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Posts tagged ‘2011’

New Year Trip: 6~Happy new year!

(Alternative heading: Will we make it to midnight?)

The last day of the year began very lazily. Eventually we kicked into gear and decided we better get a wriggle on ahead of more friends coming around later on. Mike 2 took Mike 1 (hereafter known as M2 and M1) and I on a bit of a tour. First, some unfinished business from a couple of years ago.

A very well known TV series called Outrageous Fortune was based nearby and some time back we had tried to find the iconic ‘westie’ house but couldn’t. Our hosts had since become better informed and turns out the house is ridiculously easy to find when you know how.

World famous in New Zealand, this house

M2 then took us for a tiki tour around the neighbourhood, mainly for the benefit of M1 who hadn’t seen much of it. The swanky waterside mansions are offset to some extent by pockets of low incoming housing and there are plenty of recreational reserve areas so that the waterfront can be enjoyed by all. This perhaps wasn’t such a priority today off the back of some dreary weather. How it would stack up for the rest of the day was anyone’s guess.

The weather was hardly stellar but at least the rain had stopped. View from the end of the peninsula over to Auckland city and the harbour bridge

Before we could go back to the house we had to find coffee. Had to. It took about five attempts but we eventually found somewhere that was open. The caffeine addicts among us breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Early afternoon we were joined by Debbie, Barclay and Deb’s children Yasmin and Vincent. Mitch was pretty happy about this.

Mitch loved having the big kids around

Debbie is a friend from high school days. This meant that over the years, a few of us had our milestone birthdays in close proximity to each other. This year it means that the three of us are now approaching our scariest milestone yet. (OK, 40, there I said it.) We talked about our plans, which for Kirsten and I are a bit sketchy. But Deb is doing it in style: a holiday in New York. Jealous!

Me, Kirsten, Debbie... soon to be Over The Hill (sigh)

Soon enough it was time to balance the New Years Eve beverages with some food.

Sitting down for some afternoon munchies

Mitchell

The weather had settled and cleared up a bit so we moved outside – while sparing a fleeting thought for those getting drenched at music festivals elsewhere in the North Island.

Well she might kill me for this but I think it's a nice photo

All of us

Meanwhile, Twitchy the Hunter rests

A couple of other visitors dropped by, including this prickly fella who didn’t seem too bothered by the multitude of people and cats.

With children to get to bed, Debbie took her family home leaving me, Kirsten and the Mikes with a couple of hours to kill before midnight. Yawns had started to creep in and our staying power was in doubt! But between conversation, drinks, music, and a bag of Natural Confectionary Company snakes that I remembered was in the car (god I love those), we got there!

M1 and I walked with M2 down the road a bit to get views across the harbour. There was to be a fireworks display from the Sky Tower at midnight which we thought we’d watch. But it was a fizzer – the low cloud had hung around and we couldn’t see a thing. We did see an array of fireworks across the water set off by residents in Waterview and Point Chev which was pretty cool.

But anyway – 2012 had arrived!

A ukulele duel rounded out the night.

Rock on, Mikes... in their defence, it was very late...

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New Year Trip: 5~Bye family, hello friends

Later on back in Parakai we walked around to see friends who live not far from mum and dad. I went to primary school with Krissy and she stayed in the area, now married with two children. On the way is this eye-catching place. Pretty sure if I was a pre-schooler I’d want to go here.

The wonderfully colourful local kindergarten

We had tea with mum, dad and gran, though the Indian takeaway in Helensville did the cooking. Mum went through with dad some plans for their upcoming trip to the UK. They’re off in April and I’m joining them early May. More about that later!

Mum explains some details for their trip while dad gives me a suspicious eye and gran goes about her business

The next morning it was time to move on to the next phase of our holiday. We called in to say bye to the family.

Gran lives with mum & dad now so I get to see her more often

Didn’t see much of my brother during our brief stay in Parakai. I left this likeness of him on the kitchen message board.

My brother isn't a crustacean though he may have resembled one because of his sunburn

We travelled to nearby Kaukapakapa, another rural district on the other side of Helensville. My friend Trish lives there and I hadn’t seen her for a few years.

