The recipe for a perfect weekend (with children!) in Central Auckland

A few years back I declared that I had discovered the recipe for the perfect weekend, and you know what? It holds up! Even with the addition of children. Here's why the weekend just been was so good...and how you can do it for yourselves with some of the awesome activities Central Auckland has to offer.

 Amelie playing in the Art Gallery

Amelie playing in the Art Gallery

Saturday morning: Exercise

We started Saturday by cycling down to our club to play tennis and then enjoy a short spa. Amelie painted in the crèche. Even without a membership to a tennis club you can do this – Auckland has a number of free tennis courts, like Nicholson Park and Maungawhau. If your children are a bit older you could get them playing a game also, and if they're too small it might mean skipping straight to the water part and swimming at a public pool, such as Parnell Baths.

Saturday lunchtime: Read and relax

May Amelie keep napping for a loooong time yet. We embrace having to stay in for a few hours by putting our feet up on the patio and getting some reading in. I'm reading a good, but rather involved, book at the moment and am balancing that with magazines. I'm such a big magazine fan but can't handle the piles of paper they generate, so I only subscribe to my favourites and read others through RB Digital on my iPad (free for Auckland Libraries members!)

Saturday afternoon: Get some culture, and some chips

 H1 and Amelie doing their part to obliterate a room.

H1 and Amelie doing their part to obliterate a room.

We caught the bus into town and went to take part in The Obliteration Room at Auckland Art Gallery. Turns out Amelie is the perfect age to love this – she kept coming back to H1 to ask for 'mo' (more stickers) and was very careful and particular about where she was placing them. It's still on for a couple more weeks and I promise, it's worth it.

We followed it up with a drink at The Box, a lovely spot to sit outside and people watch in Aotea Square. My only complaint was they didn't do chips (and I really wanted some chips!), so we grabbed some from Double Dutch Fries in Elliott Street before heading home. This place is so good – very very close to the amazing chips in Amsterdam – but because it never seems okay to just randomly eat chips, I pretty much never have them. Elliott Street has a number of good food places along it, so no matter what you feel like you can't just randomly eat, it's likely to be there (bao! Dumplings! Hong Kong egg waffles and ice-cream!)

Saturday evening: Eat something yummy

We were relaxing at home and made falafel, but if I was heading out around Central Auckland for a casual Saturday night it would almost certainly be to Orphan's Kitchen, Pasta e Cuore, Venosa, Ortolana or Gemmayze Street. Can't go wrong with any of them, and while they're all lovely, they're also super-chill. 

Sunday morning: Food and fun

Amelie and I took ourselves off to the playground while H1 went cycling, but not before a stop at Grey Lynn Farmer's Market. We can walk to this one from our house, but another favourite in Central Auckland is La Cigale, in Parnell – or if you really want to stick in the city centre, there's a version at Britomart that's small but cute, and close to good playgrounds at Silo Park and Myers Park.

 Amelie helping me carry my farmer's market flowers.

Amelie helping me carry my farmer's market flowers.

Sunday lunchtime: Organise

I rearranged and tidied our bookshelves, which also involved moving some art, photos and plants around. Then I tidied a few more things and gave the place a vacuum, arranged the flowers I'd bought in the morning, and then I relaxed and enjoyed it. It makes such a difference to my happiness levels – and it's happiness that keeps on giving (I can see my bookshelves right now and sure enough – they are making me happy). I actually have a list of things I want to declutter, and any time I need to perk myself up or I'm feeling at a loose end I hit up that list. I don't want to tell you to use your precious downtime to organise and clean, but I can tell you it makes me feel good.

Sunday afternoon/evening: Picnic with friends in nature

Back to the park! We celebrated our friend's birthday with fish and chips and a couple of beers in the park. It would also be so lovely with some yummy snack foods (Farro is just around the corner!) Hanging out with friends is one of my favourite ways to end Sunday – it staves off those Sunday night blues nicely, and leaves me feeling like I've really soaked every drop of weekend up. And being outside while the weather is still nice enough is also a big win for the soul. 

What does your perfect weekend look like? What have I left off?

Moving uptown

It's getting really real now...

I alluded to our new apartment a couple of posts ago, but other than that I don't think I've mentioned it once...which is madness, because it's been two years since we made the decision to buy it. It was kind of an impulse decision (of course it was, I'll wait months before buying a pair of sneakers, weighing the pros and cons, but when it comes to property I apparently have a problem) but it was a good one. We're just so excited to move – the perfectly reasonable rental we're in now seems to get smaller and sadder by the day – and put our own touches on the gorgeous design put together by the developers.

 I want our entranceway this colour, for example. Image:  Pinterest

I want our entranceway this colour, for example. Image: Pinterest

The apartment is in Newton, in Auckland's uptown. I work in midtown and H1 is not far away at the bottom of Parnell (just over from downtown, for the non-Aucklanders out there) so it's incredibly convenient for us. Amelie's daycare is close too, and so are a number of parks, including Myers Park with the super-cool playground (and good coffee nearby – as well all know it's important).

