Saturday, 6 February 2016
I had rather intended this stay in New Zealand to be a combination of catching up with The Family and my friends both here in Hawkes Bay and elsewhere in the country; a safari with Pauline via seeing Gareth in Auckland (he flew the same route as I did and arrived yesterday); some croquet with a tournament in Tauranga; and then do all sorts of things that I haven't done as a tourist because I was only a tourist for a relatively short while back in 2005. Living in a place and being a tourist are entirely different things. One may experience more as a tourist in terms of quantity but for quality of experience nothing beats living in a place.
However with the alterations in the arrangements next week because Pauline had to go to Australia I have suddenly just picked up where I left off nearly two years ago. I cannot believe that I've been away that long. Sitting chatting to people today at croquet it was as if I'd just been away for my usual six months. There were however lots of new people and it was a bit odd not knowing everyone and not being known by many.
Playing croquet after two years absence from the game was strange. Almost everything was second nature but in reality my games today consisted of general mediocrity interspersed with flashes of sheer incompetence. However after having run a hoop from about 20 yards to win a game one stranger did tell me that I showed promise for a newcomer. Hmmm.
Arriving in New Zealand now is the most slick operation I've ever encountered at an airport. I was off the plane and out of the terminal in somewhere around 15 minutes: everything is automated. The downside? No cheery border control officer to wish you an enjoyable stay. Then what is for me always one of the most emotional of moments: leaving the International Terminal and stepping into the heat of a sunny day (in 11 years I have never arrived on a wet day) and walking to the Domestic Terminal. Why I didn't take a photo of the tree-lined beautiful parts of that walk to show you I have no idea.
Then the flight to Napier which is the same flying time as my first flight of the journey from Stornoway to Glasgow: