The World Was Here To Play
Hello world :0) Got lots to tell you about so thought I'd take the opportunity to at least make a start while England make a rather dire attempt at playing France in rugby - some big tournament thing going on apparently. So...back to quite a while ago...
A few weeks ago, we were wandering around town on a Sunday when we were stopped by a TV crew and asked about our thoughts on the Australia v New Zealand rugby match that had taken place the night before. We hadn't watched it but Chris said something that sounded quite good and I made sure I stood out of shot :0) We were on our way for a tour around a new theatre that had just opened up in Auckland - Q, which was quite enjoyable. Cool to have a look behind the scenes a bit. And then straight afterwards, we went to the Civic Theatre to see Soap - it was quite a theatrey day! Soap was really good - kind of acrobatics and circus acts in the bath is probably the best way to describe it if you haven't heard of it :0)
All of that was just before I started my new job - at Auckland Theatre Company. I'm helping raise money to build a new theatre as well as helping looking after some of the day-to-day relationship stuff with current partners. It's a cool place to work and I'm quite enjoying it. It's quite funny though because we have quite a lot of kiwi actors come in and I've been introduced to a few of them but I have no idea who they are so I just say hello and then ask who they are later on. At least I don't get all flustered and starstruck!
And a couple of days after I started my new job, we moved into a new place. We're sharing a house in Mission Bay with a guy called Darryl and Jasmine, his King Charles Cavalier who is very sweet. Mission Bay's really nice and we live about three minutes walk from the beach so looking forward to the summer coming when we can really take advantage of that. There are also lots of nice little cafes and restaurants so we've been doing our best to try a few of them!
As you may know, there's a bit of a rugby tournament going on at the moment and the whole country has gone a bit world cup crazy, which is quite cool, even for a non-rugby fan like me. And so you'll find that a lot of this journal entry has something to do with it. Starting with Chris' work - they're all quite excited about it and it started with them all having to pick a world cup team and decorate their desk in support. Chris was a bit put out that someone had already picked England so had to settle for Wales. Now everyone at work thinks he's Welsh ;0) (Chris - the way results went this actually turned out quite well and coming from Swansea I suppose I am a bit Welsh!)
All of the teams had an official welcome ceremonies in various places around the country and one of the teams that were welcomed in Auckland was Japan. Chris went down to Aotea Square at lunchtime to check it out - he's quite lucky to be near the centre of the city so he can do stuff like that. The same day, he also saw three of the England team - Steve Thompson, Dan Cole and Lee Mears - walking down the street. They arrived in Auckland and stayed here for a few days before they decamped to Dunedin where they have been based for most of the tournament.
That weekend, we both went down to Aotea Square to see the All Blacks welcome ceremony. It was a really nice atmosphere (which is true of the city in general) and quite cool watching the traditional Maori welcome. It looked quite intimidating though, although I'm sure the All Blacks are used to it...and it started to rain which could be seen as a bad omen but they've been doing OK so far. The rest of it was a bit dull, if I'm honest, but quite cool to see them all I guess. A girl called Holly Smith sang before the ceremony and she was quite good. We were going to the opening night of The End of the Golden Weather (an Auckland Theatre Company production) that night and I'd bought a shawl to wear. We left it on a bench by mistake, realised about an hour later, went back and it was still there! An example of the good things in New Zealand!
That evening, as I said, we went to see The End of the Golden Weather, which was actually the second night in a row we went because we bought tickets to see it on the Thursday night before I got the job at ATC and then got invited to the opening night on the Friday, which was quite cool. It's a play by a renowned New Zealand playwright Bruce Mason about the end of childhood. It's a beautiful play, with really evocative language, which I felt gave me a real feel for New Zealand (admittedly the New Zealand of the 60s, but still...After the show, there were drinks and nibbles with the cast there as well, which was all quite exciting for us, although I'm sure it's very uncool to say that. The most famous person in it as far as we knew was Keisha Castle-Hughes who was the girl in Whale Rider. Not that we spoke to any of them or anything!
Oh dear - England are on their way home. They didn't play very well at all, so it serves them right really. Go the All Blacks now then!!!
Not sure where this fits in on the timeline but we went to see Footrot Flats at the cinema, which is a classic kiwi cartoon. It was re-released for its 25th anniversary so we thought we'd go and experience it. It was quite funny, especially the rugby sequence in it. It's always good to go and see a bit of a country's cultural history!
