Wellywood, dragon boating and other stories
Yet again it's been ages...so let's get on with it! A few weeks ago, we popped back to Sydney for a long weekend. We had intended to do this not long after we arrived in New Zealand but we didn't have much money when we got here and then suddenly Christmas arrived and then it was January! Finally, we got it sorted out though. We had some stuff in storage that we needed to pick up, and we also wanted to pay a visit to Yesim and Lee and meet Aleyna. It was a respectable morning flight so we didn't have to be up too early, which was nice. We arrived in Sydney fairly uneventfully and then had to get a shuttle bus to Bayswater, where we had hired a car from. It was a bit of a mission to find the bus in the first place and then it seemed to go the longest route possible to get to the Bayswater office (it was dropping off at lots of different hotels and we kept thinking 'oh, it's just around the corner now' and then the bus would turn the wrong way!). However, we got there and picked up the car and drove over to Yesim and Lee's in Cremorne Point, where they moved to a few months ago. It was quite cool to be driving around Sydney and knowing where we were going - not everyone is lucky enough to have spent enough time there to know their way around :0). We arrived at Yesim and Lee's in time for tea and delicious homemade cookies - yum! We then went for a walk along Cremorne Point and towards Mosman, where Chris used to go running and we both used to walk some weekends, which was a nice nostalgic walk. We went as far as 'The Rowers', which is a boating club that we didn't even realise was open to non-members but it was quite cool to have a quick drink there before we made our way back to Yesim and Lee's. We had talked about meeting Paula and Joe (who we were staying with) in the domain for the annual classical concert there, but they decided to go to a friend's birthday drinks and the weather wasn't great so we decided to stay at Yesim and Lee's for a takeaway before heading over to Maroubra to Paula and Joe's . We had a quick chat with them when we got there but by that time, it was about 11pm and Sydney's two hours behind Auckland so it was more like 1am for us so it was time for bed! It was quite strange - everyone asked us what it felt like to be back but it didn't really feel like we'd been away!
On Sunday morning, we decided to walk from Maroubra to Coogee to meet Yesim, Lee & Aleyna for lunch, which was lovely - it's a really nice walk - great coastline (Maroubra is in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, a few beaches along from Bondi). We had a delicious lunch, then started to wander a little bit back towards Maroubra with Yesim, Lee and Aleyna. It wasn't long before Aleyna decided that as the adults had all eaten, it was her lunchtime, so we stopped in a park to feed her before Yesim and Lee said their goodbyes and went home. We walked back to Maroubra and by the time we got back, we were rather tired! Paula very kindly cooked us a lovely meal, we watched some of the tennis (the Australian Open) and then it was again time to turn in - we were still struggling with the two hour difference!
On Monday morning, we went over to Artarmon to pick up the stuff we had left in storage when we left Australia - there was a bit more more than we remembered! Next stop was Target to buy a pair of jeans, then lunch in Chatswood and back to Cremorne Point to say goodbye to Yesim & Aleyna, which was quite sad, but it kind of didn't feel like we may not see them for a significant amount of time, so that made it a bit easier. From there, we scooted over to East Sydney to meet up with Katie, who I worked with at the Heart Foundation. We had a drink in the King William (I'm not sure that's actually what it's called), which is where we sometimes went for lunch from work so that was quite cool. Afterwards, we dropped Katie off at home in Bondi Junction - she has a really lovely flat with the biggest patio area we've ever seen in a flat! Next stop was Newtown, where we grabbed a pub dinner before heading to a Noel Gallagher gig (Chris - a-may-zing!). I had seen that he was playing the gig as an accompaniment to his appearance at Big Day Out, which is a festival that they have in Australia and New Zealand. I didn't really feel like going to that here as it's generally full of 16 - 19 year olds who just get off their faces as far as I've heard, so I suggested that we went to see Noel in Sydney and tied that in with the visit we needed to make anyway. I wasn't really looking forward to it, because I'm not really an Oasis fan and even less of a fan of Oasis gigs. They're normally full of idiots who seem to want to throw wee everywhere and have a fight. I've been to a couple and ended up standing right at the back to stay as far away from it all as possible both times. However, I was really pleasantly surprised! The biggest reason I'm not a fan of Oasis is Liam - I just think he's an arrogant idiot (in polite terms, just in case Mums are reading this ;0) ). However, Noel seemed really nice - very humble, he seemed to enjoy talking to the crowd and he was a really good front man. Oasis' music is actually pretty decent and he played a fair bit of that as well as his High Flying Birds stuff. Whether it was because it was just a Noel gig, or because it was in Australia, I'm not sure, but the people there were also a lot more normal and I didn't feel threatened, which was nice! All in all, it was a great night! (Chris - lol at the anti-Oasis rant. The gig was brilliant, the new album is brilliant - stands up there alongside the best of Oasis. The crowd knew all the words, even to the High Flying Birds stuff which made for a brilliant singalong atmosphere. Did I say it was brilliant?)
