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'i'm Free'
New Zealand - MAR 2003
'Its all a bit blury'
Saturday 1st March 2003 Katikati

One of Dad's missions in New Zealand is to go White Water Rafting. So Sarena and I joined him for a trip back down to Rotorua and and afternoons rafting on the Rangataikai river. Sarena was a bit nervous and very quiet by the time we got to Rotorua as she had a bad experience when she got trapped under a raft in Nepal. I kept assuring her that this time it wouldn't happen and would be much safer. So she agreed to come. After we got to Rotorua it was another hours bus journey to the river and then another 30 minutes from the camp to the start of the rafting.

We got a raft with 3 Norweigans and this 6 of has started with a practice paddle on a calm stretch of water. We then had to get out of the raft and walk around the first section of rapids as some private rafters had died here recently... not very reassuring for Sarena. We got back into the boat and the first rapids we had to negotiate was a Grade 4. It was pretty cool and we had to paddle like mad to get over all the rocks. After that though the rest of the journey was grade 2 and 3 so not much chance that Sarena will be thrown in. There was a long calm section of river along the 15km that we where rafting so everyone jumped from the raft and floated down the crystal clear waters for a few minutes. Dad loved it. rafting must be one of the best ways to see the unspoiled scenery of any country. Before we got back to tackling some rapids our Skipper got us to play some balancing games. Everyone managed to fall back into the boat though and not the water until... ...it was my dads turn to run around the edge of the raft whilst everyone sitting on the edge lent in to give him space. I am not sure what happened next but as Dad went passed me I some how lent back and knocked him into the water. oops. needless to say I got a very evil look from Sarena for being so nasty to my Dad.

We then tackled a few more rapids and our skipper got me to control the boat for the last stretch of the river. I didn't do to bad steering the boat but giving the correct commands to the oarsmen was a little trickier. We made most of the rapids Ok , albeit side on or backwards, until we got the the very last set which I took too wide and got us all caught up on some rocks. It took a good 5 minutes for our guide to lever us out of that mess. Sorry.

We got back to Rotorua by 5 and had a quick drink and ice cream on the shores of the lake and then headed back home for a slap up Curry that Chris had cooked for us.

Well Clive wanted to go white water rafting before he went home so Toby booked up a days rafting in Rotorua down the Ranagataiki river. I really didn't want to do it after my experience in Nepal but didn't want to look a big woolywoofty, I also wanted to spend some time with Clive and Toby so i agreed to do it with them. Well we left home at about 9.30am saying goodbye to the others and went on our way. We had a quick drive around the parks before checking in and paying at the Wet 'n' Wild rafting place then waited for all the others to turn up. They bundled us onto a bus and then drove for an hour to the river, Clive was now getting a bit nervous and i was getting a little scared at the thought of getting chucked in and half drowning again. The bus took us to a campsite where we given a wetsuit and splash jacket and of course the life jacket. I had very cleverly forgotten my swim suit so had to dive in the loo's to then spend what seemed an hour getting the very small wetsuit on. It was then a case of getting on the bus again for a 10min drive to the river, then taken off and shown all the safety procedures and what to do if the raft tips....... that is when i started shitting myself and really did not want to do the trip. Clive was looking at me at this point with the same look in his eyes but we still picked up the boat and carried it to the rivers edge. We had a few min's in the boat practicing all the moves then started our journey down river. The first rapid we came to we had to all walk around as there had been a fatality only the month before, oh joy. As we were walking around though i had a look down and didn't think the rapid was that bad, always a good sign. We then all met down river a bit with the rafters who had gone down on the water and jumped back on board. The guide told us the next rapid was the biggest and was a grade 4. I prepared myself mentally and went through every scenario in my head, especially if Clive went in i new i would have to try and get him as he has a bad phobia of going under water. I have to say though, the rapid was not at all scary and we had a lot worse in Nepal. After that i could relax knowing that the rest were going to be only grade 2 & 3 so i just sat back and enjoyed the scenery and what lovely scenery it was to. Sorry to keep harping on about Nepal but some of the scenery was just like this. The valley just soared up on either side covered in lush forest. The water was crystal clear, the whole thing was so tropical and extremely beautiful. We were rafting for the next hour and a half going down some tricky but not hard rapids, the rest were easy. We played some games on the boat which entailed Toby standing on the brow of the boat like Titanic. He did really well until the boat came behind and bumped us and knocked him off balance. It was then Clives turn to run around the edge of the raft without touching anyone which he did, so as he got behind Toby he knocked him into the water. Poor ole Clive's little face as he came up out of the water! I told Toby off for being such a rotten son.

The guide then asked if Toby would like to steer the raft and he did do very well for a little while but he went completely wrong near some rocks and got us stranded for ages. All the other rafts went past us laughing, we really were well and truly wedged in so the poor guide had to get on the rocks and lift us back in. We all met again just down the river and got back on the bus for the trip back to the campsite to get changed and have a drink and ham roll which went down a treat - we were all starving. It was a long bus trip back to Rotorua where we jumped back into Bertie and went down to the waters edge for a drink and an ice-cream, a very nice end to a super day. I'm really gonna miss Mr Jones.

We got home about 8ish to a lovely lamb curry all made by dad then fell into bed about 9pm - knackered

Sunday 2nd March 2003 Katikati

Dad wanted his last day to be on the beach and even though it was pretty cloudy at home, just 20km up the road at Bowentown there were sunny skies. Slyv and Trixie came with us to the beach and we first spent a good few hours at Bowentown and then headed to the far end of Waihi Beach as I wanted to take Dad for a walk along the cliff edge and over to the next bay.

The walk was good after the rains as the track was quite muddy and dad went barefoot so that he could squeeze the mud through his toes. It was about a 40 minute walk to the beach, but it was well worth it. The surf was massive and the beach practically deserted. As we stepped on the sand we found a tiny blue penguin that had been washed up on the beach by the surf. Dad then ran down into the water and got is ankles knocked about by the big stones that where swirling around in the wake of the surf... he ran back out just as quick. We found a safer part of the beach and went out into the surf. It was hard to get out into any kind of depth as the massive waves just knocked us down and washed us back up again. It was great fun, and even Dad who doesn't like going under water much was having a great time being thrown about by the waves.

On the walk back even I went barefooted to feel the squelch of the cool slippery mud. We met back up with Trixie and Sylv on Waihi beach and drove back home for a shower and a smarten up as we decided to go out for a meal for Dads last night.

Dad wanted some sea food for dinner so we booked a table at the Harbourside Restaurant in Tauranga. We managed to get a great table on the deck of the Restaurant and even though it was raining and windy the oil heater still made it feel like a holiday setting. The food was excellent. I had Smoked Salmon and Ostrich Fillet and it was all perfectly cooked.

Dad and I decided to stay home for the day leaving the others to bugger off down to Waihi beach and Bowentown for the day. The weather was still iffy and kept raining on and off so they decided to still put there cossies on and brave the weather. I sat and did some of my diary which i was so behind on then took dad up to the view point up in the hills behind our house, but the clouds were so low we couldn't see anything. I then took him to the pancake house along the main road as he wanted to try one. He ordered a maple and lemon large one but it was going to take 25mins so we went for a stroll in the lavender field. They had a little shop selling bits and pieces so dad bought some homemade jam and we wondered back to the cafe. I had just a milkshake whilst dad tucked into a huge pancake that was wonderful. They had a sign saying you could feed the eels down in the river so we asked for some bread to take down but they gave us 2 meat pie's instead which lit up dads eyes, he wanted to eat the buggers! We then climbed onto the rocks in the river and started throwing some of the pie in, but we couldn't see anything. It was only when dad looked down between his feet did he notice loads of these huge black eels coming up out of the water wanting to be fed. God they are horrible things and i thought i was so brave to get so close what with my fear of fish. But they were quite fascinating to watch, if you hovered the food above the water they come right out and grab it out of your hand making all slurpy noises like water down a plug hole. Dad thought it was fantastic and we had all the ducks and huge salmon coming up to feed in the end.

