Dipping our Toes

A file picture of the Airbus 310 neo

It’s now Sunday January 15, 2023. Kia ora!

I haven’t blogged for several days. So what has happened? On Thursday afternoon I met a friend for coffee; on Friday morning I met another friend for coffee. It was lovely to see them both.  On Friday afternoon I picked up some airline tickets: we are off to a sister’s 70th birthday party in Australia, another Big Family Event.

On Saturday afternoon we went to Queensgate. It’s always busy there, but I did manage to get a dress (like my daughter’s dress, that I had admired so much when we were in Napier).  There was one left in size 10; the others were much larger.  I tried it on, and it fitted perfectly.  It has semi-sleeves, no pesky waist line, and no zips or buttons. I am stoked to find something that is so comfortable to wear.  I also tried on some other garments: a nice top, which was a little large at size 12, and a pleated green skirt with a stretchy top. I am weighing up what to get – they have a special on giving 50% off the price of a second garment. I find a counter, but it’s busy, and the single lady serving seems to be taking ages over each transaction. I asked her to hold the garments I’d tried on, while I looked around for more, thinking I might buy four garments, with two at half price. I didn’t find anything else I wanted, and found the “Please pay here” station again. There was still the same woman serving, but by now there was quite a queue to be served. Eventually another staff member turned up, and I queued up to be served by her. She told me that the discount did not apply to the skirt I’d selected, so I ended up just getting the dress. I don’t think it’s particularly kosher to fancy your daughter’s dress, but I’ve searched several Farmers’ stores, and I’m very pleased to find it.

Eventually I made my way out of Farmers, and went to find the H & M store. Strangely, there was nothing I wanted to buy there!  This is most unusual for me. They had cream jackets for $39!, but I already have cream jackets. I made my way to Whitcoulls, where I had a lovely browse, and bought JD’s birthday present. Nobody was buying Prince Harry’s Spare. (Note: he’s presently 5yh in line to the throne of England, not 4th).

Eventually I met JD at The Coffee Club café, where the food was fine but the coffee wasn’t great. I ordered a small coffee, and JD a medium, but my small coffee was far larger than what I’m used to.

We’ve been watching Annika starring Nicola Walker on Neon – a new series set in Scotland. Between this, and re-watching the Winds of War, and watching anything worth watching on free-to-air television, there are lots of things to see at present. The latest series (series 5) of The Crown is now showing on Netflix, so I can watch that – without JD.  I watched an episode with Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II and Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret. I have a lot of time for Lesley Manville, but I do not like Staunton as Queen Elizabeth. I greatly admired Claire Foy, and I thought Olivia Colman was quite good, but I guess I’ll have to put up with it!  On Sunday evenings we have McDonald and Dodds, and a new series of Happy Valley with Sarah Lancashire on Monday nights; a new series of Call the Midwife on television one as well, so there’s plenty to watch at the moment.

On Sunday morning we are due to go to the Ngaio Union Church, but I don’t particularly want to go there – it’s hard to get to, for a start, and I really don’t want to catch covid; also, they don’t have zoom. Instead, I manage to zoom into a service at St John’s Presbyterian Church in Willis St.  They have a very good website, advising people what to expect when they come to church.  I guess that being inner-city they get plenty of visitors.

On Monday what did I do? Packing to travel to Australia was tricky: should we take the birthday present in my suitcase, trusting that it would arrive safely; would my luggage fit on top? Would my suitcase still weigh less than 23 kg?  As we were to stay a night in Auckland, the logistics were quite tricky, as I didn’t want to have to delve into the suitcase, but of course needed my meds and some cosmetics in a carry bag. I also wanted to take some bling in my handbag, not trusting it to my checked luggage. We ate leftover Chinese takeaways for dinner.

On Tuesday January 17th we were to fly to Auckland late afternoon. We used up the remaining eggs in the fridge for lunch.

Today is Friday January 20th, 2023. Kia ora from sunny Gawler (near Adelaide)!

We took the plunge and flew to Australia for a sister-in-law’s 70th birthday party. It was to be a big family occasion – how could we not go?  We haven’t been “overseas”, even to Australia, since 2017, almost 6 years ago, so it all seemed quite different and quite a novelty.

I made a list, and we established that the birthday present would fit into my large suitcase.  We further established, after I’d packed my clothes, that it was under the 23kg limit.  JD would take a small suitcase and a backpack.

We were to fly to Auckland, stay overnight in the Novotel Hotel near Auckland Airport, and fly to Adelaide the next morning.  Our bookings were all intact, thankfully. It was nice to be able to check on the Air NZ ap.

We ordered a taxi to Wellington Airport, and arrived very early. Better early than late, however. A kind Air New Zealand staff member helped us log in at the kiosk. JD went to get some Australian money, despite the high exchange rate. An overhead sign indicated that we should go through security. We did this without incident, and we through to our gate lounge – far too early. We watched the flight to Auckland before ours be boarded, and we continued to  wait. There was one café there, but it was closed, so we couldn’t have anything to eat or drink either.

Eventually we boarded our flight to Auckland. The new plane (Airbus 321 Neo) had more legroom than we were expecting, and the seat next to JD was empty. When we got to Auckland, we retrieved our bags. There was to be a shuttle to the Novotel, which was a 15 minute walk away, but we waited while several other buses came and went. Eventually we decided to walk to the Novotel. It had been raining in Auckland, and was quite cold, way below the 24 C that had been forecast. I was glad I’d brought my puffer jacket. 

We eventually got to the hotel, although it wasn’t clear how to get there. At the entrance there was a strange circular entry, which I had some trouble negotiating. And then the real trouble began.  The hotel did not have a reservation for us, under either of our names, or the travel agent’s name. A payment had been made to Expedia, but our booking was not there. I did not have a reservation sheet, but a summary of the payments that had been made, for the plane fares and the hotel booking. They pointed us to seats in the lobby, and we waited and waited for the receptionist and whatever higher authority she was consulting to make a decision.  Eventually JD asked if there was a room we could use and pay for, and we would take it up with our travel agent on our return.  There was a problem with that – the hotel was fully booked. They did find us a room, however, but it would cost $419 for the night (or what was left of it), and they required a $100 deposit for “incidentals”.  The restaurant (a buffet) was due to close at 10 pm, but tonight it would close at 9:30 pm, thus ruling that out as an option. We were offered a voucher for the bar, but declined that – it was almost 10 pm by this time.

We finally got up to our room, which may have been a staff room, perhaps. The television was going, and there was no mini-bar.  It certainly wasn’t a large room, and it was a bit cold. It was dark, too, in the room. We had to adjust the air conditioning. There were no nice toiletries to take away – only soap and shampoo containers, and compostable shower caps (I did take those). There were two bottles of water. There was a hot water jug and some tea bags.

We were very hungry by now, and ordered from the limited room service menu – a margherita pizza, to share, and two desserts: chocolate brownie with berry compote and ice cream, plus a glass of wine for JD.  Eventually our order arrived, without plates to share the pizza, and only one dessert, with no ice cream. Nevertheless, JD tipped the waitress. I don’t mind tipping for good service, but for this?

I set the alarm on my phone for 5:15 am; there was no folder in our room and the hotel didn’t appear to offer wake up calls. I woke early, and showered; then JD got up and we checked out and went across to Auckland International Airport to check in two hours before our flight to Adelaide..

I’ll leave it there. More (not so) exciting news to follow! Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

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