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JUL 2001 - AUG 2002 - SEP 2002 - OCT 2002 - NOV 2002 - DEC 2002 - JAN 2003 - FEB 2003 - MAR 2003 - APR 2003 - MAY 2003 - JUN 2003
'Sun, Sand, Surf, Sea, Showers, Snow...'
New Zealand - FEB 2003
'...and Snoring'
Saturday 1st February 2003 Auckland

Busy old day. We left for auckland nice and early so that we could get to Sarena's eye appointment for 11. She is getting an assesment to see if she can have laser surgery to correct her eyes. We ended up seeing a Doctor Ring. who I have heard off before but couldn't remember if it was for good or bad reasons. Anyway he said that Sarena was long sighted but with astigmatisms which basically means she is as blind as a bat. I didn't realise how blind she was until I sat in on the letter reading test, blimey no wonder she likes me ;) The appointment was pretty quick and Doctor Ring reckons there is a 90% chance that Sarena will get 20-20 vision. not bad. I was all up for the treatment until they showed the slicing of the top of the eye. Then I started to think more seriously about what the risks are.

Well Sarena has a big desicon to make. The facilities look first class and apparently New Zealand is one of the cheapest places to get it done. So it is seriously worth considering... Maybe a few beers will help us decide...

... We went over to visit an old friend from Romsey (Sarena's year at school). Phil (Chewie) has been living in NZ for about 6 years and has invited us to stay for a beer festival in Auckland city center. How could we refuse. Although I have never really met Phil I have often seen him around and he and Liz are great friends with Deon and Shelly and being from the same school we know the same circle of people.

Phil and Liz had already had a big night out and Phil wasn't looking too bright. But he soon picked up as we arrived at the beer festival and started acquiring jugs o ale. There was the standard oompa loompa band that paraded around the beer tent and we arrived to 'when the saints' very appropriate ;). It was a great atmosphere and we spent a good 6 hours drinking beer non-stop, watching people make fools of themselves and getting decorated by various balloon formations.. Then it started to turn nasty. Sarena got us into a bar where we sunk a few tequilas and then ended up giving lots of abuse to the poor taxi driver that took us home. Then things went a little blurry and a caught glimpses of Sarena and Phil lining up shots of every short they could find in the house... then I remember waking up at the bottom of the bed...


Got up very early again and went for a bike ride then headed off into Auckland for my eye appointment, to be assessed for laser treatment. The whole process was very interesting and I found out much to my surprise that I was long sited as opposed to short which I had been told I was for the last twenty something years! Seems I have a very big astigmatism though which means I’m sort of short sited as well – in fact I’m as blind as a bloody bay, even Toby was surprised at how bad my site was when reading the letter board. The good news was I am able to have the treatment done, the only concern was that my prescription is quite rare therefore they couldn’t guarantee 100% outcome but did say about 90% chance of having 20/20 vision. I have never had that before and knowing I could was just amazing– like the best present in the world. The only thing is that we have just dished out a huge amount of money for some new glasses – why I didn’t have this assessment done before I bought them I really don’t know?

Afterwards we drove off in circles for an hour looking for Phil and Lizzy’s house – Toby got grumpy as he always does when we get a little lost. Why is it when you go out somewhere in the car and get lost it always ends in a huge argument and stress? We did find our way in the end and were greated very warmly by them both, they have wonderful house. We sat and chatted for an hour before driving to the outskirts of town to park the car. We all had a kebab of some sorts to line the old stomach then caught the bus into the main center. They had roped off the whole square and pitched up massive marquees full of long tables all of which were filled up with hundreds of people drinking pitchers of beer. We all bought our beer tokens and met up with friends of Phil and Lizzy’s then proceeded to drink our way through gallons of beer for the rest of the afternoon and well into the night. The entertainment early in the day was a oompa band that played all the drinking songs from parts of the world. Because there were so many different nationalities at the festival it all went down very well. They even had the famous football chant – olay olay olay olay olay, olaaay ooolaay. The group we were with contained Welsh, Scottish, English, Canadian. Poor ole Lizzy was the only Kiwi! A balloon man came round and made phil a fantastic hat which didn’t last very long after some people got there hands on it. As the day progressed the crowd grew rowdier and louder and that was just our table…… I tried to eat a few spit beef rolls to soak up some alcohol but I don’t think I got the ratio just right. By 11pm people were on the table, stripping and causing general mayhem the oompa band had now swapped with a local band who were very good and got everyone up to the dance floor to shake there bootys.

It was soon time to make a move home though, Phil and myself thought it would be a good idea to stop in the pub on the way home and have some Tequila shots. Toby joined in, god knows why as he hates the stuff and nearly chucked the lot up in the pub. We only had 2 each then got a taxi home and the poor old driver had so much stick from Phil – very funny. When we got home Phil and I thought it would be another good idea to raid the drinks cupboard and make shorts out of some Baileys, Archers and Gin, not all mixed in together – we did have some decorum…

I ended up doing rolly polly’s around the front garden so it seems but I have no recollection of anything after the shot of Gin.

Sunday 2nd February 2003 Katikati

... and then it was 11 o'clock in the morning. I didn't actually make it into the bed but how I got there was a bit of a mystery. I wasn't half as bad as Phil and Sarena though. Phil took the option of returning the contents of his stomach to the outside world all night and was looking pretty rough, Sarena managed to avoid the big white telephone but was absolutely useless all day...

... in fact everyone was pretty useless but it seems that Liz and I must be much more professional drinkers than those two light weights.

We managed to get away by about 2 and dropped Liz in town to pick up her car and then headed back home. Liz had armed sarena with an old ice cream container in case of emergency. It was great to meet up with Phil and Liz, should have done it ages ago.

Sarena suffered all the way home, We picked up some fish and chips on the way and it wasn't long before she headed to bed. I got sucked into a computer game that I just can't beat and really annoyed myself for wasting the evening playing it.

Woke up at midday undressed and in bed which is always a relief but then started worrying if I had got unclothed before I got into the bedroom which seems to be a bit of drunken thing I do. I have to say at this point I was feeling like I had been turned inside out and trampled over – I could move my arms quite freely without any problems but it seems that was the only parts of my body I could move. It took me another hour to muster up some strength to find some clothes which I have to say was found by me crawling to the end of the bed then rolling onto the floor just so I didn’t have to stand up right. It was then a case of me taking my pillow and going into the lounge where everyone had a assembled (Phil was laying on the couch) so I just fell on the floor and stayed there for another couple of hours. I couldn’t even lift my head up off the floor to eat my toast so just put the plate under my chin and pushed the toast into my mouth. Consolation was that I hadn’t been up all night being sick unlike Phil….. poor poor Phil who looked very ill. Lizzy, bless her was being so sympathetic and was running around getting Vitamin B drinks, tea and toast and just being wonderful whist I was being pathetic.

I think we left them at 2.30pm to go and drop Lizzy off to collect the car. I was really not looking forward to the drive home in my condition and the waves of nausea washed over me for the whole journey back especially when I thought of Baileys, I had to show considerable brain power to think of something else so that I didn’t chuck in Bertie. When we got home we had some chips which I found really hard to eat even though I was starving?? I laid on the couch for the rest of the night as being in the horizontal position was so much easier than standing and walking. I dragged myself to bed at 10.30 leaving Toby playing on the computer for another hour – he had been playing for 4hrs non stop already.

Monday 3rd February 2003 Katikati

Struggled to get into work mode, but hey , Monday mornings are meant to be like that. It will get even more stress full for me this week as I am determined to get more completed on my project for my presentation next Saturday.

