Chat, baby cuddles and gravy chapstick

Ah, last week I had a LOVELY trip to visit my fabulous friend, Jo in New Zealand. 

Jo is one of ‘the girls’ – a group of five of us who have been close and constant friends since school.  We are now spread all over the world – Jo in NZ, Lynn in Scotland, Seonaid in Germany, Jeni (recently seen in our pics of Sovereign Hill) in Melbourne and me just up the road from her in Melton – but whatever the distance we are just as devoted to each other!

To start our trip, Jeni came out from Melbourne to stay over here and we left super-duper early for the airport.  I was not as bright as I could have been  as I had been called into work unexpectedly and so I lost a lot of my ‘packing and finishing off knitted gifts’ time!!  It was all done and packed though and so we were at the airport in plenty of time and itching to get away!!

This was the first time that I have travelled since we arrived in Australia and I still had that worry that they would find some loophole in my visa that would mean I would be shipped back to Scotland!  I filled out all my forms though and we were waved through without a hitch.  Flights to New Zealand from Melbourne are about three hours – just about the perfect length – anything less than fourteen hours now feels like I barely have time to buckle my seatbelt!

We arrived in New Zealand and carefully chose which passport queue we thought would move fastest and then collected our bags and dashed to customs so we could get there before the people with a trolley loaded with boxes looking very much like those on the airport programmes showing people bringing in sharks fins and bags of tiger blood – didn’t these people realise that just on the other side of those slidey doors was my special, gorgeous friend and her heavenly baby (six month old Lily who I was just BURSTING to meet!)?!!!

We barrelled through the doors, abandoned the trolley with our cases and ran to Jo and Lily, meeting in a big tangle of hugging and baby passing.  It was SO good to be together again – even if we were missing two of our merry band.  We hugged and giggled and chatted all the way to the car, and in fact all the way through the weekend – because that’s what we do.  We might not see each other often but these girls are family to me and there is no ‘getting back into the groove’ with us we just pick right up where we left off!

It was lovely seeing where Jo lives.  She and Craig used to live in the middle of Wellington but they moved a little further out when Lily was on her way.  Their home is gorgeous and, like every other building in Wellington it is perched on the side of a hill – giving us views like this of a morning …

The hills were a bit of a culture shock after a year of flaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat landscape! 

We spent our first day blethering and getting to know Lily.  She was a little unsure at first

But she soon came round when she realised that all it took for us to melt was a teeny tiny smile!

On Saturday Craig said he was going to spend the day with Lily and sent us out on the town!  We went to a great little bar/restaurant for lunch (and cocktails!).  I love going for lunch with these girls, there is no ‘I can’t have that I am on a diet’ and we all LOVE our food so we happily swap forkfuls of each course so we get to try more things!

After our more than sufficient lunch we waddled down the road for a HUMUNGOUS ice cream – just in case we should fade away!

Jo took us to a great wool shop (she knows us so well!) and Jeni and I pawed lots of different balls of wool before we made our final selections (New Zealand Merino/Possum yarn!)  I get a bit like Lennie in ‘Of Mice and Men’ when I am in wool shops so I had to force myself to leave 😉

On Sunday we went round to Jo’s Mum Irena’s house.  She lives a short walk from Jo and Craig and had prepared a DELICIOUS buffet lunch for us.  We chatted, laughed and ate all afternoon.  Are you seeing a pattern?  It was great to see Irena again and so lovely to see her as ‘Nena’ with Lily!

On Monday Jo had arranged an afternoon tea with some of her NZ friends and their babies.  We met in a lovely hotel and – erm – chatted, laughed and ate all afternoon again!!!  It was great to meet her friends and very helpful now that I can put names to faces when she talks about them.  The babies were fantastically well behaved and it was a really great way to pass the afternoon.

After leaving the hotel we went for a stroll around the Wellington waterfront.  The sky was a beautiful colour and while it was chilly, it wasn’t freezing cold.  Lily was pleased to have her duck feet though 🙂

We got home and managed to chat on Skype with Lynn back in Scotland.  It was lovely to see her but it made my heart ache that she and Seons weren’t there.

On Tuesday there was doubt as to whether our flights would be able to take off due to the ash cloud caused by the volcanic eruption in Chile.  Oh no, it would be awful if we had to stay here cuddling Lily and drinking Jo’s wine!!  We struggled through somehow and went out sightseeing to take our minds off it!

We drove down to the bays around Wellington.  I am rubbish at remembering names of places so I do apologise – Jo did tell me but these things just don’t stick in my head!  It was a really clear day so we could see right over to the South Island. 

The bays are really rugged and beautiful and I can totally understand how the early settlers from Scotland felt at home here.

I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of the waves.

We stopped for lunch at a wee café because it had been AT LEAST two hours since we last had something to eat!  We had YUMMY fries with homemade aioli, a selection of local cheeses and some wonton chips with spicy dips (I can’t remember the names of the bays but I never forget a snack!).

In the evening we took Jo out for a birthday treat.  On Monday, Jeni and I had gone into town a little early to get a card and pressie for the birthday girl!  We found this card which was a scary little glimpse into the future of our girls’ holidays!! 

Our meal was at super-fancy Logan Browns – the food was OUT OF THIS WORLD.  I have had some lovely meals in my time but this was by far the best.  Everything was perfect and beautiful and tasted divine!  We kicked the night off with some cocktails. 

To start I had smoked salmon with a horseradish panna cotta and a crayfish something or other.

Then the main course was a fillet of beef with BBQ rib meat on top (I am sure they phrased it nicer than that!)  with some béarnaise sauce and the thickest, glossiest gravy I have ever had.  We all cleared our plates – naturally!

And it was at this point (the point when I realised that the only way to get any more of that yummy gravy taste was going to be licking the plate and in this establishment I think that would be frowned upon) that I had a flash of inspiration for a new business idea – gravy chapstick – GENIUS!  Why has no-one done this before?!!  It may have been the ridiculously strong martini talking but I thought it was a GREAT idea!!

Dessert was an apple pithivier with cinnamon ice cream and an apple crisp.  It was also gorgeous but I was still planning my gravy chapstick empire …

During dinner we ran out of chat …

Just kidding!  They were just trying to get in touch with Seons so we could chat with her too!

On Wednesday we really did have to go. L  We tried not to think about it.  The only bad thing about meeting up is that we have to say goodbye all over again and that is hard.

When we got to the airport we were told that there WAS doubt as to whether we could board.  While the flight was going, it would have to fly lower so they had to take more fuel and that would make the plane heavier so maybe we couldn’t board.  Now we had eaten A LOT over the weekend but this was just offensive!

We stood about having last cuddles with Jo and Lily while the airline made their minds up.  Finally we were allowed to board – in fact we were told to run!  We said our sad farewells and were hustled to our seats with tears in our eyes.  It was a WONDERFUL weekend and I can’t wait for the next one.

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