Friday, 28 December 2012

Te Kuri Farm Walkway

Recently my wife found a great website.  It has information about local walking tracks.  We like to walk together so we chose to do the Te Kuri Farm Walkway.  One day we'd love to travel to other countries and do many walks.  At the start of the track there were some friendly goats =)

The walk is on a farm near Gisborne.  It started quite flat but then we started walking up some hills.  After about half an hour, the children were ready for a snack!  You can see that the weather was great!  We went in the morning before it got too hot.

We expected to see some nice views but this caterpillar was a surprise!  We think it's a 'Magpie Moth' caterpillar.  They eat 'ragwort' which is a serious weed on New Zealand farms.  We saw many, many caterpillars on the ragwort plants.
This is an adult Magpie Moth.  Many moths fly at night but these ones are active during the daytime.  Can you see the stripy body?  They were quite beautiful!

Finally we reached the top.  Our legs were pretty tired, there were some steep climbs!  The view was magnificent.  It was a great place to stop and have lunch.  On the way back down, the track went through some bush.  It was a very nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Vehicle Inspection

In New Zealand, every six months most cars have a safety test.  It's called a 'Warrant of Fitness' inspection.  I forgot to do it last week so I did it today.  It was quite busy at the 'testing station', there were lots of cars (and a boat!) waiting.  I usually try to go early in the morning when it's quiet!

Here's our little car.  It's a 'Ford Festiva'.  We bought it in Auckland about two years ago.  I like little cars.  They are light, easy to park and don't use much petrol.  In New Zealand petrol is about NZ$2.20 per litre.  My wife mainly uses this car to drive to work. 

Our other car is a station wagon.  It's big enough for our whole family and the children's bikes!

Fortunately the car was fine so they put this sticker on.  I don't have to go back for another check until June next year.  Yay!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Wainui Beach

This morning my daughter Lyra asked if we could go to the beach. My wife and I thought it was a good idea. We haven't been to the beach for a long time! There are many beaches to choose from. We decided to go to Wainui Beach, it's about 20 minutes drive from our house.  It's a long, sandy beach.  As you can see, the weather was great today!

Gisborne is famous for its surf beaches.  Wainui Beach is one of the best.  There are often surfing competitions in the summer.  This morning there were lots of surfers.  It looks like lots of fun.  I have never been surfing, I'm not a good swimmer! 

Lyra and Thom both love going to the beach.  There are always interesting things to do.  They usually get very wet and sandy!  It's too cold to swim in the ocean yet.  The water doesn't get very warm until January. 

I'm glad it's summer.  Spring went very quickly!  In about three weeks the school term finishes.  Children then have a 6 week holiday. 

Today was a nice start to summer!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Maori Culture Festival

Every November the "Turanganui Schools' Maori Culture Festival" is held.  Most kindergartens and schools have a 'Kapa Haka' group.  Kapa Haka means Maori songs and dance. 

This year, for the first time, my children's school sent a group of five and six year olds.  It was an exciting day for Thom!  He was a little nervous before the event.  Here are a couple of short videos I took.  The first one is a 'Taiaha' drill.  A Taiaha is a traditional Maori weapon.  The second video is a 'waiata'.  Waiata is the Maori word for song.

Every week I play the guitar for a school where I used to teach.  We had two performances last week at school and we are performing at the festival tomorrow and Thursday.  It has been very busy with practices.  I will see if I can get some video of our performance too! 

I'm sorry, no lesson today, next week I will have more time!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Saturday Morning

On most Saturday mornings I go into town to buy vegetables from a market held in a carpark.  Thom had run out of books to read, so we decided to go to the library too.  The vegetable market opens at 9.30 am and closes at lunch time.  You can usually find lots of fresh, cheap fruit and vegetables.  Also there are stalls selling things like honey, different kinds of cheese and meats.

When we go to the library we usually park the car by the river and walk along this path.  We often see interesting birds by the river, we saw some herons, ducks, geese and seagulls.  It's a nice way to spend time together.  We talk about all kinds of things!

When we got to the library Thom enjoyed choosing some new books.  Each evening when he goes to bed, my wife and I take turns reading to him.  He is enjoying some books called 'The Railway Rabbits' at the moment.  They are nice and simple!  We have nearly read them all, I wonder what we'll read him next? 


'run out of' (don't have any left)

It's a strange but often-used phrase!  Here are some more examples:

- I ran out of toothpaste, so I went to the supermarket to buy more.

- The video store had run out of copies of the DVD I wanted to watch.

- Answer the easy questions first in case you run out of time.

- I ran out of ideas so I couldn't finish the essay.