After that little adventure we then went and had a quick stop at a pottery shop at the back of someone's house which wasn't much cop. Dad was more interested in talking to the cows in the field next door who were big ole scaredy pusses. I then took dad to Kuari point for a stroll along the pier then back home so that he could have a lie down. The others turned up 30mins later all full of there day and all seemed a little burnt. They had sun all day and we had scattered showers even though they were only 20mins up the road. It was a joint decision to go out for dinner and Clive fancied fish so Toby found a wonderful restaurant in Tauranga on the internet which had all the menu for us to gorp at. A table was booked for 7pm and we arrived just in time through yet another down pour. The restaurant was situated next to the sea and looked like an old converted boat shed. Our table was out on the deck over the sea, it was covered luckily, and we had a big heater to keep us warm. We had a fantastic evening and the food was just perfect, the best food i think i have eaten. Everyone was extremely impressed, even dad seemed to love the food and had loads of it! I drove home in yet another torrential down poor and we had a drink then went to bed. I stayed up talking to mum until 1am and i'm really pleased i did as we hadn't had a chance to chat since they had got here.

Monday 3rd March 2003 Katikati

I have to take Dad home today. Even though the weather hasn't been too good I hope that he has had a good time. We have certainly been busy doing all sorts of things over the past 2 weeks. We had to be at the airport by 11:30 so left home pretty early. Sarena staid at home with her parents and she got quite upset saying goodbye to Dad, It has been the first time they have really spent much time together.

The weather cleared as we got closer to Auckland. and was very sunny by the time we got to the airport... Typical. I pent an hour with dad in the Departures terminal and then he had to go and board his plane. It was a very emotional farewell It has also been the first time I have spent so much time with him.

I was still upset about leaving him on the drive home and must of completely missed a turning as all of a sudden I found myself in Thames and well off the main road back home. The weather had cleared all the way back home and even the clouds that have hung around the Kaimais for the last week had lifted.

That evening I phoned home to let everyone know that Dad was on the plane which was even more upsetting as Mum wanted him to stay in NZ longer and got quite angry that he was coming home.

It was all a bit emotional in the morning and i didn't go swimming as planned because it was STILL raining and the pool was going to be very cold. Clive packed up his bits and pieces which didn't take very long as he didn;t have a lot! It was then a case of saying goodbye and i started getting really upset especially when he gave me the biggest hug and kiss. I ran out into the rain and was really upset, i didn't want to him to go home so after another hug i ran back upstairs again and let them get on the road. The other 3 went to Tauranga for a couple of hours to get some more shopping whilst i stayed at home with the parents

The relies went out in the afternoon to the bird garden whilst i stayed in waiting for Toby to come home and i'm glad i did as he was really upset and had a little tear...

Mum, Toby and I went for a lovely walk down through the houses and along the river. We stopped to talk to a lovely old man who was digging in his garden and ended up staying with him for about half an hour whilst he showed us all his veggies and his huge tomatoes. He was a lovely man and didn't stop talking all the time we were with him, he showed us his home made patio tiles which he made from filling plastic meat trays with cement. The pattern on the bottom of the trays made a lovely design on the tiles - very clever.

Tuesday 4th March 2003 Katikati

We where all up and out of the house by 7 and heading back down to Rotorua. This time to take some Quad bikes for a spin around a farm. With all the rain recently we expected to tracks to be pretty muddy. so our guide offered us a load of clothes to wear, helmet, boots, plastic trousers and coats .e.t.c. It all seemed a bit of a work up to get everyone fitted so Sarena and I took a back seat while the others kitted themselves out.

Sylvia was a bit nervous of the bike at first as last time she tried quad biking she kept going around in circles. But our guide took us fro a practice ride around the paddock and nobody had any problems so he lead us all up the side of a hill. It was not too muddy after all and the slopes were fairly gently but with enough tilts and rocks to make the ride interesting. The view was amazing though, rolling green farmland towering above a perfectly blue lake Rotorua. Our guide, Eugene, was great he kept thanking me for my patience! I was happy just sitting at the back of the convoy and enjoy the view. He even took my Video camera and recorded a bit of a documentary about the area whilst we drove in circles around a failed at the top of the hill.

After the bikes we hit the Fat Dog Cafe again for a massive sandwich, this was my favourite Cafe in NZ but now I have decided that they give you too much food and I always eat too much.

Had a quick walk around the Parks in Rotorua and then headed to the Gondola ride on the outskirts of town. The Parents had a coffee at the top while me and Sarena had a go at the Luge. It was brilliant. Even the beginners 'Scenic Track' was long enough to make it fun. The Luge is basically a plastic tray on wheels with a braking system and you can get as much speed out of it as you want to make the ride exhilarating. Sarena and I raced down on our second run and I nearly came of on a corner but still managed to catch her up again and ram her a couple of times. Cool.

After Luging we all headed back to Tauranga and went to the Cinema. Chris and Trixie watched 'The Two Towers' whilst Sarena, Sylv and I watched 'Gangs of New York' which was a good film but a bit too heavy and long for me after a busy day.

Looks like the weather had finally broke as the sun was shining and we were all excited as Toby and I had booked a morning of Quad biking in Rotorua. I wasn't sure if they would do it to be honest but they all seemed up for it! We arrived at the place for 8.45am and got kitted out which to be honest was the funniest bit of the day cause they were all taking so long to get there boots, jacket, trousers and helmets sorted out. Me and Toby just stood back and watched them, they couldn't get the boots right or the helmet was to small or couldn't decide if to wear a jacket? faffing was the word.

We then spent an hour and a half meandering up a mountainside very slowly but it was good fun and i was surprised they all seemed to so well! everyone really enjoyed it. The party leader who did the biking was very good and took photo's and video of us all which was kind of him, then before we new it, it was time to get back. Afterwards we to the 'Fat Dog' for some lunch which was bloody wonderful then headed off to the lake and park so that they could all look at the thermal pools etc. Toby and I had an Acorn fight which turned into a full scale war, even had a few casualties - mother....... well she was in the line of fire!!

Then we went on to 'Sky Line' and took the cable car up to the top of the hill so that the parents could have a coffee and a look around whilst Toby and I went Luging. We first watched a huge horrible ride which was the same principle as the swoop we did a while back, but this one was done in a metal cage. Mother was really thinking about going on it but wanted someone else to do it with her and know one else wanted to..... Off they went for coffee and we went for 2 rides on the luge. Bloody absolutely blinkin funny, we both really loved it. It was basically a go cart thing with a brake and you just went hurtling down a windy track down to the bottom then caught a ski lift back up to the top - fantastic. We caught up with the others afterwards and decided to make a move onto Tauranga so that the others could have a quick mooch around the town and so that we could get some tickets for the cinema. We were all gutted when going into the cinema the film we wanted to watch - Ghost Ship, wasn't on till late. It was decided that Trixie and dad would go watch the 'Twin Towers' and we would watch 'Gangs of New York' so i dived off to get some pic 'n' mix and the others wandered off for an hour before all going to our chosen films. I do have to say though that i didn't want to watch our film, it's just not my thing and i was right. I had to sit for 3hrs and i just didn't enjoy it at all. I know it was a well written and acted picture, but i just got so bored with it and wanted to leave after 2hrs as my arse was killing me. I felt really sick from all the sweets i had eaten as well which didn't help....... the only good thing was i reclaimed my wooden beads that i had lost a few weeks earlier from lost property.