Sarena got the photos of the weekend developed at lunch time, there where some pretty bad ones of which we have no recollection of where they were taken. very bad.

Didn’t sleep a wink even though I was really knackered, which is really frustrating. I got up early for my bike ride only to find I still felt bad and extremely nauseous. Went to work and proceeded to feel green all day which is always the sign of a bloody good weekend!

Went and got the photographs developed and found a corker of Toby which went straight up on the bulletin board at work.

Tuesday 4th January 2003 Katikati

Got right into work, which is good but there is still a lot that I need to do before Saturday. So ended up bring work home with me. This is a bad move as I get very involved when programming and find it hard to concentrate as Sarena keeps trying to talk to me at the same time. In the end we all get pissed off with everything and nothing constructive gets done. Never mind.

Got up early for my bike ride then we took Bertie into work as Kathy was going to be working late at the office. After work we went to Pak n save to do our food shopping which was done in record time then went out for a jog in the evening – Toby is still being horrible because of the presentation on Sat, still has a lot of work to do.

Wednesday 5th January 2003 Katikati

Found a very nasty picture of me on the Noticeboard from the Beer Festival last weekend. I don't even know where it was taken but it looks like there are toilet pipes above my head so I don't even how if I was vertical for the photo. All I do now is that I'm pretty good at dribbling! Needless to say the picture is no more.

Got home and Sarena asked me to check the mobile phone. Doh there goes my Birthday surprise. But what a great present. It ages until my birthday and I don't think I can wait that long. Bugger.

Bike ride then walked down into town to meet Kathy then into work for the day. We had Kathy’s car to take home as she was meeting her husband and going out for dinner. All very boring in the evening and just did the usual non eventful stuff without the jogging. I did the most stupid stupid thing….. I let Toby check the mobile phone messages. Unfortunately there was a message from Apple mac informing me that the iPod MP3 player I have ordered for Toby’s birthday will now be delayed. He now knows what he is getting, and I wanted it as a surprise.

Thursday 6th February 2003 Katikati

Its a bank holiday today, but I decided to go in the office so I can work on my project without any disturbances. I did get a lot done.

Got home to find one of Sarena's special curries waiting for me. Which I gulped down before getting back into work. Unfortunately Sarena kept trying to talk to me as I was working and some things were going a bit wrong with some of the program so I was starting to get very hacked off with it all. So much so that I shouted at Sarena who duly skulked off to bed and I still didn't get to fix the problem.

Sorry Sarena.

Holiday for everyone today to celebrate the signing of the Maori / white treaty back in bla bla. I stayed home and did some overdue housework and tidied up the spare room ready for Lisa who is landing on Sunday. Toby went into work and tried to finish his presentation. I went swimming for the first time in over a week and found that I wasn’t too bad but not as good as I have been. Prepared a curry for his lordship who had requested such in the morning.
His Lordship came home in a good mood because he was excited about the curry but as soon as that had been consumed and the laptop came out he changed into a monster again. I left him to it whilst I watched the first Star Wars, but I could hear him swearing and tutting through the doors. I went out for a run and when I came back I suggested he should stop (it was now late) and have a break but just got told to ‘shutup’ proceeded with a growl and more swearing. He doesn’t cope well with pressure at all!

Friday 7th February 2003 Katikati

Feeling a little less stressed today. Its too late to do anything major for the presentation tomorrow so I am a little more chilled out and just got on with tidying some bits of my project up. Still ended up working pretty late into the night though.

Went out for bike ride. Still had Kathy’s car so went and picked her up then headed into work. Went down to the Apple Mac center at lunchtime to find out what is happening with the iPod and to get away from Toby who is charm itself to everyone in the office apart from me….

Getting very excited about Lisa coming on Sunday, only problem now is I have been asked if I want to work next week due to the receptionist still off sick. I really want to work because of the money but want to spend some time with Lisa so have arranged to just work from 10-2 so we can still do stuff and afford to do it! She drinks like a fish so I’m sure all wages will be spent on alcohol…..

Saturday 8th February 2003 Katikati

Presentation day. I am feeling pretty good about doing it know. I have more prepared then i hoped for, even though there is still a good months worth of development left before the product can be released I believe I can present them with enough new functionality to keep everyone happy. I guess all the directors will also find out today that I am leaving sooner than expected. Hope they take that OK. Not much of a problem though. The presentation went really well. and I managed to do my bit in an hour and then leave them to their discussing whilst I went back to the office to build a new Internet server and upgrade the firewall.

Got home by 3:30 and started feeling pretty rough. It was probably the dodgy double whopper I had for lunch plus the fact that I have been a little stressed the past few days. Sorry Sarena. went for a cycle to the sea and drunk gallons of water to try and shake my nausea. It didn't work, but I was feeling a little better by the time we went up to Kathy's for a BBQ. Our friends Meri and Barry where also their, so it ended up being quite a boozy night with Kathy and Meri bouncing around the house to Boney M and spilling their sambucca

Meri and Barry, haven’t seen them for bloody ages!

It was a wonderful evening and we all sat outside overlooking the hills and sea whilst eating the most delicious food and drinking Gut’s – heaven. As the evening progressed we all got a little merry or should I say Meri and Kathy did…. We went indoors later on which by this time the two of them were on the Sambuca and Drambui and dancing around the lounge to Bonny M
They tried to drag Toby up onto the dance floor but he was having none of it, whereas I had no choice and ended up leaping around like a mad woman to ‘Brown girl in the ring’ Meri managed to spill her drambui twice and ended up spooning it into her mouth off of the tray so as not to waste anymore.

They are both of the same mind – do not grow old and boring, my sentiments entirely.

Meri invited us over for dinner (Lisa included when she arrives), which is something to look forward to.

We left at about 11.30pm and went straight to bed leaving Kathy and her spinning lounge.

Sunday 9th February 2003 Katikati

Its officially Miss Moody day today. That's the day when we go to the airport to pick one of Sarena's old work friends from GBC in Richmond, London. Its all very exciting having new people to play with. The mornings excitement was dampened a little though as phoning home gave me a snapshot of some of the family issues the Jones' are having at the moment. It's all pretty nasty and a result of our families lack of communication skills. Bugger :(

Sarena drove to the airport and we only had to wait for half an hour before Miss Moody emerged through arrivals. Sarena and Lisa talked all the way home and then talked a little more, and a little more, and a little more.

Got up early and went for a quick bike ride then jumped in the car and made our way to the Airport – very excited. We arrived with ½ hr to spare so had a quick drink then sat down to wait. Miss Moody walked through the doors looking wonderful as always, I did a fly and leap and we had a huge hug before bundling her in Bertie and taking her home. We chatted all the way back catching up on all the gossip at home and then chatted all afternoon. Lisa very kindly had bought me a green pair of ‘PP’s which are Thai baggy trousers so I whipped them on and found out all about her travels around Thailand. It was great to have her with us!!

I also found out via answer phone that Van is back in NZ, he was the guy we made friends with at Alice Springs in Oz. He did the wonderful massage and was my drinking partner on my Birthday.
Anyway he is home for the first time in 20yrs so I gave him a call and arranged to meet up very soon – very exciting

Took Lisa up to the lookout after her shower just so she could get a quick glimpse of how lovely the area is before the sun went down. I then cooked pasta for dinner and then we watched an interview with Michael Jackson, which I have to say, was the most bizarre thing I have seen, he is a bloody strange bloke! We then watched ‘ The phantom menace’ which I think is crap, and then went to bed.

