I feel as if there's just not the space to tell it all, nor the ability to do the weekend justice. But I'll try!
My little sojourn up to Auckland started off with a slight spanner in the works when I realised at 8am Friday morning my flight had been cancelled! Luckily (and in usual organised fashion), I'd been checking the departures for the day and noticed, or I'd have been none the wiser when I turned up at the airport at lunchtime. Luckily, I managed to re-book for the flight at 2pm (only an hour later) and so my weekend was back on track again.
I arrived to blue skies, warmth and sunshine landing at Auckland airport, and despite the woman behind me moaning about the fact that were were getting off the back of the plane and walking across the tarmac meant that she would be cold, I relished stepping out into fresh air, lifting my face to the sky and saying a thankful prayer to see the sun shining again, after a week of incredibly crazy winter weather back at home.
This weekend was also a wonderful opportunity to spend some time with my oldest friend Andrea from high school. We catch up every so often, and it is always as if no time has passed since the last time, except for the obvious changes in little Mackay who is now nearly 15 months (last time I saw him he was 7 months), and a lovely growing belly on Andrea as her and partner Andrew are expecting number 2 in mid-February.
They have punch buggies in Auckland too! I spotted about six!
It was great to finally meet her and we talked about the usual mummy stuff which included our littlies who are born only 2 weeks apart, although neither are that little anymore given that they're both turning 2 in the next few weeks. Oh and plenty of discussion around baby names, so I can't wait to see what name the littlest Faery pops out with in a few week's time ;-)
Saturday morning I headed out with my lovely hosts for an early breakfast in Ponsonby before ambling through the streets of Ponsonby and Herne Bay taking in the beautiful homes and boutique shops whilst little Mackay took the opportunity for a short siesta in the stroller bathed in morning sunshine. I'd have joined him if I could have fitted in there, it looked so cosy and inviting!
Then it was time to prepare for the big Bloggy Bash! I'd been hoping against hope I would be able to meet my dear friend Jaz from Treacy Travels for the first time. During the week, it looked like it wouldn't happen as she had been under the weather and confined to bed for a few days, and whilst I was at LEAST as disappointed as she was, I totally understood how important it was to look after herself and not push it after the very tough year this lovely lady has had to battle through. So when I got a text an hour before the lunch saying she was going to pop in briefly, my heart literally did a little cancan dance inside!
Meeting the lovely Jaz in real life made the day extra special for me!
Off I went in Andrea's car, armed with Google Map directions for the short drive over the Harbour Bridge to Birkenhead. I got out of my car at the same time as Sammy from Cherished and we instantly (although tentatively!) recognised each other. That was the first hug of many throughout the afternoon as more and more bloggers poured in through the doors to the Mediterranean restaurant.
The lovely Sammy from Cherished
It was a good thing we were the only ones in the restaurant, as I think anyone else would have thought we were all a tad crazy with the number of cameras out (I had 2 with me, 3 if you count the iPhone!). But I found I was quite restrained on the picture-taking front, instead soaking up the moment and it was all I could do not to pinch myself several times to believe I was really here meeting these wonderful girls who I somehow feel like I've been friends with forever.
Sammy's equally lovely little sister Penny from My Spirited Baby
The lovely Leonie (Kiwi at Heart) who made the day possible (you rock!) with our lovely Simone from Great Fun 4 Kids
Leonie had organised the day beautifully. Firstly, everyone had made each other crafty name tags - mine made by the lovely Lisa of All in a Daze. And then there were spot prizes - I won a book (dammit now I have to actually find the time to read it, you'll be pleased to hear I did at least start it on the plane journey home). And it was so sweet that Leonie also chose me to win one of her delightful sock monkeys as I'd come the farthest - this little guy was snaffled up immediately by Mylo and christened BoBo as soon as I walked in the door this morning.
In all the excitement it took us over an hour to even place our order for lunch such was the conversation flowing and picture taking happening, and so it was long past 3.30pm before we all rather reluctantly went our separate ways back to our lives, with the Whangarei posse having to drive the long 2-hour journey home to their families, with the rest of us dispersing back to various parts of the city.
And me......well you can pick the non-Aucklander! I had the opportunity to go to the toilet one more time just as we were leaving the restaurant but passed it up for the opportunity for more hugs and farewells, thinking to myself that it was only a 10 minute journey back over the Bridge to Andrea's. Well the joke was on me when I hit a wall of traffic before I even got there and a flashing sign that said 'Incident on the Bridge'.
EEEEEEEEE! There was some firm bladder holding going on whilst I waited and drove at snails pace for the next twenty minutes, trying to distract myself by taking photos of the slow-moving traffic and the gorgeous back drop of the city. All's well that ends well though, I'm pleased to report there were no puddles to clean up in the car (phew!).
After a glass or two of Reisling on the deck, I really wanted make the most of the golden day that was coming to a close (and the fact I'd lugged the big camera all the way from Wellington). So my fantastic tour guide Andrea kindly volunteered to drive me to some vantage points, each proving to be more spectacular than the last.
How thrilled am I that Andrea was willing to take me to these stunning locations in the dying stages of the day to capture these shots.
Auckland you really turned it on for me this weekend. You were utterly captivating. And I'll never forget that you were the host of an amazing afternoon. Where friendship and conversation flowed between blogging buddies sharing real-life connections that are usually only possible via super-fast broadband copper wires.
One of the things I love about blogging is that distance and time are no barrier to friendships that can be every bit as real as our friends just down the road. And while there's much to mourn about the loss of the good old days before technology invaded every inch of our lives, at least for today, I am so thankful for that same technology bringing us all together.