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'White clothes don't get dirty!'
New Zealand - DEC 2002
'Popadoms with that?'
Sunday 1st December 2002 Hot Water Beach

Quite surprisingly we all woke up pretty early. Probably something to to with the baking hot sun warming the tent up. We all went for leisurely walk along Hot Water Beach. Our timing couldn't of been better. It was heading towards low tide. At this time everyone heads to a certain spot on the beach and digs holes in the sand to reveal piping hot volcanic springs just below the surface of the sand. We didn't bring a spade to dig any holes ourselves but just sticking our toes in other peoples home-made spa's proved just how hot the water got. Too hot to sit in without some sea water mixed in to cool it down. Quite Remarkable!

Sally and Adam have decided to spend the week in the Coromandel so we parted company with them and took a more scenic drive back home. We went a long a gravel road through the middle of the Coromandel, stopping at Thames to pick up some drift wood for Sarena's next artistic moment and then headed back to Katikati.

We all woke quite early and had our b'fast and coffee then went for a stroll down the beach again and paddled in the hot water before going back to the campsite and bidding farewell to each other They had decided to stay in the Coromandel for a couple of days and meet up with another friend. I said I would do a curry on Thursday so that was when they said they would come back!

Toby and I drove back home the longer way so that we could see the scenery and ended up on a gravel road winding up and down a mountain that had the most beautiful views of lush green tropical forests sweeping down to aqua marine sea. I noticed a wooden walkway set up around the top of a tree whilst driving so I parked up and we went to investigate. The steps went up into the trees and surrounded with a high moss covered rock wall making it look like we were walking into a grotto.... it was a climb for us unfit people but well worth the effort as when we got to the end there was the most hugest biggest girtist tree i have ever seen. The one in OZ was big but had a huge tunnel running though it so doesn't count.... This mother had the biggest trunk and even had other small trees growing in it's branches.

After that we just carried on driving home and then crashed for the afternoon or should I say Toby crashed whilst I put away our camping stuff away....... we then just had an early night as we were both so tired.

Monday 2nd December 2002 Katikati

The usual day at work. Ha d a bit of a break from my main project as there is a little web site I have to modify, it has been trialled by users over the last few months but now needs to go live by Monday with some changes.

I had arranged to meet Phil at the local pub ,'The Talisman' on my way back from work. Phil is from the same village as Beau and Clare, 'Whitchurch' and I first met him in Sydney when Sarena was back in the UK last April. He has spent the last 3 months in NZ but has 1 more week left after spending a few weeks in Fiji. He looked quite lonely sitting in the pub all on his own. We had a quick beer grabbed a Chinese smorgasbord and walked back home.

Wryly old Sarena soon returned home work and used her mind control techniques to get Phil to buy a case of beer. Felt quite bad that we didn't have any but funds are a little low after the weekend.

I was on a late so I decided to catch up with my diary as I was quite behind, I also went swimming and just relaxed and it was very hot. Work was hard as the kitchen was very very stuffy and humid even thought the window's were open, really could do with some air-conditioning. I had a young lad with me for my shift called Matthew who was learning the ropes and couldn't believe how much washing up there was to do!! When I got back home there was a man called Phil sitting with Toby, he had met up with Phil in Oz when I had gone back home. He was going to stay for the week which was fine with me and he seemed like a very nice bloke.

Tuesday 3rd December 2002 Katikati

Returned home from work and had a lazy evening chatting with Phil. I actually managed to cook the two of us a pretty basic meal too. Sarena will be very pissed that I have cooked for someone else.

Toby took Bertie with him so I decided to go for a vigorous bike ride which I found very hard. I took my new mini Walkman radio which I had picked up for $10 down the garage and was really good for bike riding. Phil made me a lovely cup of tea and we then settled down to watching my favourite programme 'JAG' which I try and watch everyday. It contains lots of men in uniform which just happens to be my weakness............

Didn't do much in the afternoon but had to go to work at 4pm

Wednesday 4th December 2002 Katikati

Felt quite proud of my cooking attempt yesterday so I decided to experiment on Phil this evening and cooked a chilli/ pasta combo. It was pretty hot a spicy and actually quite tasty.

Went to Yoga and played with the Kittens which now have there ickle bitty eyes open and are the sweetest balls of fluff. I came home and we both watched JAG again. Phil went out on a big bike ride for a couple of hours to have a look at the surrounding area and came back tired so we just read and did our own thing in the afternoon, I then headed off to another great shift at work.

Thursday 5th December 2002 Katikati

Got back from work to find that Sally and Adam had returned from their trip around the Coromandel. Sarena had already phoned them in the morning so had prepared a fantastic curry (even better than the last). The evening ended up getting pretty lively and boisterous as the beer flowed, Sorry Frida, hope we weren't too loud!

Phil is leaving tomorrow for Auckland to get his flight back home on Saturday, He is pretty depressed about it all and would much rather continue travelling.

Day off today!! got up early and went for a swim then came back and went for a bike ride then put a monster of a curry on to cook ready for dinner. Phil and I then went to the Wahi Beach and I had a good look through the second hand shop whilst Phil went and had a look at the beach. Phil then bought us both an Ice-cream and we sat in the sun and watched the world go by. It was then I realised I didn't have enough plates for everyone and just so happened across a box full of odds and sods outside an op shop that had some plates in for FREE. So I took them (thanks very much) and drove up to a wonderful look out point to show Phil. We then drove home but stopped off at another view point on the way.