Monday 10th February 2003 Katikati

Back to work. But now without the pressure of the Presentation, and its my last week before I have 3 weeks off. cool. Also Ross starts today and he is taking over from me on the Project I have been working on. So I spent most of the day with him as well as trying to sort out the new Internet connection that they have had installed. It is a wireless link. And something doesn't seem quite right at the moment. But I am out of my depth here and will be the first to admit that I am not sure how to configure their firewall. But I'm learning fast.

Went swimming at 7am for an hour then got ready for work leaving Lisa in bed then got to work for 10am. Had an easy day at work and finished at 2pm, headed back home to Lisa. I then popped her in the car and took her to Wahi for a look around the shops and the beach. Just had a quiet evening in front of the TV as Lisa was still tired. Went for a run

Tuesday 11th February 2003 Katikati

Still struggling with the new Internet connection. So we got an expert in who had the same problems as me, which made me feel a bit better. So we have decided to try a different method. Couldn't spend much time with Ross, but he seems to be picking things up very quickly and has already dived into the project and is producing some reports for it.

Sarena and Lisa met me in town. they had bought tickets for Whale Rider. Or so though told me. Instead it was for a totally stupid film called Hot Chick. Although it did have a few funny bits in it.

Went for a swim early again then went to work at 10am taking Lisa with me so she could have a look around town for a few hours. I met her at 2pm and we went for a sit down and some lunch.

We just spent the afternoon walking around, looking for some travel sandals for Lisa then bought some cinema tickets. Tuesday's were cheap ticket night which was handy. At 6pm we met Toby and went and watched 'Hot chick' which i thought was really funny. Just went home afterwards and didn't go out for a run.

Wednesday 12th February 2003 Katikati

Spent part of the day on this damm Internet connection again. In the end I found out that there is a problem with the actual connection. So rather then waste time trying to get it sorted I have decided to get the old connection working as It HAS to be available by next Monday. That will give some extra breathing space to fix and test the new connection.

Ended up staying pretty late and held Kathy back as she was giving me a lift.

My last day at work !! didn't go for a swim early deciding on trying later in the afternoon. The day drifted past without any problems and i was soon driving back home again. I talked Lisa into coming to the pool with me at about 3.30 but we both couldn't get into the swing of things, I found the water too hot and hate swimming with kids.

Didn't do much in the evening but chill out - no running though.

I do have to make a note of the fact Lisa, traveler extrodinaire wanted a white shirt as she had left hers at home, her question to me was ' do they have a GAP in NZ?' now most travelers will buy second hand or just cheap clothes as they are easily disposable and will just get ruined anyway. But not Lisa..;..... it just made me laugh, so i went in to have a look at what she had bought with her. She had 2 toiletry bags, one for her normal stuff and the other was mostly for her essentials i.e. makeup, pretty accessories and condoms. I then had a look at her clothes because i had noticed each morning she would come in with a different ensemble. I counted 14 tops, 3 skirts, 1 suit, 4pairs of trousers, 2 bikinis, 1swim suit, 1pair of tiny shorts, sarong, evening shoes, trainers, flip flops, etc etc.

she had a matching outfit for any occasion, i was in fits of laughter - it was just Lisa Moody the 'Harvey Nicks' girls extrodinare - very funny

Thursday 13th February 2003 Katikati

Spent most of the day trying to sort out our new Internet Connection, Firewall. and Spending some time with Ross in handing over the project. Everything is really busy and I spent all day running around between different things. Just like to old days!

Got home to an empty house so I ended up playing games on the computer, which I reckon is slightly better than spending the evening watching the crap on telly.

This was the first day of our camping trip and we were both excited. We packed everything up in the morning and then jumped into the car thinking we had done soooo well. We picked up some more wine in Waihi then carried on towards Hot water beach. I then realised we had forgotten the cooking pan which meant we wouldn't be having any dinner! The journey took about 2hrs and the roads were very very twisty turny which made us both feel a little ill. But after a full rendition of Robbie Williams which was helped along by us singing full pelt, we felt much better. We soon arrived and hitched up the tent, bagging ourselves a bench to sit on. When we had the tent up we realised we had forgotten our pillows ..... not doing very well. I did manage to blag a saucepan from one of the girls in the campsite reception so we boiled some water in the campsite kitchen so we could have a pot noodle. On the way back to the tent Lisa stated she couldn't carry her lunch as it was too hot and thought it would be a good idea to put in in the saucepan and carry it back to the tent. She then grabbed the pan by the bottom forgetting it had been only on the stove a few minutes before........

We had a little walk on the beach but the tide was in so we didn't dig a hole for the hot water and just went back to the bench for an afternoon of cards and drinking wine and beer. Lisa taught me Black Jack which i picked up pretty quickly. We proceeded to drink all the beer and wine during the course of the day and evening so after a quick walk around the campsite we both decided to go to bed at 8.30 - how sad is that!

Friday 14th February 2003 Katikati

My last day of work for 3 whole weeks. Wahey. Spent most of the sorting out some of the internet stuff and handing my project over to Ross. This was actually very useful as he managed to teach me some new programming tips and tricks. Actually managed to get 30 minutes out of the office to get a hair cut. I had a different hairdresser this time, Lisa, who constantly talked to me but didn't ever listen to what I was saying back. It was very annoying.

Lisa and Sarena came into town in the afternoon and I met them in the Grumpy Mole. We then went to the Crown and Badger, an Irish pub and had the best pint of Murphys I have had in a long time. By this time I was feeling pretty drunk but even hungrier. The Only option... A Curry. The one we had been to before seems to of disappeared. So we had to try a new one which was totally crap. Took an hour and a half to get our food which wasn't too impressive. It was all pretty cheap though, and Sarena even negotiated a 10% discount for the bad service.

Slept very very badly due to not having a pillow and that one of my sections of airbed had gone down in the night so i was balancing on 3 instead of the normal 6. Lisa didn't sleep because she has blown hers up too much and it was really hard. The first things she said in the morning was

'i f*****g hate camping' which reminds me of myself when i was in Nepal on the beach..... how times have changed.

We packed up our tent and bags first thing. Lisa was asked to help move the girl next doors tent into the sun whereupon Lisa came back and said the place was full of weirdo's, i had to explain that the tents need to be dry before you can pack them up again.

At 9am we took our spade back onto the beach again so that we could dig a hole, we had been told by Toby that the tide was out at this time but when we got onto the beach the tide was in, no digging holes for us! We gave up deciding we didn't want to sit in a bloody sandy hot water hole anyway. We then had a quick look around a local artfarty shop and garden that was in the back of a house. Lisa bought a lovely ring and i was tempted, the art work and jewelry were stunning. Off we went again to Cathedral Cove for a looksy. We parked up and had a good gaze from the lookout over the sea and cliffs wandering where this blinkin cove was..... i followed the signs and found a beach which we plonked ourselves on for an hour then realised this wasn't Cathedral Cove so packed up our towels and headed off again.

We did finally find the place and parked up for a looksy, we then saw a sign saying we had to walk 40mins to get to the place..... we were not prepared for walking and it turned out to be more of a hike rather than a walk but we made it, and i must admit it was bloody wonderful and worth the hardship.

After a few photo's and oohs and aaahs we walked all the way back ( the sun was scorching) we did mange to see a few Sacadas that make all the noise and sound like crickets. We decided to start making tracks home but stopped off quickly for some cold baked beans and crisp sarny.

We met Toby back in Tauranga a couple of hours later sitting in a pub all on his own. I had a couple of G&T's then all moved onto another pub for a couple before deciding on a curry for dinner. Bad move....... we had to wait for flippin ages to get served, they got us water without glasses etc etc all very bad service and not a good curry when it did finally get to us. I complained which got us 10% discount but won't be going back there again. I drove home and we all just crashed out all feeling mighty tired.

