We didn’t plan to write
another blog about New Zealand, but our last few days there proved to be
enjoyable and eventful. On Tuesday
morning Rosalia (one of our colleagues in Research Division) came and presented
Sandie with two tickets for that evening’s performance at the Downstage
Theatre. She’d won them in a local
competition, but wasn’t able to go and decided we ought to have the tickets,
because it was our last week in NZ. The
play was a political satire called Le Sud,
based on the assumption that the French had arrived first on the South Island
(they did, but left again) and ruled it as a separate country, while the
British ruled the North Island. It was
very funny, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We decided it was the right time for us to see it – earlier in our stay,
we wouldn’t have understood a lot of the political and topical allusions.
Wednesday evening was
Sandie’s last time at her International Folk Dance Group. Ian came down to the city with her, and we
had dinner (for the last time) at the Bristol Hotel, our favourite city centre ‘pub’. We then went to the studios next door for the
dance group, and Ian took some film before returning home. Cashy (the dance group leader) had chosen
dances for the evening that were Sandie’s favourites, and presented her with a
CD with all the music for them.
Afterwards some of the dancers joined Sandie for a drink – in the
Bristol, of course.
Thursday dawned bright
and clear, which pleased Sandie because it meant she could do a lunchtime walk
with some colleagues. Members of the
informal ‘Walking Group’ follow a particular route around the Botanical Gardens
which is designed for exercise (lots of climbing up steps) but is actually fun,
especially as all sorts of topics get discussed while walking. Almost non-stop rain for about ten days had
meant no walks, and Sandie was really hoping to do one more before leaving.
Thursday was her last opportunity, and fortunately the weather played ball.
Around 4.45 Jasmine (a member of the group who
does not work on Fridays) produced wine and crisps for a surprise farewell. Ian
called in for a drink before going to his last Turnbull House Life Drawing
Group; Sandie stayed drinking with some colleagues till around 6.30. At
Turnbull House Ian gave away all the artist’s materials he had collected over
the 9 months, and provided the other group members with extra cakes for the
coffee break. The model (a young American named Teresa) asked him to choose the
final pose, and asked for one of his drawings of her as a souvenir. The
paintings that Ian had done in New Zealand were displayed at the Ministry
during the week, and were taken by his colleagues, with some donations to
Friday was of course
our last day at work – we retired, for the third time. In good Kiwi tradition, there was a morning
tea to ‘farewell’ us. There was a large
chocolate cake and fruit scones, we were given presents and cards, and people said
nice things about us. They even
attempted to sing a song, written by a colleague who could not actually be
present on the day, to the tune of ‘So long, farewell’ from The Sound of Music. After work some colleagues joined us in the
Backbencher for yet more drinks – until finally we had to say goodbye.
We then walked into the
city, returned our last library books and DVDs, and had dinner in Courtney
Place. As the weather was still decent
we walked home along the harbour – and stopped at only three of our favourite
bars on the way. In two of these we had
Lindauers, a sparkling wine (known as ‘bubbles’) which is very popular in NZ,
and for which we have definitely acquired a taste.
On Saturday morning it
was down to earth, doing our final packing and attempting to cram everything
into our suitcases. Our friend Lisa came
over, bringing us soup for lunch and loading her car with all the possessions
which we were not taking back to the
UK. This included, for example, two fan
heaters, some bathroom scales and a Christmas tree. Lisa has lots of community contacts and
reckons she can find good homes for everything.
In the afternoon we
cleaned the flat and waited for the man to come and collect our Skybox, modem
etc. At 5 our friend Rose arrived, to
take us and our luggage back to her house in Newtown. We stayed with Rose for
four weeks when we arrived back in NZ last September, so it seemed appropriate
to spend our last night there. In the
evening the three of us went into Wellington for dinner, and on Sunday morning
Rose got up early to drive us to the airport.
We have happy memories
of our last week in New Zealand, but it was also sad to say goodbye to the
places and people we have come to know over the past two years. We now have some very good friends there,
and we hope to keep in touch as we move on to our next adventure.