Big Hayley, little Trish

I met her at my first job and back in our single days we used to go out a bit. Fond memories of Georgie Pie pies and ice cream sundaes in the wee small hours! Anyway, fast forward some 20 years and today Trish has two teenage daughters and various animals. I took a shine to one pet in particular…

I could have popped Trish's pet chihuahua in my bag and taken it home

Then it was time to head into Auckland, stopping off in Albany where it seemed that much of the North Shore population was in the Westfield mall. We were destined for an area of West Auckland and in the olden days the north and west parts of the city were not conveniently located so I was expecting a bit of phfaffing around. Well blow me if a new motorway hadn’t gone and popped up and it took next to no time.

And so we briskly arrived at our hosts for the next couple of nights: Kirsten, Mike and one year old Mitchell. I’ve known Kirsten since we were toddlers, growing up in the wop wops of South Head.

Mitch and his mum

And now she has a toddler. Mitch is adorable – Aunty Hayley is a big fan!

Mitch playing with silly Aunty Hayley

New Year Trip: 4~Old schools & a shelly beach

Our walking adventures the day before stopped short of the long detour needed to see my old high school so we did a quick drive by. It’s a much more imposing place these days with a steel fence around the perimeter, a bit of a sign of the times I guess. Mind you, 1985-89 is a very long time ago.

Ahhh, good old Kaipara College

Next we sailed on through Parakai and out to South Head. About half way up the ~35km peninsula is my old primary school. Its 75th jubilee was held there in 2005 and it was good to have a proper look around the place again. Either those playing fields got a lot smaller, or I got a lot bigger. Hmmm.

I can still manage the cross-legged thing, just

I grew up at the end of the peninsula though we didn’t go right out there again this time. We zoomed back toward town, noting the flash vehicles in the golf club carpark, and stopped briefly on the corner of the road where we last lived before I moved into Auckland to go to polytech.

They still have Calf Club day!

Our old bus stop, which dad co-built

The plan for lunch was to stop at the macadamia nut farm café but it was closed. Mike had been looking forward to visiting the shop and especially its bags of chocolate-coated nuts (which you’d think the local town might sell, but apparently not). After that crushing blow we decided to detour down to Shelly Beach.

Shelly Beach is a small community within the general South Head community, being a little seaside settlement about 5km off the main road. It has continued to develop over the years, with new subdivisions and a pretty decent little cafe now. A new concrete wharf helps cater for the boating traffic it gets and also I imagine those who like to chuck out a fishing line. The beach was as I remembered, fairly small and narrow, lots of shells, and flanked one end with mangroves.

The wharf, just across from the cafe. We walked out there and boy, Wellington wind had nothing on the coastal breeze that day

Now that's a classic community noticeboard

The Maori name for Shelly Beach is Te Aukahanga o Aotea (shortened to Aotea) meaning where the Aotea canoe lashings were overhauled. You could almost imagine the area's, er, European settlers... "So, what shall we call this place?".... "Hmmmmm" ..... "Say, aren't there a lot of shells on this beach?" ....

The mighty Kaipara is one of the largest harbours in the world

Taking a wide berth around a couple of, um, interesting local male specimens, we returned to the car and back to Parakai.

New Year Trip: 3~Perfect place to clear cobwebs

The rain had still not arrived the next morning so we went out to ‘the coast’. Locally this is generally taken to mean the top part of Muriwai Beach which extends for about 50kms beyond the Muriwai settlement further south. I love and probably prefer coastal areas when the weather gods are in a bit of a grump, so today was ideal. It looked nice and moody.

We got there via Rimmer Road, just west of Helensville on the way to Auckland, with the last few k’s on forestry roads. There’s often a bit of traffic because of the dedicated 4WD and motocross parks now operating. The beach itself is a road too and you need to keep an eye out for the 4WDs that travel up and down to go fishing.

Even so, it’s usually a quiet place with rarely anyone else in sight. It was great to go out there again, though my car’s wellbeing back in the carpark was gnawing on my conscience so we didn’t stay too long.

Spot the subtle modification 🙂

Probably the most fun way to get down to the beach. Coming back, not so much

Coastal highway. In the background is a couple fishing

Straight ahead: Australia

New Year Trip: 2~Hometowns are funny places

A bad sleep made for a sluggish start. But lucky for Mike (or perhaps lucky for me) I got to the airport before his flight landed. Rain was somewhere in the forecast but not imminent so we detoured to have lunch in Cornwall Park.

There are worse places to have lunch

We scurried back to Parakai as my friend Hannah and her children were visiting for a couple of hours.

And since the rain had still not arrived I took Mike on a walk. Helensville is my hometown, though we lived quite a ways out in the country. It is always ‘interesting’ (a versatile word I find) to be confronted with things and places from my childhood and teens. Anyway, we wandered into Helensville via a couple of walkways along the river.

