Leaving Austin was smooth and wonderful with the help of Mars and Alan chaufeuring us to the airport. Weather was good through all legs of our trip (Austin/LA/Auckland). Via time zone and international date line phenomena, we arrived in New Zealand on Tuesday, Dec. 4th at 7:00am, while it was still safely Monday in Texas. Rented a car at the airport and drove to the home of "Debs", an old time friend of Simon's. Her house is located on a leafy residential street and is filled with art and friends and love.

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debs

Our first day here was about being embraced and coddled and nurtured. Several of Simon's friends dropped by for tea or brought lunch (thanks, Bar!). Sassy and Ya prepared a steaming Thai dinner, which we enjoyed on the garden deck.

 

Deborah Mary Wallingford (Debs) is our most gracious hostess on Norfolk Street. Among other things, she is a midwife. Until a few weeks ago, she rambled around in this big old place by herself. Now it's a full house and growing more so this Saturday when our Tom arrives from Brisbane. Debs was born in New Zealand and has lived most of her life here, with stints in England, Asia and California.

 

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amy
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annie
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barb & simon
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simon & rabbit
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garden
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garden
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kaori & rua
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pipis
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auckland street

 

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george

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jcmteden

 

 

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kaori.jpg

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jessica & ya

 

Annie is an old time friend from England. She lives on an island just off the east coast of Auckland called Waihiki and she works with the NZ Dept. of Conservation.

 

Ya is from Chang Mai and is married to Debs' brother. They've been exploring Australia, in search of a new home, but they think that they prefer New Zealand. Their daughter, little miss Jessica, is 13 months old.

 

Barbara is another Brit. She's been living in New Zealand for 15 years. She is originally from Pontifract in Yorkshire, which is famous for making and selling the first licorice candy. This is her canine friend, Amy.

 

Rua is Debs' 19 year old son. He's just back from the UK after having lived in Tokyo (where he met Kaori) and worked as a chef. What you see him cooking are "pipis", a local type of bivalve.

 

Kaori is also a culinary artiste and plans to have an art café one of these days in some place exotic.

 

Sassy, daughter to Debs, is a woman of many talents. Her dream du jour is "roller skates, Italy and a new iBook".

 

Having managed to stay awake the entire day, we weren't long for it after dinner. Went to bed before 9pm and now we are chomping at the bit for our second day in Aotearoa, "the land of the long white cloud".

 

DAY TWO was lying about revisited, only we managed to get out to the shops and see a bit of the town. We were introduced to Wei Mei, founder of the Bag Lady Club. Wei Mei is Deb's niece and an artist. She and the Norfolk Street clan crafted an outfit entirely from plastic bags and they won 2nd place in the "Trash to Fashion" contest.

 

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That evening, Kaori (from Tokyo) prepared a fabulous Japanese meal for the family. With Wei Mei in the house, we have a total of 6 nationalities represented (British, American, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and New Zealand).

 
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jessica.jpg
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shakespear park
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longbay.jpg

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shakespear park

DAY THREE and Simon and I were ready for some exploration other than around the Ponsonby neighborhood. We drove to the top of Mt. Eden in Auckland and had the view from the top of the world. Being surrounded by aqua colored waters and volcanic peaks is quite impressive and magical. Auckland city is comprised of meandering roads, hills and waterways. As with Australia, there is a feeling of the old mixed with the very new. Nothing stuffy about this place.

 

From Mt. Eden, we drove north over the harbor bridge and visited as many magical spots as we could fit into the day (Long Bay, with its Norfolk pines on the beach and Shakespear Park with views of the volcanic island, Rangitoto, among them). The water is an indescribable color and crystal clear, with play of light similar to that of San Francisco. The beaches are made of shells, with hardly any sand at all. Golden hills and wispy blue skies prevail.

 

Day Four has begun rainy and our trip to the west coast to look at the Piha area is on hold. We are quite content to sit around this wonderful house, eating toast, drinking coffee and being with our friends.

 

 

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