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Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Birthday D.C.

18 April 2014 – D.C.’s birthday

More Weta.
But before I make a start on what we did today, I’d like to say more about last night’s ballet. It was about 12.30 when I put the light out (much to D.C.’s relief) so I didn’t get the opportunity to say as much as I would have liked.

Firstly we got to the St James Theatre with about an hour to spare. We were not in our glad rags; at least I only had my pretty top on. D.C. at least managed to wear the jacket she’d planned to, but she also wore her new slacks and a less dressy top. But over everything we had on our raincoats (without the warming linings, it wasn’t that cold) and our waterproof over trousers. The theatre was closed (we thought, so we wandered up and down the block, musing on the fact that we were going to be seeing one type of dancing ladies, while all around were other types. So you know what we’re talking about, one of the establishments was Calendar Girls, which isn’t afraid to spend a bit of cash for some publicity. For those of you who don’t know it, think of the movie, reduce the age of the leading ladies, and add a bit more movement to the show.

On one pass of the theatre we looked into an eatery and saw one of Whitakers eggs that are scattered around the country. I’ve been taking photos of most that we’ve seen, so we popped in to get a photo of this one using my tablet, which I had brought with me. I couldn’t find the camera app, so I wound up using D.C.’s. While I was trying to work this out, D.C. confirmed what she’d believed, that this was actually the foyer to the St James Theatre. Once this had been ascertained, we divested ourselves of our coats and over trousers, right in the middle of the foyer. There was a cloak area set aside for jackets, umbrellas and the suchlike, but I’d say that our over trousers were the only ones there that night. The coat check-in lady said we were very sensible for being dressed as we were.

The theatre is beautiful and I wished I could have got photos, but as you’re not allowed to photograph or record the performance I didn’t have my camera with me. And without a tripod I doubt that I could have got a photo with enough light in it anyway.

As I said yesterday we were in the front row, right at the left side, so our view was unimpeded (apart from a little bit of the stage) if off centre. But we were able to see the net that’s strung over the orchestra pit in front of the stage. We assumed that that was in case anyone fell of the stage; to stop them from falling on top of a member of the orchestra. It would also have caught any flowers that were thrown.

When the ballet proper started it was simply wonderful. Finally we were able to watch the dancers at full stretch on a proper stage, with proper sets, and a proper orchestra. The orchestra wasn’t too loud and the music and dancing sublime. We were lucky to see Lucy Green in the lead, Abagail Boyle as the Gypsy Queen, and best of all Sir John Trimmer as Dr Coppelius. I hate to think how old he is, but he’s still a great character dancer.

It was magic. I was grinning all the way through.

Unfortunately, despite D.C.’s efforts, her cold was coming to the fore and she couldn’t stop hacking. She tried to restrict it to the loud bits, but that wasn’t always successful. However I think the first interval ice cream helped.

It was warm and not raining when we left, so we put our coats on for ease of carrying, but didn’t bother about the over trousers. That was until I could see this fine spray in the street lights, so we snuck into a doorway and got dressed.

We were sufficiently confident about where we were that we walked home, where I continued with my blog.

Okay – on to today.

Firstly an apology. I have taken photos, but because of D.C.’s cold I’m in another room. All my stuff is in hers, but having just traipsed into there three times to collect things I needed, I’m not keen on making a fourth trip to get my camera – and she’d probably agree.

Today we moved out of the Travelodge and to Ann and Duncan’s. We managed to pack our bags this morning and then waited until ten when they were due to pick us up. As D.C. was paying the receptionist asked if we enjoyed our stay, and we said that we wouldn’t recommend the place. The assistant manager came out to ask us why, so we told him and then said we’d email him a list.

Things like:
·         The room was too hot. We never think of things like asking reception for a fan.
·         Everything’s built for people six foot and over.
·         There was only one place to place a suitcase (in a twin room) and no drawers.
·         Not that we cared, but there was no mini-bar as advertised. (He told us they’ve been removed from all rooms and they’ve got to change their literature.)
·         We didn’t always get replacement shampoos and conditioners.
·         There was only one type of tea, and that wasn’t always replaced.
·         There was no way of washing any crockery we used (except in the hand basin where you filled up the kettle) and no way of drying it. So we left it for the cleaners. Yesterday we put a little mark on the bottom of one of the mugs and when we came back in the afternoon we still had the same, now clean(?), mug. Where did they wash it and what did they dry it with?
·         Not enough coat hangers.

However the bathroom was a lot better than the Mecure, apart from the cracked hand basin. And it was a hang of a lot quieter, being back from the street.

He asked what he could do to rectify it and we couldn’t think of anything. As we’d paid a cheaper rate for the first two days and a dearer rate for the later booked subsequent three days, we should have asked to have been charged the same cheaper rate for all five days.

Duncan collected us and brought us to their place, where we caught up with Ann who was in the middle of baking a carrot cake, which we enjoyed as lunch as soon as it came out of the oven.

Ann gave us both birthday presents, which are much appreciated – especially the liquorice. Then she was good enough to make us a roll and take us to Zealandia. This is where I want my camera.

The entry fee has dropped since we were there last. Now I only paid $17.50 and D.C. paid $14. And, if we go back tomorrow, we will be able to get in again for nothing.

It is beautiful there. For those of you who don’t remember earlier blogs it’s a reserve on the site of the former city water reservoir, which was retired when someone realised that having millions of cubic metres of water backed up behind a dam on a fault line wasn’t such a good idea. They’ve put a pest proof fence around and now many native species flourish there. One of the first we saw free was a Saddleback that flashed past, almost too fast to comprehend what it was. Other creatures we saw were Fantails, Tui, ducks, Silvereyes, a robin, shags, a skink, geckos (in cages), Weta, two Takahe, and what was really quite special (as was the Saddleback and Takahe), several Tuatara of varying ages.

For those of you not from this side of the globe, the first seven animals are birds, skinks and geckos are of the lizard persuasion, Takahe are an extremely rare type of rail bird (thought to be extinct for many years), Weta are crickets, and Tuatara are living dinosaurs. To peer over a fence and see them sitting on a bank sunning themselves was pretty special. So was seeing the two Takahe grazing.

We weren't there long enough and left the complex when it shut at 5.00pm, just as Ann picked us up. Then it was back home to watch the Wizard of Oz, listen to a thunderstorm, and enjoy a delicious Duncan cooked meal of roast chicken, chestnuts, potato, Jerusalem Artichokes, courgettes, onions and carrots. Dessert was more carrot cake.

Then Ann and Duncan let us luxuriate in their hot tub outside. It was warm, it wasn’t raining, and it was lovely. I think D.C. enjoyed the birthday treat of soaking in a hot tub, in the bush, at night, listening to the Morepork/Ruru (and fireworks(?)), followed by a trip over the road to Wilson’s Bush (I’ll find out the proper name later) to see glowworms in the bush. I even shone my torch on one and could see the long case of the larvae form, with its tail sticking out with the light on the end, and the long sticky threads that it used to snare its prey.

Then we came back to the house, set up my bed in the lounge (so I could sleep over D.C.’s hacking and she could sleep over my blogging) and went to bed.

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