Dad drove home and then all went to bed soon after

Wednesday 5th March 2003 Katikati

A nice relaxing day. Perfect as there is a clear blue sky and nice cool breeze. I just chilled in the morning while Sarena and Sylv went to Yoga, then we gave Joy and Spit a quick ring to see how they are doing with their wedding plans and moving to NZ.

In the afternoon we went down to Bowentown for a swim and lay in the sun. The water at Bowentown is colder that the unsheltered pacific which I can't quite understand but it is a lot calmer and even Sarena got in for a swim. After our swim we visited the pancake house to celebrate pancake day for yesterday and fed the eels that live in the river there.

Sarena and Slyv cooked a Lasagne for tea. We thought that two women cooking may of turned into a battle zone, but the got away with only minor bruising. very impressive. and the Lasagne was excellent.

What another wonderful day! the sun was shining and the sky blue. Mother and I went to Yoga at 9am and mum did very well. When we got back and sorted out yet another load of washing we all went down the pancake place for lunch. I just had a coffee and watched the others scoff down huge pancakes with ice-cream, burgers etc then went and fed the eels again as the others hadn't done this yet. Once again it was pretty freaky but we all screamed and had fun. Then we went down to Bowentown as dad hadn't seen it yet, he thought the scenery and view was wonderful. He then went off for a look around Waihi shops for an hour whilst us four stripped down to our cossies and ran in the water for a swim. The water was bloody cold but we did all get used to it after a while and had a good ole swim around and general malarking. The water was crystal clear and had no fish - luckily for me..... Then we sat on the sand for a little while soaking up the sun and enjoying every minute of it. After packing up a bit later on, mum, toby and I went off to the shops to get stuff for dinner as mum and I were cooking lasagne for dinner. I cut up some pumpkin which the relies had never eaten before and roasted it with some salad to go with our bestist lasagne ever made.

Thursday 6th March 2003 Katikati

Another early start - and I thought we were on holiday! We got into Tauranga by 7:30 to catch a boat for a spot of dolphin watching. It took a while to get everyone fitted with wetsuits as there was also the possibility to swim with the dolphins. The sea had a bit of a swell on the way out of the Harbour and I felt a bit sick so chose to have a kip on the front of the boat.

It took a few hours before any dolphins were spotted but eventually we found a pod of 50-60 common dolphins. I don't think I had seen common dolphins in the wild before as their colours are amazing, gray, yellow and white. Once we had caught up with them they stayed with the boat and swam in its wake for ages. One was even cheeky enough to try and splash us by flicking its tail as it jumped out of the water. Unfortunately their where some calves with their mothers so we couldn't get into the water with them, never mind, just seeing them is good enough. By midday we started to head back to the harbour but not before we stopped off for a bit of snorkeling. The Marine life wasn't up to much, just a few tiddlers and jellyfish, but it was good get into the sea and cool off for 10 minutes.

Chris and Trixie went straight back home after the dolphin watching while the 3 amigos went to pack and save to get some bits for a BBQ this evening.

I don't know what it is about lazing about on a boat but it also seems to drain you. anyway can't dose now as we have a BBQ to cook and some friends are coming over.

It was about 6:30 when everyone arrived, Meri, Barry, Sue, Kathy and Dave. fortunately we had loads of food and the alcohol seemed to appear from nowhere. It was a great evening, very amusing and I think I even managed to cook the meat OK on the Barbie - bonus. It was a very noisy evening but as it was a week night and Sue had to be up at 5 to milk the cows it finished by about 11 and I think I was asleep by 11:02.

Had to be in Tauranga for 7.30am for our Dolphin Safari that we decided to do instead of going to White Island, dad didn't think he was able to last the 2hr walk. We all arrived a little late because Toby couldn't find his wallet........ It was then a case of climbing into some wet wetsuits which are incredibly difficult to do! Mum and Trixie did try but just couldn't get them on so they didn't bother with them. We left the harbour at 8am nearly forgetting one bloke who was still in the toilets squeezing into his wetsuit. We were given a quick brief about what was happening then had to wait for nearly 3hrs zooming through quite rough water before a huge pod of dolphins were spotted. Everyone clambered onto the front of the boat to see them, mother slipped up in her haste and even dad clambered over the slippy bits to look over the rail. They were absolutely wonderful and there must have been about 50 of them all round the boat and they were the prettiest dolphins i had seen. The colouring was a chocolate on top and a banana colour underneath. Mother was so excited and just kept yelling out whilst i was just awe struck and couldn't believe how lucky we were to see them again. The pod had a couple of babies who were leaping around with the others and having a wonderful time, whilst this was lovely to see it also meant we couldn't swim with them which i was a little gutted about. We then had to make a consecutive decision about what to do next as some people wanted to snorkel near a island to have a poke about whilst a few of us wanted to look for another Pod without babies. It was decided on, we all were going to do a little snorkeling, which i was looking forward to but also nervous again because of my fear of water and the fish.... but i did very well and just jumped straight into the water and got on with it, Clare and Beau would be proud of me!

There wasn't much to see unfortunately apart from a few fish and some stinging jelly fish so after 30mins we all got back in the boat and headed back to the harbour. Trixie and Dad went off to have some lunch whilst us 3 grabbed a sarny and went shopping for food for the barby. I started preparing as soon as i got home and they all arrived at 7pm, we had the most wonderful evening and didn't stop laughing for the whole night. We had Meri and Barry, Kathy and Dave and Sue, the parents thought they were all brilliant and all got on so well. Meri and Sue kept everyone entertained. They all left at about 11pm and we all fell into bed 10mins later exhausted!

Friday 7th March 2003 Katikati

Spent most of the day catching up on the last two weeks of diary entries. The parents went to Tauranga to stock up on presents to take home and Sarena cooked a massive Chili.

Well we all got up pretty early considering........

They all went into Tauranga for the day whilst i went off to Waihi for a couple of hours to get some bits and Toby did all of his diary, he was 2 weeks behind.

Just stayed in and had a huge Chili.

Saturday 8th March 2003 Katikati

Decided not to do too much today. So we spent a relaxing day back in Tauranga and finally managed to get in the cinema and watch Ghost Ship. It has only taken about 3 attempts to see this film... and was it worth it... no not really, pretty predictable and run of the mill scary film. Entertainment for a couple of hours at least.

We all went into Tauranga today so that they could have another look around the shops again and i had a chance to look for a red top. Mum bought me the top, yes she bought something else for me! then i found another red top whilst they were all having lunch. We finally went and watched the 'Ghost Ship' which turned out to be a bit crap and not scary at all. Afterwards we went back to Kati and just stayed in for the evening all feeling a little pooped

Sunday 9th March 2003 Katikati

The last day of us all together as I start back at work tomorrow. What shall we do? the weather isn't too great. I know lets shove the parents on a train to nowhere...

... Yep the train did go nowhere, unfortunately it was a nowhere that wasn't very far away. Bugger. we drove 5 minutes down the road only to find the train arriving half an hour later with the parents still on board and cheerfully waving to us. Like bloody Boomerangs they are!

