Fiji holiday – day two

We were so tired last night we went to bed at some ungodley early hour. I think it was barely dark so around 7pm. Then we woke at about 5:15am with upstairs moving chairs. We dozed in bed for another 30 mins reading and playing with phones then i got up, made a cup of tea and sat on the deck watching the workers.

Its interesing seeing how many people it takes to make a resort this size work. Whilst i appretiate the pools looking like large rock pools with beaches, they all need too be cleaned daily taking a fair number of people. Some swept the sand back out of the pools, other racked the sand back flat, and another set picked up all the garbage and fixed plants etc, plus the odd one or two keeping an eye on the lot.

We had breaky about 6:30ish or so since the kids got up, then we went down to the local shop and grabbed some postcards and stamps. After doing that we decided to go to the pools and look around. My son, oldest daughter and I decided to go canoeing out in the sea to see the coral but we couldnt see much, my hubby and other daughter went swimming. After getting back we all jumped into the pool to waste a couple more hours.

The girls wanted to book in and get braids since everyone else here did and it was $2 per braid. I said they could but only if it was out of their own money, which they worked out was fine. The older one got a half head of cornrows for $20, the younger got similar but shaped in a cool way for $32. The odd thing about the money here is that the exchange rate is in our favour, so that works out to be cheaper in NZD than Fijian dollars. The ladies who did the braiding were lovely to talk to, however it turned out they only made $3.50 an hour, plus whatever tips.  Also, work was a 3 hour round trip away! We made sure we tipped them each well! i know what things cost here!

We took a trip down to the Ports on the local Bula Bus, which was another excellent experience, and then went to Mama’s Pizza which *everyone* told us to go to. Once we had eaten there we realized why! the ‘Large’ pizza fed a famliy of 8 nicely, it was a good half mtr round at least! We got 3 medium pizzas and over ate. We had a gormet chicken and garlic one, and the other was half meat lovers, half hawaiian (bit of a bastardisation since we were in fiji!). Boy did it taste fantastic however!

I picked up a couple of other items at the shops there, and a bottle of wine. The one in my room had been calling my name, however it cost $50 if i drank it. Turns out they had decent NZ wine for $25FJD (about $18NZD) which was excellent, plus the makings of pancakes for tomorrows breakfast. No maples syrup or cream or anything like it at all however!

After getting back i sat next to the pool (it was 8pm by now) with my bottle of wine, and a good book, whilst the others swam for the next hour. Everyone went to bed late, we plan a decent sleep in tomorrow.

We booked in a couple of day trips for the weekend since everything here is closed at that time. On Saturday we plan to head on out to a Cave trip which includes some tramping, a visit to a local village, a kava ceremony and some other great things.  Sunday we are doing a island hop and stop over cruise involving some snorkling over coral, a submarine thing, glass bottomed boats etc.

Monday is our leaving day so we are gonna hang around the resort.

Free Hit? Or Free Hug!

Most of you probably remember things like walking to and from school, rain, sun, barefoot in the freezing snow, uphill both ways etc. One of my memories of these times came back to me when my first born was about 18 months old and we were walking past one of these

Fire Hydrant
Fire Hydrant

My first memory of these things was a swift dead arm as somebody yelled ‘FREE HIT!’. Because that’s what the FH stood for, everyone knew that. I only figured out that it was a fire hydrant when i was in my teens I think. But having Free Hits wasn’t too much of a problem, because it came with rules. You could only hit people when you were standing on it!
So if i remembered to avoid going within a couple of mtrs of them I was ok … of course if i was reading a book or talking to somebody and didn’t noticed then i got punched, and again my arm was unusable for a good 30 minutes.

So walking along with my 18month old son i decided that i was going to keep him innocent and nice for as long as possible, i pointed the FH label out and said ‘oh look! Free Hug!’ and gave him a hug.
This became a game and every time we would race for them to get the Free Hug.
When he was 5 and went to school he eventually found out others said it was a ‘Free Hit’, so i explained ‘Its only a Free Hit if they are standing on it, a Free Hug can be taken away and you can get it as many times as you want!’. So he went back and educated all his class mates.
16 years later, and i have now 4 children (11,12,13 and 18), and they all do the ‘Free Hug’ thing, very rarely anyone hits unless its gentle. Even when cycling the kids will swerve wildly (which i go mad at!) to get the FH so they have lots of ‘Hugs’ available to redeem (yep they all hug each other and me!).

So now in the present day, i was cycling to work today, and past a group of 12-13 year old kids going to school. They clearly went to a different school to my kids, so i was most surprised when they suddenly stopped, called ‘FREE HUG!!!!’ and started hugging each other!
I was flabbergasted that my kids & i have started our own trend now which has moved onto other schools, based on the fact that i disliked the random mean punch.

So next time you walk past a Fire Hydrant (FH), make sure you grab your Free Hug, you never know when you may need one!

Weekend away Camping

Thought I’d do a diary style post (its been a while!).

I’ve been into cycling for a while now, a good few years, and one of my favourite races is the bikethelake which is a nice 42km loop of the Rotorua Lake, or 2 Laps for the main event. Since i had surgery i’ve been pretty lax about any exercise and struggled to get back into it and up to fitness, i decided that i needed to do it again this year. My daughter was keen to do some tandem cycling with me, so we found a 30 year old Healing Tandem on Trademe and cleaned it up.