Saturday 15th February 2003 Katikati

We were all up early and jumped in the car and headed over to Te Puke to go and meet Van who is coming to stay with us for the weekend. We originally met Van in Alice Springs... He was the one dancing around the campsite in his underpants, and is over here for a few weeks to visit his parents.

After picking Van up we headed to Mt Mangaunui for some lunch and a walk along the beach. The weather has been great for weeks now but the sea still seems pretty bloody cold. But good enough to cool the old feet down.

Did some shopping then headed home to spend the evening getting pretty drunk and listening to loads of music.

It was Van day today!

We drove over to Te Puke to pick him up then stopped off in Mt Mangaunui for a wonderful lunch sat outside in the sun, then had a stroll along the beach chatting all the way.

After all that we went and did some shopping to get some drink supplies and some food. I did us all a big dinner then we just chilled out all evening drinking all what was bought and getting slightly pickled. The good news is that Lisa is staying with us until Sat!!!!!

Sunday 16th February 2003 Katikati

Woke up with a slightly fuzzy head, but not half as bad as I thought it would be. Everyone was a bit lethargic though and we didn't manage to get out of the door until about 11:30. We headed to Paeroa to find the whole town blocked off for the street racing. It was full of bikers, petrol heads and thousands of motorbikes. To be honest I was more interested at looking at all the bikes parked up than sit and watch the racing. It was very hot and I really just wanted to sit in the shade. After watching a few races we did just that... The shade of a pub.

One of Sarena's shoes broke but luckily there was someone selling second hand shoes from their garage around the corner and Sarena managed to get a new pair for 3 dollars and save her feet from burning on the scorching ground. We ended up strolling around the race track. Van was keeping out for his family as is Brother and nephew where racing some classic Triumphs. By 3 we headed home but not before we caught a motorbike wiping out some straw bales and completely twisting is bike. cool.

That evening Sarena and Lisa went back to Van's parents for some Full Moon women's circle thing... Definatly not my cup of tea.

Just farted around all morning getting ready and drinking tea before heading into Paeroa to watch the Street Bike Racing. I was really looking forward to seeing all the lovely bikes and just the smell does it for me. I wasn't disappointed as there were hundreds of them all parked up all waiting for the drooling passer by to have a good gork at. We wandered around for a while before sitting down in the shade to watch the street race which was really fast and furious. We went to the pub early afternoon for a couple of pints and a spit pork roll, the sun was beating down and it was extremely hot. My shoe broke as we were walking around later in the day and the ground was so hot i couldn't walk barefoot, luckily Van found a woman selling a few second hand shoes and clothes so i bought a very dodgy looking pair of shoes for $3. I felt a complete idiot for the rest of the day but at least my feet didn't burn.

I really enjoyed the day apart from a few comments from the biker men that were everywhere - typical bloke stuff which I can't stand and makes me feel really awkward. Best part of the day was watching a bike crash, when he picked it up it was all twisted and buckled - cool

We went home and the first thing i did was take off my horrible platform shoes and throw them in the corner. Van had invited us to a woman's full moon party that was being held at his parents house in the evening so Lisa and I thought we should check it out seeing as we were dropping Van home anyway. So we arrived at 7.30pm, and plonked ourselves outside on the veranda. I said hello to Pat whom i hadn't seen since arriving in NZ, Lyall turned up a little later in the evening. I think there must have been only about 8 of us altogether, Van was allowed to attend because he is gay. Lisa and I didn't really know what to expect and i think Lisa thought it was a witch get together so was a bit worried. We first went out onto the beach to watch the sun go down behind us and the moon rise in front which was quite nice then we went back into the house and out onto the veranda again for some meditation. The rest of the evening was spent massaging and doing Rieki on each other (apart from us) mind you Pat did some healing on Lisa. I did get a foot massage from Lisa which was rather strange but nice, but the strangest part of the evening was standing in a circle in the garden and doing dances to the moon. At the beginning of the evening i had said to Lisa not to look at me incase i start laughing which is what always happens to me at the most inopportune moments. We had managed to do this so far until the dancing thing occurred. After all standing in a circle, Clarity ( Van's sister) taught us the dance steps and chanting words all accompanied by a lady standing in the middle banging a drum. I had been composed up until this moment but when i saw Lisa - the label only, prada shoe, matching handbag, shopping in Harvey Nicks girl dancing barefoot waving her hands in the air, well i nearly lost the plot.......... she looked hilarious and was really getting into the whole shenanigans. I started laughing which seemed to be the right thing to do as everyone around started laughing with joy and the feeling of comradeship, whereas i was laughing because Miss Moody looked so funny. I know i must have looked bloody stupid to her which started her off - it was very difficult to get it back together.

I'm sure we were supposed to take this all very seriously and i apologies to anyone who was involved in the evening and just happens to read this as i don't mean to offend.

We didn't get back until midnight were upon a strong cuppa was called for

Monday 17th February 2003 Katikati

Just spent the day sorting things out for Dad's arrival tomorrow, cleaning and catching up on my diary. Work phoned and asked if I could come in tomorrow morning to sit in on a meeting. No Chance!

Went for an early morning swim then went into Tauranga with Lisa to purchase Toby's pressie and get a few other little things for him. Our first port of call was the 'Salvation Army' shop that i sometimes go in for a rummage, i was after a couple more cheapy tops so started looking only to find Lisa standing beside me with her face all wrinkled up. When i asked why she wasn't looking around her reply was 'i can't shop in here, it smells!' god she is funny. I picked up a couple of dodgy looking outfits to try on so we both went into the changing room and were just in hysterics at the clothes and Lisa's face, i don't think she has ever stepped foot in a second hand shop before. The rest of the day went smoothly apart from the dodgy lunch at a pub but i did manage to get myself some new shoes to replace my broken ones. We got home in the evening to find little ole Toby all excited about his birthday pressie and wanted it there and then! he had done 4 lots of washing and some vacuming. Lisa had decided to go out for a run but earlier than us as she needed to use my trainers. She went and got changed then came bounding into the lounge in the tiniest littlest incy wincy shorts in the world looking like something out of Bay Watch........ She came puffing in 15mins later having done really well with her running - probably better than i can now! Toby and I then went out about an hour later then came back and had some dinner and the TV.


Tuesday 18th February 2003 Katikati

Quite a relaxed morning before we jumped in the car and headed to the Airport to pick up my Dad. From our experiences it only takes 30 minutes to get through customs at Auckland, but Dad seemed to take forever. Finally he appeared. It took a moment for me to register that it was him as I had never seen him without a moustache and he was wearing some funky Oakleys. I rushed up to give him a hug but all he wanted to do was show me his puffy eyes. Poor Dad had a really bad flight. I took of with the tail end of a cold but had landed with full blown flu and conjunctivitis. Bugger!

We pilled him into the car and stopped at a Chemist on the way out of Auckland. He was pretty rough, coughing and wheezing, and hadn't had any sleep for 40 odd hours and was a bit disorientated. but apart from that he was pretty good! We got him home drugged him up, fed him some hot curry and sent him to bed for the night.

I hope he gets better soon as there is so much to do in NZ in just 2 weeks.

