Christmas and the extended holidays – a time for catching up with family and friends, and enjoying humongous amounts of food and drink. In New Zealand, we are so fortunate to have summer in December, and Christmas to us means bright sunny days, chilled G&Ts or white wine, and barbecues with lots of fresh salads.
We don’t always dispense with the roasts and the hams though, as tradition is a powerful thing, and more food is always welcome.
Hmm, I think I might have just indulged in Gluttony and Sloth as well as Peace and Joy.. oops!
For the last three years, we have traveled to my In-laws little life-style block for Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). Almost everyone in the extended family comes and spends the day there, and having the clan there is a fantastic excuse to spend the days grazing on delicious leftovers, drinking copious quantities of whatever comes to hand, and catching up on gossip.
The Senior Goulds had been eyeing up rural plots all over the NZ South Island for a few years, and they finally chanced upon this chunk of land that was perfect for them. The picture above has been taken from the house, which is at the top end of the property, and their land extends until the treeline in the distance. It is large enough to accommodate their dreams and ambitions for a self-sustained rural lifestyle, but not so large as to feel unmanageable.
In the last three years, they have built a little house with a large deck, installed lots of fencing and driveways, planted trees, gardens and flowers and built a little separate studio. Most recently, Dad built a shed so he could get some sheep and lambs.
Oxford has it’s own micro-climate being at the foothills of the Southern Alps, and it can have quite different weather to the nearby city of Christchurch. And with a location as lovely as this, even a couple of days feels like a complete disconnect from normal life. When we’re out there, the kids are outside playing, and we stay away from the wifi. Days are about enjoying the countryside, views, and a good glass of wine with some fabulous company no matter what the weather or the time of the day.
There is a stream not far away that the dogs and kids love, a little Farmer’s market on Sundays and a surprising variety of great shops in the main town. There are also a couple of very good cafes for those who need their regular caffeine fixes (Mr. Rock Star!).
We consider ourselves non-outdoorsy city people, but spending time at Oxford has made us realise that there is a good chance we could be semi-rural in the future ourselves. The sense of wide open space, unending skies and green everywhere is incredibly calming and therapeutic, and might be worth battling an hour of traffic for. But for now, we consider ourselves very lucky to be able to tap into this mini-break whenever we can – thanks to our always welcoming family.