Weekend in Whanganui

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to stay with friends in their lovely home in Whanganui.  What a great weekend it was.  A friend picked me up early from work on Friday so we could avoid the Auckland traffic and enjoy a couple of beers at the airport before jumping on the plane.  After possibly one too many beers we boarded the plane and very quickly made friends with the guys in the row in front of us and kept most of the passengers very amused the whole way (it was an intimate little plane).  Something about buying houses, finding a good bar to drink in with lots of homeowners had us in stitches for a long time.

One of our kind hosts picked us up from the airport and took us straight to the supermarket so we could purchase more alcohol.  Whanganui New World had the jackpot of wine selections – they sold BOTH of my faves.  These days it’s getting harder to find one or the other depending on the supermarket and the last supermarket I went in to with the biggest selection of wine ever had neither!

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We had dinner and a few drinks at a lovely neighbours house before settling in for many many laughs and quite a few drinks at the friends’ home.

The next day we drove round Whanganui looking at houses for sale, eating lunch at the Citadel – a very groovy café, walked through an amazing succulent garden many residents had got together and planted.  After dinner we did the real “Netflix and Chill” – I don’t have Netflix so it was cool to see what all the fuss is about.

For a treat on our last day we got taken out to an amazing garden in the countryside.  On the way we stopped at the recycling centre – you have to do your own recycling in Whanganui.  There was an impressive mural on the fence made out of recycled bottle tops.

Last stop before the garden was for a coffee from a funky coffee shop called Article, which sold groovy second hand stuff.  I really wanted to stay for a while and soak it all in, plus wander around the glass blowing gallery next door, but we had no time for such luxuries – we were on a mission to get out to the gardens and have a wee picnic.

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The Paloma Gardens were awesome – fascinating, clever, unusual and beautiful.  There is a large glasshouse with many types of cacti.

There’s even a Garden of Death, not my favourite thing but I have to admit it was a very clever concept and well done.

There is an unusual conservatory type area with chandeliers and a peacock.

Unusual art, beautiful flowers and pottery is everywhere – you could walk for hours to try and see everything but we did a short walk.

Then… just when I thought I’d seen everything the garden had to offer, we crossed to the other side of the driveway and found a fabulous setting for a wedding.

The fence near the entrance has lots of cool phrases painted on it, so even the driveway is fun.

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On the way back to town we stopped at a local pub for a beer and a bite to eat.  Then we went to the Wintergarden and lake to feed the ducks rice – because apparently bread is bad for them, but the ducks don’t know that and didn’t seem all that excited about the rice.

Then it was time to go home.  The flight home was very quiet and subdued compared to the flight down.  But it was on a really old plane which I’m sure had been borrowed from an aircraft museum, it was very cool though and quite spacious.

London Day Twenty One

Saturday 22 April

My last full day in London, so I made the most of it by catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen yet and visiting the Lego Store one last time.

I expertly navigated my way to the Lego Store all by myself, catching a train and the Tube just like a real Londoner.

There was a queue to get in to the Lego Store but it moved quite quickly and there were friendly staff chatting to people in the queue to take their minds of the fact that we were all queuing to get in to a shop to spend money.

  

If you look closely you’ll see something I find mildly amusing… there is actually only one child in the queue to get in to this toy shop, everybody else is an adult!


It was a sad visit in a way, knowing this would probably be the last time I ever visited this shop, so I needed to make the most of it – but I couldn’t buy everything I really wanted because there is only so much Lego you can fit in one suitcase.  It was cool though that I managed to come here on my first and last day!

After that I was really hungry and couldn’t wait till I met up with my friend to eat, so I popped in to a pizza place in Leicester Square right next to the last place I ate at 30 years ago (Burger King) after my big farewell with the people I worked with.


From there I got myself to the Tate Britain where I met up with a friend who is a member so we got to eat in the members’ lounge like VIPs and attend the Hockney exhibition for free.


I hadn’t seen this friend for about 5 years so it was cool to have a catch up.  The gallery and exhibition were very cool.  We have a David Hockney print on the wall at work which I walk past every time I go to the kitchen for coffee (so that’s loads of times) so it was awesome to see the real thing.  We couldn’t take photos so here’s a couple of pics of the fab light display at the entrance.

  
And here I am feeling very happy observing some cool taxis – they’re not all black anymore, although most of them still are.

  

From there we walked past the parliament buildings to get in the massive queue for the London Eye, even tho we had a ticket for a specific time booking.

  
That turned into quite a drama.  There were millions of people all hanging out around the area where you queue for the Eye and we could hardly move and then suddenly we were all told to turn around and head back to the bridge and go around the back of the building due to an incident.  This was quite scary as we didn’t know what was happening and nobody wanted to move and we were all being pushed backwards.  I’m was also aware that this is the very place there was a terrorist attack a couple of weeks ago adding to the whole situation.


