It was a weekend full of surprises and from start to finish Elaine had absolutely no idea what had been planned apart from two nights away, the Friday and Saturday before Christmas. Consequently packing was a challenge! We headed south towards Auckland in the car and drove to a boutique hotel called ‘Mollies’ in the Ponsonby district – one of ‘the’ areas in town. Champagne on the house was offered as a greeting which we supped on one of the balconies that gave off our suite and overlooked the Harbour Bridge.
The hotel is a gracious old clapboard house originally built in the 1870s with about a dozen rooms and communal areas all with different and quirky objets d’art – extremely unusual!
Dinner that evening was at Andiamo, an Italian bistro/restaurant near the hotel where the food was delicious, and the wine very well chosen.
Next morning, her birthday, Elaine was asked to be up at 8 am – little did she know Bob had organised a Skype conference call with her family and various friends dotted around Europe, hosted superbly by Brian and Helen in Hythe. On seeing the icons on screen, Elaine’s face was a picture and plied with a glass of bubbly, she had a good long chat with everyone.
After a sumptuous breakfast and present opening we went into town, did some birthday shopping, had a quick sandwich at Westhaven marina, where we bumped into friends Wendy and Ian, bought a pilot book of SE Asia and hurried back to the hotel in time for Elaine’s pamper session at the spa!
Feeling very mellow, she returned to the room, where a surprise chocolate birthday cake awaited her adorned with six candles plus another that sang to her when lit.
The evening venue again was a surprise – the first class Kermadec restaurant overlooking the Viaduct Marina. Duly pampered and in a posh frock (Elaine that is), we took our seats and had the most superb dinner.
After a leisurely start next morning, we visited the Wintergarden near the Auckland Museum and drove to Mt. Eden with its panoramic views of the city. At 196m this is Auckland’s highest volcanic cone with a symmetrical crater 50m deep.
The weather was closing in and we felt we had to head north again to Whangarei to be back on Pipistrelle by late afternoon. Even in the shelter of the marina it was blowing hard so we battened down the hatches, unpacked and had a cuppa. Then Elaine was informed she had 30 minutes to get ready to go out for a drink!! So after a quick flick through the wardrobe, she found something vaguely suitable to wear, put on some lippy and off we went. This time though, she had correctly guessed the venue and a couple of guests whose car she had spotted on arrival – but had not dreamed of seeing the other friends already gathered at the restaurant. There were 14 of us, British, German and New Zealanders (including Wendy and Ian!) around the table having a great Thai meal washed down with plenty of champers supplied by Bob from our stores.
What a weekend! If the year continues as it has begun, Elaine can only say “…I think I’ll be sixty now for ever…” (with apologies to A. A. Milne)
In case you are wondering about the birthday shopping …