4.5.17 Homeward bound

Warning! The following article was written with SEVERE jetlag. All grammar errors, words and opinions are not ours.

Walk, Ferry, Shuttle Bus, Airport bus. 

Hour queue for check in. 

Enjoy 5 movies, two meals, one snack box and one unidentified vegetarian warm food item on 17 hour flight leaving Auckland at 15.30 to Doha. Arrive into Doha at midnight (on the same day?!?) and hang out at the sixth airport to be awarded five stars.

At 2am Doha time we eat a burger in a food court as we are both starving (Stomach’s revenge for red wine overload?). I think I see a giant teddy bear but my mind is sleep deprived and confused. 

I think I meet George Cloony but my mind is sleep deprived and confused. 

Turns out we use the same hair products.

At 4.30am we check in for our 7 hour flight to sunny Blighty. We consume 3 movies, one meal and a veggie pasty thing.

At 11am we land on the damp rock in the north east Atlantic that is home. I think this means it has taken thirty and a half hours to get from Auckland to London but my brain is tired.

We embrace the balmy English weather

Al wins carousel rucksack roulette taking the final trip score to Al 4-2 Guy. She wins the casting vote in our flat hunt.

Alison’s wonderful parents and our new landlords meet us at the airport.

Bus, Bus, Train, Car and within five hours of being in the country we are in Waitrose perusing the Kiwi wine selection. 

We have swollen ankles.

For those of you who have been writing in, demanding to know Al’s fitbit totals for the whole eight months, here are the final scores on the doors:

3,570,330 steps

1,514.81 miles walked (which is equivalent to walking from London to Ivalo, in the north of Finland)

646,995 calories burnt (mostly replaced by dumplings)

1,791 hours slept

Thankfully Fitbit don’t record alcohol units consumed.

We go to bed at 7pm in full daylight.

Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home.

THANKS FOR READING!

1.5.17 Hastings to Waiheke Island

Today we make our penultimate journey of this trip, it will be a mixed bag of transport, taxi, teeny plane, bus, ferry, bus. 

We have booked an internal flight with Air New Zealand as it was cheaper than the bus and it saved us an overnight in Auckland.

Propeller driven plane….gulp….

So, on our last Monday away, as everyone at home was having a bank holiday lie in we were up early. We packed and left our glamping tent, which had been battered by wind and rain the night before, and got on our way to the small but beautiful Napier airport. 

View from Hawkes Bay airport

We checked in our bags, as they had bottles of wine carefully packed throughout we asked that they have the fragile tags put on. They were duly tagged.

Look at the fragile label, this means do not throw it around the plane

Breakfast was pastry based with Hawthorne coffee to wash it down. We watched as the baggage handlers threw our bags into the baggage hold on our plane. Fragile tags duly ignored.

Gourmet sausage roll

The wind had really picked up so it was with trepidation that we boarded the small, propeller driven plane. It was bumpy on the way up but once up it was a breeze.

55 mins later we are in Auckland and on our way into town for the ferry to the beautiful island of Waiheke, where we had booked a bit of luxury for our last 3 nights of the trip. 

Auckland CBD from Waiheke ferry

The 35 min ferry journey was stunning, many photos were taken.

Landing on the tiny island we got a bus the 2km into Oneroa, luxury, and got into our Air BnB to see what we have for the last time. Washing machine and dryer are the essentials as I don’t want to go back to Mum and Dad’s with a bag full of washing. Mum never did my washing when I was a student so I doubt it will be gratefully received on Friday!!! 

Our place has views front and back to the seaside. How ace?

Harbour in Waiheke 

We got some fancy items from the posh Island Grocer and essentials from Four Square and went back to the flat to do washing and cook up some lamb merguez sausages for a late lunch.

Guy cooked a stunning evening meal of lamb meatballs, couscous and adds green leaves for health. 

It was accompanied by 2 very fine Pinot Noirs for which we were grateful to be drinking due to Guy’s diligent packing and not the Air NZ baggage handlers. We watch The Bachelor and MKR. 

Pinot Noir taste test

30.4.17 Hastings Farmers Market

Sunday morning in Hastings means the local markets is on and being travelling gluttons we cycled there to view the local produce on offer. The weather was dull, cold and wet but the market was still well attended. 

Guy, trying to avoid getting out of bed 

We are attending a vegan pot luck meal tonight at our Air BnB hosts so we spent our time checking labels and ingredients. A loaf made of nuts, seeds and tonnes of vegan goodness, a salami style log made of figs and almonds and a jar of lime marmalade to accompany this pass the vegan test.

Massive field, huge hand and teeny coffee; arty shot.

We then had a cycle out to Alpha Domus vineyard, the sun was shining and the sky was blue once we got there, the Crowded House song, Four Seasons in One Day was an earworm.

They are a tiny boutique vineyard, but do export to UK via the NZ Wine shop in Brixton which we keep hearing about and will be visiting when we get to London next. We bought a Viogner for the afternoon.

