Speaking of engagements

Trip Start Oct 21, 2006
Trip End Mar 21, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween has never really caught on in New Zealand. I guess that people here have realised that it is basically just a big commercial scam - fine for Americans but not really for Kiwis. You see the odd person dressed up but it's more for a laugh than anything.

So, without pumpkins and costumes to look forward to today, Jane and I head off on a mission to find Jane's friend Poppy, who she had met in England many years ago. Poppy apparently lives down by the beach so we take a walk down there. Her mum's house was a little dilapidated in appearance, with a small sand bank accumulated by the front door due to the wind blowing it up from the beach. A rather surprised woman who was just leaving the house told us that Poppy actually lives up in Gisborne - five hours drive from Wellington but only about half an hour from where we were just staying with Jess and Guy.

The main scheduled event of the evening was my Dad's inaugural public lecture as Head Professor of Geography at Victoria University. It's a big deal, as the position is quite presitigious. We all meet before the lecture for some professional family photos on the university lawn. The photographer mistakenly thinks that Jess and Guy are brother and sister and that Jess and I are a couple - a little creepy.

A good number of our extended family - aunts, uncles, cousins, etc - as well as members of the public, show up for the lecture, which is held in the venerable old Hunter Council Chambers. Dad is dressed up in his full academic regalia, as are the Vice Chancellor and some other guy. The speech itself is interesting, all about the relationship between social well-being (or 'happiness') and geographic location. Afterwards, about 15 of us meet up at a restaurant down by the waterfront for a meal that is yummy but of almost comically over-sized proportions. I pride myself, in a semi-masochistic kind of way, on always being able to finish whatever is on my plate, but tonight I can't even finish off a salad.

After dinner, Dad stands up to thank us all, then says that Guy would like to say a few words. Guy stands up, a little nervously, clears his throat, and announces that he had proposed to Jess that afternoon. He then adds that she accepted his proposal meaning that my little sister is to be married. How exciting! Jane already knew because Dad had told her but it was a surprise for me, a very happy surprise. They haven't picked a date yet but it will probably be at least six months away.
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