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Welcome to my new blog!

Welcome to my new blog about life off-grid on Great Barrier Island! The intent is to post at least once a month…

For those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere, our seasons are reversed here so it is early summer in NZ, and mainland city dwellers are going crazy with the stresses of Christmas coming up, on top of preparing for the long summer break. Basically NZ closes from about the 26th December until the end of January when everyone in the towns and cities pack their car – and sometimes their boat -- full of kids, wine, food, pets, surfboards, fishing rods, camping gear, hiking boots and a change of clothes, and head off for a beach or a river somewhere. Everyone already living on a beach or river pack up and go to a different beach or river. Here on Great Barrier Island, we stay put because most of our family and friends are in their cars (or boats or planes in this case) on their way to stay with us! So writing off-grid gets put on hold for a few weeks. The Barrier looks at its best right now with the native bush still green, wild gardens saturated with the scents of sweet-smelling blossoms, and vegetable gardens getting ready to fill the freezer with tomatoes (our freezer is still half full of tomatoes from last summer). The bell-like songs of our native birds float through the air as they feast off the sticky red flowers of the flax, and there is a continuous drowsy hum from millions of bees on our kanuka and manuka trees– the first process in the making of New Zealand’s famous manuka honey. The days are hot but not yet too hot and the nights are warm but not yet too muggy, the sea is crystal clear and bluer than blue (but still a bit cold!) and pods of large sea-going bottle-nose dolphins are often seen frolicking in the briny and catching the same waves as the surfers. It is hard to feel stressed about Christmas or anything else. And until the 26th December, there are very few people on our beach (often only me). But next week we fly to Auckland for three days to brave the Christmas crowds and buy the turkey. In spite of our hot Christmas, most New Zealanders have a traditional turkey dinner on Christmas day (especially as we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving), although we revert to the seafood barbeque the day after.

So for those of you who celebrate Christmas or some other traditional festival, have a peaceful and happy holiday with your family and friends, and for those who don’t, have a peaceful and happy time anyway.
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