Today has brought the first official week of my trip to a close. Last Friday I drove down from my brother's in Red Beach (north of Auckland near Orewa - for those following on a map) to my sister's in Matamata. A trip which usually takes around 2 1/2 hours, took me over 3 1/2 due to road works. My brother had suggested I drive a different way than I have usually go when driving here before. Well, one stretch of road they were laying new 'concrete' down and the cars were lined up for ever and were going as fast as I could walk. Anyway, got through that, made the change of roads to cross over towards my home town. Oh yes, I was born in Matamata where my sister Beryl lives 65 years ago. Lovely place, its where Hobbitville (were they filmed Lord of the Rings and Hobbit land) resides. In fact, its just up the road from where my Mum & Dad were farming when I made my entrance into this world.
It is the end of the summer here, and it has been a long hot summer and luckily for me the day temperatures are still in the mid 20's. The nights get cool, just like our fall. Anyway, I don't remember seeing the usually green fields being this brown (mostly because I usually come when its winter time here) plus I hardly saw any cows, something unusual as I was driving into cow (dairy) country. Also, I came across my first (this trip) one way bridge. Can you believe a modern day country, on a highway which is marked a highway (except it is just a regular 2 lane road, where people can go 100 ks) and you have a one way bridge. I took a photo of it and when I get back home I will discover how to post photos. Since then I have gone over many one way bridges, especially today, but I'm ahead of myself.
When I finally arrived at my sisters, I had two nieces, one great niece in law and one great great nephew and niece waiting for me. So much family fun, talk etc - oh yes, horse racing on the T.V. Horse racing for this section of the family is almost a religion. I spent many a wonderful day at the races when I was little, but today its TV and sports bars ... not quite the same to me.
Later in the day, my sister received a phone call from her eldest son and he and his wife were driving down. A day earlier than expected.
What I haven't said is that people were gathering for unveiling of my brother in law Jack's headstone. A year ago, when I was at the Vernon Health & Wellness Fair my beloved brother in law passed away, after having nine long months after a really bad stroke. Of course there was no way way I could get down as for the funeral, but here I was in the country (even though my ticket was booked the previous February) and able to attend the unveiling to take place on Sunday.
Therefore, there were four of us at the house on Friday. Saturday arrived and this was the day of a big horse race plus a cricket test. Sports everywhere. In the morning Beryl & I drove out to see my eldest sister Nancy who lives about 15k away. She is in her mid 80's and not well and so we sat and visited with her and her husband Les for around 1 1/2 hours and then left to go shopping, and while I was looking at a store, ran into another niece. Some family history. My mother and father had two daughters Nancy and Beryl. When Nancy was 19 and Beryl was nearly 16 I came along, and then nearly 3 years later my brother Malcolm. Nancy married Les and had 12 children. Beryl married Jack and had 5 children. The elder nieces and nephews were basically raised with Malcolm & I. I therefore have lots of neices and nephews here. One of the side factors is no one gets to call me Aunty Norma in Canada, but here I get to here it often and it sounds great to my ear. I phone up and say Hi, its your Aunty Norma here. Small rewards of visiting family and being accepted as such.
In particular as I grew up I was close to Beryl & Jack and had most of my childhood holidays with them. I always felt like their eldest child. When I had my 60th birthday, Beryl, even though she was in her mid 70's came up to celebrate with me. She came with her daughter Raewyn, whose computer I'm using right now. Several of Nancy's many children I feel close too as well and make an effort to see them when here.
Now back to Saturday, after shopping back to the house to watch more horse racing and cricket on the t.v. I would go outside and sit in the sun and read my book, then back in the shade of the living room and watch tv with the others. Late afternoon we meet up with more of the family down at the 'track bar' and watched the major race of the day -I even had a bet, but the horse ran 5th after leading 3/4 of the race. It was interesting. Both Beryl and I don't drink anymore (shes 16 yeas, me 4) but we still had our non alocholic drinks to join in the family fun.
Next day was Sunday, getting ready for the people to return after the unveiling. John & Judy (John's wife) and I with Beryl managed to get all prepared and then we drove out to the graveyard. For me, it was a tremendous opportunity to see people I would not normally see. I visited with one of Jack's brothers and his wife who I had not seen since before coming to Canada - 46 years ago. Caught up with great nieces and nephews, and after the headstone was made visible we headed back to Beryl's for an afternoon of food, drink and 'loud' talk.
I know when I tell people I come from a family, where I am one of the quiet ones no one can imagine it (at least that's what they say) well if you were at Beryl's you would see, not only a room full of people, my size and shape, but voices much louder than me and of course all trying to out talk each one. Actually its music to my ears, as I was raised being in this household with this noise level.
Eventually, people went, quiet descended and we went to bed with two nieces staying over as well - John and Judy had departed early afternoon so beds were available.
Monday arrives and the four of us (me driving with Beryl in her car) Sheryl and Raewyn in Sheryl's car we headed over to Raewyn's second house (yes her and her husband have two) so she could pick up her car. We ended up staying the night there. Her second house, is lovely, has a pool and is near Tauranga and Mt. Maunganui.
I was visited by two 2nd cousins there, one into the geneology of my mother's side (she's part of my Mum's side of the family) so we had a great talk for about three hours of family and who is who etc. That was interesting for me. Plus I had not seen them the last few visits so it was good to catch up. Again 2nd cousins who are the same age as me. Their mother was the eldest granddaughter (died 3 years ago) and I'm the youngest (so far still going).
Then today, Tuesday, Sheryl went back home to Matamata, Raewyn drove herself and I drove Beryl and we came through roads twisting and winding to Raewyn's main house in a town called Whitianga. Its a beautiful home sits high on the hill overlooking the ocean. Actually, its over looking a bay, with small islands sitting out in the bay and out in the open sea. Beautiful.
Now the roads, twisty and windy I've mentioned, no shoulders on the road,and at one point going up a twisting road a large truck comes around the corner, and another little truck was passing him - on our side of this narrow road. I braked slowing us down, pulled over (remember a different side of the road - and luckily I pulled the proper way) until Beryl was saying "Heh don't get too close" because there was a big drop off and she doesn't like those at all. I can't speak for the large truck driver, but he probably was pulling over as far as he could go and then the little truck managed to pull between the two of us. Raewyn said later "did you get his license plate?" and I told her "no way could I see his licence plate, I was trying to ensure he did not hit us head on". We also ran into the wonderful one way bridges, lost track of how many, maybe five. Plus this country has roundabouts, and I am become an expert of knowing what to look for etc.
Anyway, we arrived safe and sound and in one piece. It was a trip. Tomorrow we go see one of Nancy's daughters who also lives over this way and who I love to see. Another day of driving in this beautiful, wonderful, crazy roads country. I probably won't see another computer until Friday night or Sat morning (when I'm back up at Malcolm's,) but will catch you up with it all then. In the meantime, I'm driving back to Matamata Thursday and a friend is driving up from Hastings area to catch up with me Friday and Saturday and I'm back to Malcolm & Jan's Sunday.
Lots of love to all
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