For the world cup, they have built 'The Cloud' on Queen's Wharf, which is a big, long, white plasticky type exhibition space thing (also known as The Slug) as part of the fan zone. When it opened, they had a Pacific Exhibition on so we went to check it out one evening. The actual exhibition was quite disappointing - they had some traditional dancers, but you couldn't really see the stage unless you were in the front row, they had a couple of food and drinks things to taste, a few stalls selling Pacific souvenirs, a guy getting a tattoo done and lots of random stalls, like construction companies who had some kind of link to the Pacific Islands. However, we did see Michael Jones, which is apparently quite exciting. An ex-All Black apparently!
It's a couple of weeks after I started writing this now so sorry for the delay!!!
Continuing on the rugby theme, Chris' work had a morning tea at work to celebrate the beginning of the tournament. They all had to take in some food from the home country of the team they were supporting so we made some Welsh cakes, which seemed to go down quite well. We had to improvise a bit because they don't seem to sell lard so they were just very buttery! I'm quite grateful Chris didn't plump for Japan - not sure how good my sushi making skills would be!
For the opening night, we thought we'd go down to one of the fan zones and check it all out. There were a few fan zone areas, with Queen's Wharf being the main one. For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, they held the opening game on a Friday, which seemed a bit strange. Lots of people did finish work early, but if you didn't, there was no chance of getting into Queen's Wharf - it only holds about 2,000 people or something. We both ended up finishing a bit early, but Queen's Wharf was full by about 2pm so we ended up going down to the Wynyard Quarter instead. I got a lift to the top of town with my boss and walked down through town with another friend from work. The atmosphere was great, especially walking down 'K-Road', which had adopted Tonga as it's second team. The Tongans are amazing - they were all out singing and dancing - it was a real party atmosphere. The closer we got to the bottom of town, the busier it got and by the time we got to the bottom of Queen Street, it was crazy - there were so many people around! I had arranged to meet Chris by one of the cafes and stupidly ended up taking a wrong turn. I pushed my way through the crowd and then realised that I was supposed to go the other way! Rather than try to force my way back, I got hold of Chris and he came to meet me and we kept heading west out to the Wynyard Quarter. On the way through town, Chris had come across one of his colleagues and his friends and had a quick drink with them, which was a bit random considering how many people were around!
When we got to the Wynyard Quarter, it was actually really quiet and we got ourselves a prime spot to watch the fireworks, the opening ceremony and the first game (shown on big screens...which they eventually got working!). The opening ceremony was beautiful and really well done - it was spectacular without being over the top and really quite classy. I think it also had a distinctly kiwi feel, which was lovely too. The fireworks were also pretty cool and we had a great view looking across the water back at the city, where fireworks were being let off from the tops of buildings, as well as boats on the harbour. There were even a couple of people doing what I can only describe as acrobatic abseiling down a building, which was pretty cool. And then it was time for the first game - New Zealand v Tonga. As was expected, New Zealand thrashed Tonga, but the Tongan supporters in the crowd were, once again, great value. I think nearly every time they touched the ball they got huge cheers! We decided to make our way home at half time, which was already quite busy. They closed the bridge across to Viaduct Harbour so we walked around. There weren't any buses going in our direction so we started walking home and then got a taxi from a little way out of town (one that was coming back into town - you wouldn't believe the amount of people that walk on the left hand side of the road leading away from town expecting to get a taxi...why would an empty taxi be going away from the city???). Anyway, it was only about $25, which surprised Chris greatly - he was expecting it to be at least double that for some reason. I think he thought because it was a busy night that they'd all put their prices up, but it is only about a 15 minute journey!
