Polly Greeks' Blog: Lockdown in a far north forest
One would expect Polly, lover of gloriously empty days, would embrace a mandatory lockdown. But like a wild animal caught in confinement, she can't stop pacing.
Lucy Corry's Blog: Well-bread
Worried about running out of bread? Step away from the supermarket and make your own, suggests Lucy Corry.
Polly Greeks' Blog: How to age well in the forest
Polly’s off-grid life hasn’t been good for the wrinkles. Turns out, trees are excellent teachers on ageing well.
Lucy Corry's Blog: The power of comfort food
As the world panic-buys and self-isolates, Lucy Corry switches on her oven in an effort to spread the love.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Reclaiming menstruality
Polly embraces an honest discussion about periods.
Lucy Corry's Blog: How to break up with paper towels
Lucy decides to end her love affair with paper towels in the name of the environment.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Water wars
Polly considers the controversial use of the local water supply as the Far North experiences its driest summer yet.
Lucy Corry's Blog: Cooking for one
Ryvita and cream cheese, anyone? Lucy Corry attempts to swap her snacking ways for single-serving, homemade meals.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Spiritual intelligence
Polly ponders life and death after bumping into Dave, an electrician and the victim of a nasty shock.
Michael Van de Elzen's Blog: Rural roots
Chef Michael Van de Elzen is turning his summer harvest into something special.
Lucy Corry: The city dweller's guide to foraging
Even city dwellers can forage for edible finds with a few rudimentary guidelines to keep the tummy happy and the neighbours sweet, says Lucy Corry
Polly Greeks' Blog: Embracing routine
Polly had long feared of a life built around routine. But just as seasons change and mountains rise, she realises that routines are a natural phase in life.
Lucy Corry's Blog: Is there such thing as too much ice cream?
Lucy proposes an end to lake-sized lattes and tower-high ice creams — to all the gargantuan portions plaguing New Zealand cafés and restaurants.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Making lemonade
Polly attempts to look on the bright side after a series of sour events occur at home – and across the Tasman Sea.
Polly Greeks' Blog: A festive tightrope
Polly considers the seasonal magic of the Far-North while avoiding the consumer extravagance of Christmas traditions.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Sex talk
Jim reflects on his late mum as he encounters the trickiest parenting topic in the book.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Magic in the mundane
A big-city visit causes Polly to question the family's isolated lifestyle - if only for a moment.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Done with school
Jim comes to terms with his eldest daughter finishing high school.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Heat wave
The early arrival of summer in the Far North is a delight, reflects Polly, so long as it doesn't outstay its welcome.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Leave the door open
A family friend's death reminds Jim of his mum's open door policy.
Polly Greeks' Blog: A pampered pooch
A posh poodle learns to embrace the wild, carefree outdoors in an extended stay with Polly.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Letting go
The toughest part of parenting isn't sleepless nights or the terrible twos, reflects Jim. It's learning to let go.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Mother tongue
Polly uses her cunning tongue – one of the many languages taught in her household – to get her mum's travel insurance paid out.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Long-distance parenting
Jim juggles fatherhood with the 4-hour time difference at the Rugby World Cup.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Lost in translation
Polly is deeply touched by the power of people when her mum goes missing in Spain.
Lynda Hallinan's Guest Blog: Lambs (not) to the slaughter
Lynda insists on keeping her lambs as pets, even as they (predictably) wreak havoc on her home.
Jim Kayes' Blog: In plain sight
Jim discovers that misplacing belongings is hereditary.
Polly Greeks' Blog: The bunny boiler
Polly and co take their revenge on rampaging rabbits.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Out of pocket
Jim's daughters get increasingly inventive for tapping into the Bank of Mum and Dad.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Writing retreat
Polly quickly gets distracted while attempting to write her second book at a writer's retreat.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Father Time
When his daughter struggles to read a traditional clock, Jim reflects on how time never stands still with technology.
Polly Greeks' Blog: The Big Bang
An explosive moment makes Polly reflect on the enterprising wilderness women in the Far North.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Hawaii Five-0
Jim reflects on his regrets and achievements while in Hawaii for his 50th birthday.
Guest Blog: 'How my veggie patch has helped me grow'
Our guest blogger Poppy Vink shares what she’s learned starting a veggie patch from scratch and how her budding garden has helped with her mental health.
Polly Greeks' Blog: All in a lather
Polly searches for the recipe for success when she gives soap making another shot.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Texting lingo
Jim defends the English language as his youngest muddles it up with acronyms and alternative meanings.
Polly Greeks' Blog: The Great Disconnect
Polly reconnects with land and life after losing cellphone coverage.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Room makeover
As Jim helps his daughter rearrange her room, he recalls the territorial bedroom wars of his past.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Cold discomforts
In an effort to beat a never-ending cold, Polly embraces an extreme athlete's chilly bathing method.
Jim Kayes' Blog: The unworried well
The story of an old farm dog reminds Jim that there is nothing worse as a parent than not noticing when your child is truly sick.
Polly Greeks' Blog: The rumpty retreat
Polly and co return to the rumpty caravan (and former tiny home), this time to test out their DIY fireplace.
Jim Kayes’ blog: The merits of exercise
Why does life sometimes make being active more difficult than it should be? asks sports-lover Jim.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Swapping clothes
It's clothes-swap time again. As Polly bids farewell to unwanted garments, she reflects on the snowballing effect of modern fashion habits.
Jim Kayes' Blog: School ball
Jim cruises down memory lane, recalling his Miami Vice-esque ball ensemble as his daughters get ready for school ball.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Sweet temptation
Jim is in a fizz over soft drinks.
