I had a lovely middle-of-the-day yesterday lunching with the ever-delightful Rosie and her daughter, Bella.
Having actually left on time (I seem to suffer timelapses when traveling up to Coatesville usually arriving much much later than expected - it's only a 50 minute drive) I arrived at Rosie's new house (following her exceptionally accurate directions) just on lunchtime. We chatted for a while, then she gave me the grand tour of her gorgeous new home before we piled into her car and left for the wonderful Kauri Gum Cafe in Riverhead for lunch.
It's *such* a delightful, comfortable cafe - ye olde worlde but in a GOOD way: even the music was fabulous. The food, of course, was delicious and the company relaxed and such a time-haven for me sandwiched between some, at times, hectic scheduling.
Thanks, so much Rosie - I really had such a nice relaxing time. Your house already feels so welcoming and warm - as all the homes you've had and I've been invited to do - you really are good at your job!
I left Rosie about 3pm and made my way back down the motorway Southbound. I had a series of scheduled stops to make and knew that the traffic would be tense as it was a wet Friday and anyone who lives in Auckland knows - we all forget how to drive when it rains. The traffic flowed well only slowing on the Harbour Bridge so I made good time 'til I hit Spaghetti Junction.
This is a tangle of on and offramps that is one of the bottlenecks (most outstanding Auckland talent is it's ability to perfect the bottleneck) and my car came to a standstill, and then graduated to a crawl all the way to Greenlane. I was to pick Jacqui up from her babysitting job at 5pm, and seeing it was 4:15pm already I decided to park and read and wait for her rather than attempting going home first.
Rosie had leant me a couple of books on technical writing and so I read through a few chapters while I waited for Jacqui. (i'm really writing about the details of my Friday to generally avoid mentioning my nervousness about starting my new job on Monday) Next stop, from picking Jacqui up was dropping her off at Eden Park - she was training for a waitressing gig at Eden Park for the sponsers of the Lions who are here touring and playing rugby. I *kind of* know where Eden Park is, and was surprised and impressed that although initially going left when I should've gone right and sitting in traffic for 5 light changes before getting back on track (did i mention traffic in auckland sucks arse?) found the Park, and the correct Gate, relatively easily and with lots of time to spare. We arranged a meeting time and place for pickup and then I was off to my next stop.
Clayton came to New Zealand and to work at TLC a couple of years ago. A more delightful, charming, genuine man you'll be hard-pushed to meet. He was leaving the company and the country to travel with his twin brother and have many girl-filled-adventures in Australia and had invited some of his friends and colleagues to the Loaded Hog for a drink. That was my next stop.
I left Eden Park at 5:45pm thinking happy thoughts about being at the Loaded Hog by 6:10pm and very chuffed at myself for being so "on time" given the awful traffic I'd already experieced. Famous last words. Needless to say, the Universe wiped *that* smile off my face by taking an hour to get from Dominion Road to the Downtown Carpark. If you don't know Auckland, you don't care but if you do know Auckland you know that my journey has been probably the worst route to attempt at rushhour on a wet Friday thus far.
Arriving at the Loaded Hog and finding Clayton with a few of his work colleagues and the ever wonderful James, my first beer didn't touch the sides. I was actually trembling from the last 3 hours of concentrating in the horrible driving conditions so, naturally, I had a second beer because well, what enhances the driving home *more* than drinking first.
30 minutes later I was back in my car and back driving towards Eden Park. The traffic was a wee-bit lighter and Jacqui had finished early and was waiting outside. The trip home was relatively smooth and I was feeding Mouse (did _not_ like having to spend a whole day on *only* one sachet of food and a bowl full of biscuits) by 8pm.
It was a good day though - and great to catch up with dear friends again.