Departing to New Zealand

It’s been a little while since I have written anything on the page as you may know we are planning a move to New Zealand for a year (or two). With working full time, exams, completing training and all the visa stuff; any free time is Kitty’s. Alas due to getting my days mixed up I’ve got an unexpected day off so here we are!

I wanted to write this article to share with you the excitements and trepidations about making a move so far away but also to write about the things I love about home here in the UK. It’ll be a good perspective for future me in 12 months time in New Zealand when thinking about making the return trip home. First I’ll start with the things that really excite me about the year ahead:

Wonderful New Zealand

There’s so much to say about this beautiful country it’ll be difficult to do it justice here, plus I can write more about this when we’ve experienced it for ourselves, so I will keep it brief. We chose to make the trip as quite simply we want an adventure. Something different from our normal work/life at home because well, we can.

New Zealand is a no-brainer; it’s got great working opportunities for me as as GP and the health system has many similarities with ours in the UK. The major difference will be the work life balance with 8 hour compared to 11 hour working days and 20 minute vs 1 hour commutes, I’ll have a lot more time for family. Kitty is missing her mummy a lot at the moment and the guilt of being away long days vs the need to earn money is difficult at times, I’m happy to leave this behind for a little while.

I know weather sounds trivial but with 1/3 more sunshine per year and 1/3 less rainfall per year in Christchurch compared to were we live now, there’s a lot more time to be had outside where all three of us are at our happiest.

New Zealand has it all; beaches, surf, mountains and cities. We love to ski and we’ll be a 90 minute drive from the ski slopes (eek!). Rick is really keen to learn to surf and we’re eyeing up lovely rental properties on the beach. Christchurch has a vibrant and growing vegan scene and great coffee- great for us foodies. The nursery we’ve picked is run by a lovely lady who has her own child placed there, always reassuring. As with most of the nurseries we’ve found, Maori culture is integrated into their day which will be wonderful for Kitty to learn about. The city is family focused making it really easy to get around with Kitty (free public transport) and a tonne of activities to do with her in addition to the stunning countryside. I will certainly be elaborating more in future articles!

Wonderful UK

As you can see from our Outdoors page there’s a lot to love about where we live with the Lakes a 90 minute drive away and the beautiful Ribble Valley on the doorstep we are really very lucky. I’m not going to into this too much here as there’s more important things to cover.

A little note must be made for the sense of belonging. I’m from the North West of England which has a very definite identity from the way we speak to the way we act. I can spot a fellow Northerner anywhere in the world and will usually get a smile and a “how do” even if I’ve never met them. It helps me in my work as I can pick up little nuances in what people say which may make a consultation about an ear infection open up into the real reason patients came such as domestic violence or mental health issues. It’ll be a challenge in New Zealand trying to learn these subtleties in the way people speak and act depending on their background. It warms me to be part of that identity but it is something I will certainly take with me to New Zealand, I’m always going to be a proud Northener wherever I go.

The aspect that I love the most about where we live is friends and family. My parents are under an hour away and so are Rick’s. They each have Kitty once a week and she thrives in their company. We see aspects in her personality from both sets of grandparents which certainly comes from spending so much time from them. Even the little things which warm your heart such as the way she says “yellow” in the exact way Granny does. They have a wonderful bond with her as a result and although we have Facetime and Whatsap, there’s no doubt it will be different. We’re also fortunate to have Rick’s siblings, their partners and our lovely nieces and nephews nearby. Although we don’t see them as often as we used to owing to teenagers having their own busy lives and no driving licences (yet) meaning it’s mum and dads taxi service for them, it’s nice to know they’re nearby. Kitty adores her cousins to the point that she has Rick and I pretending to be them sometimes at her play tea parties! Our family know what they mean to us and we will really miss them. My brother lives away in the States so I am used to a distance relationship with modern tech, we make it work very well and we’re closer than we’ve ever been. Knowing this makes leaving the UK a *little* easier.