Well it was daddy day today, so after a bit of tidying and putting on a huge curry to cook all day both Toby and I traveled up to the airport again. Clive landed at 2.30pm but didn't walk through until an hour later so we were both getting a bit worried by then. When he did walk through Toby just ran up and gave him a huge hug whilst i filmed the whole thing - aaaahhh. I then went over and had a hug only to see how ill he looked. Poor bugger had a very very bad fluey cold and an eye infection that caused his eyes to be almost closed. We dragged him to the car and drove him home stopping on the way to get some eye drops and ibrophen tablets. It was about 5.30pm by the time we got home and i rushed up the chemist with Lisa to get some Olbas oil which we thought would help. The 3 of us then went out for a run before dinner and i did the worst run ever - couldn't even finish it. Lisa did really well.

We all had curry and some ice-cream (apart from Miss Moody who eats like a bird) Clive was then made to have a facial steam with his oil and towels draped over his head - poor bugger. Early night for Clive and the rest just followed soon after, i stayed up pretty late.





Wednesday 19th February 2003 Katikati

Dad's eyes were already looking better by the morning. But we decided to go for the quickest recovery option and took him down the Doctors first thing.

New Zealand health system is great. Its not NHS so you have to pay for every appointment, which is a much better scheme as the surgery isn't bogged down with all the free loaders that have minor sniffles. Dad got to see someone straight away. A very laid back Doctor called Mike, who wore a Hawaiin shirt and a pony tail. He prescribed dad some antibiotics and wished him a good holiday.

When then stopped in the chemist to get his drugs and had a coffee while we waited.

In the afternoon I took dad for a drive around the local beaches. He even struggled for breath on a small walk up a hill. We picked up some fish and chips for tea and ate them by the river, whilst the sand flies ate me for dinner and then got home here dad collapsed in bed suffering from his cold and jet lag. I tried to give my mate Damo in Brisbane a ring as it was his Birthday, but it seems he was out enjoying a Curry.

Didn't get a wink of sleep and had nightmares all night, not helped when at 4.30am a couple of cats had a huge screaming match outside our bedroom window which completely scared the shit out of me and i just got up and sat in the lounge watching the sun come up. I had a Yoga session at 9am which Lisa attended - poor thing was having trouble walking because of the running she had been doing so i think bending your legs over your head a little hard for her.......

Just looked over to Miss Moody now as she is reading her book and realised just how much i'm gonna miss her little face, she just fitted in like a jigsaw piece into this house

Well it was fish and chips and a bottle of vino for dinner, Clive and Toby sat and had theirs down by the river. Then it was a double bill of 'Friends', Clive went to bed at 6ish feeling a little exhausted.

Thursday 20th February 2003 Katikati

The drivers electric window broke on Berties so dad and I went out to get it fixed. The electrician said it was the motor so we went to a wreckers who checked it properly and said the switch had worn. He got the window back up but as he didn't have and second hand switches we decided just to leave it up and went and spent the day at Mt Manganui. Dad is making a very quick recovery now. It must be all this fresh air. He was the first one in the sea. I have been in NZ for 9 months and still hadn't made it into the water. Needless to say I was not far behind him. The water was pretty cold to get in but you soon got used to it. After our dip we went for some lunch at a beach side cafe and then took a walk around the mount.

We were very lucky to be sitting on the beach around the Mount when a tiny blue penguin swam by and started diving for food just in front of them. Up until then I didn't actually believe the penguins where living on Mount Manganui.

Dad managed to stay up a little later this evening and we left him with Lisa whilst Sarena and I went for a game of pool and a few beers down the pub. Only to find that even lisa went to bed early and didn't even manage to stay up to watch a Robbie Williams special on the TV.

Went for a swim first thing and did really well for a change... Toby spent the day out with his daddy whilst Lisa and I did loads of tidying up which was actually quite enjoyable because we had the music on and having a laugh, first time I think i have ever enjoyed cleaning! We washed floors and cleaned cupboards. Lisa even sorted the larda out and we had our own 'Curry Corner!' That girl is a genious!!!!

The boys came home later in the day and got themselves some dinner whilst Moody and me had some beans on toast -mmmmmm

Toby and I went up the pub for a few drinks and a couple rounds of Pool whilst the other 2 just chilled out. In fact Lisa went to bed at 8ish she was tired from all the hard labour i made her do - i'm not a good host.

Friday 21st February 2003 Katikati

A big day for tidying as Sarena's parents arrive tomorrow. The day has finally come. Sarena has been preparing for this from the day we arrived in New Zealand.

We did a load of washing in the morning and then the 3 of us went for a quick 9 hole round of Golf. It was very amusing and dad and I where taking the same strokes so it got quite competitive. In the end we drew and Lisa got the bogey prize as she was caught picking up the ball and throwing it ono the green on the last hole. We stopped in for a pie at the Talisman for lunch and then carried on tidying the house.

In the evening we picked up a hire MPV to go to the airport with and used it to get a spare mattress and BBQ from Meri and Barry. In typical Meri style she also gave us loads of other stuff, like pickels and fruit.

We were all quite exhausted by the end of the day.

Well it was my last day with my mate so it was a bit sad.... We both went swimming and Lisa did really well, the pool attendant was a bit tasty so that always helps with the performance (or should i say mine) not wanting to look like a drowned puppy..

We did all the bed sheet washing and took them down the laundry to dry as it was a rainy morning then we all went out to play some golf at Waihi. It was a fantastic afternoon and we all did really badly, or should i say i did bloody awful. The weather couldn't make up it's mind so one minute we had our jumpers and macs on then were in T-shirts again. We had lunch down my favourite cafe then later on we all went food shopping for the BBQ on Sat. Of course we got some more vino for the evening - always a must for a Friday night.

Then it was a case of picking up the Laundry which the lady was charging $16 instead of the $4 on the price list. Toby came out to the car asking us for more money and when he told me how much she was charging i said i wouldn't pay it and tried to get out of Bertie to tell her as much. Toby wouldn't let me out of the car as he was all embarrassed and didn't want to start any agro!! I did get out of the car and told her i wasn't paying that much so she let me have it for $8 instead as she had to dry our load a couple of times or some such crap. Then we had to go to the car hire place and pick up our 'people van' then go to Meri's house and pick up the mattress and covers for Clive We had a quick drink at her house and she gave us a couple of jars of pickled gherkins and gherkin relish - bless. Meri is making a chocolate b'day cake for Toby, how darn sweet is that.

When all of that was accomplished we went home and flaked out for the evening with another bag of chips.

Saturday 22nd February 2003 Katikati

The most important day of the year. Not because it is my Birthday a fact the has become grossly overshadowed by the fact that today is the day that Sarena' Parents arrive.

It was all go in the morning. Poor dad got thrown out of his bedroom and Sarena just generally ran around. Today was also a sad day as Lisa was leaving us. It has been great having her stay with us, she is just so laid back and funny.

hello, hellooo, anyone there. its my birthday today don't you know.

We bundled in the car by 8:30 and headed for the airport leaving my Dad to his own devices for the day. First of all we drove to the train station and dropped Lisa bags off and collected her train ticket down to Wellington, then we dropped her off in the city centre. Her little face looked so sad. we then got to the airport and it seemed like another endless wait before Sylvia, Chris and Trixie came through arrivals. This was the first time we have been at Auckland airport on a weekend. it is packed. but only seems to be Japanese that fly in and out of New Zealand. they are everywhere. Sarena battled through the masses when here parents appeared while I hung back incase there was a slight chance the a complete stranger might of realised that it was my Birthday today.

Sylvia, Chris and Trixie looked very refreshed when they arrived and they had all sorts of stories of the 2 days they have just spent in Kula Lumpar. the journey home seemed pretty quick. We stopped of at a riverside tea house on the journey back home so that everyone could take advantage of the beautiful weather. I had even forgotten that it was my birthday by the time we got home. We showed everyone their rooms, They then all had showers and I started a BBQ.

