Cycle to Crab Farm Winery

Saturday. Bacon and eggs. Hmm… No bacon.˜¹ï¸ (Ever since that Skype call when my dad said Sue looked like she’d put on a bit of weight, no more bacon!) Another BEE-utiful day here in Napier. No big plans for the day.

At around 11:30 we got the bikes from out of the garage and cycled along the cycling paths out to Bay View, about 8kms north along the coast. Lovely. We ended up at the Crab Farm Winery for our lunch stop. Did we have reservations? No. Okay, you’ll have to take a seat INSIDE the restaurant, and there’s a function (wedding) happening here at 3:30 so you’ll need to be done your lunch by then. No problem. We were a bit warm and quite thirsty and decided to forego the chilled white wine and ordered a ‘jug’ of a craft-brewed pilsner. Had some fancy-schmancy bread dish and shared a platter of fresh prawns and scallops. Excellent.

By 1:30 the wedding party began trickling in — women were mostly dressed in light blue nurses’ and hospital staff uniforms, a few in ‘doctors’ white smocks and stethoscopes, and one as a surgeon who’d just finished a very bloody shift in the operating room! 

We cycled back home, all the while watching a sailboat race that was happening in the bay to our left. Back at the apartment, it didn’t take Sue long to get a snooze in — after all, she’d only managed 8 hours of sleep last night!

Late afternoon we took a drive down our road and up the big hill that overlooks the port and Napier’s city centre. From the lookout on the bluff we watched as two tugboats helped a big ocean freighter manoeuvre next to the dock. It’s quite a steep little drive up the mountain and the roads are VERY narrow. The whole mountain is covered with residential housing, and, surprising to me, a large high school for girls sits at the top. Although we didn’t see very many ‘for sale’ signs and NO homeowners offering us a million bucks to take their property off their hands, Sue kept assuring me that even if we were to see such a sight, there was no way she’d buy a house up there! And even if we COULD afford a home up there, I don’t think our poor little car could take all the pulling on the passenger door’s armrest or the pushing on the passenger side floorboards every time we’d drive up or down on those narrow winding roads!

We got home safely and had our little happy hour. Sue made supper. After supper we eventually queued up a couple of the documentary films on Netflix — and checked off a couple movies on our ‘Oscar nominated films’ list. 

James Taylor Concert in the Vineyard

It’s Sunday here (Saturday back home). Eggs for breakfast for me. Sun shining brightly — Sue did another load of laundry and hung it out on the line to dry while we went for a walk.

We walked down to the Marine Parade, the main street that follows the coastline here in Napier. And while the street is almost always a centre for action, it seemed particularly busy today. Once we got closer we realized the boulevard between the road and the ocean was packed with vendors trying to sell their used books, pots and pans, tools, trinkets, clothes, fresh fruit — it was a giant flea market! We walked through it and then turned around and walked back home again, via the sidewalk along the coast.

After lunch Sue took in the laundry and we wasted a bit of time on that giant crossword puzzle the Winnipeg Free Press puts out every Christmas — Sue had ripped it out of the paper and taken it along, and I found it in the glove box of the car this morning when I went to get the James Taylor concert tickets from the car.

At 4 o’clock we filled up our backpack with the cool lightweight collapsible ‘lawn chairs’ we’d borrowed from Graeme and Robyn, and a few sweaters and light jackets. Then we headed south the 10kms to the Church Road Winery. The tickets said the gates opened at 5 — and we were none too early. We found a parking spot about a kilometre from the winery gates in a residential side street, and walked to the LONG lineup out past the main entry gate. At least the line moved quickly.

Once in we found a place not too far behind the fenced-off ‘premium’ section where there were white chairs set up for the concert. We set up our chairs and then Sue went to check out the food stalls and booths, looking for supper. She came back with a corn dog for me, a big burger for her, and fries to share. As we were sitting in our super-cool camping chairs Sue spotted Graeme and Robyn standing and visiting with some friends, not far from us. We felt a bit strange, sitting there on THEIR chairs, while they were probably having to sit on a blanket on the grass. We got up and went to say hello. They were all friendly, hello, big hug, how was the wedding? oh it was lovely! No! don’t you feel at all bad about those chairs, we’ll be fine. They’d come back from their weekend away at a wedding and driven by the concert venue and stopped to get tickets. Now they had ridden their bikes the 10kms to the concert!

