Need to get some thoughts down on paper (albeit electronic :) )
For the first time in years I shouted myself a 10 day holiday to Auckland. There were a number of reasons I needed to do this:
1. To test drive my new car on a long drive
2. To see my family living there and spend quality time with them all
3. To really test my camera out in all conditions
4. To catch up with old Navy mates
5. to test myself on my bogey, getting around in Auckland (the big smoke).
and 6 - a bonus - catching up with Mike King, Dr Dave Codyre, Boris and the Nutters Club team.
So the car. Around Palmerston North I was getting 11.8L/100Km which was more efficient than to old Mitsubishi Diamante V6 I had so how would it cut it on the long drive. Well she drove like a dream. No issues whatsoever and the manual stated you'd get 8.3L/100km and I averaged 7.93!! That was a bonus. However around Auckland with hills and stop/start traffic she managed only 13.2, a huge rise and not what I had budgeted for, but luckily other things went in my favour re budget so not an issue in the end.
I stayed with dear friends of mine I have known since 1978 (when I boarded with them when I was still in the Navy). Lovely couple and their current boarder was lovely too. They treated me very well and as payment for their hospitality I did a number of jobs around the section as they were moving house in a few weeks and my hosts husband was put in permanent care for Alzheimer's the Friday just gone. It was sad to see him in that condition but good to see he will be well looked after. The best part of staying with them was the relaxed attitudes they had. We played over 60 games of Zilch (dice) during my visit and had a great laugh and I really enjoyed that side of the visit. It very much helped me not miss my beloved PC (although I did use my Galaxy Cell quite regularly to keep on track of my Internet world and to help them find stuff out).
I also managed to spend quality time with my daughters, my wife (separated). my sister and my Uncle (who didn't recognise me, a funny moment. The family component of Auckland appealed to me and had me thinking I could move there and work/live, but then I was brought down to earth by my assertion back in 2002 when I moved out that I wouldn't put myself through that rigmarole ever again so for now I will remain in Palmy. (BUT!!)
The camera got a real workout. Over 500 images, and would have been more if not for the rain, but that would have meant uber processing when I got home (as it was took six hours last night to do them all.). I love my Olympus E500 and would recommend one to any "budding" photographer. I think all the images turned out very well and I didn't bin many shots at all. Some images:
As fortune would dictate I had the opportunity to visit the Navy Base (very fleeting) but was turned away at the gate as I didn't know anyone there anymore (or so I thought). Turns out early in the holiday an old mate was on Facebook and he was home from overseas working and we agreed to meet up. Had a great few hours catching up with him and his wife. They had moved recently from Otago back to Auckalnd for their girls and for ease of travel for him. I also managed to catch up with a guy I joined the Navy with back in 1975. He was still serving and he had so much info on old mates still serving I was kind of surprised. One thing I did glean from his was that the Navy was not in a very good state and many young ones were leaving hence the reason a lot of the older guys are still there. All in all a great chat with them both and feel better for having taken the time to chase them up.
As can be seen by the small selection of photos here I got around Auckland. Not without angst. The day I arrived (poorly timed arrival at Peak Hour on a Friday night) I spent 1 hour and 20 minutes crawling from Papatoetoe to the Harbour Bridge, and on the Sunday I went down to the Naval base got caught up in Lake Road traffic coming out of Devonport, bt apart from that the driving experience around the city was largely trouble free. It was traffic that started my mental health decay back in the late 90's, to a point I got obsessive about it, which after my first two breakdowns convinced me Foxton was a better choice. But there have been some huge improvements in traffic flow throughout the city and the driving experience is by and large without hitch and it's smooth. Would I come back to live? Million Dollar question really. I have skills now that would get me work anywhere in the country, and that includes Auckland. The biggest thing against me moving there is the cost of living (petrol and smokes dearer than Palmy) which includes the rental situation. Not really practical at this stage, by maybe one day.
Lastly I had the opportunity to catch up with Mike King and the team from the Nutters Club (Live on NewstalkZB every Sunday night 11pm - 100am) Thanks Mike for your hospitality at Rebo, and I admire your continued commitment to helping others, whatever that may entitle. Being in the studio again was a huge privilege especially with the team that changes lives. Ka kite.
I had a great time and I have thanked all for their hospitality and I thank them here too. By and large Aucklanders have mellowed quite a bit and everywhere I went I was treated very well. There really is a culture of awareness there and folks will go out of their way to be friendly and helpful (except the Security Guard at HMNZS Philomels Main gate - grrrr) Thank you all who made my holiday a great one. Now back to work and the PC world I live in. :)