Saturday, January 29, 2011

First week in New Zealand

I have been in New Zealand a week. Its been a busy week and the weather has finally turned to being how I wanted it. Hot.

I arrived after a great flight. Only 13 ½ hours (not 14 like last time). I slept several hours so when I arrived I felt quite good. I was greeted by my brother and sister-in-law, plus Nateele, my niece, her children Cam and Maddie, 5 & 3 plus Shaday another nieces, step daughter. As it was six am in the morning, the kids had been up really early, so a date with the ever present McDonalds was necessary. As I was filled with breakfast from the plane I only had a cup of tea. How good it feels to be embraced by the 'family' once again. I always enjoy the trip from the airport to my brother's place, seeing the colors, looking at the ocean, but this trip they put the DVD on of Happy Feet (a movie I saw years ago with Christobelle & Mike in Vancouver on Christmas Day) and I found myself caught up in the movie (with the kids) and hardly noticed the view. This made me realise how much children must miss these days, watching DVDs rather than the beautiful views around them.

Once we got back to my brother’s it was a quiet day except for a visit with Nateele to a shoe shop where I had bought shoes last year. I could not find anything I liked, and shoes were not really on my list. Then my nephew Calvin, his three kids, Olly, Sam and Bella arrived, so a housefilled with kids as we had supper and then my niece Laurinda arrived to pick up Shayday. Family, heaven. As mentioned last year it’s the only place I get called Aunty and it warms my heart.

Saturday arrived. I had slept well (sometimes that does not happen, but I was thankful it did). We had a party to attend to that evening (Laurinda’s 30th birthday party one of the reasons I am here right now). A quiet day watching tennis, while it rained and the wind howled outside. A huge storm (cyclone) had come in, which ended up creating a lot of flooding (more of that later). Thankfully, before leaving for the get together, which was being held at a pool hall/come gathering place, the rain stopped. Friends of Malcolm & Jan had arrived for supper and came with us in Malcolms seven seater car (to accompodate the grandchildren which are often there).

It was a great party. I had the wonder of seeing a lot more of my nieces and nephews some who had travelled up island to attend. It was fun, dancing and talking and catching up with everyone.

Sunday, this was the morning, I was leaving my brothers, who has loaned me his CRV to drive around in while here. I drove to my nephew John’s place (remember he is just younger than me, and older than my brother) to meet up with two nieces, and then we travelled in a ‘pack’ first to pick up niece’s Raewyn’s car (left on the trip up) and then onward to pick up my sister Beryl who was traveling to meet up with us as we drove to Rae’s.

Now the previous day storm was still raining in places, and it was interesting. Being in the sub tropics rain can be anything, heavy, medium or light. The rain was mostly heavy, but luckily it would come for a short while and then lighten up, stop and then begin the cycle all over again as we moved south. Just before we were to met up with Beryl (her youngest daughter Joanne had driven her to meet us) we had to detour. I figured out we had to drive maybe 50 ks to go 10ks. Luckily we came out just before the place we were meeting them. It took us quite a while to get there, the roads we detoured on were not great, and lots of cars going both ways, from Auckland and to Auckland. When we picked up Beryl (she came with me – my navigator – in case I got lost). We again team drove, Niece Sheryl & her husband Melville in their car. They were going down to Whitianga (Rae’s home) for a weeks holiday. Beryl and I and then Rae bringing up the rear. At one point we went over this long one way bridge and Rae, who was quite a way behind us missed the bridge. Lots of accidents, floods and traffic was being diverted all over the place. We heard that the road to Whitianga was flooded and people were not getting in and out. The tide was super high (called a King Tide) plus northern winds, plus the storm and floods. So we ended up stopping and having a late lunch at a town Tiaphua and then when they figured the road should be cleared we drove on. Now the fun part. I have driven through water before, but I’m coming up to some water on the road (my side) but there is a car coming on the other side, so cannot just move over and go around it. Also I was going at a pace that there was no time to stop unless I stopped on a dime and Rae was behind me, so I just drove into the water. Well it was like hitting a wall (well not quite). The car speed slowed to ½ I’m sure, the water was spraying right up over the side of the car and I thought for a moment we would stall, so pressed my foot on the gas and it shot through the rest of the water. I breathed a sigh of relief, my sister did too and Rae drove around it. The rest of the trip to her place was uneventful. I need to point out, this was my first drive on the other side of the road, and I'm always tentative especially until I get used to driving on the other side of the road. It takes quite a bit of concentration and my ongoing mantra "am I in the middle of the road" which means I'm close to the middle line. It works for me and keeps me ever present when my mind wants to go off and 'think' or observe the countryside.
I love Raewyn’s place, may not like the drive getting there, winding over hills on roads posted at 100ks which I drive comfortably at 80. Once there, beautiful view of the bay and then out to the pacific ocean. The storm was till blowing with bits of rain coming in. I was tired, so sat and watched tennis. Thank goodness for the Australian Open. Since being here I have been able to watch Tennis most days, afternoon and evenings. Australia is 2 hours behind in real time, so 1pm and again at 8 – 9pm the tennis is on.

Monday I found myself quite tired, still not wanting to do much, but we all went down to her little town, and ended up finding two tops to purchase. Then back watching Tennis and that was about all.

Tuesday still a bit tired, (this jet lag) but feeling a bit better. We all drove over another hill to visit another niece Maureen and her husband Murray, who run a holiday resort, campers, etc. I had requested that we have fish and chips there for lunch (Maureen does them – takeaways ). Great visit and a great lunch. They were tired as they had been flooded and had spent the Sunday night busy moving the campers as their tents were going to get wet. She had photos taken, luckily no real damage done, but water on the paths and some of the spots was deep enough. Some campers had had to pull up in the night and go home. A lot had stayed and were still ‘drying’ out when were there. Back to Rae’s to the view, my book and Tennis.

Wednesday Beryl & I left around 11am and drove back to her place. I awoke feeling more myself and was ready to drive back to Matamata, the town I was born and is now known world wide as Hobbiton. (The filmed the Hobbits village it just out of town). By the time we had arrived, I was again tired, so we took it easy – tennis – and made some calls sorting out some visits I have to do while here. My driving is getting more relaxed as I'm getting used to being on the other side of the road. Heard of some North Americans getting killed in head on crashes (must not have my mantra).

Thursday. Awoke feeling really good and went for a walk before the sun, which is back to its usual ‘hot’ came out. Then we Beryl & I went to visit our eldest sister who is in a senior's home now. I thought she looked so much better than last year when I was here. Her husband Les was out getting his eyes tested  test, so will see him tomorrow am. We did shopping and I found a couple of more things to buy, then back for lunch. After lunch I drove us out – more practice – to see my brother in law Jack’s gravesite, then around to see how the town had grown and then back to watch – guess Tennis. I sat outside trying to get some color before heading home and now making some notes – not internet connection here – but will post this on the blog when I get back up to my brothers. My friend Karen (who visited me last August) will be arriving shortly for a couple of nights, then we both leave – in different directions – on Sat.

Talk later. Norma.

Norma Cowie 250 490 0654 Email:

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