The warm-up band (I forgot their name) were introduced as coming from “Saskatchewan, Ontario”! Whatever that means! The audience was polite. Then the main act, James Taylor and his All-Star Band, came onstage at about 7:30. It was the same band and more-or-less the same show we saw last spring at the MTS Centre. Except it was outdoors, in a beautiful vineyard, with the warm sun setting over the top of a hillside lined with grape vines, and a moon hanging over the hill behind us. The show was very good, and the sound was excellent. J.T. is an old (68-year-old) pro; he’s been singing these songs all his life. He knows what the crowd came to hear, and he gives it to them. He sang all the old favourites, came back for a few encores, and was done by 9:30. We walked the kilometre back to where we’d parked our car.

We drove back to our apartment, had a quick nightcap and watched the CBC National news before going to bed.

Waitangi Day (and a less than ‘super’ Super Bowl)

Happy Waitangi Day, everyone! The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840 at Waitangi here in New Zealand by representatives of the British Crown and more than 40 Maori chiefs. The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Maori rights to their land, and gave Maori the rights of British subjects. So it’s quite a different history compared to how indigenous people were treated in Australia (shot!) and Canada (moved onto reserves). Also, in the last twenty years or so, the New Zealand government has worked hard to reconcile and pay restitution. And for the most part, that has worked. They paid a LOT of money to the Maori, and gave them a significant share in the ownership of fishing and lumber industries. And consensus is that as far as they are able, they’ve made things right. So, Happy Waitangi Day!

We celebrated by doing very little. Sue went to the local grocery store before lunch. After lunch Graeme came by and we talked about their weekend wedding experiences and also about the concert last night. Graeme was going for a swim, but came right back to tell us that there was another big cruise ship coming into port — if we wanted to see it we should hurry to the beach. We did. And we saw it. It was the “Emerald of the Sea”, a Princess cruise ship. It had 3100 passengers and 1200 crew aboard. It would be in port for 8 hours.

After lunch we were going to go golfing. I wasn’t really all that interested in the Super Bowl game, but my friend Ed sent me a text and assured me that the Falcons were going to win. Well, that MIGHT be worth watching! So, since our tv receiver was acting up, we invited ourselves over to watch it on Graeme and Robyn’s TV. Graeme was lying on the deck reading a book, until he fell asleep. Robyn was off golfing. So Sue and I sat on their couches and watched the game. And it was a very good first half! I was fairly convinced that we could already just bugger off and go golfing — the game was as good as over at halftime. And I wasn’t interested in the country singer who was ‘warming up’ the crowd at halftime. Nor was I all that ‘gaga’ about Lady Gaga. (Little did I know that would be the highlight of the game!) But I guess somehow Belichick and Brady once again figured out a way to deflate a bunch of footballs during halftime — and don’t you know it, they mounted a come back and were able to tie the game and win it in overtime! In the old days, whenever the Canadiens beat the Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup, my dad would say it was all rigged — the TV stations rigged the election game so they could make more money. Well, actually they don’t need a lot of hush-hush money and a cheating quarterback to make the NFL work — all they need to do is suck me into watching a game and cheering for one of the teams on the field — and for sure, without fail, the OTHER team will win! Guaranteed. Every time! What a waste of a lovely afternoon for golf!

At around 5pm some ‘new’ AirBnB-ers checked into the Dickeys’ place. Graeme came around to invite us to join Robyn and him and the new guests, Paul and Rebecca — New Zealanders from Mount Maunganui who are staying here for 3 nights — for a drink on their patio. So we did. And we had a very interesting hour visiting with them. Paul is a retired professional rugby coach, Rebecca just sold a very successful photography business. We talked about golf, New Zealand, Donald Trump, and beaches and bike rides.

