Good Morning world and thanks for tuning in to another day here on Planet Magnet. I hope the sun is shining and you are all set for the weekend. I am looking forward to a comparatively quiet one myself with a good deal of relaxation impacting on the time I have available but I am a firm believer in setting out your stall in advance when it comes to planning some hardcore relaxation. Relaxation that will of course be linked with some form of walking with the dog, especially if the weather is a bright as I expect it to be…..
Anyway, that is enough of that, you have come here to read about more dim and distant past so without further ado, lets take you back to December 24th 1992…
Don’t forget folks, this is all taken from memory so let us allow me a little artistic licence from time to time….
I arrived in Auckland, N.Z and was duly met at the airport by my cousins husband John. Delighted to see me and determined to make me feel at home we loaded my kit into the back of his station wagon and set off for home where his wife was unaware of me actually being in the southern hemisphere at all let alone coming to visit her in Hamilton for Christmas, or so we thought…..
After an explanation and lots of wisecracks about the local countryside I finally made it to their family home and to see my cousin. Absolutely delighted and over the moon to have a relative down under I was greeted warmly but when I asked how the surprise was it appeared that she already knew as her friend had let the cat out of the bag after specific instructions from John not to do so!
Ah, well the best laid plans of mice and men etc…
So that evening was Christmas eve and it was a good evening from memory. No more partying and carousing as I had done over the past many weeks whilst touring Australia, just a simple family meal, a few drinks and an early night before the big day. It was also good to see my Uncle Archie out there (he was visiting his daughter ((my cousin)) too) as it meant another anglophile like myself was on hand to discuss comparisons between Blighty and N.Z.
Christmas day duly arrived and with it came the gift of hay fever. Oh how lucky was I! Christmas in the baking hot sunshine, eating turkey and all the trimmings on the patio (one of the weirdest things to have experienced for sure) during intermittent bouts of sneezing and nose blowing, still there has to be a price to pay for all that we do and enjoy, doesn’t there…?
After the dinner I recall plenty of loafing about and relaxing. Children were doing their usual excitable thing, old people were doing their usual irascible thing and I was doing my usual (of back then) having a drink, keeping out of the way of helping and trying not to get caught up in too many conversations that didn’t talk of subject matter I was interested in. Anyway, the festivities were soon over and I headed for bed a happy and contented man (even if my son was 12,000 miles away on the other side of the world).
The next day I was surprised to learn was Boxing Day in N.Z as well and there was a day out planned. Every year, the day after Christmas day, the people travel from far and wide to go to the “Trots” This is basically horse racing but trotting with buggies attached.
If memory serves it was a good day although no money was won by myself at the Tote (on site betting) so to say the day was a financial success would have been stretching it a little! But what else it was, was proof that the flora in N.Z was driving me bananas and after spending the day once again blowing my nose and sneezing I was glad to return back to the ranch and a cool shower to ease my allergies. Unfortunately, I recall the hay fever continuing to such an extent that I believe we ended up in the hospital trying to get it resolved with some sprays and ointments and although it helped, it was certainly no cure…
Anyway, the holiday season was soon over and now came the second part of why I went to N.Z.
Because I had family down there and they had friends with businesses, I was able to get work here, there and everywhere and if I recall correctly, because I painted the garage for my cousin Jean, her husband John got me some work with a pal of his “doing a wee bit of decorating” This turned out to be standing on corrugated steel roofing of the local school and scraping them of all of the loose paint chippings before brushing down and re-painting.
Oh what fun.
40˚ Centigrade, on a steel roof that stood at an angle of about 30˚. It was like trying to push an elephant up a hill. Hard work would be one way of describing it and at that point of my life, I was not in to hard work….
So the days came and went, I continued to bunk down at my cousins house, eat with the family and be treated like a prince to be fair. I worked and played and kept my self as busy as I could, investigating new foods (and old – the pies were amazeballs!) playing golf – the ruination of a good walk and generally planning my trip around the North Island until it was eventually time to hit the road and start doing some of that hitch hiking and see some of the place. This I did but now 20 plus years on I have no real recollection of where I went although strangely I do recall seeing my mothers next door neighbours somewhere along the way (weird considering they were from my home town…) and I also recall traveling down to the tip of the North Island to catch a ferry over to the South Island to do some fruit picking only to be told there was no fruit picking to be had. This eventually led to a journey back up to Hamilton and my decision to head on around the world.
Unfortunately I do recall that during my few weeks of wandering New Zealand, my Uncle Archie became quite in and ended up in the hospital so that was another factor for me to return to Hamilton and after visiting him and saying my goodbyes to all of the kind people who had welcomed me and looked after me, it was soon time for me to head on as I had planned and thus began the longest day of my life as I flew from Auckland to Hawaii and then on to the U.S mainland, effectively seeing February the 14th twice…..
Come back next week for more of my tour of the world.
Stay out of the fridge.