This Monday, we ‘re travelling to New Zealand to meet Audrey and her husband, Elliot. Both settled there 7 years ago. They now live in Hamilton (Northern New Zealand) where Elliot originally comes from. Audrey, 29, is a writer, designer and photographer. Elliot, 35, is a teacher of arboriculture. They have a three years-old boy, Charles.They live in a wooden house from 1910 that they renovated.
Audrey tells us here about their everyday life in this very pleasant city of Hamilton.
IN THE CITY
What do you like in your city?
This is a rather big city compared to New Zealand ordinary ones, but on a human scale: you can feel the city and people coming and going around us, but we also have a lot of green and quiet spaces. People are very friendly and cool. There are many free libraries, which makes us very happy! And we are 45 minutes from the beach and 1.15 hr from the largest city of the country.
What do you especially appreciate in Hamilton when you’re a family?
Here, everyone says this city is made for families, and it’s true! There are many green areas with really nice playgrounds with highly innovative attractions that invite children to play together: water games with pump systems, canals and locks; sandboxes with cranes, shovels and sieves. The largest playground is located at the Hamilton Lake Domain.
Here, it’s very ordinary for mothers to stop working once they have children. Lots of families gather themselves every week there, according to the age and interest of children.
For example, we join a band not far from the house on Friday morning. We sing and we all dance together. Children have a snack and play while moms share a cup of tea and gossip. This is where I have a lot of my friends.
Besides, from a practical point of view, everything is close: my husband works 5 minutes from home, and we are 5 to 10 minutes from most of our friends. So we have a lot of time together, which helps to enhance family activities!
You can easily go out everywhere when you’re a family! Cinema offers sessions for young children, so you don’t have to stress out and expect them to be still and silent all along the film.
There are always high chairs in restaurants and all the cafes offer a “fluffy” (cups filled with milk foam) to kids.
What are your favorite family activities?
We love walking : we have the chance to live near a beautiful river where we often go on the afternoon.
We also enjoy going to the beautiful Hamilton Gardens whose fame is international. In the arboretum, there are lots of chickens, ducks and cows.
On Sunday morning, there is a small market with local organic producers. We go there to prepare our Sunday lunch.
What are your favorite family cultural activities?
We have only one museum in the town but it’s a very nice one : the Waikato Museum. There are two children’s areas, one turned to sciences, the other towards environment and recycling. We often go to the exhibitions which are frequently renewed!
What are your favorite restaurants and cafés for a family outing?
We have a nice coffee shop, Punnet, which has an outdoor area for young families. The tables are set around an outdoor playground where there is a hut, an old boat and an old plane in which children can play. The place is attractive to both parents and children. They offer kids’ menu, healthy salads and the raw desserts I love so much!
We also love the Grey Gardens cafe, located at the bottom of a small alley: the atmosphere is really nice and the food is simple and delicious. They have a basket of toys for children and the owner is often around with her little baby…
Not far from this cafe is Duck Island Ice Cream, a fantastic incecream parlor that offers innovative flavors … even if our favorite remains the good old salted caramel!
And, Mavis in the city center with the best hot chocolate!
Can you share an express homemade dish for the evening at home?
Our favorite meal is quesadillas! Easy, fast and complete!
(See recipe at the very end of the article *)
What you like doing at home when it rains?
Charles plays a lot with cars … Otherwise, we love reading or playing together with blocks of wood or clay. Those days, I also often put music and we always end by singing and dancing together!
What are th Children books you like to read and reread?
It’s a bit cyclical but we always come back to Beatrix Potter’s books that we read in English.
There is also La Nature by Alain Grée: the illustrations are charming and the book invites children to participate.
Finally, Perlette goutte d’eau that a friend gave me as a gift of birth: the texts are longer than today’s books but they are so well written that Charles seems to be enchanted by words … These books are too scarce now, in my opinion.
Many thanks to Audrey for this virtual tour of Hamilton … I am always impressed by the place of families in the Anglo-Saxon cities : they really know how to adapt to family’s pace of life…
Audrey has just published a cook book about Vegan desserts. It’s in French but it’s worth it! You can find here.
You can also follow the adventures of Audrey and her family on Instagram @audreyfitzjohn.
Have a good week!
* Recipe of quesadillas by Audrey :
- 10 tortillas, a can of bean mix oven (red, white, …)
- grated cheese
- new spinach
- 1 avocado
Preheat grill oven mode. Drain the brans and mix them to obtain a homogeneous mixture.
Spread the tortillas bean mixture on 5 tortillas, drop a few leaves of spinach over and grated cheese. Cover with the 5 remaining tortillas and place under the grill for 2 minutes each side.
Prepare guacamole by mixing avocado puree, salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice.
Serve tortillas cut into 6 or 8 and dil them in guacamole or salsa.