View of Auckland from Devonport
My love for Auckland knows no bounds. Whenever I would mention this to any Kiwi, they would look at me like a stupid, unhinged Pom. But bloody hell...... its gotta be better than Hamilton right?! ;)
Perhaps its the novelty of having a city by the ocean; obviously London has the Thames - but a solid grey expanse of water is hardly a fair comparision to the Hauraki Gulf and impending Pacific Ocean. As cities go, Auckland is small and condensed, you dont have to muck about with maps to find your way around, the transport is easy peasey and more amazingly...... people wear heels.
After our initial few months in Thames, me and Alex has progressed into The Coromandel way of life quite quickly.
On the drive from Thames to Aucks...
This ultimately meant that neither of us bothered to straighten our hair or wear any other shoes but flip-flops. I vididly rememeber walking down Pollen Street one afternoon not long after our arrival, and neither of could understand why everybody seemed to be staring at us.... it took a while to realise that we looked like tourists. They could see us coming a mile off. Now thats not to say that everyone in Coromandel is a scruffy bastard, not at all. Its just a different style- casual and appropriate to the lifestyle. Whereas Auckland, a mere hour away, and your back in a cosmopolitan enviroment, where fashion and appearences are suddenly important again. Dont get me wrong, i'm no fashion victim, but being 5"2, heels are sometimes necessary and it was nice to adorn a pair in the city without being looked at like a nutter.
The midnight moment underneath the Skytower
During our first few months living in Thames, me and Alex would decend upon Auckland with any excuse; just so long as Alex had the night off, and I had the following morning off. We went for the music, the bars..... the men, and for the excitement of wondering around a city we werent yet familiar with. It seemed insane to not head there for NY, but with me penciled in for work at 9am on New years Day, and Alex in on New Years Eve.... I had relunctantly come to terms with the impossibilty of it all.
Anyway, come 6pm on New Years Eve (my favourite night of the year I might add) I was stumped up against the bar of Imperial Hotel ..... where I had spend most lazy afternoons since Septemeber. Not in a drunken state, but in a state of true anxiety and depression.
Our NY moment! :)
Alex was at work until at least 10pm, which meant that not only were we stuck in Thames for the dawn of the new year, but also that I was stuck on my own for the majority of the night. Still, after 2 or 3 pints of Steinlarger my spirits began to rise (funny that) and I spent the following few hours chatting away to strangers and my good friend Brian, behind the bar. Then, as I sat drinking away my sorrows, a miracle happened.... Alex walked in with a big grin on her face. It was 22.15.... I remember her looking at me with sympathetic eyes and saying 'Come on then you bloody idiot - we have an hour an a half to get to the Skytower, you had better get that drink down your neck' This was possibily the most goose-bump inspiring thing i'd heard for as long as i could remember.
That last pint didnt even touch the sides and before I knew what was happening we were in the car heading for the Kopu Bridge and away from the Coromandel pennisular westwards!
How we made it on time still remains a mystery to me - in reality it shouldnt have happened. We should have spent NY in the car, stuck in the most almighty Queen Street traffic jam. But somehow it all went to plan - Alex (most illegally) managed to get changed during the drive - whilst I, already pissed as a rat, sat and shouted with excitement - fuelling our mission to make it. I dont even rememeber parking the car, I dont really rememeber getting through the traffic, but I do remember running like crazed idiots down Queen Street at 11.56..... desperately trying to get as close as possible to the skytower.
And then BOOOOOOM! There is was, along with our fellow revellers, we looked up into the sky - and watched the fireworks pour out from the tower - amongst the first in the world to celebrate not only the arrival of 2009, but the commemoration of 2008. It was a very emotional moment; I was quite homesick suddenly, wondering what my friends and family back home would be doing.... but more than anything I was just so ridiculously happy that we made it - the Skytower is a beacon of our good times, our kiwi adventures, and nothing would have been more perfect that spending that moment beneath it..... watching the show with thousands of others....Its amazing how fireworks always make people smile.....
Alex blew me away that night, refusing to drink, par one feisty shot shorty after NY- so that we could drive home at stupid o'clock to ensure that I would actually make it to work.
The drive home....worse for wear!
What a trooper. So following a crazy night at the viaduct we headed back to the car about 4am. Our drive home was interesting to say the least; I had to chat continously to keep both myself and Alex awake, but thankfully due to vast amounts of alcohol in my system that was an easy feat..... poor Alex :)
Once we arrived back in Thames it seemed far too dangerous to continue to up to Thornton Bay; I knew dam well that once Alex got into bed I wouldnt see her again for about 12 hours - so it seemed sensible (at the time) to park up on the jetty opposite the Motel where I worked in Tararu. That way we could have an hours nap in the car, and I would only have to make it across the road. I think I slept for about 20 minutes before my alarm went off, and I crawled across the road ready for 5 hours of cleaning, whilst Alex deservingly headed off home for some sleep.
A quick nap before work! Note the bottle of Asti haha!!
Luckily, my bosses were an AWESOME pair- great friends & surrogate parents to me. They undestood not only my love for NYE, but had noticed my current homesickness. Accordingly, at precisely 1pm that afternoon, Colin, my boss, came and dragged me away from the toilet bowel I was scrubbing (and trying not to throw up in) into their on-site lavish home and sat me down at the table. He had a grin on his face - a common occurance- but this smile had an extra naughtiness about it. He was definately up to something. Once sitting down he handed me the Red Square Pure Vodka shot he had in his hand.
I knew what he was doing, and actually it was quite sweet for him to remember.... (although in reality he probably just wanted to see me suffer) In Essex all my favourite people would be gathering to see in the New Year at this very moment - and although on the other side of the world - I would celebrate it with them.
New years Day....
I took the shot from him and downed it in one, remarking as I did 'This one is for my friends and family at home..... Happy New Year England!!'
(and just in case you were wondering.... I kept it down!!)