A Christmas Visit from Charlie and Claire

After some very last-minute
planning, we were delighted that Claire and Charlie were able to come and visit
us for just over two weeks in the run-up to Christmas. They landed in
Wellington on 28th November, after a 30-hour flight via Singapore
and Sydney, which was a bit of an ordeal for Claire with a 7-month baby. They
adapted quite quickly to the time change, and Charlie was no trouble the whole
time they were with us. We were really lucky to be able to borrow a load of
baby gear, including cot, high chair, toys and books, from our friend Rose, who
has been a godsend to us while we’ve been here. After some furniture
re-organisation, our one-bedroom flat served us well; Claire and Charlie had
the bedroom with the cot and we camped on a blow-up mattress in the study.


The bad news was that most of the
time they were here the weather was grey, cold and miserable. On the Sunday
after they landed, however, it was bright and sunny and we drove them over to
the Wairarapa to look round Martinborough, Greytown and Carterton. The rest of
the week Sandie showed them round Wellington, travelling around on buses or
trains to see the shops and other sights in and around the capital.


The following weekend we all went
to Christchurch, flying down on the Saturday morning. The weather was bright
and sunny once more, and we went over to the Orana Wildlife Park near the
airport and showed Charlie all the animals. The highlight was feeding the giraffes!
Hazel, the daughter of friends in the UK, has a management job at the park and
got us free admission.


On the Sunday we looked round
Christchurch, and in the afternoon we watched the Christmas parade, which took
1½ hours to go past. In the evening we met up with Hazel and her partner Mark at
a pizza restaurant, and carried on chatting at our motel after Charlie had gone
to bed.


On Monday morning we had a tour
of the city centre on one of the old trams, and then went punting on the River
Avon, poled by a young expat Brit. In the afternoon we flew back to Wellington.
Sandie, Claire and Charlie carried on with local exploration that week, taking
the train up to Porirua and a bus to Kilbirnie to go swimming.


The next weekend we hired a car
again, and on Saturday drove up the coast road to Wanganui, stopping a few
times on the way. At Otaki we diligently browsed the baby clothes outlet shops,
and at Foxton we had a nice lunch in the Laughing Fox cafe. At Wanganui we
visited Victoria Park and looked in the Winter Gardens with their Christmas
decorations, and had a pleasant meal in a pub in town. On Sunday morning the
weather was quite decent, and we looked round the shops and had lunch sitting
outside. On the way back to Wellington it turned grey again, and rained.


On Monday 14th
December it was time for Claire and Charlie to fly home again. We waved them
off at the airport on their flight back via Sydney and Bangkok, and are missing
them already. But it was great to see them, and we’re grateful to Claire for
braving the long flight with an infant in tow. In the few months we’ve been
away Charlie has changed a lot. He’s not quite crawling yet, but is definitely
working towards it. He has four teeth now, and stuffs down anything in the food
line with gusto. He’s now addicted to New Zealand muffins and marshmallows!


Just before Claire and Charlie arrived, Sandie had been
offered two more pieces of casual work, for different divisions of the Ministry
of Education.  She naturally did not want
to do much while Claire and Charlie were here, but the day after they left she
was back to work full-time.  She is
pleased to have enough to keep her busy until Christmas, and beyond.

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