We’re really lucky to have some wonderful friends here too. Some of which we’ve known for just a couple of years and others we’ve known for most of our lives. These are the people you can be 100% ourselves with, unmeasured and relaxed. They are the people who understand our “in” jokes and the people who make us laugh until we cry (ahem corner bath).  They are easy, like minded and wonderful people.  They’re the people we adventure with, hang out with and chill with. The kiwis are going to have to work hard to come close to this bunch!

The Big move

Our move is now just over two weeks away. I’m really excited as we’re going via the US to spend two weeks with my brother, sister in law and my gorgeous nephew. My parents are also coming along so we’ll all be together for the first time in ages which is really exciting. Before that though we must say our goodbyes to the wonderful people I wrote about earlier. This is going to be hard. Really hard….

Moving on before I sob into my laptop. We’ve already sent some stuff on a boat to Christchurch which will arrive about 4 weeks after we do, the rest we’re taking in three suitcases which we’re rapidly realising is not a lot of space when you’ve got a daughter with a penchant for large teddy bears.

We’ve got our visas sorted and I’ve done all the extra bits I need to work legally in New Zealand. The visas were relatively easy but the the prep and paperwork I needed before I could even apply was a long and expensive process and I’m glad to be done with that! The last couple of weeks in the UK will be about time with family and friends and tying up a few things.

A final thought; whenever we speak to people about our trip to New Zealand we hear the increasingly familiar phrase “you won’t want to come back.” Perhaps we won’t but I will have this perception of my life right now to look back on and will see that’s hard to beat.

See you on the other side (literally) of the world, stay tuned for our NZ posts.


Arthur’s Pass National Park


We have been waiting to write and post this blog since last Wednesday but a delay with our Wi-Fi installation and general business of moving house (again) have prevented us finding even an hour to write.

We took our first road trip in Tina (new wheels), a 100 mile road out of Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass with nothing but stunning scenery. We felt we needed to stop every mile to look out and take photos, no exaggeration!

We have posted a few pics on Instagram but here are more for your eyes to enjoy.

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New Zealand Newbies

Hi, it has been a very busy few weeks but we are excited to bring you this blog so you get some of the story so far and if you discover it because you are thinking of moving to New Zealand hopefully it may help.

This is Rick writing this. You need to know so you understand these are my feelings and not necessarily the same as Katey’s. We will put our heads together and bring our first impressions as a joint effort soon I’m sure.

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Santa Steam Train at the Ribble Steam Railway

Two festive posts in a row!? Yep, we can’t get enough of it, especially with Kitty fully understanding the magic of Christmas. She is being exceptionally sweet when asking Father Christmas for gifts. The simplicity of her requests make us very proud and I’m certain that Father Christmas will have listened and will bring her the 3 things she has asked for.

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Santa’s Grotto at Oswadtwistle Mills

Since it’s finally December I feel safe enough to post this! Last Sunday we took Kitty to Oswaldtwistle Mills to see Santa.

Last year visiting Santa was an exciting thought for Kitty, that is until she came face to face with him. Then is was a different story. Santa can be quite terrifying to someone who is just over 2. Santa usually provides a helper because he can’t be in too many places at once, and the helper is usually a youngish big bloke with a bad beard. Kitty knows what a beard looks like, she’s never seen her daddy without a beard. And the poor helper has usually had a number of hours sat in his chair upsetting and frightening kids so his enthusiasm is understandably waning.

Keep On Reading! You won’t regret it!

Breakfast Potatoes

Yeah, sounds weird right? If you are a UK reader breakfast potatoes tend to be a popular American dish. The potatoes are cubed and basically roasted/fried with peppers and seasoning like Paprika. I always find them a bit dry and dull.

So, using our recipe for the Simple Potato Stew we make sure we make a big enough batch for the morning after.

