Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I've been struggling to get motivated lately to do any scrapping. Sounds crazy when it's just a hobby anyway - why should it matter if I'm doing it or not? But the events and the photos keep piling up and I feel like I "should" be documenting them. But perhaps waiting is better as I tend to get through a bunch when I'm in the mode.
But I've found a fun xmas project to do this year, and it uses up some stuff I bought last year for a project that I never really started - let alone finished.
So the Ali Edwards December Daily it is. Apparently I need to do some pre-planning. Maybe I'll find time today, or next week...
Here's a fun photo of Fergus enjoying flying with Brennan!
Monday, November 8, 2010
Scott put together a six course degustation menu for us and it was just gorgeous. A night out with just Brennan and I to chat, eat, drink and be merry.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Flights ought to be unmemorable and the majority our flight told no tales. The landing into Auckland was a bit bumpy; well, ok, it was one of those landing where everyone in the plane bursts into spontaneous applause. I leaned over to the boys “Was that scary or fun?” “Fun, fun, let’s do it again” were the cries that almost drowned out the applause!
All five of us cleared customs without one missing bag and met Caro who had picked up our campervan for us. We had intended a quiet night at Caro’s flat before venturing off the next day. But the whole family were there and the boys ran around crazily with everyone for a few hours. Of course, sleeping in the upper deck of the campervan was also too exciting, but luckily we were still on Aussie time and when they finally slept at 10.30pm it was still really only 8.30pm.
The missing bag was the one with the adult clothes in. So while the kids were madly meeting their NZ relatives, Brennan and I went out quickly to get some clothes for the next few days. What an excuse to buy some nice new fancy undies!
The idea was a gentle drive to Taupo for lunch, then play in the garden at Helene and Pete’s for the rest of the day. It took considerably longer than we intended to sort out the bureaucracy for the campervan and we finally hit the road just before lunch! Eventually we arrived at Taupo and settled in for a very cold night. At 5 degrees it was just about as cold as we’ve been since our last visit to NZ. There was plenty of wine drunk and many crazy exaggerated stories told that night – a warm up for the main event.
Everyone at the house seemed to be quite organised and focused, breakfast was made and ate and everyone hit the road. Our campervan crew took slightly longer, already in holiday mode, but we were on our way soon after the rest of the entourage. Only to find that we were locked in the property and the front gate was firmly closed. I guess that huge campervan just blended right into the garden!
“Ahh, but we have Helene’s number” “She’s not answering it” “It’s probably still in the house” “How about one of us asks the neighbour for the gate combination number, and the other rings around the family to see if anyone else knows it”
It took about half an hour, but the neighbour did know the number and we could get on our way. By then, most people knew that we would be late to the farm visit in Napier – and we thought we had everyone’s lunch in the esky that had been carefully loaded into our vehicle that morning.
We arrived at Johan’s farm about an hour after the organised time, after nearly running out of diesel and having to do a detour to fill up. Luckily the guy at the gas station knew the road that Jo’s farm was on, and could give us better directions than the useless GPS which thought the road didn’t exist.
And we weren’t the last to arrive!
Everyone piled into Jo’s ute, along with the working dogs, and he took us out to a steep paddock to show us (well, primarily Jan and Jan Jr) how the dogs work the sheep.
After all that, the esky wasn’t required for lunch. We were to carry on to Waimarama and have a late lunch there. Our bag still hadn’t been found, so we left the touring party and detoured to Napier to purchase more clothes and some lunch for our very starving children.
We finally arrived at Waimarama and spent the afternoon socialising with the extended Geelen family. From the oldest (Jan – my grandfather’s brother) to the youngest (Fergus), we were there to celebrate the 60th birthday of Andre (my Dad’s brother). Plenty of aunties, uncles and cousins to pass the time with. And plenty of beer and wine to ease the conversation. Can’t forget the Russian vodka either!
The thought of lunch at a fancy winery sounded brilliant last week when it was organised. Everyone was applauding Tash for her inspiration, but that applause faded quickly into grumpy scowls when we all woke with massive hangovers! What better cure for a hangover than a winery lunch? How about a half hour drive along a windy road first – sure to cure that seedy feeling! At least we gained some humour. Katrinka hitched a ride in the campervan and was soundly told off by Vincent “Put your seatbelt on!”
Armed with sunglasses and after treating the seedy guts with bread and water; suddenly the idea of lunch sounded brilliant again. The boys had a great time, galloping about in the vines, eating the fanciest fish and chips you ever did see (totally lost on them), borrowing everyone’s cameras and taking loads of photos of stuff. Leaves, grapevines, grass, rocks, and each other (up really close).
After lunch it was back to Waimarama for more drinking and mad conversation. “How is Australia?” “How is the new house?” “Are you still doing horse stuff?” and finding out what all the rest are up to. The boys had dinner with their cousins, and spent the time riding the quad bike and tearing about on the lawn and beach with the other four little boys that were present.
