The endless summer

We had a little rain last Saturday, and celebrated it. Although we’re in a bit of a drought here in Auckland, it’s nothing to be compared with other parts of the country (the far north has been months without rain), or indeed, the extreme weather in other parts of the world (flooding in Aussie and UK, bush fires in Aussie). Our patches of brown grass show some glimmers of green now.

To me, it feels like I’ve been in summer for over six months. I left in August last year for the northern hemisphere and stayed two months basking in the sunshine of UK, USA and Canada. . . even sweltering on record highs in places like Stratford-Upon-Avon. Then I came home and was housebound because of ankle injury, so hardly noticed the cooler weather. Our summer has been long and dry, not too hot fortunately, and still goes on.


February is ‘bike to work’ month, with prizes to be won for clocking up the kilometres on two wheels. I only work two days a week at the Uni, so my totals don’t look so good, but still, I haven’t taken the bus this year. Morning after morning of delicious sunrises, with the sun getting closer and closer to the horizon. On Friday, it didn’t breach the horizon line at all. Ah, winter is coming.

This coming Friday, I get the screw taken out of my ankle – the one holding the two long bones together in this:


I’m hoping that frees me up to get some physio and increase my exercise which is sorely needed. Right now, I’m still in some pain in the lower back if I do much walking, although I hesitantly add, the last few days I’ve been feeling almost ‘springy’. Could it be the NEARLY TEN KILOS I’ve dropped since I started losing weight early in January. Yep, I’m down 9.6kgs (21 lbs). My pants feel as if they might drop off me if I bounce too much – a great feeling but not such a good sight for any unwitting passersby.

Still relentlessly pursuing a much healthier eating regime and have not felt deprived or like I couldn’t keep this up forever. Every now and then I’ve had an ice-cream, or some birthday cake, chocolate, or pop corn. But that’s the key – not every day. I go to a cafe and choose this sort of deliciousness rather than a doughnut.



Time to move on and get some chores done. I’m loving the beginning of ‘Outlander’ season, and tonight will be clustered with my sister watching episode 2. A few functions coming up which all involve barbecues, the main eating method for all New Zealanders in the summertime. Our Roman Feast in March will centre around the grill and some tasty platters everyone will bring, and this weekend, I’ll be at my nephews for a family get together.

Long may the summer continue, and the cicadas sing. I’ll finish with the headdress I made for the coming toga party.



A week in Northland in a tent

I got back two days ago from seven days camping at Kai Iwi Lakes, about 3 hours north of Auckland. My sister came and set up beside me, as has become our custom, and we were thrilled to encounter really good weather for most of it. (Sadly, northland is suffering a drought right now, so I hope they get rain soon.)

This time camping was going to be a bit of a challenge. I am not long recovered from my ankle surgery, and most days I also feel the effects of lower back pain (sciatica), so I was not looking forward to packing up the equipment and then setting up the tent. Sure enough, by that evening I was hobbling and had taken a few doses of paracetamol, which does help a bit. ALSO, as you will have read in previous posts, I’ve started a process of losing weight and improving health by following a carb-free (almost), intermittent-fasting, regime. My nutritionist gave me a link to a local company who make freeze-dried food that is nutritious and so I purchased about four meals and two breakfasts.

The road north was busy, but I stopped at a health food cafe for a kombucha. Nice view:

40 mins later I pulled in to our relatively deserted campsite and Helen and I helped each other set up tents. This smaller campsite has flush toilets up the hill, and no other amenities. Shops are 35 mins away driving, so we didn’t plan on buying out. I had a chillybin and a smaller one inside that, which managed to keep meat cold for a few days. My meals were delicious from Sunday night through to Wednesday night, and all pretty much on target for my meal plans:

I skipped breakfast Tuesday and Thursday, and we had no treats except for a small ice cream on the last weekend, purchased from the caravan at the neighbouring campsite. By Thursday, the ants had found the inner contents of my chilly bin, and there were only mouldering vegetables in there anyway. I moved to using the paleo bread (which doesn’t mould), peanut butter, and the dried meals.

