Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Interruption

December 11, 2017

We interrupt the usual broadcast to tell you that we are back in London, we have been back a couple of weeks now, and yes, we are behind with blog posts. We just have a couple more posts to do on our last few days in Spain before we returned to the UK, hopefully we can get those done this week.

Meanwhile here are a couple of pictures from yesterday’s snow event…..yes, it’s cold, but it’s pretty and what you expect at this time of the year we are just hoping we get more for Christmas Day then we will have a white Christmas.

looking out of the upstairs hall window to the street

The neighbour clearing her driveway

Ian’s family came for lunch and to introduce us all to Beth, who was only born just over a week ago, and her big sister Olivia. With the snow falling continuously for most of the day Olivia wanted to build a snowman, Alex was co-opted into assisting with the making of the snowman, complete with stones for his eyes, a carrot for his nose and twigs for his arms,

Then to finish the day, we had a little gingerbread house building and decorating with Olivia….not sure that all of the decorations ended up on the house but she loved doing it!

Normal blog transmission will resume shortly!

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Mendrisio

November 5, 2017

We arrived in darkness and eventually found our hotel. After getting off the train we started looking at the maps we had with us, as well as google maps, also checking the notice boards at the train station to figure out where our hotel was, after he saying this way, and she saying no it’s that way, we looked up from our maps and directly across the road from the train station was our hotel staring us in the face!!! Well, that was easy.

As we had had a bite to eat in Milan we decided an early night was in order ready for a day of exploring. The next morning we headed down stairs to have breakfast in the hotel, although adequate, it was nothing to write home about so we made the decision to find our breakfasts elsewhere. Our first port of call today was to visit the Catholic Cathedral here in Mendrisio as we knew this was where Roy’s GGrandfather had been baptised.

Here in the canton (region) of Ticino, a ticket/voucher is issued by your accommodation provider which entitles you to free bus and train travel within the region plus a discount on other forms of transport and special tourist attractions plus free access to museums and the like. This is a brilliant scheme that we took full advantage of by catching buses into town and exploring the region via train.

Top map has Mendrisio marked by blue dot, the bottom picture is a closer version with Mendrisio marked in red.

We found the Catholic Church on top of a hill in the centre of Mendrisio. I have to add here that everything around here is either at the top or the bottom of a a bloody steep hill. You definitely need to have mountain goat genes to live here.

We went into the church for a quick look around. This church was replaced between 1863 and 1875 therefore Damiano would not have known this building. After wandering around the outside of the church we went inside for a look.

the church – La Chiesa dei SS. Cosma e Damiano Di Mendrisio

There was no one in sight anywhere so we had resigned ourselves to not having any luck today.

Just as we were about to leave a gentleman came in, through our limited Italian and his non existent English, we finally worked out that this was Father Claudio, the senior priest of the parish. Roy had written a bit of an intro and a list of names we were looking for and had used google translate which he had saved to his iPad which he showed to Claudio. With a flurry of oohs and ahhs, Father Claudio said follow me.

the Rectory

We ended up in the rectory next to the Church where he went and found another priest, this one spoke reasonable English and was very helpful. With more “follow me”, both men led us down two stories to the archive room where low and behold all the original Church registers are held.

With appropriate dates given, they found the right books for the baptismal records and we started to troll through the entries, how amazing to be able to handle and search through books over 300 years old (and no, we did not have to wear white gloves). Lo and behold we found Roy’s GGrandfather, however his name was registered as Santinus Damianus Vanini (note the one ‘n’ in the middle of the surname) but the details for his parents matched perfectly. We photographed the entry and then started looking for his siblings, we found just the one entry, for his sister Maria but the other two brothers who were born later were nowhere to be found. They could well have moved to another parish or even town by this stage.

Once we had exhausted all the options by searching the appropriate books, it was time for us to go, but not before Claudio disappeared for a moment or two to reappear with two books in hand as gifts for us! One book is on the Church and it’s history and the other on it’s Madonna. Now we just have to get our Italian up to scratch to read them, but the pictures are great!!

The priests would not accept anything in exchange for the books and we left feeling very lucky to have had such a welcome and such great assistance. Before we left the men suggested that we visit the local municipal building to check out records. They informed us that however were closed from 12 – 2pm so we had plenty of time for some lunch before we went.