The day after the opening ceremony, we made our way over to the North Shore for a friend's daughter's 2nd birthday. It was the first time we'd gone so far into the North Shore (our only other foray being a quick trip to Devonport) so it was good to see another area of Auckland. Making our way out there, it was quite strange as the bus went through some quite new, 'planned' areas, which always feel a bit soulless. Bec and Graeme live in Torbay though which seemed very nice and it was good to see them. There were (obviously) lots of children at the party so we felt a bit like the odd ones out. We couldn't actually stay very long because I'd been given a couple of tickets to go and see the Wizard of Oz which I was going to see with Nikki while Chris went to a pub to watch England v Argentina with Dave. Chris works with Dave and Nikki is Dave's fiance. They're our quiz team partners. There were a couple of funny comments during the rugby apparently but I'll let Chris tell you about them. The Wizard of Oz was very good and England won the rugby so it was a good night all round :0) (Chris - the game was actually pretty dire and England were lucky to win in the end. After Youngs got his try at the end a Kiwi voice piped up 'Oh we are watching a game of rugby, someone's scored a try!'. It was also the infamous numbers coming off game and after Armitage got tackled someone else shouted 'Can anyone tell what number he is?' - gotta love the Kiwi sense of humour!)
The next day we went to the cinema to see Hanna, which was very good (not sure that warrants being mentioned in the journal really, but we have been leading a fairly ordinary life here so far so I guess it's just part of that!).
The next week we also went to see Venus Is at the newly opened Q. Just Q - it's a theatre but they don't like it being called Q theatre for some reason, which makes it quite hard if someone doesn't know what Q is! Anyhoo...it was a kind of dance/acrobatics/cabaret type thing which was quite interesting, had some clever stuff in it and lots of nudity. It was quite rude in places! It was good on the whole though, if a bit disjointed. It involved quite a lot of audience participation, although we luckily escaped most of that! (Chris - the theatre itself was also quite cool with the audience filing in to sit on sofas and armchairs, beds and stools randomly arranged throughout the room so that you felt part of the performance).
The next weekend, we thought we'd check out the International student Hangi, which I believe is the name for a traditional method of Maori cooking where they bury food in a fire underground and cook it. This Hangi was on Queen Street so obviously didn't entail burying things to cook them, but there were a few different stalls to try food from and then vote on, which was pretty cool. It was a nice little thing to go to - quite a cool atmosphere just on a normal shopping street. Afterwards we thought we'd see what was on at the Academy Cinema, which is a little art house cinema next to the library. One of the screens has about 9 seats. We went to see Last Paradise, which was kind of about the impact of human activity, particularly on surf spots around the world. It was quite a good film and we were in the 9 seat screen and had it all to ourselves so we had our own private screening. In the front row, the seats have footstools and everything so it's almost like sitting in an armchair to watch it!
We watched a couple of the other games over the next week or so - South Africa v Fiji, which we watched a bit of at The Cloud and then we came back to Mission Bay to watch the Australia v Ireland game. Fans of both teams were out in force in Auckland and we almost stayed in the city to watch it as it would probably have been a great atmosphere, but I think it was a Sunday night and we'd have ended up getting home quite late so we decided against it. It was a good game to watch though, even if we were in quite a sedate bar and everyone was behind Ireland (the rivalry between NZ and Aus being a bit like that of England and France, or Wales or something). We also went to watch Wales v Samoa and England v Georgia in the world bar (the big Heineken sponsored bar on Queen's Wharf) at some point. Again, both good atmospheres - the Samoans (in fact, I think all the pacific island fans) were also great value. Most people were supporting Georgia rather than England, I think!
Ummm...what else. We went to do karaoke again - lots of fun, if slightly sad :0) I think Chris saw Bryan Habana but I don't know who he is really so he can tell you about that. We have been exploring the Mission Bay area a bit more, including a nice park just down the road. We've taken Jasmine up there a few times and she loves it, although it's up a bit of a hill, which is probably quite a big hill for a little dog so she always comes home rather tired! More rugby - watched England v Romania at Eddy's Bar in Mission Bay, and New Zealand beat France.
Chris' work are trying to put a dragon boating team together and we're thinking about joining that, even though Chris can't yet swim, but we're working on that!
We also went to see the university young songwriter of the year, which was really good - some very talented people! The winner was quite ummm...unique...??? And Evean Hunt, who was one of the co-winners of the high schools songwriter of the year competition that we went to a while ago, performed and stole the show again!