Sally and Adam turned up at about 4ish and we started on the beer early then when Toby got home we had a wonderful curry cooked to perfection in the biggest pot in the world. Can't believe that we only had a very small amount left out of a vat full!! We all stayed up quite late drinking and playing cards and Sally and Adam were so funny, they just kept play fighting and being all lovely dovey........ yes they are still at that fluffy bunikins stage of the relationship and it's the nicest thing to see, they are so well matched. We all got stupid (apart from Phil) and made some stupid video's of ourselves including myself and Sally running out to 'Spog' the van in the dark pretending to be hedgehogs and kangaroos???? all in the name of fun

 

Friday 6th December 2002 Katikatiwe

Quiet at work. Phil heads back home

Well it was Phil's last day in NZ today and he really didn't want to go home bless him. Adam and Sally went into Tauranga to go check out some diving prices in the morning and me and Phil went for a long walk down by the river and we were both sweating by the time we got home just in time for JAG! Adam and I took Phil down to the bus station and said goodbye - he looked really sad. He can stay with us any time he wanted!

Saturday 7th December 2002 Katikati

I have loads of work to do to meet my deadline so spent the morning on the computer. Sally and Adam got up at a reasonable time and spent the morning planning their trip around the North Island. I had finished my work for the day by the time Sarena got home from work. So Adam and I popped up the shop to buy some drink and ingredients for a Mexican the Adam has agreed to cook for us as a goodbye meal. (They are leaving tomorrow). Spent the evening drinking eating and playing cards. Adam spent the evening creaking around on 'the chair that must ne'er be spoken', and, generally, we where all being noisy. Sarena phoned Clare later in the evening and we had a laugh watching back some of videos.

Oh joy an early shift today which didn't start off so well but did get better by the end of my day. I got home and flaked out on the couch whilst Toby and Adam went and got some food and alcohol for dinner. Adam and Sally were going to cook us a thankyou dinner, they were leaving on Sunday. I really didn't want them to go as I had had so much fun and it was so nice to have mates again!! Adam cooked us a wonderful Mexican meal washed down with some red wine and a game of cards then we watched a silly film and phoned up Clare Bear who sounded all sleepy. I then said my goodbyes to the both of them as I was getting up early in the morning and wouldn't see them.

Sunday 8th December 2002 Katikati

More work to do. I Finally got round to phoning my mate Gary from back home and managed to have a quick chat with him before speaking to his girlfriend Sarah. We ended up chatting for ages, in the meantime Sally and Adam where packing their stuff up around me and in the end I had to cut Sarah off so that I could say goodbye. Sorry Sarah, I promise I'll put my next shopping receipt up on the web site for you to read - saddo ;).

Sarena arrived back from work. Back to the normal quiet house again. Bye Sally, Bye Adam, Bye Phil. Hurry up the next lot of guests to visit.

Another day at work, but I kept hoping they had changed there minds and would still be at home but when I ran out of work and round the corner I saw that 'Spog' had gone............. I then just went home and felt very sorry for myself the rest of the day The only consolation was that Toby had put on a roast for dinner which was very tasty.

Monday 9th December 2002 Katikati

Back to work. I am still being distracted from my main project a bit while I trying and get a web app up and running. It is quite good to do different things every so often but I am very conscious of the fact that there is a tight deadline for my main project. Working at the weekend helped a bit. I did go to a directors meeting regarding the project I am working on. We now have a separate company marketing and researching the product so its all getting pretty serious now.

Had the most fantastic dream of a huge motorbike last night! I even woke up and looked out of the window expecting to see it parked up outside, I was gutted when I realised it was a dream.

Swimming

It's sooooo quiet around here without those guys and I have finished reading my bike mag and have Zilch money to buy another one. I went down to the Post office and sent my cards off - $56 it cost!!! good job I still have a UK account with a little dosh in as our account is overdrawn, oops.

Tuesday 10th December 2002 Katikati

Work. Managed to be pretty productive today. And getting back into the swing of developing my main project.

Another early morning of swimming then I settled down to doing some painting, something I haven't done for many years. I bought some water really cheap water colours the other day and I had some elaborate idea I could do some master pieces but now realise I can't draw or paint anymore!!

I did some sit-ups in the afternoon and was completely knackered so sat and read my book until time to go to work.

 

We both went for a run when I got back home and I must admit I did really well, must be all the swimming helping me with my breathing.

Wednesday 11th December 2002 Katikati

Had to present by project to the marketing company today. It went very well considering there is still a lot of work to be done on it to get it finished by mid-February. I just hope that it doesn't get over-hyped and oversold. It will probably need to get to version 3 or 4 before it becomes a really solid product.

Last day of Yoga today and I'm quite gutted really as I really really enjoy doing it, I don't practice at home though which is very naughty so will have to start....

I am in agony cause my legs hurt so much from last nights run and I have difficulty walking down the ramp from our front door and can't bend down to pick up stuff, mmmmm maybe I'm not so fit as I first thought

Thursday 12th December 2002 Katikati

Work...have to catch up on my main project a bit as I have been set back a week by another project. Kathy went to a presentation in the evening to receive her open university degree that she has been studying for a fair few years. This meant that I got to drive her car home and stop of and do the shopping on the way. So for the benefit of Sarah Mead from back home, please find a copy of my shopping receipt!!!

Still can't move very well but went swimming which seemed to help a little but they stiffened up during the day and by the time I went to work I couldn't hardly walk much to the amusement of everyone else.

Friday 13th December 2002 Katikati

I am making good progress on my development project at work. Things are a bit tense at work though as another project has missed it deadline for the new year, so there are lots of meetings going on at the moment.

Kathy mentioned that she was going to a folk club tonight. I said that we would go to. It was surprisingly very good. I wasn't too sure what to expect but the had a very professional Jewish folk band playing at a beautiful spot right by the sea in Katikati. I can't say I have really listened to Jewish music before but any body that that can play well is worth listening too. I particularly like the blonde deadlocked girl that played two saxophones at the same time!

Legs feeling a lot better today, thankgod!

I was on an early shift which was good fun actually I'mI enjoying working with Alois. Came home and had a bath and did some sit ups then when Toby got home we went out for a entertaining evening of Jewish Folk Music. I did have to mention in the car on the way to the function that we wouldn't have dreamt of doing such a thing back in the UK and it seemed a bit desperate of us to do this now really...... As it turned out they were really very good and we both impressed at the young girl who played 2 saxophones at the same time, bass and tenor. We got away without paying the $8 each and after a couple of hours we went back home feeling tired after a Friday night out.....

Saturday 14th December 2002 Katikati

An exciting day ahead. Its my works Christmas party this afternoon and we have a mystery activity to do first of all. In the mean time though I have to buckle down and get my diary and our website ready to update. I have been very slack again as it is very hard to motivate myself when I do not have that much to write about. And apparently being a bloke means that I have no deep and meaningful inner feelings and thoughts that I can express within my diary!!!

Anyway, Kathy and Dave picked us up just before 3 and we rushed into Tauranga to meet the maxi taxi. We did arrive a few minutes early so managed to raid the chilli bin and begin the days drinking. Once in the Maxi Taxi we picked up Dennis, Andy and Rachel. The mystery was then blown 'literally' as Kathy had to tell the taxi driver where to go, Blo-karting, cool. Andy has his own blo-kart and I have been wanting to see him in action for a while. What cool fun. The weather was perfect, windy enough to give us bursts of speed but not strong enough to blow us out of control. Everyone was a bit hesitant, but once we had all had a practice go it got very competitive and the next 2 hours where spent racing each other around a basic course. Sarena thoroughly enjoyed it and managed to tip her kart a couple of times.

After the blo-karting we jumped back into some taxis and headed off to a pith and putt course for a quick 9 hole round of golf and a BBQ. The golf was very funny, the whole group managed to make up 4 teams and we where all as bad as each other. Sarena tended to tee the ball as if she was on a full size course and nearly managed to take me out on the 3rd hole.

By 10 we had all had our fill of entertainment, beer and food so Kathy, Dave, me and Sarena shared a long taxi ride back to Katikati.

I made Toby sit down and write some of his diary as he is over a month behind. Every few mins he would get up and just wonder around without knowing why so I kept steering him back to the lap top.

I was looking forward to Toby's Xmas do later in the afternoon specially as it was a surprise! At 3pm Kathy and David came and picked us up and we drove into Tauranga where we then got a taxi, picked up a few others and drove to the airport. It seems we were going Blo Karting which everyone looked a bit worried about. Andy has his own Blo kart and was very pleased about the whole thing whilst Rachel, his girlfriend was telling me she had done this before and wasn't so keen.

Toby was the first to get on the track after a quick run through by the instructor and was soon whizzing around the track. After a few mins all the other guys were on the track gaining confidence all the time. Us girls just watched them for a while whilst nibbling on dips and veggies and diving into the alcohol. Soon it was our turn to strap ourselves in and get on the circuit, the wind was really picking up and we were all flying around, it was absolutely fantastic and I didn't want to get off. On one of the rounds I didn't let the rope out fast enough and the wind picked me up and I tipped right over. The funny thing was Kathy tipped over the same time! I managed to tip it once more just for effect of course. Hey I even came first in one of the races we had, it seemed Rachel really enjoyed herself after all and had forgotten how much fun it was.

After a couple of hours of fun we then all bundled into taxi's and got dropped off at a golf course. We then split up into teams, us two with Rachel and Andy, we managed to hit a ball around the 9 hole course without doing too much damage to the local wildlife. Although I did nearly hit Toby whilst he was filming me which was pretty funny. Infact the whole thing was funny, we were all pretty crap, not helped by the esky of booze we carried all the way round. After we had all finished, we went back to the club house and spent the rest of the afternoon drinking and having a wonderful BBQ dinner.

Sunday 15th December 2002 Katikati

Sarena wants to tidy the house today. Bummer. I had hoped to go and explorer a 4wd drive track nearby but the weathers a bit mank and I really must catch up with my diary. So I spent most of the day doing my diary, tidying the house and annoying Sarena (you have to have some pleasures in life!). In fact I managed to clean the kitchen worktops in the time it took Sarena to do the rest of the house... All part of my master plan :) Sarena cooked a great chilli and I managed to get most of my diary updated. Only a few more days work and we can re publish the web site. This time I am going to make sure that I do my diary every evening as it is just so hard to try and catch up on weeks of missing diary entries.

Thanks to my mate Spit and can also bring to you preview of the new Michael Jackson and Beatles collaboration. Here's a tasty look at the new album cover...

The house looked like a bomb had hit it so I said we should BOTH do some cleaning much to the disgust of Toby. We both put the dirty deed off for as long as possible but we did get off our arses in the end and clean the house top to bottom. Toby was very very slow at doing the kitchen and I often caught him wandering around the house with a blank look on his face, when I asked him what he was doing, he didn't seem to know? by the time I had cleaned hoovered scrubbed and tidied the house,Toby had only managed to clean half the kitchen. He thinks he is being clever and that I don't know his 'plan' but I will get my own back, oh yes I can out smart the Jonser.

Monday 16th December 2002 Katikati

Back to work. I had to drive Kathy in this time as her car was still left in town from the Christmas party. Oh joy to be back at work, only 7 more work days left until I have a week off. Everyone seemed to enjoy the Christmas party at the weekend and a lot of time was spent pondering the necessities of buying a blo-kart each. Managed to get a bit of a break from work to help Phil move his boat to a new mooring at the marina. Summer is really starting to break through now, although its still a bit windy.