We found a charming looking small bistro in the backstreets away from the main centre which was being frequented by both office workers and workmen alike. We were very warmly greeted, and sat down at a table for a drink to start with. We ascertained from the menu that today’s special was a chicken dish, we watched as others were brought the dish and it looked delicious. So that was my choice, Roy went with a pasta dish.

It was a great meal, so much so that all was required for dinner that evening was a snack!

Soon it was time to head to the municipal building to see what we could find. Unfortunately, we had no luck as they had no records prior to 1850 or 1860 as there was no central registry requirement in Switzerland at that time.  In fact, registry came in over a period of about 25 years Canton by Canton.  They did however suggest that we go to Bellinzona which is the Capital of Ticino Canton. We shall go there tomorrow.

Birds of a feather

November 3, 2017

Back in London after our holiday in Lanzarote and we have managed to keep ourselves busy with one thing or another. Roy and Ian had a couple of boys days out, which Roy will write up in a blog post……..soon he tells me! Meanwhile Alex and I did what girls do, go to netball and go out for lunch with some of Alex’s girlfriends, both events which I neglected to take a single picture! Oh well, you will have to take my word for it that it was a couple of great days.

However we did all go out together for the day on Sunday to Eagle Heights, a wildlife and bird sanctuary that has flying demonstrations with some of the birds.

We were not sure what to expect but I have to admit we were very surprised as we did not expect to be able to get up so close and personal with the birds.

First up we had a talk and information from the guide about the birds we were about to see and of course some Health & Safety instructions….like put away all food as we were about to have demonstrations from birds of prey, and they like nothing better than a free meal.

First out was an American Bald Eagle.

What we did not expect was to have the bird fly over us repeatedly at very low levels, as in my hair got ruffled a few times as it flew overhead as it’s wings beat down overhead, it took all my resolve not to duck suddenly so as not to distract the bird. It was very impressive with the eagle flying from the handler in front of us to another handler who moved along the back of the crowd so that the bird flew over as many of us as possible. A truly amazing bird, and a lot bigger than I expected.

Next out was an owl

It too swooped overhead flying from one trainer at the front to the one behind us.

All throughout the demonstrations we were told all about the birds and their idiosyncrasies, and tales of interesting and funny incidents that have occurred over the years.

Next came a Caracara which hopped along the ground, running in and out amongst our legs and hopping onto seats. Native to the Falkland Islands it’s a very clever bird that has been known to put its memory and knowledge to good use. We were told that during the Falklands War the birds watched land mines being laid and knew exactly where they were. Over the years that knowledge was handed down through the generations of birds and put it to good use by luring seals to where a land mine lay buried so that once the seal triggered the mine, the birds got an easy takeaway meal!!!

After he was safely put back in his enclosure the Peregrine Falcon was brought out. It put on an impressive display climbing high, almost stalling before turning to swoop down at impressive speeds to try and catch the lure being swung by the handler. Apparently these birds have been clocked at over 230mph (that’s over 300kph) whilst pulling 26G Force. Did you know that fighter pilots pull up to 13G max so these birds are really amazing. And yes, they are the fastest member of the animal Kingdom.

and it was almost impossible to take a picture of the birds in flight as they move so swiftly, in fact the handler challenged those with the big cameras to try and capture a good shot of it diving down and past the lure. So my picture taken with my phone is not too bad as I managed to actually capture an image of it flying by!

After the flying demonstrations we wandered off to see the rest of the birds and as well they had an opportunity for us to hold and pose with either a wee baby owl (which children queued up to hold) or an American Bald Eagle.

Roy and Alex had a go at holding one of the Bald Eagles,

Bald eagle and balding Roy – he had just had a haircut!!!

Alex chatting to the bird.

We spent a bit of time looking around the facility and the numerous other birds that they have including; maribou, rhea and kookaburra, they also have many other different types of eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures and owls, as well as huskies, meerkats and some reptiles.

By the time we had finished admiring all the animals it was getting on for mid afternoon so a late lunch/early dinner was in order at a local country pub.

that’s us enjoying a great pub lunch, washed down with appropriate beverages of course before we headed back home to relax for the evening. A great day out with many thanks to Ian and Alex for organising yet another lovely day.

Art, wine & food

November 1, 2017

César Manrique is a well known Lanzarote artist and architect who had a great influence on his home island and its buildings. He advocated successfully for low rise buildings across the island as well a traditional paint colours. We visited his home not too far from where we were staying, the home has now been turned into a museum and art gallery.

