Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Visitors at last!

I’ve just enjoyed the best weekend so far since we came to Auckland.
Here’s what happened:
On Friday, after weeks of anticipation, I picked the kids up from school (they got an early mark) and we set off for the airport to meet Nana.
Unfortunately, about 5 other aircraft were landing at the same time, so we had quite a wait.
Still, that just made the moment the kids spotted their Nana, even sweeter. With squeals of delight, they threw themselves at her.
We drove home, pointing out landmarks along the way, and while Nana settled in, I busied myself baking lasagne and getting the kids organised for bed. I was telling off the little Dude for something, when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye.
Imagine my surprise when I turned around and saw MY SISTER! I almost fell down the stairs!
Turns out, L. had flown from Brisbane to Auckland to surprise me for my birthday. Of course, Husband, who picked her up from the airport, was in on it all along.
It was a perfect excuse to crack open the bubbly we’d been given for looking after a lost Bengal kitten recently.
After a fun evening, the next morning we headed north over the Harbour Bridge to a gorgeous beach called Sandspit. Then it was on to Matakana, where the famous markets were on. L. and I thoroughly enjoyed tasting beer, wine and chocolate, but drew the line at mussel fritters!
We drove on to a lovely winery called the Ascension Estate on Matakana Road.
Those-sized bottles are what I'm talking about...

Gallant Husband was driving, which allowed Nana, L. and I to sample a few of their fabulous wines.
The kids played happily in a well-equipped, playroom next door – what a fabulous idea! We could keep an eye on them through the glass, but enjoy the wine-tasting without worrying about keeping them entertained (or knocking over something frightfully expensive in the gift shop!). Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious lunch in the restaurant, overlooking the vineyards.
While we lingered over lunch, the kids joined a few other kids racing each other up and down the vineyards. The staff assured us that was fine, as long as they didn’t touch the grapes.
We were so impressed by the friendly but professional staff, the quality of the food, wine and service, and the surroundings. Even the kids thought their shared kids’ meal (hamburger for C.; chippies, boiled egg, and nibbles of my meal for H) was great. I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.
At home, L. and I visited the nearby Christmas shop and picked up a few provisions at the supermarket. She was delighted to find we were able to taste beer, wine, cheeses and organic fizzy drink as we made our way around the shopping aisles. Grocery shopping is more of a social experience in Auckland than back home.
That night, we enjoyed sampling some of the wine we brought at Ascension (watch the Wine of the Week for more details), with some of the cheeses and dips we picked up at the supermarket.
Next day, Nana and Husband took the kids off to his work’s Kids Christmas Party, while L. and I did the Victoria Park markets, took a ride up the Sky Tower, and enjoyed a light lunch (and a wine – surprise!) at a busy restaurant at the Viaduct. (Stay tuned for more photos – when I get around to posting again).
Then it was back to our place for a swim, and Husband’s Sunday night roast – lamb, Yorkshire puddings, and vegies. Divine!
Sadly, the next morning L. had to return to Brisbane, but it was after a weekend I shall never forget.

Lunch overlooking the vineyard was simply divine...

Even C. enjoyed his burger, while we loved the platter of Kumara chips, roasted baby potatoes, Israeli tablouli, cauliflower and egg which was placed in the middle of the table for sharing.

Wine tasting at Ascension Estate ... I'll drink to that!

Matakana markets ... even the kids got to taste organic apple and orange juices

That sister of mine always has a drink in her hand (unlike me!) Here she is tasting organic beer on behalf of her husband, sons and son-in-law.
Mussel fritters? Erm, not after my last experience with mussels...

Sandspit beach and surrounds

1 comment:

Linda said...

How fantastic is that surprise, well done K for setting up that one!! That is wonderful to see all happy faces & keeping busy
We are all great here & keeping busy with all the school activites. Also all the running around for Santa can make a person exahusted LOL
Chat to you soon