Went to go and video Sarena at work but couldn't find her anywhere. Eventually she found me just as I was about to leave. She was looking very sheepish, and it took her a few minutes to confess that she has handed in her notice. She thought that I would be angry, but I am quite relieved. It hasn't been enjoyable for her, they are very bad employees, plus it looks as though they have messed up her leave for new years so she has given her 2 weeks notice just in time.

Actually got a text message from Damo in Brisbane in the evening. Now that is a surprise. We phoned him straight back as Sarena has been waiting to tell him of for being crap for ages. After speaking to Damo and Jodie we went for a jog (yep thats right you read that correctly) and then phoned Declan for good measure.

Cycled down to the pool and then pottered around the house for a bit before going out for another bike ride and then work.

I actually handed in my notice today as I had finally had enough.............

I was then really worried about how Toby would be now we didn't have my money coming in, little as it was!

He was really very very fine about the whole thing! thankgod! and I felt a huge sense of relief. I spoke to Damo in the evening all prepared to tell him off for not forwarding a package he has had for us, he promised to send it months ago! but as soon as I talk to the tinker I just find myself laughing at him - he is just adorable like a puppy dog We went out for a jog - I know, we are turning into the fit couple

Tuesday 17th December 2002 Katikati

Actually managed to get up nice and early, so I went for a quick bike ride to the bay at the end of the road. The fields are being mown for hay and silage so the smell is great, it reminds me of home.

A few extra jobs distracted me at work today. One was getting my Christmas mop chop. It actually turned out to be pretty eventful... New years eve has been playing on my mind as JP and Louise are coming over from the UK and have left it to me to organise what to do. This comes a quite a responsibility as last time I had that honour I must of given them the worst New Years eve ever. Caused mainly to my weakness for space cakes and JP's accuracy with a laser pen, but thats another story. Anyway Melissa my personal hair dresser told me about the BIG NZ new years eve festival happening in the Bay of Plenty, why no one else had told me about this I don't know, but it sounds like a real winner. Much better than my plan of turning up in Auckland and seeing what's happening. So hopefully JP and Louise will be up for that. ohh yeah better ask Sarena too!

Just spent the evening thrashing through my diary and went out for another jog... something is a bit amiss here!

Got up early and went swimming then came home and played on the computer game for most of the day (don't tell Toby) I seem to be getting a little addicted to Wolfenstien......... I did try and do something constructive but it started to rain and I then couldn't be arsed.

Went to work then came home and went for another jog.

Toby told me about a New Years Eve bash that was being held locally and I thought that sounded fab!, hey had to be better then any of the things we had done. NOT including our stay down in Cornwall with our mates which had to be the best time ever! the worst one was when Toby ate a plate full of hash cakes and then drank a barrel of beer which ended in me holding him up in the garden whilst he was being sick and the bells of midnight chimed in the distance! how romantic.......

Out for a jog....

 

Wednesday 18th December 2002 Katikati

Big day at work today. I have to present my software to the Directors of the company today. I am not worried as I think I have made great progress, but it is always a bit dodgy having to present something running when you are in the middle of developing it. You are never to sure what bits might not work properly. Then disaster my system crashed just a few hours before the presentation. I did mange to get it all running in time though and the directors seemed very pleased. The meeting went on until about 7 but we where provided with some pretty tasty snacks to tide us over.

Also got a message back from JP saying he was up for the festival for the new year. Cool, I ordered the tickets straight away. Sarena is even finishing work on the 27th now so we have a good week to go exploring over the new year.

Took advantage of having the car at work and did the shopping... again... hang on thats not an advantage. Shit, I think I've been brained washed, actually doing the shopping on my own accord. What kind of a bloke am I.

Didn't get home until about 8:30, managed to unpack the shopping just before Sarena arrived back from work and then we went out for another jog.

Because my Yoga has finished till after Xmas I thought I would have a little lie in........... 10.15am I awoke!! I haven't slept that in that late since April when I was in the UK. I thought I would do some Yoga at home but just couldn't do it.. God I'm not very good at self motivation.

It rained allllllll day which was slightly crap so I just read for most of the day before going to work

Forgot to mention we now have 3 large parcels delivered from the UK, very exciting.

Went out for a jog again


Well from reading Toby's diary it has just dawned on him that having the car midweek means he has to do the shopping, it's a shame Pak 'n' Save is in Tauranga............gets him back for not doing much house work at the weekend!

 

Thursday 19th December 2002 Katikati

Naggy old Sarena woke up and started at me for not putting the just emptied milk bottle in the bin. Not really necessary. It got me a bit round up so I stomped off to work.

It was Phil the bosses, last day today before Christmas, so he turned up with Santas sacks for everyone. Very good. This can go with the pile of parcels we have already received in the post over the last week. I chose one with a Christmas tree on it so that we could claim to have a tree at home.

Sarena was obviously feeling very very very bad about the mornings little drama and had cooked be steak and potato wedgies for tea. I soon noshed that down and spent the rest of the evening getting this darn interweb thingy updated.

Went for a really good swim early in the morning after having a slight tiff with the Joneser, he doesn't seem to understand why I get a little up tight at his slight problem of chucking things in the bin when empty! now this could be a Toby thing but I'm tending to lean towards the idea that it is a 'Man' thing to put empty cartons, boxes, bottles etc. back in cupboard/fridge? I could do with some feedback from some females on this one please.

