Archive for the ‘family’ Category

It’s the final countdown

June 3, 2018

We are on the final countdown, with Wednesday being Roy’s last treatment day and time for celebration. He has had no side effects, he doesn’t glow in the dark or have any superpowers although we are forever hopeful he achieves the latter! We are forever thankful that we had options and everything has gone to plan with a great outcome.

And thank goodness for Winston’s gold card. For those not in NZ, Winston Peters is a long serving MP (who will be the stand-in Prime Minister whilst Jacinda is on maternity leave) who a few years ago organised a gold card for senior citizens which entitles them to free public transport in most major cities as well as discounts at some stores. The gold card has been used by Roy every day for the past 7 and a half weeks to get the train in and out to Newmarket, then a free bus to the hospital and return. It has saved us not only many $$$’s but also in time and stress as we haven’t had to drive in, fighting the traffic, looking for parking, as well as petrol costs. Well done Winnie!

It’s been another week of catching up with friends and family. Bill & Linda came visiting last Sunday as they were having an open home is readiness to sell, so it was great to catch up with them. Gary & Marg called in on their way through Auckland for lunch on Wednesday, and of course I had my lunch “date”with Janet on Thursday. Steve & Les called in on Saturday with two of their granddaughters on their way back to Whangamata. In between we have had Drs appointments and other matters to attend to so all in all a busy old time, which is great as it means that we are never bored!

On Friday I was asked if I would drive a motorhome from the wharf to Drury as I had done the previous week. Sure, why not? So off we trotted on Friday afternoon, on the train this time into Britomart, however, I had to pay for my journey as I have a few years to go before I qualify for one of Winnie’s cards. However, this time I did take a couple of pictures of the vehicles we were picking up.

I drove the one at the rear in the above photo.

First we have to visit the petrol station just around the corner to put in enough diesel to get us back. That done we all headed off. We had discussed which exit would be the best to get off the motorway as this was Friday afternoon and it was also the start of the long weekend Queens Birthday weekend which meant that the traffic would be worse than usual, if that is all possible. Once crawling along the motorway I got to the Redoubt Road exit at Manukau and could see the traffic was at a standstill ahead so I ducked off there. Wending my way through the back roads (just as well I know my way around), avoiding schools as by this time it after 3pm and schools were finishing, however I got to Drury in good time. Then I had to wait at least 30minutes for the others to start to arrive, each one had taken a different exit hence our staggered arrival times.

The weather has been brilliant this past week, well, brilliantly fine during the day but freezing cold overnight. There is a kiwi fruit orchard over the back of Ardmore and so for a few nights helicopters have been flying over the vines for frost protection. During cold and still conditions, the down draught from the helicopter causes the slightly warmer air layered above to circulate amongst the vines, reducing the likelyhood of frost damage. Effective but noisy.

Now we have rain settled in for the day by the looks of it, oh well, at least it’s warmer.

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Into single figures

May 27, 2018

Another week is done and dusted, with only 8 more treatments to go, the end is in sight.

Roy goes off on his journey there and back everyday, meanwhile I somehow manage to keep myself busy doing one thing to another. Swimming fits in between other bits and pieces but I must say that with the cooler weather it is not that enticing to make one want to strip off and get into tepid water! However, we continue.

Monday was pickle/relish/chutney making day with plenty achieved.

And I forgot to take any pictures of the previous weekends efforts of pickling where Roy made a tomato chilli relish but the cupboards are now full and it will all add some welcome tasty treats throughout the rest of the year.

Tuesday I had an interesting few hours as I was asked if I would assist with some driving, this was to pick up brand spanking new Motorhomes from the wharf and drive them to the dealers yard in Drury. Sure, I said, not a problem, it will make the day a bit different. Easy enough to drive, it was a good run along the motorway and deliver the vehicles to their new base a few hours later. The Motorhomes now await their new owners.