It was time to leave again on Tuesday so we were up reasonably early, packed our bags, dropped some stuff off at Vinnies (a charity shop), including a suit of Chris' which is now miles too big for him after his quite significant weight loss - it looked like he was playing dress up when he put it on! We dropped the car off, got the shuttle back to the airport, had a fairly long wait there (but I always think it's better to be early than late arriving at airports!) and then we were back in Auckland. It's quite weird because I always think of Sydney and Auckland as quite close, but it took about 12 hours door to door to get there, and the same on the way back - not so close after all! We'd had a great weekend, although we did miss dragonboat training (naughty!) and the quiz! (Chris - it was weird going back - really felt like we hadn't been away although by the sound of it it was lucky we did as nearly all the book club girls seemed to have had or be having babies while we've been away. It was also weird how big Sydney felt after having lived in Auckland awhile. I distinctly remember it seeming small compared to London when we first got there :)
The next weekend, we were off on our travels again! This time to Wellington. A few people had said to us that we should try to get the train down there as it was a cool train ride, but it takes 12 hours so we kind of had to either do it during a long weekend, or take a day off. As it was Auckland anniversary weekend, when Aucklanders get the Monday off (each major city or town seems to have an anniversary day at some point during the year), we decided to use the opportunity to go for it. We were up at 5:30 to get to the train station for the train at 7:25. We actually arrived at the station before it opened but better than being late!
It took a while to get out of Auckland (and the train waited at one station for about 20 mins to wait for someone who missed it at the previous stop, which we thought was very generous). The landscape was varied throughout the journey which stopped it getting boring. We went through farmland, swamps, mountains, over rivers and past waterfalls. We also saw a fair amount of wildlife (and farmlife) including hares, birds of prey, pukekos (moorhen type birds), deer, cows and of course, plenty of sheep. The train stopped a fair few times and we could get out sometimes to stretch our legs, especially at National Park where we had a half hour stop for lunch. National Park is where the famous Tongariro crossing is. This is a one-day hike across volcanos, and it looks like a challenging, but very cool, walk. I'm not sure if we'll get to do it at any point because by the time we get to that kind of area, it will be getting towards winter, and you can't do it in bad weather. Mind you, having said that, Sophie and Liam and their guests were going to do it during the Christmas break, which is mid-summer, and they were thwarted by the rain so you never know! Shortly after National Park, we went over a series of viaducts, which were quite interesting. Oh, we also at some point in the National Park (I can't remember whether it was before or after lunch now) went on a spiral, which is apparently a mean feat of engineering - it took the train up quite a considerable incline by spiraling around the hill. The people doing the commentary on the train were quite excited about it, as was Darryl (our flatmate, who's into his trains) when we were talking about the trip. Anyway, moving on. Just as it felt like we'd been on the train a VERY long time, and it was starting to get a bit boring, we were coming into Wellington, where we suddenly hit the coast so it was good to see the sea! There were also a couple of tunnels to go through and then we were going through the outskirts of Wellington so it kept our attention right to the end! All in all, we enjoyed the journey and we're glad we did it, although I think you only need to do it once :0) (Chris - we also tried a pie which is traditional apparently.) I'd found a hotel a very short walk from train station, which was handy (although pretty much everything in Wellington is within walking distance of everything else) so we trundled along and checked in. It was a bit disappointing as we were given a queen room, instead of a king room, which is obviously a bit smaller, and the people at the check-in seemed very unbothered (which is a bit annoying when you've booked something and you essentially get downgraded! Their excuse was that they were the same price). Anyhoo...we went for a walk along the waterfront and had a lovely dinner at Wagamama overlooking the harbour as the sky turned pretty shades of pink.