The house is built low in amongst the lava tubes and bubbles with rooms cut into the rock, art decorates the walls which is not only his own but other artist friends as well such as Joan Miró and Picasso. I have to admit that I was not particularly enamoured to his art work but I did enjoy his sculptural works.

The pool area looked inviting too.

It would not be a holiday with the Vannini’s without a post about wine & food. We went out of our way to try local food rather than stick to the usual tourist haunts, and we did find a few gems as well as eating at the villa

BBQ at the villa

Paella

All in all a fun holiday for us all, with great company, good food and wine, and some great sightseeing.

A day to remember

October 27, 2017

We had a full day planned, first we were heading to the northern part of the island to visit Cueva de los Verdes, a cave system formed as part of a lava tube created around 3000 years ago after a major eruption. The cave system is formed by lava streams cooling on the top developing a solid crust before the lava drained away underneath leaving the top part as the roof of a cave. In many places the roof of the cave collapsed forming a cavern, known by the locals as a jameo. The caves extend for around 6km with around 2km open for guided tours.

We purchased our tickets and waited to be taken down into the cavern before entering the cave system. Can you see Roy? and Alex & Christine waving?

And I made it this far in

before looking over the edge and down underneath to the tunnel to where we were to go next and quickly came to the realisation that there was no way that I could go that far underground. I had a terrible sick feeling in pit of my stomach, my hands started sweating, my mouth was dry and the panicky feeling was steadily rising so I made the quick decision to turn around and make my way back outside, telling the others that I just could not go through the cave system and reassured them that I was happy to wait for them to do the tour, and I would be just fine outside in the sunshine.

They tell me that it was a great tour but they all understood why I could not make myself continue into the cave system.

reflections in a pool inside the cave system, it is so still that it is difficult to detect where the water starts and ends.

a backlit cave

Apparently in earlier centuries, locals hid in the caves to protect themselves from European pirates and Muslim slave raiders. A very scary thought, especially for those of us who aren’t keen on enclosed spaces.

About 45minutes later the rest of the crew emerged from the depths to join me in the sunshine after enjoying their tour.

From here we headed to our next destination, Mirador del Rio, a viewing point about 500metres above the sea, which is along a narrow winding road that climbs to the top. Now some of you will know that Roy is not good with heights, especially when he is in a vehicle and there are steep drop-offs to the side. And it seems that Alex has inherited similar traits so the drive up to the top was proving to be an interesting one. Roy wasn’t comfortable at all and I could feel the tension rising, so we asked Alex to pull over to let Roy out of the car. It did not help that there was no where to pull off the road and that there was a line of cars behind us, with tensions and stress levels rising all round Alex finally found a spot on to safely stop, Roy leapt out of the car saying he would wait for us at the road intersection where it would be safe to pull into on the way back. It turned out that we weren’t too far from the top, we safely parked in the car park and were reunited with the Denny’s. At this point it all became a bit much for Alex and a few tears were shed, but it was just a bit of stress relief and she was quickly back to her usual self and we were off to the lookout.

the entrance with the building in the background.

We headed for the entrance and in to the building and platform, it turns out to be yet another Caesar Manrique designed building which is cleverly built into the landscape so that it is barely visible from the road. Inside is a shop, a cafe and a viewing platform, but for us it was time for some refreshments and a chat before admiring the view. We couldn’t help wondering how Roy was getting on and if he was OK, I tried calling and texting him but he had his phone switched off! Oh well, I’m sure he will be ok so for us it was on with admiring the views.

the panoramic view

It is a spectacular view however it is a straight drop down and I must admit I did not like being too close to the edge. At the base of the drop on the left hand side of the picture is a desalination plant, one of five on the island supplying the only fresh water for the island. Once we had all finished admiring the view it was back to the cars.

Now, hopefully we will be able to find Roy approximately where we left him and that he is ok. He is known for wandering off and exploring so we weren’t confident that he would be where we left him.

The trip back down the hill was much better as we were now driving on the mountain side of the road rather than the cliff edge and it wasn’t long before we reached the intersection where we had dropped Roy off, sure enough there he was, grinning from ear to ear ….

with a glass in hand and a new friend!!

We should not have been concerned at all it seems. It turned out that Roy had taken a seat on this mans wall in the shade and before long they had started ‘chatting’. Apparently they had a long conversation with a Roy speaking no Spanish and his friend speaking not a word of English. Amazing what you can do with hand gestures, the odd familiar word and sign language.