The Kaipara River, brown as always, with its collection of moored boats

Flowers, or maybe weeds, I am not to know such things

The old Kaipara Dairy Co-Op Factory, possibly the most interesting feature of Helensville. It was to be sold in December

Remains of a wharf

The old railway, rarely used now

The old bank and post office buildings - of course, in this day and age, they are no longer used for their original purpose

The old picture theatre. So many memories! Including: sitting in the aisle to see Star Wars; crying children at Watership Down; a drunk fellow high school pupil power-spewing during the screening of something; walking out of a movie with the family to find someone had crashed into our parked car.

Such walking endeavours deserved a soak in the spa before dinner with mum, dad and gran. Mum passed on a couple of gifts for me from my aunt. As well as a copy of her recently published first fabulous children’s book, there was also a small trinket that laughed in the face of my spider phobia.

The famdamily, minus brother. Dad was happy to be there honest

My finger is there for scale, rather than to demonstrate how brave I am

New Year Trip: 1~To the north!

Twas a quiet morning the day after the day after Christmas. My car was set, packed with 95 octane and the essentials for a week on the road. I set sail to the sounds of Pink Floyd – homework for the Roger Waters show in Feb – as Dario Franchitti started issuing instructions in his charming Scots accent.

I was making the annual end-of-year trek north to see family and friends and do a few other things. Spending all day in the car is one of my favourite pastimes but today there were way too many others on the road. Tis the time of year for it I guess. Another moderating factor was that being a holiday period, there was a lower speed tolerance. Over 104kph you’re a sitting duck.

The routes are very familiar to me but I elected to follow the most direct way according to the TomTom. This was State Highway 1 via the Desert Road then up the western side of Lake Taupo; just like last time, this was blessedly quiet.

Some small towns will forever be linked with high profile crimes and I was reminded of this when passing through Turangi and Tokoroa given events of recent weeks. Tirau was quite the opposite, the busiest I’ve seen it with holidaymakers en route to wherever. I hopped onto SH27 which later blended into SH2 and then joined SH1 again. And then – hello Auckland traffic.

But it’s not all doom and gloom and over the next few days I would be amazed at the motorway developments since I last ventured into certain parts of the city. Once in Manukau it only took a relative jiffy to get to Sandringham where I was stopping briefly to catch up with friends celebrating their son’s birthday.

Parakai was today’s final destination though, via a stop in neighbouring Helensville. Dario directed me via a back route which quickly became my new favourite stretch of road. The rest of the evening was spent with mum, dad, gran and a sunburned brother. While I was too tired to bother with the mineral spa back at my motel unit later, it was at least a comfort that there were no police helicopters overhead this time.

Quick stop on the Desert Rd at the turnoff to the Tukino ski field

The National Grid marching up the country

Over the tussock, the road north

High octane weekend

I drafted this a few months ago but then other things got in the way. Now seems a good time to get caught up finally, before the year disappears, and for another reason I’ll explain at the end. So, let us rewind….

In April, the city of Hamilton hosted the New Zealand round of the Australian V8 Supercar series. Arguably the country’s premier motorsport event, it is the one sporting occasion that I try to attend in person each year. In a working capacity, as a flagmarshal.

Flagmarshals fulfill an important safety role at race events, their main function being to use a set of flags to signal certain messages to drivers. They are organised into small teams, each with a post chief, and put at specific positions around the course. Usually a day at the track is pretty long and tiring and sometimes it can be very full on. You expect an exciting, busy weekend with the Aussie V8s!

I was disappointed to give it a miss last year due to work. This year things were no less busy but there was no critical implementation dates, so I lodged my application. A few weeks later my place was confirmed.

A couple of weeks before race weekend I attended a briefing in Palmerston North, a small city a couple of hours north of Wellington. As well as getting some useful information, we also received the coveted entry pass and the standard issue white overalls. While not designed to look good (or even vaguely fit well), at least we would look all the same and, hence, somewhat professional.

We also found out where we would be assigned for the weekend – a keenly sought after piece of intel. Every flaggie wants to get on a prime corner spot with lots of action. Of course there are few of those places and 300 marshals so some people are obviously going to miss out.

Such as me! Still, it was a thrill to just be involved.

The days ticked over and finally it was Thursday, marking the start of my long weekend. I hit the road for the drive north, very happy to be driving my car instead of my desk.