Sue made (another) great supper. When we were done we heard the cruise ship sound its horn — time for all the ‘hippos’ (that’s what Paul and Rebecca call the mostly fat old Americans who come of the cruise ships for a whirlwind bus tour of the port of call) to get back on the boat. So we hopped into our car and scooted out behind our place and up the hill to Bluff Lookout. Just in time to see the tugboats pull away from the ship as it sailed out to sea. Off to the next trinket stop along the New Zealand coast.

Back at the apartment, I wrote my journal and Sue read her book. She’s in a hurry to finish it since she picked up two new books from Robyn’s library and they look way more interesting than the book she’s reading now.

And then some more of “The Crown” on Netflix before going to bed.

Today’s news: Sue’s sister Mart (and Virlon) have a new grandson — Atlas James Unruh, born to Sylvia and Thaddaeus. 

100% Chance of Rain

This morning, after breakfast, we decided to take a Walking Tour of Napier. We walked into the town centre, to the Art Deco Centre, and bought our tickets for the 10:00 walk. It was another hot day today — up to 33 degrees, although the sea breeze made it a little more comfortable. Our tour guide was an elderly woman who volunteered for the Art Deco Society. She was quite a good tour guide. She made regular stops along the walk, usually in the shade of a tall building, to give short but informative talks about the history of Napier and what was special about the building we were looking at. 

The walk was about one hour, followed by a 20-minute film about the February 3, 1931 earthquake that destroyed Napier. It’s because of that earthquake that Napier became one of the world’s “newest cities”, since everything had to be rebuilt. And the style at the time was ‘art deco’, so much of the architecture used for the rebuilding was in the art deco style. In fact, in the last number of years, Napier has made ‘art deco’ a big deal — and celebrates it every year, where, for a week, EVERYTHING is art deco. People dress up in period costumes, lots of old restored cars are on the road, theatres put on old plays and show old 1930s movies, lots of Cole Porter tunes and jazz bands, etc. People come from all over New Zealand to celebrate ‘art deco’ week.

Sue and I walked back home after the tour. Sue made lunch and then read for a while. We were hoping to go golfing at the Hastings course this afternoon, but Sue’s iPad called for 100% chance of rain at 3pm, and at 4pm, and at 5pm. Well, why don’t we see if that weatherman knows anything. We packed our rain jackets into the car and left for Hastings at 2:30. 

We were welcomed at the club — they were having their ‘Tuesday Night’ special event. So could we golf 9 holes? Sure, do you want to golf the front nine or the back nine? How about wherever we can get on right away — before it rains? So we started on hole number ten.

Another fine golf course. It’s been so dry for so long here, that ALL the golf courses have very dry fairways. But at the Hastings course they actually had fairly nice mostly-green fairways. And we had a lot of fun golfing — mostly on our own without people ahead or behind, until we caught up with a group on the second last hole. By that time whatever ‘good score’ we’d been aiming for was gone too. But that’s golf. But we were not the only ones who weren’t shooting a hundred percent! It was a good thing we’d not paid too much attention to the weather app. Not a drop of rain. 

It wasn’t until we were almost home when a bit of rain began to fall. We got home, had happy hour out on the deck. A little more rain. We went inside and Sue made supper. Now were getting some real showers. 

After supper we watched the last 2 episodes of “The Crown” on Netflix. And for most of those two hours it was POURING rain outside! The farmers and the golf courses will be happy for this — now all the fairways should be green again.

We watched CBC National and then it was time for bed.

It Rained in Napier Today

After weeks of sunshine and marvellous weather, we had a ‘day off’ today. Sue read and I did some web work on the computer. We’d booked a movie at the little Globe theatre across the street for 4 o’clock. We had a Skype visit with Max and his parents at around 3. Then we put on our long pants and rain jackets and went to see the movie “Jackie”. It was a bit slow-moving and maybe even boring. After the movie Sue and I went for a walk around our area of town and discussed the movie. We also checked out some options for dinner. We weren’t really hungry yet so we decided to go home and get out of the drizzle and warm up and have happy hour first. So that’s what we did. And an hour or so later Sue phoned the Thai restaurant and ordered ‘take-away’. I picked it up and we ate at home. We talked about watching another movie on the computer but I was too into my programming and wanted to work on that. So Sue read some more. At around 9 we watched the news for a bit — nothing new — and then watched a bit of the late night talk shows on my laptop (Colbert and Seth Meyers) before going to bed.