Janet picked me up on Thursday and we went out for lunch in Pukekohe to a lovely little cafe she frequents. It was a great day out and about with me forgetting to take any pictures as we were too busy nattering. I really enjoyed our excursion out, so much so that we are doing it again this week but at a different location….ooooh, watch out, does that mean I am becoming one of those “ladies who lunch”?

Bill came visiting one afternoon with a lovely batch of biscuits that Linda had made.

We needed to get some more LPG and also to visit the dump station this weekend. We figured that Saturday morning would be the best time to get LPG as we have a large inbuilt tank and being a Saturday meant that there would be little traffic parked around the gas station. Indeed it was an easy drive in and out again, then off to bruce Pullman Park to dump. But oh no, it Saturday morning isn’t it…when every kid in the neighbourhood is playing sport and with parents cars overflowing the car parking it was a squeeze through the parked cars to get to the dump station. But what’s this? Some muppet has parked right on the dump station ignoring the yellow lines and obviously gone off to watch their child play rugby/league or football. We waited and waited, before the car owners eventually sauntered back and moved off so we could dump. What should have been a 10 minutes job turned into more like an hour!

We were also supposed to be going up to Shakespear for the release of 40 Saddlebacks into the park but my knees and hips were very sore so we decided to sort out the domestic duties and we would see the birds next time we visit. But we understand all went well with the release and yet another species brought back into the Sanctuary.

picture of the release courtesy of SOSSI

This week has seen the arrival of cooler weather, the shorts got put away and out come the trousers, the heater has been on a couple of times and even the hot water bottles have made an appearance. And to test out all that firewood we collected earlier in the month, we went to Antony’s a couple of evenings to enjoy the warmth and coziness of the fire as well as have dinner together. Although I guess we can’t complain too much, it is winter after all!!

Another week done & dusted

May 18, 2018

Yet another week of routine has crept on by interspersed by visits from friends and family. Only 2 1/2 weeks of treatment left for Roy and the daily routine of train, bus walk, bus, train, travel every day, it’s almost like having a job!! Luckily Roy has so far suffered no side effects from the treatment, long may it continue.

It was an early start on Monday morning as we were heading across town to see brother John and his partner Jude at Auckland Airport. We arrived in time for their 7.30am arrival at the Domestic terminal from Whakatane and to collect a large box of feijoas from Johns garden which will shortly be made into lots of goodies. It was then a short walk over to the International terminal, where we all met for breakfast. John & Jude are off on their overseas odyssey, first to London, then to France, Spain & Portugal where along the way Jude will be walking some of the Camino Santiago path with John driving their motorhome as support crew. But first they will be spending a few days with Alex & Ian so a few goodies from Mum & Dad were stashed into their luggage. I was only slightly envious of their coming adventures – Yeah Right!!!

To add insult to injury, I get sent a picture of John & Jude outside Morrisons….a store we became known to frequent whilst we were there, getting in supplies.

We wish them all the best and are sure they are in for an amazing time.

Bill P called in one afternoon for a cuppa and another morning both Bill P and Janet called in for morning tea, it’s so nice getting visitors especially when we feel so tied to one spot.

The days are starting to get a little cooler as well as darker earlier and earlier in the evenings. However it’s only a month away until the shortest day and then we can look forward to the evenings eking out.

Antony comes round each evening to join us for dinner or sometimes for a change we go to his place where I cook dinner. And there are always chores to be done which keep us busy.

Friends, family and reunions

March 23, 2018

In the past month or so since we have been back it has been a flurry of activity catching up with friends, family and the odd couple of reunions as well. We caught up with brother Steve & Leslie fairly soon after getting back and then we made a quick dash up to Whakapirau to see Jackie & Chris and return the luggage they had kindly lent us and to sort out this years housesitting plans with them.

