Our Twelve Days of Christmas. Part 3

Wed 4 Jan 2017 14:08

Our Twelve Days of Christmas. Part 3

Christmas Day 2016. Our seventh day of Christmas.

Charly and Tom like my porridge, made with oats, water and milk, guesswork and love, so that is how we started the day.

There is much choice here in how to spend the uncharacteristically warm day, for us English anyway. The locals often picnic and barbecue in the country or by the sea, on a beach somewhere, but the sky was grey and the wind blowing so we relaxed on the settees in the saloon and opened our presents at leisure, recovering in a most enjoyable way from the strenuous past three days in the best company.

Kyle and Shelley called at midday for drinks and mincepies. Pak and Save mince pies, strawberry and rhubarb pies and gingerbread pastry pies are really tasty and to fill the gap created by baking I had levered off the lids and fed in a little of Sandra’s homemade mincemeat, that she had given us last Christmas while we were in Mindelo Cape Verdes, together.

Lunch was ready mid-afternoon and later Charly and Tom went ashore for some free WiFi while Rob and I did the dishes.

The weather had taken a turn for the better on Boxing Day so we set off as a foursome on the Hatea Loop Walk; an hour of fresh air and exercise and numerous friendly greetings and good tidings for the season.

New Zealanders have a very nice gastronomic tradition on Boxing Day, that of the Pavlova. Having completed our health giving promenade we slipped into Pak and Save where a tower of soft fluffy pavlova meringue awaited the final magical touch of strawberries and kiwi fruit, plus a few mint leaves. Accompanied with cream the four generous quarters did not last long!

The long golden sands of Breams Bay Beach called in the afternoon and we all felt the lack of our four legged friends to enjoy them with us as we paddled and picked up a few pretty shells to inspect before returning them to the water.

Boxing Day was by way of a restful interlude in an otherwise busy few days of excursions. On the 27th December we went on our keenly awaited trip out to the Poor Knights Islands. These have been rated amongst the top 10 diving sites and places to view wildlife in the World if you want to take any notice of such opinions.

One story of how they got their name and the one I think is likely because our own Captain Cook named thousands of places in his travels, was that while he was passing the islands he was tucking into a bowl full with Poor Knight’s Pudding, which is basically traditional bread and butter pudding spread with raspberry jam. Our guide thought it a sad recipe but I decided to try adding the raspberry jam next time!

What Rob and I made sure we understood was that this experience would indeed have been amazing for the other participants who knew nothing of the cruiser sailing life that we enjoyed, who instead came from land based lives and limited travel, and it was fun to see them enjoying themselves.

We were each supplied with wet suits, snorkel and mask and flippers. I didn’t use the latter because although they were the right size they were so tight I knew I would get cramp in my feet.

Ready and keen we stood on the dive platform at the stern of the boat and in we went. Jeeez it was cold, and of course this meant we would not see the beautiful tropical fish we were used to. However the fish we did see were bigger than in the tropics and there were lots of different types of flowing sea-weeds.

Poor Rob suffered with suncream washing into his eyes so had to come out pretty soon and resorted to staying on the surface in one of the kayaks while Tom and Charly explored a sea cave and I headed for the sun light shining into the depths from the other side of a limestone tunnel. The current was quite strong and for a moment I thought I was going to be dashed up against the limestone cliff, so I pushed out away from what could be very solid and unforgiving.

A shoal of fish clung to the rock walls but the water was full of plankton so the photos were disappointing. After I don’t know how long as I’d lost track of time I made it back to the boat, teeth chattering and laid out on the comfy sun cushions in my bikini just to let the sun warm me up again! A surprising number of folk were novice or new to snorkelling and the crew had their hands full showing them what to do.

Warmed up and well fed we motored into the world’s largest sea cave and had some fun making noise and sounding the ear-piercing ship’s horn. The colours on the rock walls were beautiful and varied from blues to greens and reds, quite lovely.

On our way back, having seen dolphins on the way out, we came across the biggest manta ray I have ever seen. A good 12 to 14 feet across it barely broke the surface except with its wing tips but turned head over heels many times, white belly then black back, to capture and trap its food as it rolled. Now that was a fabulous and rare treat! The highlight of the trip for me.

We had excellent weather for the day which was a relief as Charly and Tom had travelled so far, we really wanted it to be a winner. The company quite rightly lived up to their name for us, giving us a ‘Perfect Day Ocean Cruise’.