Cool and Wet in Napier

Second day in a row where we stayed indoors for most of the day. Sue read and I kept working away at a website. I drizzled a bit on and off, and the temperature was closer to 18 than to 30. I suggested we go golfing in the afternoon, but Sue was happy reading and didn’t want to get her runners wet. I was okay with staying home too. Finally, for supper, we put on our rain jackets (it didn’t rain anymore) and went looking for that fish market that our host Robyn had recommended for buying fish and seafood. We found it, although it wasn’t easy. Tangaroa Seafoods is tucked away off any main road, at the end of a long industrial road. I wasn’t very optimistic about it until we got there and stepped inside. It was a clean and organized store — a big counter the length of it with fish nicely displayed. Sue asked for some advice in regards to what kind of fish we should buy. After a few questions the lady behind the counter recommended ‘John Dory’ fish. So that’s what we bought. Another stop at the ‘Four Square’ grocery store for a few more things on the way home.

Sue finished reading her book, Three Men in a Raft. She’s borrowed two books from Robyn and wanted to finish them before we leave Napier. Speaking of which, we’ve decided to stay here until next week Sunday. That way we can see some of the ‘Art Deco’ festival events that will be held here next weekend. Plus, we really like it here, we still have golf games to play and movies to see — and we’re hoping the weather on the South Island catches up with the weather we are having (okay, WERE having) here. 

So Sue fried up the fish and made some rice and corn-on-the-cob too. Nice. 

John Dory fish fry

After dinner we carried on as we’d done all day until around 8:30. Then I put away my programming project, Sue put away her iPad Scrabble game, and we made some popcorn and watched “13th”, a full-length (2 hours) documentary that’s on the Oscars list. Quite good, although by the time it was over we were both tired and ready to go to sleep. 

That’s more like it

Sun’s up, uh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day…

Waking up and seeing the sun shining again after a couple of cloudy and rainy days here gets me humming that old Bruce Cockburn song. This morning Robyn (our host) stopped by and we visited for a while. We discussed the “Three Men in a Raft” book that Sue just read — she’s now onto another book she borrowed from Robyn, “Goodbye Sarajevo”. And I’m still working on a web project. 

Right after lunch we got in the car and headed to the Hawke’s Bay golf course. Not very busy there! Sue and I had a very good time — the sun was shining but the temperature was a little cooler than it has been here for the past couple of weeks — just right for short sleeves and shorts, but not too hot. I parred a few holes,  but had a couple of disastrous holes just to keep me humble, while Sue tried to see how many 7’s in a row she could get. We took a couple of photos, but I can’t post them today — not that you want to see more photos of Rudy and Sue golfing, but today’s “action” photos don’t flatter us in the least!

We were done golfing at shortly after 4. Sue noticed on the drive in that the road that our course is on is named Ngatarawa — and her favorite wine here in New Zealand so far has been ‘Stables’, a cabernet-merlot from the Ngatarawa Winery. Ever since Graeme (our host) introduced us to it, we’ve been buying it at the Countdown (big grocery store). Could it be that the winery is so-named because of its location? A quick search on Google Maps told us it was only 3kms from where we were. Worth a visit? Absolutely!

We knew we were in a wine region — the drive down to Hastings, and the vineyards bordering the golf courses told us that. The GPS told us to make a right turn out of the golf course driveway, the opposite direction from how we got here. And sure enough, 2 minutes down the road we found the gate and driveway leading to the Ngatarawa Winery. Could we have a tasting? Sure. So after a lovely afternoon of golf, there we were drinking samples of local wines. Fantastic! The lady pouring for us was kind enough (actually, I think she really enjoyed it) to answer our many questions about the local economy and especially the wine and fruit business. We bought a few bottles and continued our drive back home via the wine route. Wow! We had no idea how many vineyards and wineries and fancy restaurants were so near our place.