Anyway the now miffed Toby storms out of the house and starts walking to work knowing I I'm just about to drive to the swimming pool, therefore able to give him a lift. I found him storming down the road with a very angry little face so I ask him if he wants to hop in. Oh noooooo the Toby Jonsey hesitates for a mere few mins but stubbornly refuses to save face. I of course don't ask twice so drive on without him. Needless to say I then feel very bad (after swimming of course) and email him promising to cook him a nice dinner.

I popped down to give Meri her Xmas card and she invited us over for Sunday evening drinks and dinner, which I of course accepted. I then went over to see Rita and Stuart to drop their card off and was delighted to find them in. I stayed for a chat and to eat all Rita's cakes before showing Stuart how to access our website. They invited us over for Xmas dinner but of course I have to work so said we would pop over for a pre-dinner drinkies.

 

Friday 20th December 2002 Katikati

Thank Crunchie! Most people at work finsih today for the holiday season, so motivation for work is at a low. Infact by lunch time there were only a few people left in the office. I didn't get to leave till 5 but was greated by a huge steak sandwhich that sarena had made for me. Went out to fix a neighbours computer after tea and then spent the rest of the evening chilling with a bottle of wine whilst it poured down outside.

Supposed to be my day off, but Lexham asked me to swap my days, i now had Sunday off instead. It's the Xmas party on Sunday and they want Lilian to work, i'm quite please to be honest as i think it would be a bit of a nightmare in the Kitchen. My day was bloody awful though because the b'fast list had diapeared which meant me having to guess what they had??? neadless to say it all went wrong and the nursed were pissed off with me. I was glad to get home and chill out. I made Toby a huge steak sarnie for dinner and then we cosied down on the couch in the evening whilst in rained outside

Saturday 21st December 2002 Katikati

Sarena went to work in the morning. Her last weekend shift. I too did some work, which kept me occupied until lunch. Sarena phoned while she was at work begging me to go and get a bottle of Gin for when she got home. She has had enough of working there. So I cycled into Katikati got her some gin 'n' tonic and fish 'n' chips and then spent the rest of the day drinking the stuff.

God i thought yesterday was bad but today just topped that right off. They still hadn't updated the B'fast list even though it has been wrong for a couple of weeks now which meant me going through all the same shite as Friday. By lunch time i phoned Toby and begged him to get a bottle of gin and some Tonic, we had been talking about a cold G &T the day before and i now had my taste buds set on it. When i got home Toby produced a big bag of fish and chips then poured us both a very large drink which went down a treat. We really did enjoy the drink and ended up drinking for the rest of the day, Toby got giggly on just 2 glass fulls!!'

We went out for a run in the evening

Sunday 22nd December 2002 Katikati

Sarena has managed to blag a day of work today - the slacker.

It was a beaut of a day too. We decided to go exploring so by the time we got our lazy asses moving we had watsed most of the morning. Never mind. We jumped into bertie and headed towards Matamata. It ended up being an hour and a half drive by the time we got there. Just in time for lunch. Matamata is also the place where they built Hobbiton for Lord of the rings. the farmer has now opened the film site up to the public and initally I was quite keen to go and have a look. We parked outside the Information center and saw some photos of the place. Basiclay the set has been taken down and all that is left is a hole in the hill with a concrete front with 3 holes in it, and at 50 bucks a pop to visit, we decided to give it a miss. Insetad we went for some tucker. A much better Idea.

We then headed back towards home but stooped at a place called Mclaren Falls. It is a great place, A rock river with loads of bathing pools and high places to jump of from. Mclaren falls is set at the edge of a park so we took a drive round and ermarked this as another spot to bring Sarena's parents when they come over in February.

We also stopped at a water park just outside Katikati and picked up some more brochures full of ways to entertain the parents.

Got home by 4. just enough time for a quick kip and snore on the sofa before we popped over the Meri and Barrys for a premature Christmas dinner. It cool to go other to Meri and Barry's as it is so relaxed, and Meri is very funny. They had been given a Kitten for christmas so we spent the evening sitting outside, dinking bear and watching the kitten run around the garden. Meri and Barry's son and wife (Todd and Cushler) turned up to join us for dinner. They didn't stay long as they are diary farmers and had to get home for an early night. DInner was fantastic. A proper roast! and we eneded up getting home by 11 with our arms full of goodies that they gave us.

Wonderful wonderful wonderful, no work today!!!! I had lovely lie in - 8.30am. The sun was shining and the sky was blue so we decided to go out for a drive and have a look around. We first went to ................... near where they had filmed 'Lord of the Rings' they have turned the area into 'Hobbiton' and if you wanted to pay the $50 per person you could have a 2hour tour around the place. We weren't going to pay that much and decided to stay in the little town to have some lunch in a fab Cafe. We then drove back to Wangamati Falls which were wonderful. There were uite a few kids swimming around in the rock pools, some of them were climbing up onto the bridge and jumping in, it was a huge drop and something i certainly wouldn't have done. We climbed around on the rocks for a while taking in the views, before heading into the Wangamati Park to have a look around. The park was set around the water so had canoes etc you could use, it also had a arboritum and an animal park, will will revisit when the parents are over. We drove around for a while before heading back to Katikati.