Took a bit of hard yakka to get it clean, polishing all the surface rust off and bringing the bling chrome back to life. I didn’t dare take it apart to re-paint it so i just taped over the smaller bits and only removed the major bits (wheels and seats etc). As it was the pedals had to have their threads re-tapped to get them back on, and being 2 right pedals on each person meant we had no cleat useage, just standerd pedals.

So though it doesnt look brand new, it did look pretty awesome after finishing, and very retro with all the crome. No 120PSI tyres here, it was 60PSI and all standard car valves all the way! We did a few training runs around the neighbourhood and managed to sustain about 20km/ph fairly easily. We decided it was going to be a pleasure ride rather than race, we were just not fit enough or good enough to try anything more and it would have been silly to try with only 2-3 weeks training for a 42km race.

Since I’m also training for the oxfam Trailwalker Ive been trying to fit in longer walks with that, and thursday i went and walked 20km to Hamilton from home, whilst my husband was about to pick me up his car started playing up (gearbox) so when we went to Rotorua for the race, we decided to take mine.

This may seem ok to most people, but we have a family of 5 fitting into a 990cc Toyota Vitz here now, plus tents, bags, and a tandem on the back!

packedcarIn the boot was 2 tents (one larger, one smaller dome), bed rolls, blow up bed, my bag, food, bike gear, helmets, etc. That left no room for kids bags and pillows which sat on their lap. In all the confusion trying to pack that much gear into the car we managed to only remember to bring 1 blanket for my husband and I :/

So we got to campsite, put up tents, unloaded gear, etc and locked up the tandem, did race registration, found a couple geocaches, and then headed back to camp for a swim. I have to say here, i love the Top10 holiday parks, great service, and i KNOW the toilet isn’t going to be a long drop with bugs in it!


After having an awesome BBQ dinner, kids went to bed, followed shortly by us. The temp dropped fairly quickly and though we thought at first our only blanket would do combined with being crushed up against each other, we froze. I slept for about maybe an hour before waking freezing. Even with that single blanket over our heads, the air in the airbed went down as cold as the air outside, a nice balmy 6C. We stayed semi warm with socks, clothes and PJs on, so long as we were pressed up against each other. In fact we probably would have slept if that darned bird hadn’t started hooting from about 2am onwards. I think somewhere around 4-5am i tweeted

Forgot how fun camping was, freezing your butt off counting off the hours till dawn whilst contemplating ways to kill that noisy bird”

Luckily an soon after its friends all chorused in , and at 6am i got up and made a cooked breakfast of bacon & eggs and fried bread. It was still freezing, as my daughter and I setup at 7am for the bike race clad only in our shorts and cycling top. We were fairly warm by the time we got to the startline and made sure we sat in the son.

Race started well, the sun was out, the day was clear, i felt like I had slept well even though i must have only got 1 hour. The kids had slept well at least and were not grumpy, Chelsea and I chatted and made jokes and even sung badly through out. About 15km in a squeek got noticeably louder so i stopped to check the bike over. Good thing i had, turned out one of the pedals was half unscrewed! Pulled out the spanners from the back pocket and put the bike back together, and continued.

On the back stretch over the hill it was a mission going up hill, we would chant 2 syllable food related words to motivate ourselfs in time with the pedals much to everyones amusement.

Now to understand this fully, a normal bike can balance going fairly slowly. A tandem needs a bit more speed to be able to balance, so going uphill meant we had to just go a little faster than most. So people would hear us behind them ‘big, mac, big, mac, big, mac, milk, shake, milk, shake, milk, shake’ and then we would over take them. At one point some lady told us to add in ‘coffee’ which we most defiantly hadn’t thought of, so we did. The downhills were great fun, being heavier we pretty much let her go whilst screaming to guys in front “MOVE LEFT! COMING THROUGH!” as we went flying past. Lucky for us I had also fitted a 120 db air horn onto the bike also!

We were the first tandem to finish, and had a lot of comments about our awesome ‘retro’ tandem. In fact, we came first in the tandems doing the 42km! which was kinda funny because our Team name was ‘Last Place’. Ironicly we also came last because there was only 1 Tandem doing the 42km race! Bonus! There were about 10 Tandems doing the 2 laps, but im glad we didn’t !

After the race we cycled back to camp, packed down and refilled the car. Lastly i loaded up the tandem, and got into the car, at which point i said ‘has anyone seen my keys?’. We looked around the camp site, toilets, kitchen and saw nothing. I assumed it was in my bag packed at the very bottom of the car so used my spare car key on my husbands keyring. Went for a swim in the hotpools, then back to prize giving where we won nothing but a bit of sunburn, then headed home. By this time the hour of sleep and 42km bike ride was really kicking in.

Unloaded the car, and sorted everything out whilst husband went for KFC pickup duty. No keys in the car, no keys packed in any bag – oh dear! Hopefully they will turn up somewhere, however its no major as I have spares of both house and car (can you tell i loose them often?) Went to bed at 8:30ishpm and slept like a log!

Planning on a 2 night stay in Taupo in 3 weeks! we love camping! This time however taking husbands much larger car, and plenty more bedding!