Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Opahi Bay...mussels, kayaks, fishing contest

Green lipped mussels and pasta at Opahi Bay.

We drove out of Auckland up to Opahi Bay, where Roger has a beach bach and parked up in his garden. The last few miles all look like Hobbiton to us, but they must be plenty of places in NZ that have that green undulated hilly look. Where they filmed LOTR, in Matamata, just south of Auckland, must have been easier for those huge catering lorries, that are the first requirement of any filming project, to get to.

The kids met other kids! Darcy, Grace, Lily, Wilson and dad, Andrew and mum, Anna from Auckland. Andrew' took them out fishing and biscuiting. Poor little Wilson caught a great Kingfish but it was 4cm undersize so had to go back.

Raz and Bear kayaking in the bay.

A lovely boat for you, Olive.

Men versus women tug of war.

Fish as big as small children.

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Opahi Bay fishing competition.

Raz and Darcy being towed around at high speed on body boards. Cheers Andrew.

Monday, 27 February 2012

100% NZ

Long live Banana Man, a superhero much missed from the 80s.

The lift - the scarey view down to oblivion.

Our first day in NZ and we took the ferry from Devonport (only similar in name – this one has painted weatherboard homes, boutiques, coffee shops, actually looks more English -no hoodies) to downtown Auckland (sounds like oak-land when the locals say it). By the wharf people were handing out seared tuna canap├ęs with wasabi mayo and moist bbqed mackerel as a draw for the weekend’s seafood festival. After this, there was a man handing out lollipops. Cheers, lunch done. We headed towards the skytower and saw someone fling themself off all 192m of it. Digs started to get keen.

Just as we arrived at the bottom of the tower, a chap called Julian, who turned out to be one of the team, flew down the outside of the tower, because he was “bored”. 10 minutes later Digs and a chap called James from Liverpool, got dressed up in a fake superhero outfit, with it's crude lighting flash across the chest and bananary yellow splashes of colour. We went outside at waited at the X that marked the spot – a big crash mat with a red bullseye on it. I lay on my back of the steel mesh with my camera poised on the jump deck at the top of the building watching the people who had chosen to walk around the outide of the tower on a 1m walkway with no handrail, dressed in orange boiler suits, that can only be described as Guantanomo-chic. Apparently, this activity is all the nerves and non of the thrill. OK, let's see the thrill then.

Julian gave us a 4minute, and then a 30 second countdown, and then said he didn’t cactually catch the name of the jumper! I filmed someone plunging off the steel gangplank, hang around outside the restaurant window for 5 seconds and then freefall, while Bear shouted out, “Dad, do your superman move”. It was Digs,  and I did manage to film it (will upload when I have a high speed connection). They both did it for a second time -  backwards. 

As we waited for the photos and dvd etc, Magi spotted a T shirt with a large chicken on it that read “Nearly jumped off the sky tower”.  We all went up to the viewing platform in the lift, that digs had twice gone up, but never come down, and from the restaurant on the observation deck we saw some of the team and some punters fling themselves off the tower and dangle for our pleasure nearly 200m above the road below.

First night in the new camper opposite Rangitoto.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Last few days in Sydney with some old friends from Bar Contessa

With Con and Sarina, my bosses from Bar Contessa. Lovely to see you and look through the album at us girls as we were then! Thanks for being so generous to the kids. x

Renee, great to see you and meet your Richard, Brandon and Lilly. Thanks for an unforgetable roast - pork with all the trimmings and blissful gravy - and full on Sunday brunch. The world is waiting for "A Year without Beer" Richard. I'm expecting a few more highs and lows than "A Year in Provence" or "The Woman who went to bed for a Year" and have some bearing on why people live so long in "A Year in the Village of Eternity"! Look forward to seeing you in Devon soon-ish. x

Got all the kids up, the boys out of the top bunk and Magi out of her wombat hole, packed away the beds in the van for the last time and drove to the airport. Randy and Vicky flew in, having left their farm south of Adelaide early in the morning, to take our Bruce away. They paid us the balance on the van as a $5k wodge of notes and had a quick look around. They said that they rarely leave their rural area, so negotiating the roads out of Sydney was going to be Randy’s worst nightmare. 

We had a great flight from Sydney to Auck/Orc-land. Watched "Contagion" - probably not the most relaxing in-flight viewing and a couple of episodes of “Come fly with me”. Saw the one where Walliams and Lucas seize some drugs and proceed in their office to try them out, progressively getting more and more smashed.

Stunning views as you fly into Auckland – fields and undulating hills of middle earth and a glimpse of 90 mile beach. 
This is the first time we've been through biological customs, here they examined the soles of our shoes, like we were a family of shire horses – for any specs of dirt or clots of aussie soil.

R.I.P. were so nearly Crocs.

Raz and Bear both had a pair of these knock off Crocs from Pokhara in Nepal (RRP very much dependent on individual bartering technique - for us about £2.50 equiv) before we set off up to Annapurna Base Camp. Raz left one of his outside the van in Sawtell at Christmas and Bear's have now decided to call it a day. R.I.P. Croos.