Simple Pleasures Through Youthful Eyes

What a different life our kids have compared to our own upbringing, how strange it seems to be at the stage of our life when more often than not now, we sound like our own parents did 'back in the day'. With cautionary messages, words of wisdom and brilliantly timeless 'dad jokes'. Our own childhood memories are filled with hours spent roaming the streets, ripping round on our bikes, exploring gullies and sometimes the odd off-limits building site. Making huts, mud pies and make believe worlds where absolutely anything was possible.

Was it always like that? Or do we just forget the times of wingeing, sloping around when our imaginations deserted us with an 'I'm bored' humph on the couch. Pleading to watch whatever was on TV, even if was matinee re-runs of Dog Show competitions.

As we raise our young families and have these discussions with fellow parents, the early days are full of proclamations to avoid technology for as long as possible, to always have 'active play' with our children and stimulate their abilities to learn important life lessons from their natural surroundings. We quickly realise that it's not only their lives that are different, but ours too.

Expectations are high, demanding that we fulfill these parental best practices while excelling in our careers, giving time to community fundraisers and school galas, pursuing creative and admirable hobbies, keeping fit, cooking culinary masterpieces to nourish the mind and body... the list goes on.

At what point did we decide that cramming as much into every moment of existence, ticking all the boxes and satisfying everyone else's demands would actually equate to a happy life? I came across a simple quote the other day from Socrates, "Beware the barrenness of a busy life..." it resonated with me and I believe it's a whole lot of this that led to our move to a quieter life. It has certainly not come naturally though I have to say, consciously having to remind ourselves to stop a while, enjoy simplicity, take a second look and discover beauty in the smallest of things.

When dear friends came to visit recently, it was exactly this sentiment that became the theme for our weekend and it was lovely to view life through our children's eyes.Especially as we ventured out on Saturday afternoon, with the weather threatening some spoiling rain inland, we took to the coast and one of our favourite places to visit...
Smugglers Cove, for those who are familiar, is certainly one of the jewels in the crown of the Whangarei Heads. With such a name it immediately conjures up visions of swash-buckling characters, hidden treasures and high sea adventures. I have no idea if the name was awarded because of such a history but I'm sure there are some jaw-dropping Maori legends as there is apparently plenty of evidence of Maori occupation in the area. Today, it's a beautiful scenic reserve.

A lovely winding drive brings you to the car park and presents two options, a short 15 minute stroll over farmland or a longer, more challenging walk around Busby Head. With littlies in tow, we took the former and followed the path, dodging cow pats from the friendly young resident cows over the hill.
There's something special about wandering over farmland as a gateway to the beach, maybe it's my own memories of parking in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, piling out of the car in mid-summer heat, loading up with beach luggage and taking a hike. With 'we're almost there' adult promises, tired legs and sore arms the coastal reveal would be like an oasis. We'd run so fast to the shore line that we almost tripped over our own feet. Dumping the gear and stripping down to our togs mid-sprint with crazy leaps into the cool sparkling water, it was heaven!!

The reveal of Smugglers Cove as we reach the top of the hill is no less beautiful, even without the scorching summer sun. The beach is picturesque, sparkling white sand and turquoise water. On the day we visit it also presents a view that was new to me as the tide was right out, exposing an impressive rocky shore.
As much to our delight as it was the kids, we hopped over rocks, peered into crevasses, gazed out at the endless ocean and foraged for nature's painted stones, shells and sea smoothed driftwood.

With absolutely no question that our sometimes city kids are totally in touch with their nature-loving selves. Of course they lapped up the adventure that the coastline affords. Chatting away and skipping through sand to the next rocky outcrop. The older ones risking the more precarious terrain and delighting in the rewards of mini underwater worlds and gurgling currents as the sea slapped against jagged crustacean covered boulders.

It always brings out the beach comber in you doesn't it? Hard to resist a pretty shell or unusual stone...
Wandering back to the car, the smell of salt in the air and visions of kiwi goodness all around. Our weekend continued with indulgence in all that is sweet and simple, kids wanting to do nothing but play outside, we lit the fire, enjoyed bushwalks in our own backyard and each others company until is was time to hug and say goodbye. Of course it's never goodbye with good mates though is it? Til next time dear friends, we can't wait...


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