Dot writes: and here we are. Indeed we’ve been here for almost 24 hours, but yesterday was a bit of a blur – partly a happy warm blur of gorgeous summer weather and idyllic views of bush and sea from the suburb where Ken’s brother now lives, partly just a muddle of badly-timed naps – so this is the soonest I’ve made it to the computer. And, seeing I last logged in for a bit of a cry of anguish, let it be recorded that the numerous changes of clothes we packed in the carry-on were not needed, that even I (who did my share of the puking on the morning we left) recovered sufficiently to chase a two-year-old around Heathrow, that the flight was, as always, inconceivably long, but that apart from sleeping at all the wrong times and bouncing around at all the wrong times the boys were really quite good (thank the Lord they are such telly addicts), and that I managed to watch an episode of The Killing somewhere over the Pacific and it was excellent. Now we just have to get the boys through to something more like an acceptable bedtime today. Oh, and finish our Christmas shopping. Hugh is being a bit tragic about not being allowed to open his presents yet, but we only have to resist him through another three days.
Since we were last here Ken’s brother has become a father; his little daughter Hannah is two months old and is asleep upstairs as I write. She is a dear little thing and seems very quiet and quiescent from the perspective of a mother of a two-year-old and a four-year-old, but I think she actually works her parents pretty hard. You can’t tell a two-month-old that it’s just not time for milk now and to watch the window until the light shows. (And I could hear that, like Frank, she was awake at 3.30am.) Ken’s sister-in-law, however, looks as petite and slim as ever and not at all as though she’s just had a baby and is dealing with reflux and night-feeds. Ken’s brother always reminds me faintly of Tony Soprano – not in a kicking-people’s-heads-in way, just in a head-of-the-business, carrying-the-weight-of-the-family kind of way – and I think he will be a doting father to a daughter: he will cherish and protect his little princess.
The plan for Christmas is that we’re having it here in Auckland with Ken’s brother, and Ken’s parents and uncle will be coming to join us. Then I think we’re heading to Wanganui to Ken’s mum for New Year. Not sure what else; there are a lot of people we’d like to catch up with. I suspect I won’t manage a trip to the South Island this time, though now there’s someone I’d like to go and see in Christchurch as well as friends and relatives in Dunedin. Short term, I want to get that shopping sorted out (I even have a recurrent anxiety dream about staying with relatives for Christmas and getting to Christmas Eve without having bought the presents), and I want to take the children to the beach.
I think New Zealand is not untouched by the convulsions that have been afflicting the economies of the developed world, but it seems a much more cheerful place to be than Ireland right now. The summer weather definitely helps too. I’m extremely happy to be here.