Our Twelve Days of Christmas First Three Days
Our Twelve Days of Christmas – 19th to 30th December with Charly and Tom.
The First Three Days
Four hours in to our first day of Christmas Rob and I were speeding south on Interstate Highway 1 to Auckland Airport to meet Charly and Tom off their South Korean Airlines flight from Seoul, the second half of their arduous 27 hour of flying from London Heathrow. White mist veiled bridal fields of munching cows in the early light of dawn, before the true colours of the flora had escaped the dark shadows of night.
We sat expectantly amongst other excited family members who had not seen their loved ones for months, maybe years. When the female cabin crew appeared in their elegant pale beige and duck egg blue uniforms, their black hair fastened demurely with bamboo bows I began to wonder if they had made the flight. A black labrador and a beagle were sniffing the bags of a few embarrassed travellers as Tom appeared first and then Charly, looking tiny amongst tall, well-built males of the species.
We showed Charly and Tom around town, partly to help them stay awake until their first night’s sleep in our time, reducing their jet lag time and because we wanted a few items of food. Pak and Save supermarket had piles of green lipped muscles for sale so I made moules mariniere followed by Thai tuna curry using some of Kyle and Shelleys’ frozen tuna catch, which I had traded for a bottle of hot tomato sauce. Shelley had arrived earlier with a home-made lemon pound cake and tub of sweetened lemon juice which would come in very useful on our three day sojourn to the centre of North Island.
On our second day of Christmas we walked to Whangarei Falls, as we had done before with Gail and Tony. It had rained recently and the falls were wider and louder this time. Cameras clicked away as we recorded the occasion and a friendly duck insisted Charly fed her with crumbs from her sandwich.
We had heard of another earthquake on the Pacific coast of Ecuador and a few days later quakes occurred in Chile and the South Island of NZ. The earth is constantly on the move everywhere, I wonder when it will next directly affect us.
It was a day of lovely, warm sunshine and we rounded our walk off with ice creams at the little shop on the opposite side of the road to the marina run by a friendly young Indian family with their daughter and tiny baby.
After a snack of cheeses and biscuits on board we wandered over to the Love Mussel restaurant on the Quayside for the long awaited and keenly contested best decked boat awards. I remember the words “In reverse order” and then Zoonie’s name came first as the boat with the best presented flags, and we were rewarded with, yep you got it, a Tshirt. So my efforts making the code flags which read Merry Christmas, paid off!
Kyle and Shelley had joined us and said they were off to the Risque Bingo evening at the Butter Factory, would we like to join them? Well why on earth not. This time we sat on the stage while the caller, whom we recognised from the Burlesque Evening we had previously enjoyed at the same venue, was set up by the main doors with her friendly disco lady belting out the music in the corner behind her.
Crossing the numbers off as the buxom and colourful caller yelled the like of, ‘legs eleven, I’m in heaven’ ‘Number nine you are mine!’ and ‘Oooh number eight, I can’t wait’ etc being the more repeatable calls when suddenly Tom said, “Oh no, I didn’t want this one,” bless him he had won not the spa night nor the basket of Christmas goodies, but a ticket to the male stripper night in February, and had the embarrassment of having to go up and collect it.
It was a fun and lively end to their first full day with us.
On our third day of Christmas we re-visited the young kiwi pair in their cosy dark home while it rained outside. There just are no crowds in NZ except at Stadiums and the like. We thought it would be packed with the children on their Christmas holidays but no, the four of us were the only humans in with the kiwis. As a result and because we stood very still, both birds fed constantly, poking their long beaks into the leaf litter just the other side of the glass and no more than a foot or two from us.
They are too young to breed as yet and the female is the dominant one, often bossing the male around. They both emerged from the shadows in the same spot at one stage and nearly knocked into each other leaping a foot in the air in surprise. Such odd and cute creatures, they have useless wings and no chest muscles which means they are easy prey for cats and dogs to catch and kill by crushing the kiwi’s lungs with a light squeeze of their gripping jaws.
These two will eventually be released into a kiwi reserve as part of the programme to raise their numbers in the wild. But with predators in the wild including possums and rats it is a hard job.
Part of Zoonie’s extensive and never ending maintenance regime is the annual emptying and cleaning of her two water tanks, located under each settee berth in the main saloon. We had done one while still on the pile mooring. We emptied the tank with natural usage then Rob used the stainless steel key he had had fabricated to undo the round inspection hatches on the top of the tank with ease. I scraped off as much of the black pimples of mildew as I could reach, then Rob did the rest. We then filled the tank and because we were well through the contents of the other tank Zoonie took on a decided heel to starboard.
Well on this afternoon the taps gurgled away when we opened them signifying the second tank was empty and could be cleaned. So while Rob stripped off for the job Charly and Tom went off to explore and I started to get together the food we would need for our three day excursion to Hobbiton, Tongariro National Park and Rotorua.