From what we understood, Pedro (not sure of his name but this seemed to fit), was a farmer, he was cutting up corn stalks for feed for his 25 goats. He looked after his goats, milked them and made cheese from the milk – all of this information was gleaned with the appropriate hand gestures.

He also made wine, cue the picture above, and brought out a bottle of wine and two glasses, one large glass for Roy and one small one for himself. By the time we got to meet him, Roy was well into his second glass of wine and was very chirpy. I had a taste of the wine, it was very similar to grappa….in other words strong stuff! No wonder they both looked so happy.

We are not sure if Pedro knew where New Zealand was, or how much he understood, but as well as the above info we did get that he was ‘solo’, and he did get that we were married and that Alex was our daughter. What we do know is that we should not have been concerned for Roy at all as he was making new friends and enjoying local hospitality!! We Vannini’s are gaining a bit of a reputation for making friends with the locals.

All in all, it turned out to be a memorable day for the Vannini’s and their combined phobias.

Family connection

October 26, 2017

Who would have thought that I have a family connection to Lanzarote? My cousin Pauline and her husband Pat live in Playa Blanca so it was without a doubt that we were to arrange a get together. Now the last time I saw Pauline was 7 years ago which was a very brief meeting at a family gathering in Yorkshire, prior to that it would have been 1963 when I was 4 years old that I last saw her as this was when we emigrated to New Zealand.

We arranged to meet in Playa Blanca, Pauline had given us excellent instructions on how to get there and exactly where to park, and sure enough she was waiting for us in the car park. I cannot explain how emotional and exciting it was to finally meet up, but let’s just say that I was really quite overcome.

After the welcome we wandered down to the main part of Playa Blanca and ended up at a lovely restaurant on the waterfront where we all had lunch together. I really admire Pat & Pauline, as they have really immersed themselves totally into the local culture including learning Spanish and organising their own residency applications, it takes some courage to step out of your usual comfort zone and routine to live a very different lifestyle and move away from familiar surroundings especially when you are retired…..oh wait, it must be in the genes, we have also been known to up sticks and move on to new horizons!

L-R, Pat, Bernice, Pauline, Barry, Christine, Ian, Alex and Roy.

We had a lovely lunch overlooking the sea, and just as we had finished our lunch a familiar figure wandered up to our table to say hello. Yes, it was my neighbours from the flight over! Small world eh? We chatted for a bit before they continued on their way. I must be memorable!

After a look around the foreshore, Barry, Christine and Ian went off to have a look around the shops whilst a Roy, Alex and I headed off to Pauline and Pats lovely home for some family talk.

Pauline’s mum Maude and my mum Hilda were sisters, part of a very large family of 19 children, my Mum Hilda was number 17 in the line up, whereas Maude was the 11th. Our grandma was an amazing woman, well, she must have been to birth, feed and clothe all those children and it was lovely to hear that Pauline knew lots about her as she had spent a lot of time with Grandma in her young days.

Pauline had some photos for me, some of which I had never seen before including a picture of my Grandma as a young girl as well as some pictures of my parents wedding day with Pauline as a wee tot presenting Mum with a horseshoe.

I was completely blown away when Pauline brought out a couple of letters that she had kept, both from me! One was written by me as a 4 year old (clever clogs that I was!!), when Pauline had just had her first baby and before we emigrated.

the letter and envelope.

She had another letter written by me from when I was 12, it brought back some hilarious memories of everyday life. I had forgotten that I was in an all girl pop group with 4 of my friends, we sang at socials, and apparently we even wrote a couple of songs as well….we were obviously the original Spice Girls!! Shame the fame and fortune did not follow.

Pauline also had a picture of Grandad and Grandma together, Grandad died when my mum was 10years old and I don’t think I have ever seen a picture of him before.

Grandad and Grandma Womersely (OMG, Mums double)

But the next picture of the family (14 surviving children) brought shouts of laughter when Alex Roy and I were pointing to the different characters in the photo as we could see that my nieces Sarah and Frances resemble a couple of these characters and brother Steve as a young man has a doppelgänger in the picture!!! We shall see if they agree.

back row l-r: George, Fred, Doris, John and his twin Maude, Tom (his twin died),Alice, Bill

Front Row l-r: Betty, Alec, Mary, Grandma (Alice), Ella! Hilda, Edna

I am picking that this photo was taken in around 1938.

After talking, laughing and swapping information throughout the afternoon, it was time for us to leave to drive back to our villa in Costa Teguise.

