Category: friends

December Adventure

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The plan; 4 adventurers, 5 days, 2 Great Walks

We hatched a plan sometime back in the winter when we were craving sunshine and adventure. Not that we don’t always have adventures but this one was special. We wanted to do the Heaphy Track but thought that once we had paid to get down there we might as well also fit in the Abel Tasman and get our plane flight money’s worth! The way the hut availability went meant that we needed to do Abel Tasman first and then Heaphy. The way that the flights worked out meant that we needed to travel down on a Saturday morning and come back the following Friday. A bit of a squeeze but we thought we could do it. We are fit and used to walking/running long distances.

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Sunday morning saw us waiting for the HeaphyBus to take us to Marahau and the start of the Abel Tasman. It was a beautiful day, we were ready to rumble. We had decided to get a good 10km under our belts before stopping for ‘Hobbit’s Breakfast’. This was going to be a long day as our destination was the Awaroa Hut 35km away.

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View from Abel Tasman Track, Marahau

Apple Tree Bay proved to be a beautiful spot to break for food. A cheeky seagull seemed to think that he needed some too! We found some shade and whilst the sea beckoned, I resisted as I didn’t want to get sandy and salty so early on in our walk! The weather was due to turn to rain by the evening so a swim was definitely planned for later in the day! Unfortunately, Amie already had a blister on her wee pinkie. This was unexpected as she is used to walking in her boots and doesn’t usually get blisters. She dressed it and we carried on.

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On we went, tummies and hearts full. What a beautiful place to be! Stunning views at every bend, birdsong, sweet smells of blossoms and great companions. Between Anchorage and Bark Bay we took a wee side trip up to Cleopatra’s Pool. Another inviting swimming spot in freshwater but pretty chilly. We wished we had more time to linger but we decided it was better to get a few more kms done before stopping for lunch.

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We crossed the Falls River by way of the 47m long swingbridge and carried on through lush forest. We were entertained on the way by quail and weka as well as fantails, tūī and other birds.

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Onwards to Torrent Bay where we aimed to have lunch. It was teeming with flies when we went down to the boat ramp to get water from the toilets and look for a lunch spot. So we carried on and came around to another bit of beach that was much more pleasant. We put the stove on to make coffee to go with lunch. Couscous and salami for me with nuts and raisins for dessert. Our friendly seagull seemed to have followed us!

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From Torrent Bay to Bark Bay the track climbs up and over headlands, leaving the coast for a while. We could see down into the turquoise blue of the ocean, along the coastline and out to sea. It was so inviting as we sweated it out up those hills. Soon, I promised myself, just a little bit further until we are within striking distance of the hut. I didn’t want to slow everyone down by taking a break to swim. Cheeky weka popped up all over and kept us company.

Baby pecking weka #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day1 #weckingpekas

We descended into Bark Bay and along the beach. Hot and awkward on our feet and Amie was really starting to feel it. Her feet were sore. The weather was starting to close in, the wind came up and the sky darkened. The threatened rain seemed to be on its way earlier than expected. Selfishly, I decided that swim time was going to have to be Tonga Quarry or never! As our pace grew slower, I said to Jo that I’d run on ahead and have my swim while the others came on behind. Jo came with me and then Paula and Amie carried on over to Awaroa as I got changed. It was a wee bit chilly as the wind was quite strong by now but once in the water it was lovely. I splashed about for a bit and then went to the freshwater stream to rinse off and get dressed. The beach at Tonga Quarry has shifted a bit since that fateful Christmas Day when Aonghas was helicoptered out after scalding himself. The stream was very low and may well have not been enough to cool his burns now as we did then.

Beach walking #memoriesofoxfam #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day1
Onetahuti Beach

Paula and Amie had about a 20 minute headstart on us so Jo and I set off at a good pace to try to get to Awaroa Lodge not too long after them. We were still looking forward to beer and pizza! Up and over from Tonga Quarry to Onetahuti Beach was not as far as I remember but that trudge along the beach seemed to go on forever! Somehow the relentless climb up from the beach and over to Awaroa had been erased completely from my memory but maybe that’s because I’ve only ever been down it!

