Guest blogger: Living the good life in Te Akau
Never a day goes by without Laura MacDonald's toddler eating dirt. But that doesn't stop her living the good life on her rural property in Te Akau.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Radio silence
Jim suffers in silence when his daughters go phone-free for a week.
Polly's Blog: Teaching in Iraq
Training young minds to think creatively is the best schooling possible – and Polly leaves no stone (or leaf) unturned in her mission.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Wheeling and dealing
Jim's daughter adopts a 'squeaky wheel' strategy to get a new car, while he reflects on the Ford Falcon that got away.
Polly's Blog: Matariki musings
Our Far North blogger Polly gazes into the Matariki sky to see if the future is clear and bright or if it's a little hazier for struggling Northland families.
Jim Kayes' Blog: In the swing of things
Jim Kayes is egged on by a 12-year-old and gives a terrifying ride in Rotorua a swing.
Polly's Blog: kiwi encounters
Polly and the kids delight in things that go whistle and scrape in the night while Pax the dog quivers in the corner.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Forget me not
When Jim's daughters say he is getting forgetful in his old age, he takes it to heart.
Polly's Blog: Growing up in the olden days
Polly ponders the 'olden days' of her 1970s childhood and how her own children are growing up in different times.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Lol moments
Jim's cringey efforts to use the latest lingo provide amusement to his teenage daughters.
Polly's Blog: A vegetarian quandary
When a pig ventures close to home, six-year-old Vita discovers country living cuts a short track from food source to the table. *Warning this post contains a graphic photo some readers may find disturbing.*
Jim Kayes’ Blog: Girls Can Do Anything
Gender bias has no place in the Kayes’ household – and Jim is happy to don a pinny or even a frock when the occasion merits.
Polly's Blog: The grass isn’t always greener
Polly and the family escape the forest mud by visiting the South Island.
Jim Kayes' Blog: The leftover Easter egg
This week Jim is taunted by a chocolate treat in the cupboard
Polly's Blog: Solo rat-trapping duty
Left in sole charge of the children and the land, Polly connects with the wildness within.
Jim Kayes' blog: Sweet 16
As his eldest turns 16, Jim remembers when she was just a wee bub and how fast they grow up.
Polly's Blog: Headlamp season
This week, Polly feels illuminated when investigating solar power.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Shirt tales
After being mocked on-air for his hit-and-miss fashion , Jim gets some clothing coaching from his girls
Polly's Blog: Love thy neighbour
Tensions with a neighbour force Polly to learn lessons from the land.
Jim Kayes' blog: "Here we go again"
Jim Kayes sings along with Ed Sheeran but draws the line at Mamma Mia.
Polly's blog: Easter camping misadventures
While townies flock to the campgrounds to get away from it all, for bush baby Polly the holiday park is a chance to reconnect.
Jim Kayes' blog: Half pai
This week Jim learns that if you need a job done right, do it yourself.
Polly's Blog: A lesson from the children
All it takes is a different point of view to see wild pigs and whole grains from a new perspective.
Jim Kayes' blog: Telling little lies
This week, Jim gets caught telling a few porkies.
Polly's Blog: A barefoot summer
The sensual joys of bucolic living include hardened soles and far better olfactory resilience.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Defending the Queen’s English
This week Jim, is like, totally, worried about vocabulary and grammar.
Polly's blog: Rising rain
This week, storm horizons have Polly pondering about the world her children will grow up in.
Jim Kayes' blog: Best foot forward
In Jim Kayes' blog this week - he’s not surprised by the ingenuity of an injured daughter.
Polly's Blog: Stacks of work to do
This week, Polly and James' to-do list reaches critical mass.
Jim Kayes' blog: Big dogs vs small dogs
In Jim Kayes' blog this week - the family debates whether to downsize their next pooch.
Polly's blog: heartbreak in the holiday season
A seaside town is brought to a standstill after a drowning.
Jim Kayes' blog: How to be an ace of cards
This week he takes losing at cards with good grace and a pile of soft cushions.