We then finally got to go to one of the rugby games! We'd booked tickets to see England v Scotland and it seemed like it was ages away when we booked them but it snuck up quite quickly. We decided to do the fan walk to get to the stadium, which is a walk of just over an hour where they have bits and pieces going on along the way. It was quite a cool atmosphere, and the officials were all very friendly - it was really nice. When we got there, we went to find our seats and Chris was really disappointed. We had a set of stairs just in front of us and because of the way they jutted out and the hoardings on them, there was a significant chunk of the pitch that we couldn't really see. Chris had been looking forward to the game for ages and was really disappointed that he wasn't going to be able to enjoy it properly. We went to get something to eat and to watch a bit of the France v Tonga game on TV in one of the bar areas so I thought I'd go and speak to one of the officials to see if we could be moved. The bloke I spoke to agreed that they were restricted view seats, even though they hadn't been sold as such and suggested I went down to the ticket office to speak to them. I had to get a pass to go outside the grounds and spoke to the people at the office who were very nice and, I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but after about 5 minutes, they handed me some new tickets! It was really hard to hear through the perspex so they hadn't really said anything to me while I was standing there. They just handed the new tickets over. I was really hoping that they were going to be better and was really pleased when I went to find them - I think we actually got upgraded! I then went down to the edge of the pitch to watch the England team warm up and called Chris to tell him to come down - it was quite cool to be able to be so close! We watched Tonga beat France on the big screen, then went to our new seats and Chris had a nice surprise when I took him to the new ones :0) The game was a bit painful as England didn't play that well. Most of the crowd was behind Scotland, including a bona fide Scotsman (complete with blue head) that we had sat just in front of us, who was quite funny. He kept shouting 'You can take our land, but you can't take our' expecting people around him to help him out and shout 'freedom' but he was kind of on his own so he eventually just finished the chant off himself! He also enjoyed singing 'Oh flower of Scotland', but started it off with quite long, 'oooooooh's, which sounded a bit like a foghorn. Quite amusing. Thankfully England won just at the end, otherwise I think I may have had quite a grumpy Chris, good seats or not! We were really surprised by how quick and easy it was to get back to town by bus and we then got a bus back to Mission Bay really easily so all in all it was a pretty good night.
Having enjoyed trying out the Italian Film Festival in Sydney last year, we thought we'd go along to one of the films part of this year's festival at the Rialto in Newmarket, which is one of our favourite cinemas as it has lots of good films on. That was quite good. We have also been trying out lots of the restaurants in Mission Bay, which is always good (in fact, we're going for pizza at a new one tonight...yum!).
A couple of weeks ago, we invited Steve and Viv out for dinner, which was lovely. Our house is a bit damp smelling so I didn't really want to invite them here for dinner so we decided to go to the Mission Bay Cafe instead, which is very nice and does great food. Around this time, Chris also started having guitar lessons again. He had a few in Sydney and enjoyed them so when a deal came up on one of the daily deal websites for 10 lessons and a guitar, I thought I'd get it for him. He's enjoying them so far, which is good. (Chris - yep, group lessons with about 10 people this time so a bit less pressure. Teacher is an enthusiastic Brazilian guy called Filipe. still not finding much time to practise though so I'm still rubbish :)
We've been dogsitting for a few weekends while Darryl has been away here there and everywhere, which has been quite nice. I think Jasmine appreciates staying at home rather than going into kennels and it's quite nice for us to pretend we've got a dog for a couple of days!
More rugby - Wales beat Ireland - well done Wales. In honour of the game, they had a Wales v Ireland quiz at Chris' work. Chris captained the Welsh team and apparently put up a valiant effort, but were outsmarted by the Ireland team. (Chris - the Irish team were captained by Brendan with Dave quizmastering. Everyone got dressed up in red or green and got into the spirit. The Wales team were short a couple of players which didn't help and I think it would be fair to say the Ireland side had a stronger quiz team line-up. No offence team :)
I got invited to a comedy night a couple of weeks ago, but it didn't start until 10!!! We thought we'd go along anyway though but Chris went out with people from work beforehand (it was a Friday night), which was a bit of an error as he got quite drunk by the time we had to leave, which I wasn't very pleased about! We did beat a couple of the guys he works with (Bill and Gary) in a doubles game at pool, which he was pleased about. It was a bit of a miracle as one of the guys on the other team potted all but one of his teams balls on his first go, I think! (Chris - the Nothern hemisphere produces better pub sportsmen!) The comedy was quite good - it was improv so made up on the spot stuff - a bit like Whose Line Is It Anyway?. To warm the crowd up, the MC asked everyone in the crowd to shout out the most attractive thing about the person next to them. Of course, being Chris and having had a few beers, he shouted 'boobs', which was fine as you couldn't really hear anything as everyone was shouting at the same time. However, the MC then asked one person what they'd said, and they said smile. Cue "that's a bit boring, did anyone shout something more interesting like tits?" to which Chris then shouted 'yeah'...but was the only one. Much laughter followed by "well done and you do have a magnificent rack madam". Thanks for that Chris! The rest of the night was thankfully much less about us!