Last stretch before beer at Awaroa #onetahuti #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day1
Jo on the bridge at Onetahuti Beach

Finally, we made it but sadly too late for pizza! We went into the luxurious Awaroa Lodge to look at the menu but decided the food was a bit rich for us after a day’s walking. We found a space outside in what ended up being the last of the sun for the day. Beer and bread and dips with chips went down well though!

Definitely earned this beer! #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day1

It was hard getting moving again but it had to be done. Only 3km to go but it was slow going and we’d forgotten that we would have to cross the stream. We spent some time trying to find the narrowest part to avoid getting our feet wet but by now the rain had set in and it really made little difference! Those last few kms were done with heads down, one foot in front of the other at snail pace!

And the weather closed in as forecast. A dreich last 2km to Awaroa Hut #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day1
Last stretch…Awaroa Hut is ahead of us somewhere!

It was good to see the hut and walk through the doors! We were the last to arrive and had to find 4 beds in amongst the bodies already collapsed on the bunks; we slotted in where we could, Paula joined the collapsed ones and the three of us set to tending blisters then making tea!

Day 2

Ready for #day2 #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #abitdamp
Ready to cross the estuary

Up and out early as we have to be at Wainui by 1.30pm for the shuttle. The tide times fell nicely for us as it was at its lowest at 6.45. We opted to wade across in jandals which was ok apart from the muddy sections when jandals stuck and the pull between my toes added to the grittiness was a tad painful! I remember last time I crossed the estuary I wore my walking sandals which was much better!

350/365 16th December 2019

We took the time to clean and dry our feet carefully and thoroughly on the other side before continuing. We made steady progress and were soon at Goats Bay. We had already shed our rain jackets as there wasn’t enough rain and it was quite warm. Now the sun was trying to sneak through the clouds. We were aiming to get to Anapai Bay before stopping for second breakfast which was about 10km. Amie trooped on at a reasonable click despite her sore feet and on the whole our spirits were high. We were, however, starting to wonder whether we were going to be able to do the Heaphy given the state of Amie’s feet and the impending weather conditions. Totaranui was our first gauge of the progress we were making – well under the 2h20 suggested by DoC and on target for shuttle pick up.

Light over the ocean #totaranui #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day2
Totarunui – light on the water
Onwards to Anapai #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day2
Coastal meadows between Totaranui and Anapai Bay

The section from Tõtaranui to Anapai provides a change of scenery and flora and the grey started to lighten. The lower level bush is softer but also more dense and despite the sun trying to break through, it was quite chilly.

Lunch stop at Anapai #day2 #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure
Second breakfast at Anapai Bay
Looking down to Anapai Bay on our way to Mutton Cove #upandover #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day2
Anapai Bay from track on the way to Mutton Cove

The track over to Mutton Cove and then onwards to Whariwharangi where we had scheduled our last stop rose up again and we had beautiful views down to the places we had left and glimpses of places we were yet to arrive at!

The sun has been trying hard to beat the rain... #whariwharangibay #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day2 #lastleg #justupandoverthehilltogo
Lunch stop at Whariwharangi

Whariwharangi is a beautiful beach with huge pines behind it. The hut here is an old homestead with an interesting chimney. We stopped briefly for a snack but decided that we’d rather just push on. One more hill – the biggest on the trail – and then it was all down hill to Wainui. Just 5.7km to go! We had built this climb up to be more than it was! In the end it didn’t seem so bad and we found ourselves looking down at Wainui before we knew it!

Are we nearly there? #justdownthehillandroundthecornerandalongabit #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day2
Are we there yet?
Our destination! #theendisinsight #wainui #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day2
Nearly!

