Recently it was hubby and my wedding anniversary. It was a big anniversary, the type of one that has precious metal connotations with it.
It's hard to believe it's been 25 years. Hubby and I met in university, back when I was a biochemistry honors student, and he was in 3rd year computer science. We met through a mutual friend, and then over time we became best friends, and then we started dating after falling in love. After a couple of years, we got married, and life has been busy ever since.
We decided for our 25th wedding anniversary we wanted to do something very special, and since I have developed a very large fear of flying (thanks to living in Wellington), we decided to stay somewhere within driving distance.
A number of months earlier I had spotted an Instagram ad for a place in the Mackenzie region called SkyScape. It's a luxury eco-accomodation nestled within tussocks and hillside of Omahau Hill Station. Once I showed hubby that we could have an opportunity to sleep under the stars within the dark sky reserve, similar to places like Finland and Iceland, we booked our stay.
day before our anniversary we drove from Dunedin to just outside of
Twizel, where SkyScape is based. The three SkyScape units are nestled in
the hills on a working farm just before the mountain called The
Pyramid. Each of the units are far away from each other, ensuring
privacy and peace. After settling in, enjoying the central heating on
the cool autumnal day, and cooking a delicious meal, we eagerly awaited
We were extra excited because my phone had been pinging me all day about there being a huge aurora. A KP8 aurora was happening, and we hoped and prayed it would last until I could photograph it. As a keen amateur astro-photographer I had brought all my gear, it was a great chance to do some photography. We prepped my camera gear, got out all our winter clothes and hiking boots, and waited... And oh wow, it was just wonderful, the aurora was huge and big and bright. While taking photos hubby and I witnessed arcs, bands, and rays, all visible to the naked eye.
The aurora was so beautiful and magnificent, it didn't really bother us that it was freezing outside. We stood outside taking photos for a couple of hours, and then once the aurora had begun to disappear, we retreated back to the cozy warmth of our SkyScape unit, and looked up at the milky way through the glass roof above us.
was very special to be going to bed and sleeping under the stars, I
actually found the whole experience very relaxing during the night
whenever I woke up. The
next morning, our wedding anniversary, the sun peeked out over the
horizon, and we were treated to the most amazing sunrise from the
comfiness of our warm bed.
The next few days were quiet and restful, since I was recovering from surgery, and then an infection afterward. We relaxed, read books, I did knitting and cross stitch, and we ate lots of good food. Hubby went for walks on the farm tracks, since I wasn't allowed to be doing that much exercise yet, and he also enjoyed SkyScape's outdoor tub as he soaked under the stars. I'd downloaded TV shows and movies on Netflix and Disney+ on my iPad before we left home, since I knew there was no TV available, and we ate popcorn and snuggled up as we watched shows on my small iPad. We also went into town for supplies, and to walk around, and we found the most amazing bookstore in Twizel called The Twizel Bookshop. The bookstore is tiny, but the owner has the most amazing taste in books. I walked away with a pile of books I'd been wanting for ages, but couldn't find them easily in our local bookstores. They had a great selection of science, gardening, fantasy, and science fiction books for both children and adults, and I'll definitely order from them online in the future.
While we were also in town, I found this amazing giftware store, and I just had to come home with a bee themed mug called "Bee Happy". It got added to my huge mug collection that hubby groans about at every time he opens the kitchen cupboard.
On our last night we went into Twizel for dinner, and came across the institution that is Twizel's Chippery. We waited for our order in the car since it was already getting cool, and drove to a scenic spot to eat dinner while the sun was going down behind the mountains. We headed back to SkyScape very soon after that, a frost was due, and we wanted to return while it was light enough to easily drive the long farm track to the unit.
The next day, we left SkyScape and Twizel, happy and relaxed, and we headed north for the next part of our adventure, visiting Aoraki, and then onto Lake Tekapo. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about our adventure, if you ever get the opportunity to go to somewhere like SkyScape, I thoroughly recommend it. Our hosts were friendly and knowledgeable, and their units are wonderful to stay in. The units were designed to keep warm in winter, and cool in summer, and are solar powered. Water is supplied by a local spring. I really enjoyed their continental breakfasts while we stayed there.
Have a wonderful day
absolutely love reading, and have been a book lover and collector for
most of my life. Some of my earliest memories as a child are of my mum
taking me to a local library, or of us going into town for the day, just
so I could pick up a copy of the latest book in whatever series I was
currently obsessed with. And pretty much nothing has changed in the many
years since then.