Morrinsville is a small town in the Waikato and I find it to be a good base when going to the V8s being not far from both Hamilton and my grandmother. It has a couple of good motels, a good supermarket, and that’s about all I need. It also has tractors.

Friday is the start of the race weekend and the first of three long days for those involved in making it happen. After navigating the dark city streets to the assigned carpark (always a bit hit and miss on the first day), marshals are typically all signed in by 6.30am and waiting at Turn One by 7am for a ride around to the flag points. I and the other point chiefs detoured to pick up the communication radios.

Standing en masse in our white overalls, it if wasn’t for the context of the racetrack we could easily be mistaken for a gang of house painters. At most other race events in NZ marshals are in orange gear which is a little more unique.

Of the 23 flag points around the street circuit I was around the back on point 15. As forewarned by the circuit diagram I could see that we would be sufficiently far away from a corner to be assured of a quietish weekend. Sigh. I met the other three flagmarshals, the fireman assigned to our point, and the guy who was manning the nearby emergency escape hatch. We set up the equipment and I got plugged into the communications set. Essentially a hard wired telephone system, I had a leash of around six feet which kept me from straying off point.

Eventually, after various course vehicles had completed various laps around the track to check for various things, the sessions got underway. It was great to be back on the front line, even on our humble flag point!

Marshals have to behave in a professional manner and this extends to not taking photographs while on duty. Hence there aren’t photos of any actual action. Being professional doesn’t rule out having fun: I was with a good bunch and we had a lot of laughs over the weekend.

We also had a resident rabbit. Clearly a bit of an urban bunny he (she?) was quite happy being near people and within a few metres of fast noisy V8s. It also only had three legs which made me less worried that it would amble under or bound over the barriers onto the track.

The weather forecast was not brilliant and Saturday was w-e-t. We were next to a traffic overbridge which provided some shelter when nothing was happening – that is unless you were tethered to the point like I was. The support classes rotated through their stints on track and provided some good entertainment and a little bit of flag action for us. Luckily it wasn’t tooo wet and race one of the Aussie V8s went ahead as scheduled in the afternoon. This was what we all came for!

Without the benefit of any commentary or a big screen it is tricky to keep up with what’s happening on track, especially once the pit stop strategies come into play. And especially when spray at times stopped us from seeing beyond more than a few metres. The conditions caused dramas elsewhere around the circuit, which did create a little bit of excitement for us when the track came under full-course yellow.

It is usually a relief to get to the end of the day after standing on concrete for the best part of 10 hours. I gave the ZZ Top concert a miss as I was meeting my mother for dinner back in Morrinsville. Hard to believe it is 24 years since I saw them play at Western Springs back in their heyday.

Sunday saw the weather gods in a better mood as there was only patchy rain. I think most of us had been able to dry out our wet articles from the day before. By this stage of the weekend my back and legs were regularly needing a bit of relief from standing and my ear regions were feeling very tender from the tight head-set.

Another feature of our remote outpost was the absence of other humans, aside from the ones hurtling past us on the track. There were no spectator areas nearby so apart from the rabbit, we were visited only occasionally by race officials and police officers on foot patrol.

The build-up to the second 59-lap race for the Aussie V8s included the drivers parade. Marshals will typically applaud all drivers at the end of every race and it is nice to get the occasional wave back in return. Just about all of them acknowledged us, though some did seem a bit preoccupied talking to the obligatory decorative female sitting beside them.

Race two got underway and we soaked up the final opportunity of the weekend to see these cars in the flesh. It was an exciting race and resulted in a brilliant first V8 Supercars win for one of the NZ drivers.

Afterward we did the usual equipment pack-up. I walked back around the track to HQ which provided a good perspective of the various corners, especially where there were obvious signs of cars having connected with walls. I didn’t linger at the track on account of paying my grandmother and mother a final visit.

The next day I was busy with the 500km return drive home, a couple of weather related stops helping to break it up.

Our flag point

Waiting for the day to start

Our 3-legged bunny

The drivers' parade

Returning to base

With gran and mum

Amazing weather on the Desert Road

Quick stop on the Kapiti Coast to watch the sunset

And now back in the present, the end of 2011, it was recently announced that the V8 Supercars have been pulled from Hamilton after the April 2012 event. In short it has been a financial disaster. Quite possibly this also spells the end of New Zealand round altogether. There is one promising alternative venue at the Hampton Downs racetrack south of Auckland and hopefully they can pull it off.