Brennan struggled with the question “How is your job?” “Well, it’s a long story, I’m still at Lane Cove, but I’m also doing ….” Brother-in-law Scott had tried valiantly to hide the fact that he was a chef, but failed miserably as each person he met said “Nice to meet you, welcome to the family, and what do you do?” Suddenly, the idea that he could cook up one of Jo’s sheep into a fabulous mutton dish was embraced by everyone! So he spent the afternoon in the kitchen – in the midst of everyone – and surpassed expectations with the most wonderful roast!
Another evening was passed in drunken conversation. Perfect.
Spent the morning playing and cleaning, then parted ways. The NZers back to work the next day, but we thought we’d take advantage of the weather and show the boys snow. So we drove off to Whakapapa and arrived in time for dinner and sleeping. It was a nice quiet night in the bush to settle ourselves before spending more time in company later in the week. The boys slept well, even though it was very cold!
Snow, snow, snow. Snowball fights, snow down the back of clothes, eating snow. So much fun to be had, in what was really so little snow. Most of it had melted – after all, it was nearly Nov – but we could find enough to get excited about.
To finish off a quintessential kiwi experience, we drove down the mountain to Tokaanu and swam at the hot pools. Fergus poo’d all over the floor during a bit of nappy free time – you’d think that we’d have this perfected by the third kid and have less of these dramas! Vincent and Keegan gave Brennan a fright by leaping into the big pool and swimming across to the other side. He leapt in the rescue them (unfortunately for the humour value, he was already in his swimmers not fully dressed), but they showed off their skills and cruised across the pool without incident. Several more laps followed before we piled back into the campervan and cruised up the road to Taupo.
We arrived in time for Brennan and the boys to help Pete in the garden, then had a quiet dinner before a long sleep.
Our drive back towards Auckland was slowly taking shape, and as we pulled out of the driveway at Taupo, we decided to relive a little history and take SH30 and SH3 to view the old roads that brought our lives together. It was a fun drive with a photo shoot at the Mangapehi railway station, and a plan to have lunch at Waitomo and show the boys where we were married. Of course they didn’t care, and were just starving. Being midweek nothing much was open, and so we fed the boys ham and cheese sandwiches from the campervan fridge and carried on to Hamilton.
After lunch there, we arrived mid afternoon at the local Transfield depot and caught up with some of the old team. Much chatting later and we reconvened at Doug’s place for the evening. His wife made the most wonderful Indian meal for dinner; albeit a little hot for comfort! And another night of drunken conversation was undertaken. Pretty much the standard theme for our holidays!
On leaving Hamilton, we were running quite early to get back into Auckland, so decided to drop by Waiuku to catch up with Gran. Had morning tea there and lots of interesting conversation catching up on all the gossip including Hemaima’s new baby, even saw pictures. So cute.
Onwards to Auckland for a quiet dinner at Marua Rd.
Spent the day at Auckland Zoo wandering around and found it quite pleasant to go to a zoo that is flat. The boys had a wonderful time with Ruth, and among the highlights were the howler monkeys, the playground and a seagull eating tomato sauce. Once we’d had enough sun, and ran long enough we went shopping to get outfits for the Halloween party that Ruth had invited the boys along to that evening.
Vincent became “Justice Police” while Keegan was “Zoroo”. Not sure if it was just a spelling mistake, or a misguided attempt at dodging copyright, but much enjoyment was gained from having a sword and a cape. Ruth was made into a ghost with the help of some massive industrial sized scissors and a white sheet. “Stand still, where do you want your eye holes?”
The boys stayed the night there, Fergus and I had an early night and Brennan cheered our rugby team home. He was a lone cheerer in the lounge!!! Go the Wallabies…
Our last day in NZ and the weather was still amazing. It hasn’t really had a mention in this whole story but it was miles better than expected. Sunny every day and most warm enough, apart from a cold wind. We were all off to the secret location of the unsurprising surprise party for Mum’s birthday. Some garden in Auckland somewhere, lots of trees, reasonable café. Weird that it had plaques with the sponsors names all through the plantings, I thought that they were all memorial plaques and the whole thing was a bit morbid, but no, just a thanks for giving us money to weed this bit plaques. Lunch was nice, the gardens were fun. You could tell our family was there, the peace was shattered with calls of “Hey, where are you?” “over here with Tash” “where?” “here!” etc.
Back to Caro’s for a BBQ and Stefan, Sarah and Noah came along too which was good to catch up again. Noah and Ruth seemed to enjoy the enthusiastic influence of our children, Vincent had them climbing up the outside of the deck, and he enjoyed shooting everyone with his gun from the Friday party.
Spent all day cleaning up the campervan and taking it back to the depot. It took ages to get it all signed up and I thought we might be late for our plane, but luckily we made it with time to spare. Mostly because the people at the airport saw us with 3 kids attempting to join a massive queue and rushed us to the front! We said our goodbyes and spent the next 4 hours completely stressed out, in lines, on the plane. The idea that they might all be tired and sleep for part of it was crazy in hindsight. The three of them just got tired and grumpy and did silly things. By the end of it, we were pleased to get them in the car and home to bed. Even though it was late, we gave them a quick bath to ease the nerves and they dropped off the sleep the minute they all hit their respective pillows. It took a little longer for the scarred nerves of the adults to recover, but after a good sleep we could see that it was all worth it and we’d had a wonderful time.