12 December 2013

One of the beautifully decorated trees on our morning walks

[Snapped on a cellphone]

In the last couple of weeks Atlas has wanted to go for a morning stroll.  So we'll head out early and be walking around before the shops open.  

It's fairly quiet and you can carry on a decent conversation without competing with the hub-bub of vehicle noise or exhaust fumes.

This morning we thought it would add a little richness to the exercise to be able to do something for those we met.  We looked around at what we had at home and packaged up some wrapped sweets and gave away 16 packets on our way into town.

The children showed little hesitation in going up to perfect strangers, greeting them, and offering them a treat. 

It was a delight to see the reactions of others at such a small token gesture too.  Most were genuinely surprised and grateful; some were skeptical; and only a tiny few, unaccepting.

What was originally just a casual idea opened up several conversations with the children about not judging people on their outward appearance, not knowing what is really going on in people's lives behind the smile (or sour face), having a right attitude about giving and so much more.

They were really touched and pumped and started asking about when we could do it again.  

No time like the present is there?!  So we headed over to Napier, for a change of scene, stopping at the supermarket to get 100 candy canes, which we managed to give away there and then later in Havelock North.

Then just when we thought we were ready to call it a day, Vega remembered that there is a night market each Thursday in Hastings, and wanted to go.

The children's enthusiasm to spread a bit of cheer was heartening in itself.  We loaded up with double what I anticipated we would need, given the average success throughout the day and totally broke that limitation two-fold, by giving away another 200 canes!  That's 316 people whose days were hopefully brightened in some way.

What we all learned today was priceless, and I couldn't have constructed any object lesson better than the organic way in which the day unfolded.  It was fabulous!

Addendum: The fun didn't stop there and we ended up getting a few more candy canes and gave away 1000 in total over the following 10 days.

Hawke's Bay

We understand so little about the people we meet.

27 November 2013

So sweet - each child was greeted with an individual message biscuit or gingerbread man

[Snapped on a cellphone]

Supermarket notice boards are a great source of community offerings and activities, yet it would seem that only Countdown and less urban stores have them. Our local Countdown advertised a Wednesday-only cafe in the heart of the city, where anything on the menu is only $3.  I couldn't resist checking it out at lunchtime with the children in tow on a day when cabin-fever was otherwise guaranteed to have set in.


It is run by a convivial mature woman, helpers, and a barista from Redemption Point Church; opening from 10am until 2pm, Wednesdays of course, at 103 Nelson St North, Hastings.


The day we went they had three mains (ham & asparagus bake, lasagne, toasted cheese sandwiches); three cold drinks (oj, lemon lime and bitters, ginger beer), water (free), coffee, tea or hot chocolate; and three desserts (friendship cake, chocolate brownie and scones with jam - all complimentary with your drink). The toasted sandwiches come filled with ham and pineapple and are the staple main on the menu each week; and the scones are the constant sweet treat (the jam comes from Hanna Berry Farm).


The atmosphere is akin to a backpacker's dining hall, with mismatched chairs and tables, a couch, and nothing pretentious - all features that make it welcoming, relaxing and totally suitable for children and adults alike.  The bonus is the play room off to one side and there is plenty of room for a pram if you wanted to bring that too.  They have two highchairs available.


I really liked this place. The children were free to dart back and forth from our table and play; and no one gave us 'the look' or condescending shake of the head.  There was no pressure to finish eating and clear out.  I even had one customer jump tables to introduce herself to me. It is one place that we will go back to as a special treat - for both mum and the children, either for lunch or for a morning tea.


They are open the next two Wednesdays - 11th & 18th December 2013, closed over Christmas and re-opening 5th February 2014.


Looking up at a delightful rainbow-coloured art installation

[Snapped on a cellphone]

Ham & asparagus bake, sourdough bread and salad - more filling than it looks.

[Snapped on a cellphone]

Hawke's Bay

How can you find time for yourself when you are responsible for children 24/7?

21 October 2013

Listening to the harmony of the brass band

One of the local parks has a small public outdoor aviary, a cricket pitch and field, children's playground, winter house, Chinese garden, duck pond, and general green space.

Today it was off out to the aviary as it was a warm day and we needed to get out of the house.

We had a delightful surprise when sounds of a brass band were heard behind the cages, so we wandered around to the rest home, and stood listening to the Salvation Army Brass Band - all of 6 men.  It was a real delight that they would forsake the Sunday morning gathering to bring such joy to those who often would not be able to get out by themselves or at all.

Visiting the birds

All preening themselves - hard to take a photo through the wire

Mural at the aviary

Wisteria and Pohutukawa at the aviary

Hawke's Bay

Take a moment to be mindful of something beautiful around you and soak it in.