But 2012 could well be the last time the V8 Supercars are in NZ. And unfortunately they’ll be doing it without me. I’m travelling to the UK in May and my resources are going toward that.

My memories and photos from the 9 or 10 Supercar events I did marshal at will have to sustain me!

Raro last hurrah: day of the scooter

And so the inevitable last day dawned. Thanks to Air NZ rescheduling we were leaving at the convenient time of 1.30am. On the plus side, we had a full day to enjoy; on the less awesome side, we had to stay awake for longer than we’d managed on the whole trip to date.

After checking out and leaving luggage in the lock-up we nipped over the road to the Budget office. Before long we were the owners of temporary Cook Islands licenses – sufficient for a one day hire – and ready to unleash our two wheeled fury.

Easy Rider

Easy Rideress

No helmets required provided we kept to the slightly lower speed limit. It had been ages since I had ridden a motorbike and while these were humble scooters it was so much fun.

We spent a few hours just scootering around, stopping here and there on a whim for photos.

I'm a sucker for ruinous buildings

The flame trees were striking with their gorgeous flowers and distinctive canopy

One of many churches on the island

On the way into Avarua with its rugged backdrop

The large police station, no doubt funded by all the driver licenses they process

Near the mouth of Muri Lagoon

We nosied around the ruins of what I guess was a church

Across the road was this church

Lunchtime deluge

A nearby building

Raro dogs at Muri Lagoon

Somewhere on our scooter travels

Back of the abandoned resort from the road to the island's waterfall

More rustic buildings along a random inland road

An old roadside shop I think

We reluctantly returned the scooters to give ourselves time for a final snorkel back at the resort. After a big dumping of rain in the middle of the day it had cleared up nicely and we still had a few hours to kill. We enjoyed a cocktail by the pool and later found our last bottles of beer (not cold but drinkable) to keep us hydrated while watching our final island sunset.

Mike on the hunt for fishes

Found some

First cocktails of the trip, finally, though not from lack of trying

Enjoying the last Raro sunset

We miss this!!

Between dinner, internet and reading we hung in there til the shuttle’s arrival at 11.30pm. At the airport, the customs and security officials seemed a touch officious and once through that, we realised we had forgotten about the $55 departure fee (ouch) and so joined the hefty queue of similarly disinclined fellow travellers.

But waiting for the boarding call we could only look back on the past few days with a great deal of fondness. It was a fantastic holiday. With so many other travel plans we may not get back to Raro in a hurry which makes this trip all the more memorable.

Raro day 5: exploring!

We had two full days yet before it was time to tootle back to reality. Lacking any real agenda we decided to make use of the half day of hire remaining on our bikes. So after the usual breakfast and checking-the-fish-off-the-deck routine, we prepped for some sightseeing accompanied by mild physical exertion. It shouldn’t be too much hard work with that battery assist, right?

Fishies waiting for some breakfast of their own

Off we went, zooming in the direction of town. At warp speed 5 the k’s ticked by quickly and I realised it wasn’t going to be a big deal to cycle through to Avarua. Mike’s bike had an indicator of battery life remaining and we felt pretty confident that there was enough juice.

Of course there was the occasional obligatory stop for photos.

A well cared for and colourfully adorned cemetery. Graves are mainly above ground here.

A less well cared for cemetery - apart from the white grave to the left which had a path cut through to it

Port of Avatiu, the main port of the Cook Islands

Our bikes along the top of the island - remains of a 1916 shipwreck (actually the ship's engine block) are visible in the far background

I was keen to complete the loop around the island but Mike didn’t think there was enough time. Luckily Mike won that conversation as not long after we had turned to begin the return leg, my battery ran out. I was dismayed to put it mildly but there was nothing else for it but to put in some good old fashioned leg work. It was a long hot slog especially given it was a heavier sort of bike anyway. I was happy when a few kms later Mike’s battery also expired, and I was even happier when we finally made it back to the rental shop.

After lunch we turned out attention to the water, starting with kayaks. Concerns that I would either paddle in perpetual circles, or somehow jump the reef and get swept out to sea, were unfounded. Skimming across the water with clear views of coral and fish was a really enjoyable experience.

A great way to view the lagoon through the amazing clear water

My, er, natural kayaking pose

It was time to move on to the next activity so we ditched the kayaks and Mike went to get some snorkelling kit. In a fit of reckless abandon I grabbed a set as well. Not being much of a water fan I hadn’t snorkelled before so I was a touch apprehensive. But I figured the resort area was fairly safe, given it is a lagoon and they sweep it for stonefish, so I stopped being a wuss and gave it a go. It was great!