We had a bit of a lay-in on Sunday and Chris went out to get breakfast so I got breakfast in bed - excellent! :0) Once I had managed to drag myself out of bed, we went for a wander along the seafront, with a brief diversion to a travel expo (which was pretty rubbish), to Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum. It's a huge museum with lots of different exhibits and lots of interaction, which is cool. Chris' first priority was visiting the earthquake room, having visited the volcanic eruption room at Auckland Museum. He was a bit disappointed as it wasn't quite as dramatic! I enjoyed the interactive stuff, particularly a mixing desk that they had, where you could mix music by touching different panels on a touchscreen table! We wandered around for an hour or so, including visiting an outdoor bit, which is quite unusual in a museum. We had a spot of lunch in the museum cafe before catching the cable car up to Botanical Garden. It's up quite a big hill so the cable car up and then walking down through it back to the city is a good option! It was really nice - quite peaceful and lots of lovely flowers. There were also a couple of skateboarders, who obviously appreciated the steep gradient! As we were getting towards the bottom, there were also a couple of quite cool metal sculptures. We got to the rose garden at the bottom and were going to get a cup of tea and coffee but we were foiled by the cafe being closed! We had a quick wander around the greenhouse, before continuing down to the city, where we found cafes being closed to be a bit of a trend. We ended up in Starbucks, where there was a really friendly guy serving. Feeling a bit more refreshed, we wandered up to Cuba Street, which is quite a funky area with a very cool water fountain that catches some people unawares with it's 'bucket dumping'. It was still a bit early for dinner, so we went to a bar, Hummingbird, for a drink - I actually had a Pimms! Sorry - I should have warned you to make sure you were sitting down while reading that! Dinner was at Pizzeria Napoli for a really delicious pizza and equally yummy desserts, all served by incredibly friendly waiters. Chris had wanted to find the Welsh Dragon Bar, which Melissa had told him about, but we hadn't had much luck. However, I spotted it as we were on our way back to our hotel so we popped in for a pint (well, Chris had a pint anyway). You certainly couldn't miss the fact that it was a Welsh Bar (apparently the only one in the Southern Hemisphere!) - it was festooned with Welsh flags and the staff were also very Welsh!
We had another lie-in on Monday, before going for a stroll along the waterfront, punctuated by a yummy breakfast of waffles. While we were having our breakfast, we noticed a group of blokes who were jumping into the harbour. They soon got bored, and went on their way, walking past us...we then realised that it was the Welsh Rugby 7s team - in town for the competition the following weekend! Our first stop of the day was Old St Paul's, which as you can probably guess, is an old church. It was very beautiful - lots of wooden beams etc., and the people running it were very friendly. Next up was a tour of Parliament. We got there just in time and joined a tour (you can't just walk around and you're not allowed to take any bags with you. Neither are you allowed to take any photos, which I thought was a bit mean - you can take photos in the Australian parliament buildings!). There are three buildings in the parliament complex. Government House is the older of the Government buildings - built in what you would say is traditional style for that kind of building - very grand, lots of pillars etc. Then there's the Beehive, which I think was built in the 1970s...and it shows. I think New Zealanders are quite proud of the Beehive, and I guess it's quite iconic, but it's quite an ugly building! Not surprisingly, it's shaped a bit like a beehive. The third building is the parliamentary library, which we didn't get to see much of. It was quite interesting wandering through and seeing the various halls and chambers (they no longer have an upper house as they voted to get rid of it...again in the 1970s, I think). There were also a couple of quite cool artworks - one was in the beehive, and is basically a curved artwork that goes around the inside wall, but looks different depending on which angle you look at it from, and the other one was in one of the courtyards. It was especially interesting to see how they've adapted the building to be able to withstand fairly sizeable earthquakes by effectively cutting out a slice of the foundations and inserting big ball-bearing type things. I'm sure it's a lot more technical than that! But it was quite cool because you can actually see where they've done it. It was quite interesting in all - it's always good to go and have a look around the government buildings and get a bit of history.
