Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Granada

December 1, 2017

Farewell Seville, it’s been a fantastic stay in your wonderful city. For the final time we bade farewell to our lovely apartment on the Christo de Burgos Square and took a taxi to the train Station. We seem to have frequented this train station fairly frequently over the past few days, however on arrival for the first time we did wonder where we were when we saw this sign.

This trip to Granada was scheduled to be a three and a half hour journey, we were told that the train was only going as far as Antiquera and then we had to change to a bus, apparently they are doing major refurbishment on the tracks.

the journey took us through hundreds of kilometres of olive trees, we estimated at least 300kilometres of non stop olive trees for as far as the eye could see.

After an hour and a half on the train we pulled into Antiquera train station. Antiquera surprised us a little as it is a train station in the middle of nowhere with not another building in sight! We were offloaded from the train and settled into a luxury bus for the rest of the journey. In the car parking area there was this interesting piece of sculpture.

A stack of left luggage, chairs, tv, louvres and other bits and pieces.

The olive trees continued to be our view from the side windows of the bus and there was a tv screen at the front of the bus which showed a continuous stream from the dashboard camera so we could see exactly what was ahead of us. We passed through a town called Manzanil, we presume this is the home of Manzanilla olives.

Another hour and a half later and we arrived at the Granada train station where we caught a cab to our apartment right in the centre of town. We were met by our host and we’re quickly settled in. We found a nice surprise on the bedroom wall

a map of the world with New Zealand included!

this was the view from our apartment window, and yes that is snow on the hills in the background.

Time to step out and find out what is around and about us and to also get in a few basics. We saw some interesting shops including this one.

Jamon, Jamon, and more Jamon.

Jamon is Spanish for ham, this jamon is a dry cured ham from the black Iberian pig and is usually dried and aged for around 18months to 3 years. It really is delicious and I have to admit that we ate more than our fair share! There was also salamis and chorizos of all sorts to be had……eat your heart out Steve!

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Sevilla

November 26, 2017

Another very pleasant train journey from Huelva to Sevilla, this time passing through what seemed like thousands of acres of oranges and olive groves as well as vegetable crops and glasshouses. We must say that the Spanish do know how to do train travel, with comfortable seating, plenty of room and up to date information on the screens.

As you can see we were heading to Sevilla Santa Justa, travelling at 136km/hr at that moment (it did get up to 165kph), the temperature a balmy 25C, this was about two thirds of the way through our trip.

We arrived at Sevilla main train station and caught a cab to our lovely apartment where our host Antonio greeted us and showed us in. We are staying again right in the centre of town in an older apartment block that is just three stories high and set around a large central courtyard, very Moorish in its design. After our quick familiarisation, it was a trip to the supermarket to get some basics before we headed just 50metres along the road to a local tapas bar that Antonio had recommended, as he said it was a place that he ate at and mostly locals frequented, sounds perfect. All the tapas plates were priced at around the €2.50 mark, we made a few choices and waited to see what would be presented.

But first a note about prices, we tend not to compare costs to NZ dollars, we have Euro€ and think of everything as 1 NZ$ equaling 1€ or 1£. The only time we compared prices was in Switzerland using the Swiss franc but even then we compared the franc with the euro or the pound. It’s all about when in Rome…. now back to the tapas!

my goodness, how delicious were these dishes! Sardines, peppers, tomatoes, patatas bravas, pate, deep fried goats cheese and croquetas.

Vowing to return again soon, we made our way home for the evening.

A tour around the city was in order for the following day to familiarise ourselves with Sevilla and where we would want to see in greater detail later. But first of all the early riser headed to the local market for a look, and yes I did visit the market with him later in the morning.

The array of fruit, vegetables, meat and fish was impressive, especially the fish roe which reminded us of Gary who we know loves eating this delicacy as whenever we have been fishing with him and there is roe in the fish, it is quickly put to one side for a delicious treat to be cooked up later.

Also of interest was this large tank of live snails,

Hmmm, one thing I am not particularly keen on is snails.