Then it was off down to Hamilton to Wade & Lindsays to help them celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, it was fabulous to spend time with them and reminisce and catch up with all their news. We went out for dinner to a tapas restaurant called Gothenburg, and oh my goodness, what fabulous food, some of the best we’ve had in a very long time. The service was also brilliant and of course the company was outstanding! I asked our waiter to please take a picture of us and this is what we got,

yes, the wait staff having fun with selfies!!!

They did eventually take a couple of nice photos of the four of us though

On our return journey to Auckland we made a small diversion to Ararimu to Ron & Janet’s as there was to be a bit of a reunion of friends of Roy’s who were all at Howick District High School together…..Roy and Janet started school together, just a few years ago!

I forgot to take any photos that afternoon but here is a picture of some of them at school

Roy is second from left in the back row, another friend Roger (whom we went on a canal trip with in France in 2011) is back row 7th from left and Janet is in the second row from the front 7th from left.

We had a few days back at the van before heading off to catch up with more friends around the city. We visited Brian at his new home in Hobsonville. It just so happened to be his birthday and it was great to catch up with him and seeing him looking so well. We also managed to catch up with Gary & Marg (from Tokerau Beach) on their way through Auckland as they had a brief stopover at Gulf Harbour. We are really looking forward to getting back up to Tokerau Beach to see them again as soon as we can.

Roy had another reunion to attend, this time it was the Auckland Grammar 1958 class 60th reunion (NB some of us were not even a twinkle at that time!!!). Roy attended this reunion on his own…it’s a boy thing!!! where, by all accounts, a good time was had by all and a chance to meet up with class mates and Masters alike. Of the 150 boys in that years intake, there were 40-50 at the reunion, and a few recognisable names were amongst the roll call including Tom Schnackenberg (of America’s Cup fame), Mark Burgess, Ross Dykes and Terry Jarvis (cricket), Dave Gerard (Olympian and sports medicine) as well as many other well known business men.

that’s the 2018 version of the class of 1958.

There was a quick sprint down to Whakatane to catch up with John & Jude, they are off on a trip shortly and wanted to gather a bit of information from us from our recent trip as they will be visiting some of the places we went to. We also had to try a variety of Pedro Ximinez sherries that we all enjoy, and after our recent visit to Jerez it seemed appropriate.

the lineup!

Then we had a visit from Keith & Deb, and along with Pat & Sue we were parked in the Self Contained area at Shakespear as we were inundated with school camps in the main camp. Here we are all lined up…

One of these vans is not like the other!

Keith has a fishing drone which he kindly showed us how it works, and I have to admit that I’m smitten, it’s brilliant – you could say I’m hooked! It’s a great way of fishing off a beach and getting your line out into the water safely and as luck would have it we had a bit of success as well.

We enjoyed having their company and sharing BBQ’s

Keith, Roy, Sue, Pat and Deb

One night Keith’s daughter (my niece) Amy came to visit and we enjoyed another lovely evening and meal together

Amy, Roy, Keith and Deb.

More visits to friends around the city and then a lunch meeting in Warkworth with Mark & Glynis to catch up with them and their recent adventures on moving their launch north to Marsden Cove from Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds. We look forward to catching up with them again soon.

All in all, a busy time what with one thing and another, and if we haven’t caught up with some of you as yet, then we intend to do our best to see you soon.

Farewells and other bits

February 26, 2018

Our farewell dinner with Ian’s family was held at a local Vietnamese Restaurant. We have been warmly enveloped by the Denny family and we were looking forward to getting together with them again. There were Ian’s parents Barry & Christine, his two brothers Matt and Mike, and his cousin Julie & Brian. They are all so easy going and fun to get along with, we were assured of a great evening.

Back row: Matt, Ian, Antony, Alex, Mike

Front row: Chris, Bernice, Julie, Barry, Brian, Roy

Let’s just say that the food was great, the drinks flowed and the Sambucca shots that seemed to keep coming at the end of the evening made for a fun end to the night!

Matt channeling his inner Vietnamese.