* Do you have any requests for lesson topics?  If you do let me know and I'll do my best to help you =) *

Friday, 9 November 2012

Athletics Day

Yesterday was Athletics Day at my children's school.  Children compete in races, jumping and throwing.  The children are divided into 'house groups'.  My daughter is in 'Yellow House'.  That's good because yellow is her favourite colour!  The children have colours painted on their cheeks.

Lyra is doing the long jump.  My wife took this photo.  She is a better photographer than me!  The weather was perfect.  It was sunny but not hot.  Spring is a good time for Athletics Day.  The children who do well at the school athletics day go to another school next week.  They compete against children from the other Gisborne schools.  It's called the 'Inter-school Athletics Day'.

Thom is doing the 'bean bag throw'.  The children have to throw a bag as far as they can.  The big children do shotput instead of bean bag throw.  The shot is too heavy for little children!
For lunch we had a 'sausage sizzle'.  I usually help by cooking the sausages.  This barbeque gets very hot so I had to work quickly! 

It was a fun day for us all.  I'm glad it's Saturday today so we can take it easy.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Guy Fawkes Day

November the 5th is Guy Fawkes Day.  You can read about the history of Guy Fawkes Day in Japanese here:  

...or in English here:

Children in New Zealand love Guy Fawkes Day because it's the only time of year that you can buy fireworks.  We went to a friend's house and had a barbeque.  There was a beautiful rainbow, it was very bright!

In this photo you can see my daughter Lyra with a 'sparkler'.  She had lots of fun.  Sparklers are quite safe so they are good for children.  When I was a child you could buy a lot more kinds of fireworks than now.  Many kinds, like rockets, are no longer sold because of the risk of fires.  Also because some people didn't use them carefully they caused injuries.

This kind is also popular, they are bright and noisy!  The children watched the fireworks happily.  Because it's nearly summer here it wasn't very dark.  My children go to bed quite early.  Thom, who's five, goes to bed at 6.30 pm.  Lyra, who's just turned 8, goes to bed at 7.30 pm.  They both get up at 6.30 in the morning.  In autumn we usually have a bonfire and light some fireworks then.  It gets dark early at that time of year!


Making adverbs with -ly.

'The children watched the fireworks happily.'

You can make many 'feeling' adjectives into adverbs by adding -ly.  This is very useful!

Some examples:

sad - sadly 
happy - happily   (be careful, the 'y' becomes an 'i'!)
angry - angrily  (be careful, the 'y' becomes an 'i'!)
nervous - nervously
excited - excitedly
hungry - hungrily  (be careful, the 'y' becomes an 'i'!)
shy - shyly (be careful, the 'y' DOESN'T become an 'i'!!)

This kind of adverb is usually placed after the direct object of the sentence.  If there is no object, put it after the verb:

- The children watched the movie excitedly.
- The dog ate the meat hungrily.
- Bill answered nervously.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Morning Ride

Today the weather is great!  The sky is clear blue and there is little wind.  The area where we live is very flat so it's great for cycling.  When the weather is nice I often go for a ride in the evenings, but today I went in the late morning.  The temperature was about 20 degrees. 

If you ever want to know what my weather is like you can click this link:


Lots of crops are grown near our house.  In this picture you can see young 'maize' plants.  Maize is very similar to corn but it's bigger and not sweet.  It's used mainly for animal food.  Large paddocks are planted in maize, it's harvested in autumn.  A lot of sweet corn is grown here too.

Last month it didn't rain much.  We usually have about 75mm of rain in October, but this year we only had about 25mm.  In this photo you can see an irrigator watering small tomato plants.  Many old farmers think we are going to have a hot, dry summer.  They are usually right!


Recently I found this interesting page.  It lists the 100 most-frequently occuring words in English.  On average they make up 50% of the words used in writing:

It might be useful to you to see if you know and can use them all!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Vegetable Gardening


As well as growing fruit, we love growing vegetables too.  My wife is a better vegetable gardener than I am.  These gardens are called 'raised beds'.  In winter it's very wet here.  The soil gets too damp to grow vegetables in the ground.  Raised beds are great, you can grow vegetables all year round.  Raised beds also warm up quickly in spring.  In summer they need to be watered often as they dry out quickly.

Last month we decided to make some more garden beds for summer vegetables.  In this garden we're growing zucchini, tomatoes and peppers.  We want to be healthier and I believe eating lots of vegetables is important.  We can't grow all our vegetables, on a Saturday morning I visit a vegetable market in town.  I hope we can one day grow all the vegetables we need!  I think we'll make more and more gardens in our yard. =)

Here is one of my best friends in the garden.  In spring you can hear bees buzzing everywhere.  This one is pollinating a boysenberry flower.  All our citrus trees are flowering at the moment.  The garden is full of bees and the sweet scent of citrus blossoms.


