Owing to the frightening turbulance on our Air Pacific flight our last ever meal could have been rubbery omlette and a sausage resembling a dog's penis. Thankfully we arrived safely in Auckland ready to face the world's toughest customs control. After ditching our teabags and beaver-skin bikini on the plane we had no trouble with biological checks, but the interrogation at Passport Control made the Spanish Inquisition seem just a little bit nosey by comparison: 'What do you plan to do in Auckland?'; 'Will you be shaving your legs whilst in New Zealand?; 'Where did you buy your socks, sir?*'. This barrage of questions was complicated by Victoria's tradition of filling in her occupation as 'dancer' then having to explain what type of dancer she was! (I think explaining about nipple tassels was going a bit too far).
Auckland is a hilly port city watched over by a 328 metre tall Sky Tower, which can be jumped from wearing a crotch-crushing harness for about 200 NZ Dollars; scandalous when you consider that leaping off Beachy Head is free. When I told Victoria that Auckland is known as the 'City of Sails' she thought I meant that she would be able to pick up some cheap tops and replace her leggings that were destroyed in Argentina. However, it turns out that it's New Zealands most expensive area, which may account for the general sulleness of it's inhabitants. Despite our meticulous research (we glanced at a Lonely Planet book) we managed to book ourselves into New Zealands worst hostel on the country's most expensive road, Queens Street.
Our opinions weren't helped by having our shopping stolen from the kitchen on our first evening. Some evil b****** even decided that they didn't like sour cream (we were going to put it on nachos) and left it on top of the fridge to taunt us. This left Victoria ready to call in the FBI, CIA, Interpol and Inspector Morse. Our moods were revitalised by Tom Carter Day 2007, which kicked off with a fry-up in a local greasy spoon. I personally ate enough meat to put Old McDonald's Farm out of business or at least upset a few children when told that Babe had just been washed down with a giant mug of milky tea. We then mucked around in the SkyCity arcade - I'm sure that during one of the shooting games I heard Barnes muttering something about sour cream under her breath whilst psychotically pumping away on the trigger.
No birthday would be complete without a film about homosexuality, so we decided to go and see I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry at the empty cinema. Following all of that excitement a pint or two were in order so we headed to the Queen's Head, where the Landlord amused us with a fine display of Kiwi humour. Whilst Victoria read an ancient copy of Woman's Own - this wasn't a particularly lively pub by the way - I happily read a copy of This England - The magazine for all patriots who love our green and pleasant land from 1980. I toyed with the idea of purchasing a tie with a Spitfire on it, before realising that I wasn't 80 years old and fond of cardigans. They were probably out of stock anyway. The pub was empty save for one afternoon regular, Baz the Postman, who befriended us after being intrigued by my Albion shirt (which I was kindly allowed to wear for the first time in 4 months). Baz looked like he belonged in a Satus Quo tribute act and probably would have been if it wasn't for his incomprehensible stutter.
Victoria threw me a children's birthday party in the evening, complete with zoo animal themed plates, cups, hats etc accompanied by mini-quiches, sausage rolls and chocolate cake with Smarties on it. She was going to invite some local children to join in the fun before realising that could have got us into some Michael Jackson style trouble...especially as we had Jack Daniels to drink instead of Lemonade. We did send you all invites, but if Postman Baz has any role in delivery you should receive them just in time for my 80th party - just don't forget to buy me a Spitfire tie if you decide to come.
The following morning, slightly worse for wear (probably the mini-quiches), we boarded a bus southbound to Napier - we packed and got dressed first obviously. In the beautiful area of Hawke's Bay we met the lovely Pipe Family. Martin and Kay (Damo's parents) have kindly allowed us to stay at their house whilst they are visiting England. In the two days before they left they have fed us, given us a charming tour of Hawke's Bay and the Shoe shop that they run and treated us like family. We can't thank them enough; if everyone in the world were as good, generous and welcoming as the Pipes it would be an even better place...there would certainly not be any sour cream going warm on top of fridges.
* I got my socks from Next, in case you were wondering.
Victoria and Tom xxx