They all decided that Christmas 2019 would definitely be celebrated in New Zealand with all wanting to experience a totally different type of climate for the festive season. They are all saving madly in anticipation of their big adventure to the antipodes.

We didn’t always go out together as a family, Ants and Alex met up in town on a few occasions and then we would get some random collection of photos to let us know they were having a good time.

these two out for cocktails and silly indoor golf!

or I get random photos of…guess what we are having for dinner?

And it’s not all gourmet food…..check out this one that Antony and Ian sent to us when they were left home alone after having been at the football all day!

who knew that there was such a thing as “chicken dinosaurs”? Let’s just say that boys will be boys and will do anything to get a reaction out of Mum!

A lot of cooking was done at home over the time we spent in London with Alex doing a bit of baking as well. One day she decided to make Neenish Tarts, just like Grandma used to make. For those of you who don’t know what these are they are a sweet pastry base with a creamy lemony filling and iced with half chocolate and half white icing. They are an antipodean delight and one of my favourites. I can attest that Alex’s version were fabulous and every bit as good as her Grandmas.

Alex channeling her inner grandma!

We also went along to watch Alex play netball on numerous occasions, wrapping up against the biting cold and at times it was not at all pleasant and I hankered for NZ summer weather…..but now we are back and in the searing heat wave and humidity we are experiencing I can now confess that I am hankering for those chilly days where we can rug up against the cold, enjoy a hot toddy or two and cheer from the side lines. Her team mates made us feel very welcome and we even enjoyed the odd night out with them too. Oh and yes, you guessed it, I didn’t take one picture at the netball!

Our last few days were all a bit of a whirl, with us all pretending that our departure date was not imminent.

Then comes those dreaded goodbyes, they don’t come any easier and even though we have plans for future meet ups to look forward to, it does not make it any the less emotional. All in all, we have all had a great time creating lots of wonderful memories.

Family reconnections

January 12, 2018

We had set aside a few days to visit a couple of family members so with trains tickets booked, contact made we set off to make our way north. It was a journey of many links, we took the bus from Alex’s home at just after 8am which then required a relatively short walk to the train station in Erith. The train from Erith to London Bridge takes about 40minutes then a walk from London Bridge station to the underground which took us past Borough Market where we resisted the temptation to visit, after all we were on a schedule! Then it was the tube to Euston station, then another walk to the train station at Euston to catch the train to Bletchley. The train to Bletchley was a short 35 minute trip via fast train, and on arrival we took a taxi to Bletchley Park as we were uncertain as to how far away the station was from the park, it turned out it wasn’t too far and we could have walked. We then spent the next 4-5hrs wandering around Bletchley before being picked up by my cousin Jackie and her husband Hossein. Phew! Most modes of transport covered today; bus, tube, train, taxi, car and shanks’ pony.

NB. A separate blog entry on Bletchley Park will follow.

Jackie is actually my cousin Hilda’s daughter, and tomorrow we would be catching up with Hilda. It can become a little confusing at times as my Mums name is Hilda, and it is on Mums side of the family that we are connected, with my Mum and cousin Hilda’s Mum being sisters. It gets even more confusing as Mum was the 17th of 19 children and Hilda’s mum was number 2, which makes for a lot of cousins as well making the age range in cousins rather extensive.

Back to the original story. Jackie and Hossein live just outside Milton Keynes which is not too far from Bletchley, so we didn’t have too far to travel. They had kindly offered to host us for the night in their lovely home. After lots and lots of chat, it was time for dinner. Hossein had prepared for us an amazing Persian feast, and I mean, a feast.

entree was a selection of delights which were accompanied by Persian bread.

I cannot remember the names of the dishes, but they included yoghurt, salads, herbs, aubergine, cheese, nuts, and spinach prepared in many different ways. There was also the traditional drink Doogh which is a fermented yoghurt drink.