Jim Kayes’ blog: Things you shouldn't say at Christmas
This week Jim reflects on the trouble with telling the truth.
Polly's Blog: Summer mornings
This week Polly learns rabbits can climb fences and enjoys her quiet summer mornings - thanks to the ducks.
Jim Kayes’ blog: 'It’s a debate Dad, not an argument'
This week Jim ducks below the crossfire of sibling rivalries.
Polly's Blog: The Sunday smoke
This week Polly's fishy tale all ends in smoke.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Keeping up with the kids
This week Jim suffers from a wounded ego when he lags behind his daughters on the sports field.
Polly's Blog: In hot water
‘Valve’ becomes an offensive word when Polly and co suffer plumbing problems.
Jim Kayes' blog: Dad's on strike!
This week Jim is on strike to help improve his daughters’ usefulness around the house.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Get a job
This week Jim sends a daughter out to work - and not only for the money.
Polly Greek's blog: Taro misadventures and aphid rain
The children are fascinated by the sight of inky falling insects, while a spot of foraging nearly sends James to meet his maker.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Playing with fire in Samoa
This week Jim takes the family to Samoa and it is confirmed, those daughters are an easy step ahead of him in his Apia-bought jandals.
Polly's blog: Meeting Far North Boogeyman
Polly comes face-to-face with Brutus, the local boar, and the Far North version of the Boogeyman.
Jim Kayes' blog: Saying goodbye
This week Jim ponders different ways of grieving and wonders, yet-again, if those daughters aren’t a step ahead of him.
Polly's blog: the circle of life
Polly's children learn about life and death in the animal kingdom.
Jim Kayes' blog: cutting the cord
It's the end of an era as Jim Kayes prepares to cut the cord to the land line.
Polly's blog: Please and thanks
This week, Polly finds manners put grease in social cogs while attending a children's birthday party.
Jim Kayes' blog: breaking bad
This week the sky falls in after a slip on the rocks.
Polly's blog: listening to the natural world
The family visit the local marae, and reap the mother of all harvests.
Jim Kayes' blog: 7 ways to embarrass a teenager
This week Jim finds novel ways to humiliate his daughters.
Polly's blog: Ducking for cover
The Pekin ducks are ruffling feathers again at Polly's mudbrick homestead.
Jim Kayes' blog: growing up quickly
This week Jim realises he’s been left behind - again.
Polly's blog: Things that go bump in the night
This week, when life gets scary, Polly goes on a witch hunt.
Jim Kayes' blog: Musical tastes heading in One Direction (downhill)
This week Jim blames the girls for a bad case of musical infection.
Polly's Blog: Pondering parenting styles
Polly tests an alternative parenting method on for size
Jim Kayes' blog: Am I turning into my mum?
Jim turns from hero to zero when channeling his mother's parenting style.
Polly's Blog: A legendary stick-in-the-mud
Polly channels Crumpy and Scotty when she braves flood waters in a Hilux - and becomes a true bush woman in the process.
Jim Kayes' blog: Coach dad
Jim Kayes finds himself cast in the role of coach, but can he hold court in the world of school netball?
Polly's Blog: Pig hunting with the Scottish Bear Grylls
James hogs the limelight when he goes on the hunt for a pig and Polly wisely stays at home.
Jim's blog: Driving me mad
This week Jim Kayes teaches his daughter how to drive, and lives to tell the tale.
Polly's blog: 'Save New Zealand's rivers for our kids'
As the debate over the country’s polluted waterways heats up, Polly Greeks writes a love letter to Aotearoa’s rivers and streams.
Jim Kayes' blog: Good morning sunshine
Jim Kayes has been a journalist for 25 years. He survived growing up with four sisters and is now married with two daughters. Despite this, he thinks he's in charge.
Blog: treasure hunting in the Far North
In which Polly trades in foreign treasure-hunting for a more sedate seeking of materials and finds it just as rewarding.
Polly's blog: a whale tale
Polly turns to a whale when time rushes by.
