Heels and Gumboots

An English woman in New Zealand

Why Heels and Gumboots?

Well, I love both!

( Gumboots = wellies)

I came back to live in Cumbria from New Zealand in June 2017, with my husband and our black and white Kiwi cat, Poppy, after nearly 9 years living in the South island of New Zealand.

Christchurch, the biggest city in the South Island, was our home for the first few years, and then in 2012, after our house had to be demolished after the earthquakes, we moved to Ohoka, a village in the country, half an hour north of Christchurch.  I worked in the city and lived on a  5 1/2 acre lifestyle block, so heels and my Red Band gumboots were my world.

Living in New Zealand had been a bit of a dream of mine since I was little. Dad got an offer of a 2 year contract to work in Auckland with his company, and so mum and dad took my sister and I when I was 2 and my sister was 4. Two years later we came back to England and settled back into life in England. I’d never been back. All those family slide shows intrigued me and enticed me back there, as did quite a few ‘Wanted Down Under’ episodes!

Hubby and I had always wanted to experience life in a different country together and so we made our way from Cumbria to Christchurch in October 2008 with our 2 cats, mum and daughter, Lady and Daisy, We had quite a few adventures, so many wonderful  experiences and quite a few unexpected ones.  Lady and Daisy both lived to the grand old age of 17 and loved their lazy afternoons on the deck and hunting mice. They were pretty good at both of those things.

When I was made a  Kiwi, a citizen of New Zealand, I started to think about what that meant and Heels and Gumboots started from there. I’m seeing the UK with fresh eyes now, and I’m very happy that I came back home.

Me and my Citizenship certificate

Me with my NZ Citizenship certificate





I’ve thought a lot in the last few months about going back to England. I’m going back to what I know well and love and who I know well and love, but I haven’t really found myself saying to anyone or to myself, ‘I’m going home.’

But today I thought about it properly. I was thinking about good friends here that I’m saying goodbye to and so many of them are saying the word ‘home’ in our conversations.

“You must be excited about going home.”

“Your family and friends must be looking forward to having you home.”

“Lucky you, you’ll be home for the summer and it’ll be winter here.”

I’ve noticed they’re using the word ‘home’ a lot more than I am and it’s got me thinking.

I’ve always said that I’m ‘home’ wherever I am living at that time because I have my husband, animals, books, pictures and memory boxes close by. With them alongside me I can be myself. They are home to me.

Home is coming back at the end of the working day, it’s where I can curl up and read, engage, discuss, think and feel relaxed. That’s what home has always meant to me – not a physical place as such, but feelings I have and how they make me behave when I’m in a place, and the people and things I have alongside me each day. It’s about belonging, comfort and love.

New Zealand has been home for 8 ½ years and in 4 weeks’ time, I will be back living in England, my home country. I know it’s going to be different to where I have chosen to be recently and I know it will take time to adjust, but it will definitely be home.


The Daily Alpaca

27 October 2016 – Lashkar (at the front). Lashkar is the oldest of the alpaca boys and he’s incredibly tall!



28 October 2016 – Lapis (at the front). Lapis was so friendly on the day we got the four alpacas and is a friendly, quiet boy these days.

29 October 2016 – Latte and Poppy, the cat. Latte is a character and always wants to be close by me and Poppy – he loves her!



30 October 2016 – Lewisham is the smallest of the four alpacas and I was worried there was something wrong with him – the vet told me ‘He’s just a  little alapca,’ so that’s alright then!


31 October 2016 – Lashkar, almost renamed Johnny as he’s a heartbreaker with black eyes, black eyliner around them (well, it looks like eyeliner) and long eyelashes


1 November 2016 – Lapis is always curious but usually hangs back and lets the other alpaca boys go first, except when Poppy is nearby and then he’s right there.

Dunedin – 7 things I love about the place

Dunedin Railway Station

1. Dunedin Railway Station

Alpacas at Greg's Place - Karaka Alpaca Farmstay

2. Alpacas at Greg’s Place – Karaka Alpaca Farmstay


The Art Gallery

3. The Art Gallery

The coastline - near Tunnel Beach

4. The coastline – near Tunnel Beach

The stunning Lanarch Castle

5. The stunning Lanarch Castle


6. Dunedin Botanic Gardens

6. Dunedin Botanic Gardens

7. The architecture in the city centre

7. The architecture in the city centre


Christchurch loves a night out

Fun lights at the Botanic Gardens

Fun lighting at Christchurch Botanic Gardens

One thing I’ve noticed now that we are starting to feel more normal after living for so long with earthquakes and all that goes with that, is that Christchurch always turns up to the party. Christchurch people seem to love going out and turn up to everything that’s going, and I really like that.

The earthquakes definitely made me anxious about what might happen. If I was in a cafe or restaurant, I would always look for the quickest and easiest way out,  and plan how I was going to get out. It was noticeable amongst me and my friends that we organised fewer nights out, we didn’t get together as often, we stayed at home and tended to invite each other over rather than meet in our usual bars and restaurants. It somehow felt less scary to do it that way. I felt like I needed to be sure our 2 cats, Lady and Daisy, the house and all of our precious things, were OK, and it felt easier to do that staying in.

So….cue last week’s Botanic D’Lights at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens which had 75,000 visitors over the 5 days – I think we’re ready to go out again!

I went on the last night and there was imagination around every corner, in almost every part of the gardens. I felt like a child at a funfair, loving every minute and wondering what was coming next, knowing it would be something that challenged my thinking a bit (love evenings that do that).

In January at the Night Noodle Market, the same thing happened. I heard from so many excited people that the ‘Night Noodle Market is coming here!’ and when it eventually got here, thousands of people turned up, basically to eat noodles in a park! I went with hubby and some friends and loved the atmosphere but we made the mistake of wandering around the market for a bit first, just seeing what we might eat which was silly as by the time we started again the queues were enormous . You can see Stuff’s article here  about the turn out at the Night Noodle Market that took the organisers by surprise.

So we chose the shortest queues, purchased our noodle dishes (mine was sweet and sour pork with rice, not a noodle in sight, and was lovely) and headed off to The Villas and indulged in bit of post-noodle market (I’m going to call it PNM) dessert. The PNM desserts were gorgeous and the coffee reliably fantastic and just sitting outside on a balmy evening, with the sun going down, chatting with friends, made me realise that the earthquakes had been stifling me, beating me at times, and a part of me said that night,  ‘Nah, don’t want that to happen anymore.’

I think that most people need to be with others, it’s what makes us happy. Christchurch people definitely want to get together and always love it when somebody puts on an event that gives them that opportunity. It’s necessary in this city and is lovely really.

The next Night Noodle Market in New Zealand is coming up this spring and is in gorgeous Queenstown,.Check out the Facebook page here for the info.

Botanics D'Lights display

Botanics D’Lights display (not life size but nearly)

Adventurous lampshades

Adventurous lampshades – out of the living room and into the trees


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