Martine Rolls: Step away from the computer screen

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Everywhere I look I see deals.

Online bargains, as well as the tempting "buy one get one free" or 30 to 60 per cent off goodies in the stores. The deals are everywhere and it is oh so tempting to give my credit card a hammering and worry about it later.

Every year I say it again. I'm not going overboard with my December spending.

But somehow that thought is out the window when I see all the cool things I can spoil myself and my little men with.

It is four weeks until Christmas and you may think that should give me plenty of time to get organised, but fact is that my kids and I celebrate Sinterklaas instead.

The Sint is the Dutch Santa, it's an old tradition, and he comes much earlier than the jolly man in red.

My gift shopping needs to be wrapped up and ready one week from today.

The stuff I have already bought for the kids is hidden away in the only place I know my curious boys won't be looking.

It's where the spiders and cockroaches live, which makes it the ultimate hiding spot.

The challenge of finding perfect presents within budget apparently raises our heart rate, shuts down our digestive systems and leaves us physically and mentally exhausted.

A quick Google search tells me that the season's hectic schedule and excesses of festive eating can cause mayhem for our hormone balance, and that could drive even the sanest person slightly nuts.

So yes, indeed, it's Christmas in four weeks' time and summer is here.

The pressure to get skinny is on, which has become more than apparent on my friends' Facebook pages.

I have seen that bikini body challenge page "liked" far too many times already.

Still, that didn't tempt me to grab the four-week boot camp as advertised on GrabOne, nor am I keen to try the raw food bowel cleanse that is promoted by an online health store.

The festive season can be a stressful season and many people will recognise that.

Having a holiday meltdown even has a name. It's called Festive Fatigue.

So what I intend to do is to fully enjoy this Christmas time, and the rest of summer. I'm going to deliberately take time out and step away from the computer screen.

I'll go for big walks, leisurely bike rides, and refreshing swims in the ocean any chance I'll get.

The goal is not to get skinny. It's simply to clear my head, de-stress, and unwind.

What I want for Christmas is one long weekend, or dare I say a week, away to a place surrounded by nature so I can recharge. No internet or cellphone reception needed.

The rest of the time, even if it's just for an hour after work, I'm going to explore and re-discover the Bay.

I love the Mount and the Papamoa Hills, but what I'm after is to find all the other scenic spots. Those best kept secrets that only locals know about.

I found that Tourism Bay of Plenty's website is a great place to start when looking for these stunning places.

The last time I looked at this site, and that was a few years ago, it was mainly a portal where accommodation providers and other tourism operators promoted their services.

It was aimed at attracting visitors from outside the region and had little of interest to locals at the time.

The tourism listings are still there, of course, but the site has really grown up.



I find myself using it all the time to hunt out the spots to visit, all at under half an hour's drive.

The blog-style Pick of the Week, where TBOP's in-house intrepid explorer Katie Cox discovers all the great things to do here in the region, is fantastic.

I'm following it on Facebook, too.

Just in case you were wondering, yes it was me jumping off the jetty into the ice cold water at Plummers Point the other day.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'll be doing things just like it all summer long!

- Bay of Plenty Times

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