This morning I flew back into London after 7 1/2 weeks holiday in NZ. I drove 7500 kms covering from Auckland in the north island down to Milford Sound in the south collecting 1 speeding ticket in the process. I crossed on the Cook Strait ferry 4 times, stayed in 4 hotels, 2 backpackers, and 2 camps. I climbed a glacier, rode in a jetboat, swam in the river and the sea, spent 18 full days on beaches (beach volleyball) and ate loads of fresh boysenberries. I ate outside at many restaurants on balmy summer evenings with beautiful sunsets such as the one in this picture over Nelson. I spent 5 days including Christmas with my family which we now do every 4 years. Its always a special interesting and crazy time—there are now 22 of us but unfortunately my sister in law and 4 nieces couldn’t make it from Australia. I also caught up with many good friends and family in Nelson and was good to see friends in other places as I travelled around too. Its cold and grey in London as per usual, seems a bit strange being back here. It was a brilliant trip and I’m very grateful to have had the chance to do it and a huge thanks to all those I stayed with or spent time with in NZ.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
After 4 sunny days in Ohope (the girls finished 9th after pulling out due to Baileys injury) we drove over to Mt Maunganui for the weekend. Weather was perfect on Friday and Saturday, Sunday morning a little cloudy as we set up for TV but came out sunny by the time we went live on air at midday. I refereed some of the games and so got on TV. Other highlights of the weekend were staying in the Sebel Hotel (very nice!!), calling the police after seeing a fight in the street on way home late at night, and a delicate first aid procedure on Nina’s feet in the lobby of the Sebel!! Monday I drove up to Auckland where we started work on transforming the Tennis Centre main court into a Beach Volleyball court. Tuesday I drove a bobcat all day loading sand into wheelbarrows as that's the only way to get the sand onto centre court. Wednesday we finished it off, Thursday was the qualifying tournament at Mairangi Bay and then the NZ Open ran Friday thru Sunday. The weather was perfect all the way through—hot and sunny every day! Sunday we were again live on TV. The first live game was a semi final between Brazil and NZ which I was refereeing-it was a brilliant 3 setter, soo close all the way and the crowd was so loud, the atmosphere was awesome, and the Brazilians just won!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Halfway thru the NZ National Tour now. Started in Christchurch on Sumner Beach, staying in the very nice Grand Chancellor Hotel. Was good to join back up with the sandy crew and also did a bit of refereeing along with coaching Team Biopaints. Drove back to Nelson taking the boys from Chile and sandy Tony stopping at the very nice Maruia Falls . In Nelson we hosted a Grand Slam tournament—had 2 perfect days of hot sunny weather on Tahuna Beach—the best beach volleyball beach in NZ! I played with Cory—pulled him out of retirement we won 3 games and lost 1 and then defaulted our quarterfinal meaning we finished in 7th. After a day off on Thursday to finish packing and have a nice BBQ/swim up the river with mates and family, it was off to Wellington via the ferry with Team Biopaints. Wellington was its normal wet self on the first day of the tournament. I played as well as my coaching and crew duties making for a busy day. Finals day was much finer however and we had some great semis and finals. Monday was a long drive up the North Island to Whakatane which is where I write this from. Its hot here and today we setup on the beach and tomorrow the tournament starts. I will be playing again but mostly hoping Anna and Bailey do well—they are seeded 8th and have a favourable draw so here's hoping!!
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Yes its been a long time since we had Christmas together—possibly 20 years. Technically this one we still weren't all together as Tim only flew into the country just before midnight on Christmas day but as I met him at Wellington airport I at least saw him while it was still Christmas Day! Dec 23 I took the ferry to Wellington and then a 30 minute drive up highway 2 past Upper Hutt to where we had a campsite booked out. We had the place to ourselves and although its rather run down now we were able to make it work for us. Computers were networked, Christmas decorations were put up, table tennis table was put out and of course a table for settlers. We took turns cooking meals for everyone—my turn was Christmas Day so I did a ham, 2 chickens, new potatoes, and a bunch of salads. Then of course Christmas pudding and fresh Nelson boysenberries and ice cream---mmmmm! The kids enjoyed the water slide and pool and hot tub, we had a great in-laws v out-laws soccer match (won by us again-yes I scored the winning goal- yes I'm competitive!) and many other great moments together. Dec 29 I again ferried back to the South Island and to Nelson where it’s been hot and sunny ever since! Have been swimming and laying around, finished reading The Kite Runner and generally relaxing! Tomorrow I drive to Christchurch for the start of the National Beach Tour-4 weeks of beach volleyball all around the country. Brilliant!!!