Yesterday morning I hopped out of my pit (rendered awake by 2 screamers) and set about packing to drive to the west coast of New Zealand for the weekend where my aunty moved to not 4 weeks ago with her Kiwi husband. To have a relative living a mere 2 hours drive away fills me with excitement. After scrabbling around stuffing nappies and several changes of clothes into bags we were ready for the off. It's just me and the littlies as the husband will be spending the weekend drilling 34 holes into our back garden, filling them with cement and wooden poles, building retaining walls and then sometime during the week pouring in tonnes and tonnes of sand followed by top soil and turf so we can have a level garden. Hurrah! Badminton tournaments beckon.
The first half an hour or so of the journey was spent with me navigating through traffic whilst trying to officiate arguments in the back. A friend who is one of four boys told me recently that they used to be crammed four abreast in the back of their car (well before road safety was invented) and would bicker over the very many things worth bickering about when you are six years old. Their mother would hang on to the steering wheel with one arm and use the other to swing wildly behind her aiming at as many bare legs as she could. How hilarious, imagining my friend and his brothers swinging their knees as far to the side as possible to miss the punishment whilst their mother bellowed in irritation at them.
My son asked to try what I was eating. I told him wasabi peas were quite spicy and that he probably wouldn't like them. He insisted they were exactly what he wanted so I handed him one. The relative calm exploded in an ear splitting scream emenating from twin2. A glimpse of her in the rear view mirror showed green, dusty crumbs round her mouth from the wasabi pea my son had so generously offered his 1 year old sister. My inability to use both arms to keep us going in the same direction at the same time as aiming a whack in his direction annoyed me. I'm sure it won't be the first time my dodgy arm situation plays neatly into his hands.
The west coast is so close to us on the east coast but couldn't look more different. Where our Bay of Plenty beaches are of the 'white, golden sands fringed with Norfolk pines and brilliant blue skies' variety, the west coast of the Waikato is a rugged, less populated stretch of land with black sand pressing into the ocean. The people here are different too. The Bay of Plenty has a good sprinkling of California style surfers - blond curls, cheeky grins and expensive board shorts. Towns like Raglan on the west coast house a more alternative dweller. Expensive highlights and truckloads of sweet smelling conditioner might get you far in Mount Maunganui but dreadlocks are what you need to sport in order to be taken seriously in the waves at Indicators - the awesome left hand surf break at Raglan. Although the break to come away for the weekend is wonderful not to mention the joy of chattering to my aunty and her husband, I know it will be lovely to arrive back home tomorrow to our version of the seaside. I'm definitely an east coaster.
Having read back through this post, 2 things come to light. First of all I'm sure many of my friends in the UK will be pissing themselves laughing at my (fairly competent thank you very much) descriptions of the mechanics of levelling a garden and knowledgable surfing lingo. The transformation from city girl to Kiwi wife is well underway.
The second thing is that as I write about being as east coaster, I realise that my feelings about where I live with my husband and three little half New Zealander, half British chiddlers are changing. When we moved here the heart wrenching sadness at leaving home, family and friends transferred itself to an unhealthy dislike of New Zealand (but not of the people I hasten to add). On reflection it was the deep resentment at leaving everything I love which morphed into other negative emotions. Two years down the line and I'm starting, just starting to feel the twinkly feeling of pride in our street, town and area we live in. And, dare i say it, even love.