Off now for our trip around Sevilla to see the sights. Sevilla has a long and varied history being settled by the Phonecians, then Romans, Arabs and then Christians with all of these cultures having an influence on the city in both the architecture as well as the people.

Clockwise from Top L: Torre del Oro, Giralda, Arenal (bull fighting arena), Maria Luisa Parque buildings.

Clockwise from Top L: The wide open boulevards lined with orange trees, Costurero de la Reina, the Guadalquivir River, La Palmera.

It was hard to choose just a few buildings from all the photos we have but we have to stop somewhere. There really is a variety of styles, cultures and even materials used in construction but what it has started to show is how little we know about the rich long history and culture of Spain. Something I need to redress.

At the end of a long day of sightseeing what better way to end it than with churros and hot chocolate.

On our way back to our abode we stopped to have a look at the new “mushroom” structure recently built in the centre of Sevilla, or Metropol Parasol as it is officially known.

it certainly is an innovative and interesting structure in amongst the old buildings. Apparently it is the largest wooden structure in the world and was finally completed in 2009 but not without controversy in design, construction, technical difficulties and of course budget overruns.

We arrived back at our apartment in time to freshen up a little ready to go out to Coloniales, the tapas bar where we are becoming known. Again we tried a few more tapas from the extensive selection, enjoying every single selection. Just as we had finished our meal and asked for our bill, our waiter said no, no, no….wait please, and then presented us with a complimentary local liqueur made from cherries!

Not a bad way to end the day.

Meeting a Kiwi in Huelva

November 24, 2017

Our brief stay in Faro was coming to an end, we have enjoyed our time here but it’s time to keep moving – so many places to see, things to do, and time creeps on. We are unable to catch a train out of Faro this time as trains between Portugal and Spain are non existent here, however there is a bus service, but we are very fortunate that we are being picked up by a friend, Michael.

We met Michael 3 years ago when it was our first year of being hosts at Shakespear Park where Michael was a Summer Ranger that year. He frequently called in to have dinner with us whilst we were camping so we got to know him reasonably well, now it was our turn to call in on him! Michael is teaching English in Huelva which is about an hours drive from Faro and he offered to drive over and pick us up.

We arranged to meet by a restaurant near the marina in Faro at 11am, I got a message from Michael at 10am to say that he had arrived as he had forgotten about the 1hour time difference between Portugal and Spain. We were already at the restaurant ready and waiting so time to head off.

We had a lovely trip across into Spain, not that you realise that you are crossing borders apart from a small sign. Michael was a very good tour guide pointing out sights along the way. Once arriving on the outskirts of Huelva, we headed out to a beach that Michael has found which is mainly deserted, the locals think that it is winter therefore it’s cold….yes, it is only 22C today….so they don’t go to the beach.

Roy & Michael on the beach

spot the crowds (and spot a cloud, we haven’t seen any for weeks now!).

After a quick tour of the town, Michael dropped us off at our hotel in town so we could settle in, have a siesta and we were to meet up later in the early evening. We are starting to get into the Spanish way of life….lunch around 2-3pm and then think about dinner at 8-9pm, oh wait, we don’t usually have lunch back at home until around 2pm or later so perhaps we already work on Spanish time!

Christopher Columbus statue in the main square

We headed out along the Main Street to find a tapas bar for dinner and to catch up with all the news and happenings. Michael did the ordering for us as our Spanish is almost non existent however we do try! Much to the hilarity of locals. We had a lovely dinner of many different things including a plate of the famous Iberian Jamon and some cuttlefish, also a local delicacy – they were both delicious.

We arranged to meet up again the following morning as Michael had to go to the next town for some paperwork issuing so we were going to tag along for the ride.

With his paperwork sorted in two minutes we then headed for Palos de la Frontera, not far from Huelva and is famous as this was where Christopher Columbus set sail from in 1492 eventually reaching America. We were hoping to visit the Christopher Columbus museum and see the replicas of his three ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinto and the Nina. Along the way there was this statue to Columbus on the riverbank.

We arrived at the museum to find that it was closed on Mondays….typical. Never mind we could see the ships from the wharf further around.