Then Finally... Sarena gave me some cards and presents that had arrived for me, so I left Dad in charge of the BBQ while I opened some. I got a really cool torch from Ollo, and a Harmonica from Gus, Some shirts from Chris, Trixie, Rebecca, Jackie and Sarena, a Travel bag from Mum and Dad and then. My fabtastic shiny iPod. I had been waiting for this for weeks and now had it in my hands. Everything about it is cool, unfortunately I wasn't allowed to play with it as I had to keep everyone else amused. bugger. Sarena even presented me with a huge chocolate cake that Meri made for me.

Sylvia had also bought Sarena a few gifts and she also gave us a whole load of spending money for our holiday whilst they where with us. very very kind.

Poor dad had to sleep on the living room floor but he did look quit cozy on the mattress donated by Meri and Barry

We had a fantastic sun set in the evening and everyone crashed out by 10 which gave me some time on my own to set my iPod up. :-)

Well it's finally bloody arrived! I was excited but really upset at Lisa going..... i really am going to miss her cheerful face and stupid sayings - 'Who through the shoe?' 'tickle it you wriggler' also making the screechy noises when you take a corner in the car, calling me 'Perry' swearing like a trooper, painting my nails and rubbing my shoulders, dancing like a prat and just generally being Lisa the bestist person and mate anyone could wish to have.

I chucked Clive out of his bedroom and tidied that room up ready for mother all the while clive was moaning how he wasn't coming to this bloody hotel again.....It was then a case of bunging Lisa and her bags into the hire car and hitting the road at 8.30 leaving Clive the keys to Bertie so he could go exploring for the day. We drove straight into Auckland to the train station to drop off Lisa's bags into the station lockers and for her to pick up her ticket. We then dropped her into town, her little face looked so worried and alone that it nearly broke my heart leaving her there on her tod.... we had some hugs then drove to the airport.

Well the airport was bloody packed and we couldn't get anywhere near the arrivals bit to see anyone so we went upstairs for a sarny and a sit down to wait for their plane as it was delayed for 10mins then 30mins then 20mins etc it kept changing it's mind so we thought it best to get downstairs and wait. We then stood for another hour waiting for them to process so i pushed my was through the crowds to stand near the front. When i did see mothers red head i ran over and just hugged everyone, We all had tears in our eyes and i just couldn't stop hugging everyone. We then dragged them out to the car and home. They all looked really well and were a lot more awake than i thought they would be. The weather was beautiful thank goodness and they were quite glad to be out of Malaysia and the 100% humidity. We talked all the way home stopping at the gorge to dip our feet in the river which was wonderful apart from me getting bitten 8 times by something horrible, so we went and had drink and cake at a wonderful cafe before getting back on the road. They were all pretty tired by the time we got back home so we showed them there rooms and diving back out again to take the hire car back and picking up another hire car for Mon and Sun. Toby and Clive were going camping so needed Bertie. I then had to go and get some wine and flowers for Meri then go and pick his cake up. She had done a huge chocky cake, so it meant hiding it in bags and putting it in the back of the car without Toby knowing what it was.

We had a wonderful evening, Clive did the BBQ and i just did a salad and pasta. Toby opened up his pressies which were all wonderful and i tryed on my new combats mother had bought over from the UK - loved em. She had bought me my Aveda hair products as well - love her

Mum had also given us $1500 as a pressie to spend over the next couple of weeks, now how bloody kind is that? It was a lovely birthday and the best bit was Toby's little face when he unwrapped his iPod, he knew what it was but was still so excited. Trixie went to bed about 8ish whilst dad and Mum stayed up for while. Toby took mum up to the end of the road to see the sea then up to the look out to watch the sunset. We all went to bed about 9.30pm.

Best bit of the evening had to be watching father running around the room swatting the mozzies with the electric bat that frazzles them, he bloody loved it - must be a man thing cause Clive had been running around a few days previous trying to get the mozzies.

Sunday 23rd February 2003 Katikati

The Weather had turned from beautiful clear days to stormy rain clouds over night, which was a bit of a shame as I am taking Dad camping for a night. Never mind, we can handle it. We packed up a bit of stuff to take only to find that Sarena has also loaded us up with an ice Box full of food and drink. Bless.

Dad didn't really think to take much but between sarena and I we sorted him out. and we then headed off up the Coromandel. We ended up stopping at nearly every cove and bay on the way up towards Hot Water Beach. at Whangamata they where have a kids life saving competition which was pretty interesting to watch. They have a cool game where everyone has to race to pick up a stick at the end of the beach, but there is always one less stick than racers so eventually you are left with a winner and a few bruises where everyone piles on the same stick.

The further we headed north the better the weather. And by the time we reached Hot Water Beach the sun was just breaking through. The timing was perfect we had an hour to get the tent up before the tide started going out and everyone headed to the beach to dig their own hot spa's in the sand. We hired a spade from the campsite and headed down. The beach was already crowded by the time we got their so we had to try to dig closer to the tide line to get the hot water. It was too hot, we couldn't stand on the sand long enough to dig a decent sized hole and every time we did the sea rose up and filled it all in again. In the end we gave up and just sat on the hot water coming out of the sand.

We fried up some sausages for tea and both had a few Jack Daniels and coke before retiring to bed. Dad started snoring almost instantly but I don't think it was his snoring that actually kept me awake. It was more the fact that I was more concerned with him keeping all the other campers awake.

I awoke to Toby laying beside me playing his new iPod and grinning........ I went out for a quick cycle ride then came back and packed up all the food and camping equipment, Clive would have just gone in the clothes he stood up in as he hadn't thought of blankets, food, a towel, etc - very funny

Toby packed up his stuff and i threw a coat in for Clive thinking he might need it....... as it was it pissed down all day.

They left at 9ish leaving us lot to get ourselves showered and dressed which took us ages then headed off to Tauranga to get some shopping from Pac 'n' save, the weather was bloody shocking and really wet which put a damper on everything. Couldn't believe how cold it was for the summer time which was so disappointing for them. Anyway it wasn't going to put a damper on our day so we spent a couple of hours walking around the shop getting so much food. I was walking around in a daze watching and listening to them shouting in amazement at the size of the veggies and fruit. Mum did make a comment about the size of a cucumber which did get a remark from a passing young man..... i can't take mother anywhere!

We bunged it all into the car in the rain then drove home and had some lunch. Spent the afternoon chilling out and reading, Dad had a little lie down. The rain started tipping down and we all started worrying about Toby and Clive camping. I really hope they went to a B&B for the night somewhere - no way they could stay out in this weather! bloody Poms had brought the rain over with them.... Dad cooked a wonderful Spag Bol which i consumed the most of, well it tasted so good and i can't remember the last time someone cooked for me (not including Meri).

Monday 24th February 2003 Katikati

We had pretty much packed up and left the campsite before anyone else was up. good job to as there may of been some angry tired campers out for vengeance. We drove to Whitianga fro some breakfast and then headed over to the west coast of the Coromandel via the 309 road. We stopped of at a waterfall and a Kauri Grove on the way and Dad fell in love with the Kauri tree, they are so massive and solid.

We drove through Coromandel town and then it was gravel tracks most of the way to Fletcher Bay right at the top of the Coromandel. The drive was fantastic it is all open hilly farmland with these huge twisted trees that stretch out over the track and onto the beach. It has got to be one of the prettiest parts of New Zealand. It was quite a drive right to the top, and as Dad is now feeling a lot better we spent a few hours walking along the coast. It was 4 pm by the time we got back to the car and a long drive to get back home, so we ate the last of my chocolate cake and headed back home. Stopping at Coromandel town for a beer and an pie.