The problem with being able to see your destination is that it seems a long time coming. And so it was! But eventually we saw the waharoa marking the start and the end of the walk. We made it but not without sacrifice; Amie’s feet were a mess and there was a severe weather warning out for the next two days so later that evening we reluctantly made the decision to review our plan to walk the Heaphy Track. Plan B was put into operation!

We made it! Two days, lots of fun, lots of blisters, and so many farting quails and weking pekas #abeltasmannationalpark #decemberadventure #day2
We made it!

Day 10: Islands and Orca

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We were so incredibly lucky today! A friend from work picked us up at 9.00am from Rawhiti beach where we had stayed the night after our adventure yesterday. The Kaingahoa Camping ground is a great place to stay. It is clean and well-maintained. Margaret, who runs it is a bit brusque but once you get her talking, she doesn’t stop. Full of information about the history of the rohe. I emailed to book a place but it was never responded to, so I would recommend phoning. Fortunately, there was plenty of space on the day we wanted to stay! From reading the information on this website, it seems that the main building which is not accessible to campers, was the old Te Rawhiti schoolhouse but was used in the 1960s during renovations of te Rawhiti Marae as a replacement wharekai. The campsite revenue goes to the maintenance of the marae.

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Sun going down at Rawhiti

So, back to today! Tania and Scott picked us up and took us for a wee tiki tour around the islands. We stopped in at Otehi Bay on Urupukapuka Island for coffee and then we walked over the hill to Urupukapuka Bay campsite where they were staying with a bunch of friends.

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Walking over from Otehi Bay to Urupukapuka Bay

The plan was to find a sheltered bay where the kids could swim, while the boys went fishing. They plumped for Moturua Island and we cruised off over there in a selection of boats. Once on the island, we had a picnic, then the men went fishing and we stayed and went for a walk around the island before jumping in the sea for a swim. At Mangahawea Bay there is an archaeological dig going on. Evidence suggests that this place was inhabited more than 700 years ago.

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The archaeological dig at Mangahawea Bay

It was a lovely day out, meeting friends and generally just relaxing. The walk around Moturua takes about an hour at a leisurely pace in jandals! It is quite hilly though! The sea was delicious and it was nice to be able to swim with other people rather than on my own! The boys struggled with the wind on their fishing trip and Nigel was the only one who caught a legal fish so that’s what I had for my tea.

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Snapper for tea!

But the big excitement of the day was seeing orca. We first spotted a mother and her calf, and then a large male on our way over from Rawhiti.

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A mother orca and her calf

The male swam right under the boat and then surfaced on the other side. they cruised on along the way, two close together and the other just off to the side. Then when we were sitting on the beach in Urupukapuka Bay, they came into the bay itself. We spotted some splashing off to our left and then saw them swimming on out and around the headland through a gap in the rocks. Tania said that there had been stingrays and plenty of piper fish in that area the day before and so they had possibly come in to feed.

When we went out to Moturua we saw them again. Scott cut the engines and we bobbed about for a good 10 minutes just watching. They swam quite close but seemed to be happily cruising. They carried on out to sea and picked up a few more on the way. At one point we counted 7 fins in the water. Such a special and humbling experience to be in the presence of these beautiful creatures.

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Orca spouting

A Tale of Great Barrier Island by Gus

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For five weeks in June and July 2014 I went with 29 other boys and two teachers from school to Great Barrier Island  in the Hauraki Gulf.  We were there to learn some new skills, have fun, learn about the community who live there and be challenged.

I flew on to Great Barrier Island (GBI) on a tiny little plane, it looked and felt dodgy.  It was a noisy plane so we got given ear muffs.  Mr Hall,  Aaron and I landed at GBI “international” airport, and drove about 1h to Orama.  We arrived at night and put our bags in cabins and went to tea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went on two long uphill walks on Saturday and Sunday with just the teachers because the OPC staff were having a break from the girls trip.  Coopers Castle was a long, very steep walk with great views at the top.  We had to keep away from the edge because there was a big cliff with a huge drop but there was a great view over Okiwi.  It was hard to walk up because it was so steep and we had to scramble parts of it.  On Monday we had the power and water tour and it showed us that Orama gets their water from a stream and power from a generator because they don’t have mains electricity.