With the largest ship only 60ft in length, they weren’t large ocean going vessels.

The entrance to the museum is also a wetland reserve, there was a large picture sign at the entrance showing the birds we may be able to see, many of which looked very familiar

Especially the Pukeko at the bottom third from the right! We were surprised to find them here, they are also found around Faro and we were surprised to find that the bird is the symbol for that region!

Boats were moored in the shallows nearby

After a stop for a drink, it was time for Michael to drop us off at the rail station. With fond farewells we hope to see you again in NZ Michael, perhaps even at Shakespear??

Faro

November 21, 2017

A big day in Faro as we tried to fit in as much as possible in our short time here. As we arrived at nightfall there was only the opportunity to have dinner before heading to bed for the night. Again, we have been very lucky with our accommodation, in Faro it’s just a short walk from the train station and our host Vera was waiting for us to show us around the gorgeous apartment before sitting us down and telling us of places to see and what to do.

After a great nights sleep we were off into town to walk around the old town and to get our bearings. Roy had already been off to the market early in the morning so he roughly knew where we were heading. The following are a few scenes from the market, Roy got there just as they were setting up.

Plenty of fresh, fresh fish of all shapes sizes and species.

Plenty of fresh and dried fruits and vegetables as well.

Into town and the marina area first.

we did not have too far to walk to the outskirts of the old town alongside the marina (checking out boats for you Steve!!).

Just outside the old town walls we came across a tuk-tuk, we thought it was a good oppportunity us to have a quick tour of the old town and parts further afield to orient ourselves.

Church inside the old town walls

the outside wall of the old town

After our short history filled tour with guide Ernesto, we walked along the outside old town wall to our next stop, which was to have a boat trip around the National Park wetland area called Ria Formosa.

There are five barrier islands that protect the wetland area from the ocean. Our boat trip took us throughout the low tidal flats that are home to many bird species, many of which we also have similar species in New Zealand, including the pukeko!

the old town walls as seen from the boat.

There are fish farms located within the waterways and we saw a few small boats out with men fishing. It seems as though there is no size limit and they catch and keep everything.

A flock of spoonbills grazing amongst the growth

Once back on land we went back into the old town to have some lunch at one of the restaurants that had been pointed out to us during our tour. We were keen to try the local dish of Cataplana, a fish dish in various forms that is cooked in a covered dish, similar to a Tagine. As this region was once settled by the Moors, it is no surprise that some of their traditions remain.

It was rather delicious and surprisingly light. And included shellfish and fish such as monkfish, bacalhau, clams, mussels and shrimps.

We even decided to try the local desserts, one of us had a portugese tart (rather like a creme caramel) and the other had a portugese cake which is made of almonds, orange and figs. Both were rather delicious as well.

Now very much replete, we headed back to the main square where we had arranged to meet Ernesto again, this time for a tour through the National Park and out to Faro Beach. Again, we learnt lots of the history of the area and also about local agricultural practises, as we passed many farms growing crops of raspberries, oranges and tomatoes to name a few as well as goat farms. This region also produces a large proportion of the worlds cork. Ernesto explained that you can only remove the cork from the tree once every 9 years, with the best cork for wine bottles taken at the third cut. The men that perform this task are very skilled and in high demand.

Tree with cork removed from its lower trunk.

As well as cork and olive trees there are also acres and acres of pine nut trees.

Also within the park are salt pans, all dried naturally in the hot sun.

Salt pans

The salt is settling around the edge of the pans as evaporation does its thing

and once collected, it ends up in large mounds.

There are a large number of birds that call this area home, including spoonbills and flamingoes, however, the flamingoes were too far away for us to get a decent photo of them, besides they were wearing mostly grey feathers today.

We rounded off the day watching the sun set at Faro Beach

with the knowledge that as it dipped down over our horizon it would be popping up over the horizon in New Zealand. Cheers and good health to friends and family at home 🍹.

Porto and a change in plans

November 15, 2017

It’s just as well that we are not tied to a schedule and can pretty much plan where and what we do from day to day, we were so enjoying Porto and its environs that we decided to stay another three days. And just as well we extended our stay as you will find out later on!