Jackie, Bernice and Hossein

Bernice, Jackie and Roy

Talking and catching up continued through the meal, so much so that none of us remembered to take a picture of the main course, which was an amazing array of dishes including chicken, lamb, two rice dishes one of which included barberries, potatoes, vegetable and herb side dishes all of which were delicious. It must have taken hours of careful preparation for which we were extremely appreciative.

Jackie then presented us with a Persian dessert of cream, cream, rosewater and pistachios. It was very refreshing at the end of the meal, and I did remember to take a picture of that!

dessert

After dinner, we relaxed in the lounge and over sweetmeats accompanied by Persian tea we talked and talked until the wee small hours, time for bed – it had been a long day.

The following morning Jackie took Roy and I back to Bletchley so we could finish off what we had not covered the previous day with arrangements made for Jackie to pick us up at 1pm. Then it was back to their place to meet up with Jackie’s sister Dawn who was bringing Ken & Hilda over for a visit.

Back row L-R: Dawn, Jackie, Bernice, Roy with Ken and Hilda in the front.

Cousins Bernice and Hilda

Over lunch and into the late afternoon the talking continued as there was much to catch up on since our last visit in 2010/2011. However, all good things come to an end, and with fond farewells it was time for us to leave.

Jackie took us to Milton Keynes train station where we caught the train to our next destination, Droitwich Spa near Worcester this time a one and a half hour train trip. This trip required just one change in Birmingham, and with times already tight between journeys it was just our luck that our train was delayed just out of Birmingham with signalling problems, it meant we ended up having just 3 minutes to change platforms and trains! However, we made it just as the doors were closing for the final leg of the journey where we were met at the station by Susan.

Sue’s father and my father are cousins which means I’m getting to visit cousins on both sides of the family. We had also met up with Sue and her sister Veronica last time we were here, and as well Sue and her husband Martin had visited us in NZ in 2011.

We headed off to Sue & Martins farmhouse out in the countryside where we were greeted by a lovely warm house and a beautiful dinner. Again we ended up talking and laughing until late, cosy at the table in front of the Aga stove.

The following day I spent reading, as in reading the heap of files of family documents that Sue has which include a pile of letters written by my Mum to Sue’s parents, Sydney and Vera, over the years since the mid 1960’s. As well there were letters from my grandpop and great aunts and uncles, a wealth of information for me to go through and take photos to add to our records. Most of the letters contained an insight into daily life for our family and brought back many memories. Sue also found a stash of photographs that she thought she had lost which included pictures of my great grandmother as well as the rest of the family over the years. There were lots of ooohs and aaahs as I recognised people and places, putting dates and names to some of the unlabelled photographs.

Bernice, Martin and Sue

After another superb meal in the afternoon, it was time for us to head back to London, reversing most of our train travels from the other day.

I have to add here that from both sides of the family, the Womersley and Coatham lines, there is an obvious family propensity to being fantastic cooks that has managed to work its way down through the generations and across the globe.

Our return journey was uneventful and with Alex picking us up from the train station in Erith, we made it back ready to make the most of the week ahead.

Lunch at the Curlew

January 5, 2018

Alex had time off between Christmas and New Year and one of the things we wanted to do was to go out for a nice lunch to The Curlew in East Sussex, a restaurant where the head chef Gary is a friend of Alex’s and is a restaurant that is gaining a very well earned reputation.

Mr Google told us it was just over an hour to get there, but of course we had to factor in traffic so allowed ourselves plenty of time, perhaps enough time to visit Bodiam Castle which was nearby.

Unfortunately, traffic held us up a little, and also the fact that we took a slight detour….the scenic route of course. When we arrived at the castle the queue of traffic to get in was lengthy, so instead of visiting the castle we went to the pub across the road for a quick one before we went back down the road to the Curlew for lunch.the Curlew

And what a lunch we had, cocktails to start with, I had the hot gin & tonic cocktail and delicious it was too and perfect to warm you up on a chilly day. We made our choices of what to have for lunch and then sat back to enjoy the following 2 1/2 hours.

inside the restaurant

First the canapéssmoked salmon gougère, goats cheese tart, beef tartare.