I suggested we stopped off on the way back at the Outdoor Water adventure park near Katikati so we could get some prices on canoing and kiaking and see what else they had to offer. Toby bought us both as ice-cream and we went and sat by the water and watched all the kids and adults having fun shooting down a big slide either on a mat or in a kiak into the river. They also had bikes that had massive wheels you could cylce around on the river with, BBQ area and climbing wall. After we had scoffed our ice-creams we went home to chill out for an hour (Toby fell asleep) before heading off to Meri's for dinner. We had a lovely evening and were joined by Tod and his wife (Son and daughter in law) and Susie, We all sat outside in the garden playing with Meri's new kitten and enjoying the sunshine. Susie stayed for a few drinks then headed home whilst we all settled down to a wonderful roast lamb dinner with pavlova desert.......... mouth watering. Meri, being the wonderful person she is had made up a tray of goodies (mince pies, cake, tarts) for us to take home so that we had something on Xmas day, she also gave us a bag of Avacado's and kiwi fruits and a big cabbage (home grown) she told me to pop around on Monday and help myself to her broccoli growing in the garden....... now how bloody kind is that!!! Meri even took a roast dinner over to the old lady opposite who lived on her own, i think Meri is going First Class to the pearly gates when she passes.....

We all had a lovely evening but Tod and his wife left earlier than us taking the little kitten home with them for a week whilst Meri and Barry go off to Wellington for Xmas. Toby and I stayed for a few more glasses of wine and conversation then collected all our goodies and headed home, priority of course was having big hugs with Meri and Barry!

 

Monday 23rd December 2002 Katikati

A very quiet day at work, there is only 3 of us in the office. I managed to get loads done on the new website for Radfords.

Went swimming and did quite well for a change.... then wrote diary and read till work time. We had our works 'do' which started at 6.30pm so by the time i finished work most of the people had gone home, mind you there wasn't that many people who turned up in the first place. The bosses had decided not to do anything for the staff at Xmas so the Manager (Lynn) who is a really very nice lady, felt really bad so organised a few nibbles and drinks for everyone. I ended up having a long talk with Rita, she is certainly not a happy bunny at the moment ....... she has got a lot on her plate bless her

Tuesday 24th December 2002 Katikati

Very lonely in the office today. Kathy made it in by 10 and I packed up by 2 and went for a quick walk around Tauranga to get Sarena a small present and then did the food shopping (again). Manged to get back home by 4:30 and just missed Sarena before she went to work. So I spent the rest of the evening doing bugger all. Wrote Sarena a christmas card and parked her present in the garage!

Had a lie in which felt very very naughty, so went swimming at 11am instead of my normal 7.30am. The usual squillion kids were not buzzing around so i had the pool to myself.

Frida called me down to the garden showing me a lovely delivery of flowers she had in her hand saying she couldn't read who the card was from. When i got down stairs i had such a surprise, as the flowers were addressed to me!!!!!!! she was just jesting with me. Jacky and Rebecca (sister) had sent them through Interflora, it was a huge creation. I was so touched. I wrote Toby's Xmas card and wrote loads of emails to people then went to work.

I phoned up mum and said hello and a quick word with my brother. I also phoned up Clare and we had a long chat, she was off down the pub for the evening.

Wednesday 25th December 2002 Katikati

A Strange old Christmas. The bonus was the weather, they had forecast rain but it was a glorious day. Sarena was straight up and sitting in front of the various parcels we had been sent over the past week. Thanks to everyone that sent us something. - You shouldn't of! We ripped into them and got loads of funny little presents, including an electrocuting fly swat. Which I had no joy at getting any flies with, Just Sarena once and myself twice. It packs a mighty punch!

Sarena didn't have to go to work until 4 so we decided to take advantage of the weather and went for a walk along the beach. On the way back we popped into Kathy's and poched out first christmas drink of the day. It was great to meet up with other people for christmas. we had a great old chat and ended up being late for sarena to go to work so we rushed home and sarena did her wonder woman changing act and rushed off to work. Leaving me to cook the christmas dinner. This took me about 4 hours and we didn't get to eat until 10. But I think i did a good job even if I do say it myself.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Well it's that furry fuzzy festive day and we awoke early to wish each other a Happy Xmas! i then ran into the lounge to sit infront of our parcels and wait for Toby to come and join me. We got some fab fun pressies from people, i particuarly liked the rubber gloves with fur trim and fancy ring sent from Toby's mum!

Toby got a fly swot which looked just like a toy tennis racket, it had some batteries which we both thought were to make stupid swotting noises. It wasn't untill i stuck my finger on the metal did we realise it was to electricute the fly's....... the shock went straight up my arm and i couldn't believe how strong it was, so it was set for the rest of the day..............yes, we just ran around trying to wack eachother with the thing.

I also got some lovely bits and pieces off of our mates which i really excited about - bubbly sparkly shower gel was used straight away!

We then went for a walk on the beach and up some cliffs for a little bit before heading off to Kathy's house for a quick drink and had a lovely hour with them.

 

At 3.30pm we went home so i could get changed for my afternoon shift. Didn't have much time so had to do a quick wonder woman change view video (528 kb) . Work went quite quickly thank goodness. I got home to the most wonderful Xmas dinner all cooked by Toby's fair hands!

Proper cooked ham on the bone, turkey, loads of vegetables etc, the whole works. We ate, and drank some bubbly wine and then went to bed.

 

 

Thursday 26th December 2002 Katikati

A miserable wet start to the day, just like the boxing days I am use too! We did very little, just like the boxing days I am use too! Watched crap chritmas movies, just like the boxing days I am use too! And picked at left over food, just like the boxing days I am use too.

Sarena went to work in the afternnon and I made a few phone calls back to the UK.

Well it was a rainy day today so i spent most of my time playing with our mind boggling puzzle we unwrapped yesterday and watching Toby running around in his pants with the fly swat in hand waiting for the buggers to arrive, not one fly was seen all day!

Afternoon shift again, last one ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday 27th December 2002 Katikati

Sarena's last day of work. A lady of leisure she shall be again! She seemed to get home pretty quickly as I had acheived nothing in the morning. We celebrated with some mince pies and cream. (work hard,play hard!!!)