Eventually we made it to the massive queue of people waiting to get on to the London Eye.  Some people had tickets, some didn’t and nobody knew where to go or what to do and none of the staff would tell us what was going on.  So we waited… and waited… and waited and then suddenly the queue moved and then shrunk and then stopped again.  Turned out they had closed the London Eye for some unkown reason and we were handed a form to get a refund.  We looked up at the Eye and noticed it wasn’t moving and half the pods were empty and some people looked very stuck in a couple of the pods, so we guessed it broke down and were very glad we weren’t actually on it when it broke down.  Imagine suddenly needing to go to the loo and being stuck up there.


So we decided the best thing to do instead of going on the Eye was to get a bottle of wine and sit on the grass enjoying the sun and make the most of our short amount of catch up time together.


After all the wine was gone we walked along the Southbank towards where my friend had to catch her train home from.  That’s where I noticed there was a beach!!! Right in the middle of London!!!


It may have had something to do with all the wine we drunk relatively quickly but on that walk in the sunshine – everything looked sparkly and stunning and we decided we shouldn’t wait five more years before we had another catch up, and as we met each other originally in Japan back in the 90s we made a pact to meet again in five years time in KOBE!!!

  
With that very exciting and happy warm fuzzy thought we said goodbye and I headed home.

Labour Weekend 2016

At last the long weekend is here, and this year I’ve added two days of annual leave, giving me a lovely long 5 day holiday, starting with Friday and ending on Tuesday.

To celebrate the big weekend I cracked open a bottle of my favourite wine, bought a book on tidying up which I intend to read and act upon this weekend and a very large box of Ferris Wheel Lego to build when I’m not drinking wine or reading my new book.

There will be quite a lot of Lego featuring in my long weekend, as it’s the Auckland Brick Show starting on Saturday which I’m really looking forward to.  Happy Labour Weekend everybody.

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Update: Monday – Labour Day 24 October 2016.

What a fab weekend it’s been, I finished the Ferris Wheel, drunk all the wine, read most of the book (which I’m really enjoying) and went to the Auckland Brick Show with a friend to see all the amazing Lego.  I wasn’t going to buy any more Lego from the show, but I couldn’t resist a Wall-E and a motor for the Ferris Wheel – both on special for the show.

Here’s the finished product – I think it’s my new favourite, check out the two little videos: https://beejaygelego.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/10247-ferris-wheel/

Xmas Holidays 2015 Day Thirteen

Thursday 31 December 2015

At last it’s the end of the year and a wee bunch of us decided to spend the last day of 2015 in Kumeu, trying lots of different wines and buying all the ones we liked.  Our sober driver picked me up at 9:30 so we could make a very early start and beat the crowds.

We arrived at the first vineyard at 10:00.  Matua Valley Vineyard brought back many happy memories as this is where the whole family flew to by helicopter for my Mum’s 50th birthday dinner, funny I should come back here now that I’m 50! Interestingly the Hunting Lodge where we had dinner no longer exists, they’ve turned the restaurant building into the tasting room. It’s still a really lovely venue.  It’s here that I learnt Pinot Gris wine is quite pleasant first thing in the morning.
Matua Valley Vineyard

Next stop was the Coopers Creek Vineyard.  Even tho it was just after 10:30 I’m fairly certain we woke up the man who ran the tasting sessions.  He had a lot to set up and get organised before he was ready to share his wines and vast knowledge with us. No worries… it’s a lovely place to be relaxing in before soaking up more free wine!
Coopers Creek

I wonder what gets stored in those big shiny silos that are sitting in the sun getting hot!Coopers Creek

Our next stop was supposed to be Nobilos, but it was closed! This used to be one of my favourites, but apparently it has something to do with the council buying the land for much needed housing – boo!!!

Next stop was Soljans Estate Winery, the restaurant there is one of my all time fave places to eat.
Soljans Vineyard

Next stop was supposed to be the Hallertau Brewery but it was closed for renovations (I think).

Next stop was a long drive out to the whop whops where they had NO cellphone coverage!!!!!  But the drive was well worth it as the Westbrook Winery was set amongst some beautiful countryside.  I’m not sure if it was due to the vast number of wines I had already sampled or just that particular vineyard’s grapes but I wasn’t keen on anything I tried there, according to my friends it was possibly coz the wine wasn’t sweet enough for me.
Westbrook Vineyard

Westbrook Vineyard

Westbrook Vineyard

 

Westbrook VineyardWestbrook Vineyard

After all that wine tasting we stopped at the Boric Food Market for a well deserved coffee and then headed home to wait for the evening’s activities.

Every new year’s eve night I try to do something different to celebrate.  This year we headed to Devonport for a late dinner at Portofino and then walked down to the wharf just in time to catch the Sky City fireworks display.  Portofino was great – I think I’ve found a new fave place to eat on the Shore – best Tequila and orange ever!!!