Thursday 17 July 2014 – Auckland, New Zealand.
After a fairly relaxing weekend away near Donnington Castle. about two hours out of London I spent the following Monday morning doing a final pack before heading off to Heathrow airport for a two week trip back home to New Zealand, and a final couple of days visiting my oldest son in Queensland, Australia. I had vaguely planned my departure to be after the one time when I would be really close to somewhere where the Tour de France was passing by, sadly I had gotten the time completely wrong and the lead riders were due to pass through Walthamstow as I was due to be heading to the airport, Doh !
I am not one to sleep on planes, I have trouble enough sleeping in bed, let alone planes, and though the flight from London to Singapore was in the evening and was reasonably comfortable I did not really doze much more than a few minutes at a time over a number of attempts – I did watch some bad movies though – and once I arrived in New Zealand found I had left my e-reader in the plane. (Yay to Singapore Airlines, they are sending my e-reader to London for me to collect !)
Changi Airport in Singapore is an interesting place, I was there for four hours so had a pretty thorough look around terminal three, If I had not been so damn full after eating at least three meals in the past twelve hours I would have been up there eating some lovely noodles like a shot.
I was less tempted by the pokie machines though. I have never seen gambling in an airport before!
The airport is pretty massive, and I walked a good ten minutes up to where my flight to Auckland was to depart from, only to find it had moved, almost the same distance away in the opposite direction. It was good to stretch out with a walk though.
But, there was a lovely sunset to make it all worthwhile.
I arrived in Auckland mid afternoon on Wednesday, what seems like two days after I left London. The primary reason for my trip this time was to see my new grandson, unnamed at the time I left and I was thrilled to see him when my son, Aiden, brought him around to my mum’s house after work on the day I arrived. We had a lovely family dinner that night and it was great to see everyone, and I got my first hold of my first grandson – Luca Ken (Ken was my late father’s name, it brought a tear to my eye when I found out) . Yes, it was pretty damn cool!
I hadn’t really planned anything beyond seeing family, apart from sorting through some of the stuff I have stored at my brother-in-laws house, disposing of the stuff to be disposed of, and maybe sneaking some vinyl into a bag and taking it back to London.
I spent the first couple of days relaxing and hanging out with my children and on Friday I took a trip down to Mt Te Aroha for a very windy bit of outdoors adventure with my friend Vicki.
With most of my friends working during the week I had a fairly full weekend of catching up with people and took a trip with old friend Chantal,out to Piha on Auckland’s west coast , which is my favourite part of Auckland and the one part of the city I miss. The weather was not the friendliest but we did get to walk along the beach for a bit between the showers, and had a pretty good lunch at Piha Cafe.
In the afternoon I had a great catch up with some friends I met many years ago via Flickr. I missed seeing them last time I was in Auckland, and I really enjoyed our brief couple of hours together – next time we must go and spend some time taking some photos. We had coffee in a couple of cafes including this lovely cafe on K Rd, It looks to be part of a closed theatre but I cannot place one there.
I also took a quick walk around to look at some of the limited range, but quite cool street art in the area.
On Monday mum and I took a trip out to Muriwai Beach, another one of my best loved Auckland locations, dad’s ashes are scattered here and we always come out for a visit when I am in Auckland.
That was pretty much it for the week, I spent two days organising my stuff, visited the kids a few times, hung out with some friends and saw my sisters my lovely new house.
On my last day I went for a walk around mums ‘hood in Henderson. The council here have done a great job over the years in building and linking up walking paths that snake around the greener areas of the suburb, taking walking and cycling off of busy – and in some cases ugly, light industrial roads. Mum walks these regularly and it was nice to get out for a couple of walks while I was staying with her – especially on such a nice morning, cool though it was.
We walked through Tui Glen which is now a park, but back in the 1970’s it was a caravan park village and we lived here, in this small home when we first arrived in New Zealand from England in the summer of 1973. We stayed here for a few weeks while my parents found jobs and a place to set down roots. I will say it was the most unhappy time for me and I suspect all of us. A lot of the flats have been knocked down, but some like this one – now called Glen Oaks have been preserved.
I had to take a photo of this mill house in Henderson it is 170 years old and an historic place. After recently walking on Roman ruins from almost a thousand years ago in London, I do find it so amusing that anything of a century old in Auckland is considered historic – though it will never get to be a thousand years old if they are not preserved now!
And that was pretty much the end of my NZ trip. I did buy myself a new camera, this time I have gone for a more traditional point and shoot style with a Canon G16. Time to replace my Lumix’s. I won’t say I will miss the GX1, I found it too frustrating to use in the end, but the GF1 served me very well all around South East Asia.
Next stop Brisbane, and my other son Dom. Yay!