Friday, March 4, 2011

Tea with Howard and Rosemarie (hey, that rhymes!)

Calling yesterday's blog post "once again in sunny Nelson" inspired mother nature to heights of irony last night... we woke up this morning to pounding rain on the roof, which abated slightly but continued on into midmorning. I certainly hope it's not like that tomorrow when we go sailing in Abel Tasman!

This morning we were treated to a lovely continental breakfast in the dining room downstairs, served by our charming (if highly opinionated) host, David (for an interesting conversation, ask him for his thoughts on the state of Israel), and chatted with several of the other bed and breakfast guests, including the couple from New Hampshire and a woman from Scotland. After breakfast I had a shower, and then performed various trip housekeeping tasks (budgeting, managing our itinerary) while my mom did two loads of laundry and then because of her hatred of dryers proceeded to hang the wet laundry all over the room, such as from the wardrobe door, balcony doors, and bed posts. Mercifully, she hung the towels and several other big-ticket items outside on the actual clothesline, as the rain had stopped and the sky was starting to lighten.

For the rest of the morning we headed downtown and wandered along the streets of Nelson, ultimately ending up in the MacPac store, where my dad bought a raincoat, and my mom bought two shirts and a nice blue coat. She's still getting used to the sizing down here, and I don't blame her; with all the media focus on thinness, and being so used to North American sizings, it is a bit of a shock to be buying clothes that say "Size 10" (the average sizes here are 12-16). I ended up getting a pretty merino zip-up hoodie, which I likely didn't really need, but it's a nice colour and warm yet light, so I'll get a lot of use out of it in the fall weather here and the spring weather back home.

Back at the bed and breakfast we had a lunch of meat and cheese sandwiches on the balcony outside our room, marvelling in the rapid upswing in the weather, which had gone from cold and drizzly to warm and sunny; perfect weather for our planned visit to Howard and Rosemarie's this afternoon. Getting there, however... that's a story in itself.

My mom and dad are getting increasingly frustrated with the traffic signage here in New Zealand, or lack thereof. I suppose I didn't think much of it, as I know the way to Howard and Rosemarie's without relying on arrows and placards to direct me there. Unfortunately, the multiple ways to get to Richmond, so helpfully pointed out by a multitude of signs along the highway, ended up causing major headaches for my dad. We ended up at the Countdown in Stoke so I could buy some pavlova and cream for tea, and I called Howard to apologize for our tardiness, saying, "Well, no, we're not lost, but I should be driving!"

At last we made it to their beautiful house in Hope, and after greeting Howard and Rosmarie with a big hug and making introductions, I excitedly showed my parents around the garden, pointing out all the places I had worked and they had read about in my blog. My vegetable patch was a half success; the radishes had definitely sprouted and were doing quite well, but the lettuces were very small, and only growing in the back corner near the fence; I have a feeling the centre patch was just too dry for them (either that, or I didn't sow the seeds to the correct depth). My flower garden looked much as I had left it (to me, at least), but the plants all looked healthy, and even sported a previously feared-lost plant (a lily? I think it was a lily) growing on the very edge of the garden with beautiful white flowers. The vineyard was still mostly weed-free, thanks to the efforts of four Malaysian and two Thai WWOOFers that came after me, and two more sections of the concrete garden path had been poured and set with cobblestones. It was delightful to see all these little changes, even after just one month away; as Rosemarie said, "Well, you'll have to come back next year, just think, everything will be twice as big then!"

We showed my parents around the kiwifruit orchard, and then while Rosemarie took them around the front of the house and discussed topping and taking out the gum tree by the garage Howard and I went inside and got tea ready. He had already laid out melon, strawberries, and a slice of feijoa chocolate cake for each of us, and I added to the afternoon tea feast by setting out the mini-pavlova cakes and whipping up some cream for their tops. Howard was even nice enough to let me use some of their strawberries to garnish them (as is traditional; the Countdown didn't have any strawberries, so we had bought peaches to use instead, but it really wouldn't have been true pavlova without strawberries).

The teatime conversations ranged from the inevitable (the Christchurch earthquake) to the technical (my dad asking about insurance and coverage of WWOOFers working on the property) to the slightly humourous (my mom asking, "How do you get WWOOFers to leave that you don't like?" and Rosemarie answering back, "Well, first the wine stops getting served with dinner, and then the food stops being as good, and then the tasks get even harder..."). It was so nice to be back in Howard and Rosemarie's house again, sitting around the table where I have so many good memories. It was slightly odd to have my parents there - kind of a mash-up of situations in my head - but they seemed to get on well with my gracious Pom-cum-New Zealand hosts.

After tea I took my mom and dad into the rec room to see Howard's train layout, and Howard explained a little bit about how it works (I love that thing. I think it's such a cool idea and a technological marvel; and doubly more impressive because he wrote the code and designed it all himself). I also showed them the model trees I attempted to make for the layout; glorified toilet brushes would be a better description. Perhaps I would have more luck if I tried my hand at programming or model building assembly!

Just before we left the five of us posed in front of Howard and Rosemarie's house for photos, including several in front of the reflective window in the breakfast room, so you can see all of us in the frame (albeit with my dad holding the camera up to his face). I'm sorry for Howard and Rosemarie's sake that I think they haven't seen the last of me; a little part of my heart now belongs to New Zealand, and I know I am going to have to come back here. I would love to come WWOOF again at their house... and the second time around, I will be sure to refrain from purchasing and eating sketchy chocolate bars!

For dinner tonight my parents went for a walk through the gardens and into downtown Nelson, where they picked up some chicken kabobs from a take-out joint; I stayed back the B&B, once again doing more trip planning and enjoying the beautiful sunset from the balcony. I also got to hear the roars and cheers coming from Nelson's stadium; I believe the Crusaders rugby team must have had a game tonight, as there were all sorts of people streaming toward the studio this afternoon, clad in red and black and sporting face paint of the same colour. 

Tomorrow morning we leave for Abel Tasman National Park to do a half day sail and then a half day walk, so I had best be off to bed. I've been writing this blog entry while sipping the feijoa wine Rosemarie and Howard gave to us when we left (simply delicious, and reminds me of all the evenings I spent there) as well as finishing the complimentary port left here in the room with my dad, so if this blog entry is a little convoluted or disjointed that would be the reason why: I've had a little too much fruit ambrosia. :-) Goodnight!


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