In fact they loved the train journey on the old Gold Miners track. Simply things! we spent the rest of the day exploring the area between Waihi and Paerora. and ended up at a local Market, Just like our second hand stalls at the local village hall. Everyone bought some homemade pickles and Jams and Sarena thought she got a really good deal on a second hand sleeveless jacket until she tried it only and realised who funny she looked.

After the market we found a really cool waterfall which wasted a fair amount of everyone's camera film. And finally we ended up back at Karangahake Gorge which was quit apt as this was the first place they stopped off at when they all arrived from the UK. We took a walk along the river and through the kilometre long tunnel that used to server as part of the Gold Trains route. It ended up being quite a long walk and I was very impressed with Chris and Trixie for making it all the way around.

We all ended up getting a Chinese for tea. The Chinese from Katikati has always been crap but I gave them the benefit of the dought this time and ordered some which was absolutely crap. It was completely disgusting. That is the last time we get a Chinese in Katikati. Everyone was pretty tired in the evening so we all just sat around in front of the TV and watched Erin Brocovich.

Toby thought it would be a good idea to put the relies on the train today. there is a short historic rail from Waihi to Waikino in an old train and takes 45mins, only takes 5mins in the car though! Its just a small track just for the tourists to go back and forth between the 2 stations. Waihi is an old gold mining town so they used this railway to transport all the workers and gold etc, the station hadn't changed since the 18hundreds and the train was really old with all the original fittings. We bundled them all on with there little tickets in hand and then we waited to see them off. Toby and I then whizzed off in both cars to the Waikino station just up the road where they all get off again, to wait for them. Toby noticed some signs up on the side of the road for a village hall market so after a cup of coffee and snack we went and had a little look. I purchased a waterproof top which i thought was really cool until i tried it on and realised it was for a child....... my best buy of the day though was a jar of homemade pickled onions done in honey and brandy, can't say anymore other than they didnt' make it back home........ well they did but in my tummy

We then went and had a look at a fantastic waterfall for a while and had some photo opportunities. I went and jumped up and down in some mud much to my dads disgust! he hates mud.

We then parked up and went for a walk in the gorge following to path along side of the river. The walk took about an hour and even dad managed it which was good, mind you i think he was as high as a kite from the pain killers for his back. The walk was brilliant and had the most wonderful scenery all the way but the best bit was the kilometre long tunnel straight through the side of the gorge. It was extremely dark inside and you could just see a pin sized piece of light from the other end, it was so far away. It did have orange lights every now and then attached to the ceiling but most of the walk was in the black, you couldn't see where you were walking! Mother and I walked ahead, making all the spooky noises one always does in a dark tunnel. When all of a sudden we came across a big black whole in the wall and thought it would be a good idea to hide in it. So in we got, not seeing what we are walking on or what was hanging from the walls. We stayed there until the others had caught up with us then leapt out, but they didn't seem to be too surprised - must have heard us giggling!!

After the walk we went to the cafe, the same one we went to when they all first arrived and had some lunch then headed back home again all feeling tired but a nice tired - everyone really enjoyed the day. Mother and I went down into Kati to get a Chinese in the evening for everyone, we bought so much stuff they gave us loads of fizzy pop for free. After eating the food which was absolute crap and was just all cauliflower i realised the fizzy pop was just a cover up to make us feel better.

They all watched a film later on whilst i had a lovely bath then went to bed

Monday 10th March 2003 Katikati

Back at work. Aggghhh. Only 3 more weeks though. Ross has done a great job of continuing development on my project whilst I have been away. This takes loads of pressure of me. I just hope it doesn't all land on Ross and we can get to completion by the end of 3 weeks. It will be pretty tough though.

Left Sarena at home to amuse the parents. I went out at lunch and bought a couple of photo albums for them as leaving presents.

Got home from work by 6:00 only to be back in Tauranga by 7:00. After our last great meal we decided to have a farewell dinner back at the Habourside restaurant. The food is excellent and the atmosphere very relaxed. Good job too as after a couple of glasses of wine Sylvia fell into hysterics which ended up becoming very contagious as we all ended up laughing for the whole meal and even set of the tables around us.

It was the perfect end to Sarena's parents holiday with us. It will be very odd not having them around anymore... and very quiet!

Well it's the last day today and i think we were all feeling a little low. Toby's first day back at work which i found hard as I was so used to having him around..... Me and mother went for a swim first thing and i found it really hard, could only do a few laps before struggling to breath. I will definitely get back into it ASAP. Later that morning we went down to Kati so that they could get some bits and pieces and for me to pick up a couple of things for them to open on the plane, and i also looked for a couple of photo albums for them but couldn't find any i liked. Luckily Toby called and told me he had found some in Tauranga. We all went back home and had some lunch then dad said he had to pop back out for something, when he got back he had the biggest, most beautiful bunch of flowers in his little hand. They were from all of them for the both of us, the florist had made them up that morning. It was a thank you to the both of us which was really very kind. Toby got back home later on and had a quick shower before we then all headed into Tauranga and to the Harbourside Restaurant, the same one we went to on Clive's last night. The food was fantastic once again but i have to say the funniest thing of the whole evening was my mum who got quite tipsy on a couple glasses on wine and had the whole restaurant in hysterics! The young couple next to us couldn't eat for laughing so much. We were all wetting ourselves, Toby just looked on in amasment, he had never seen mum quite like this before. Mum kept saying sorry to toby and explaining she shouldn't drink........then she told the young man next to our table that he should ask his girlfriend to marry him. We gave them there Photo albums each which then liked, they all took so many pictures i thought it would be a good pressie. I did capture some of the evening on video but i just wish i could have got it all as it was the best evening with the bestist people. A good way to finish the Holiday.

 

 

Tuesday 11th March 2003 Katikati

Poor old Sarena has to take her parents back to the airport on her own. I dropped her off to pick up the hire car in the morning and then picked Kathy up and headed into work. Sarena was already looking sad when I left her I think everyone will be in a bit of a state by the time they leave for the departures lounge.

I kept phoning her during the day to see how she was coping. And got home to a very sad Beena. To keep her occupied we picked up some presents for Kathy and Dave for the kindness in lending us one of there cars for the week and popped in to their house to give back the keys and have a few drinks. I think this cheered Sarena up a lot. But it was so quiet back at the house that it made it very hard to not notice that everyone has now gone back home. After months of preparation of the Big Visit, it was all over.

We now have to start think about what we are going to do next. Now that's pretty exciting..

... Quit work
... Get Sarena' eyes lasered
... Meet up with Joy and Spit
... Tour the south Island for a few months
... Plan what countries to visit next

Well no swimming today....

Toby said goodbye to everyone then dropped me down in Kati so I could pick up the hire car.

After packing in all the suitcases and relies I then drove them to Auckland which took about 2 hours. They then checked in and we went for a coffee, I then gave them there little bags each and told them to open them on the plane. Dad and I had the most delicious curry for lunch whilst the girls went off and did some shopping and I chatted with dad for an hour. I was soon that awful time to say goodbye and it was horrible........ I was very brave and didn't cry but Trixie and mum did. We had lots of hugs and photo's then they walked through the departure gates and i just felt completely alone......

The drive home was horrible, the weather was still shitty and i just felt really sad but the worst part was walking back in the house again and it was so empty. I hadn't been in the house on my own for weeks now and it was even worse now that Toby has gone back to work. The first thing i did i go into mums room and sit on the bed, she had left me a couple of cards, one for me and one for the both of us. The words were wonderful, I just sat on the bed and cryed. I felt miserable and cold all afternoon so i sat in a hot bath for an hour then toby got home and we had some fish and chips for tea. Relies had left us some money to buy something for Kathy and Dave as a thank you for using the car, so Toby went and bought some port and whiskey and we went up to see them and take the car back. Kathy gave me a big hug as she new i would be sad.