Blog: the pros and cons of homeschool
The land is proving to be a natural classroom in more ways than one for Polly and her family.
Blog: traveling with kids
Polly finds traveling with kids a less-than-relaxing experience.
Blog: is it time for the ducks to get the chop?
This week, Polly defends her ducks from a date with the casserole pot.
Blog: wet, wet weather and harvest fever
Polly gets wet feet during the storm and discovers she has to reap what she sows.
Blog: no such thing as lazy summer days
Lazy summer days? Huh. For Polly and family the warmer months are too busy spent making hay while the sun shines.
Blog: No such thing as a stranger
At a time when travel bans and giant walls place severe strain on international relations, Polly reflects on the kind hospitality she received in the Middle East.
Blog: The case of the disappearing duck
In Polly Greek's blog this week: when a Pekin duck goes missing, James goes on stoat-catching duty.
Blog: boys gone wild
Young boys run wild on Polly's family camping trip.
Blog: The great Christmas debate
Polly debates whether to boycott Christmas and celebrate the Summer Solstice instead.
Blog: Insolent chickens and wayward eggs
Polly joins 'Team Duck' when her chickens send her on an egg hunt.
Blog: No walk in the park
A walk in the forest with the kids proves hard work for Polly.
Blog: Feature windows and communal beds
Polly laments the communal bed while a new DIY feature window brings some unexpected lessons – and just a little pain.
Blog: You can't get good help these days
As the mudbrick house construction progresses, Polly finds some workers are more help than others.
Blog: a phone full of memories
A Hungarian couch surfer's crazy music brings back memories for Polly Greeks.
Blog: The big packing debate
There are two types of suitcase packers in this world, writes Polly Greeks, the Johnny-Go-Lightlies and the Just-In-Case packers.
Blog: near noodle starvation
A new wwoof-er demonstrates his unfamiliarity with wholefoods and a spiral staircase sends the family’s spirits to heaven.
Blog: Big windfall and the big smoke
The big city beckons for a Kaitaia local, but sometimes the hitting the jackpot comes with a price.
Blog: fasting and furious
An all-liquid diet brings Polly to breaking point.
Rainy day ideas for bush babies
What do you do on a rainy day when you live off-the-grid ? Make cider vinegar!
Blog: A bathroom at last
The demise of a local coincides with the near-death of the family’s bathroom plumbing.
Blog: The secret chocolate stash
Polly tries giving up sugar, but thankfully follows reason.
Blog: Online shopping fails
Why all-terrain roller skates are no match for a goat track in the Far North.
Blog: When compost loos go bad
This week Polly Greeks discovers the perils of a compost toilet.
Blog: Off-the-grid and online
In the first of her fortnightly blogs, NZ Life & Leisure columnist Polly Greeks shares an update of life in her mudbrick off-the-grid home in the Far North.
A batch of mud-brick batter
Mud, muck and madness … the family ditch the churn of house building and find peace (and perspective) on an unpeopled Pacific beach.
Sowing a kauri legacy
Kauri, puriri, totara and rimu – these are the leafy sentinals standing guard over the Greeks family. And, in return, the family is taking just as much care of them.
Kiwis in the kitchen
When nocturnal noises interrupt Polly and James’ sleep, it could mean unexpected visitors of anything from iconic wildlife to decidedly dubious characters.
Hunting and gathering for our mud-brick home
Polly and James feel there’s a bit of magic involved in their hunt for building materials.
Meeting the neighbours
Although not exactly living next door, James and Polly’s new friends are models of neighbourliness.
Preparing for guests – in an off-grid house
Polly and James welcome visitors to their one-roomed mud-brick house although cooking in their open-air kitchen is still something of a challenge
From Versailles to the mud-brick house
Polly and James’ mud-brick house in the bush begins to take shape with assistance from a Frenchman who helped restore the Palace of Versailles.
A newborn in a caravan
Mason bees, mice and a new baby… there’s no room for them all in an off-the-grid existence
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