Well it's been so long since we last updated that I can't really remember what we've done! Needless to say our furniture finally arrived, the same day as Lars and Signe landed from the UK. The positive side of that is that we had a bed, bed linen, towels and of course things to sit on, on the down side it meant that we had not had chance to get things unpacked and a bit more welcoming before they arrived so the first few days of their trip were a bit chaotic, cardboard and paper played quite a large role! For all our dissatisfaction with the moving company we at least have to give them they didn't stint on the packing paper, we offloaded all we could with the delivery men and still have a pile in the garage to try and cram into the recycling bin. Freya probably has enough paper to scribble on for at least the next two years, I've even considered redecorating the house with it. Who knew that tupperware needed to be wrapped in five sheets of paper to protect it from the equally well wrapped spoons. Most things arrived undamaged with just a few casualties, which were obviously things we actually cared about, rather than the tupperware but I guess that's sods law!
The weekend after Lars and Signe arrived we all travelled up to the Bay of Islands for a few days holiday, staying in Russell. Our lovely little house was right on the beachfront and it was great to wake up and see the sea from the bedroom window. Unfortunately the weather wasn't consistently good enough for us to get out on the water, we though it was probably best if Freya's first experience in a boat was on calm waters! Lars and Signe both managed to get on a boat after we had left, on a fishing trip and walking trip respectively.
We did a little bit of exploring and made our way to Puketi Kauri Forest where we had a little walk among the massive trees. We also visited the cunningly named Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 by Maori Chiefs and representatives of the British Crown which established a British Governor of New Zealand, recognised Maori ownership of land. The treaty house itself was just a regular cottage which had been made into a small interesting museum and is one of New Zealands oldest and most historic houses. Te Whare Runanga is a fully carved Maori Meeting House which represents all the Iwi (regional tribes) in New Zealand and was very beautiful and a lovely place to spend a few minutes examining all the carvings and enjoying the cool tranquillity, or at least as tranquil as things get with Freya around!
Lars and Signe got back from their extended stay in the Bay of Island just in time for Christmas. I don't care what anybody says Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is just wrong! It might not be as weird if they fully embraced Christmas in summertime and didn't still have 'Frosty the Snowman' , 'White Christmas' and other general snowy songs playing all the time, Christmas cards and commercials all still have snowy scenes on when quite clearly the chances of it snowing are substantially less than in the UK which is saying something, all very odd indeed. We had the best Kiwi Christmas we knew how with a BBQ in the garden with friends and family, and a lovely day even if it didn't feel a bit like Christmas. We spend Boxing Day on the West Coast at Muriwai which is one of the black sand and big surf beaches, where we took the opportunity to leave Freya with her Farfar and Auntie Signe while we went for some serious jumping into waves fun.
For some reason, we had thought that New Year was a bit of big deal in New Zealand, maybe from the Sydney fireworks displays, needless to say there is a reason why they televise the Sydney fireworks and not the Auckland ones. Maybe they overspent on the World Cup. However, due to the fact that it had been the wettest December on record, it was probably a good thing as what fireworks there were in Auckland were hidden behind low cloud. We stayed at home and had friends over for Fajitas thinking we would watch the countdown on TV and then go outside and see if we could see the fireworks. The fajitas were great, the wine was great, the countdown was minimalist – quite literally one programme ended (Dave Dobbin in concert in case you were interested), there was a digital countdown from ten on the screen and then James Bond started. After a few moments of stunned shock, we headed outside to watch the fireworks, there was silence, no whooping, no cheering and certainly no fireworks, so we came back inside and had another glass of wine.
The new year started with some unsettled and dreary weather, so while Signe and Lars enjoyed the sunshine of the South Island, we made use of our zoo passes and paid another visit to the monkeys and alligators. Freya loves the zoo as she can pretty much run around as she likes, she especially likes the 'Outback' area with the kangaroos, wallabies and emus, the new New Zealand Native Aviaries and the underwater viewing window for the seals and sea lions where she 'Ooohs' every time one swims past.
The weekend after Lars and Signe went back to the UK, we appeased Freya with a trip to Butterfly Creek with Alex and Katie. I think Freya was more impressed with the leaves than the butterflies but were quite impressed (freaked out) with some of the massive butterflies, like many things in New Zealand, a lot of them were brown (Kiwis, Kakas, Wekas, Wetas, Kakapo etc, ok so some are a sort of greenish brown but brown is the predominant colour!), but there were a few really pretty colourful ones. Freya was much more impressed with the farm area and stroked a rabbit and a goat and got her fingers snuffled by some piglets.
Last weekend was a long weekend for Auckland Day and for once the sun came out and stayed out. On Saturday we visited the Seafood Festival at the Viaduct Harbour. Ras (and Freya) were pretty much in heaven with seafood stalls as far as the eye could see, interspersed with the occasional wine, beer and champagne stall. We even got to meet the Mayor of Auckland, albeit by accident as Freya walked in front of him while he was having is picture taken for the local news. On Monday we went to the Joseph Savage Memorial Park which is on top of a hill, to watch the Auckland Regatta in the harbour. It was a great atmosphere up there with lots of families picnic'ing and enjoying the sun, the regatta and the fly pasts. We had a great time, Freya made it her mission to try and play with everyone else's ball other than her own, it's a good job kiwi's are a pretty chilled out bunch!
So that pretty much brings things upto date. Ras is still enjoying his job, and me and Freya are enjoying the more settled weather and looking forward to our music and swimming classes starting again next week. We are planning a trip back to the UK at the end of (UK) summer and will keep you updated and details get finalised.