Family portraits from the holiday, in a mask Alex was given for Christmas.
Well, I am back from my holiday at the Peel Forest Eco Lodge! It feels like I have been away from civilisation for yonks. I had a wonderful time, although by the end it was wearing thin a bit, what with the weather turning yuck and my health turning yuck, but it really was great.
We were staying at this "eco lodge", where the idea is to be self-sufficient. It was solar-powered and had very odd toilets that I'm not going to go into detail on. Suffice it to say that we had to dispose of the contents ourselves every two days. You had to walk 5 minutes from where you parked the cars to the house, carrying all the stuff. Something went wrong almost every day with the many things you had to do to maintain the house. It was fun to start with but everyone got sick of it by the end. Luckily there was plenty of firewood and a lovely warm wood fire, as even when it was warm days, the nights were cold at a higher altitude than we're used to.
- The absolutely beautiful warm weather from the 24th to the 29th.
- Christmas morning, from 2am, hearing my nephews Sam and Alex, in the bunkroom next to me, get up, walk around loudly, whisper loudly "what time is it?", and walk out to the lounge where their stockings are waiting. Their father, Tony, appearing out of his bunkroom and making them go back to bed. Repeat every half hour until 6am.
- Breakfast on Christmas Day made by Felicity and Mike - a wonderful, artery-clogging Eggs Benedict. Lunch and dinner - much more food than could be eaten. A huge leg of ham plus lots of barbecued meat, courtesy of Rachel and Tony. Desserts by Dad and I.
- Playing with Sam and Alex on Christmas Day, with all their new toys, like a swingball set, rocket balloons, and DIY bouncy balls.
- On Boxing Day, exploring with Dad, Tony, Mike and Sam. Visiting the beautiful Church of the Holy Innocents on the Peel Forest station (New Zealandese for really big farm) - the homestead there has beautiful grounds and allows people to wander round parts of them. Himalayan lilies like a carpet on the forest floor, exactly how I imagine bluebells in England. Amazing stained glass in the church and fascinating cemetery. Then, on to the Rangitata River, down a four wheel drive track to where the white water rafters start off. Then, halfway to Mesopotamia, an old holiday destination of our family; as we looked towards Mesopotamia we could also see the valley where Edoras was set in Lord of the Rings, one mountain range over from Mesopotamia.
- When the next influx of relatives arrive on the 28th (my sister Viv and her husband and three children), giving them their Christmas presents. Four-year-old Finlay opening my little present of an egg that cracks open after 3 days sitting in water to reveal a toy snake, and shouting "I got a snake egg!" as if he'd just won a million dollars. Then, asking how many sleeps 3 days were. Next morning, very early, hearing a mammoth shout of "MY EGG IS CRACKED! MY EGG IS CRACKED!" as he discovered some progress. Heartwarming. :)
- Playing many games of Tantrix with my sister Felicity. Cheating shamelessly in one until we fell about laughing.
- After a huge amount of rain on the 30th, trying to cross a flooded path without getting wet. Felicity puts some sticks out to walk on. Trying to be helpful, I put another stick down while she crosses, and manage to trip her up into the water in the process. Laughing all the way back to the lodge.
- While my nephew Lewis did a performance for us, restraining a wriggling and shouting Finlay from getting in the way. When Lewis got us to count down before one particular act, Finlay shouting in between each number - "10" "FART!" "9" "POO!" "8" "BUM!"... and so on and so forth. Yes, he is a little boy. But it was hilarious. I just tried not to let him see that!
- Felicity and I writing notes to each other in phonetics. It was thrilling. She is really good at them because she's a speech and language therapist.
- On the way back to civilisation this morning, Mike and Felicity and I deciding we wanted to gorge ourselves on KFC on the way through Ashburton. There's nothing like greasy fast food for a speedy return to civilisation and flush toilets.
Lowlights (if I may be permitted to coin a new word)
- The first few nights, being WAY too hot in our sleeping bags. Dad and I went back to Christchurch for a friend's father's funeral on the 28th and replaced sleeping bags with thinner bedding. Suddenly the weather deteriorated and we were freezing.
- Last night, deciding to sleep in the main room of the lodge because I hadn't got any sleep the night before in my freezing bunkroom and was feeling sick. Settling down on the couch and feeling like I couldn't be any more comfortable or warm, right next to the fire, when - scratch scratch! That's right. Mice. I went back to my bunkroom. Couldn't sleep because of the cold. Came out to the main room again at 3am because I thought I was going to be sick, lay down with the light on. Finally Dad came out and asked why the lights were on, and I ended up sleeping in his room, which was much warmer. Still, only about three hours sleep, and remained feeling sick. I'm still not feeling great, but I had a sleep when we got home this afternoon and I'm sure I'll be better after a night's sleep.
All in all, especially during the first few days and Christmas, when the weather was still warm, I had such a wonderful time. It was exactly how a family holiday should be. But I must admit I'm glad to be home!