It’s All Turned to Custard!

Last
weekend was the big occasion on which Claire and Raf (our son-in-law elect)
were flying out to New Zealand to join us for a couple of weeks. We had formed
some good plans, involving meeting them in Auckland, taking them for a tour of
Northland, and then taking the train back to Wellington. We flew up to Auckland
on Saturday and picked up a hire car, and set off to tour the Coromandel Peninsula
for a couple of days (we were due to pick up Claire and Raf on Monday). Then we
got a text to say there was a problem with Raf getting his passport from the
Polish embassy, and they would at best be delayed for a day or so. We decided
to change our plans and tour Northland by ourselves, so we turned round and
drove north.

We
had a good couple of days in Northland, visiting Whangarei (pronounced Fangaray
approximately), which is the main town up there, as well as Paihia on the Bay
of Islands, which is the closest thing to a seaside resort we’ve seen yet in
New Zealand. We saw a couple of waterfalls, and went on a dinner cruise which
ended up backing up to a waterfall. We saw a glow-worm cave and some scenic
coastal views. We also visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the famous
1840 treaty was signed that really founded New Zealand. They have an old(ish)
house there with a beautiful garden, a more modern Maori marae (meeting house)
and the biggest war canoe in the world. But all the time we were concerned
about when, or if, Claire and Raf would make it out to join us.

On
Monday the weather turned foul, so we decided to quit and fly back to
Wellington, with the option of returning to Auckland when required. We drove
south and got a flight back Monday night. When we got home we got a message
from Claire – a jobsworth in Poland had told Raf he couldn’t have the passport
till Wednesday week, unless someone in his family had died! So they appear to
have lost the opportunity for their trip down under, as Raf cannot have leave
in December, and by January Claire may not be allowed to fly.  They are still making enquiries, but it does
not look too hopeful.

We
went back to work on Tuesday, very disappointed and thoroughly cheesed
off.  Our colleagues were surprised to
see us again so soon and sympathetic about the reason. So, to summarise, our
carefully planned time off has turned to custard, gone pear-shaped, belly-up
and down the gurgler! [Select phrase which you like best. For the benefit of
non-Kiwi readers, they all mean approximately the same thing.]

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