Five things in February

February has felt loooong this year – quite an achievement for the shortest month. Looking back, I couldn’t believe it was the beginning of February that we went away to Cambridge; that felt much longer ago!

We had some crazy crazy weather down here this month. Thankfully we are okay, and our families are all okay, and all of our houses are okay, but I can’t say the same for everyone. Lots of people have lost everything and it’s going to take a long time for the North Island to properly get back on its feet. It was really scary stuff. Mind-blowing what rain can do. We’re still feeling the after-effects. A lot of roads have been washed out or taken out by slips, and we can’t get from where we live to see my mother without adding a couple of hours to the drive (which is usually not much more than an hour), or from where we live to Hayden’s parents without adding 3-4 hours, or even from where we live to the village without having to go around a back road – it’s taking about double the normal amount of time. I’m also legitimately afraid of the rain now. We had a slip on our road that meant we couldn’t get Amelie from school and for an entire afternoon we were trapped with no way of getting to her. She was totally safe and being looked after by a friend on the ‘other side’ but I hated it and every time it even starts lightly raining now I rush to the window to assess how that bank is looking, and think about going to get her early. I think it will take some time for me to accept inclement weather again and not freak out.

Hopefully March will prove a bit more stable in the weather department. We all need it right now. For now, here’s what we’ve been up to – good, small stuff, most of which doesn’t require too much driving(!).

Loved this outrageously oversized duck at the place we stayed in Cambridge!

1.Waitangi weekend in Cambridge

Hayden had a bike race in Cambridge over Waitangi weekend, so we got an AirBnB and made a wee holiday out of it! It was such a nice little break. Cambridge is a really lovely place. We went out for yummy pasta the night before the race at Alpino, then on the day Hayden cycled to the start line from the AirBnB, and Amelie and I packed up then went into Cambridge for the morning. We had great coffee (well, a fluffy for Amelie, coffee for me) and snacks at Paddock before walking around the streets looking in all the wonderful little shops. After cheering Hayden on to his 3rd place finish at the end of the race we went back to Paddock, had a delicious lunch and then showed Hayden our favourite shops. This particular race is a new one in the calendar and so it had a much quieter vibe than Taupō, for example, but Hayden said it was well done and he thinks it’ll grow. They also do a swimming race the day before the cycling, and half marathon on the following day. You could turn it into a well-spaced triathlon if you really wanted to, and I’m sure some people do, but we won’t be doing that – we are tentatively planning for next year for Hayden to do the bike race and for me do the half marathon, however!

2. New (old) stuff

We’ve been all about the preloved things in February! Hayden unofficially kicked things off by finding an incredibly ugly drinks cabinet on Facebook Marketplace. Incredibly ugly until you look closer…it’s got great lines, but the slapped-on two-tone paint job isn’t doing it justice, in my opinion. We bought it sight unseen and figured we’d work out what it needs when we got it. Originally we thought it might be possible to strip the paint off back to wood, but the wood underneath is not of good enough quality for that. So far, we’ve taken out the ridiculous drawer set it used to house in the cupboard, and this weekend we intend to start sanding before painting it a glossy dark emerald on the outside, and black on the inside. To be clear, I think this weekend will be only sanding – it’s going to take a lot. What fun though!

Possibly inspired by Hayden, I spent one happy evening bidding on items from an estate sale at Webbs. I missed out on the former-Auckland Museum display cabinet that initially sparked my interest, but I won a Crown Lynn jug, a globe, and – my favourite – a beautiful round mahogany dining table. This too needs some love! But not too much – it’ll be more sanding, some polishing, and trying to re-fill a small chip (it’s been previously filled but the tone doesn’t match the wood at all really).

All of this set us back well under $500, and has also given us some fun projects to work on. Time and money very well spent, I think!

3. New (actually new!) shoes

Some things you just have to buy new. I realised in January that my ‘dressy’ wedges were falling apart and actually giving me blisters where the degraded leather was rubbing. I needed a replacement, and ended up buying the Hoopoe 2 from Bared – a new-to-me Australian footwear company that makes really lovely, insanely comfortable, ethical shoes. In February, spurred on by my success with the Hoopoe 2, I bought two more pairs! Which sounds a little excessive but there was a sale on. I didn’t really realise until I received them how much difference they would make to my wardrobe. I have converted (some of the time) from skinny jeans to straight leg, and I got a few new dresses and swimsuits back before our Fiji trip, but that’s been about it for the last couple of years, and I was really starting to feel quite frumpy. My new shoes have given my existing clothes a new lease of life and I feel just a touch sharper and cooler when I wear them. I bought the Fairywren sandals and the Pardalote high heels, and again – I love them.

4. Tennis lessons for Amelie

Amelie started junior coaching at our tennis club this term and she is having the best time! She’s doing an amazing job of paying attention, listening, and doing what the coach tells her, and it’s paying off – in just a few weeks she’s really started to get it. I love watching the lessons and think I could possibly benefit from taking them as well – I’ve had many lessons over the years but nobody has ever told me to stand like a scarecrow or use my racket handle as a laser. It makes sense!

5. The start of the school year

School is back! Hallelujah. Because of Cyclone Gabrielle and torrential rain and storms, it’s been a very choppy start to the year – there have been multiple days where the school can’t open because of flooding on the roads, etc. When it is back, though, Amelie has been so happy to be there again! It’s good having that routine back in our lives – after more than six weeks of summer holidays, we were all ready!

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