Having been around the parliament buildings, we then went to where the real business gets done - The Backbencher! It's a pub just opposite parliament and, as you might expect, it's themed around government. They have a lot of big puppets in there of various politicians, which are quite amusing, and their menu is themed around politicians' names. All quite tongue in cheek. After a quick drink there, we walked back to Cuba Street for lunch and then walked along the seafront to Oriental Bay, which is one of the poshest suburbs in Wellington - there were lots of lovely houses. It was quite funny walking along there because we walked past a couple of beaches, where people were hanging out in bikinis etc., while we were walking along in jeans, t-shirts and trainers - we were a bit overdressed! We had a cup of tea and coffee and a bit of cake at a cafe, then wandered back to our hotel, picked up our suitcase, walked over to the bus station and got a bus to the airport. We'd just arrived there when we saw another Rugby 7s team - this time, it was the Tongans! All in all, it was a great weekend in Wellington, with the only downside being that we missed a dragonboating competition in Auckland. Our team did OK, but it was a bit of a shame to miss it.
The next weekend was another long weekend - hooray! It started on Friday night with a quiz held at Chris' work as a fundraiser for our dragonboating team to help fund our trip to Wellington a few weeks away. Dave (one of our regular quiz team members) was the very capable host and we managed to get a team together consisting of a few ATC people, myself and Chris. It was a fun evening - cheap booze, which was a hit with most people, and a good quiz...oh, and we won so that was a bonus :0) We did give our $50 prize money back to go into the fundraising kitty though. On Saturday, Dave's brother, Grant, was holding a barbeque party, which he very kindly invited us to. It was a fancy dress party, themed 'the letter R'. Hmmm...tricky. Especially when you don't want to spend any money on a costume! We eventually came up with Chris going as 'retro', meaning he could wear his 70s costume from his work's Christmas party, and I found a headband with ram's horns on it, and then fashioned a rather poor excuse for a Russian flag for what I was wearing and went as a Russian ram. It was quite poor, but as it turned out, it was no longer a fancy dress party! Nobody had bothered to tell us, or Nikki and Dave, who went all out with Nikki dressed up as Robin Hood (bow and all) and Dave being a very disturbing Red Riding Hood. He seemed to enjoy it far too much! It was a nice evening though, and always nice to feel you're socialising with a bunch of Kiwis :0). On Sunday, we thought we'd head to Albert Park to see the Lantern Festival, which is quite a big deal. As the name suggests, it is a festival of Chinese lanterns - there are hundreds of all different shapes and sizes, from quite traditional looking ones to butterflies, to a farmyard, to dinosaurs - all very elaborate! There were also hundreds of people! We went up while it was still light to start with, as we thought it might not be quite so busy and we could have a wander round and get something to eat from the many Asian food stalls (which was delicious). We then went to the Art Gallery while we were waiting for it to get back. The Art Gallery has recently reopened after a huge refurbishment and, much as I'm not really a bit art lover, it's a very cool building. My favourite artwork were the flowers which have been installed by (I think) a Korean artist - they're huge, material flowers, which open and shut, a bit like they're breathing - very cool. Apart from that, there was a good mix of older art, some sculptures and some modern art. There is also a lovely installation by the front door of a huge tree branch with red blossom sat on a pool of water. It's a nice place to hang out for a while. By the time we'd wandered around, it was starting to get dark, so we went for another brief wander around the lanterns (we kept it brief because there were even more people around by then), and then headed home. We took advantage of our extra day off by going for a walk in a wetlands reserve in Remuera, about 10 minutes from our house, which was lovely - it's really cool that there are these little pockets in Auckland that just feel like they're miles away from habitation! Having done a circuit, we decided we'd go over to Mount Eden and climb it as we hadn't yet been to do that. That was also good fun - bit of a climb, but it's not really that high so, although I got a bit puffed out, it's not overly strenuous. You get a great view from the top, and it's somewhere that people often go when they first get to Auckland to get a feel for the layout of the city, which it certainly gives. As with most hills in Auckland, Mount Eden is a dormant volcano. I don't think it's one that is never going to erupt again, just having a bit of a rest. You can walk around the very clear crater at the top (which is grassed over, no bubbling sulphur or anything). Having had a good look round, what goes up must come down again so we wandered back down to Tallulah, who brought us home in time for Chris to speak to his Mum on her birthday.