There is nothing better on a cold and rainy autumnal day, than to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book, and reading the afternoon away. But that all came to a jarring halt last year when I unfortunately had a run of very bad books I didn't want to finish. My reading bug flew away, never to be seen again, and instead I turned to reading numerous emagazines from the library, or wasting way too much time on Instagram...
My reading bug miraculously returned though, when I came across Alexandra Roselyn's BookTube
channel. She is very much into the adult fantasy, cozy, and romance
genres, along with middle-grade and YA books. The books that she loves
and reads are very similar to my own tastes, and it wasn't very long at
all (perhaps minutes) before I had a huge lists of books I wanted to
read, especially in the Cozy Fantasy genre.
of the books she suggested was the cozy fantasy novel, The Very Secret
Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna. She had me at the words
witchy, cozy, fantasy, and romance.
It was mere moments later that an e-version of the book was downloaded onto my iPad. And I devoured the novel in only a couple of days, loving every single second of it.
Here's the blurb for The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches:
"A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated
witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family--and a new
love--changes the course of her life.
As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don't mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she's used to being alone and she follows the rules...with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.
But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and...Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he's concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.
As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn't the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn't know she was looking for..."
loved the main character Mika Moon, a witch who was brought to Britain
from India when she became an orphan shortly after her birth. She was
adopted by another witch, but was raised by a number of strangers until
she was an adult, and has been all alone for most of her life, apart
from her much-loved companion, a super cute golden retriever called
Circe. You can't help but feel for Mika, and admire her, as she
struggles to live the lonely path of a solitary witch.
banish her loneliness and connect with others, Mika runs a Youtube
channel where she pretends to be a real "witch", and posts witchy
content online to the masses. She is a ray of sunshine in the dark, and
people are drawn to her, including an elderly man who claims to know who
she really is–a real life witch. He begs for her help in teaching three
young witches to control their magic, and she can't resist breaking the
rules of her being a solitary witch, in order to help the young girls
while living in a remote home in the English countryside.
Mika becomes tangled up in the lives of her three challenging, but delightful charges, their wonderfully quirky cast of caretakers, and the surly, yet hot Irish librarian called Jamie, who is the grumpiness to her sunshine. She finds him hard to resist. Many hi jinks occur as the book continues on, along with lots of witchy goodness, and both laughter and tears. As the story unfolds, and Mika finds her place, and her home at Nowhere cottage, she begins to believe that maybe, just maybe it might be possible to not be alone anymore. But life is complicated, and not just because of all the magic swirling around them. There are secrets to be uncovered, and not all of them are pleasant...
much as I want to share more of the book with you, I don't want to
spoil the story. But there are a number of great quotes in the novel,
and this one is my favorite, and is said by Jamie, the hunky and grumpy
Irish librarian to Mika:
“It’s not always enough to go looking for the place we belong...Sometimes we need to make that place.”
― Sangu Mandanna, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches.
This quote pretty much sums up the heart of the book, sometimes you have to make the place and family you belong to.
Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is everything you're hoping
for in a book if you're after a cozy fantasy novel that is heartwarming
and uplifting, and has a diverse and inclusive cast of quirky characters
that you will adore. I really loved the found family trope, along with
the magical witchy aspects. If you used to be a fan of the book series
that can no longer be named, and have a magical shaped hole in your
heart, this may be the book to soothe you. It has a very similar feel to
the novel The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, which I also
adore. Comparing the book to movies, it definitely has Practical Magic
and Kiki's Delivery Service vibes.
terms of the romance plot, in general it is sweet. There is only one
sex scene, and it isn't too explicit, it fits in perfect with the rest
of the book, and doesn't distract from it.
Coming into the autumn and winter season in the Southern Hemisphere, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches will be the perfect book to curl up with in front of a fire while drinking a mug of hot chocolate, as it is set during this time.
have a habit of trying to borrow a book from our local library first,
and if that isn't possible, to buy an ebook copy of a novel. Only if I
absolutely have fallen in love with a book, and know that I will reread
the novel over and over, will I then go and spend more money on buying a
paperback copy of a book. I loved The Very Secret Society of Irregular
Witches so much, that I bought a paperback copy of my very own. I hope
to reread it soon, when we go on holiday, so I can enjoy the book again
Have a wonderful day,