Christmas at the Tomkinsons
172º 28.55 East
Monday 13th December we packed our bags, closed up the boat and flew down to Christchurch from Auckland. After having to wait a week for the gearbox drive plate to be repaired we missed our weather window. We arrived quite late but it was lovely to see Kate’s smiling face when we arrived. The first job I was given was decorating the Christmas tree. Will and Daisy helped me and Bill was given the job of putting the fairy on top because he’s the tallest. Daisy turned the lights on and the Christmas season started although it was difficult to feel Christmassy with lovely long sunny and warm days.
Thursday and Friday Kate and I got up early to open the café. It was really good fun. I made Muffins and sandwiches while Kate cooked pies and pasties. She also taught me how to make a proper coffee.
On the Saturday Barry went and opened the café and Kate, Bill and I and the children went along later to enjoy a delicious brunch cooked by Barry. This was followed by the dixie band that Kate plays in setting up and playing outside the café in our honour. It was the best welcome we’ve received throughout our journey so far. Do you recognise the trombonist?
The band was also playing a fond farewell to the café. Kate and Barry have been working there 7 days a week but have decided they don’t want to spend all their time there any more. Barry cooks the most amazing pies, pasties, muffins and slices but the locals seem to ignore them and just order meals with chips! Barry has a nice new job and they are going to concentrate on perfecting their clotted cream business. The celebrations continued in the afternoon and evening with a welcome party consisting of 30 – 40 of Kates friends, many of whom were interested in hearing about our travels so far.
The next day was Sunday and we went to church in the afternoon for a carol service. It wasn’t like any thing we’ve been to before. It started with a sausage sizzle outside. We were all dressed in nice summer clothes instead of thick winter coats. There was no candles or snow. The Ellesmere Dixies played again and accompanied all the carols including a Maori carol. The minister was dressed in ‘plain clothes’ but conducted a very nice service before we emerged into bright sunlight at 7pm!
Bill got himself oily doing a temporary fix on Kate & Barry’s little van but it needed replacing with a new car so for several days Bill had the poor salesman dangling with the sale tantalisingly close while he squeezed more and more off the price. On the Monday the salesman finally gave in and we went to pick it up, a nice Toyota Camry estate, which we will be able to borrow to tour South island. We had a double celebration that day when we learnt that James was safely home from Afghanistan. The MOD had shipped a number of men home early because the jets they were working on had left and James was lucky enough to be one of them. It was a huge relief to Bill and I that he was home safely.
We spent the rest of the week preparing for Christmas.
Christmas morning saw us sitting around the Christmas tree with piles of presents. It took half the day to open them.
We then partook of a Kiwi tradition – we all got in the pool while Barry cooked the most magnificent BBQ for Christmas dinner followed by Pavlova with strawberries and chocolates on top.
Happy Christmas from us all in New Zealand.