That was the weekend of the semi-finals when we watched Wales v France at home and then New Zealand v Australia at Eddy's. Chris took part in a sweepstake thing at work where they had to predict who was going to win each of the finals matches and Chris got the most right and won himself over $100 - well done him! We also had a house guest that weekend as one of Darryl's friends was over from the UK for a couple of weeks - his name was Chris so that was nice and easy to remember! (Chris - I then spent some of my winning on a lovely bunch of flowers for Sarah (after some prompting from Dallas). Unfortunately, I then got a bit drunk at the pub quiz which apparently cancelled out the flowers and then some so got the silent treatment the next day - ho hum, back to the drawing board!)
Our quiz team started growing a couple of weeks ago when we ended up with a team of 8! We've changed our name to Waifs and Strays as that's kind of what we've turned into. It was only that big for one week, then it was just the core 4 the next, and 6 last week. We've won for the past couple of weeks though, which has been quite cool. (Chris - we had a bit of controversy one week when the quizmaster placed us third but had undermarked us by 10 points. Luckily Dave was keeping count and spotted the error which meant we then won - a $50 bar tab for the following week - nice!)
Chris had to say goodbye to one of his colleagues a couple of weeks ago as she's moving into another team. She's only going to be in the next room, but because she's gone back into answering the phones, she gets quite prescriptive breaks so Chris is missing her a bit. Her name's Caron. They had a morning tea for her on her last day and I made some more welsh cakes for Chris to take in, which were divine apparently! Caron and her husband, Gino, were also incredibly generous and gave us their tickets to go and see Wales v Australia in the bronze final that evening! Gino won the tickets in a competition at work and they decided they didn't really want to go (as they are South African) but because of Chris' welsh connection, thought he might like them, which was amazing. I think we got more excited about that game, than we did about the England v Scotland game. We had a really good time, getting dressed up in red with Welsh flags and the seats were great (both the Welsh tries were scored in front of us), despite the fact that Wales unfortunately lost. Everyone was rooting for Wales and on the bus on the way back to city someone shouted, 'Put up your hand if you're sad Wales lost' and everyone put their hands up :)
That Saturday, we went to play squash using a voucher I'd bought on one of the daily deals sites, which had actually expired, but they were kind enough to still let us use it. It was great to have a game as we hadn't played since we were back in England! Afterwards, we went to the Auckland Museum to go to the Aqua exhibit they had on. It had been on for ages and when it first started I thought it looked cool but that we had loads of time to go and see it and then suddenly it was the last weekend it was on! I was actually a bit disappointed by it - it wasn't quite what I expected but I'm glad we went, just to satisfy my curiosity! We didn't have a very nice journey home because we saw a guy get run over. It was horrible! We were sat in the front seats of the bus and there was a couple stood at the side of the road by one of the bus stops. One of the ladies who was on the bus had pushed the bell to get the bus to stop but the couple at the stop thought that the bus was stopping because they were there but they didn't want to get on the bus. They kind of panicked a bit and when the bus stopped, the guy ran out in front of the bus and got hit by a car overtaking it. Thankfully, the car had a little bit of time to slow down but the guy was thrown in the air. He got up and walked back to the side of the road, but he had blood running down his face and he must have been quite shaken up. Hopefully he was OK though. Not very nice to see!
