Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rotorua in the sun

Our Xmas holidays ended with afew days in Rotorua. Why there? Because we got a Welfare Trust unit for a week.

It is a nice location - Holden's Bay, although the day can be disturbed by planes taking off and landing at the airport!

The property is split by a small stream, which is now surrounded by a nice little garden

And we were much intrigued by this little statue just across the main road. Turns out is a memorial to a stray dog who used to enjoy visitors, but preferred to live wild in the small reserve beside the main road - and did so for a number of years!

I was very taken this visit by the Government Buildings. I hadn't previously realised just how ornate and detailed they are; I was surprised by the number of small 'turrets' above the walkways and about the roof:

The cafe was being used by a wedding party, and of course the building provided a backdrop for a round of photos.

In front of the complex are lovely garden and bowling greens, carefully groomed and tended:

while nearby is an impressive bronze sculpture depicting a Maori male and female.

The buildings house the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. The whole complex is a little incongruous in it's utter Englishness, as it sits amidst geothermal activity and an area rich in Maori history and identity!

But the buildings, beautifully tended gardens, fountains, sculpture, and the nearby Polynesian Spa make it an irresistable attraction.

A January wedding

Well, actually, not quite a wedding, because Sara & Kenjiro got married in April in Japan. But many friends and family weren't able to attend it, so they all came out to NZ, and staged a 'celebration' in Napier.

The Williams' are long-time family friends, going back to the days when our Sarah Rose was a pre-schooler. The two families lived next door to each other, and have remained friends ever since. And stay in touch.

So: it was a family trip to Napier in early January. We travelled separately to Napier after work on the Friday, and then met up for a drink later in the evening.

Saturday was given to wandering lovely Napier, visiting the Art Deco clothing shops and dressing up

re-visiting favourite landmarks along the waterfront

and playing mini-golf.

After that it was time to head back to the motel, rest up

get ready

rendezvous with the others and then head for the venue.

And a lovely evening it was too. I was pleased I knew so many of the people there, and it was nice to catch up with them. And lovely to see Sara & Kenjiro.

I took lots of photos for them, and also got the speeches on video.

It was raining very heavily by the time the evening finished, and it carried on the next day. But we were still able to get to the Hastings Farmers' Market for a scout around and some sampling (it's even better on a nice fine warm morning!) before we farewelled the kids (who had to head home for work) and then headed to the Williams'.

Because of the weather we had decided to stay an extra night, so the trip on Monday was in dry conditions. We paused at Onga Onga to see what the church buildings are like, and found the most aptly named church I've seen in a long time!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Xmas 2011

Christmas is a time of family rituals and traditions in the Mulligan household. I take the girls (if they're at home!) to buy the Tree, help place the lights on it, and then the girls decorate it. We have an esoteric & eclectic collection of decorations, some inherited from my Mother and the result of her handiwork with needle, most bought, one-per-daughter, each Christmas time. And the collections are all remembered by the girls. So Sarah has taken hers, Charlotte will shortly take hers, and that will leave Jayne's. In a few years we will only need a smaller tree and the approach to decorating it will have to be different.

And the family gathers at our place - this year the kids surprised me by arriving about mid-day!

Food is another critical part of the ritual at Christmas. Usually, the main meal is in the evening, after the giving of gifts, which is itself very ritualised (the youngest distributes, one at a time, and everyone waits to see what each gift is). This year we had roast pork, ham, and turkey roll, along with two salads, roast vegetables and a nut loaf. Needless to say there was an ample sufficiency!!

The tree awaiting decorations

Desiree adds the angel to the top of the tree

The tree and gifts

The decorated tree

The Table was beautifully decorated

Oh, did I mention drinK? No? Well we had a variety of different beers to sample and try - the family are catching on to the idea that beer can be a drink every bit the equal of wine, to be sampled and savoured - several types of cider, and both still and sparkling wine. In fact something to suit all tastes.

Yes, we did have quite a variety!

So we did try the full range. And very nice they were too!

And then the next day, we did most of it all over again, as cousins of various ages gathered at our place to put paid to the leftovers, continue the sampling, play croquet, and rest.

I think this year was one the very best Christmases we've had. Roll on 2012 I say!


If you've had a look at these pages before, you will know that cats are an integral part of our household.

Three cats call us their people - Goldie, Tiffany and Peaches (who is actually Charlotte's cat!)

Tiffany is a petite, delicate wee creature who is hopelessly spoiled by Desiree. She often spends a good part of the day on our dining table because it's in the sun. So when we put a box containing Charlotte & Gareth's wedding cake on the table, Tiffany took an interest:

Although sisters, Tiffany & Goldie don't usually cuddle up together.

The attraction on this occasion? The heater made that a very warm spot!

Goldie was terminally ill, and became the centre of attention and close cuddling, here a few days before she died in August.

Peaches is the 'baby' of the cats, although she is now significantly bigger than the other two!