We then went over to Rita and Stewart's house in Wahi for dinner and spent most of the evening over their. I ended up fixing Stewarts computer. Just can't get away from the bloddy things.

Up early and off to my last day at work, the whole shift went really smoothly and after a few hugs with people i skipped home to Toby. We had tons of mince pies in the cupboard but no cream so i thought it would be a good idea just to pop back to work and get a little cream instead of driving all the way to the shops. I sneaked into the fridge without anyone seeing me then i got my little bottle out and poured some cream into it. The cream had a huge thick crust which came out first unblocking the rest of the runny cream, and yes it just went everywhere............ all over the shelf, the floor and myself, so much for being sneaky.

We went over to Rita's and Stewart's for tea and they had put on a lovely spread for us, we had a lovely evening as always.

Saturday 28th December 2002 Ruakaka

Off on holiday today. Whoppe. We actually managed to leave early as well and were on the road by 11 and heading north to Whangerai to meet JP and Lousie who have just arrived from the UK. I have been getting pretty excited about seeing them again. The traffic wasn't too bad either we just got held up for hal an hour north of Auckland. JP sent a text pinpointing their location and we homed in. Sarena gave me a lecture about giving JP a hug when I saw him. Duh we are manly blokes we don't need to do things like that. We ended up driving straight passed JP and Louise so Japes gave me a ring and we turned around and met them at the side of the road. They had just tried a campsite but it was packed full so we headed 10 k north to Ruakaka and quit a grotty old campsite. It looks like its going to be pretty hard to find camping spots over the next few days. JP and Lousie looked pretty knalckered so we spent the evening in the campsite and went for a walk along the beach whilst Sarena cooked us all pasta. The beach was quit nice except for the Oil refinery across the bay. There where loads of nesting Oyster Catchers and Dottrells though. Sarena cracked open a bottle of vodka and spent the evening getting through as much of it as she could. Needless to sy she got pretyy drunk and decided to walk the campsite and get socialble. the rest of us retired to bed for the evening.

After packing all our camping gear and the contents of the fridge and food cupboard we were on the road by 11am on our way to the Bay of Islands. Toby's friend JP and girfriend Louise were on a three week holiday and arriving in NZ today, so we had arranged to meet them in Whangerai. They had picked up a campavan at the airport after a 27hr flight then then drove for a few hours so were obviously looking shattered. The campsites were all packed so we carried on to the next town and found a site which was a bit grotty but we didn't have much choice! I cooked dinner for everyone whilst they had a walk on the beach , afterward i proceeded to drink most of the vodka and orange quota ..... the others all went to bed early whilst i decended on a hapless table of friendly blokes and bored them to tears with my drunken drivle and showing them my toy R1 bike....... oh dear.

Sunday 29th December 2002 Paihia

Sarena started compliaing straight away from her hangover. I ignored her and left her lying in the tent will I packed everything up around her. We where pretty organised in the morning and got fed water and packed with little delay and decided to head up to the Bay Of Islands and check out the spot for the festival that we are going to for new years eve.

We got to Paihi and spent an hour walking around before we decided to try and find a campsite near the festival so that we wouldna't have to keep moving around and worry about parking at the festival where a campervan could be an ideal target for breakins. Very luckly we found a campsite at the base of Haruru falls that had a spot left. so we booked in for the next 3 nights. I didn't expect things to be sooo busy through the holiday period. but now we could relax and gave JP and Lousie a chance to get over their jet lag.

Sarena and I hired a kayak each from the campsite and had a pddle to the falls and along the river. JP and Lousie got a dingy which unfortunatley had a hole in it and sunk lower and lower into the atwr the more JP rowed. it looked like very hard work. It started to rain as we where out on the water so we got very wet. Had a hot shower and then started on the drink. JP and Louise crashed out for a few hours but we met up in the evening and went up to the local pub for dinner a few more beers and to watch the little urchins jump around to the DJ.

God i felt like a large pile of dirty pants and had a headache from hell which lasted all day. We had some B'fast then packed up and moved on to Paihia which was a tourist mecca but very pretty. We luckily found a campsite that had a small patch of grass for us, all the others were packed. We set up camp and made friends with the nieghbours who were really nice then hired some kayaks. The campsite was right next to haruiu falls and river so it was a good opportunity to do this, the only draw back was that it was raining and there were only 2 kayaks left. So JP and Louise took out a little row boat which had a small leak....... it turned out to be a big leak and by a few rounds in the water, Louise was nearly sitting in the river and JP could hardly row the boat back to the dock because of the wieght.

We were all pretty drenched but it was good fun to potter around on the water and get really close to some Cormorants and Herrons. Later after a dose Toby and I went down the pub which was a stones throw from the site, to have some dinner. We both had a curry which was hot but not very tasty, the other 2 turned up a bit later. The place ended up being packed by 10pm and they had a DJ which meant all the kids were jumping around like mad flea's, we went back and had a drink before hitting the sack

 

Monday 30th December 2002 Paihia

JP and louise had horseriding in their schedule for today, which I have seemed to of memorised. Unfourtunatley it was all booked up and they didn't look too happy so Sarena and I decided to off and do our own thing and give them some space. We jumped into the car and decided to take the gravel tracks around the Bay of Islands.