We got back home pretty tired by about 8 and Sarena made us some cheese and bacon wedges.

Got up early and went for a swim, the weather was still damp and a little chilly but at least it had stopped raining. I got back at 9am and waited for everyone to have a shower then dived in and out had some brekky ready for another day of touring. We went down to the chemist first so that Trixie could get some sunglasses, she couldn't make up her mind so we spent some time looking until the she found the best pair. I thank god me and mother were down with her though, as dad picked her out a pair of glasses that were absolutely huge! they took up the whole of her face - luckily we made her put them back, I thought he was joking..............he wasn't.

It was decided to spend a couple of hours doing some wine tasting at Mortons Winery, but completely drove past the place and ended up a few minutes away from Tauranga. We turned around and i did a detour down to Paraha beach, which seemed to go down well. We had a little stroll and an ice cream on the waterfront then a photo and back in the car. The weather seemed to be holding up, thank goodness, and the sun was trying to break through the clouds. At least it wasn't raining again! On the way to the Winery i noticed the hire car was beginning to smell quite badly and the temp go straight to hot so i turned of on to a little road just in time. The radiator over heated and we had steam streaming out of the bonnet. I went and found the nearest house for some water, found a very helpful man who filled a bucket then came and sorted out the radiator for us. We were on our way again and this time the temp stayed where it was supposed to. Mortons Winery turned out to be fantastic and we stayed for over an hour tasting all sorts of reds and whites. Dad was in his element! the girl who was doing the pouring was really knowledgeable, but the best bit is when she looked up and said that a good Shiraz smelt like a fresh cow shit....... dad thought that was wonderful. We all bought a few bottles for the mixed pallets and drove back to Katikati stopping off at a wonderful cafe for them to have some lunch and me to have some carrot cake. Dad was feeling a little tired so we went back home and chilled for an hour then i had to drop the hire car back so mum and Trixie came with me and we all walked back home - it was great to have the exercise, i'm going to be as big as a house at the end of the relies stay... Dad cooked some Green lipped muscles for dinner which i declined.

Tuesday 25th February 2003 Katikati

Took the parents down to McClaren falls in the morning and for a walk around the park gardens there. Then we headed into Mt Manganui for a very social lunch at the cafe's on the sea front. Sitting under the mount made it very tempting to burn up our lunch with a walk around. Chris and Trixie declined the hike and went for a mooch around the shops instead. Sylvia seemed game to give the walk to the top of the Mount a go. We headed up the less steep 4wd track to the top. But even so it was still pretty step. At about half way Sylvia was starting to struggle and she decided to let us go on without her. I decided to stay with here whilst Sarena and Dad carried on walking. As we sat and rested Sylvia decided to keep on trying so we slowly carried on up the mount. A bit nearer the top we met Dad and Sarena coming down again So we convinced them to turn around and head back to the top again with me and Sylvia.

Eventually we all made it to the top together and I was very impressed with Sylvia's willpower. The route down was a lot easier, we even choice a different route that was steeper and took us down the back of the Mount. Sylvia had no trouble with this, and really enjoyed the walk back around the mount. We ended up walking quite a distance and made back to the car just in time to meet up with Chris and Trixie.

We grabbed a few drinks and then went to the cinema to watch Ghost Ship, unfortunately I had got the times wrong so we all decided to go home instead of waiting around for a couple of hours.

It was decided to go the Tauranga and to Mount Manganui for the day. Everyone had some lunch at a cafe overlooking the beach and I just had a coffee then dad and Trixie went off for a walk around the shops whilst us 4 decided to climb the Mount. It started off pretty easy but got gradually steeper and steeper as the journey progressed. Mother then started to find it a real struggle so we had to keep stopping for breathers. The worst part was an old man walked past looking like he was out on a sunday stroll..........Mum had to stop and told us all to carry on, Toby said he would stay with mum as he had already climbed the Mount. So Clive and i then trooped up to the top which i have to say was bloody hard and we both hadn't come dressed for the occasion. We were both wearing jeans and the weather was really clammy so it was difficult walking. After taking a few piccies at the top we started walking back down but heard Mothers dolcit tones shouting up to us so went and met up with them. It seems mother had decided to give it a try after all which was really brave of her so Toby was walking up slowly with her. Clive and I then had to walk up to the top again and it had started raining by now so i had to give mother my mac to put on whilst i got wet...... After a few more pictures we had to hike back down, but went down a much steeper and scary way. It was extremely funny watching mother jumping down these huge steps and climbing over tree roots. She only slipped once, and that was at the funniest time. Mother was just telling us how awful it would be to hear someone scream because you know it would mean they had slipped, but just as she was saying it she did slip and fell on her ass which caused her to laugh hysterically for the next 10mins. After arriving at the bottom we then had to walk for another half hour to get around the other side to meet dad and Trixie. Mum was really proud of herself but looked exhausted. We all drove to Tauranga to the cinema to watch 'Ghost Ship' which we thought started at 5pm only to find out it started at 7pm so we all just went home and had some dinner.

Wednesday 26th February 2003 Taupo

They weather was foul again, but we still decided to go on our trip to Rotorua, as in New Zealand the weather can always change around the next corner. In the end it didn't turn out to bad. We stopped into my favourite cafe, 'The Fat Dog' for a slap up breakfast and then we dropped the parents of at the Maori thermal village for a bit of culture and a good look at some volcanic activity.

Sarena and I where grateful for some time on our own and went for a drive, but got a bit lost. Luckily we ended up at a hot spa resort on the top of a hill so we had a dip in the pools for 15 minutes before we had top return back to Rotorua to pick up the children.

The Parents all had a great time at the Maori Village So we had a quick coffee and headed on to Taupo to find a place to stay for the night... Easier said than done. There is an Iron man contest on at the weekend so everywhere seemed booked up. In the end we found a very smart brand new Motel to stay in that had its own hot spa and pool. I ended up getting a room with my dad whilst Sarena shared with her Mum, Looks like a good nights sleep won't be on the cards for me.

We all met up again after a spa and a shower and went onto Taupo waterfront for a meal. Again another tasty meal. We have not had one bad meal so far in NZ. Dad and Sarena decided to walk home so i drove the car back and then went looking for them. They managed to get themselves a bit lost and it was a while before I found them.

dad fell asleep almost instantly which meant I had to stay wake a while before I could get used to the rhythm of his snoring.

It was decided to all go to Rotorua and then down to Lake Taupo to stay the night so we all left quite early in the morning. I went with Dad and Trixie in the car, they loved the scenery all the way down even though it was still raining. We went straight the the Maori village that Toby and I had already visited so that they all could have look at the hot springs, geysers etc. Toby and I left them there for a couple of hours and went off to do our own thing. We went for a drive and found a wonderful Hot Water Pool that we had a soak in for while then drove back to meet the others. They all seemed to have a good time and mum had bought me a lovely Jade beaded bracelet and a necklace for herself, she is completely spoiling us. We then drove to Lake Taupo for them to find a place to stay, it was now really raining so Toby ran around in all the Motels looking for some rooms for us all which turned out to be a bit difficult because the Iron Man competition was on......... We had a quick stop at a couple of places but eventually found a lovely brand new complex which was a bit dearer than the rest but well worth it, the rooms were lovely. Toby shared a room with his dad whilst i had a room with mother and the other 2 had a room. Clive toby, me and mother dumped all our stuff then went out for a dip in the hot water spa and then a spin in the small pool. We had lots of fun and really annoyed the oldies with our dolphin antics and general larking around. Toby booked up for us 4 to go on a Jet Boat ride down the Huka falls river in the morning which we were looking forward to. We all met up later in the evening and went out for dinner at a lovely restaurant, the food was great. Mum then drove the others home whilst Toby went off in Bertie and Clive and I walked back. Problem was we got lost and ended up walking miles away from the Motel. We had to ask a local for directions, we did finally make it home though. Mum was watching a film when i got in the room so i watched it with her, which was a bad move. The whole film was depressing and slow but at the end the main character just killed herself - what was all that about?

