Christmas & New Year down under
Wednesday 1st January 2014
We arrived at Belle Mer, the holiday apartment block that Anne & Mike manage in Mount Maunganui, on Christmas Eve. It was great to see them looking so well and obviously enjoying life, even though they had come out of retirement to run the business. They have been spending half of each year in NZ and half in the UK for a number of years, and had decided a couple of years ago to go for residency here so that they would have more flexibility about how much time they could spend here. Managing the apartments is their route into residency, which they hope to achieve in the next few months.
We stayed with them at Belle Mer, overlooking the sea, for three days over Christmas and enjoyed their hospitality as well as the welcome and hospitality of their friends. The Kiwis are very welcoming and friendly people, and we had a delicious Christmas dinner at the home of one of their friends with not a turkey in sight! A large group of family and friends, everyone contributed a dish or two to the table, and it was odd to sit out in the garden in the sunshine on Christmas Day. Pride of place on the table went, not to a Christmas pud, but an enormous pavlova. Christmas Kiwi style!
A pavlova Christmas tree – yummy!
Having lent a hand to ‘strip down’ the apartments ready for cleaning on changeover day, we left Mike at the helm of the apartments and drove for 40 minutes to their home in Athenree. What a beautiful house and even more beautiful garden. No wonder they want to spend more time here!
Anne & Mike’s lovely back garden.
We spent the week between Christmas and New Year just chilling out, catching up on news, watching almost a whole series of Downton Abbey, eating loads of chocolates and making little trips out to local places or to see local friends. One couple had bought a plot of land on the top of a cliff with the most stunning view, but had not as yet built a house on it. They currently live onsite in a converted bus during the warmer months, and take off in the bus to more sheltered parts in the winter. Corner shops here are called ‘dairies’ and there was one nearby which sold excellent ice cream. Having been introduced to hokey pokey ice cream, it was hard to pass the dairy without stopping to indulge!
Steve and the all-too-tempting chocolates. Anne with her feet up and a cuppa.
We had planned to try out the new tent on the plot behind Anne’s back garden, but lethargy set in and by the time we got around to it, the weather was bad. So Anne suggested erecting it in the conservatory. We thought there would be plenty of room if we moved out the furniture, so we had a go. In the end we did have room, but only just! It was a good exercise though, because we worked out the best way to approach it and so wouldn’t be making a spectacle of ourselves on a campsite, or worse still have a domestic in public!
The tent just out of the bag on the conservatory floor. And successfully erected.
It filled the conservatory from end to end. Well we had to get the air out of it somehow!
Getting it down and folded small enough to fit back in the bag was a challenge, but we got there eventually, after Anne & I exerted some pressure on it to remove the air!
On New Year’s Eve it was back to join Mike at Belle Mer for a barbecue with some of their friends. Mount Maunganui is a popular place with youngsters for celebrating the new year, so it was very noisy and lively. At midnight we went out onto the beach to see the fireworks which were excellent. None of us (except Mike!) were up very early the next morning.
It was wonderful to see Anne & Mike and to share their Christmas and New Year celebrations. Thanks guys, and Happy New Year to all our family and friends everywhere.