First stop was Russell, which is a tiny colonial town just across the bay from Paihi. It actually took us a godd 2 hours to drive their when we could of caught the ferry and been there in 10 minutes. Never mind. It is definatley one of the pretiest towns we have seen in NZ so far. Blinkin hot today to. I sat on the beach while sarena whent to an arty farty shop. We grabbed some food and then got back on the track. We ended up driving through tiny Maori villages built in remote bays and drove as far as the track could take us. The track was pretty busy with people towing boats and stopping of at walking tracks. The hamlet at the end of the track, Raiwata. was very busy with people filling up with diesel for their boats and there was a tiny shop there selling a much needed Magnum ice cream. We only stopped for half an hour and then turned round and headed back to the campsite.

Jp and Lousie where AWOL when we got back so we amused ourselves with a game of pool and another paddle in the river curtisoy of our neighbours who lent us their kayak. JP and Louise the returned from a great day touring the Bay of Islands by boat and watching dolphins. They went out in the neihbours Kayak too whilst Sarena made massive sandwiches for our day out at the festival tommorow.

Slept really very badly because i was so cold but when i did fall asleep i dreamt i fell of a balcony, the weird thing was i landed which never usually happens and i had broken both my legs below my knee, the pain was excruciating and was very realisic, how strange?

JP and Louise wanted to go horseriding so we said we would like to go as well, unfortunatly it was all booked up. Toby and i then just went for a drive and arranged to meet up with them later. We went off on some dirt track and ended up at 'Russell', a beautiful colonial seaside place. I had a look around a fab shop selling crystals and dream catchers whilst Toby sat on the beach. We then had a walk around before heading up to the lookout over the bay. The views were breathtaking and i took so many photo's! we then drove onto Kaiwata which had nothing but a sandy beach and an Ice-cream shop. I bought a couple of ice-creams and sat on bench watching the sea, very lovely.

We got back to the campsite late afternoon and the nieghbours gave us the use of their double Kayak which we gratefully did for an hour, we then had a game of pool and a cold drink waiting for the other 2 to come back. They came back a couple of hours later having been on the Bay of Island boat tour. They said it was really really good and had a pod of dolphins swimming with the boat !!!! i was jelous.

Toby and I had gone up to Woolworths earlier to get some sarny stuff ready for the festival so when JP and Louise went out on the nieghbours Kayak i used the campervan kitchen to prepare the biggest sandwiches, which basically was a whole loaf of bread cut in the middle with everything stuffed inside and then cut in half.......We all went out later and bought some alcohol then borrowed the friendly nieghbours chairs and just chilled out for the evening.

Tuesday 31st December 2002 Paihia

We had been told that there will be 20,000 people and a 3 hour traffic jam to get to the festival that we were going to for new years eve. That was why we had decided to camp up at a near by campsite a few days early so that we could walk to the gig. It was a bit of an exgeration. there was virtually no traffic as we walked to the festival site and I was starting to think that we may of been walking the wrong way... we weren't. Quit a few people had already arrived and had set up camp. not 20,000 though more like 2,000. We got there at about 11 and the first band, Tollhouse started at 11:30. they are a local band and I thought they were pretty good.

The festival was nothing like I had expected. not like UK ones anyway. The Beer tents are totally segregated from then main area and didn't even open until 2. and there was nothing else there expect for the bands stage and a few food stalls. The next few bands were pretty medicore and we were glad when 2 came as it gave us an excuse to move from the pile of sheep poo that had kept us comfy for the last 3 hours to a fresh pile of sheep poo in the beer drinking area. The whole festival was sponsored by Export Gold, consequently this was the only alcholic drink you could buy. Definatley not my favorite Kiwi beverage. non the less I attempted to down as many as possible, but could not get drunk. we listened to a few more bands from the beer tent and then the band I was looking forward too came on. Blindspott,

they are a rock/hip hop corssover typr thing that is pretty popluar at the moment, nothing really original but very good at what they do and I thought they were excelllent, especially the free styling MC from the crowd that just rapped, 'big ups to west side auckland, to the west side mother fuckers' whilst pulling a massive mooner. It was very funny.

The bands started getting a lot better after that, Che Fu and the crates were pretty cool, and so was Tadpole, and by this time the place was getting pretty packed. I think we had got there a little to early though. we couldn't cram another export gold in us and finding it pretty hard to get into the spirit of the thing. Sarena decided she was gong to go back to the camp site to bring in the new year. I was a bit reluctant to go back but thankfully I did. Just the taste of a different kind of alcohol was enough to refresh me and even though the party at the campsite was a little tamer, I still got to sing old lang sine to the bagpipes and hug JP. Sarena would be very proud!

We all set off to the festival at 10.30am as the bands started at 11am, it took us about 30mins walk to get there and i could feel the sun burning my back even with factor 30 sun cream on! We sat all day in the hot sun listening to lots of different bands, some good and some not so good. The field started filling up late afternoon and the beer tent opened at 2pm so we made our way up to that and had a few tins of Export Gold (the only alcohol they had!) by about 8pm and after eating our wonderful sarnies both Louise and I were getting a little bored. It wasn't like going to a festival in the UK where they have lots of other atractions as well as the stage bands so it can keep you amused all day. Che Fu were the next band on whom i wanted to see all day and i wasn't dissapointed, they were really very good. We stayed on for another couple of bands who were also good, but the croud were now full of drunk young teenagers who were falling about everywhere. There must have been about the full 20thousand people expected by now, all jumping up and down and going mad to the band 'Tadpole' but i just couldn't get into the whole thing, don't know if it was because i wasn't drunk or because i was the oldest one there? We all went home at 11 and decided to celebrate the New Year at the bar campsite with a few others so walked back and met up with our friendly neighbours. We went from the bar to the tent then back to the bar again just in time for midnight, everybody were dancing around and enjoying themselves and as it struck midnight 2 bagpipers came in and piped 'old langsine' it was quite nice and i think it was the better than being trampled by thousands of kids puking up everywhere.

 

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