Every morsel was delicious and whetted our appetites for what was to come. Entrees –

Clockwise from top left; goats cheese, Cod cheeks, pigeon breast, pork belly.

Sorry but I cannot remember what was with what, except to say that every single morsel was deliciously outstanding.

Moving onto mains –

Roy had venison

Antony and I both had partridge

Alex had halibut and lobster

Each plate was not only beautifully presented, it was an amazing selection of flavours all served on piping hot plates a particular thing that I have an issue with as there is nothing more annoying than having a hot meal served on a cold plate. We all chose a wine, an English white for Alex, an English red for Bernice and a French red for Roy.

Antony was the only one to have dessertChocolate heaven

But of course Roy had to have a cheese board

It not only included a selection of English cheeses but also a variety of breads and crackers accompanied by a walnut chutney, pickled apple, quince paste and charcoal celery.

Alex and I had a coffee and a tea which came with a selection of sweets

coffee fudge, lemon posset and pâté des fruits

At the conclusion of the meal, we thanked Gary for his innovative and delicious menu before we set off on our journey home where, we all agreed that we didn’t need anything for dinner.

Theatre, rugby, party, football time

January 3, 2018

Friday 29 December:

We headed into London on Friday afternoon aiming to eventually end up in the Westend as we had booked seats to go and see a show. Alex, Antony Roy and I made our way into town via train and tube with Ian joining us later once he had finished work. But first we all need to have something to eat as we hadn’t had lunch at it was by now nearing 5pm and the hunger pangs were starting to gnaw away.

We headed to a restaurant by Covent Garden called Ping Pong, for a dim sum feast.

Alex reminded us that we had actually been here before when we last visited London, except that time the restaurant was Spanish tapas bar and our company at that time was my niece Fran and her now hubby Clive. I’ve looked for the photo of us having dinner together then but I cannot find it amongst the few thousands of pictures we have!

From there we headed across to the Westend Theatre district where we were set to see a show, called Mischief Movie Night, an improvised movie live on stage. We first had to meet up with Ian before the show, we then settled in to watch the show.

the scene is set

What happens with this show is that you suggest a genre, location and title and Mischief Theatre’s improvisers bring the show to life, complete with rewinds, fast forwards, directors cuts and a live score. So when it came time to call out suggestions for genres, a few were called out and picked then we had to vote for which one we wanted….Alex’s choice of Kung Fu movie made the cut as did Roy’s suggestion of Spaghetti Western with Roy’s suggestion winning out to popular vote. Other extra things that were added to the plot was the classic gunfight scene, the setting was an old picture theatre and a dinosaur had to make an appearance!

Much hilarity ensued, with the cast at times unable to contain themselves when things went awry and ended up in fits of laughter. We all thoroughly enjoyed the humour and it was a really great night out, with a train journey home to wrap up the night.

Saturday 30 December:

We were all going to Twickenham to watch a rugby match, including Ian’s parents Christine & Barry, their cousin Julie & Brian, Matt and Alex’s friend Helen completed the group. First we headed to the Campden pub to meet up with everyone for a bite to eat for lunch before making our trek across the city, oh and this was the same pub we came to on Christmas Day. At times it was like herding kittens.

The train journey meant we had multiple changes to make and platforms to find, but we got there in plenty of time to then make the trek from train station to the rugby grounds.

walking along the streets with the crowds.

getting settled into our seats

It was a packed stadium with nearly 78,000 people in attendance, but with clear views of the pitch, a huge screen at each end of the stadium and smaller screen directly in front of us, we were guaranteed not to miss a thing.

The ball delivery was a little different as well with a high wire stretched across the top of the stadium and a guy bouncing along the wire to the middle to deliver the ball dropping it from the great height. I have to admit that I could not watch him as it made me feel rather ill.

in both pictures above, you can see the tightrope walker in the screen and if you look carefully you can also see him in the little piece of sky peeping through the top of the stadium. In the lower picture, the ball has just been dropped which you can see in the tv screen. Please note that I took these pictures by not looking and just pointing and clicking!!!