Our weeks aren't generally very exciting - we often go to the quiz on a Tuesday and had dragonboat training on Mondays and Thursdays but apart from that, there isn't really much to report. And so, onto the next weekend. There was a Short & Sweet dance festival from the Thursday to Sunday, so we thought we'd go along on Saturday and check it out. The premise was that the dances could be of any genre, solo or ensemble, modern, tap, salsa, ballet...whatever. The only restriction was that they had to be less than 10 minutes long. It was quite fun, and the 10 minute rule was great for me, because there is a lot about modern dance that I'm not really that enamoured with so it meant that we didn't have to watch it for too long at a time! I think there were 10 acts when we went, from a school group of 15/16 year olds to a lady who was in her 60s and had had a hip replacement (she was quite into yoga, and it was almost yoga poses put into a dance). All quite good though, and we were able to vote for our favourite. The top votes from all the heats were then competiting in the final that night. We couldn't go to that because it was the opening night of ATC's production of The Motor Camp...and, in fact, I never looked up who won! So, yes, that night, we went along to the opening night of The Motor Camp. It's a comedy written by a Kiwi playwright about going on holiday to a campground (or motor camp) and what happens when two quite different families are put in close proximity. All quite funny (at least, most people seemed to think so) and a bit silly. The opening night went well so that was good (I do the majority of the organisation of opening nights, although at some theatres, there's not really much to organise). However, after our experience at the opening night of The End of the Golden Weather, back in September when I first started at ATC, we had another not so nice experience - we got back to Tallulah and she'd been broken into (well, I say broken into...it's possible I left the door open, but whichever happened, I do not understand what people think gives them the right to break or steal other people's property!). They didn't really take much - a picnic blanket and a rubber mallet we think - but they did damage the seat, which they obviously thought was locked and tried to yank off (they just needed to lift it up). Very angry.
OK, this is where our notetaking gets a bit haphazard so the next few weeks are a bit sketchy! Possibly the next weekend, we had a dragonboating competition in Auckland. We had to be there quite early again (the downside of dragonboating - the early starts on competition days!), and we had too many people (it was just super-12s and I think we had 16 people) so unfortunately, we both only got to paddle in one race, which was a bit disappointing. Chris also paddled for Beca, which is Rudolph (Agnese, who is in our team's, boyfriend...not sure about the grammar there!), so that was good. I looked after one of their paddlers' dogs :0) It was quite a short day - they could easily have done more with it, and kind of felt a bit half-hearted so that was a bit of a shame.
I have no idea about timing now but at some point after that, we did a scavenger hunt, which was great fun. It was another dragonboating fundraiser, and was organised by Agnese, Jenny and Renee, who are all in our team. We originally had 5 in our scavenging team, but after a couple of dropouts, it was just Chris, Dave and I. We had clues which we had to follow, which took us around Auckland, where we had to do various tasks and take various photos. Dave was an amazing navigator and we were the fastest team by quite a bit. Unfortunately, in our haste to get to the finish line as quickly as possible, we neglected to read a couple of the clues properly so we were deducted a few points, which was a bit disappointing. We did, however, make it round with all three of our eggs intact (given to us at the beginning of the race) and we'd had fun so that was all good. Everyone had a lot of fun, with the overall winners being Jess (another paddler and Chris' manager)'s team...much to Jess' delight! To be fair, their costumes were brilliant - they went as robots and a LOT of effort had gone into it all (we copped out a bit...ha, ha, just realised what I've done there...by buying a policeman's hat each and having a couple of magnifying glasses and a truncheon (although the truncheon was camouflaged and I only realised when we were on our way home at about 11pm that that's what it was. I had no idea why Dave had been carrying it - it looked like something that should have been in the Flintstones for some reason!!!) (Chris - I had a lot of requests for my moustache. I'm glad in a way we did drop some points - I'm not sure we'd have held our own in what was a very enthusiastic dance off for 2nd place. We did get some bananas for being fastest!).
