Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
Trip End Dec 24, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The weather is still terrible in the morning so we eat breakfast huddled in the car and go in search of coffee. Unfortunately we have forgotten that there are barely any people this far up the peninsula so the cafes don't feel the need to be open except for only a few short hours on a few selected days. This is annoying as we have an hour to kill before our horse riding trip at Colville Farm. In desperation we drive all the way back to Corromandel (30 mins each way) to get caffeine, making it back just in time. 

We have an hour and a half riding across the farm land that stretches for miles, with Belinda, the farmer's daughter, as our guide. She is lovely and chatty and explains that her family have owned the land for 8 generations, and then entertains us with stories of her 4 year old daughter getting kicked in the head by a horse (twice in as many months)

The horses are also added entertainment. Claire, of course, has to have Ziggy, a spritely middle aged man-horse. Jo on the other hand gets Manny. Manny is the equivalent of a lazy, greedy OAP. Throughout the trip he slips and slides on the uneven tracks, stops to eat as much as possible, and trails behind Belinda and Claire. Whereas Claire gains control of Ziggy quickly and looks very natural, Jo flounders a bit and when told to kick Manny to get him going she opts to nudge him a bit with her heels instead. Nevertheless Jo is very fond of Manny (they have a long time together there a back and Jo chats away to him fluidly) and is happy to let him lead the way. At one point both Belinda and Claire canter/gallop pasts Jo and Manny until they disappear around the corner of a hill. Instead of taking this as a cue to speed up, Manny simply tilts his head to the side to see if he can see where they've got to before trundling slowly on unfazed at the thought of being completely left behind. 
Its a brilliant trip and guarantees that we will be trying to horse ride again whilst here.

After we're done we travel through the rush hour traffic back to Auckland, ready for Mark and Dina to arrive the following day. Natalie's house is a very comforting sight compared with the tent and its great to see all the family again. 
Whilst out in their garden Samantha gives us a drawing of Sponge Bob Square Pants with a little note to us both, telling us that she did it at school that day. We are very touched, until Gabie wanders out into the garden and shouts 'That's mine!' in surprise. Sam spends the next couple of minutes sticking to her original story until she gives up and says to Gabie 'well you gave it to me!'. Brilliant, we love it even more now. 


We get up early in preparation for the arrival of the Lewis' and have a hilarious breakfast making session with Jessica in which Claire makes the coffee and then refuses to do anything else and Jo just proves that she can't make eggs and Jess can. 
Then we wait.  

When they do finally arrive its pretty weird! We spend the first few minutes saying 'What are you doing here?' to each other, and then catch up before the rest of the kids get back in the afternoon. When they do get back Mark is the biggest kid going and balls and rubber toy bullets fly around the kitchen for a good couple of hours. Some hilarity ensues when Claire gets told off by Sam and Jacob's stern German Nanny, for telling Sammy that 'maths doesn't really matter' whilst she's doing her homework. Before she leaves, the Nanny turns to Jess and says, "you can watch the kids" to which Dina and Mark say, "it's ok, we're here too." The Nanny doesn't say anything and just leaves. Brilliant.

Damien and Natalie get home and Mark's dad Les and his lovely partner Valerie join us for a big dinner, Jacob keeps us entertained by stating that his won ton's are "divine. fantastic divine." Budding food critic perhaps?

At one point in the evening, Jacob manages to get a golf club in the swimming pool (?!) and we watch on as his sister's get involved with a net, trying their hardest not to get soaked, as Jacob frets because his dad told him that the club will rust.

Mark and Dina are pretty sparko from their jet-lag, and we finish the evening by polishing off a bottle of wine with Nat. 
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soph on

ahhh lovely that dina and mark joined you guys! If they're still there tell them i say hello!!


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