Just a short cycle down the road was Abbey Vineyard and Fat Monks Brewery, something for everyone! 

Purpose built Abbey Cellar door

We tasted lots of wines and decided it would be great to have a pizza and bottle of syrah in their garden. We chatted to the owner of the place for a bit as well, he was lovely. 

We went home and packed our rucksacks with wine whilst drinking wine 🍷🍾.

Cute, eh?

In the evening we had a vegan pot luck meal, amazingly there were loads of puddings. One of the best dishes was provided by Sonam, she had made a dhal which was finished in seconds.

11.4.2017 Auckland Domain and Dumplings

So the healthy caffeinated run up and down an extinct volcano exercise routine is in full swing. We did it again and see yet more Chinese tourists checking out the views.

Rangitoto volcanic island

We walk over to the Domain, a huge expanse of green grass in the centre of Auckland, it also has a hothouse and fernery. Ace. 

Check out these roots….

Over the otherside of the Domain is Newmarket, which we head to as we are starving and spot a few Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese and dumpling restaurants. Dumplings win, along with a glass of kiwi white wine each. 

Seafood, beef and carrot, pork and shrimp, shrimp types of dumplings

A spot of jeans shopping later and we were sorted. Guy tried on 3 pairs, I tried on slightly more.

Piles of disgarded jeans

I threw together a tuna nicoise salad back at home.

Check out those soft poached eggs

 and we did a double header on the movies and wine. Mad Max Fury Road, followed by The secret life of Walter Mitty. 

Wines tasted:

Coopers Creek Chardonnay

Lawson Dry Hills Gerwurtztraminer Marlborough

Wycroft Pinot Noir 2014 Wairarapa

Kahurangi Estate Pinot Noir 2015 Nelson

10.4.2017 Auckland

We are determined to get home being able to fit into our clothes in storage so are embarking on an exercise regime which involves getting caffeined up to the eyeballs then running up and down an extinct volcano every day, we will write a self help book about it when we get home and make a fortune.

The massive volcano that is Mt Eden

Day One and we did an 11 min walk to Rad for Guy to have their famous flat white. I stuck with a reliable long black (as opposed to a short black which is an espresso). Guy liked the flat white as it was less milky and more coffee than the usual frothy, milky coffee concoctions.

Wow, what a cool flat white

We had a light jog up aforementioned volcano and were greeted with even more Chinese tourists than yesterday. 

Guy looking relaxed after jogging up Mount

Back down the volcano and Guy cooked up a hearty breakfast of huevos rancheros which we demolished in seconds.

We had a wander down Dominion Road nearby and checked out the Chinese quarter, it was too early for dumplings so we carried onto Mt Eden shops which are varied and include an allotment, the likes of which I have never seen before. 

How beautiful is this???

We then carried on past a small kids playground with a bucket contraption in it. Like Aquarama in Bennicassim, if anyone has been there.

Memories of Spain

Back in Mt Eden and we chance upon an independent wine shop. What are the chances of that?  We chatted to the chap in the shop for sometime, purchased 2 bottles of wine and went home to plan and book much of the remaining time we have left accompanied by a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Dinner was leftovers salad.

We watched Hateful Eight on our 42″ TV in our room and drank Pinot Noir.

Wines tasted:

Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc Man O’ War 2015

Marlborough Pinot Nior Giesen 2015

9.4.2017 Auckland suburbia

We awoke late, very late, thanks to a wonderfully comfy bed.  Fruit for breakfast in the garden admiring the avocado, manderin, lemon and lime trees growing all around us. Amazing.  I want to live on an extinct volcano, everything grows so well here.

Arvo already on a tree, won’t be ripe until November

We make a cup of green tea. Richard’s kettle is amazing. 

Just look at those tea settings

His toaster is just as impressive.

How many settings on this toaster

We walk to Kingsland which is another suburb of Auckland nearby.  It was nice, and had a bar serving Mac beer, which although it looked like a small brewer was actually owned by the massive Lion Beers whose owner had died the previous day. We toasted him with a small ale and a comfy seat.

Sunday’s were made for drinking

It was imperative that we moved on, a Sunday afternoon could quite easily have slipped by in that position. 

We walked into Ponsonby, where last time we enjoyed a Ponsonby Pie, the bakery was not to be found though, so we had 2 pies in the Ponsonby area anyway. 

Ponsonby steak and mushroom pie

We managed not to buy t-shirts from this area, at $85 each it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. In fact Guy even said that if there was a t-shirt with Stevie Bull on the front and Led Zepplin and Stone Roses in a big group selfie on the back he still wouldn’t pay that amount of money, thankfully this challenge wasn’t tested.

More up and down hill walking later and we were at the waterfront, drinking wine at The Conservatory, a Wither Hills Rarangi Sauvignon Blanc 2016 to be precise, and relaxing in comfy leather chairs with the wind and drizzle starting up outside the bar.