I think it was the following weekend that we arranged to meet up with Bec and her family at the zoo. We hadn't been to the zoo and it was on our list of things to do and it seemed like a good way to catch up with Bec etc. It's a nice zoo - I think it was probably only a couple of the big cats that looked like they weren't happy, which is quite good going - I hate seeing animals unhappy in zoos :0( They did have a couple of rhinos who were...I actually don't know what they were doing...they looked like they were play fighting, but I'm sure there was more to it than that! We wandered round for a couple of hours seeing the animals, and then said our goodbyes, when Chris went off to see the Warriors play the Manly Sea Eagles at Eden Park (I get confused by all the different types of rugby...Chris can tell you about that). (Chris - it was League, if you say rugby here they think you mean rugby union. It was a nice day, Gary had managed to entice about 9 people along and the only disappointment was the performance of the Warriors who are not having the best of seasons!)
A few weeks ago, the Volvo Ocean Race called in to Auckland. I say that like they popped in for a cup of tea! It was one of the stops on their nine month (I think it's about nine months) round the world race, which was quite cool. We decided to go down to the Viaduct on the Saturday to see the 'village' they'd set up there, and also to watch Dallas, one of Chris' friends from work, dance with her dance group. It was a really great atmosphere down there, with quite a bit to do and see. Dallas' group were very good, and we also went in the sailing simulator, the 3D cinema documentary (which didn't actually need to be 3D), wandered down to the markets in Silo Park and just generally soaked up the atmosphere. Agnese and Rudolph had gone to the Pasifika festival in Western Springs, which finished at 6, and then came down to the Viaduct to join us and we enjoyed a couple more things on the stage, along with Dallas' group second performance. This was a bit more risque than their performance earlier in the day as it was quite burlesque and it got cut short for not being family friendly, which was quite funny really, especially as I think they'd told the organisers that it was burlesque! We'd been there all day, and got quite caught up in the atmosphere so we decided we'd wait until the first yacht arrived - Telefonica had about a 12 hour lead on the other boats and was due at about midnight. Chris and Rudolph decided that this gave them the ideal opportunity to go to the pub for a couple of beers, but Agnese and I preferred the option of curling up on a couple of the beanbags with some of the blankets and having a bit of a snooze! At about half past eleven, the announcer started getting excited and saying that the boat was nearly there so we made our way over to the bridge to watch it come into the harbour. Chris and Rudolph were pulled away from the pub. Finally, the boat came into view and it was a bit disappointing in a way because it stopped the other side of some warehouses to take its sails down before coming into the harbour so we had to stand and wait for ages for them to finally come through. It was still a great atmosphere though, and we went down to the stage to see the crew come out and spray their champagne everywhere. (chris - it was especially exciting for Rudolph as Telefonica are the French team although they did have a Kiwi on board for the home crowd to cheer)
We'd enjoyed it so much that we decided to go back down to the Viaduct the next day and see the rest of the boats come in. It was quite remarkable really - Telefonica came in about 13 hours before the boat that was second (damn - I knew the order that they all came in in but I've forgotten it now!), and the next four boats all came in within about three hours of each other!