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Next Monday we went on our first expedition.  My group walked one and a half hours to a bay.  We found a big dead  mako shark on the beach. and mussel barrels that we kept throwing into the sea and they would float back into shore. We descoverd some good climbing rocks that we scrambled on. We also found some kina it looked like a hard spiky ball but you open it with 2 spoons and there is a mussle like fish inside which Teina ate. Mitchell also caught a rat with his bare hands and strangled it to death.

When we got back to Orama it started raining that night. It got really windy and rainy on Wednesday.  We practised how to belay then went white water rafting (aka brown water floating) down the so-called stream that became a river.  It wasn’t very fun and we got  cold,  wet and numb and then we had to carry the kayaks back to the trailer .

On Wednesday night at 11:59 pm we were awoken from our sleep and were evacuated to the Orama lounge because there was a big storm.  We had to get dressed quickly – luckily I had my waterproof trousers so I pulled them on over my fat pants, grabbed my sleeping bag and rain jacket and followed the adult with the torch – we had no idea where we were going because it was dark and wild.  It was tipping it down with rain, my cabin was shaking in the wind. it was kind of scary but not really, it was more exciting than scary.  In the morning  there was mud everywhere, tractors,  trees and a generator were washed out to sea.  We sat in Orama lounge all day because it was too dangerous to go outside because of all the debris around.teenage boys holding mops as if they were soldiers

The next day we helped Orama clean up. My group had the hardest task of cleaning the classroom and gym, which had knee deep mud and took 3 days to get out of the classroom. Then we ripped up the carpet and cleaned the walls. The tables and the couches had been washed from the classroom through the gym and into the foyer on the other side of the gym. I found my student book outside with mud all through it and soaking wet.

great barrier clean up

My group spent 4 days shoveling mud while group 3 went to Glenfern and got on TV, but luckily TV3  came to Orama for a little bit and we were on TV too. Glenfern is an island wildlife sanctuary that Scott and Emma look after, they are trying to regenerate the native populations of NZ  birds and skinks.  I found a Chevron Skink buried in the mud at Glenfern; they are very rare and so it was quite exciting finding one. 10502489_242198045974132_7513004355070039754_n

Shoveling mud was boring but seeing what we accomplished felt great. Orama lounge became our new hang out space which was way cooler than the old classroom. Unfortunately, there wasn’t another gym that we could use.

Sea kayaking was the most challenging activity and I didn’t really like it because we got wet and cold.  The day we did it, it was really windy, there were salty big waves and a big swell.  We had to turn back because it was too rough – the waves were 3m high they had big white caps and the wind was 50 knots gusting to 65 knots.

I loved coasteering, it was so much fun and I want to do it again.  It was epic getting pulled in and pushed out in the swell.  I jumped in off some rocks that were 9m high.  I did a swan dive off a 4m high rock – I was a bit sore after the swan dive but it was great fun.

10336627_236232233237380_5175793285606235730_nMy favourite was surf kayaking and I really want to do it again.  It was brilliant  catching the waves and getting tipped!  I got quite good at it and I came 3rd in competition but I got the highest score  of 7.5.  We had to different heats and do tricks but it was timed and I lost in the semi-final.

Sailing was fun but scary because we were in the middle of the ocean with big waves and it felt like we were going to flip.  I didn’t want to be the first to capsize but once we did, we realised that it was quite good fun and we did it lots!  The thing is once you flip you aren’t supposed to stay in the boat or the boat ends up completely upside down.  But my partner stayed in the boat and it completely tipped it so then we had to stand on top of the upside down boat to try to get it back the right way up!  It was hard but we did it.

