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.

Mosaic shower

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.

zendo and kauri

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.

Cape Reinga

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.

brown kiwi in New Zealand forest

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.*

strong woman illustration

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 featured

Polly's Blog: The grass isn’t always greener

Polly and the family escape the forest mud by visiting the South Island.

chcolate easter egg

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.

camping at New Zealand beach

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.

half meat pie

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.

Blogger Polly Greeks chopping wood

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.

birthday party cake

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.

boys at campfire

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.

Polly Greeks

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.

juice clense

Blog: fasting and furious

An all-liquid diet brings Polly to breaking point.

cider apples

Rainy day ideas for bush babies

What do you do on a rainy day when you live off-the-grid ? Make cider vinegar!

local horse

Blog: A bathroom at last

The demise of a local coincides with the near-death of the family’s bathroom plumbing.

Polly's secret chocolate stash

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.

compost toilet

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.

When it all feels a bit hard

James and Polly hear the gasp of the Grim Reaper but swiftly shut him up.

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.

An ode to laundry

A gypsy arrives bearing trinkets, spinning yarns and sorely lamenting the fact the kitchen is now indoors.

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.

Ruffling feathers

Polly and James welcome a major upgrade to their culinary arrangements with the arrival of an indoor kitchen and a flock of chooks.

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.

Gone with the wind

House construction becomes frustrating with unsolicited input from a three-year-old and a devil wind.

Raising a bush baby

Polly ponders the joys of raising babes in the bush

A beginner’s guide to bush fashion

Polly comes to the conclusion that although bush wardrobes owe nothing to fashion, friendships are more desirable than clothes.

Less than willing woofers

The ww part of wwoof is not always obvious.

Showers and cling film

With the arrival of hot water and some imaginative use of cling film, the level of luxury in life off the grid moves up a notch

A shaggy dog story

The newest addition to the family generates a case of puppy love.

Beware the posse of pillaging pigs

The idea of a gift economy works well in a weekend café but is not so welcome when garden pests help themselves

Meeting the neighbours

Although not exactly living next door, James and Polly’s new friends are models of neighbourliness.

Welcome to the Lighthouse

Polly and James bask in the (mostly) golden silence of their surroundings and become involved in a community venture run as a gift economy.

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

A roof at last!

At last there’s a roof over their heads and Polly and James hunt for recycled treasure tales from a rumpty carava

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.

The definition of “rumpty”

Life in the off-grid remoteness of the Northland bush suddenly blossoms with social conviviality and the good cheer of neighbours.

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

The start of a new adventure

It sounded so romantic… living in off-grid self-sufficiency in the country... but then it rained… and rained

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