Thursday, 26 March 2015

Back In Blighty

Well, we’re back, and apologies to our pals who regularly read our blog and thought we had fallen off the edge of the globe (though I suppose on most maps NZ is shown as being on the edge of the world.)
The main reason for all the inactivity is that my eyes have been playing me up of late and it has been very uncomfortable using a computer, watching TV or driving.
Livi does a spot of gardening around her herb garden
Two visits, first to an optician and then an optical specialist in Wellington revealed that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with my eyesight and they both thought I had “Dry Eye”, though the principle symptoms with that condition are watering eyes, which I don’t have. But on doctors orders I’ve been popping eye drops since, and I must say things are gradually improving, but as you get on in years, ailments take longer and longer to right themselves.
It didn't really spoil our time in New Zealand with the family, but it handicapped me as I couldn’t drive and we cancelled a couple of weekends away because of it.
Pops reads an early morning story to Livi

Ben has just worked out how to roll over on to his tummy
I must admit I really didn’t want to come back to the UK this time. Wellington and the whole of New Zealand has had a warm, sunny summer, with little rain, and we have been able to get out and about with the family, and especially the children, on most days.
Karori Park from way up on the Skyline ridge. Erica and James place is on the right behind the trees
The First Mate and myself relax at one of the free evening concerts in Wellington Botanical Gardens

I’ve lot a bit of weight too, due to lots of walking and laying off the beer, mainly due to the fact it is around £8 a pint! It’s all right, but nothing to get excited about. However, the NZ wines are not to be sneezed at.
I suppose the highlight of the trip was our weekend in Napier at their annual “Art Deco Festival”. We were entertained by two Kiwis who we met while cruising into Liverpool last summer, John and Dianne. We stayed at a backpackers and they picked us up and chauffeured us around in John’s 1938 Austin.
Napier was struck by a major earthquake in 1931 and was rebuilt in the Art Deco style, making it unique and the world’s most complete example of this architectural genre.
John & Dianne beside their 1938 Austin

Vintage cars are everywhere during Art Deco weekend in Napier

Art Deco in central Napier
Every February the city steps back 80 years, and everybody, and I mean just about everybody, dresses up in clothes from the period. We knew about this but thought it would just be the die-hards who donned blazers and braces. We felt quite underdressed. There is music on street corners, a huge parade of vintage cars that cruise around the city and impromptu displays of dancing. A wonderful weekend.

Balmy evening music in Napier.

Pat, Vic and Val on Rabbit Island. Nelson is in the background
We also flew down to Nelson on the South Island. Both Pat and I rate Nelson as a very special place and it is an opportunity to see our old pals Vic and Val (Vic and I went to Junior school together, and is about to become a UK narrowboater.)
Our new grandson, Ben, is now six-months old and is a delight. I am not really a baby person but I was quite taken with the little fellow. He seems a very happy, contented child, and has just started rolling around the carpet so he’ll be crawling soon, and our granddaughter Livi, who celebrated her third birthday while we were there continues to delight us talking non-stop.
The family in the back garden. The park is immediately behind us.
Erica and James house backs on to Karori Park and every day there are one or two cricket matches going on. Our visit, this year, coincided with the Cricket World Cup, being held jointly in NZ and Australia, where England lost every match they played. We had heard that an international side were coming to the park to practice, but when I looked out over the park and saw the Waitrose logo on the shirts and realised it was the England Cricket team practicing I thought I’d better shuffle across and see what was going on, which was not much.
Playing on the beach at the "Great Gatsby" picnic in Napier
Livi emulates her "Pops" at Te Papa museum in Wellington

Oriental Bay, just a stone's throw from the centre of Wellington, on a sunny afternoon
Ukulele wise, it was a successful trip. I got to play with “The Ukes Of Wellington” a few times at their “Sunday Strums” 8/10: The Nelson Plinkers, a very sad 3/10: and at the Art Deco weekend in Napier I joined the local group playing old standards on the beach at the “Great Gatsby Picnic”. Another 8/10.
The journey back was very uncomfortable even though I had booked myself an exit row seat on both flights; from Auckland to Hong Kong and then with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Heathrow. 26 hours in limbo is no fun.
We should have gone straight back to the boat but decided to see some friends and family on the south coast while we were down south, which on reflection was a bit foolish.
I rarely suffer from severe jetlag, but this time it’s been awful. Here we are seven days in and I am still only getting one or two hours a night and I am stressing about it.
We are staying put in the marina now for a few weeks. There is a lot to do on the boat and I would rather wait until the weather becomes more settled.
Toodaloo chums