It's a rainy, stormy Sunday here at the Wavehaven, and everyone is feeling a bit more cozy and we all are camped out inside for the day- there are currently 9 people hanging out in the living room! We have several new guests that arrived yesterday, and they are all lamenting their timing- a big weather front has arrived in New Zealand and has been pouring rain on most of the country for the last 5 days or so, and now it has really picked up and we are in full-blown storm mode, with torrential rains and winds forecast to get up to 46 km/hr in the next few days! It's meant to keep up for most of the next week, clearing off and drying out some in the couple days before Christmas, but keeping up with the wind. It's kind of exciting, although it does put a damper on outdoor activities. No one here is particularly inclined to go outside at the moment- I had to run to the car for something a few minutes ago, and while it is only about 5 metres from the front steps, I came back in totally soaked. At least the farmers are getting the rain they need- there sure is plenty of it! It remains quite warm and incredibly humid, so there are lots of jokes going around about monsoon season and the like.
The clouds have had one really nice effect- with the right conditions, they produce spectacular sunsets! Here's one from a couple nights ago, from the front porch of the Wavehaven.
(Click on photos to enlarge)
Yesterday morning there was some important business to attend to- the Christmas package from Matt's family was waiting under the Christmas tree when I got up (some investigation found that Graham was the elf that put it there :), so I woke Matt up by setting it on top of him. With no one to keep us from doing otherwise, we immediately opened the box and delved into all the goodies! Happy early Christmas to us! It's been 3 months since we left home, and any material evidence that home is still there is extra precious- and now we are feeling like it really is Christmas! Here's a massive THANK YOU to Matt's kin for sending us such awesome goodies and holiday cheer!
Matt shaking the box and trying to guess what lies within...
Keep Portland WEIRD! (By threatening your snowman Peeps with your new pocket knife...)
Mike&Ikes and Hot Tamales! I'm ashamed to say the candies we miss most are ones with corn syrup as a primary ingredient. And yes, we gorged ourselves and got a massive sugar high before breakfast. It was awesome. We've also had a lot of fun giving our friends here a taste of American candy.
I got a Powell's T-Shirt! (Most Epic of All Bookstores, and a Portland landmark). And a Leatherman Micra (Thank you!!!), perfect for digging into the bags of candy.
Much gratitude from both of us for the gifts and the little-kid feeling of digging into a stack of presents, even if we didn't manage to wait until Christmas! (And to be clear, we are not neglected by my family- their gifts are just coming in a different form, equally appreciated!)
The weather cleared later in the morning yesterday, so Matt and I decided to take advantage and drive north to see what might be seen, and maybe find a surfable wave (the surf has been not awesome for the last few days). We decided to go back to Onaero Bay and Onaero Beach, where Merv and Michele had taken us to swim a few weeks ago. We didn't find any surf, but the clouds did clear and it got really beautiful out, so we stayed to have a little picnic above the beach.
We had a nice ramble down the walkway from the Waiwhakaiho River mouth to Fitzroy, then back up along the beach.
Fitzroy Beach (a famous and busy surf spot) and New Plymouth from the North
Mouth of the Waiwhakaiho River
Steam rising off the beach.
We took a walk across the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge over the river, which was only completed this past June, but has already become an icon of New Plymouth. I think it's really lovely- a great design.
On a clear day, the mountain would be visible right behind the bridge.
We had a bit of a surf at Oakura on the way back, where I took a massive pounding with the waves incredibly close together, and got my first surfing injury- I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but I must have caught a fin to my foot during a wipe-out. I didn't notice till I got out of the water, but the top of my foot and one toe have decent gashes on them, and a nice big bruise across the top of my foot. Nothing that won't heal in a few days.
We had a nice social evening last night, a delicious Christmas barbecue with Graham, Stefan (who arrived back from the South Island a few days ago), and Graham's friends Chris and Constance. We shared in their delicious cooking and partook of fresh salad, roasted pumpkin, and Guinness burgers (best idea EVER). As soon as everything was done cooking and we sat down at the table on the porch, the sky opened up and the rain came dumping down- luckily we were under cover, but it was so loud we had to shout to be heard by the people next to us. It's been raining heavily ever since.
Well, that's that from this side of the world. I think I'll go make some tea and curl up to write some letters!