Well the first year we were here Lachlan’s first mountain bike race was the Pukete Spaghetti – the race run byHamilton Mountain Bike Club of which we have been members since we arrived here. Lachlan was taken under someone’s wing and raced in the six hour event as part of a team. He has raced in it every year since then either in a team or solo. Gus rode two years ago in a team of boys of similar ages but last year the race was cancelled.
The 9km course is pretty much the same as we ride (I say “we”, but I haven’t ridden this year at all for one reason or another) every week; it is quite gnarly, lots of bends and wiggles (hence the Spaghetti!) and quite a lot of uphill. Gus was going to ride with some friends but in typical thirteen yr old boy fashion, they just didn’t get themselves organised. So at the eleventh hour we entered Gus in the three hour solo U17 race just so he could get out and ride as well as to support the club.
Well, “the boy done good”! He managed five laps in three hours of continuous riding which we reckon is pretty impressive. Well done, Gus! The benefit of a small competition is that there is more chance of winning something; there were only two boys in his division and the other one seemed like he was a good couple of years older, bigger and stronger than Gus, so Gus was second! He also won a spot prize, so came away with a $10 voucher for Velo Expresso, a tin of Spaghetti and a tyre! A good day out!
The boys said Goodbye to their Great Aunt Margaret on Tuesday evening and I took her up to Auckland to get the plane to start the last leg of her trip. She still couldn’t get her head around the fact that she was going on a 12 hour flight to Los Angeles which would arrive 3 hours after she set off from Auckland. I must admit I find it bizarre too – time zones are strange things. Anyway she was looking forward to going to Vancouver and still trying to decide whether to get the flying boat over to Vancouver Island or go on the ferry. I think she was quite taken with the flying boat as we saw a couple at Lake Taupo and was attracted by the idea of flying in and landing on the water!
She had a good time in Wellington with Chris and Brian. They spent a couple of hours in Wellington itself and then had a drive round the coast. Wednesday they went over the Rimutuckers to see Moi and Terry and spent a pleasant afternoon looking round the beautiful Awaiti gardens in Carterton, and then fish and chips in in the White Swan in Greytown before heading back over the mountains to Upper Hutt. Thursday they had the compulsory visit to Te Papa which as usual was a source of fascination and wonder, before heading back to Hamilton.
We had a damp last few days but made it to Rotorua on Saturday. Lachlan and Nigel went mountain biking in the Redwoods whilst Aunty Marg, Aonghas and I went to Whakarewarewa. Aonghas was given the choice of mountain biking but when he heard that we were going to Whakarewarewa he said “Is that the place where we had the sweetcorn?” (5 years ago when he was 5yrs old) and when we said that it was, he decided that he would forego the bike ride in favour of sweetcorn!
It all started off so promising, the sun was shining and despite a bit of a breeze it was quite pleasant. We dropped the boys off at the Redwoods and embarked on our tour. Margaret was fascinated by it and I have to say that I too learnt something new and am always intrigued by the the place. This was the third time I have been round and I have had 3 different guides. Since they all live or have lived in the village and have all been different ages, they all bring their
own stories, memories and anecdotes to the tour. We saw the Kapahaka show and Aonghas went up to do the Haka! Had a nosey round the shops and were just about to get a coffee when we got an SOS from the boys – Nigel’s chain had broken at the top of the hill – so I left Gus and Aunty Margaret in the cafe and headed out to pick them up just as it started to pour with rain! They were like a pair of drowned rats, looking very miserable sheltering behind the entrance sign to the car Park!
The rain continued so we headed to the Fat Dog (where else?) for a (big) bite to eat.
It was a rather damp weekend and plans for a trip out to the beach on Sunday came to nothing when we woke to torrential rain. However, we spent a lovely day chatting and Aunty Margaret told me more tales about our family so that I could fill in some of the gaps in the family tree. It was fascinating and I really want to get down to some real research and work on our genealogy. Time, time, time – there is never enough of it! She had a quiet day on Monday when I was at work, but it brightened up in the afternoon and we managed to get out to Hamilton Lake to see the Pukeko and the ducks. We went out to Babaganush on Grey Street on Tuesday evening – well worth a visit – great food and reasonably priced too. I managed to manage my day on Wednesday to squeeze in the trip to Auckland airport to see Margaret off which was great – luckily there were no traffic problems en route and so I got back in time for my afternoon classes! It really was lovely spending some time with Aunty Marg and having someone to talk to about Mum. Quite a few weepy moments too but it was all good. It will be difficult to remember everything she told me but I memories are always subjective and I am sure that some of hers were her personal interpretations of events which others may not see in the same way. Isn’t that the nature of history?
So we’re settled into our new house, started to get to grips with the garden – even bought some plants, a shredder to mulch the prunings and the falling autumn leaves. We have plans to create a veggie plot and swap some of the decorative perennials for fruit trees. Aonghas has already planted some carrots and marigolds ( or marlegods as he calls them!) in the boxes outside his window. The early Camellias are starting to flower and we have a carpet of deep pink petals in our garden. Roses are still blooming but the trees are wearing their autumnal colours and looking glorious in rich shades of yellow through orange to red.
Well, what have we been up to..? Boys have finished summer sports and are training for their chosen winter sports. Lachlan is continuing with rugby, but has taken up squash and, as he is in Year 10 he is allowed to use the weights room at school. Aonghas has decided to try hockey this year and is enjoying that – he even scored a goal last week! Lachlan is also running regularly and still cycling. Next weekend he is heading to Rotorua to take part in the Moon Ride – a 12 hour mountain biking marathon. He is riding as part of a team and they will take it in turns to do the 15km circuits from 10am to 10pm. We were down there a couple of weekends ago and all had a go on the tracks. The Redwoods is a great forest with masses of mountain bike tracks of all levels. Aonghas coped really well with them and ventured down the Dipper which even I braved, though Nigel decided that caution was the better part of valour and chickened out! (we won’t hold it against him!)
We were down in Rotorua as I was taking part in a Duathlon, we decided to make a weekend of it as it was the last weekend of the Easter holidays, and our friends Liz and Chaz were also there with their boys, Jamie and Josh. Liz was competing in the Duathlon too, as well as a couple more of our friends. We stayed in the Thermal Holiday park – the same one we stayed in when we were here on holiday in 2005. We rented a self contained unit which, in estate agent speak, made good use of space – compact and bijou! The advantage of the park are the hot pools, plenty of running around space for energetic boys, a games room as well as a television! After a couple of weeks of glorious weather we had a weekend of rain and wind, so the going was soft and muddy! We set off with the wind and rain lashing our faces, but once on the way and into the forest, we soon warmed up. The pressure was off as far as times go because of the weather conditions so we just relaxed and went with the flow. Obviously a good move because I ended up with a time 5 minutes faster than the last duathlon I did and a top 10 finish! We hung around in the cold and wet for the spot prizes because you never know ……. that $2000 bike might just have your name on it! Sadly it wasn’t to be..maybe next time! But, boy were those hot pools good when we got back to the holiday park! A couple of hours later and nicely coddled we emerged to head back home!
We stopped off at what has become a bit of a regular, favourite spot for us – the Fat Dog cafe. Huge portions of scrummy food and plenty of veggie options for Nigel. Heaps of sald with home made burgers as well as BLATs, fries, wedges ….mmm, my mouth is watering just thinking of it!