Then we simply add sliced mushrooms, an extra chopped chili and a can of chopped tomatoes. Heat through long enough for the mushrooms to be cooked and hey presto! It’s a tasty, carby, tingly, easy, energising breakfast or brunch to set you up for the day. Don’t fear the carbs!

Serve with coffee of course…or champagne.

Breakfast Spuds

Simple Tasty Potato Stew

We’ve probably all done it, gazed into the fridge just to see pretty boring stuff looking back at us. Slightly relaxed vegetables, potatoes growing roots, wrinkled peppers and those chilies you bought in a multi bag.

The solution is simple. Chop it all up and prepare a very tasty stew.

Ingredients – 

  • Potatoes – Sweet, white, new, whatever you have. Mix it up. Chop the spuds into Oxo Cube sized pieces. What on Earth is an Oxo Cube? It’s a stock cube measuring about 1cm. What’s a cm?…a bit of an inch
  • Pepper – Red, yellow, orange, green, whatever you have. 1 or 2 chopped up, de-seeded. This will provide a nice subtle sweetness
  • Got a carrot? Chop that up however you want, leave the skin on, it’s sweet and nutritious
  • Small white onion or a couple of shallots – opt for the onion…much easier to grapple with. Chopped/sliced
  • Cavolo Nero (black kale) or any other sort of green. Cut up however you like.
  • Sun dried tomatoes – I love them so I put in about 15. Chop em up
  • 1 chili, any colour. Chopped. How hot you want it depends on the numbers/type of chili
  • Garlic – 1 clove, chopped/minced
  • Pinch of each – dried basil, thyme, salt (optional), ground black pepper
  • A splash of that open Sauvignon Blanc your mate brought round for the last party you had. A couple of tablespoons
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Coriander (Cilantro) leaves for the final touches

Optional – 

  • Capers, about 1 and a half tsp. Black olives if you’re that way inclined.
  • Chives if you have some growing in the garden. Chop, and sprinkle at the end.

Potato Stew

Step 1 – Saute the vegetables in oil or whatever you use to cook – potatoes, peppers, onion, greens, coriander stalks if you wish and then garlic for a few minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Careful not to let it stick.

Step 2 – Add the tomatoes and any optional ingredients. Cook for a few minutes.

Step 3 – Deglaze the pan with the wine and balsamic vinegar, scrape the bottom of the pan to get that lovely goodness mixed in.

Step 4 – Add the herbs, salt and pepper and add boiling water. Don’t go mad but make sure most of the ingredients are covered. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked.

Step 5 – Dish it up and add the coriander. Eat with a spoon.

This dish is more filling than you may realise, but if you are extra hungry go ahead and dip some bread into it.

Anytime 3 Bean Salad

This is a simple 3 bean salad recipe which can be kept in the fridge for a few days. It can be constantly nibbled at or used as a salad as part of a full dinner. It’s quick, cheap, tasty and super healthy.

Ingredients – 

  • 3 cans of cooked beans/pulses e.g. Cannellini/farver/butter/borlotti/kidney
  • Beetroot – cooked and not pickled. 4 – 6
  • Tomatoes – 1 punnet – any variety of small/baby tomatoes
  • Garlic. 2 – 4 chopped/minced cloves depending on how smelly/healthy you want to be!
  • Fresh herbs – flat leaf parsley or coriander – half a bunch of leaves – chopped
  • 2 green chilies – de-seeded and chopped small
  • Dried Oregano – 1 teaspoon
  • Red Wine Vinegar – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and Pepper – up to you, but a few grinds of pepper and a pinch of salt
  • Oil – Olive or Rape Seed – Optional, about 2 tablespoons

Step 1 – choose your beans – 3 tins/cans.

This is up to you, I like to go with 1 can of Cannellini Beans, 1 can of Butter Beans, 1 can of Farver Beans or Borlotti Beans. I find this combo looks nice and works well together as sizes and textures. (Use your preferred beans).

Drain the beans and rinse them if you wish. Put them in a mixing bowl with the oil, red wine vinegar, Oregano, salt and pepper.

