About a day later, the Melbourne Meteorological office contacted Love Chunks and asked him to consider a return to the city of bad iced coffee, cretinous Collingwood fans and Bell Street bogans. We said yes, and put our beautiful, beloved Trinity Gardens house on the market. Any thoughts of sheep, hokey pokey icecream or the rotten egg gases of Rotorua were put aside for gardening, dusting and de-cluttering about an hour after I sweat soakingly completed running the three hour 'How to write a self help book' workshop at the SA Writer's Centre. My presentation that morning was about as sensible and orderly as a seed-sowing epileptic during a dust storm.
So, when the Geneva dream had flipped us the bird and scooted off into the far horizons, I'm ashamed to say that, like Bert Newton, cheese twisties and Homy Ped shoes, the thought of travelling around Kiwiland didn't seem quite as exciting and even on the actual plane flight over, I had barely opened up a brochure on the country let alone the in-flight magazine. I'm more relieved to say, however, that it's bloody nice to be wrong and to be pleasantly surprised instead of predictably disappointed.
- Sells Ponga Logs by the roadside and has subtlely called one of their most popular chocolate-coated icecreams BIG NUTS (or is that pronounced BUG NETS);
- Has two main communities called Rodney and Russell (still waiting to find out where Shirley and Maureen are located - maybe the South Island);
- Urges us to pull over past Auckland to visit 'Sheep World' and has the saying 'Tall Trees Catch the Most Wind' on the back of their removal trucks (any thoughts?);
- Celebrates public toilets - especially those created by artist Friedensrich Hundertwasser that are made of glass bottles, ceramic pots and mosaic tiles and have grass and a tree growing on the roof;
- Makes pronouncing some street and town names rather disrespectful and problematic. Whakepapa, for example. 'Wh' is pronounced as an 'f', so there's a helluva lot of 'Phuckers' to be said, to much evil giggling by Sapphire. Either that or, 'Ded hes the shuts, disn't he Mum?' is said often to much back seat amusement;
- Hate possums with a passion and have a shop proudly filled with stuffed ones posing as road-kill, foot slippers, violin players and art-deco aficionados;
- Sometimes get lazy and, when tired of naming their natural wonders with Maori words or dedications to distant English monarchs, will go for the obvious. 'Hole in the rock' at the Bay of Islands is one instance.
Travelling around in a car 16 years younger than our own; eating food that is mainly crumbed, deep fried and sitting on top of a chip pyramid and yet to spot a live kiwi has, at the very least, given me respite from worrying about the sale our house, planning and packing for our soon-to-be 'new' life interstate, wondering where Sapphire will go to school and just what in the hell I want to be when I grow up (in Melbourne) and missing Milly the dog so much I rush over to pat and coo over any and every New Zealand mutt I see ......
....... all before arriving home, picking up Skipper the rabbit and Milly and hiding our dirty laundry, dust and dog hairs for a few more hours until the last open inspection is over.