A home from home with Jon & Laura

Trip Start Aug 07, 2011
Trip End Jul 14, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hiya, it's Fran!

After Jon's epic drive home last night where we all stayed up to keep him company, we were all shattered so slept in all morning on Monday. It was a pretty nice day so Jon and Laura wanted to take us to'The Mount', showing us around the town, the sea front and then a walk up to the top of Mount Maunganui. It surprised me how big the town was because from what I'd heard it was much smaller than Tauranga, but it was lovely and had everything that you needed, including lots of cafes, bars, restaurants as well as clothes shops etc. Jon and Laura have definitely chosen a great place to live! The main beach had just opened after being closed due to the Reina oil spill. Getting to the top of the mount was tough enough walking, let alone running, which is what some of the crazy locals were doing! (They obviously didn't like having cartilage in their knees for some reason!) The views were lovely and we got a proper feel for the area for the first time. Gorgeous! Back at home after Laura and I spent a couple of hours in the hot tub (bliss!) Laura cooked us up an amazing Mousaka and we had a great chilled night. I forgot to get the recipe - Laura - email me it through please! :0)

On Tuesday we had a bit of a late start but Andy still managed to shave off his hobo beard... Yey! I know a lot of people like beards but as I'd never been with Andy with such a big beard (stubble is my norm) it was VERY weird. I honestly felt like I was kissing a stranger! On top of that, Andy had developed a very weird habit of stroking his long mustache like a baddie in a movie... All in all it was a good decision to get rid! Anyway, Jon and Andy had conspired the most creative ways and stages of shaving it off, which inevitably was captured with photos. Judge for yourself how amusing it was!

Anyway, we packed up a lunch and headed off to Luge in Rotorua. I had no idea what 'Luge-ing' actually was but went along for the ride. We got there, got kitted out (Laura and I had puppies on our helmets cos we had to wear the kiddie ones!) and queued up for our first ride. At this point I still had no idea what this was about but it looked like go-karts... Good times! My competitive streak went into overdrive! "I'm gonna kick your @ss!" I think my words were to everyone. We got in and the guy asked if it was my first time (no sniggers please). He showed me the ropes and then told me to get in the beginners lane! Noooooo! We had all agreed to race the intermediate circuit so I wanted to ignore him and tried to follow Laura but he was very insistent so I went by myself with the 5 year olds down the beginners course whilst everyone else raced another course! So much for kicking their bums! Humph!

It was so much fun!! I think I "woo-hoo-ed" down the whole course! (Even if it was the beginners!) For those of you who haven't 'luged' (I think I'm making up words left, right and centre here!) it's like karting but uses gravity to pull you down the course and you only have brakes. There are even jumps where you fly into the air over hills! Anyway, we had a couple of other goes, Jon was the reigning champion with Andy a close second (who wasn't helped by crashing into one of the barriers at one point!), and finally a tied-third between me and Laura. The weather just about held out for us whilst we were driving the course so luckily we didn't need to worry about a wet track. Unfortunately, the weather didn't quite hold out entirely and on the chair-lift back to the top station it started to chuck it down... And then it HAILED! The biting wind meant that not only were we getting soaked through but we were freezing our digits off and there was nothing we could do but sit it out in the open on the chair lift. We headed back to the car, put the heating on full blast to thaw ourselves out and then headed to the lake to have our packed lunch. I saw my first black swan which was cool. On the way back we stopped off to see the famous geo-thermal springs which absolutely stank like stale farts (sorry but they did!) and swiftly exited stage left back to the fart-free Mount! 

Laura's friend at work told us about a Happy Hour where it was $2 a drink from 3-6pm so we made our way their for the final hour of happy hour. This was an amazing deal as the cheapest place we'd found in NZ was $3 beers at Cowboys in Queenstown (where Mike Tindall got himself in a bit of bother). We then found out that it was actually $2 off drinks so had one cheeky one and then made our way to Mt. Mellick, the local Irish pub. They did in fact have a good happy hour before 6pm where you span a wheel to decide if it's x% off or free or whatever. We managed to bag two 30% off rounds which made up for it! Jon and Laura had gotten a taste for kalukee from our Sunday night game so we got the cards out and carried on where we left off. Laura won! We accidentally stayed in the pub all night and had another great night! 

On Wednesday we had another lazy morning and then went to meet Jon's work colleagues and see his dental practice. After some shopping where we stocked up on stuff for Fiji and some food, we headed back and watched an afternoon movie before Jon made us some yummy kofte kebabs with cous cous, his favorite dinner. The funniest thing about the evening was that it was the first time Jon and Laura had used the BBQ since last autumn. Sarah, Laura's friend, had warned her about creepy crawlies that would have made themselves at home. She wasn't wrong! Andy made Jon jump and scream out (like a little girl) a couple of times when he was near the BBQ after they'd spotted the new inhabitants, and Laura and I had lots of giggles watching the boys take turns winding each other up.

On Thursday, Jon and Laura had to go back to work and Andy and I had do have a much needed admin day, which included doing our CVs. Andy cracked on and I did everything I possibly could to avoid my CV, but I did at least do other paperwork stuff. I wanted to do something nice for Jon and Laura after their day at work and thought about welcoming them home by making a surprise baked cake (or at least buy one!) so we popped out to the Mount. We didn't realise that they'd be home early so we failed to be the welcome party! Jon cooked us an awesome risotto and I baked some triple choc chip and nut muffins. (Don't be too impressed as they were a 'just add an egg and water' Betty Crocker special! I don't do baking!) It was actually really nice to have a chill day as we feel we've been busy doing stuff since Ruakaka

Friday day time was much of the same (Andy doing his CV and me avoiding mine) and I cooked dinner for the workers for when they got home, beef and aubergine Malaysian curry. We headed out to meet Sarah and Glenn for drinks at Mt. Mellick. It ended up being a pretty messy night! We all had a great time, the boys got emotional and we went to the emptiest bar ever seen on a Friday night, the Buddha Bar, in Tauranga. They had awesome cocktails though! And Andy even got a DJ lesson in the DJ booth! 

Safe to say that Saturday was a day of recovery... We haven't had that much to drink since the wedding! Laura was going to cook us a Thai Chicken Curry (which I REALLY fancy right now!) but our hangovers got the better of us and we headed into town to get fish and chips... Scrumptious! Laura said they were the best fish n chips ever, and it wasn't a kiwi exaggeration! We ate them at Pilot Bay waiting to watch the sunset. We rented some movies and vegged out for the evening waiting for tomorrow...

We just want to say another big thank you to Jon and Laura for being the best hosts and really making us feel at home. We've loved spending this time with you both and already looking forward to seeing you back home x

So... finally, after 7 weeks and watching 8 live games; watching the French get through to the final after playing so badly and watching the English play even worse, we were ready to see the Rugby World Cup Final!

I hope whatever happens that it's a good game... Either that the All Blacks smash the French or that it'll be a really well fought out game... Roll on tomorrow!

Woop Woop!

Mrs. M xx

(P.s. Apologies for the excessive use of parentheses!) 
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Annie Freestone on

OMG Andy that was some scary beard - I like you much better clean shaven! Sounds as though you had a brilliant time with Jon and Laura! So enjoying your blogs. Annie x

andyandfran on

Hi Annie! It definitely was a scary beard... So gladnAndy got rid of it! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought so... Jon and Laura liked it! Fran x

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