Wednesday 12th March 2003 Katikati

Worked

Ate

Slept

Ran around the house naked (just because i could)

Had to drop the car back at 8am so didn't get the chance to go for a swim but did have a yoga session. I then spent the day cleaning all the bed sheets and cleaning the house, still felt weird not having them all here wondering around the house etc. Took Meri's mattress and sheets back in the evening. Barry came around and collected the BBQ as we couldn't get it in Bertie.

Thursday 13th February 2003 Katikati

Worked in the morning, had some lunch and worked in the afternoon. Managed to catch up on some News from the internet. The only way really as New Zealand News programs are generally pretty crap when it comes to International affairs. At the moment it is looking like Petrol stations are going to have to teach drivers how to fill up their cars. What the ... Hang on... Iraq is just about to get the shit blown out of them and all we get told about is how to work a petrol pump. anyway... where was I... oh yes real news.

Looks like a war is Immanent within the next week. Blair's sticking by his tough stance and upsetting Britain. Apparently The UN has failed to solve the crisis by diplomacy, Could they of? Who knows? - only people with all the facts. They have had long enough and a stance has to be made at some point. Its just a shame that it seems to be Bush that is making the decisions. Taking Iraq by force may be the right solution but I just don't trust anything Bush says as much as anything Saddam says. I reckon the war will be short lived but pain and violence in Iraq will continue for a long time.

Went swimming and was still rather crap......

I phoned up mum to make sure they got home ok and that all was well. She was tired but was home safe and sound, it seems Dad had left the pressy i bought him and Trixie in the airport. I bought them a little something to open on the plane, and she was really upset about it so i will try and ring the airport to see if it's in Lost and Found.

It was another wonderful sunny day so i thought i would go down to Waihi and sit on the beach for a little while and take in the scenery so i found myself a little bench and sat down watching the wonderful blue sea. Can't believe the weather has changed once again, as soon as the poms went back they took the rain with them! I then had a stroll around Kati for a bit and bought a couple of bits before going home and making dinner for Toby.

Friday 14th March 2003 Katikati

Well, managed to get through my first week back at work. Only two more weeks to go, Whaaaay Hayyyy. I am now starting to think about where our adventures will take us next. It getting very exciting again. We will have to start booking more flight tickets reading up on new countries. I still haven't learned spanish enough yet. Not to worry I'm sure i'll pick some more up over the next few months. South America here we come!

Sarena must of got pretty bored at work as she phoned me up an offered to drive into town to pick me up and to some shopping, Blimey, sounds like we should have a beer too. hmmmmm a full sized PINT of Murphy's down the Crown and Badger... Not 'alf bad.

A beautiful day so after i went swimming i thought i would go for a walk and sit on the beach for an hour. So i packed up my bags and went to Bowentown where i then hiked up a hill and down again. I then clambered down some steep stairs leading to a beach on the other side of the hill which i hadn't been to before. It was great as there were lots of caves and rock pools to investigate which i did do for a little while but i noticed the tide was coming in so climbed back up to the top again. I then sat on the beach for an hour in my underwear of all things as there wasn't a sole on the beach with me so i thought what the hell!

I went and met Toby in Tauranga later on and went for a drink in a really busy pub which was nice for a change as it was like an English pub. We then went to Pac n save and did some shopping and went home

Went for a jog in the evening but i wasn't very good - no surprise there then

Saturday 15th March 2003 Katikati

Sarena took me to Bowentown to show me some caves she had discovered yesterday. They where on a completely deserted beach and we tested my new torch to explore the depths of the caves. We didn't stay there too long as the tide was coming in pretty quickly. No wonder it was deserted!

So we stopped of for a quick Panini, and spent the afternoon putting new songs on my iPod. I have manage to get it half full, so still loads of room for more music.

After days of trying I have finally got through to Deon and Shelly to find out how Joy and Spits wedding went, Wish Deon Happy Birthday and thank them for making our cardboard cut out of our heads and taking them to the wedding so that we could be in the photographs. By all accounts it was a great day. I ended up chatting to them for ages and even got to talk to an old friend, Cozy, who popped in to see Deon whilst I was on the phone.

No swimming today being as it's the weekend so we had a lazy morning then we went out to Bowentown so that we could investigate the caves but this time we took a torch so we could go inside them. We spent a great couple of hours crawling around within them trying to find pirate treasure....... well we didn't find anything but had a good time trying. We had lunch at a little cafe then went home and i made the biggest stew ever in the whole wide world then went for a run in the evening and phoned Shelly and Deon to catch up on all the info on Joy and Spits wedding.

Sunday 16th March 2003 Katikati

Determined to keep being as active as I have over the last few weeks we decided to re visit the Coromandel (yet again) and do one of the most rated walks on the North Island... The Pinnacles. Sarena packed up some lunch and we managed to get to the start of the walk by 9:30.

The walk starts in the Kauaeranga Valley, which is a beautiful green valley with a crisp fast flowing river running through it. The weather was pretty cloudy but cool, which was just as well as it is was virtually up hill all the way for 3 hours until we got to the Pinnacles Hut. The best part of this walk is that the track is not overgrown so there is a new view of the valley around every corner. The track is also made out of stone slabs that where placed or cut away by the loggers back in the 1890's. We had to cross the river several times on the way up, Sometimes we choose to take the suspension bridges rather the the stepping stones across the river as I like to shake it when Sarena crosses which really winds her up :-)

We where both pretty hungry when we got the very impressive hut at the bottom of the Pinnacles, so we gobbled down our sarnies and contemplated the relevance of climbing the Pinnacles when they are surrounded in cloud. But by the time we finished eating the clouds had lifted which gave us no choice but to start the steep uphill hike to the top of the Pinnacles. Did I say steep! It was practically Vertical. They didn't mention this in the Lonely Planet. Not that I'm complaining, I love climbing rocks like this. It was a great climb sometimes it was just solid rock with water streaming down and just a few random tree roots sticking out to pull yourself up on. The higher we got the harder it got and the more the clouds cleared which made the climb even more worthwhile. A couple of the sections near the top have had ladders bolted to the rock face which made things a little easier. Sarena led most of the way and think she must of been regretting wearing a skirt. I just didn't know where to look ;-)

The view was magnificent from the top. to the east we could see the South Pacific stretching out to the horizon, To the north was Table mountain and the west of the Coromandel, To the south was the Kaimai's and to the West was the Haurki plains. We where joined at the top by a German student with whom we had a quick chat and then started our descent. i obviously went in front on the way down so I could help Sarena down the steep bits and ensure her skirt was suitably controlled. We both ended up sliding down most of the mountain on our butts. Sarena's got a little sore.

It was downhill all the way to the car and we ended up getting back to the start of the walk by 4.

What a great walk I was filthy and knackered. Cool!

