We've had a very busy few days - unusually for us!
Christmas Day dawned bright and sunny; we started the day with a Skype to my family (I love this technology!), and, after a leisurely morning of opening presents and having our lunch, we took advantage of the free rail services that we had in the Valley.
First was a trip down to Petone and the beach.
The beach was really quiet - just a couple of dog walkers and a few paddlers around:
The water wasn't too cold, either:
We took a trip along the pier - it's a lot barer than a UK seaside pier, and is mainly used for fishing off, and for the ferry across to central Wellington and the island in the bay.
Then, after a trip along Jackson Street so that John could get some interesting architecture pics, we headed up the train line to Upper Hutt, and had a wander round up there. It was absolutely deserted! The main high street was like a ghost town, and we saw very few cars on the roads. Whilst I know it was Christmas Day, it felt a lot emptier than UK Christmases, I think because with the dark winter, all the houses have lights on, so you can see that there are still people around. With the bright sun and the warmth, you had no indication of whether there was anyone in the houses at all.
The park was deserted...
We had been aiming for a nice regional park, however, between us and it, there was a dirty great highway and a water filled ditch, so we headed back to the station.
We did go and have a look at the other side of the train tracks, and it was a bit of a shame, because if we'd gone that way first off, there did seem to be a regional park on that side, too, but we didn't have time to explore that way before the train left.
We then headed back home for Christmas dinner. Whilst it was not quite the feast that we'd have had in the UK, it was still very nice (though I don't think I will buy the turkey again - something that is only 75% turkey doesn't really taste the same for some reason!). We did have a slew of roast veg, plus stuffing (rosemary, lemon and onion, as I was using up bits from the fridge, and whilst there is tons of rosemary in the garden, there isn't any sage!) And I did find some Christmas crackers, too...
Our Pohutakawa in the front garden has flowered just in time for Christmas:
and I am gloating over the two new additions to my plant family (thank you very much, John!):
an olive tree with little baby olives already growing:
and a feijoa tree
We'd never even heard of these before we saw them in the garden centre, but they apparently grow very well in NZ (our South African neighbours were telling us that their neighbour on the other side has a tree which is covered in them, and has a real autumnal glut), so I am really looking forward to trying these (the top appears to have a couple of flower buds, so it may flower this year...)
Boxing Day was a normal heading out to the market day (though there were depleted stalls - I was very surprised that it was open at all, to be honest), and a food shop, then we headed into Wellington itself (on the bus unfortunately, as there was line work on the tracks, and will be right up until the first week of January), in order to meet a friend of one of my university flat mates. It was a really interesting afternoon - we had a lot in common, and ended up nattering whilst sat above the sea wall, watching the children (young and old) play in the sea (I am really looking forward to getting my swimming costume back from the shippers!)
When we got back, I got to play with the new toy that my parents gave us - I am now the proud owner of a bread maker! I'd bought the ingredients during the food shop, and this was the result:
I'd slightly overdone the improver, so it tastes a bit citrussy, but absolutely fine when toasted with cheese on top! I'll be making the next one tomorrow :-)
Sunday, we were invited over to a friend's house; this is the lady who has been very generous and lent us a whole load of kitchen crockery, a duvet and a mattress whilst we are waiting for our own stuff to arrive. We had a brilliant day - playing games, both board and computer, and watching comedy DVDs. They rent the most gorgeous house up on the hills, overlooking the bay. It has fantastic views (when the cloud cover isn't down!) and, if it wasn't for the 10 mins or so of driving up hairpin bends to get there (didn't do my travel sickness any good!), it would be amazing!
Today has been incredibly lazy; we didn't get to bed till 1 on Sunday night, and were up reasonably early on the Monday morning (I don't like sleeping late when I'm in someone else's house), so we had a definite lie in this morning (well - we didn't set the alarm. We were both still awake by 9, and it was only by the dint of enormous effort that I stayed in bed until 9.40!) And it's back to filling out job application forms (I have to keep reminding myself that no-one is working at the moment, so I shouldn't be surprised that I'm not hearing anything back!!)