We enjoyed the game and the crowd was very good. Rugby crowds are very different to football (aka soccer) crowds here. Apparently football supporters are kept very separate from each other with lots of police and crowd control in evidence. In many matches, one group of supporters is locked in the grounds whilst the opposition supporters are let out, and usually in totally different directions so they never meet! A little different to what we experience and what is experienced at the rugby where everyone is mixed and friendly banter ensues. I am told that rugby is for “posh” people in the UK, the ones that go to the right schools, don’t ask me if it’s the public or private school as the two types of school are labeled the opposite of what we know them as in NZ!

A few of the many food stall at the grounds, we had a drink or two and a bite to eat whilst we waited for the crowds to dissipate.

We managed to stay together and retrace our steps home.

the rabble on the train.

Oh and if you were wondering, the Harlequins won 50-21.

Sunday 31 December:

A few of Alex & Ian’s friends had organised a dinner at an Indian Restaurant, aka a curry house in this neck of the woods, for a group of us to go to on New Years Eve but first they all descended upon their house for an afternoon of watching the football and trying out a few gin based cocktails as we somehow seem to have managed to put together a reasonably large selection of gins.

looking up recipes?

From here we then went to the Curry House for an evening that proved to be brilliant on many counts. First the company was great, second the food was amazingly delicious and very very different to the NZ versions of curry, and thirdly there was entertainment. And believe me when I mean entertainment, I mean we were thoroughly entertained.

The entertainment was one guy on a key board who we must admit that initially we had serious reservations regarding his competence, however after a couple of songs, which included local improvised lyrics, wigs hats and glasses were continually being added for dramatic effect, we were all soon into the swing of things. With the refreshments flowing, he was being helped along by our vociferous table (albeit except me as I had woken that day without a voice), but I did try!!!

doing his Elvis impression.

After an hilarious evening out we headed back home to continue the celebrations including watching on TV London putting on an impressive display of fireworks.

Monday 1 January :

It was a slower (and later) start to the day today, by late morning we were all up ready for the days activities. Alex and I went off to do the grocery shopping whilst the blokes went off to the local football match, supporting Welling. Apparently Roy is becoming known as an honorary long distance supporter, as I think this is his third or fourth game he has been to!!!

The ground for the game against Dartford

Meanwhile Alex and I had a quiet day at home before everyone returned for dinner then we all settled down in front of the TV to watch the darts final live. I know, who would have thought that I would want to watch men throwing darts at a dart board? But after having to watch a number of games surrounded by some very avid and vociferous fans, I became a little interested! And yes, it was a good final.

All in all a busy and fun few days.

Kew Gardens at Christmas

December 30, 2017

Who knew that Kew Gardens opens up at night over the Christmas period for a spectacular Christmas lighting show? Roy, Antony and I made our way across London via bus, train and tube to wait for Alex and Ian to independently arrive after work at the train stop near Kew. We had arranged to meet at a local pub not too far from the gardens ready for our allocated time of entry into the gardens. Following are just some pictures showing the amazing display which we found as we meandered through the gardens.

Christmas tree made up of sleighs with an ever changing colourful light display set to music.

This impressive display of balls which changed colour and lighting variation in time to amazing orchestral music. The balls covered an area the size of half a football field.

Lights and decorations among the treeStars light the trees

tunnel of lights

Alex & Ian in the tunnel of lightColourfully lit bridge which was again a moving light show set to music. When we got to walk across the bridge we discovered that there was another light show going on under the water, all coordinated to the music.

and then there was the marshmallows to toast over braziers. Roy and I toasting our chosen flavours, mine was toasted coconut, his was passion fruit and ginger.

and the four of us toasting marshmallows, L-R Bernice Antony Roy and Alex. And the other flavours? Alex & Ian had raspberry and champagne, Antony had caramel popcorn. They were amazingly delicious and a welcome treat about half way around the walk.

one of the beautiful huge trees all dressed in lights

the Kew Gardens Glass House with a beautiful lighting display

But at the end of the trail was the pièce de résistance, a lighting show displayed on a fountain of water in the middle of the Lake set to music telling a tale of Christmas including moving figures.

the display in the Lake with the glass house in the background.