Well we had decided on going for an all day walk up to the Pinnacles in the Coromandel which meant having to get up early at about 7am to get on the road. Well the alarm went off at 7am but we didn’t actually get out of bed till 7.45am which wasn’t a good start…..
We packed up a few sarnies and fruit then headed off for the hour and a half journey to the wilderness. After parking up at the end of a track we started walking at about 9.30 into the most wonderful part of NZ I have seen yet. The path went deep into the tropical forests and we climbed stone steps that were cut deep into the rocks. They had been made by the tree cutters back in the olden days so the packhorses could carry the weekly supplies up to the men. We crossed rivers and clambered through little gullies that had thick moss covering the walls either side, the green of the moss was almost illuminous to look at. The water that was running in little streams everywhere was the clearest water I had seen, it was clearer that our tap water. There were little pools formed all the way up that you could drink from, the taste of the water was beautiful.
It took us about 3hrs to get to a ‘hut’ as they call it whereas I would call it the 5star cabin, it was bloody huge and bloody luxurious. It was a camping hut for people doing the long loop circuit and had to do an overnighter. The huts we had stayed in before in OZ when doing our walks were nothing compared to this baby!
We stopped for 20mins to have our lunch then started the trek up to the Pinnacles which looked bloody high from where we were. There was a warning about the amount of mud and said the walk was a grade 1 and very steep but nothing prepared me for the sheer struggle that was to come. Yes the mud was bad as I found out by stepping into it a few times and it came up to my knees……but it was the rock climbing that was hard. It wasn’t a path which you followed up to the top as such as there were sheer rock faces in the way that you had to climb up and huge boulders to traverse. It was bloody brilliant though and you really had to use all your muscles and willpower to do it. I kept thinking on how we were going to get down again as apart from the obvious it was extremely wet which made the thing very slippery. Nearly at the top of the climb we had to clamber up metal ladders that had been fastened to the rocks then over even harder rocks, using tree roots to pull us up. At last we made it to the top and the views were breath taking, well worth the struggle and the amount of mud I was now covered in! We stayed up there for a while taking it all in before being joined by a young German girl who we had a chat with, then said goodbye and headed back down again. The walk down was a lot easier than I envisioned, I used my arms and my arse a lot going down in a crag like manner down some of the steeper decent. I only had one mishap when going down like a crab I slipped and skidded down on my rear, giving myself a lovely big graze.

We once again fell in mud which by this time had me in hysterics trying to jump over it and use tree roots etc only ending up making the wrong decision and falling in again. My only consolation is that Toby fell in a couple of times so we both looked stupid. We didn’t stop back at the hut but carried on straight back thinking it would take us quite a while but made it back in a couple of hours which was really good going. I was bruised and cut and covered in mud but it was the best walk I had done so far, I was pleased to see Bertie though!
We stopped off at a dairy (corner shop) and bought a couple of cold drinks and sausage rolls which went down a treat then headed back home. We both had baths to soak off all the dirt and to ease our weary bones.

Monday 17th March 2003 Katikati

Sarena had a good long chat with Joy in the morning, and ended up offering to find a hotel for them to stay in for a night when we get to Auckland. This was perfect as I have been racking my brains to try and work out how can get to see them as soon as they arrive in NZ on the 25th. No we can treat them to a hotel and a meal in Auckland to celebrate the marriage and arrival in NZ and we can also get up to Auckland after I have finished work and spend the evening with them too. Cool.

I ended up booking some smart rooms in a Hotel on the Viaduct in Auckland. The perfect spot for an evening entertainment.

We phoned Joy and Spit again in the evening to let them know that we had booked a room at a cheapy hotel in Auckland and arranged a transfer from the airport.

Called Joy to have a chat and got all excited about them coming over in a weeks time!!!!!!!!!! Went for an early morning swim which I was starting to get a bit better at again. Spent the whole day sending long overdue emails and doing my diary. Went for a run in the evening using Toby’s iPod to listen to, made all the difference running with music and could have gone for miles!.

Tuesday 18th March 2003 Katikati

Sarena joined me for another day of work at Radfords. It should be a bit busy for her now as the apple season has started and the Kiwi season is just about to kick off which means that there will be a lot of support calls coming in.

Spent Lunch walking around town looking for little presents for Joy and Spit to make up the perfect Kiwi Starter Pack, to help them on their way with their new lives in NZ.

I was blinkin bloody starvin by the time we got home. No time to cook anything so I sent the missus out to fetch me some fish and chips, which I promptly ate to quickly and felt ill for the rest of the night.

Went to work at Radfords working on Reception again, it was an easy day reading my book and answering the phone every now and then. Went out at Lunch time finding stuff to put into the Kiwi Starter pack we were making for Joy and Spit. I finished work at 3pm so spent a couple of hours walking around Tauranga again before going back to meet Toby and go home. Had fish and chips for dinner then went out for a run.

 

 

Wednesday 19th March 2003 Katikati

Managed to get loads of work done today. Ross also seems to be fully in control and has made loads of progress with my main project. It is really starting to come together and all the little fiddly bits are getting completed.

 

Just pottered around the house and starting to get nervous about having my eyes lasered on Friday. Leslie popped in and we sorted out what furniture she wanted to buy etc, I also went into Lexham quickly to say hello to a few people.

Went out for a run before Toby got home which felt great getting it out of the way and being able to relax for the evening. We had a wonderful curry for dinner - god i'm good.

 

Thursday 20th March 2003 Katikati

Sarena Joined me at work today. It was Dennis last day so the office closed at 4 and we all went down the pub for a goodbye drink. During the evening everyone made there excuses and left but Dennis couldn't get rid of me and Sarena so he ended up having to take us back to his house. After a few whiskeys I was feeling pretty merry. Kathy eventually picked us up and took us home. we both crashed into bed as soon as we got home. even though is was probably only about 9 o'clock.

Went to work at Radfords again, another fab day not doing a lot spent the afternoon down the pub! Friday was Dennis's last day but most people were out of the office so it was decided on Thursday. Toby and I drank well into the evening with Dennis and his wife, all the others had gone home by now. We then went back to Dennis's house for a while admiring the painting he got given from Radfords and Waiting for Kathy to come and pick us up as she had gone dancing for an hour. We got home quite late for us and went straight to bed.

 

Friday 21st March 2003 Auckland

Only half a day at work today as Sarena is going into Auckland in the afternoon to get her eyes lasered. Very scary. Not sure I would get it done, but then I have been blessed with perfect eyesight so don't appreciate how frustrating it must be not to be able to see clearly.

Sarena was very quiet all the way into Auckland. We got to the Eye Institute a bit early but they where ready to see us pretty much straight away. The gave Sarena a load of pills to swallow and then she was gone. Only for about 10 minutes though. She was returned to me with very wide and weeping eyes, and very shakey. They sat her in a room to settle down for 10 minutes. I gave her a quick examination and was amazed to see crosses physically drawn on Sarena's eyballs. It looked very uncomfortable. The doctor came in and gave her a check up and gave us instructions for medication over the next few days. He stuck some 'eye-pods' on her face and I was free to take her away. So quick.

I had booked us a smart hotel room in town for the night as we have to go back for a checkup in the morning and didn't expect Sarena to be up for a backbackers for the night. Sarena, dosed up with sleeping pills, was pretty out of it for the rest of the evening, so I took myself for a walk around Auckland and then got back to order some room service for tea.

Well today is the day! spent the morning just pottering around trying not to think to much.......

