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I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am to have had this amazing opportunity to bring my mum back to New Zealand to remember dad on the anniversary of his death. They both came to visit me here in March 2002, on my first adventure, so we have many precious memories of fun and happy times.

Mum has blossomed – she seems ten years younger with the constant company, magical memories and of course we’ve been extremely blessed with blue skies and warm sunshine almost daily.

This evening (though it’s now Sunday still in UK!), we fly from Gisborne to Auckland at 1705hrs, then leave Auckland for Singapore at 0115hrs on Tuesday 16th February. A few people are coming to say Haere Ra at Gisborne airport, and even one friend is meeting us at the Domestic Terminal at Auckland airport to transport us to International and come and have a coffee with us.

I’d forgotten how many people I know here, which has admittedly has been quite overwhelming for mum at times. It’s been incredible to see so many of them again – especially a few who haven’t been in the best of health in recent times. Very precious.

Barry has coped admirably being a lone boater and will be in Chirk, North Wales, where I’ll return to the boat by the end of the week. It’s going to be a huge shock to the system returning to the lower temperatures of UK after the sublime average of 25 degrees centigrade here.

I’ve got lots to look forward to though in the coming months – festivals and family and friends. And of course we have the second round of Barry’s UK Spousal Sponsored Visa application in July which will be another milestone for us. Once we’ve (successfully) passed that date, we can make plans for the following couple of years to ensure he gets through round three also! It feels like the British government have a bit of a vendetta at the moment against Kiwis in Uk which is very disappointing. Still, it is what it is, and we’ll do our utmost to tick the requisite boxes to stay.

Today has a pretty tight schedule, so I’ll post just a few more photos from our New Zealand story to brighten your days before we return …

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One of many coffee jaunts at cafes here – this one is at Muirs, a fabulous bookshop on the main street

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Tutelage Bay Wharf – which has recently had a makeover and now showcases these stunning carvings and fascinating history

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Turihau beach, where mum and I discovered dozens of Paua shells in 2002 – not so many in 2016 but she’s searching …

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Visiting Barry’s previous business in Gisborne – Ezimade – where they have a board of photos showing his past customers what he’s up to

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On the anniversary of dad’s death, 9th February, we had a reflective walk on Wainui Beach where dad and I saw a seal in 2002

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We went on the MV Takitimu on a boat trip around Poverty Bay to look at the cruise ship Sea Princess

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Spectacular Anaura Bay up the east coast – and the room where Barry and I had our honeymoon 22nd December 2009 – this is Rangimarie one of the best places I’ve ever stayed at

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An early rise on Saturday 13th February to watch the sun rise at Pouawa – the first country to see the new day

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It’s hard to imagine a more striking contrast than the differing weather Barry and I are currently experiencing.

In Gisborne, NZ, the temperature is in the high twenties, in the midlands in UK, I believe it’s hitting a number of minuses. Barry sent me a few snowy shots so I thought I’d share them here …

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Driving through Handsacre I believe – very pretty

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Looks like a good couple of inches of snow

Meanwhile here in Aotearoa, the sky is blue and the sun is generously sharing her heat with mum and I. It is wonderful to be back in Gisborne, catching up with heaps of friends and family.

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A cruise ship called the Dawn Princess was sitting in Poverty Bay on Sunday 17th January. The two dogs are my friend Deb’s, who we are staying with

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Barry’s brother Ray’s cafe – Verve – on Gisborne High Street

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Hard to believe after coming from the cold of winter – here’s mum and I in the pool calling off

Barry is slowly moving west and north, and plans to be in Whitchurch by the time I return on 16th February which will be fabulous as it’s just around the corner from my daughter and grandsons. He’s catching up with people every now and again, thanks to Yogi and Ronni for entertaining him the other night – or was it the other way around?

It’s wonderful to spend this time with mum, I’m sure she’s aged ten years since we arrived.

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In twelve hours time I’ll be sitting on a rather large plane with mum, soaring high above England as we commence our New Zealand adventure together.

Checking in on-line last night I discovered we’d been upgraded to Premium Economy from Singapore to Auckland which sounds amazing – not sure how that happened! We’ve got a long stopover at Singapore airport, purposefully booked so we can stay at the Transit Hotel, lie down and sleep in the middle of the long journey, and have a swim in the rooftop pool.

It does feel rather strange to be heading to Aotearoa without Barry, I shall miss him heaps. I know though that he’ll be fine. He’s back in his element travelling along the cut, in spite of the cold and wet, and I’m certain he’ll be catching up with many people.

A few fraught moments and capturing some magical ones

Last week didn’t quite go to planned after I spent a whole day trying to get my iPhone to work after an update. I didn’t manage it and spent a couple of days phone-less which was rather weird and liberating all at once! It’s quite scary how much I rely on technology, and I know I’m not alone.