The next day was the final of the rugby world cup. The six weeks of the tournament actually went quite quickly and it was hard to believe it was finally all going to be over. We thought we'd go down to Queen's Wharf to watch it as we thought it would be a good atmosphere down there. I thought it would fill up quite early though so we got down there for about 12:30 (the kick off was 9pm!). We got in OK and the first thing we did was queue up to go in the giant rugby ball, which had been touring around the world and was on its final day. It was designed to showcase New Zealand in the run up to the world cup. One of the stewards warned us that it was about a 2 hour wait to get in, but we didn't have anything better to do for 2 hours so we thought we might as well wait. It was quite a cool atmosphere and they were very nice and more than happy for someone to leave the queue to get a cup of coffee and then come back and things so that was quite cool. It took about an hour and a half before we got in and it was quite cool. I'm not sure how to describe it really...it was the shape of a giant rugby ball and you go in it and the whole of the inside is used as a projection screen. It starts off and almost feels like you're inside a Scottish stately home, and then there's a film that goes on to showcase some of the best things about New zealand, as well as there being a guy who does some narration as well. It was really well done - it lasted about 10 minutes but I'd quite happily have stayed there for half an hour or so. It was quite cool because people were lying on the floor to watch it as well (although we sat).
There was quite a bit going on at Queen's Wharf, thankfully. I think they stopped anyone else coming in at about 2:30 so it was good that we got there nice and early. We wandered around the official merchandise stand (just looking!) and then the ANZ dome where we took a silly picture of ourselves and watched people playing wii rugby games. We also wandered around the Taste section of The Cloud and tasted a couple of dishes, which were nice. There were also bands on all afternoon, which was cool. I think we pretty much liked all of them, except one, who I didn't bother going out to listen to. I tried to have a snooze in The Cloud but was told that because alcohol was being served, napping wasn't allowed and that one of the security guards might come and get me to leave! I stayed awake after that. I can't remember the names of all the bands - there was Avalanche City, The Checks and Gin Wigmore and I think a couple of others. Avalanche City were very good and Gin Wigmore was great so all in all it was a fun afternoon and then, of course, it was time for THE match.
Most people had pretty much written France off and predicted an All Blacks whitewash. I think Chris reckoned the All Blacks would win by 30 points, so it was a bit of a surprise that it ended up as 8-7 to the All Blacks. It was a really horrible game to watch - I dread to think what would have happened if France had won - I think the country would have gone into national mourning! Anyway, thankfully they just about won so that was good. The crowd went mad when the final whistle went. There was a group of kiwis next to us - all quite big blokes - bouncing around and cheering, which was quite sweet as they could have looked quite intimidating! After the match, they had a band called Kids of 88 come on who were OK and quite happy and dancy, but by that time, we'd been on our feet for a long time and I was really tired so I flaked out and we came home. Chris was a bit disappointed as he wanted to stay out longer and absorb the atmosphere but I just couldn't stay out any longer. I think it would have just turned into carnage anyway! We had a really good day though and it was a great atmosphere with loads of people dressed up and everyone out for a good time - even the people on the cruise ship parked up next to the wharf! (Chris - we were dressed in our NZ colours for the game so afterwards, random people kept coming up to shake our hands and say 'I can't believe we've won it' and we were like 'Yeah, I know it's amazing' :)
The next day was a public holiday (smart to arrange the world cup final the night before a public holiday to avoid half the country pulling sickies!) and there was a free concert on the Domain so we thought we'd go along and check it out (never ones to miss out on a free concert, us!). We got there a bit later than we had been planning to and so missed most of the cultural performances, but there was a great female hip hop crew called the requests or something who were double world champions. The concert was also good. It started off with a band whose name I can't remember now - something along the lines of the Maori Culture Club or something. They were interesting! Very enthusiastic and seemed to be having a great time :0) Then Stan Walker, who was quite good, another band whose name I can't remember who were good, Avalanche City again, who were good again and then it finished off with Dave Dobbyn, who is a bit of a kiwi institution. I guess a bit like Rod Stewart or someone. I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy tickets to see him again but the crowd seemed to be having a good time! (Chris - I thought he was good and still cool - plenty of youngsters in the crowd were having a good time!)
And that brings us to last weekend, meaning we're nearly up to date!!!! Woooooohooooooooo!!! Last Saturday was a very exciting day in our kiwi adventure. We took possession of Tallulah - our new travelling companion - a 1985 Toyota Hiace campervan!!! (We decided we'd buy a campervan now to use at weekends and possibly over Christmas (although our plans have since changed and it looks like we'll be housesitting for one of my colleagues who lives in Titirangi while he and his family go to Australia so that should be fun - they've got a spa pool, a pool table and, most importantly, a PlayStation 3 with singstar!!!) and then use it for our trip around the country at the end of our time here. She's great, if a bit well-used, has a column shift gearstick and pull out handbrake! Unfortunately, the bad news is that she's already poorly - boooooooooooooo!!! I had trouble starting her last night and we can't start her at all today - we think she may need a new ignition barrel as you can't really get the key in the ignition properly and it won't turn. Hopefully we'll be able to get it fixed reasonably easily and it won't be too huge a job. The biggest problem is how we get her from here to a garage! Anyway...back to last weekend.