More can be seen here

After just over two and a half hours we had made our way back to the start, now to catch the tube and then the train home after a great night out.

Christmas in London

December 29, 2017

Plans were made, orders placed and lists drawn up in readiness for Christmas Day. Alex and Ian were hosting Christmas Day festivities this year and for Ian’s family this would be a little different from their traditional fare. Tables were arranged so everyone could be seated comfortably, seating plans were made, cutlery and crockery were borrowed, Christmas crackers were made, the menu drawn up and we were all set for the day with a bit of a kiwi twist put on it all.

The English were nearly outnumbered by Kiwis though as Alex’s friend from Oamaru days, Kaz, who also lives in London came to join in the fun. However, it was not all going to be Kiwified, one English tradition for this family is that you all head to the pub around midday for a couple of hours, to meet up with friends, celebrate over a couple of drinks before heading home for Christmas dinner, it was in fact good fun and a nice way for everyone to catch up with friends before going off home for family time. It also happens to be one of Ian’s mates birthday on Christmas Day and there is a long standing tradition of him opening his birthday gifts from his mates whilst at the pub…..let’s just say that I have no idea where these guys found the gifts but let’s just say they were hilarious (and some were very definitely x rated!!).

Once back at home, Alex and I got into cooking mode, although there wasn’t that much to do as we had prepped just about everything before hand, so it was just the last finishing touches to do.the table all set ready to go

We all settled down with a festive drink and some nibbles before dinner was ready, Roy had made a delicious duck pistachio and cranberry terrine which with a few pickles and some nice bread went down very well. Then it was time for entree and our homage to turkey, in the form of turkey bonbons with a port cranberry sauce. Apparently roast turkey is the usual main course in this part of the world and to deviate from having a turkey was unheard of. So as not to disappoint those who wanted turkey we came up with this alternative, turkey breast pieces in a spicy rub encased in phylo pastry made to look like Christmas crackers or bonbons. They went down a treat. Then it was the main course…..Beef Wellington using ribeye beef, and it looked and tasted fantastic I have to say, and along with all the trimmings it was a great success. You will note a lack of photographic evidence of the food….some of us were working too hard to have remembered to take any pictures!! However here are a few of us enjoying the meal.

Once the main was out of the way it was time to adjourn to the lounge for another variation on Christmas gift giving, our version of secret Santa.

everyone was told to buy a gift to a nominated value, wrap in newspaper and bring it along. Everyone then draws a number out of a hat to determine the order in which you choose and open a gift, once opened, you can then opt to either keep the gift or swap with another opened gift. With much hilarity gifts were opened, kept, swapped and swapped again.

Christine opening one of her gifts with Julie & Brian watching on

who bought that, we all wondered?!

Antony and Ian discussing the pros and cons with the rest of us laughing along

Roy and Alex

It was all rather hilarious with some inventive wrapping and packaging also in evidence, and everyone received a really good present. I think that the English members of the family were quite impressed with the whole idea and it certainly makes life a lot easier rather than buying small gifts for all.

The gift swapping took a good hour and a half to complete and then it was time for dessert, a pavlova of course and a chocolate roulade as well as a small Christmas pudding for those traditionalists.

There was a planned cheeseboard for afters but by this time we were all well and truly full, so it was time for trying out some of those gifts, generally chat and look back on the day. The outcome? Well, the English have decided that Christmas 2019 will be held in New Zealand with our turn to host……hmmmm, does that mean we shall have to find ourselves a base? We shall see!!!