Thursday 27th February 2003 Katikati

Didn't sleep too well with Dad's snoring but got enough. We were up pretty early to go Jet Boating on the Huka River. It was a pretty chilly morning but thankfully not raining (yet). Sylvia looked a bit apprehensive about the boat ride but we all assured her it would be fine until some Aussie's turned up and told her we would probably tip over. Luckily she took it in good humour and repaid them the joke by screaming their ears for the entire boat ride.

Jet Boating is pretty cool. Its amazing how responsive the boat is. The driver was missing obstacles on the river by a hairs breadth and then sending the boat into 360 degree spins, all at pretty high speed. Seeing the beautiful Huka falls from the water level was also amazing. Even the brilliant blue of the water seemed unreal. Poor Dad was stuck on the outside next to Sylvia so he had water flying at him from one side and Sylvia screaming in his ear from the other side. By the time by the boat ride was finished Dad was even more deaf than he usually is.

We got back into Taupo by 10 and met up with Chris and Trixie for some breakfast and then started our Mammoth drive around Tongario National Park. We first headed down the Desert Road which wasn't as spectacular as it usually is as the clouds where hiding the three volcanoes from few. So we stopped Waiouru for a coffee break and then headed back up the west side of the park. By now the clouds where lifting a bit and we got a good view of Mt Egmont in the distance before turning up the road to Mt Ruapehu. We drove through the skiing village of Whakapapa and got to the end of the road at Iwikau. Most of the snow on Ruapehu has now melted but we could still see some that was tantalisingly close to us so Dad, Sarena and I headed on up the side of this desolate Volcano in search of a snowball fight. The more we climbed the further the snow seemed to get. We did mange to make it to a water fall that still had some snowy ice at the bottom which was good enough for a photo before we had to turn around and head back to the car park. Just in time too as the clouds seemed to follow us down the volcano slope.

It was 4 pm and we where still a good 4/5 hours away from home so we got into the Cars and kept driving all the way back to katikati in the pouring rain where we stopped in at the chinese for some takeaways.

Mum and I got up early and met the other 2 outside in the car park ready for our boat ride. Mother was a little worried about the whole thing, but as soon as we paid and got our life jackets on she was excited. We had a few others joining us on the boat who were from OZ who seemed jolly nice. I was made to sit on the outside whilst mother went in the middle with Toby so she wouldn't get too wet, Clive was sat on the other side. Mum had my mac on as well which meant me getting even wetter........ poor old Clive and myself got soaked being on the receiving end of all the donuts (spins) the boat did but i think Clive got the worst of it. The whole thing was brilliant though and we laughed all the way. Mum screamed for the whole journey but really enjoyed it, the driver would drive towards cliffs and trees etc then turn just at the last minute. The water was a wonderful blue colour and we got taken up river to the base of the waterfall where the colour was even more vivid. The trip lasted about 25min which i'm sure Clive was happy about as mum was screaming in his ear for the whole time! Toby did a few spins in Bertie in the car park then headed back to town to meet up with the others. It was decided on yet another cooked b'fast at a cafe, Clive and I were good and just had some fruit. We trogged around town for a little while to find mum a mac then all bundled back in the cars for a trip along Desert Road so that dad could see some volcano's. The scenery was very dramatic and very much like the highlands in Scotland. We stopped off at an Army museum so that we could have a wee break and Dad, Trixie and mother could have a coffee then headed off again to the big volcano, Whakapapa. We drove up as far as we could watching as the scenery got more dramatic by the moment. The rocks were black and it was like being on another planet, very weird. There is a ski resort at the top which we all parked at then we all walked up the path leading towards the very top, Dad, Trixie and mum went up at there own pace getting quite far seeing how steep the climb was. Us 3 climbed up to the glacier which meant climbing over rocks and boulders, it was quite a climb and very hard on the ole lungs because the air got a little thinner. It took a couple of hours but well worth the whole thing, dad absolutely loved it and was really pleased with himself for climbing some of it. The drive home took a good few hours and we were all knackered by the time we got home so it was fish and chips for dinner then bed.

Friday 28th February 2003 Katikati

Another miserable day. We didn't have anything planned so everyone just got on and did their own thing. Dad and I decided to take a walk up through the Kaimai's Even though it was pissing down and the Kaimais' where covered in clouds.

The walk was worth it. There aren't many views from the Kaimai's as the vegetation is so thick. but just walking thorough the jungle like forest with waterfalls streaming down every gully was worth it. Our walk lasted about 4 hours and we didn't see a soul until the last 10 minutes when we met a photographer out hunting for new fungi that will be sprouting since all the rain. The paths were very slippery all the round and Dad fell a few times. We made it back to the road , soaking and tired and where just preparing ourselves to walk back home along the road when Bertie hurtled out of the mist. Sarena and Sylvia where just off get their haircut so they picked us up on the way.

Before we got home to dry off we popped up to visit our friends Ross and Sue as Dad wanted to see a farm and it was milking time. We were also joined on the farm by Sue's Dad who is a real farming character and I think made my Dads day with his outlook on farming. He was especially chuffed when Sues Dad told him the New Zealand could do with 4 million people like my Dad. In the end Sues Dad wouldn't stop talking so we used Sarena as an excuse to leave and then left the Bertie outside of the hairdressers and ended up walking home anyway.

By the time we had dried of Chris had cooked us all bangers and Mash. and we spent the evening playing cards and watching TV.

Well the weather is just as bad today as the rest of the week...... shite

It was a day of rest today after the long day yesterday. I didn't go swimming which wasn't a bad thing as the pool would have been very cold anyway after all the rain we have had lately.

After all the showers and ablushions we decided to split up for a couple of hours and go and do our own thing. Clive and Toby wanted to go walking up in the Kaimai's even though it was wet, and very misty. Dad and Trixie wanted to have a look around Katikati and have a mooch around the shops. Mother and myself were going to try and get an appointment for our hair so we first took the boys into town to get provisions then dropped them off at the beginning of the trail, smelly boots and all. We then parked up in Katikati and went to pick up now altered trousers from Meri then booked up a couple of hair appointments for later on in the day. We went and had a look around a few shops, mum bought me some lovely new knickers then we went and had a light lunch. Mum bought some more provisions for the food cupboard then went home for an hour catching up with Trixie and dad. Just before we were about to leave for the hairdressers i got a text from Toby asking to be picked up. So we dived up there again and found 2 smelly wet and filthy walkers and took them back into katikati. Toby and Clive then went up to Sue and Ross farm to have a look at the milking for a couple of hours. Me and mum had a lovely couple of hours being pampered, i had some blonde streaks put in whilst mum just had a wash and blow dry. Later on in the day whilst Dad was cooking the sausages for dinner the rest of us had a dip in the Hot Springs at Anthenree. Dad prepared a wonderful dish for dinner which we all hungrily wolfed down then Clive and Toby and me played cards whilst the rest watched TV (they have to have a tv fix).


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