Friday, 13 February 2009

Day Thirty Four: Auckland

This could have been another trip down memory lane for me but I remember virtually nothing about my previous visit in 1971. I arrived on a Sunday, well jet lagged, and was greeted by the two Ranco Australia directors at the airport. They whisked me off to an hotel on the waterfront which I tried and failed to identify today and from there to dinner which was interrupted by a mysterious announcement for Mr Woollard to come to reception. When I got there I was told by the clerk that someone was waiting to see me but no-one could be seen, reception said that he was a cleric of some kind who had asked for me by name but had subsequently disappeared. I never solved the mystery and put it down to one of Derrick’s friends. As I said yesterday I was then told that I was not needed until Thursday and I was left to look after myself for 4 days. ‘Nuff said on that old subject, today was entirely different.

Neither of us woke for the ship’s arrival at Auckland, we heard the noise of the thrusters and the various loud vibrations that go on as the ship docks but as it was around 6.30am we dozed through it and stayed that way until about 8.00am. A good steady breakfast, our first at the Conservatory Restaurant, and we were off the boat and heading for the city. We had no organised plans just a vague notion that we were heading for Devonport and so we wandered our way along a whole series of corridors designed it seems to maximise the amount of walking needed to exit the ship, we effectively walked twice the length of the ship just to get back to a point exactly opposite the one we started from. Blame NZ immigration and customs for that one. But it did have one good result for us as while we were in the queue we talked to a couple who confirmed that Devonport was well worth a visit.

It was a very short toddle along to the Devonport Ferry and we were soon on the ferry terminal with our senior citizen return tickets and looking for our place of embarkation. There was 15 minutes or so to kill so we wandered among the shops in the ferry terminal and we were surprised that most of them seemed to be used book shops, we declined them this time but made a note to look on our return journey. The crossing was windy and bumpy, a little bit like our outward journey on the Kauai cruise but without the wetness, it hinted at rain but I am glad to say that it held off all day and even got warm as the day progressed. Devonport was super, much nicer than the one near Plymouth, it has rows of pretty houses, some good viewing points and some very nice craft shops. In one of those we found some fantastic hand made ceramic plates and bowls and of course I wanted to buy the biggest one at $250NZ, we settled for a nice special edition small one at $38NZ (about £16). We walked along the quayside watching the sailing ships – there was some practise going on associated with the Americas Cup – before I had to stop for a coffee and almond pastry break. Have you ever tried to buy just an ordinary coffee? It’s all skinny latte with an extra shot or something like that, I had a helluva job explaining to the girl that I just wanted a regular milky coffee with some sugar if it turned out to be strong. We did get it eventually and it was nice but the conversation about the different ways of making coffee took longer than the process of making it. Hilary was wise and had hot chocolate.

By the time we returned to the Auckland side the winds had died down a bit and the seas were distinctly calmer. We wandered up the main street, Queen’s Street to a big shopping mall and bought some souvenirs before catching a round robin bus to give us an overview of the city. It was a good experience a tad expensive for what it was but we did get to see the highlights of the city and if we had had more time we could have made better use of it by getting off at some of the stops along the way. Laden down with our gifts we stopped off at an ice cream shop and blew our remaining NZ coins on a double cone of rum and raisin before going through the entry controls to get back onto the ship. Now I will hand you over to Hilary.

Tiz I. It has been another good day – very different from yesterday – but I am a little more awake today so here are all the bits that I should have put in yesterdays blog. For Pat I wanted to tell you that I wore the pink pearls that you gave me and they looked super so many thanks. For Julian – what gym? I don’t believe in such things – can’t be asked! The forward spring line (ropes) look like ropes and are fraying at the end like ropes but I will try to remember to call them lines. Apparently we are heading into some pretty lumpy seas – big waves and gale force 8 winds – this looks set to drastically reduce any food intake and maybe have a slightly slimming effect. To Hayles, congratulations on your job offers, they are very lucky to have you! New Zealand is the most beautiful place. The first day we had in Tauranga and visited Rotorua, the second day we were in Auckland a huge city of 1 ½ million people but still very modern and spotlessly clean - both places have lovely friendly people and a very honest way of life. Liz I know that you would love it as much as I do. In fact I think the whole family should up sticks and move over here – I know why Tony stayed!! I am very sorry to leave and feel that I am leaving something very special. Next stop (in a couple of days time) will be seeing Brian. I am excited and nervous, I hope he recognises this old lady cousin visiting him. Today we visited Devonport (across the bay from Auckland) and it is like going back in time. A little village full of book shops, small dress shops, stationers, two pubs and a couple of volcanoes to climb! We took the commuter ferry over there and back which is efficient, clean and people friendly. They also have a naval base along their shoreline but no fences or signs prohibiting people from doing one thing or another! These folk know how to behave and be respectful to each other – magic. OK that is about all for tonight, take care, God bless.

Just back from dinner without Bill and Alison and Richard and I agreed a new policy of not being involved in the nightly wine purchase, I think that it is in part due to Keiko’s influence as she drinks only a thimbleful each night so Richard is effectively subsidising Bill and Alison’s drinking. And they drink a lot, which has caused much comment as they are rarely seen without a glass in their hands even around the pool at 11.00am in the morning. When we talk about what we have done during the day their sole topic is about the nice bistro they attended and what wine they had, or the wine tasting that they accidentally stumble upon – they are doing the wine tasting tour in Sydney of course. We don’t know for sure that it was because they were pickled but they missed the tour of Lautoka that they had paid for because, “we forgot we booked it.” Sad really particularly as Bill is a chronic diabetic and injects insulin every day, he is doing his health no favours at all. That’s it for tonight enjoy the photos of Auckland and thanks for all your comments, we look forward to reading them.


Pat said...

Glad you are having a great time. It seems that most people fall in love with New Zealand. I always remember Dad saying that it was the only country he could swap for England to live in. That was after he did his world trip for Plessey way back in th 60's.
Glad to see that the bear didn't get left in the phone box in Hawaii.
Love the photographs, especially the ones of you and Sam. You both look very well and happy and I think this trip for you both was just the perfect thing.
I'm fighting a cold at the moment which most annoying but reading your blog each morning starts the day off well.
Hope your visit with Brian goes well.
Lots of love Pat

Julian said...

Hi glad you are enjoying New Zealand, and Devenport over there does sound slightly more up market than Devenport Plymouth. Did you manage to find any interesting books? I am currently sat at Newcastle airport waiting to fly home, I should make it this weekend since Bristol airport and the M5 A38 are all open. We enjoy the blog and all the pictures you have managed to upload. Take care and keep enjoying yourselves.
Love Julian Moira Carl & Kelly

Marlene and Tara said...

Hiya you two! Auckland sounds fantastic. If the whole family moves - can I come too?
Just to let you know Hilary, I found out that Mrs Peers has passed away. Apparently she was sitting in a chair in the conservatory and just passed. Just the way she would have wanted it. Sad, but I am pleased for her - she had enough.
Looking forward to my time with Sheila tomorrow.
Love and hugs
Marlene and Tara xxx

Sharon and Georgia said...

Hi guys,
New Zealand sounds wonderful. Shame is it so so far away.

It is half term now and Gergia is spending the first half of her school holiday with Paul. he still hasn't given my house and garage keys back despite asking him twice.Will he keep being awkward forever?! Need I ask!

While Georgia is with paul I am busy moving forward with my Early Yeas Professional Status project. Aunty Hilary, I am so looking forward to discussing issues with you and using your expertise!Am busy leading a manager and her team of practitioners in a pre school setting developing the children's language skills. Very fulfilling and exciting work.

Have a great time on the next leg,
Much love xxxx