You can see the bees have been very busy here!  These boysenberries are beginning to swell and darken.  In about six weeks they should be ready to eat.  I will put some netting over them so the birds don't eat them before we do!


wish / hope

Many English learners have trouble with these little words!

'Wish' has two main uses:

1. You would like to change something that happened in the past:

- I wish I hadn't eaten all that cake!
- I wish you hadn't bought that ugly phone.

2.  You want something to happen in the future but it's unlikely:

- I wish it would stop raining! (The forecast is bad)
- I wish I could win the race tomorrow. (I'm not a good runner)

* 'wish' is also sometimes used as a polite form of 'want' *

 - I wish to leave early in the morning.
-  I wish you a Merry Christmas. (I want you to have a Merry Christmas)

'Hope' expresses a want for something to happen that is more likely. 

- I hope you enjoy your birthday party! 
- I hope I win the race tomorrow. (I'm a good runner.)

I hope you understood my explanation!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Docking Time!

We have about 2 hectares of land.  Most of it is divided into grass paddocks.  To keep the grass short we have sheep.  We have 10 ewes (adult female sheep) and a ram (adult male).  In spring, the ewes give birth.  It's a nice time of year.  Watching the lambs run around is very cute!  This year we have 15 lambs.  Yes, ewes often give birth to twins.  Sometimes they even have triplets!

After all the lambs have been born it's time for docking.  Docking means removing the lambs' tails.  It sounds unkind but it's very important.  If lambs aren't docked their tails get very dirty.  Flies can lay eggs there and the hatching maggots can .... well, it's not nice to think about! 

Children love 'helping' at docking time.  Thom found a nice place for a rest!

To dock the lambs, a small rubber band is placed at the base of their tail.  After a few weeks the tail just drops off.  A little while after docking, the lambs are fine and eating again.  It's not painful for long.  In January we sell most of our lambs.  By then it's the middle of summer and we don't have much grass.  I hope this summer is warm but not too dry!


lamb's / lambs'

Possessive apostrophes with plurals can seem difficult!   The rule is:

First make the noun into its plural form then add the apostrophe. 

lamb > lambs > lambs'

- A lamb is a baby sheep. (singular)

- The lambs have tails. (plural)

- The lambs' tails get docked. (possessive plural)

Some plurals don't end in 's' like children.  You add an s after the apostrophe:

child > children > children's

- Some people have one child. (singular)

- We have two children. (plural)

- The children's school is close by. (posessive plural)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


These are our chickens!  They live in a coop beside my orchard.  Sometimes they lay lots of eggs, but sometimes they get 'broody'.  Broody means they stop laying eggs and just sit on the nest boxes.  We don't like buying eggs from the supermarket.  We would rather eat 'free range' eggs because the eggs are tastier and the chickens can live a happier, more natural life.  You can buy free range eggs at the supermarket, but they are quite expensive. 

Last weekend my wife bought three new 'pullets'.  Pullets are young hens which haven't started laying yet.  These ones are about eight weeks old.  They are a cross between 'Rhode Island Red' and 'Buff Orpington' chicken breeds.  Both breeds produce lots of eggs so these pullets should too!

Both my children love small animals.  After school they often go and sit with the chickens.  I think it's good for children to learn to care for pets.  They learn how to be gentle and kind.  These pullets are quite tame, they're very cute.  Grow up and lay lots of delicious eggs! 


rather / rather not

You can use 'rather' and 'rather not' to show a preference.  Here are some examples:

- I would rather go to the beach than go to a movie.
- He would rather eat dango than look at flowers.
- Would you rather have the tea or coffee?

'rather not'
- I'd rather not wear that hat.
- I'd rather not lend him more money!

Sometimes 'rather' can mean 'quite' so you need to be careful!

- It is rather windy today.
- That watch is rather expensive!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


My children go to Makauri School.  It's only about three minutes drive from our house.  We take them to school and collect them by car each day.  Makauri School is a 'primary school'.  In New Zealand, children start school when they are five years old.  After about six years at a 'primary school', they go to an 'intermediate school' for two years, then 'high school'.

Most schools in New Zealand, even in cities, have large fields.  Children love playing on the grass when the weather is nice.  Makauri School has about 190 pupils.  There is lots of room for them to have fun.  There are also many trees and other places to play.  I am glad they can go to such a nice school. 