Kiwi sauvignon blanc

A quick dash along the waterfront and we were in Wynyard area, at an Irish pub. No, we didn’t have Guinness, not wanting to mix our drinks we had a Russian Jack Pinot Noir 2014 Martinborough. This means we have been in an Irish pub in each country we have stayed in. Result! Dedication and tenacity get results like that.

Kiwi Pinot Noir

We got the bus home, Guy threw together some nachos together in our kitchen, without looking too pissed, and we returned to our room, with its 42″ TV and watched Rogue One, I asked lots of questions throughout 🤣. 

4.4.2017 Waverley to Camperdown

We got up early to see the family get ready for school/work at a leisurely pace.  We said thank you and goodbye to our wonderful hosts.

Again, we went to Ruby’s diner for a healthy breakfast of Bircher muesli for me and brown rice pudding for Guy. 

Off across town we were smoothly into our next Air BnB apartment in Camperdown. It was proper city living, and we eyed up the washing machine for later!!!

We caught a bus into town, to St Martin’s place and had a final check at Post Restante to confirm that our driving licences are nowhere to be seen and we try to forget all about it, like a bad dream. Maybe they will be returned to the UK? 

Lunch was in an Asian food court, heaving with office workers, mainly Asian, looking for good grub. We had a lush Malaysian curry plate, followed by samosa and onion bhaji. 

We met up with Julia and her mates, on their way to a Cyndi Lauper / Blondie gig, for her to hand back some hair products I had left at her house (the horror, 2 days with no hair products!!!!) and a catch up in Hard Rock Cafe, a first for Guy. 

Guy popping his Hard Rock cherry

Light tea as we were still full from lunch, and breakfast!!!!

Darling Harbour at night

3.4.2017 Waverley 

Eventually we got up, made our way to a cafe we had spotted yesterday, full of Sunday brunchers, so we thought we would go on a Monday morning and avoid the crowds. Rubys diner is a lovely place, the menu is full of chia seeds, alternative grains,  sourdough and the like. It also has bulletproof coffee, so Guy had to try one. He loved it, like a high calorie, creamy filter coffee, coffee, butter and coconut oil……

Bulletproof coffee, no low calorie version available!
Guy’s usual, eggs on toast with extra bacon and arvo. Note the arvo is sliced; not smashed or shagged.
Gluten and dairy free banana bread, served with homemade honey ricotta, so not completely dairy free

There was torrential rain outside whilst we were enjoying brunch, which was slightly concerning as we were planning a few miles walk along the eastern beaches. We carried on regardless, we are British and waterproof, and we avoided too much rain.

What a stunning flower shop?

The walk was into Bondi, then along Bronte, Clovelly finally ending up at Coogee beach. It was stunning scenery even without the blue skies.

Bondi before the clouds gathered….
Swimming pool by the beach, just so the sharks don’t bite you. Health and safety gone mad!!!

We sat and watched the surfers enjoy riding the waves. 

Guys cool photos of dudes surfing

Then it was back Ness and Matt’s home for wonderful food, gin and wine!!!

Matt pouring us some of his home brew, it was actually pretty good!!!!

A pint in Matt’s local meant we were embroiled in a pub quiz which we came last, spectacularly. We blame the fact the questions were all Australian based…..Matt kept the ‘winning’ voucher.

2.4.2017 Woy Woy to Waverley

Jules celebrated her 42nd birthday by getting up and making us raisin toast and dropping us off at the station. What a fab person??? Thanks Jules 🤣

We got the train from Woy Woy to Bondi, via Central then the bus to Waverley in about 2 hours and it cost about $3. 

We had a coffee on the way!!!

We were off to stay with my cousin (well, 2nd cousin if you are being pedantic) and his family in Waverley.  They had kindly offered us accommodation, food and a family vibe. We had a great afternoon meeting family members, being entertained by the kids, having a drink and some fantastic food cooked by Ness.  It was a fabulous evening that we really enjoyed. 

No photos taken.

1.4.2017 Hawks Nest to Woy Woy

Due to circumstances well beyond her control, the whirlwind known as Julia Caunt was unable to come up and meet us in Hawks Nest last night. She had promise to get up at sunrise and do the 2 hour journey up to Hawks Nest to see us this morning, we only just managed to get out of bed before she flew through the door.

We had a lovely morning having a cup of tea and catching up, reminiscing. 

We then had a coffee, another pie (in Guy’s case) at the bakery and a brisk, breezy and, in the end, damp walk along the beach.

We had lunch booked at the Boatshed, which was a lovely family affair with great, fresh good.

Family photo, Peter nearly smiling 😁

We then had hugs and farewells with Bette and Peter and we were driven to Woy Woy listening to film music theme tunes from the 80s and singing along to many songs we thought we had forgotten.

The evening was spent chatting with Jules and Peter, drinking fizz or beer and singing Five, Journey, Bon Jovi etc etc at loud volume. An absolute hoot!!!