Long story short, the Genius’s at Apple in Birmingham fixed the fault – caused by putting in a battery bought off the internet rather than with Apple. Lesson learned, I shan’t be doing that again. Not only is it my phone, it’s the only camera I possess! I’ve got Global Roaming with Three and can use it exactly the same as I do in England. The only extra charges will be if I text or phone anyone in NZ. Incredible isn’t it? Let’s hope it’s not too good to be true – I shall be keeping a watchful eye on it in case there’s a hidden catch …

Talking of photos, Barry’s given me some from our recent hovercraft trip to The Isle of Wight that I bought him for his birthday. He’d mentioned in a passing comment a few weeks before 6th December how neat (a kiwi term!) it’d be to experience such a journey, and as a man who is extraordinarily difficult to buy gifts for (he’s not at all into image or ‘stuff’), I locked it in and took action.

I don’t have much time to spare for words, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking and may do a spot of blogging from Down Under in the coming weeks …

Hovercraft to the Isle of Wight

It was a very early start, leaving Brighton at dawn for Portsmouth (Southsea) on 28th December. The 1015am hovercraft on the only service still running in UK we believe Hovertravel. 2015 marked their 50th season – their triumph is being able to land right on the beach as the craft can travel in low tides and high.

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Around 90 passengers can travel on this hovercraft. Not so many accompanying us – quite the reverse from Ryde to Portsmouth as there was a special offer on and they’d had to put an extra trip on due to so many bookings (islanders wanting to get to the January sales I expect …)

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Arriving a mere 10 minutes later, we were blessed with an unseasonably mild and fabulously dry and sunny day. I think the look on Barry’s smiley face says it all – he loved it!

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Hover travel crew take photos of embarking passengers – we didn’t grasp that opportunity sadly. I’d bought a hover-rover ticket, which included all day bus travel. The bus station was adjacent to the hovercraft terminal – so simple!

Carisbrooke Caastle

No surprise, Barry chose the castle and stately home tour. Carisbrooke Castle first. We walked all around the castle walls and moat …

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… and I’m pretty certain Barry pinched this shot from a board, unless he’s got a secret drone …

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… it was the only way to see what’s behind the walls as unfortunately English Heritage chose not to open this attraction on Bank Holiday Monday

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Barry did his utmost to capture the spirit of the spectacular buildings

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A sneaky shot of me and the quaint village we walked to for the next stage of our whistle stop tour (I think it was Carisbrooke unsurprisingly)

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Maybe this is where the name originated? Probably not, but we did love this ‘road’ that villagers seem to have to traverse by car depending on their location

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Two delightful doors that captured Barry’s eye …

 

 

 

Osborne House

Next stop Osborne House. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s ‘summer house’. She apparently said it was “…impossible to imagine a prettier spot”. It’s breathtakingly beautiful whilst sickeningly ostentatious and opulent

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The house and grounds were open until 4pm, though unfortunately by the time we’d got there by two buses from Carisbrooke Castle, we had just two and a half hours to walk the grounds and have a tour of the house. The winter tours are much shorter than summer, with a corresponding price structure which we were disappointed by.

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Magnificent! Only one family ever lived here, and even then only for short periods of time. Quite outrageous really.

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Attempting my regal look after our tour of some of the downstairs rooms

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In the distance you see the beach where the royal family would disembark after their journey from Portsmouth, then travel up the gardens in their carriage. The views across the Solent reminded Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples

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The halls are amass with works of art, many of which held special meanings to the royals (though unfortunately I can’t recall what this one that Barry chose was!)

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The family dining room – all set out for christmas – Victoria and Albert had nine children so one required rather a lot of room …

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The drawing room where the royals and their guests would retire too after a meal. As Victoria was queen, the men didn’t withdraw to a separate place, the room is L shaped and they had a snooker table around the corner!

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Queen Victoria had a deep and enduring love for India, the ‘Durbar Room’. She was then the ‘Empress of India’. This incredible room has ornate carvings on every inch of its walls and ceilings and an abundance of gifts in cabinets

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There was even a Royal Mail post box – I doubt that was there in the late nineteenth century!

Haere ra, farewell England until I return on 16th February. Please take good care of my husband until I return. I know there’s lots of folks out on the cut who’ll watch over him for me. Mostly I know he’s perfectly capable of caring for himself, he’ll watch Dad’s Army to his heart’s content, spread home brew supplies and stock merrily around the boat with no fear of any ‘nagging’, and just have fantastic fun boating alone.

Just watch the cold snaps Barry! Keep that home fire burning and I’ll be back soon …

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