Toby came home to pick me up at 12pm and we set off to Auckland 20mins later with bags packed ready to get lasered. We arrived at 2.45 at the Eye Institute and they took us both down straight away to the waiting room, here i had a quick run down by a young lady who told me what was going to happen (i didn't really want to know) she then gave me a pot of tablets to calm my nerves which i just wolfed down instead of taking them one by one.... I then said goodbye to Toby and went into the prep room where she cleaned my eyes and gave me some Anaesthetic drops for my eyes. I had hold of my little bear which was given to my by my sister, Rebecca and was going to help me get through the whole ordeal. Dr Ring then came out and took me into theatre where i spent the next 20mins having the tops of my eyes sliced off and having laser treatment which smelt really nasty. It wasn't painful at all but it wasn't a nice experience, at one point i was told to breathe as i was holding my breath for so long and couldn't stop shaking so Dr Ring had to hold my head. I was then taken out to another room so that he could have a look at my eyes through a machine and i could have a little time with Toby. I was so relieved to have it all over and done with and still could not stop shaking! It was like seeing under water, not pleasant. I had some plastic shields to put on my eyes and Toby took me to the Hotel he had booked. It was a lovely Hotel, what i could see of it! and i spent the rest of the afternoon having a snooze with help of the sleeping tablets I had been given. Toby ordered room service for dinner which was lovely then i just slept all night.

 

Saturday 22nd March 2003 Katikati

Sarena seemed pretty comfortable in the morning. She had enough sleep at least. we packed our bags and headed in the car back to the Eye Institute. we left the hotel early as I always seem to get lost in Auckland. But this time we got there very early. While we sat and waited to see the doctor several other patients turned up all with big googly masks stuck to there faces. One guy came out from his check up with 20/20 vision. This upset Sarena a bit as she knows this is not the case for her as she is having a lot of trouble with her left eye.

The Doctor seemed very please with her eyes and I was amazed by the improvement of Sarena's right eye when he did the test on her. Sarena is very concerned about her left eye but the doctor said that we have to give it time to adjust and that because of Sarena's weird prescription she may have to have a bit of touching up done to get both eyes fully corrected.

After the check up we went back into Auckland to sort out the hotel for Joy and Spits arrival on Tuesday. We have arranged a taxi to pick them up at the airport and have also booked ourselves into the same hotel as a surprise. We also met up with Phil at lunch time and had a quick drink with him at the viaduct before we headed back home to Katikati.

Woke up without any pain and had a bath before Toby took me to my 9.20am appointment. Dr Ring took my eye shields off and checked my eyes which were a little better than the day before but the left was worse than the right one and he did think i might have to have some more surgery because of my Astigmatism which was very difficult to rectify.... not a nice idea. Well at least i didn't have to wear the shields all day and have people stare at me again, we just went for some b'fast in a little cafe then went to the Hotel where Joy and Spit are staying in. We said we would sort out accommodation for when they arrive on Tuesday and would sort out something cheap and cheerful for them. What we did do is get a wonderful room in a top hotel and arrange a taxi to pick them up from the Airport as a wedding pressie. So we first bought a card and a bottle of fizzy and asked the concierge to put them in there room for when they arrive. We were staying in the same hotel and were going to surprise them so wrote in the card to collect something from Reception at 7pm where we would have a NZ starter pack waiting for them that we had put together. We would also be waiting for them!!

So after we had sorted that out we met up with Chewie for a drink and arranged to meet up again next weekend and do it properly, We then went home.

After all the drops and applying my eye shields for the night I went to bed early.

 

Sunday 23rd March 2003 Katikati

Spent the day at home whilst Sarena recovered from her operation. Kathy and Dave popped by in the evening to see how Sarena was getting on. She is still concerned about her left eye plus both her eyes are very itchy and dry now.

Took my eye shields off hoping for an improvement - but still nothing. I was very blurry and very frustrating. I spend the day walking around the house bored and grumpy not knowing what to do with my self. Kathy and Dave popped up in the evening to say Hi and see how i was then i went to bed early again with my eye shields on.

Monday 24th March 2003 Katikati

Sarena's eyes where still no better today. So Sarena phoned the Eye Institute to move her appointment forward so that she doesn't have to wait until next week for the next checkup.

Hopefully this will set her mind at ease. Plus we will now get to Auckland earlier to meet Joy and Spit for their surprise as Sarena has an appointment for tomorrow.

Well i don't think i have any eyebrows left as the glue on the shields rip them all out! I did have a funny minute when i was dozing in bed in the morning and a damn moth flew behind them and got trapped which meant Toby having to try and get it out, very funny. Still couldn't see any clearer so phoned up the Institute and arranged for an appointment on the Tuesday afternoon with Dr Ring to see what was going on. Spent the rest of the day taking things off the wall and sorting out what is going home and what stuff is going down the second hand shop.

 

Tuesday 25th March 2003 Auckland

Got very excited that we where going to met Joy and Spit in auckland the evening. So much so that I kept drifting from my train of thought and the getting frustrated.

Sarena also has a check up at the eye hospital, so I got away from work at lunch time, picked Sarena up and had another fluster as I couldn't find anything which scared Sarena a bit.

The Doctor seemed pretty happy with Sarena's eyes and just said to them more time, so we are booked into to see him again in 3 weeks... And then it was off to surprise Joy and Spit. They weren't in there room when we checked in, but they turned up at about 6. Sarena phoned them from our room and pretended we where phoning from home. The phoned call seemed to go on for an eternity and Joy gave us a run down on everything they have been up to. I was just itching to see them though and was hoping around like a mad man. Sarena told joy that we had left a parcel in reception for them so we hung up and ran and hid in reception while they popped down to pick up a parcel we had left them. Joy burst into tears. It was great to see them after all this time. We went straight up to their room and cracked open a bottle of bubbly, drunk some beer and then headed out for some food and more beer.

We didn't get back to our room until quit late as we didn't want to leave them as it will mean another week or so before we see them again. In the end we had to sleep so we said our goodbyes and hopefully they we be at our house before we know it.

So excited about seeing Joy and Spit!!!! I waited for Toby to come home at 2pm to pick me up but he came home in a really bad mood and very dreamy, must be worried about work stuff.

We were on the road for about 2.15 and got to my eye appointment dead on 4.15 just on time. Dr Ring had a look at my eyes and told me to come back in 3 weeks as they still needed time to heal and to settle down, he did think however that i will need some more laser treatment on my left eye - bummer. Anyway at least they didn't say it hadn't' worked even though i still can't see clearly, i just have to be patient.

We then went to the hotel and checked into our room and made sure they had remembered to put the bottle of bubbly in Joy and Spits room. The other two had also checked in but had gone out again. So we packed up the gift box with extra things (mostly beer!) and left it at reception then waited in out room. At 6pm after ringing every 10mins, they finally answered there room phone, we made out we were calling them from Katikati and had a good old chit chat about the wedding etc. Spit had phoned Toby at work to tell him they had landed and were both ok and thanks to Lindy, the receptionist she fobbed them off with a "he is in a meeting' so they really didn't have a clue we would be in Auckland. Anyway asked them if they had picked up the pressy from downstairs and they said they were just about to so we said farewell and legged it down to Reception and hid round the corner. Within minutes they came down in the lift and were just picking up the box when we came behind them (filming), Joy just burst into tears and Spits face was a picture!!!!! well worth it. After lots of hugs and tears we then went back up to their room and cracked open the bubbly then went out for dinner and drinks, had the bestist evening. We spent the rest of it drinking in the bedroom and then took some of the stuff they didn't want to carry back to our room so they could pick it up again when they come to visit, we then bidded them fair well. They need to get themselves a car and sort out some stuff then they will be coming to Kati and we will all be going down the South Island together.

 

Wednesday 26th March 2003 Katikati

Left Auckland at 6:45 and hoped to get into work by 9 but unfortunately a Logging Truck had blown up on the highway and we had to take a lengthy details round a whole bunch of hills. Then we came across a car on its roof at Karanghake Gorge and I didn't get to work until 10. Not good as I have loads I want to do.

Work, work and a bit more work. Managed to catch up though.