So an apartment! This is a perfectly valid decision for anyone living anywhere else but in Auckland it's still seen as slightly depraved. Thankfully, that attitude is changing by the day. We have lots of suburbs with single-family homes in them, and while I can appreciate some of them, like the beautiful villas of Ponsonby or Grey Lynn, that lifestyle just doesn't feel right for us at this point in time. We want somewhere low-maintenance – we have the country house and that's quite enough high-maintenance property for us (there's a lot of land; we city folk have no idea what we're doing but at least we keep the neighbours entertained). There's plenty of green space for Amelie, and so many other cool things nearby – farmer's markets, the waterfront, the Art Gallery, the Auckland Museum, cafes (kids loves her fluffies) – and we can get almost anywhere we want to on foot, on train, or on bike. Our jobs are demanding, and living this way gives us maximum time together, as well as freeing us up to enjoy that time together. 

It's still likely to be a few months before we move in, but it's getting closer every day. I can't wait to be an uptown girl again!

City escape

How to spend 17 hours in Auckland City

Over the weekend it was H1's birthday! We had a fantastic morning on Saturday, with a family walk over to one of favourites, Ripe Deli, for coffee, Spanish eggs and berry-coconut slice. We got it to go and ate it in Grey Lynn Park so Amelie could play on the playground. This playground is one of my favourites – it's easy to get to on foot, there are good coffee options close by (important) and it feels really safe and fun for a toddler Amelie's age – lots of playgrounds seem mostly designed for bigger kids, but this one is pretty relaxing (inasmuch as you can ever relax with a toddler).

 On the playground.

On the playground.

 Crossing the bridge – she walks everywhere else but this bridge is apparently a crawling situation.

Crossing the bridge – she walks everywhere else but this bridge is apparently a crawling situation.



We got home just as my parents were arriving, and conveniently H1 took off for a ride just before Amelie's nap, so I could get everything ready. Because unbeknownst to H1, we were taking off that afternoon... a hotel a ten minute drive away.

Hotel DeBrett is this totally gorgeous design-led boutique hotel in the centre of the city, and the perfect place to celebrate H1's birthday, as well as enjoy our first night ever away from Amelie. We arrived about 3.30pm, and after checking in we headed out to Pilkingtons, just up the road, for a drink and snack. We then went shopping around Britomart and High Street, before heading back to the hotel to relax and get ready for dinner.

 Kicking things off at Pilkingtons.

Kicking things off at Pilkingtons.

 Image:  Hotel DeBrett
 On our way to dinner.

On our way to dinner.

For dinner, we ate at Euro, which is a total Auckland institution. Neither of us had ever been there before, and it was a great experience. The food was delicious, the waiter was hilarious (not actually in a good way, but thankfully he was so ridiculous as to be farcical, and we enjoyed that rather) and it's a great spot to watch Aucklanders head out and about for the night (as I noted to H1, shorts are very short this season).

The next day, we slept in until an unprecedented 7.41am, then had a relaxing breakfast before heading home to a happy, tired Amelie and her happy, surprisingly un-tired grandparents.

I'm so pleased with how the weekend came together! H1 was surprised, just as I was hoping, and very happy (also just as I was hoping). Amelie coped absolutely fine with us being away, and we coped really well too – we didn't worry about her at all. And now that first is checked off! Having children seems to be a never-ending parade of firsts, and this particular one is kind of bittersweet but also awesome. It's so important to be more than parents some of the time.

 Hanging out on Sunday afternoon.

Hanging out on Sunday afternoon.

If you're looking for a fun birthday surprise I can thoroughly recommend planning a short surprise trip somewhere – even if it's only ten minutes down the road just doing something different is a brilliant way to mark an occasion. I might have to start looking into options for the next one...


A weekend of friends

 Besties. Image via  Washington Post

Besties. Image via Washington Post

Are you up to much this weekend? I've kicked things off early in the socialising department, having been out Wednesday and Thursday nights. Tomorrow we're off to a friend's place for a rooftop barbecue (everything crossed for fine weather!) and then I'm looking forward to some hang time with H1 after Amelie's gone to bed. Relaxed and easy – exactly what a late summer weekend should be.

Some interesting reading for your Friday...

This apartment is gorgeous, and the owner's description of why city living with kids is the best really resonated with me.

I made this mango sorbet during the week. It's a perfect summer recipe.

Love this stylish, restful looking bed.

The new mall going into Newmarket hardly looks mall-like at all. I'm excited.

This is one dreamy looking coffee table book.


A weekend of eating

 A rainbow of carrots. Image:  Food52/Instagram

A rainbow of carrots. Image: Food52/Instagram

What are your plans for the weekend? We're in the city this weekend and I'm hoping to go check out the Parnell Farmer's Market. I've been to La Cigale so many times but I didn't know about this alternative until recently – it's at the other end of Parnell and looks to be more produce-focused. I'm always looking a great farmer's market in the city and I'm hoping for good things, this being one of the few things that I just haven't been able to recreate from my New York life (until now, maybe?!)

I'm also brunching with some friends at this charitable café. Again, I've never been there before, and it's just down the road from me! Looking forward to it.

Some good reading for your Friday...

It is hot in mostly un-air-conditioned Auckland right now, and some office workers are being driven to desperate measures. Made me giggle.

I just love Ottolenghi, and these summer recipes look amazing.

Cape Town is about to run out of water. Such a bizarre and scary story.

Minimalism is great and all, but I do believe everyone should own at least one ridiculous thing that they don't regret buying.

I bought this incredible book last year but just loaned it to a friend and it reminded me all over again how great it is.

If you're in Auckland, have you been down to Silo Park this summer? It's such a nice chilled place, especially for being in the middle of the city. This car boot sale of the future looks fun.

Have a lovely weekend!