There is plenty to see and do in Porto, and as our apartment is right in the centre of the old part of town, there is always something going on outside in the streets.

views from our apartment; top pictures taken late at night -cobbled street pattern, men putting up Christmas decorations, university girls singing traditional songs

We went on one of the hop-on hop-off bus trips around the city to orient ourselves and to see what was around and about. We’ve used these buses before and they are good value as our two day ticket also included the river trip and the port tasting, all for €28. NB to buy individually the river cruise was €15 and the port tasting and tour €10.

Sights around Porto.

On the street corner just down the road from our accommodation are a couple of interesting buildings with statues on the top – he’s looking at her and she’s pretending not to look at him

Just along from the apartment on Santa Caterina Street is a wine shop/bar that offered tastings of local wines as well as tapas tasting plates of local produce. We seemed to gravitate there each late afternoon on our way home from our days exploring, for a glass of wine, a plate of tasty tapas and some good company as well. We met other travellers but also the owner and his son whom, after a couple of nights, started to greet us with a hearty Olà and a handshake for Roy and a kiss on both cheeks for me. We had some great wines, ports, cheeses, meats, pates, olives and breads over the next week including trying lots of new things.

the ‘green wine’ was particularly delicious and a new experience for us.

We thank Ramiro for making us feel so welcome, and part of the local scene, it really made our time in Porto very special and wish them every success with their business, Saboriccia.

The Majestic Cafe is also located in Rua de Santa Caterina, it’s famous for its Belle Époque vogue with ornate timber interior featuring carved wood, mirrors and chandeliers. The staff are dressed in old style black trousers with white jackets and brass buttons with the senior staff in all black suits and white shirts and black ties. We sat and people watched whilst we had our coffee, apparently JK Rowling spent a lot of time here whilst she wrote the first Harry Potter book.

The outside of the cafe before the umbrellas and chairs are put out for the day

Scenes from inside the cafe

Oh and another aside about the Harry Potter connection to Porto and JK Rowling (she lived and taught in Porto for 10 years) is the dress worn by university students here. It’s all part of a tradition that started back in the 14th Century when the new students are initiated by older students in a ceremony known as Praxe. Every university has its own traditions, but garb worn after initiated is similar – the women (as seen in the first picture above) wear black skirts and jackets, white shirts, black ties, black stockings and flat black shoes whereas the boys wear black suits, white shirt, black tie and they both wear black capes. Hence the Harry Potter connection with the capes.

There is another Porto connection to Harry Potter but that’s for the next blog!

Now back to the change of plans, as I said previously we had already extended our stay by another 3 nights and it was just as well as I got a terrible dose of food poisoning! I ended up being bedridden for three days and took another day or two to gain my energy back. We are not sure what caused it as Roy and I had mainly eaten the same except for the night before this started when I had a salad but we also suspect a sangria that I had when we were down at a riverfront cafe, as it did taste very odd! Anyway, whilst I languished between bedroom and bathroom, Roy went out doing a bit of solo exploring which is why he will be writing the next blog about his explorations!

We also ended up extending our stay by yet another 2 nights to make sure that I recovered well enough before we moved on. And yes, 5 days later I am nearly back to my usual self.

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.

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.

Weekend of fun

September 15, 2017

It was a bit of a full on weekend as Steve, Leslie, Sarah and the three boys, Ben, Asher and a Finn came to stay. Steve arrived first on Friday afternoon as he had been working in Whangarei for the day. He brought with him his homemade salami and some breasola, an Italian style dried aged beef, both of which were delicious, as well as some yummy cheeses he picked up along the way. Sarah, Leslie and the boys arrived later in the afternoon, with the boys keen and eager to immediately go and check the hens to see if they had laid any eggs. Just as well Roy had left the egg collecting until he boys arrived, as they were thrilled to collect an egg each. Here is Finn with two eggs

It wasn’t too much later that the boys were keen to test out the spa pool,

The weekend was made up of the boys playing on swings, building huts, walking down to the wharf with Poppi and helping Aunty Bernice make Bao buns for dinner on Saturday night.

