They’re HOME….

Our beautiful daughters are back home! They arrived on the 3rd of November and ended up in Quarantine in Christchurch, midway down the south Island (East Coast) which is about ten hours from where we’re living at present. The next thing was how to get them home? Fly again (not cheap though probably more efficient) or have a mini holiday, explore Christchurch (the girls have never been there before this) and then board the Coastal Train to Picton, the Ferry to Wellington and a Train back to Palmerston North. I started to book things and as per-usual, nothing goes to plan.

The story starts when I decide to go to Picton to visit a good friend and go house hunting. Yes, we’ve decided to move to the South Island, probably next year. The house we’re in at present isn’t big enough for all of us especially since I need an office and craft room (for my new business). The house I wanted to look at was no longer available, so with many thanks to Jamie, I went looking further afield and found another in Woodburne close to Blenheim. We didn’t get this one either. Stepping back, I ended up having a mini makeover (bought some clothes too) and some photos done by Jamie. She’s great. Such a wonderful lady and sure knows how to make a woman look and feel good about themselves.

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Picton is as beautiful as ever. Below is a photo of Waikawa Bay, about five minutes down the road from my friends house. Yes we went for a paddle. It rained for the next few days.

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A few more photos from Picton Harbour at Sunset, when the Ferry was coming in. Gorgeous.

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A few more photos from Raranga Beach, which is out towards Blenheim. It was gorgeous, though not advisable to walk over the pebble beach in bare feet…

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On the Friday before travelling down to Christchurch, I attended a ‘Wine o’clock’ neighbour evening. It was lovely to meet others and have a chat. It was late to bed that particular night. On Sunday Jamie and I left for Christchurch at five o’clock in the morning. My daughters were  being released from Quarantine earlier than we’d all expected. We finally picked them up just down from the hotel they were staying in, packed up the car and drove on to Top 10 Holiday Park. A nice place, though it seemed we were put on the second floor. I’d thought the place were all single story. Oops, I will remember to ask next time. Taking all the luggage up two flights of steps was a mission and a half.
Jamie decided to drive back to Picton. I’m sure she was exhausted by the time she got home. I worried about all the travelling she’d be doing over the following few days.

Back to the girls and what to do for the rest of Sunday and the next few days I’d booked for us to show the girls around Christchurch, not that I knew it overly well. Lucky me, had a few friends who lived in the area.

Mandy is a beautiful lady I’ve known since my children were little. We met in Rotorua, and our children went to school together for a while. It was Mandy who put me on the right track for my depression, something which I’ll always be grateful for. I’m not sure what would’ve happened if Mandy hadn’t noticed the mess I’d got myself into. It was also Mandy who sort of told me about the terror attack in 2019, though she didn’t know it at the time of the text. I was in the UK and turned the TV news on. My world was turned upside down in an instant. I am sure many never thought this would happen in New Zealand…well not twice and not for affecting so many people and taking so many lives. It is horrendous and I have no idea how some countries live with this kind of thing.
Oops… slid away again. Anyway. We caught up with Mandy, her eldest daughter and granddaughter on Monday. We bussed into the city having no idea where the main station was. The tickets were costly and no return tickets. They apparently had a transfer to another bus if used within two hours…sigh. Not good enough! This is a total negative in my opinion for Christchurch.
Mandy collected us from Cathedral Square. Picture of the girls below with the broken cathedral behind them. I’ve no idea what the sculpture is called. It looks like an ice cream cone with fancy lattice work.

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We went to Christchurch Museum. It was brilliant. So much to see and do. I just wish there were a few more sitting areas because my back is giving me grief right now. The one part I really loved was the Street showing old shops and what they sold. It reminded me of the Cobbles Streets in the York Museum in England. Memories are what we make them and seeing the early years of Christchurch was  a wonderful lesson in history. We also went to the children’s area to sit and chat while Mandy’s granddaughter crawled around, having cuddles, standing and sitting. Such an adorable child.  Moving on to the museum café we had morning tea. Ice chocolate is a favourite of mine right now along with cheese scones. Delicious. Next we went to the Riverside Market, which is mainly food shops. It is lovely, though I got sore again and I’d forgotten my walking stick leaving it in Mandy’s car. The girls wandered around while we waited for Mandy and family to arrive. By the time they did, we’d ordered lunch, so I could sit down and Mandy gave me my walking stick. I hate not been able to walk far without it. Chatting for a while in the sun was lovely. Mandy and family went home and we went to sit by the river for a while before returning to the bus station for another expensive ride home…ouch.

