Sunday 3 February 2013


Some things never change, hooray: like this sign. But others do. Here we are, back on Waiheke Island for the annual week of actual holiday, but this time just the one generation fronting up. Though the Firstborn, happily, is popping over for a night and a day, the Baby is well out of it this year. No more long days on the beach lubricated with melting icecream and Frujus, and sunblock - but, equally, no more whingeing over having to do the washing-up by hand, or trails of sandy footprints across the floor, or days beginning far too early - or, latterly, far too late.

This time we're not back at dear old Palm Beach, but at long, open Onetangi where, in late summer, they have Beach Day at low tide, with ponies and horses and ancient tractors and rich men's toys racing along the hard sand, while people dig holes and build sandcastles and parade silly hats and eat and drink and watch from along the top of the beach. Today, in the wind, the sand was relatively deserted, the sea enjoyed only by the kite surfers skimming along, and just a few doughty souls messing about at the water's edge, leaving the sand empty for the oyster-catchers to fossick in undisturbed.

It always amuses me that the side streets here are grandiosely numbered avenues as though we were in New York, when the place could hardly be more different. Especially this year, when after the dry summer we've had (sorry, Queensland, really truly sorry for your dreadful floods - again) people's rainwater tanks are running low but there's a more than three-week delay on getting a refill from the tanker. The grass is brown and crisp, part of the hills at Ostend are blackened by fire from some idiot teenager playing with fireworks, and the seagulls are drinking from the puddles at the garden centre. The locals are hanging out for rain: but, selfish holiday-makers that we are, that's the last thing we want this week, thanks.

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