We have a house inspection tomorrow (our fourth "six monthly" inspection in a year...), so we have spent a good chunk of this evening cleaning - the oven now gleams (mostly), the windowsills are free of mildew (it's very tough to see how bad they are getting when they are covered with a net curtain all the time), the carpets are vacuumed (though with the brown on brown swirly pattern, it's very difficult to see when they are dirty), and the bathroom is as clean as it is going to get. I wonder what will be picked up as being wrong this time!
We had a great weekend this weekend - we were borrowing a car, so were able to do a massive shop on Saturday, not only at the supermarket, but also going down the road to Petone and buying bulk loads of rice and oil. The rice was great fun - not only did it come in a cloth bag (with a removable plastic inner), which meant that we can reuse it, but it also came with a free spoon. Not, as I had assumed, a scooper or a plastic thing, but a metal dessert spoon (good job we bought two bags - we'll get one each!). It reminded us of the "Shades of Grey" universe created by Jasper Fforde, where everyone has their own spoon that travels with them wherever they go...
On Sunday, the weather wasn't as good as we had hoped, but we still took the car out for a bit of a spin, heading up the coast to Paraparamu, along windy coastal roads, with sharp drops down to the grey and stormy sea below (at some points the waves only just not breaking onto the road itself), stopping off at a chocolate factory (which wasn't as exciting as it looked from the road - the factory part wasn't open, so we could only look through the windows at the silent machinery and purchase from the gift shop (though the manuka honey filled chocolates are delicious)), and then heading back home across country. Along a road which, on the map, looked like it was a reasonable short cut back into the top of Upper Hutt, along the Akatarawa Valley. What the map failed to show was that this was not a particularly wide road (just over a car's width of tarmac, with a slight buffer of gravel on either side). It was also really quite a windy road, with some amazing hair pin bends, and there were enough trees right up against the edge of the road that it was difficult to see if anyone was coming in the other direction (which, due to the aforementioned lack of width to the road, could have made things interesting). Oh, and on one side, there was a very rocky cliff going up, and on the other side, a very deep drop into the valley below... I think that John's knuckles didn't stop being white the whole time! It was particularly nerve-wracking given that we were only borrowing the car, and didn't want to end up with it in an accident, in the middle of nowhere!
We did, however, get to stop half way along at a place called Staglands, which is a nature reserve. They had a cafe which you could get to without having to pay the entry fee (given that the weather wasn't that brilliant, we thought it best to leave exploration of the wildlife park for another day). We had a very nice "Hummingbird" cake, which was a mixture of banana and carrot, with a lovely seeded icing on the top, and my hot chocolate was lovely and rich. The balcony for the cafe backed out onto the reserve, so we were able to look out at the various birds who were feeding from a sugar water mix.
Silvereyes, Blackbirds and Tui were all sharing the food:
There was also a family of peacocks
and this family of ground birds by the car park (I don't know what they are - I will look them up later if I have time)
It was a lovely stop off point, and it was also nice to find that, once we were back on the road, there were only a few more twists and turns before we got back to a road with a white line down the middle and we were out at the top end of Upper Hutt.
Still, the journey, whilst a bit scary at times, has really whetted my appetite for exploring, and I am looking forward to us getting a car of our own so that we can take more trips out and start seeing more of what this country has to offer.