I shall treasure our visit for years to come, and we hope we shall be able to meet up again soon.

Back to London and a show

October 15, 2017

We left our lovely apartment in Langermark late in the morning and headed off to Lille, I have to admit that I was ready to hand the car back although the driving had become easier as we went along. Funnily enough I found the roundabouts the easiest of all to handle and I have to admit that my co pilot was excellent at guiding me and making sure I was OK, and as well the roads are easy to drive on and well maintained.

We got to the Lille train station in plenty of time, however, we missed the entrance to get into the car park building so ended up going around in a grand circle to get back to where we should be, it only took an extra 30 minutes of driving through central Lille with blood pressure slowly rising, sweaty palms, and a dry mouth before we got to where we should have been. We got into the parking building only to discover that we needed to be in the next building to return the car….with a lump rising in my throat at the thought of more driving, we made the move to the next building and returned the keys.

Whilst at the station we saw a couple of things which were memorable. The first was the free charging station for devices, to power the charging you sat at the desk and cycled!

Right next to this was the lounge with plenty of plugs and USB charging sockets, guess which one we used?

Once we got through immigration – and we did get the third degree at immigration too…..why were we away so long? When are we going back to NZ? Where were we staying in the UK? Where did our daughter work? What does she do? Why were we in Europe? What was our connection to Passchendaele? Did we intend to work in the UK?…..and so it went on. Once through we met up with a couple of crazy but ever so friendly Scotsmen who were raising money for Cancer research by standing for 24hrs and travelling from Edinburgh to Paris and return. They were really lovely and were having a great time and were raising lots of money too.

The trip back to London was a breeze with Alex picking us up at Ebbsfleet Station which is much closer to her home than St Pancras in the city.

We had a lovely weekend in and around London. Sunday, Alex and Ian told us that they had organised a surprise for us for the day, so at about midday we headed off on the train into town then a walk through to a lovely rooftop bar overlooking St Paul’s cathedral. Ian, Roy and Alex with St Paul’s dome in the distance

panorama from the roof top

From here we went off into Piccadilly Circus where we were to go to a the show ‘A comedy about a bank robbery’. It was fast paced, hilarious and well acted play, I haven’t laughed so much for a long time. It was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

After the show we took a London black cab

Passing Trafalgar Square along the way

To near Victoria Station for dinner where the fellas tried a beer or two

Then it was a train back home to end a fabulous day, well done Alex & Ian.

Meeting the other half’s family

October 4, 2017

After a couple of days of catching up on sleep and getting into some semblance of a sleep pattern, it was time to meet Ian’s family. It seemed rather fitting that we do the “english” thing and meet up to have dinner at a curry house or as we know it in New Zealand as an Indian Restaurant!

We first met up at an old English pub for a drink before dinner. The pub was built in the 1600’s and I am sure I was the only one who didn’t have to duck to get through the door, with low beams and of course full of character as well as characters. We met Ian’s parents, Barry and Christine, his two brothers Matt and Hen (I think his name is Michael but everyone calls him Hen), Hen’s partner Sam, and Ian’s cousins Brian and Julie. They all made us feel so very welcome and at ease, it was really lovely.

We wandered off to the curry house for dinner where we had a fantastic spread laid out for us. The conversation was flowing, as was the beer & wine, all in all a great night out.

Ian was meeting up with some mates later in the evening as a couple of them were celebrating birthdays, as Ian and his brothers prepared to head off to the pub it somehow transpired that Roy went along with them. We all know what happens when Roy + Rum = a bit of a laugh, and so it was. I am sure Ian was attempting to lead him astray but I think Roy may have a little more experience at these matters! Alex and I got a ride home with Sam, I am not sure what time Roy and Ian got home as I was well asleep by then.

We are now looking forward to our break in Lanzarote with Barry & Christine, and Ian and Alex next week, but first we have a trip to Lille and Ypres for the 100th commemoration of Paschendaele.

Landed in London

September 30, 2017

Oops I did it again, I accidentally swiped the publish button on the last post before I had finished writing it.

We eventually landed at Heathrow 30minutes later than scheduled, by this time we were both exhausted and restless but ready to disembark. We were one of the last off the plane as everyone else was in a hurry and blocking the aisles for a good 15minutes before we were able to retrieve our hand luggage and disembark. Then it was off on the long walk to immigration and customs, why is it that all our flights seem to end up at the gate farthest away from our next point of departure? I know we need the exercise but by this time we were shattered. Next we were to face the long queues of people lined up at the “other” passport entry, fortunately I travel of my British passport so it was straight to the UK & EU line where there was just one couple on front of us. A cheery passport control man welcomed us to the UK where we chatted about the length of our flight and the prospect of a good cuppa before we were through and off to collect our bags, then straight through the green exit line to where Alex was waiting for us.

