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Archive for the ‘Charlie’ Category

New Zealand is a pretty small country, and I’ve travelled quite a lot of it. But when my sister rang a week or so ago and asked if we wanted to join her (and her husband and Charlie) for a few days at a town we’d never visited, we jumped at the opportunity.

I love a road trip. Travelling in the middle of school holidays is something we usually avoid like the plague, but as we were driving mid-week it wasn’t a problem. We drove familiar roads and unfamiliar roads, enjoying the scenery. We saw native plants and trees, and exotics showing off their spring blossoms. One town seemed to have adopted the rhododendron as their official plant of choice, and they were all flowering at the same time, lining the roads into and out of the town, and filling both public and private gardens.

On the road, we were surrounded by lush, green fields and hills, dotted with dairy cows on the plains, and sheep as the hills got higher and more rugged. Occasionally, further north, we saw goats, and wild turkeys, llamas and alpacas.

We stopped for lunch at the town at the base of the ski-fields on Mt Ruapehu (an active volcano) in the centre of the island. For a day right in the middle of the school holidays, it was surprisingly peaceful. Everyone must have been up on the mountain, swishing down the slopes, enjoying the last days of this year’s ski season.

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Mt Ruapehu

Raglan, our destination, is a small but well known coastal town, popular for its surf beach. One afternoon we headed out to the beach to watch Charlie (who had already been on a horse trek that morning) surf the waves, along with about 50 others. The learners stayed close to the shore, but others hung further out, looking for the bigger waves. Whilst it was a warm day for this time of year, the sea would have been icy cold, so Charlie’s wetsuit was essential. Her mother and I played around with our cameras, and I managed to get a shot of her up on her board, and a second shot as she did a dramatic fall into the water. When I zoomed in, I could see her face was covered with a huge grin. She came back exhilarated and not at all exhausted, despite battling the waves for some hours.

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As it was my sister’s birthday, we had champagne on the deck of their rented house, went out for a special dinner, and generally over-indulged with coffees and cooked breakfasts and avocadoes brought from their orchard.

It was a quick but hilly walk into the town for a coffee and look around the shops and galleries, and the following day we climbed down to the bottom of a waterfall and with much less enthusiasm back up, although the rain put paid to my plans of walking the track that went right in front of the house where we were staying. Instead, Charlie and I played table tennis in the garage, but we never did get around to having the darts match we’d planned.

And in between we relaxed, read and chatted, or just enjoyed the views from the bach.

All too soon we had to leave. School, work, and real life called for us all. We decided to take it easy on the way home, and so detoured along the west coast to a town I’ve only visited once before. It too is nestled under another volcano, which didn’t emerge from the clouds hiding it until we were well on the way home. I caught a view of the top only through the back window of our car. Isn’t it always the way?

Mt Taranaki before the cloud lifted

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(The 18th in a continuing series)

  • A heart full of love and enthusiasm is vulnerable, but the love is worth it
  • Life isn’t fair*
  • Never complain about being normal. Some people aspire to it.
  • Having bacon every day is not so bad either.
  • We have to be brave (and prepared) when technology lets us down
  • The best Aunts and Uncles spoil you
  • There is fun to be had when devices are absent (voluntarily or involuntarily).

* I knew that one, but it’s worth remembering

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(The 17th in a continuing series)

  • It’s good to be enthusiastic about things we love, whether we win or not.
  • Good manners and gratitude take us a long way.
  • When we love our pets, we get the love back.
  • Stand up to bullies, because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Cocktails (or mocktails) can make us happy, and should be savoured.
  • It’s worth taking pride in our appearance, especially on special occasions.
  • Writing to your penpals is important.
  • I’m more like my sister than I realise.

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(The 16th in a continuing series)

I am currently visiting Charlie and her parents and Jeff and Cloud (the dog and cat respectively) and have been exposed to her unique 8-year-old thought processes.

  • “Donald Trump is an idiot, because he is.”
  • Answering questions from your aunt AMA mother is not nearly as interesting as dancing like a cat to “I’m sexy and you know it.”
  • Pets are to be loved, played with, and ignored at your pleasure.
  • Art galleries are worth visiting
  • Virtual reality is awesome because “you don’t have to use controls you just use your head.”
  • A good library is a great discovery.
  • Delayed gratification is a terrible idea.

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(The 15th in a continuing series)

Charlie visited again a week ago, but this time, for the first time, without her parents (though they were only across the city attending meetings and staying in a hotel), and so it was an adventure for all of us, but a successful one we all hope to repeat again, when I can learn new things, such as:

  • Biscuits taste better when we’ve iced them together, but …
  • That meat really was “in serious need of gravy!”
  • Quiet time is just as important as adventures.
  • It’s better to do things in the morning when you’re awake and enthusiastic, than later in the day when you’re tired.
  • Sometimes, if you have bad news, it is best to ease into it.
  • Te Papa is always awesome, no matter how many times we go, but it’s even better when we have no time limit.
  • Exercise is good, no matter what the temperature.

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(The 14th in a continuing series)

  • It doesn’t matter if you do something that’s unusual or a bit weird, because that’s you and that’s good.
  • Quirky clothing (eg. hoodies with cats ears) is fun.
  • I should trust her judgement. “It’s going to be awesome,” she whispered, as Pete’s Dragon started, and she was right.
  • Practising your hand-eye coordination will give you skills.
  • Strawberry ice-cream and a very very good chocolate cake is a good combination.
  • Best friends are to be cherished.
  • So are aunts.

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Things Charlie

(The 13th in a continuing series)

In December, I was lucky enough to spend time with Charlie on four separate occasions. These are the lessons she taught me (or reminded me of) this time.

  • Cystic fibrosis is tough on both the kids who have it and their parents
  • But don’t let the feeding tubes or intravenous antibiotics stop you from enjoying life (or climbing trees, or running and jumping)
  • Playing soccer with your aunt and uncle is fun – who needs rules?
  • It’s easy to meet new friends if you love dogs
  • Good things come to those who wait (ie eventually your parents – or aunts – will cave)
  • Sandcastle building is an art form
  • Window shopping, ultimately, is dissatisfying
  • You’re never too young to learn good driving habits
  • Tell the people you love that you love them
  • Hugs are restorative
  • Write. Be bold, and write books. With illustrations.

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