Family Time Down Under
30 January 2017 | Opua
Warm and Sunny
We hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas and New Year. We spent ours in New South Wales, Australia, and it was certainly the best we have had in years. With so many family; there were fifteen of us for Christmas lunch by the pool, it could not have been better. We partied for two weeks and my best present was everyone’s presence, family time. Both Amy and Edwin were with us, so a very special reunion for both of them with Down Under family after so long. Our niece Tilly hosted us all, her new home being the perfect setting for such a large gathering. It is out in the countryside with lots of birds and animals all around and has a fabulous pool and cabana. Tilly lives there with her two children Taja and Malachi, who are 11 and 15 years old.
We played lots of games over the five days we were there, one of our favourites being a giant Janga that Edwin made. The Poulstons certainly know how to sing, laugh, dance and best of all, how to be very silly. I constantly had a smile on my face. I say that, except for the day that George died. George was one of the colourful King Parrots who would come each morning for food, he was so tame he would often eat from your hand. Sadly a python decided that he would kill him, yes there are nasty beasts in Oz and we woke to the Cockatoos going crazy as the python squeezed poor George to death. We had quite the funeral and then suddenly George appeared, must have been his friend that died. Phew. Thanks to everyone for some of the great pictures that were taken that I have added to this blog.
Russell’s sister Yoga and her husband had us to stay when we were not at Tilly’s and they also have a pool. Pure luxury for sure, the weather was warm and sunny for the whole month we were in Australia - magic. Amy and Edwin were with us and were more than happy to chill out. One day Yoga and I took Amy to the Art Gallery in Brisbane, she and Yoga had a blast together, both being Art lovers. Brisbane has some great architecture and the City library is a stunning it is such a magnificent City. Another day we spent doing Gel artwork together, I might even frame the three I did ☺. Whilst in Australia we managed to catch up with various friends and Russell helped his brother-in-law build a storage area over 3/4 days in the garage/studio area. Yoga has just retired and is looking forward to having more time to paint and teach art in her studio. I’m thrilled for her as I love her artwork.
We returned to Opua with Taja and Malachi who were joining us for a two week holiday on board Ta-b. They had never been boating before. What sponges they were, we could not teach them enough about life at sea. They even learnt new games like Backgammon and some basic French. We had such a fabulous time together, having so much enthusiasm and energy on the boat was a treat. Both are real team players and it was wonderful to get to know them better.
Our first day out we met s/v Tika. They have children so it was fun for the kids to get together. There was the annual cricket match being held on the drying sand spit on the southern tip of Motukiekie Island and Malachi and Taja did us proud by scoring some of the highest points. We then spent the evening on Tika over pot luck dinner and a game called Salad Bowl (a great one for a large group of 15 of us).
The next day the kids, from four different boats, dingy sailed together, swam and played on the trampoline out in the bay. We stayed in Pipi Bay for four days enjoying the snorkelling, fishing and hiking before heading back to Opua and a day in Keri Keri with Tika before they left for Auckland. Then it was back out to explore more of the Bay of Islands anchorages. We spent a delightful evening in Te Uenga Bay where friends Rolly and Consie (s/v Restless who we met in Turkey) live. Before having a BBQ dinner with them we went for a fantastic hike. The views were stunning, just wish we had remembered our cameras, will have to hike again. We lucked out on the way back meeting a great guy called Stephen Dews (an incredible artist and sailor), apparently his pieces sell for 165,000 pounds each. We saw a couple in his studio – breathtaking, just wish Amy had been with us.
We had to head back into Opua when some heavy winds were forecast so took the opportunity to take the kids to the Waitangi Treaty grounds. They loved it, so much Maori history and cultural presentations for them to enjoy. We also took them to Russell as it is such a delightful town heaped in history as well.
Whilst not immersing the two of them in history we were able to take them snorkelling, kayaking, hiking and fishing around various bays in the islands. The weather was kind to us and although a tad cooler than normal for this time of the year we only had one night of rain and heavy winds. The kids even tried wake boarding, but sadly with no success – maybe next time. The board game “Settlers of Catan” became an all out favourite and we were impressed with their tactics, they are already saving up for a board back home. What a great game, would highly recommend if you are into board games.
Our two weeks together went too fast and life on board has been rather quiet the last few days. We are at anchor at Roberton Island while I write this, although due back at the marina tonight as Ta-b is booked in to be hauled out onto land at the end of this week. We then plan to start our month “walkabout” New Zealand. There are lots of friends and family we are planning to visit and hope to get all the way to Queenstown and back. I will update our blog on our return.
In the meantime, “with much love”, I would like to share one of my favourite quotes from A.A. Milne
Piglet: ’’How do you spell ’love’?’’ Pooh: ‘‘you don’t spell it...you feel it.’’