It was close to 5pm by this time and the traffic on the motorway was a bit slow at times but it wasn’t that bad and we were soon on our way to her lovely home in Erith.

Erith is circled in red in the above map.

Erith is just a 40minute train ride into central London, and is right by the Thames. A very pretty area that we shall enjoy exploring over the coming weeks.

Alex and Ian have bought a lovely home which they moved into earlier this year and they have already done some decorating to put their stamp on the place. That evening we managed to stay up until around 8pm before bed was calling out for us to sleep. Oh what bliss to be able to lie down. The following morning Roy and I managed to get the bus into the village (well, I say village but the population is around 68,000 people) the bus goes right past the house and even though there is no official bus stop in the street you just hail the driver and they stop for you. Assisted by a very friendly and helpful bus driver, we got into the centre of the town where the bus driver told us this was where we got off then she made sure we knew where to catch the bus home again and which number bus we needed, extremely helpful.

We wandered around the local supermarket, Morrison’s, where we were like kids in a sweet shop as everything was so cheap. To top it all off, we got free wifi in the store so we could chat with Alex about various matters (getting UK/EU SIM cards for our phones tomorrow). We could not believe the price of food compared with NZ, especially the price of fresh produce, the store even has cheaper versions of fruit and veg if they are deemed “wonky”. The wonky veg looked perfectly fine to me, as well as the price the range and quality was good as well. For example, baby gem lettuces were two for 50p, raspberries were two 250gm containers for £1.50, tomatoes were similarly priced. They even offer a pack of wonky veg for £3 which they say is enough to feed a family of four for a week. We had to restrain ourselves from buying too much as we knew we had to carry it back with us so we just got the essentials…….including Melton Mowbray Pork Pies!! Of course essential supplies included rum and gin, all available at the supermarket and at prices cheaper than Duty Free!

and the variety of different brands was extensive and impressive.

We headed back home with our bags of goodies, again with the help of a very kind bus driver who stopped the bus practically outside the door advising us this was where we should disembark.

We have tried to reestablish our sleeping patterns with the time difference, it has taken a day or so but we are pretty well sorted now. I have to admit that I take the No Jet Lag tablets available at New Zealand airports, which does help me as I have suffered jet lag (nausea and disorientation) previously on one long haul flight when I forgot to take them.

Alex & Ian have of course been working all week, so now we have the weekend together to do some sightseeing and some shopping. This evening we are going to a curry house, a typical English thing to do apparently, for dinner and to meet Ian’s family which we are really looking forward to.

PS. The weather has been very good to us so far, quite warm with very still days. Let’s hope it continues.

We’re off

September 26, 2017

Oops, sorry to those who received a half written blog entry yesterday, it was a slip of the finger on the screen.

Bags are packed, passports are at the ready, currency exchanged, what else can there be to do? Yes, we’re off tonight, I can hardly believe that the time has finally arrived for us to step onto the plane for the loooong flights ahead of us.

We finished our housesitting duties last week when Jack & Chris arrived home on Thursday. We really enjoyed our housesitting stint as we were able to catch up with lots of friends and family, plus it was a nice change for us. On Friday we headed to the van, quickly got sorted and made our way down to Papakura for a couple of nights. We caught up with friends Bill & Linda for dinner at the Papakura Club on Friday evening which was lovely to see them and catch up on all their news. Saturday we exercised our democratic right to vote, watching the results come in later that evening but gave up watching after 30minutes or so, pretty unexciting viewing. Sunday we headed off to Kopu to where the van is having some R&M done on it whilst we are away, we stayed the night before returning to Antony’s on Monday. Today has been doing all those last minute chores before we head away, getting the last of the washing done, repacking the bags and taking out what we don’t really need, plus Roy had an appointment with the specialist for his final injection ready for treatment to begin next year when we return.

So that’s about it folks, we fly out later this evening (actually in the early hours just after midnight) for Singapore where we have a short 2hr stopover before the flight to London. We shall endeavour to update the blog on a reasonably regular basis where and when we can. In the meantime, stay safe and well out there!