Monday, April 27, 2009

Aunty Jo's

A trip home always includes dinner at Aunty Jo's a few times, usually a casual affair, decided on the day or the day before. The big draw for the kids is their cousins, of course, and the trampoline!

"One day, sisters, one day I'll be up there leaping higher than all of you put together!"

I love this photo because quite by accident I got Bec's face just as she was going 'UUgghhh!' because Erica returned her sodden, flavor-licked-off chippie to the dip. On the right, another staple at Aunty Jo's, along with cryptic crosswords and wine, is a jigsaw puzzle, always a Wasjig, or backwards puzzle - there's no picture to work off, just an image of the people looking at the scene, and you have to work it out.

As a Mum of three, and aunty of eight, Jo's had tons of babies in her kitchen! So she has the lowest drawer in the kitchen devoted to unbreakable stuff that the kids can pull out and toss all over the room, or even get inside. On the right, cousin Josh had a great time helping me bathe Erica - that's a stink toy he's holding over her head, he was trying to squirt her with it, as she was trying to wear the bowl.

Not Aunty Jo's house, but a lovely moon we caught on the way over. Hawera street scene:

On the Road

We spend a lot of time in the car travelling while in NZ. Here's some of what we get up to!

I just had to put all four photos on as I love the way their expressions change depending on who is holding the chocolate Easter Bunny!

One of my favorite views of course, being a Taranaki girl, is the mountain. We always watch out for it the most on the way to Hawera, of course, but I tend to photograph it on the way back up north, a kind of farewell portrait. I also love the coastline in northern Taranaki. This is one of the Three Sisters at the mouth of the Mokau river. There are some photos of us playing on the beach there further down.

Erica not yet in her seat! She's good at sitting in it acutally, and would often climb in herself when she decided she was bored and we should go somewhere more interesting! On the right, Amy and Lena gingerly pose near a very scary Ronald McDonald. Whoever got the idea that kids would find this freak appealing??

One road trip was just to go shopping in New Plymouth. Here's Erica in the train outside my favorite shop, Sussan. And having a go at some very loong noodles in the food court.

At the beach mentioned above. We were stopping for some fresh air after Amy lost her stomach (again) over Mt. Messenger. Erica really took to the rock climbing like a bee to a flower, she really is a chip off the old block. I was also a champion rock and cliff-climber! On the right, we left our mark.

Lena wading in the river (right), and Amy picking her way through Taranaki's famous black sand. When Kanji first saw it, he thought it was horribly polluted or something, but no, it's just like that! It's also very soft and deep.

Trying to be Kiwi kids, only Kiwi kids would not even notice the sheep, let alone demand to take photos with them. This is in Te Kuiti, in a cafe we stopped at for a real cup of tea. They had a lovely garden out the back, and here is Lena playing at being a model by the fountain.

The photo on the left is actually a shop! It's a tiny cottage in someone's back yard, and it's full of craft items for sale. Mum bought me some spiced pot stands - you put something warm on them and the scent of the spices is released. On the left, an absolutely divine piece of cake! It's banana cake with thick chocolate icing, raspberry sauce and whipped cream. It was heaven!

Ladies' Lunch

Eating out again! This time we were a bit more organized and managed to get all my sisters in one place, plus an extra friend. Erica was also there of course, and Amy as well as she started the day out feeling unwell. No food photos, it wasn't worth photographing, I think we were all a bit disappointed in the food!

Me and the glass of sauvignon blanc I look at now with great longing.

Mum and Maria

Jo, txting. Again. Hmm.

Bec with Erica, and on the right, her friend Kelly, who recently had a baby too, but he stayed home with his Dad, which was a shame as I never did get to meet him the whole time we were there! The month in NZ always passes far too quickly.


Anyone who knows me knows I love dining out! I was so sad that my friend and her husband sold their restaurant in my home town and moved to England! Even if new owners aren't up to their standard, it's still the best restaurant in town, so of course I went. It was spontaneous - Amy and Lena stayed the night with their cousin, so me and Mum, not having any idea what to make for dinner, decided to go out. Jo just happened along right then, so I loaned her a top and she came too!

Left, the antipasta plate. Right, a salmon entree

Left, the dish I ate, stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon on a bed of pumpkin gnocchi and sundried tomatoes. On the right, Mum's seafood stack, with a crab leg, scallop, shrimps, and cod.

The salad bar and dessert table.

Erica came too! She was so good, sat quietly in a high-chair working on her meal of baby custard, hot chips and ice cream. Not altogether!

Happy Birthday!

March/April is such a tempting time for me to go back to NZ, not only because of Easter and my daughters' birthdays, but my big sister Maria and her son Michael have their birthdays in March as well! Michael had some friends over, then they had a barbecue to celebrate their combined birthdays - Michael was born a day before his mother's birthday.

I somehow managed to go to my sister's birthday party and only get this one photo of her, in her kitchen! Shame. On the right is the front yard, with several children playing. I was too busy chasing them and the over-excited toddler to get a nice photo of the birthday girl!

My brother, sister-in-law, and sister at the outdoor table. Amy with two more cousins on the back lawn near the tramp. She was showing off here, writing in Japanese for them.

Definitely something you don't see in Japan much, this is my sister's backyard! They are in town, but with a gully out the back that doesn't invite much development, luckily for them, as the town is expanding in every other direction. Their property includes the lawn in the right corner of the photo on the right, the trampoline just visible on the terrace below, and so on down the hedge line. Plus all of the photo on the left, which is just to the left of the photo on the right. Right?

The night ended with some fireworks! Kiwis will be aware that fireworks are strictly limited in NZ, with gutless varieties available only at Guy Fawkes on November (for those unfamiliar with Guy Fawkes night, it's a charming English festival that 'celebrates' the execution by fire of a catholic who tried to blow up the English parliament, and failed. It's celebrated with fireworks and bonfires on to which are thrown straw effigies of the unfortunate Guy.) Michael's Dad cleverly kept aside a bunch of fireworks from back in November just to celebrate this night.

And a few extras...cute baby! I love this outfit, from Pumpkin Patch. And in the second one my brother's dog has a go at Erica. She LOVED him. He's wearing a nappy so he doesn't wee on Grandma's carpet.