How many thought I was saying good-bye to the blog? Of course not! No, sadly, it was time to say goodbye to our Winton family.
You know it's time to move on when the grass is getting spindly underneath the van and the tires are sinking further and further into the front lawn as winter approaches.
David did try his very best to keep the front lawn looking tidy....
We had a awesome time with the family, sharing a number of family events with them, and watching Ollie & Ruby participating in their after-school sports and athletics day.
Here they are preparing for the Winton School Fun Run; 1) warming up with jump-jam, 2) you can tell these are teacher's children, they're the only ones listening to the principal as he tells them what's happening, all the others had raced off for their bikes. 3) Ollie & Ruby lining up with Mum (Dad conveniently did his knee in the day before) and being cheered on by Poppa on the sidelines 4) Ollie's first out of the blocks on the 5km bike ride 5)the local vets in their various onesies pulled and pushed a 'cow' around the course. It was a stinking hot day, I'm sure they suffered. 6) All participants passed by our house, we stood on the lawn and cheered them on. I only just saw Ollie passing by, he was first in the 5km ride and going for it. Here's Ruby passing us- I helped her along with a blast from the air horn. Her friend nearly fell off her bike :) 7) The family head off on the 5km bike ride.
The weather was stunning in the week before we headed to Stewart Island, it was so hot one Sunday afternoon we packed up a BBQ dinner and headed down to the local river (Oreti River) for dip. It would have been better if it was a little deeper but it was enough to cool the heels.
We celebrated an anniversary while in Winton and Rachel, Ollie & Ruby went all out to put a special dinner on for us. Ollie came to the van to escort us down the path while Ruby threw rose petals over us. Rose petals were scattered over the table, our wedding song was playing, there were candles, and cards made by the children and an extra special dinner for us all. The kids just loved having their little wine glasses with their bubbles in it and being able to toast us and 'chink, chink' their glasses.
A few days before we left the school had a mufti day- Rachel was a little perturbed when she heard the theme was "Dress as a villian" and after seeing all the Zombies, gun totting baddies, vampire teethed girls and false blood everywhere, we both thought there might have been a few kids having nightmares the night after.
Ollie & Ruby were apparently quite tame compared with some of the costumes, they dressed themselves and I think they did really well....Ollie went as an enemy solider and added a zombie walk in there to impress, and Ruby went as Dracula's daughter! Ruby told me she ate her black lipstick(eyeliner) at morning tea! Which doesn't surprise me. They donned their hi-vis vests and scootered off down the road, racing each other to be first to see what the other kids had come as.
Here's Ruby looking like she's waiting for a ride and about to run away from home; I saw her sitting out on the verge from the van window. She'd dragged the caravan step out to sit on, had her drawing pad, her superman cape and her ever present back-pack- she carries that around everywhere, it contains all the things a girl needs and a lot she doesn't. I asked her what she was doing- "I miss Ollie and I'm waiting for him to come home" Ollie was at a birthday party. How cute is that, they are such good mates.
Spencer, the cat decided he didn't want us to leave either. He leapt onto the van roof on the morning of our departure and peered at me from the awning over the slide-out as if to say 'don't go'. He'd never been up there before that, well not that I know. Although he was sitting on the back box the other day staring in the back window at me. Spencer's eyes are green but the flash has really brought the colour out in them.
He'd come across from the house roof and made a huge thump when he landed on ours, it gave me a hell of a fright. I later saw him jump from the carport to the top of the caravan, an impressive feat as it's about 3 metres. One very agile cat.
So the time finally came to say goodbye and, as was the case the last time we left, it was a dreary rainy day- tears from heaven. We headed off, not sure when we'll be seeing them all again. We had some good quality family time with them all, helped out whenever we could and just enjoyed having the family close again- this is the family that lived 500 metres down the road from us in Tauranga, before they headed to the other end of the country over 5 years ago and we hit the road 30 months ago.
We pointed our nose north and headed towards Alexandra; we had more family to join. Family from Hawkes Bay, my aunty & her husband- an aunty that is more like a sister and just a few years older than me, family we've been camping with a number of times since we've been on the road. Pam & Gerald are on a 2 week whirlwind tour of the South Island and as luck would have it, our stars aligned, they were heading for the Otago Rail Trail and we were heading to the Maniototo. So we met in Alexandra and drove out to Omakau, a favourite country town of ours, after spending 10 days parked behind the pub last winter.
This time we parked up across the road beside the river for a couple of nights, had a meal at the Omakau pub, Pam & Gerald rode a section of the Rail Trail and we all squashed into the ute and drove out to Poolburn Dam on a bleak and cold afternoon- I'll post more photos from Poolburn tomorrow.
This morning we woke up to our first frost of the season and the promise of a glorious day ahead...
...once the mist burnt off.