After Tallulah arrived, we went over to Glendowie for Steve and Viv's engagement party, which was good fun. I was even made a special pavlova by Steve's mum!!! Some years ago, when Steve and I worked together, we were at an office Christmas party and sat next to each other during the meal. Steve wandered off after the main course and someone was going to pinch his dessert but I wouldn't let them. When he came back, he was very grateful and promised that his mum would make me a pavlova one day because she makes the best pavlova in the world (there may have been alcohol involved in this exchange!). Anyway, I mentioned this the other week when we went round for dinner and he stayed true to his word! The pavlova was, indeed, probably the best pavlova I've ever had. She made a chocolate one and a normal one and they were both delicious. We were even sent home with a whole one for ourselves, which we soon demolished!
As tempting as it was to go pootling around in Tallulah last Sunday, we didn't want to drive her too far without insurance and we couldn't sort that out until Monday. You don't actually have to have insurance to drive legally in New Zealand, but I'm so used to absolutely not driving without it that it makes me incredibly nervous to think about not having it. Especially when you're driving a bit of a beast of a campervan that is quite old and unwieldy! Got all the insurance sorted on Monday so she's now good to go (when we get her fixed!).
We had quite a quiet week (apart from our second quiz win in a row as I mentioned), and then went to see The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik, Deep Sea Explorer on Friday night. This was a show that just seemed to keep cropping up - I think it was on in Sydney while we were there - and it kept getting really good reviews so I thought I'd finally get tickets to go and see it. I loved it! It was a one-man show, using a projection of a cartoon along with puppets to tell the story of Alvin Sputnik around the time when the earth has flooded because of global warming. His wife dies at the beginning of the show, which is very sad, and he then becomes a deep sea explorer to a) find her soul and b) find the new earth that experts think is there and save the world. I thought it was really beautiful and very clever the way he used the puppets and the animation. Chris didn't. He thought it was just like a badly made cartoon, didn't realise it was a kids show (which I didn't either, to be fair), and just didn't like it. It made me cry though!
Yesterday was Dave's stag do and Nikki decided to invite a few girls round to take her mind off what the boys might be doing to Dave! We went to the respective houses (Dave's stag was at his brother, Grant's house) at about 5 in our longest trip in Tallulah to date. Chris was saying on the way that it's quite weird the different perspective you get from driving around rather than getting the bus - everything seems a lot closer together! I sort of forget that Auckland is actually quite a small city because by the time we've got the bus into town, then got a bus out to wherever we're going, it can seem like quite a long journey - it takes me about an hour to get to work, for example, whereas it would probably take about 20 minutes to drive! I'm not sure whether Chris is able to tell you about what went on at Dave's stag do, but from what I've heard it entailed everyone apart from Dave remaining relatively sober and concentrating on getting Dave as drunk as they possibly could. Haven't heard from him today but I would imagine he has got a bit of a headache! (Chris - yep, no details to be revealed here, ask me at the bar :) The scene at Nikki's was far more restrained - just four of us enjoying nibbles and a chat! We did call Grant's house at about quarter to 9 to ask if they had singstar and Dave answered which gave us an entertaining 5 minutes as we listened to him talk nonsense on speakerphone! I left just before 11 and had terrible trouble starting Tallulah, but thankfully she did start then! Picked Chris up on the way home, who was remarkably less drunk than I thought he was going to be! (Chris - glad this has been noted in writing :)
This morning (well, probably more lunchtime by the time I eventually got moving), we took Jasmine for a nice walk in the park and were then going to go to Parnell Rose Gardens for the Rose Festival but as explained, we have a poorly sick campervan...but it did give me a chance to finally finish writing the journal for up to now so that's a very good job jobbed!!! And that's all for now folks! We'll be back hopefully reasonably soon with our next installment!