Step 2 – chop the beetroot

Purple fingers time. Chop the beetroot into cubes about the size of a stock cube. Mix it in with the beans

Step 3 – Chop the tomatoes

Chop the tomatoes round the equator and mix them in with the beans and beetroot.

Step 4 – Add the rest

Chop the parsley/coriander and chop and de-seed the chilies, mix this in with the rest of the salad.

And that’s it! Simple, cheap, fast and tasty. It will keep for a few days in the fridge for snacks, and works perfectly well as a side dish or a main course.

Time to Science…

Benefits of Beans

Benefits of Beetroot

Benefits of Garlic

Benefits of Tomatoes

Eco-Exchange Week 14

Microbeads to plastic free products

This week we look at microbeads, something which is in a lot of products we use every day, products which end up washed down the sink and into our water systems. I’ll start with a definition: 

“Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic particles of less than five millimeters in their largest dimension. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene”

Yep that’s right tiny bits of non degradable plastic. That can’t be good I thought. It’s not. Here’s why; according to Greenpeace, about 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year and not an insignificant portion of this is microbeads. Marine biologist Professor Richard Thompson states 680 tonnes of mircrobeads are used in the UK alone every year. That’s substantially more than all of the litter we pick up on our beaches in voluntary beach cleans each year. 
Plastic which is then ingested by marine life such as whales, sea turtles and sea birds. One study suggested 90% of seabirds have plastic in their digestive system! Microbeads are too small to be filtered by our sewage systems so they find their way into our ocean. Too small to be filtered, difficult to clean up and adding to the pollution. 

Credit: Greenpeace

So what are they in? It turns out quite a lot. I had a look around our house and found we’ve been inadvertently adding to plastic pollution. Our exfoliating face wash? Tick. Toothpaste? Tick. My anti-aging facecream that doesn’t work? Tick. A detailed list of the offenders can be found here.

So how do we avoid them? Anything that claims to exfoliate should raise suspicious, in addition to some toothpastes and wrinkle cream. I think the theory is to fill your crevices with plastic so you’ll look more youthful! No thanks. Many detergents contain them too so if you have done so already consider a change to soap nut shells. When you’re out buying products look for this logo:

Thankfully authorities are seeing sense and are working towards banning the manufacture of products containing microbeads. The UK is set to have banned them by July 2018. That will be a ban on manufacturing products containing microbeads and a ban on sale of such products including imports. Yippee!!

That is a year off however  so we don’t want another 680 tonnes of microbeads entering UK seas in the interim do we? Have a look and what you’ve got in the house and bin the offending items! 


Eco-Exchange Week 13

Regular bulbs to LED bulbs 

When considering this week’s topic I thought, “I’m pretty sure I already have energy saving light bulbs.” I then had a look around the house to confirm. Yes some of the bulbs are LED but actually there’s a few cheeky conventional bulbs snuck in. The spot lights in the kitchen, the trendy industrial lamp in the study and a couple of other lights were the culprits. 

So a hand full of bulbs? What difference would that make on the grand scheme of things? Well an LED bulb uses around 75% less energy than a conventional bulb and lasts around 30 times longer (i.e. 30 less bulbs need to be made) and thus saves enough CO2 over its 25 year life to be able to cover the CO2 emissions of a short plane journey. So that handful of bulbs in our house quickly starts to look significant when you think of their collective carbon footprint.

75% less energy to run effectively means an extra day of running for free every three days when compared to a conventional bulb. How much money this saves is completely dependant on how long you have your lights on for, your energy supplier and how many lights you have on. One resource suggested running a single bulb for 5 hours a day would cost about £10 per year thus switching to and LED bulb would save around £7.50 per year per bulb. 

Of course it’s important to switch lights off you don’t need, use lower lightingwhere possible   and make  the most of natural light in the summer months to limit energy use.

We’ve made the switch to LED bulbs. Have we convinced you?