The hens were repeatedly checked throughout the day and collecting warm eggs was the main achievement, a soak in the spa after all that running around was also enjoyed.

One of the locals, Grant, who we usually have over for dinner most weekends, braved the noise and three inquisitive boys and joined us for dinner and rugby watching on Saturday night. Asher had helped me make the Bao buns to go with the crispy pork belly and Asian style slaw for dinner which went down very well. Asher impressed us all as he managed to down 7 of the buns, an impressive effort as the rest of us struggled with 3 or 4!!

The weather was mainly fine although we did have some wind, rain, hail, thunder and lightening, you could say a little bit of everything. We had hail and wind on Saturday afternoon, with the wind pushing the hail so it appeared to not only be coming in horizontally but at one stage it appeared to be going uphill! The thunder bolts shook the house and rattled windows making it all rather exciting, especially when the power went out. Not only did the power go out once before being quickly restored, but it went out twice, then three times, necessitating finding the candle stash which luckily Chris had shown us where they were easily accessed, put in a handy place for exactly this reason. Fortunately dinner was cooked and ready to go and with just the buns to steam which we could do with the power out as the hob is gas. Luckily the power was restored in time for us all to be able to watch the All Blacks game on the big screen, although we did have a plan B in place. You see our internet modem can be powered by 12v so we thought we could plug that into the car cigarette lighter and then watch the game live streamed on our iPads. But as I said, the power was restored in time for the start of the game so plan B was shelved.

Everyone left by mid afternoon Sunday and our peace & quiet was restored for another week. As of today, Friday, we have just one week left housesitting, then it will be the mad rush to get ourselves sorted before we are off on our next adventure.

Time to go home

July 18, 2017

It was soon time for Alex to head back to her home in London, not that we wanted to visit to end as it was rather lovely having her with us.  We left Jacky & Chris’ on Friday after a wonderful few days stay with them, their hospitality is always wonderful and their generosity boundless and we cannot thank them enough for it all. 

 We started our journey back to Auckland in the early afternoon, stopping at the Cider Shed for lunch along the way.  This reminded Alex of her ‘cider fridays’ when she worked in Cromwell during university holidays.  She, Antony, Claire and a couple of other friends would apparently treat themselves on a Friday night with a pizza and a cider or three after working hard in the orchards all week. 

We arrived at Antony’s late afternoon and it wasn’t long before we all were at the train station catching a train into Britomart.  Here, eldest son Simon met us for a drink before he was due out for the evening but it gave him a chance to catch up with Alex and say hooray before she left.  I forgot to take a picture of us all together but I did take a picture of the bar with its interesting lights

Macs Brew Bar in the old Northern Steamship Company Building.

Claire and her husband Matt arrived to join us for the rest of the evening, first they all had a cocktail or two Alex and Antony enjoying a cocktail.

It was time to move on and we all walked to a nearby restaurant,  passing through the lovely lit up dining and bar areas at Britomart.  They really have done a great job in sprucing up this area, we can remember not so long ago really when it was not the best area of town to be in, especially at night.

We went to the Hanoi Cafe, a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner where we had a fantastic evening, with great food, excellent service, wonderful company, oh and a few more cocktails! 

 The menu is very good and extensive making a decision on what to have difficult so we ended up asking our excellent waitress if she would choose a selection of plates for us all to share which turned out to be the best way to go.  The food was fresh, tasty and came with delicious sides as well.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

L-R Antony, Roy, Bernice, Alexandra, Matt and Claire.
All too soon it was time for us to catch the train back to Papakura.  Have we mentioned before how we love travelling by train?  it makes life so much easier and for the senior person of this touring party of course the train trip is at no cost as those over a certain age can travel outside peak times for free on public transport.  

The following morning we had to get to the airport so that we could reluctantly allow Alexandra to travel back to London. Some of us are not very good at saying goodbye, with just a few tears shed.  She arrived home safely on Sunday evening NZ time. 

We are now looking forward to our trip to the UK and Europe which is less that 2 months away, and for Antony to join us all for Christmas in London.