Mike had bought an inexpensive underwater camera so taking photos gave it another dimension of fun.

The view underwater, or at least it was when one's mask wasn't fogged up

A whale in the lagoon, who knew?!

Late afternoon when it was time to start thinking about refreshments it began to rain. Not heavy but enough to throw a dampener on the wedding taking place at the beach gazebo just along from us. Instead of our usual place on beach loungers we settled for enjoying our bubbles and salt and vinegar chips from the covered patio just outside our room.

Yet another wedding

To our surprise, after the rain stopped some of the cloud cleared and we were rewarded with a pleasant wee sunset. Cue Hayley dashing back and forth along the beach with camera…

So we got an ok sort of sunset finally

Dinner was in Captain Andy’s Grill at the resort where we listened to the same drum and dance performers from the wedding two nights before (we didn’t pay to watch them again) and observed a teeny local scurrying near our table.

Only about the second critter I saw on the island and thankfully one I could cope with!

Only one day left – time was going way too fast.

Raro day 4: bikes, beaches & bubbles

Another relaxed morning in the tropics turned into a comparatively busy afternoon. The newlyweds were hosting a drop-in at their house and we had a bit of a quandary which I lazily pondered: how would we get there?

It was Sunday which meant a reduced bus service and an inconvenient one at that. It was too far to walk. Didn’t want to hire a car. We were saving a scooter rental until our last day. That left one cunning plan: bicycles. Mike was keen and there was a rental depot a) just over the road; and b) open – so off we went.

There was a little surprise in store for us. Push bikes actually transpired to be hybrid electric bikes. We initially weren’t sure about this but figured ‘what the hey’ and shelled out the $19 each for these power assisted pedalling machines.

Side note: no one wears helmets here. There are a ton of scooters (though nothing like the congested cities of Vietnam etc) and 99% of riders are lidless. If you wear a helmet you can ride 10kph faster – up to the speed limit of 50kph – but the preference far and away seems to be for the cooling effect of the wind through one’s hair…

So we declined the extra $1 for a helmet and got going. It was great! We fair zipped along with the battery adding a lot more momentum than if was just our own pedal power. The hot walk to the supermarket yesterday took only about 10 minutes on the bikes.

About the same distance again brought us to the beachfront house that Sally and Michael were renting where, in our perspiring glory, we joined the few people already gathered.

During our few days in Rarotonga I marvelled at the lack of bugs and nasty things. Didn’t even really get bitten. BUT since getting back home I have learned that Raro has its fair share! Oh yes, and particularly nightmare-inducing are the huntsman spiders and coconut crabs. Omg. I am so glad I was blissfully ignorant about these beforehand. Outside of the ‘sanitised’ resort I would probably have been paranoid visiting a private house as we did this day!

We partook of a sausage, checked out the beach and gawked at the lady exercising her arms while walking along the sand with her dogs. There are a lot of dogs here, some mangy but some lovely ones too. One of the girls was determined to open a coconut but eventually conceded defeat. It began to rain and we all scuttled under cover. It continued to rain, a respectable tropical downpour.

It cleared and the afternoon was marching on so we said our goodbyes and mounted our metal steeds for the brisk return trip. We wound them up to warp speed 5, about 30kph, so not too shabby. Back at the resort we squeezed them into a parking space amongst the hoards of fully motorised two wheelers.

It’s easy to cool down with the lagoon all around. I didn’t swim as such but at least got in the water. There was time before the activities hut closed for the day so Mike grabbed some snorkelling gear while I supervised from my lounger.

We had a couple of appointments to keep that evening. Sunset watch, ultimately futile, but accompanied by one of our duty free bottles of bubbly. Bubbles at the beach is one of life’s simple indulgences. With not much happening in the evening sky we headed along to the resort’s buffet roast night. We ate our money’s worth while the solo entertainer crooned along with his backing tracks.

Resort life winds down early so with full tums we retired for another dose of sitcom repeats.

The resort parking bay, scooters galore and two electric bikes

Out for a stroll in the lagoon

A sea slug - yickkkh

Snorkelers in front of the reef

Their turn today; our turn tomorrow

On sunset watch in between twilight bubbly and tottering off to dinner

Though this was about as good as the sunset got

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