Got up at 6am and were on the road by 6.45 heading back to Kati to drop me off then Toby had to get to work in Tauranga. I spent the day not doing a lot apart from constantly putting my eye drops in as my eyeballs are as dry as an old bone, i'm now on a bottle a day! Did a little tidying up then Toby came home in the evening looking very tired so we had an early night.

Thursday 27th March 2003 Katikati

A big day today. I have to give my finally presentation to the Directors on the project I have been working on. I am not too worried as The project has really come together over the past few weeks and I am very satisfied that it achieves everything and more that I had originally specified would be completed in the time frame. The only problem is that the product hasn't yet been tested and debugged, so the morning was spent with Ross and I running through the application. It only needed a few fixes here and there as it was pretty stable.

The presentation was a 4:30 and we got off to a very good start by using the application to query and report on a new data source that Enform and DBI had given us today, hopefully that proves to all the skeptics that the product has all the components specified. The rest of the presentation went really well, Everything worked as it should. And I was able to prove that everything was completed as specified. Although as usual the product will requires a bit of spit and polish just to smarten it up, but this should be expected with such an immature product (4 months is very long for such a complex application). I was a bit discouraged by the Directors lack of response at the end of the presentation, although I did get a round of applause for my work, they all looked a but bothered by something.

Apparantly it has all being getting pretty political on the business side of the project, Something I am not concerned with. I said my good-byes and pegged it out of the office to rescue my car before it got locked in the car park. fortunately Sarena had got there before me and parked up just outside. I felt very relieved that this day was over.

Later in the evening I got a call from Kathy as she wanted to know how the presentation went. I mentioned the directors lack of enthusiasm at the end of the presentation and she told me the possible reason why... Apparently they have discovered this web site and are upset to read that I had been doing some minor work on other projects, and that I had a few days away over Christmas! Because of this they are denying me my bonus that was negotiated at the beginning of my contract if the project was done to spec and on time. If this IS the reason then I am very disappointed as I feel that I have performed as promised on the project and it is unfair that they have penalised me personally, without even attempting to discuss their issues with me.

I went into work with Toby to help out on Reception whilst Lindy went to a training course. It wasn't too bad on the eyes thank goodness and the day went really well. Toby went to a meeting at 4.30 and i went into town for a look around then went and waited in Bertie. I started getting worried when at 615pm he hadn't got back and the car park was going to shut in 15mins. Luckily i found the parking ticket in the door so i could drive Bertie out before they closed up for the night trapping me and Bertie in! Toby turned up at 6.30 on the dot running like a demented rabbit trying to get to the car, panicking. We went home and had a quiet evening - the weather is foul again and hasn't stopped raining.

 

Friday 28th March 2003 Katikati

My last (official) day at work today, Whoope. had a chat with kathy on the way to work regarding my work for DBI and the upset that has seemed to occurred over this web diary. It all seems very petty and backhanded.

We all went down the Crown and Badger for a few beers at lunch time. And spent the afternoon finishing stuff of and handing bits over to Ross.

Managed to sit down with Phil and Kathy and got a bit of an explanation regarding DBI's attitude. Phil, however, has been very pleased with my work and has offered to award me something towards my originally negotiated bonus. I felt very awkward accepting it from him knowing that he was doing this as a personal thank you. One thing I have been very impressed with about Phil is his complete honesty when it comes to business, Something a lot of businessmen could learn from.

At the end of the day Phil presented me with some leaving gifts. Thank you everybody at Radfords. I have had a great time working with everyone over the last 8 months and feel very fortunate to of worked in such a job whilst traveling around the world.

Phoned Clare Bear and had a lovely chat with her for 30mins before going down the doctors for a quick mole check and a prescription for a new inhaler. Spent the day doing absolutely nothing as i don't have any motivation to do squat just lately. I'm not allowed to do any exercise this week so i'm getting all lazy again, i should be doing Yoga or something but i just can't be arsed, i should also be getting rid of some of our furniture but haven' t.....

 

Saturday 29th March 2003 Katikati

We revisited Karanghake Gorge for another walk, this time we wanted to do one from the new Day walks book that everyone at Radfords had given me as a leaving present. Before we started the main walk we did a side tracked and ended up in a load of old Mining tunnels. Unfortunately we didn't bring a torch with us but managed to make it through some of the tunnels by shuffling along in the dark. The ceiling where littered with glow worms that made it look like the nights sky, - amazing. After tackling a few tunnels that ran along the cliff edge we finally came up to one that headed deeper into the hill with no visible exit, so we decided to turn around and start our proper walk.

The walk to Dickey Flats was pretty easy it followed the river and didn't get to steep or rough. Very pleasant, there was another tunnel near the flats that we had to shuffle through and it took us about and hour and a half to get their and only about 40 minutes to walk all the way back. Sarena always seems to gallop ahead when she starts the walk home, I have a job to keep up without breaking into small runs.

We went to Karangahaki gorge again for another walk and ended up wondering through the darkest tunnels without a torch........ it was all the old mining tunnels that seemed to go into the depths of the earth. We did go a little way in and saw loads of glow worms but the dark beat us back out into the open. Defiantly go back there again for a mooch around. We went back to the main path and did another walk which followed the river for a couple of hours taking us through yet another tunnel, I just held onto Toby whilst he led the way. The walk lead us to 'The Flats' which was basically just a flat piece of land next to a river so after getting bitten to death whilst sitting down for a breather we headed on back to the car This was done in record time due to me walking really fast which seems to be the norm with me, must be the thought of getting back to Bertie and a cup of tea...

Had something to eat at the Cafe and then went home to an afternoon of relaxation

Sunday 30th March 2003 Katikati

Spent the day doing bugger all really. Went for a jog in the evening, when it started to rain. by the time I got home I stood on the balcony in the nuddy to cool down, at which point I realised my fatal mistake as sarena was sitting in the dry armed with the video camera!!!

Stayed home and just mooched around the house doing boring household stuff.

Started raining in the evening which meant Toby had to run around outside in the nude, i was too quick for him and managed to get a photo as he was running past - silly bugger

Monday 31st March 2003 Katikati

No rest for the wicked! We actually managed to get loads of stuff sorted today, like canceling bills and payments etc. We even got into Tauranga to investigate our next set of flight tickets and get our Yellow Fever Jabs. I am still impressed by New Zealand's health system. In the UK getting travel jabs from the local doctors surgery was a pain in the ass, but over here we booked an appointment and got all our jabs in the same day.

 

Went into Tauranga to get a few things sorted out..... first we needed some Yellow Fever jabs, so Toby had pre booked an afternoon appointment with a medical centre in Tauranga. First we went to a couple of travel agents to enquire if it was possible to get flights to our intended destinations and at what cost. They both seemed to not comprehend what we were asking and said they would get back to us in a couple of days? why so long? I think we will wait to see what Chewie's wife, Liz comes up with as she is a travel agent, if not it's going to be Trail Finders again as they are really good.

We stopped in a games Arcade for a little while and played on the bike racing game which i won! - Toby was very pissed at this, very sexist i think. It was then time for our Yellow Fever jabs and our Hepatitis Booster, the nurses were great, very friendly. We were taken into separate rooms as we had to lay down for the jabs and wait for 30mins afterwards before we could leave just incase we has a bad reaction. It was an expensive afternoon costing $320 for the jabs, bit of a shock... we then went to Pak n save to stock up on food for when Joy and Spit got here on Tuesday as they had phoned and told us that after picking up there newly purchased Landrover Discovery! they were coming over - fantastic.

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