Polly Greeks' Blog: What does the future hold for planet Earth?
Some predict Earth's imminent doom while optimists remain eternally hopeful. As a mum, Polly wonders where she should stand.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Accident-prone
Jim reflects on his accident-prone past as his two daughters head to the operating theatre in the same week.
Polly Greeks' Blog: The kiss that cost a friendship
Polly's seven-year-old daughter gets a lesson on relationships after she steals an innocent kiss from an exciting new visitor.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Telly troubles
In the age of Netflix and infinite TV choices, it's Dancing with the Stars which makes Jim's family gather around the TV.
Polly Greeks' Blog: The workforce
Polly makes an uncomfortable personal discovery when she enlists the help of voluntary workers from overseas.
Guest Blog: Ashia Ismail-Singer’s journey to My Indian Kitchen
It was a bout of homesickness that prompted Malawi-born New Zealander Ashia Ismail-Singer to start her blog.
Jim's Blog: Easter egg rankings
Jim Kayes debates which Easter treat is the best and gets hopping mad over his family's egg choices.
Polly Greeks' Blog: When grief recedes
Grief is as much about loss as it is an expression of love, reflects Polly Greeks.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Cashless children
Giving kids cash for spending money is now an antiquated tradition in the age of EFTPOS, reflects Jim Kayes.
Polly Greeks' Blog: The rumpty caravan sees a new life
James and Polly breathe life into an old Oxford that’s more companion than caravan.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Finding the Spirit of New Zealand
In the days following the Christchurch mosque attacks, Jim Kayes reflects on the power of hope and the Spirit of New Zealand.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Reclaim the Christchurch shootings through love
Let the bullet-holes blasted through the fabric of New Zealand society on Friday be a call to lovingly take the hands of strangers.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Too much homework
School-life balance becomes seemingly impossible for Jim's daughter when she comes home with five hours of homework.
Polly Greeks' Blog: An advert for the off-grid lifestyle
A fish-fuelled weekend has Polly dreaming of how to write the perfect advert for the off-grid lifestyle.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Parental hypocrisy
As Jim nervously lets his daughter loose in Six60's 50,000-person deep crowd, he recalls his own gig mischief as a teen.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Growing forest kaitiaki
While teaching her kids about the plight of threatened kauri, Polly hopes to propagate passion for the environment that will last a lifetime.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Hopelessly unromantic
When Jim's daughter gets a boyfriend, he hopes her beau is as unromantic as he used to be.
Polly Greeks' Blog: holidays and summer spots
Polly declares that fortune favours those who follow winding dirt roads over sun-scorched hills and people who keep abreast of their moles.
Jim Kayes’ Blog: Slip, slop and slap
Put your sunblock on, says Jim. Forget it, say his daughters.
Polly's Blog: Potty mouths, revelations and #MeToo
When her seven-year-old expresses foul-mouthed fury, Polly reviews events in her own life that should have provoked absolute outrage but left her confusingly silent.
Jim Kayes' Blog: The politics of camping
While camping in Mangawhai, Jim is envious of his mate's luxurious tent set-up which includes a bar leaner and Nespresso coffee machine.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Power versus Peru
The family’s plan for electricity is jeopardized by a dangerous thought.
Guest blog: How to have a Merry zero-waste Christmas
Krystal Sayer doesn’t let her sustainable intentions fly out the window with Santa’s reindeer.
Jim Kayes' blog: Christmas giving
Jim reflects on present etiquette — is it okay to shake the presents under the Christmas tree?
Polly's Blog: The fine print of the parenting contract
Polly plays doctor after four-year-old Zen’s latest misadventure — an unfortunate incident with a packet of crayons and a staple.
Jim Kayes' blog: Painful lessons
Jim gets trapped in the grey area between playful adventure and cotton wool parenting.
Polly's Blog: Bird calls and tubular bells
Polly digs deep to make sense of a world that keeps spinning despite the family’s ongoing efforts to slow it.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Losing my cool
Jim struggles to stay silent while sitting in the backseat during his daughter's driving test.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Just passing through
Polly and the family take a spiritual journey to Cape Reinga.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Exam season
As exam season looms, Jim's eldest threatens to take a three-year-long gap year.
Polly's Blog: The Unfathomable life kaleidoscope
Polly and James are on nursing duties as the kids battle a nasty bug, but in the backyard Bugs Bunny has been at play.
Jim Kayes' blog: Set up for a fall
Jim, surrounded by pranksters, takes a fall.
Polly Greeks' Blog: Bird detective work
Polly and family discover ornithological treasures at wildlife sanctuary Tiritiri Matangi.
Jim Kayes' blog: The daughter-approved shopping list
Jim is banned from buying certain items on his daughters' behalf.
Polly Greeks' blog: Bunnies and penguins
Natural bunny behaviour gives rise to far broader learnings than Polly had bargained for.
Jim Kayes' blog: Forlorn about the lawn
Jim Kayes' weed eater is broken, and he can't handle it.
Pollys' blog: Wheelchair ballet
Wheelchair-bound Zendo discovers a new dance routine.
Guest blog: 'How deep-mulching transformed my garden'
Guest blogger Elien Lewis doesn't let a shady garden stop her from producing a bounty of produce.
Jim Kayes' Blog: Man flu
Jim comes down with the flu and has a hard time receiving any sympathy from his family.
Polly Greeks' blog: A ghastly silence
Polly knows trouble is afoot when rambunctious three-year-old Zendo is suddenly silent.
Jim Kayes' Blog: 49 candles
As Jim celebrates his 49th year, he reflects on how birthdays tend to matter less when you are older, that is, unless you have children.
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