It's the middle of spring now and the weather is warming up.  Today the temperature is expected to reach 23 degrees.  That's great!  Goodbye Thom, have a great day at school!


'similar' / 'different'

What are schools like where you live?  In what ways are they similar?  How are they different? 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Good bug, bad bug!

This is a photo of my biggest apple tree.  The blossoms have nearly all gone.  The bees have been working hard, lots of small apples are growing.  I don't like using 'pesticides' in my garden.   Pesticides are sprays which kill insects.  I don't like to spray but if I don't, moth caterpillars will eat the apples and pears.  I know spraying will kill other insects too.  That always makes me a bit sad.

I found this wonderful bug sitting on an orange leaf.  In English it's called a ladybird or ladybug.  Ladybugs are great, they eat many harmful insects.  They especially like aphids.  Insects which help in the garden are called 'beneficial insects'.  We try and attract them by growing plants they like to live in.

In these buckets we make our own 'fertilizers'.  A fertilizer is something which helps plants to grow.  On the left is 'seaweed tea'.  I made it by going to the beach and collecting some seaweed.  The seaweed rots in the bucket making a really good natural fertilizer.  Yes, it smells terrible!  On the right is animal manure tea.  It is made in the same way of sheep, chicken and donkey manure.  It smells bad too!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Spring Show

Every year the Spring Show comes to Gisborne.  It's an important day!  Children love going to the show.  There are lots of fun rides and good things to eat.  There are also small animals for children to see and touch.  I took this photo from the top of the ferris wheel! 

The Spring Show is important for farmers too.  There is new farm machinery to look at and old friends to meet.  There are also competitions in horseriding, shearing and dog handling.  Many local businesses set up tents to attract customers.  It is a very busy place. 

The weather was great today and we had lots of fun.  We usually go early so it isn't too busy.  My son Thom really loves eating.  Here he is eating a hotdog.  It's a fried sausage in batter with tomato sauce.  They are popular in New Zealand but not very healthy!

We had a great day in the sun.  When I was a child I loved going to the show.  It is nice to see my children enjoying it now too. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Farm Holiday

In New Zealand children have a two-week holiday in Spring.  In the holidays my children often visit my wife's parents.  They live on a large farm.  The farm has thousands of sheep and cattle.  It's about one-and-a-half hour's drive from our home.  My children love going there.

In winter the farm is very cold but in spring it becomes warm.  It can be very hot in summer.  The large building is the sheepyards.  Farmers bring sheep into the sheepyards for many reasons.  Sometimes they are shorn, sometimes they are loaded onto trucks and sold. 

The farm has many beautiful views.  It's a good place to take photos.  We all enjoy climbing the hills but it is very tiring!  I'm glad my children had a nice holiday.  Next week school begins again.  The next holidays are in December for about six weeks.  It's our summer holiday. =)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Gisborne is on the Eastern side of the North Island. There are about 40000 people in Gisborne. The climate is quite good. Summer is warm and winter is not too cold. Sometimes the summers are very hot and dry. Gisborne is famous for its beaches and also for producing very good wine.

Today I went to the library. Although Gisborne is small, the library is quite good! I often go to the library with my children but today I went alone. I usually borrow recipe books and books about travel. Today I borrowed some books about teaching English. I want to learn to be a good English teacher!

Do you like to go to the library?   What kinds of books do you like?



Do you use 'but' too often? You can use 'although' instead of 'but' like this:

It was raining but we still went to the beach.
Although it was raining, we still went to the beach.

It's easy, put 'Although...' at the start, remove 'but' and put a , instead. =)

Here are some more examples:

The test was difficult but we tried our best.
Although the test was difficult, we tried our best.

The food was expensive but it wasn't very tasty.
Although the food was expensive, it wasn't very tasty.

Can you make a sentence like this?  If you post one below, I will check it.

See you next time!

Tolaga Bay

Last weekend the weather was very nice so we went to a beach called 'Tolaga Bay'.  It takes about an hour to get there from our home.  Tolaga Bay is famous for its wharf.  The wharf is over 600 metres long, it's the longest in New Zealand!  The beach at Tologa Bay is nice too.

We like to go fishing off the wharf.  We make fishing lines from sticks.  This is my daughter Lyra.  She is nearly 8 years old.  Last time we went there she caught a small fish but not this time.  Even if you don't catch any fish it's still fun. 

Some other people were fishing on the wharf too.  A woman caught a crayfish on a fishing line!  She was very surprised!


.... is famous for....

Gisborne is famous for its wine.

Tolaga Bay is famous for its long wharf.

New Zealand is famous for its scenery.

What is your city or country famous for?