Having been to Wellington as tourists, we went back a few weeks later as competitors in the annual dragonboating festival! Chris and I decided to take the Friday off and go down early, so we had a bit of a headstart on the rest of the team. We flew this time - much quicker. We had quite a relaxing afternoon - leisurely lunch, bit of a snooze, and then a wander down to the harbour. We sat on the harbour wall for a while enjoying the sunshine, and even saw a ray, which was pretty cool! They'd already set up for the dragonboating festival the next day, with tiered seating and the schedule for the day pinned up, which was all quite exciting. We went back to the hostel where we were all staying, and then headed out for dinner at Wagamama with the people who had already arrived, which was nice. It was a quiet night because we had a big day the next day! Well, when I say quiet night...it would have been had we not had a room above the hostel bar, which had a very loud and very bad band playing, and then just loud music until about 2am...not so good! We woke up to a fine day, which was a relief as Wellington is renowned for its bad weather. By the time we got to the kitchen, the lunch elves had pretty much finished preparing lunch so we didn't have much to do! We then missed them leaving to go over to the harbour - oops! It was really well set up, with each team having their own tent set up, which was great - nice not to have to take our own and set that up. It was a great atmosphere, with about 30 teams, I think. I can't give a blow by blow account of the day, but we were disqualified from our practice race because we drifted into another lane, and then the same thing happened in our first competitive race as well. Ma was sweeping for us and felt really bad about it, but it really wasn't her fault - she didn't have experience in Wellington harbour and the currents were quite strong and it was getting windier. Overall, we didn't do massively well - I think partly because of the excitement and the lack of focus in a couple of races, but we did win our final (Chris - and won a paddle!), which was great! We went out to the prizegiving afterwards, had a bit of a boogie and then left for a bit of a pub crawl. I left after the first bar, but I'm sure Chris can fill you in if he can remember it! (Chris - lol, not much really. We bumped into Sam and Nola which I completely forgot about until we saw them at training the next week and we made it into 2 or 3 other places but walking the same street the next day I could not have told you which ones they were!) The next day, we went down to watch the schools' competition, which was good fun too - another great atmosphere and some very impressive paddling, especially considering the wind had got up even more! We had another great weekend in Wellington, with good weather again - we don't know what people are talking about when they say the weather in Wellington is rubbish!
The next weekend was our final dragonboating competition at Lake Pupuke on the North Shore. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling great so I wasn't sure if I should go at all. I did though, and I paddled in a couple of races, so that was good. It was another really good day. Unfortunately, we didn't do massively well again, but came second in our final, so that was good. The final race of the day was a 2km race, which I sat out because I wasn't sure I had the energy to do it but as they paddled out, I was quite sad because it was the last time we were going to be paddling together. They came 9th out of 17 teams in that race, so that was pretty good! A few of us hung around afterwards for the prizegiving, despite the pouring rain, where we were given a trophy that we weren't actually sure we should have had...and then did a runner! (Chris - the excitement of the day came when Fresh Off The Boat tipped out of their boat while leading their race by a mile. It was a bit worring how quickly it went over as I usually spend most of the non-racing time telling myself that it'll never go over even when it gets a bit rocky. Didn't let it put me off though :)
We're getting there! Although I've probably left loads out. We went to see the Breakers play basketball again a couple of weeks ago. It was the semi-finals (which seems to be three matches) against the Townsville Crocs and unfortunately, the Breakers lost. I was asking myself on my way there why I'd said I'd go again, and it was OK, but it wasn't the most fun I've ever had so I don't think I'll be going again. They since beat Townsville in the other two matches and therefore went through to the final against the Perth Wildcats. I know they've just lost one of the matches against them but I'm not sure which match it was! (Chris - it was the second one, they won the first and now need to win the third and final game back in Auckland to be crowned champions for the second year on the trot).
