|It had been two years since returning to the land of the long white cloud, so Korina and I decided it was time for a visit.
It was great being home, primarily because a lot of the old crew were home for Brad and Jess's wedding celebration - good to see them both as well as Steve & Rachel, Johnny & Lara, Tijs & Melissa and Rik & Amanda (as well as the kids!). Brad and Jess had set up a big marque in Brads' folks driveway, which was just as well, as the weather was exceedingly dodgy for most of our trip (coldest December on record!). Amusingly, some days it was the same temperature in London as it was in Wellington / Dunedin - and its winter here in the UK!
It was also good to see Cameron and Mum and Dad as well as the dogs over xmas. I'm looking forward to seeing Cam at some stage throughout his upcoming travels.
After xmas Korina popped down to Dunedin to see Mike, Andrea, Bronwyn, Phil and others and I spent most of my time up in Waikanae with Mum and Dad. Plenty of BBQs to be had, but the weather was still a bit crappy (needed the outdoor heater quite regularly).
The poor weather in NZ didn't stop me getting sunburnt - the aftermath of one relatively chilly BBQ at the beach house was a lobster-like finish to my hands, feet and neck (I was wearing a jersey because it was cold!). Luckily this was not too bad, and a couple of days later it had subsided.
I also managed to go mountainbiking with Tijs and Steve three times - twice up Makara Peak and once up Mount Vic. Even though the weather wasn't that flash, the trails were still pretty dry and fast. Prior to going on these rides I had felt quite fit, but riding with Steve and Tijs does tend to make you feel a bit like a podgy git! Actually, I found most of the climbs to be not too bad - was only around 10-15% behind the others - however, the downhills were a different story. They were much more aggressive and technical than what I had been riding in the UK, so I got left in their dust!
The frequent hangovers I seemed to contract over the visit also seemed to not assist in the balance stakes!
The last couple of days I also went down to Dunedin, and it was good to see folks down there as well as to frequent a few of my old haunts such as Poppa's pizzas and Plato. A lot of stuff was closed over xmas in Dunedin and quite a few people were away - but I'd have to say, it was where we got the best weather on the entire trip...
I also managed to catch up with Granny, who has not been well in 2006. I would have to say that I was surprised as to how good she actually seemed - although she was still in residential care she was up and about - and has since gone back into her own home which is a really good result.
Although the jet-lag wasn't too bad for me on the way over, the way back was a different story. Even though we overnighted in Tokyo, the first week back at work saw me waking up at 2am, 4am, 4am, 5am and 6am. Not great for being awake in the office!
We did manage to get an upgrade to premium economy from Auckland to Tokyo, so a few 52 below cocktails made the flight a bit more enjoyable (as did the noise cancelling headsets - great to actually be able to hear what is going on in the movie!). However, Korina and I were not originally seated together - until the camp steward "pulled a few strings". Korina was quite entertained by his version of a song that appeared to be named "reunited...".