..and the wickets came tumbling down!

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covers on!Yesterday the boys and I went to see the ODI between England and the Black Caps (Nigel stayed at home as he is a Scotsman and good Scotsmen don’t do cricket!!). We set off on the bus after the boys finished school hoping to get the second half of the match but it had rained properly for the first time we got here, and as we approached the ground people were leaving in their droves! Typical! We come all the way to NZ to see a cricket international and it gets rained off!

super spongeEngland battingBut in true Brit style we sat there and watched the groundstaff working on the rain sodden pitch and the sun started to shine. The PA system boomed out all the weather related music it could find – “It’s raining men…”, “Mr Blue sky”, “4 seasons in one day”, “Here comes the sun”, and so on – you can imagine the rest! Play reccommenced at 6pm with England on 85-2 so things looked promising but in true English style 3 wickets fell in very quick succession and England were on the back foot, the Black Caps were merciless and England were soon all out for 158.

Black Caps supporter!

Aonghas by this time had bought a Black Caps flag and was waving it as each wicket fell! Lachlan bumped into two of his new found school friends – another Lachlan and Abraham. Abraham was sporting a daft England hat as his Dad is English but he soon changed allegiance to the winning side too!

kiwi kids cricketAt the interval there was a display of cricket from the Kiwi Kids cricket schools – loads of Primary aged kids playing which was great to see. Aonghas has signed up to play at school now so we’ll see how he gets on. When play resumed we were treated to a magnificent display of batting from the Black Caps and the banter in the crowd increased between the English and NZ supporters, all good natured but by now quite drunken! More opportunities for flag waving for Aonghas. He was amazed by the vociferous group of young men sporting a variety of fancy dress who heckled every English supporter who went past them! He was particularly worried about the young man who, sporting a rather fetching dress and wig of long flowing locks, made a frighteningly good go at being a woman!!

In the fieldmagnificent batting from the Black CapsThe inevitable happened at around 9pm – a bit earlier than scheduled – when the Black Caps made the run target of 164 with the loss of no wickets in 19 overs! I haven’t been to many cricket grounds but Hamilton seems a very pleasant place – mostly grass banking so everyone sits down with picnics etc and with the sun shining it made a great evening’s entertainment.

sunset over Seddon ParkThere is a full test match here in March so we may have another day out then, who knows?

Aonghas’ ready for school in his hat!
Back to school this morning though and we had to wake two rather tired boys! It is Aonghas’ turn now to have a little crisis of confidence. He was so eager to start school and is enjoying the daily swimming lessons and playing in the brilliant play parks every interval (break) but has realised that he doesn’t have all his friends, and is finding it difficult when the others go off and play in their ready made friendship groups. However, the other boys all seem very kind and are good at asking him to play so I think it will be just a matter of time before he forges some new friendships.

We are now starting to get to grips with the money a bit more and learning to compare NZ prices with each other rather than converting to pounds all the time to compare prices between the UK and here. Looking now to buy a car so we can get further afield at the weekends since there are no buses on a Sunday! Still no news on our house sale so if you know anyone out there who wants a nice house in Ingleton…..!

I am still washing all our clothes by hand as our washing machine is still in a container somewhere on the ocean (hopefully still in a ship!) which gives me something to do during the day apart from writing this, dipping in the pool and reading! The library is a five minute walk up the road so that’s really handy. The sound of the cicadas outside is constant and puts me in mind of mediterranean holidays. praying mantisThere is an amazing array of insects too – loads of grasshoppers, some big black/brown beetle type things about 3 cm long, praying mantis, moths, little green bugs, little bright yellow bugs, spotted shiny bugs and lots of spiders with really long legs. We hear a shriek from Aonghas about once every 10 minutes “Mum, come and look at this….aaaagghh!” He is coming to terms with them but we have to do a bedcheck every night before he will go to sleep! I think I’ll have to get a book from the library to find out what they all are.