For the week before Easter, we went over to Steve and Viv's to house and catsit while they were off getting married, which was really nice - so nice to live in a nice house on our own for a while! We were there for just over a week looking after Scamp, who was quite an independent cat. (Chris - funny cat story. One night he was very late coming in and we were starting to get a bit worried. Just before we went to bed I heard the catflap go and Scamp hopped into the kitchen - on three legs. First thought was oh shit, what's he done, we're going to have to go to the vets at 11pm but luckily, on closer inspection, I saw that he'd managed to get his paw stuck in his collar and all was well again once released - stupid cat! During the week, we went to see In The Next Room (Or The Vibrator Play), which was ATC's last play about the dawn of electricity in New York and the use of vibrators to treat hysteria in women, which was very good - it was quite funny and quite a sweet love story. We also went down to Hamilton on the Sunday that we were staying there, for Steve and Viv's after-wedding lunch, which was really nice. They had it at Viv's Mum's house, where they'd had the wedding the day before. She's got an absolutely gorgeous house just outside of Hamilton overlooking a lake - just beautiful. We came home on Easter Saturday and had quite a quiet weekend. On Easter Monday, Dave decided to organise a few people to do the Coast to Coast walk, which is about a 10 mile walk from the Manakau Harbour in Onehunga to the Waitemata Harbour at the Viaduct. It was a really good day - it took us about five hours, but we did stop for coffee and lunch...and we climbed two volcanoes - One Tree Hill and Mount Eden. Dave brought along his second cousin Jan and her friend Andrea, who knew lots about Auckland so we learned lots along the way as well.
The week before last, we finally got to see Sinarella, which I'd been listening to at work for the four weeks beforehand. It was a a collaboration between ATC and the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (PIPA), which is an organisation that provides performing arts training Pacific Island students. Their singing is just beautiful and the show was great fun. It was a Pacific Island take on Cindarella. I can't say that I understood all of it, but the singing was fabulous and it made me chuckle. We went to opening night, which all went well and we were really lucky that the cast came and sang in the courtyard of Mangere Arts Centre, where the show was held, which was spinetingling. ATC has lots of cool programmes to encourage participation in the arts for everyone. (Chris - there was also a really good feed afterwards, especially the brownies!)
Last weekend, we went to housesit again (we're getting a bit of a sideline going here!). This time, for Kerry in Titirangi again to look after Diesel while they were away for the weekend. It was really nice to be back there, and it'll be for the last time as they've sold the house and are moving to Blockhouse Bay. On Saturday, we went to a Waka Ama fundraiser for Ma's ladies team to go to Canada for the world championships. It was in Weymouth in South Auckland and was a really lovely day. It was really good because it felt like a real community day, but we felt like we fitted in, which was lovely. We had enough people for three teams. Chris' team (Medievil Team A) did really well (Chris - Division 2 Runners up! Awesome team with Ma's little sister at the front, Gary 2nd, Chuck (captain) at 3, Agnese in 4, me in seat 5 and Ma's friend steering us) and my team (Medievil Team B) did OK, but it was just lots of fun. Waka Ama is slightly different to dragonboating as there are six people in the boat in a single-file, with a 'stabiliser' thing (I know there's a more technical name for it but I can't remember what it is!) (Chris - lol, its the ama and the waka is the boat) and you're supposed to paddle for a few strokes on one side and then a few strokes on the other. We weren't very good at the change though so we ended up just paddling on our dragonboating paddling side! We had a quiet Sunday at home in Titirangi. (Chris - Baileys and milk in the hottub under the stars is hard to beat)
This last week, we went to see a play called Everything She Ever Said To Me, which had one of my ex-colleagues, Lisa, in it, which was really good, and then I went to see another play called The Brave on Wednesday with Laura. She had tickets to opening night and her date pulled out at the last minute so I went instead, which was great! It was the stories of eight young men and what made them, or their ancestors, brave and what it's like to become a man. It was such a good show, I'd love to go and see it again, if we weren't a bit broke!
(Chris - apart from finally visiting the botanic gardens, the only other news of note is that we decided not to go on our round NZ trip at the end of March and have stayed in Auckland until the end of May with a view to hopefully finding permanent jobs that will enable us to stay a bit longer. No luck on this front as yet so our plans are very very fluid at the moment which is quite unsettling but this is the life we have chosen to lead lol!)
And that brings us to this weekend - yay! Yesterday (Saturday), we decided to go up to a beach called Muriwai in north Auckland, which is famous for having a gannet colony. There weren't many gannets there as they normally leave in March, but it was still quite cool to see them and the scenery around there was beautiful. We've had a quiet day today, going for a little bit of a walk and then to the cinema to see A Separation, which was very good...and now we're finally up to date again! Woooohoooo! Until next time...