We had fish and chips for dinner, the first for the girls since their return to New Zealand. It was nice to see home cut chips (fries) for a change. That evening I went to book our train ride back to Picton only to find it fully books… weeks ahead. Now we were stuck. It was OMG time. How would we get home. I looked at flights and cringed, especially since there would be extra baggage. Managed to contact my husband and he was off work too so he could spend time with our girls. I asked him to find out if it was cheaper for him to drive and pick us up. It probably cost heaps more in the end. All this sorted and we had another day out to Northlands Mall to shop and meet another friend for lunch. We all had an amazing chat with Paula, such a fun lady to be around. It was at this stage we wondered if we should seriously start looking for a house in Christchurch instead of Blenheim. Then you remember the earthquakes and the terror attack that happened and wonder if you’re brave enough. Yeah, I know the whole of New Zealand is on several fault lines and we rock a lot… but seriously? Then I remember we used to live in Rotorua which is situated inside an old volcano caldera. LOL. Where we are at present is on a main fault line. Therefore do what you want and live where you’re going to be happy. South Island it is.

On Wednesday we stayed at the holiday park to relax. We’d spoken to my husband a few times, finding out how the cats were getting along. Hissy at times, chasing each other. Bonnie chased Nero so far, she got lost for a few hours, though found her way back… thank goodness. By the time we got home they are a bit more friendly and putting up with each other. Though from the expression on his face, he’s asking why we’ve got another cat in his house…LOL

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Wednesday is also the day my husband started to make his way down through New Zealand, across on the Ferry. Though the trip to down for him was good, with the Ferry and a few sleeps along the way, so he didn’t crash. We were worried at time due to lack of messages to work out where he was. Found him in reception at the holiday camp at 8 am. Took him to our lodge room, calling the girls who hurried down for cuddles and hugs… tears and all. The below photo is a few minutes after.

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My husband hadn’t seen the girls in three years. Our son is yet to catch up with them. I hadn’t seen them for two years and about eight months.

We packed up the car my husband had rented and set out for breakfast at Northlands Mall, breakfast was yummy, sorry no photos. Back in the car park we looked at booking the ferry. This is where stress, anxiety and pure frustration comes in. Palmerston North Hertz… I doubt we will ever hire from them again, they made a solvable issue harder, demanding more money because we couldn’t get a spot for it on the ferry. You’d think in these covid times, the ferry wouldn’t be fully booked. Sadly it was, though there was a good reason. Interislander had two ferry down. We were travelling with Blue Bridge and booked as foot passengers. The issue was still the car… and how to get back to Palmerston North. God, what a bloody mess. We ended up driving to Picton with a few stops, showing the girls the changes since the double earthquake in Kaikoura and the gorgeous ocean. Below are a few images of the coast line as we travelled up towards Picton.

Finally arriving in Picton I went to ask about getting our car on the ferry. The lady at the desk was amazing… No can do.  Why was she amazing? She put us on Standby and worked with us, her boss and a few other customers and they managed to get three more cars on the ferry including ours. I’ve never prayed so hard for such a length of time in ages. Fingers crossed, touched wood (my walking stick). Even now I sometimes wonder how this lady did her job so professionally and with such good humour. I need to send her some flowers… We also had dinner in Picton a lovely woodfire pizza. Caught up with Jamie (I’d left something at her house) and I can’t wait to get back south again in the New Year. House hunting will begin in earnest.

The photos below show the beginning of our Ferry crossing. The first three are of Picton Port, the fourth is Oxford Bear which is milk chocolate drink sitting on the windowsill and the rest of of Marlborough Sounds through a dirty ferry window on a cloudy day…

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The Ferry ride was good. The thing about Blue Bridge Ferries is they have stabilizers and if you don’t know, The Cook Straits are (can be) one of the roughest to cross in the world. We had a good sailing. It was Isabelle’s first time on a ferry and she coped really well. My hubby slept some, the girls went exploring and I stayed. We sailed rather late and didn’t get into Wellington until twenty-three hundred hours. (11pm) Getting off takes about forty-five minutes at most and then it was set off home to Palmerston North. Another two hours or more. I think we got home at two-fifteen in the morning. Dumped the suitcases in the house, checked the cats and we all went to bed. Exhausted.  Hubby had to take the car back by nine in the morning…and sort out the mess they’d made of our car rental.

We’ve been home for just over a week now. Luckily my husband was on holiday and has ben able to spend some time with the girls each day. It’s so good to have them home and things are starting to settle, including the cats. We are still going to be moving South… Another Story.