Exercise-wise, I really am not back to the fitness I had a year ago at the same place. Then, we walked around a portion of the lake and back. Now, I did little beyond swim, but I did that 6 times a day, sometimes 7. It was great to sink into cool clean fresh water and feel all the weight on ankle and back disappear. I lived in my swimming costumes for the entire time, apart from at night when the weather cooled.

Kai Iwi lakes are inverted fresh water sandhills, going down to a depth of ten stories. They are remarkably beautiful and cannot be beaten for their swimming possibilities. No tides to worry about, not large toothy fish lurking in the depths, pretty much a HUGE swimming pool that doesn’t need chlorine. The further side of the biggest lake hosts families and boaties who want to get out and use water toys, like jet skis and power boats. There are showers there, and a small caravan selling food, so it’s a draw. We prefer the relative quiet of the smaller campsite.

It’s easy to snap a glorious sunset or sunrise, and get caught up watching the bird life.

and the water! Leaping off the top of the submerged white sandhill into a bottomless depth of azure and blue – ah, I shall have to hold that image for another year.

Soon enough, the insects start to intrude. Ants found the inside of the tent, flies loved my front foyer, and black beetles fell out of the umbrella on the mornings I opened it. Not much to worry about, really.
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It’s taken a couple of days to unpack, wash clothes, get rid of rubbish, wash my car, and finally feel like I’m on target to go to work on Thursday. I was very pleased to find that I’ve lost a total of 8.4 kgs since I started my food plan, and hadn’t gained over the camping trip.
Ahead of us now is usual city life: schools and universities are back, students will throng the halls and streets of my workplace, the roads will be busy, the weather will get cooler and wetter. I will carry the images and impressions of last week in my mind and heart for a long while yet.


Three Weeks into the New Regime

Today I revisited the dietician and we assessed how the food plan had been working. It was all very positive. Beyond the fact that I’ve been feeling very good and finding the inflammation supplements working to ease the sciatica pain I feel, I have also lost nearly 6 kgs! That’s a win/win by my books.

Here’s a glimpse of the range and type of vegetable-rich, carb-low meals I have prepared for myself in the last few weeks:

When I go to work there is always a lot of food around – usually of the type that I am trying hard to avoid. So far so good. Cubbyholes full of chocolate, staffroom tables always covered in snacks, meetings that come with morning tea included, a barrage of fast food places nearby. I’ve been able to avoid these because I can now truly claim to be on a health and fitness regime.

The three mornings a week that I fast, and don’t eat until lunchtime have worked out much easier to do than I would have believed. I give myself more time before getting out of bed, and it feels like a treat. Once I’m up and going, I get busy and distracted, and don’t notice the missing meal. A black coffee with a little cream makes a big difference when I get to work.

I’m not as active as I once was, pre-ankle operation. As mentioned earlier my sciatica is arthritis-based, and the weight I carry makes it rare that I get to the end of the day without feeling a clenched fist of pain there in my lower back. Swimming is great because I’m active without feeling the weight, and I’ve enjoyed a few summer swims around the corner at Pt Chev beach:

And cycling to work two days a week (29 kms round trip) and some extraneous fun cycles, work well too, because the weight is on the bike not my lower back. I love cycling to work in the early hours of the morning, completely apart from the building traffic on the motorway:

So I’m sticking with the plan. In a week’s time, Helen and I head off for our usual camping trip up North, and six swims a day at the lakes. It will be harder to find fresh food but my dietician has sent me a link to some great dried pouches of food which are still high in nutrition content and not just flavoured rice or pasta.

Apart from the personal improvement plan, I’m working on building positive relationships with new workmates at work, and enjoying a change of environment in the University, where I now have a desk in three places.

Stay positive, avoid negativity, do what you can to help, keep a balance between spirit, soul and body – in that order. Simple maxims. Until next time. . .  thanks for reading.