The reason they call Auckland 'The City of Sails' is because every second person seems to own a boat, or at the very least a wind surfer, a kayak or a kite board. I'm beginning to realise that this isn't because they love to get out on the sea, it's because when the next 'Big Flood' happens it's going to happen here and they want to be prepared!! It rains ….. a lot!
A couple of weekends ago we braved the rain in the foolish hope that it might stop, borrowed a car and went exploring to Huia via the famous Titirangi Market. The rain was pretty heavy when we arrived in Titirangi which made the market pretty bleak, either there was more market indoors which we missed, we were too late or maybe the rain had put people off but it was a little underwhelming. We'll try again on a sunny day and see what all the fuss is about! We travelled on through what we can only imagine was stunning scenery but the low clouds, driving rain and mist made for a pretty grey landscape. We got to Huia down a steep gravel track and arrived at a deserted beach with nothing but a long pier and a few hardy fisherman. Beautiful in it's own way but I'm sure even nicer in the sunshine. We braved the drizzle for a quick walk down the beach and then got back in the car to try and find some lunch.
We travelled on through the Waitekere Ranges to Cornwallis which looked on the map to be our best bet of civilization only to find it pretty much deserted. As we were driving into the village a loud siren went off, after a few moments of concern that the car was about to explode we parked in the museum carpark to review our options, we were a little bit alarmed / relieved to see that we were in the 'Tsunami Safe Zone'!! As there was no subsequent massive wave, we assumed it was just a test and headed (swiftly) back to Titirangi for a sandwich.
We've now bought ourselves a car so we are able to get out and about and see a bit more of Auckland, and much to Freya's delight, go swimming! We are now the proud owners of a 'well loved' Honda CRV which still smells a bit of wet dog! We're hoping it's going to serve us well and we have already been on a few day trips in it, most recently to Long Bay on the North Shore which unsurprisingly is a really long sandy bay. Perfect for a picnic and a paddle on a warm sunny day, Ras even went for his first swim in the sea, it was still a bit too chilly for me and Freya though although Freya was quite happy paddling up to her knees and would have toddled out to her neck if we'd let her!
We've been exploring the local area a bit more too with trips to Cornwall Park (big farmland with sheep and cows in the middle of the city with One Tree Hill in the centre), Auckland Domain (bigger version of Wollaton Park with Auckland Museum in it) and discovered, with the help of Sandra, another local nature reserve / bird sanctuary called Tahuna Torea Reserve which is just ten minutes drive away and perfect for feeding the Ducks and Pukeko and late afternoon strolls through the mangroves and sandspit. Freya and I have also discovered 'Wriggle and Rhyme' sessions at the local library which Freya loves and we're hoping to go to baby music class at the Community Centre if we ever manage to be awake at the appropriate time! We've also managed the odd Sunday Brunch at the waterfront cafe and lots of early evening walks/sits on the beach. Freya's collection of shells, seed pods and random flotsam is growing by the day.
Freya is changing so much now, she is toddling about by herself now, just a few steps at a time. I think the expression 'Pride comes before a fall' was specifically aimed at toddlers. Freya is so proud of herself once she walked half a dozen steps she promptly falls over. Lots of bumps and bangs to come I'm sure. She has even finally started to crawl properly now, although she still prefers commando crawling to the more traditional hands and knees approach. Her two top teeth have this weekend just started to come through which means we're expecting some ferocious eating to follow. She already likes nothing better than 'sharing' apples, pears and bananas with us. The sharing seems to be we get to hold it while Freya gnaws away with her two good teeth!
Next weekend is a long weekend for Labour Day and the Big Kiwi Day Out, a free event at Auckland Domain with bands and performers etc, so assuming it doesn't rain (ha ha) we will probably check that out, we'll let you know how it goes.
All our possessions finally left the UK last week so at least now they are on their way, with any luck they should arrive before Freya's birthday. They are due to dock on 17th November but that only leaves a week to clear Customs etc. Can't wait until we can get rid of the hire furniture and start making our house a home. The good news is that at least our stuff isn't on the ship currently sinking off the coast of New Zealand!
Hope everyone back home (wherever you may be) is well and rest assured we are thinking about you, even if we haven't managed to Skype / Email / Talk to you yet!