Xmas Holidays

For the holidays we headed up to Auckland at 0700 on December 25th. Qantas provided breakfast in the form of half a sun-dried bagel with some warmed cheese in it. It was very tasty if a bit mean looking. I mean, come on, half a bagel? Why not provide mini-bagels instead?

We were met at the airport by Geoff and Robert. We spent the day with Geoff, Steph,, Robert and Geoff’s parent David and Beth. The lunch was excellent and Beth’s puddings were fantastic.

After a few days we headed down to Kawhia to spend a few days with Pauline’s cousin Ally. we both got a bit sun-burnt but Pauline came off the worst. Luckily Ally had this cream that was loaded with vitamin E and that helped soothe things a bit. Steph’s solarcaine seemed to take care of the rest of the damage.

Kawhia (pronounced ka-fee-ah) was placid and very quiet. A no-horse town with a pub, two fish and chip shops, a corner shop, a fire & ambulance station and a cop shop. Not much going on there. However, after we left, someone got stabbed to death, a cop (on the way to the crime scene) was assaulted and a mob house got burned down.

Here is Pauline eating flounder in Kawhia:

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On the way back from Kawhia we visited Raglan and Piha.

I had expected more of Raglan since people have been saying its the next place to really take off but it still seemed as if it was waiting in the wings. There were no obvious designer houses in large numbers or sophisticated coffee shops. They certainly sold plenty coffee but it is clear that the main inhabitants during summer are in the 18-26 age group.

Piha was far more rugged that it looked on television, and this was a nice day. Lion rock was enormous; so much larger than I expected. Indeed the community was not what I expected at all. The whole place seemed to be little more than a collection of baches. Some of the baches were very impressive and had, no doubt, received the benefit of an architect’s eye. None of them appeared to be of poor quality. However, this was clearly a weekend community. There were few shops and no school. Piha is a place people go to swim and have fun in the sun. It isn’t a living community, except at the weekends.

When we left Piha it was a long, hard drive over to Mission Bay, back to Geoff and Steph. We had said we would arrive between 1700 and 1800. The car clock ticked over to 1800 as we entered their driveway.

That night (the 30th) we went out for mussels and frites at a local restaurant. However, the frites looked a lot more like chips. Belgian frites are quite thick and broad. These were rectangular in cross-section and (no doubt) came straight out of a freezer bag.

The next night, Pauline prepared a stunning meal consisting of a hot lamb salad, chocolate brownie and pannacotta. Stunning, absolutely stunning. She is a fantastic cook. I am very lucky.

We finally returned the rental car at 1715 on the 1st and a nice Apex guy ran us straight down to the domestic terminal where Qantas offered us a flight on a plan boarding in the next five minutes. So instead of hanging around the airport for the next 1.5 hours we got away almost straight away.

Nice to be home though. There is a lot to be said for sleeping in one’s own bed.

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