We had a little happy hour and then walked across the road to the Milk and Honey restaurant to have our Friday Night pizza. Back at the apartment, we watched the movie “Florence Foster Jenkins” (2 Oscar nominations) on my computer. (Slowly but surely, we are checking the movies off our list.) Then the ‘At Issue’ panel on the CBC National, and to bed.

Saturday afternoon matinee

Saturday morning in Napier. Blue skies, smiling at me; Nothing but blue skies, do I see… Bacon and eggs (sans bacon) for breakfast. We went shopping again this morning — Sue warned me that if I wanted to have sandwiches for lunch we’d need to go shopping first. And since we’ve decided to stay for another week we might as well re-stock the fridge. Sue carved up a roasted chicken to make chicken sandwiches for lunch. We’d just finished lunch when Graeme (our host) stopped by. We sat around and discussed New Zealand politics. Then at around 3pm we had to hurry across the road to the little 48-seat ‘Theaterette’ to see another movie, “Manchester By the Sea”. Sue declared it probably the best movie she’d ever seen. Certainly a strong contender for this year’s Best Picture award. The movie was two-and-a-half hours long, but it was still too early for supper. We went back to our place for happy hour. At around 7pm I went back to the little pizzeria next to the theatre and ordered a 16-pack of assorted dumplings. Kimchi, chicken, prawn, and pork. Sue made a big salad and we had supper. We watched a little Netflix and ate popcorn until it was bedtime.

And this is what we did on Sunday.

After breakfast Sue did a load of laundry. We FaceTimed with Tim who is on his way to a trade show in Toronto for a couple of days. And later, with Alex and Max who are busy with birthday parties and swimming lessons and going to movies all weekend. In the afternoon we drove down to the Napier golf course and golfed nine holes — we thought it might be too warm to do eighteen, but as it turned out it was a very pleasant afternoon. Pleasant, as in temperature — NOT on the scorecard, where we marked scores that would have looked a lot better if it HAD been an 18-hole round. We’ve seen the preview of the movie “The Innocents” a few times in the last few weeks. It’s a movie that takes place in a World War II nunnery, and the tagline in the preview is “Faith is 24 hours of doubt and one minute of hope”. Well, that pretty much describes our golf as well.

When we got back to the apartment we had happy hour and read for a while before supper. (I’m now reading “Three Men in a Raft”, too.) Sue whipped up another beautiful and delicious supper. In the evening I worked on the computer and Sue watched the CBC news and played Scrabble on her iPad.

Windy and hot

No photos (AGAIN!) — another lazy day here. It was hot and windy most of the day. Robyn stopped by in the morning and we ‘made a date’ for supper out tonight. Sue read, while I tried to figure out what went wrong with my web project (I thought I was all done last night, but then looked at it in Safari and it was all screwed up!) Later in the afternoon I continued reading my ‘Three Men on a Raft’ book. Finally, at around 5pm, Robyn and Graeme came by and we sat outside on our patio for happy hour. We had talked about how we really hadn’t seen a lot of sheep in New Zealand so far, and how we were surprised how few restaurants here had lamb on the menu. So Robyn booked the Speights Restaurant for dinner tonight, and had called ahead and ordered 4 lamb shank dinners. Great. The restaurant is on the waterfront around the corner from our place. We sat outside on the second story patio and ate and visited. Although I almost never eat lamb, the meal was excellent. Now that we’ve had it once, I’m sure we’ll order it again before we leave New Zealand. It was a very fun evening — and though I’m sure that we’ll see Robyn and Graeme again during the next few days (we’re staying here until Saturday), it felt a bit like a farewell. We were back home by 10. We watched some of the highlights (low lights?) of a couple of the Sunday morning talk shows and then went to bed.