to the lassies, a toast from the boys!

Creative Commons License
Wallacestone Address to the Lassies by Aidan Wansbrough (27 Jan 2015) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The River Carron

The Forty-Five Minute Project is not dead! On 28th December we went for a walk past the Kelpies and up the Carron River.

The Kelpies were looking particularly awesome on this chilly sunny day. It was great to get out!

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First stop was this pond near the Kelpies, which had iced over – hard to resist walking on water, and collecting sheets of ice!

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Aidan loved the cold, but Megan wasn’t quite so keen.

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This year-old swan was just standing on the ice sunning itself. We tried not to disturb it as we went past, but it decided to move over anyway.

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As well as the river, we walked through a community woodland which had some interesting features. This human sundial was very clever – the equation of time is handled by a platform with month names – stand on the current month, and your shadow indicates the actual correct time! There are separate hour markers for summer and winter time. It was bang-on!

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This sculpture / barbecue area commemorating the ironworks was also very impressive. I particularly appreciated the clever construction. Aidan and Megan are re-enacting the crucible scene on the plaque.

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A wonderful winter walk. Thank you Falkirk Council, Abbotshaugh and Langlees Community Woodlands, and the Helix!

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