Ok, so it’s a little later than planned but we’ve ha d a lot on recently as you will no doubt discover in these next few blogs. (We are now in Bali about to leave for Vietnam and our South East Asia adventure). So apologies to all of those back at work beavering away but it has to be done…
So we left Sydney just before Christmas to stay with Neil and Paula in Auckland. At the airport we were greeted by Neil and my grandma Betty who is in her 90th year and outdid the Queen who refused to fly to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral – a mere 10 hour flight. In comparison Grandma flew all the way to New Zealand from Longton near Preston. Grandma Betty 1 – Queenie 0!
Christmas Eve at the Stuart’s in Titirangi was a wonderful sight for Jen and I who had been travelling for 1 day short of four months. A party was planned in the evening so Neil and I played a wonderful golf course up in the Waitakere forest/jungle/national park in the morning. 9 wonderfully Jurassic holes later we met up with Jen and Annie who had been for a walk around the area and it was time to prepare for the party.
Preparations were largely limited to driving back to the house before the first guests were arriving and the day swiftly progressed into a deck party of epic proportions that included but were not limited to:
- Grandma physically gagging Ash – a tv presenter friend of Joe’s – for her terrible singing
- A live rendition of Feliz Navidad including Joel on the yukelele
- Deck Golf – hitting golf balls off a champagne cork wire casing from on top of a table on the deck into the jungle/houses/bay below
- All the duty free Rum disappearing in a haze
- Indoor cricket with Jarvis, Peej’s son (nothing was broken)
- Neil’s firework display
- Jen calling her mum and dad (and forgetting that she had the next morning)
- A giant samoan baby called Preston showing us that yes they are just built that way
Ruining Christmas one golf ball at a time:
We understandably woke a little worse for wear on Christmas Day and after an excellent breakfast were seated around the tree opening presents. It was great to be a part of having been the two of us for a while and was a wonderful experience spending Christmas with Grandma Betty and Neil and Paula, Joe, Annie and Ella. Thank you so much for inviting us. I’m pretty sure I didn’t ruin Christmas – I wasn’t grounded anyway…
In the afternoon we headed out to the beach for a swim in the sea and a little game of Frisbee and bat and ball. The place was packed with big families doing the same thing and despite the lack of rain, wind, cold, snow etc it all felt very Christmassy indeed.
In the evening Paula returned from work having delivered or helped deliver some 8 Christmas baby miracles and we sat down to a big Christmas dinner with Ash (of gagging fame) and all the family. It was a cracking meal but as we get constant abuse about the number of food references I will just say thank you to Neil for all his efforts in putting such a feast on the table!
Boxing Day meant the cricket! Of course not that miserable rubbish being played in Melbourne but backyard cricket at Joe’s followed by the Windies NZ at Eden Park. Whilst the international may have finished in a pretty tight game the tension of backyard cricket was unbearable.
It featured some stunning reflex catches, dangerously fast bowling, wonderful power hitting and an outswinging Yorker that started a foot outside leg and destroyed my stumps. It was an absolute jaffer. With England settling in on the TV, some excellent sausages cooked by Neil on the BBQ we were in high spirits on the walk to Eden Park before we found out NZ were about 15/4 after 10 overs. Nevermind.
We still had time for an aborted fishing trip, picnic on the beach, 18 holes of golf and some more excellent food and wine and then a complete England batting collapse as we sat at the airport with Peej on his way to Cambodia with a dozen kids.
We had an incredible time back in New Zealand and want to thank everyone who made it a home away from home for us during the Christmas period and also on our first trip here. Thank you all!
Oh and back by popular demand Jen will be writing the next blog!