Christmas and New Year's
We spent a very enjoyable Christmas and New Year's in Tauranga with Rae
and Murray Jamieson and their two children, Thomas and Emma. The
Jamieson's were great company.
There are both differences and similarities to Christmas in
Like Canada, Christmas is very much a family event - we met 23
Jamieson's (3 generations) on Christmas morning for brunch. Then we met
one of Rae's sisters and her family for supper (Rae's
parents were visiting her other sister in Australia). As you can see,
shorts and T-shirts were de rigeur on this warm Christmas day.
Unlike Canada, photos with Santa are not a big item. We found Santa tucked
the furniture section of a department store. If you look carefully on the
right side, you'll even see the guarantee tag still on the new sofa. Mark told Santa that he wanted a jet boat for
Christmas. What's a jet boat? Think of a very small
but fast boat with a 400HP V8 that shoots a jet of water out a nozzle
instead of using a propeller for propulsion. The jet drive was actually invented by a
Kiwi, and jet boats are fairly common here - however Santa was caught a
little off guard by the request.
Kiwis do not leave milk and cookies for Santa. Instead, they leave beer and cookies. I'm sure Santa appreciates it, but
I think Canadians should complain - with the date line, New Zealand is among Santa's first
stops. What if all the beer in New
Zealand puts Santa to sleep before reaching Canada at the end of his long day!?
Mark made a big deal about leaving a glass of water for Santa. That seemed
a little odd at the time... but the next morning, Mark got a letter from a
very upset Santa. Mark had put rock salt into the water and Santa did not
like it one bit. (Although Murray who tasted it, thought
it was funny). In his anger, Santa took back the jet boat that Mark
was to receive under the tree.
Have a look at these "Santa
Sacks". No little stockings for Emma and Thomas - these sacks are the
size of pillow cases! The sacks are commonplace for kids in
Australia and New Zealand.
The kids actually did well on Christmas.
They slept in until 6AM.
We were as active as we could be given
the weather. Murray and I took all the kids rock climbing at a local
indoor climbing wall. Murray, Mark, Sarah and I played our worst game of golf ever - everyone scored over 105.
Thomas, Heather, Sarah and I went boogie boarding at
"The Mount" (Mt Manganui) on one afternoon while the rest of the
gang went fishing. Actually, Murray brought Mark fishing many times both
in their boat and from the shore. They caught herring, sting rays (but
landed none), red snapper, trevally, gurnid, and some other local fish whose names escape
me. Unfortunately I think Mark is addicted to fishing. The more he fished,
the more he wanted to fish! Christmas day was probably the only day he did
not bug Murray to take him fishing. Sorry Murray!
Heather, Emma and I swam with the
dolphins. The boat we were on was a bit of a 'rust bucket' but the
experience was first class - much better than our experience at Akaroa. The first pod of 20
common dolphins had a newborn so
we were not allowed to swim with them but we had a closeup look from the
boat. The second pod of about 100 common dolphins were spectacular. At one point, I could see 8 dolphins through my
mask - all within about 3 metres of where I was. One swam very close to me
and turned on its side so it could peer at me with its eye. It was as
curious about me as I was about it. I hope the pictures turn out on my
disposable underwater camera.
We also went to Waimarino, a water park on the river not too far from
their house. This day's entertainment was a very kind Christmas present to
our family from Rae and Murray,
and Murray's parents June and Bill.
We visited "Uncle
Allen's" dairy farm at milking time, and also saw Monsters Inc in the
theatre. We have not seen Lord of the Rings yet although it is very much
in the Press here in New Zealand - it is both directed by a Kiwi and was filmed
It was hard to believe that the holiday period was over when we
sadly packed our car on January 3. Thank you Murray, Rae, Emma and Thomas
for two wonderful weeks of including us with your family at Christmas
and New Year's. We look forward to meeting up with you again
Off to Melbourne, Australia