Weet-Bix Tryathlon

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Today I cycled in the Weet-Bix Tryathlon with Jamie and Mitchell. Mitchell swam and Jamie did the run. We had to get up very early and cycle to the University where we met Jamie and Mitchell. grabbing his bikeAt first it was a bit scary and I didn’t really know what I was doing! There were loads of bikes and I had to wait for Mitchell to tag me after his swim before I could set off. To start off with I couldn’t find my bike but I felt good once I got on my bike and started cycling but then the two people in front of me crashed into each other and I crashed into them! I fell on the grass but I got up and carried on.Gus in Tryathlon

There was a steep hill and I had to get off and push then I got on again and there was another hill – I cycled up it for a bit and when it got too steep I had to get off and push again! When I came into the finish area there was lots of noise and people were cheering the person in front of me but I went faster and overtook them.finishing line in sight

Jamie setting offThen I found Jamie and tagged him so he set off then I ran to the finish line and got a gold medal from Debbie Tanner who is a New Zealand Olympic Triathlete.

Debbie Tanner and Gus

We waited for Jamie to finish his run and then I ran with him to the finish line and had a team photo with Jamie and Mitchell.

all winners! Mitchell, Aonghas & Jamie

Breadhead and Harold the giraffeIt was good fun and I would like to do it again next year but hopefully it won’t rain next year! (It only rained a little bit and was still really warm – Mum!!) Breadhead and Harold the Giraffe were really funny and danced. My number in the Triathlon is 1126C and when they were giving away a bike as a spot prize they said 1127C – I nearly won!!

Aonghas

Barbecues

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Our landlords – Colin and Judith – asked us round to their house for a barbecue on Friday evening. Not often that your landlord will loan you their car and invite you round for food! Kids were impressed as they could watch the telly! That’s a luxury that they are learning to do without at the moment.

On the Saturday we had a lazy day at the house then Liz – our relocation consultant – picked us up go for a bbq at her house. Liz has been excellent in everything that she has helped us with and has gone way beyond what her employer would expect her to do – thanks Liz!

Liz and Chas moved to NZ about 4 years ago from the UK so had lots of helpful hints about the transition. Liz has 2 boys, the eldest is Gus’s age. All 4 had a great time in their pool while we lazed about keeping refreshed on NZ white and Mac’s best bitter.

Saturday Eve

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Have arranged a going away party at Ingleton Community Centre for Saturday evening. Not been very efficient at getting invites out. Did a joint mail with our Christmas cards but harder to get in touch with folks whose addresses we don’t have. The old caving grapevine doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to so apologies if you didn’t hear about it in time. Lots of you did make it though and it was lovely to see so many folk and we hope you all had a great time too and had a safe journey home. We’re really sorry if we didn’t get the chance to talk very much to you all. We have sat and played back the evening in our heads and think that one or the other of us spoke to everyone, so we hope we didn’t miss anyone. Thank you also for all the kind gifts both for us and the children.

Have uploaded some pictures from the evening to http://www.flickr.com/photos/easegill/sets/72157603851691832/show
If anyone has other photos from the night please send to easegill@gmail.com or add links here in the comments.

We do hope that it’s not the last time that we see all our friends. I’m sure that at some point we’ll come back for a holiday but NZ is a really cool place for a holiday and we’d love to put any of you up if you visit. The only problem you’ll have is not having enough time to see it all!

Saturday Day

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House empty, work finished – seems like a good place to start writing this. First of all thank you to everyone for all your kind words, messages, help and meals over the last few weeks We’re staying in a caravan at Silverdale for our last week in the UK. The weather has been pretty wet but there have been some excellent winter sunsets over Morecambe Bay.

Sunset over Morecambe Bay from Silverdale

Today I’ve been spending some quality with my brother while we drive up and down to the tip all day getting rid of the piles of junk and rubbish that even we’re too embarrassed to take with us! Also need to get ready for tonight’s party – and collect some balloons!

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