08 February 2009

Safe arrivals and safe travels

Last week's lack of a blog was due to our excitement at seeing Grandma & Grandad arrive safe and sound and wanting to catch up with them as much as possible that first night.

It was a fairly quiet weekend, lots of cleaning for me Saturday with Noah in tow, whilst Mark attacked the Akatarawa's in the annual 4-hr orienteering mountain bike race him and his friends have done the past 3 years. Saturday was the hottest day of the summer so far and I think they all found the ride pretty sweaty work but a fun day out all the same. Noah and I had fun at the zoo with Jackie and her family on Saturday afternoon but it was hot work pushing Noah around in the stroller, he would have been fine to walk except I forgot his sunhat and the stroller provided a little extra shade!

Sunday we could barely contain ourselves with excitement waiting for 2pm to roll around. And we didn't even have to wait too long at the airport before we caught a glimpse of the beaming faces of Grandma & Grandad as they came through the doors.

They have had a lovely week by all accounts exploring central Wellington and even managing a ferry excursion over to Days Bay on the best weather day of the week.

Our fun at Virginia Lake, Wanganui
(I have experimented with Picasa collages which are a little quicker to upload than individual pictures. The best way to view the collage is to click on the picture and it will load up as a full page of photos)

Then Friday it was off to New Plymouth bright and early for a weekend with GeeGee. As it was the annual Sevens competition in Wellington, the roads out of town were dead quiet with all the traffic headed in the other direction. We had our usual stop at Virginia Lake in Wanganui, and whiled away a lovely hour there. We had taken some bread to feed the ducks who were extremely overeager in their desire to get some bread, one even having the cheek to grab the bread right out of the bag in my hand, at which point Noah decided it wasn't actually fun anymore - with which I heartily agreed. So we had to chase off the hundred or so ducks who were following me around like the Pied Piper and then it was onto coffees and fluffy and a look around.

It was a year since we had been through the winter gardens at the lake (usually we are far too preoccupied with the birds, ducks and playground) but Noah discovered a tunnel which he had great fun running through with Grandad. After a brief, obligatory look around the bird aviary we were back on our way.

It was scorching hot when we arrived in New Plymouth so much so that we decided a trip to the beach was on the cards. The tide was about perfect and Mark and Grandad wasted no time getting into the water. Noah on the other hand didn't want a bar of going in the water, no amount of cajoling or forcing seemed to make any difference, and in the end he seemed happiest just playing in the sand. Given this was only Noah's second ever time at the beach, and knowing how long it can take him to acclimatise to certain new experiences, we figure it'll come in its own 'Noah' time.

We had a bit of a rough night on Friday night, all 3 of us (me, Mark and Noah) sleeping in one room. Noah woke at midnight with a nightmare (something about lions) and it took us 2.5 hours to get him back to sleep as it was unbearably hot in the room for us all. We were all feeling somewhat jaded on Saturday as a result.

It is incredible to think that Mum & Dad (UK) have come from the coldest weather in twenty years to this heat. Their neighbours have even kindly sent pictures of The Old Barn covered in snow which is hard to believe when we're melting over here. It has been amazing to hear of all the disruptions the UK has suffered this week as a result of the snowstorms, and yet in this part of the world we are so sad to hear the news that 50 people have died as a result of the bush fires in Australia.

Saturday was spent catching up with family, Noah's great great Uncle Bill & Aunty Shirley popping around for morning tea. Then we headed out for what has to be one of the best cafe meals we've all had in a long time at Fresha Cafe. The food was simply gorgeous (my Thai chicken curry filo tart just one example!) and very reasonable too. Then home to catch up with Wendy, and my cousins Bryn and Gwyl - who we realised we hadn't seen for two years since he ventured off to the UK. The beach beckoned again, although when we got down there it was incredibly windy - a better day for the kite surfers than for us sand bunnies. Noah was happy as anything playing in the sand, and ventured down to the water's edge with Daddy & Grandad, but still not in it...oh well...this time we didn't even mention going in as clearly he will do it in his own time when he is ready!

Saturday evening, my other grandma (Nan) came over for a meal and we had a wonderful evening reminiscing about times gone by. It was particularly interesting for Mike and Sally (Grandma & Grandad) to hear about her life in the war, and the stories of my grandfather (Pa) who fought in Northern Egypt and Monte Casino and was awarded the Military Cross as a result of his bravery on the front line.

We put Noah in my bed for the night while I slept out in the lounge and apart from being up at 5.50am, we all had a better night's sleep. This morning we headed off about 10am, it is always sad to say goodbye to GeeGee but now that we have free petrol (and we made it there and back on 3/4 of a tank!) and a lovely car to drive there should be no excuse not to get up there a little more often than we managed to last year, restricted as we were with my study timetable.

On the way home, the mountain put on a stunning show for us, and we stopped in at the farm at Ngaere to catch up with Derek briefly. Wendy and Derek are hoping to pop in and stay a couple of days with Sally & Mike in April during their trip to the UK, so it was nice for them to see each other this weekend and make some tentative plans.

Stunning views of the mountain, and a rare chance to take a special family shot!

The rest of the trip passed uneventfully, and we were finally home about 5pm tonight. This week will be an interesting one for me, as my dear friend Jackie has now finished at M-co and I'm on my own for the next two weeks before having a week off with the family and the following week my new student starts...it's bound to be busy but hopefully manageable. We are hoping to have a meal out together on Wednesday night, I have an M-co reunion night to go to on Thursday and then we'll hope to have a quieter weekend around Wellington this coming weekend.

Noah shows off his new Bob the Builder bag for daycare, Paradise Fish n Chips (and they were!), Fun at the beach, reading with Grandma, East End Beach, Daddy's best train track invention yet, and more beach fun!

Noah is loving having Grandma & Grandad here, he really is in his element. We have already had some 'smashing' (to coin a Grandad-ism) times together in the past week and we are thoroughly enjoying all being together. I'm trying very hard to remember some of the funny things that Noah has said and done as there have been plenty, but sadly my brain is a little too weary and nothing is forthcoming tonight!

Two things I forgot to mention.....our monarch caterpillars are growing and growing and there's one very big fat one who can't be far from turning into a chrysalis. Also Andrew started on our landscaping this week, and it is coming together brilliantly...so watch this space!

The caterpillars are growing by the day, the landscaping taking shape, Mum & Dad's winter wonderland garden they have left behind in England

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