Christmas and New Year in Queenstown with Edwinas family
Queenstown, New Zealand
Christmas and New Year in Queenstown with Edwinas family, New Zealand
We were allowed to cook on Christmas eve, in the UK we always make a big thing of Christmas eve just like in my childhood, in Europe Christmas Eve is a big thing and sometimes celebrated more than Christmas day, for us we always have the same meal, when I was a child it was Pasta to start with eel if they could be found or anchovies if not, the main would consist of Baccala a salt cod dish that would be soaked in water for several days where the water would be changed frequently, it would be accompanied by a large platter of calamari and tomato salad and various other vegetables and potatoes. We have put our own twist onto this menu we had a Sicilian anchovies dish from Jamies Italian cookbook, followed by fish with the same topping as Baccala, parsley and breadcrumbs soaked in olive oil topped with olives, normally in the UK we use cod but here we used Warehou a meaty New Zealand fish. Arabellas favourite food is sushi which we are both found of so we now add in a sushi platter which we bought as a take away in Queenstown, normally I would go to Yo Sushi an outing for the kids to leave the kitchen peaceful for Edwina to cook in. In the UK we also have the calamari but felt it would be too much since we ordered 80 pieces of sushi. Jane brought some fresh salmon on the drive down from a salmon farm so we added steam salmon onto the menu. It was a full on Christmas Eve feast and enjoyable meeting up with Edwina's brother, wife and 3 children, 2 sisters and 3 more nephews plus Nana and Grandad with more family arriving in the morning. We then prepared for Santa's arrival the kids placed a mince pie, fresh cherries and a bottle of Monteith's on the table for Santa, normally we leave a port and a carrot for the reindeer.
The Santa tradition's in the Cagol's household we wanted to keep the same in Nana and Grandads house, the kids woke up early on Christmas day to find Santa footprints scattered around the house and full Santa sacks under the tree, the kids also checked and screamed with delight that Santa had eaten his mince pie, cherries and drank the beer. All the children open their Santa sacks in the morning but the secret Santa's and the gifting to each other would be left to later in the day when everyone was at the house. Lesley and family were only able to make it for the day since James and the boys take part in the Rodeo supplying the bulls and the sons riding, Rodeo's are such a big part of the Christmas, New Year's calendar here with the first rodeo being on the 26th.
I love sitting down for a family meal and was pleased that Audrey was thinking along the same lines and gladly help setup a table in the dining room that would fit all 23 of us, Audrey put on a fantastic meal in the true Christmas tradition, baked ham, roast lamb, new potatoes, veg, salads and a mix of deserts, traditional Pavlova, Trifle, fruit salad, ice cream and a chocolate Christmas tree Denise made. Christmas day passed without incident whilst enjoying good family time, laughs and reminiscing.
Nana and Grandad had a house full of 9 of the 12 grandchildren whilst all Edwina's siblings stayed down the road in a Motel (who got the better deal…??....) this was great for all the kids to spend time together and possibly a little over whelming for the grandparents but they embraced the chaos of the children and Edwina enjoyed getting to know her nieces and nephews more.
To give some light relief Boxing Day, most of the children headed down to Lake Wakatipu to let off some steam playing in the lake and playing on the rope swings. Arabella braved the deeper lake water and swam out to a pontoon where she decided to show off her backward flip into the water, on impact gasping with the cold water she panicked got a bleeding nose and was out of breath because of the cold water temperature. Edwina standing shore side with a wine in hand was pleased to see Jimmy rescue her, it was really lovely to see cousins looking out for each other as I'm sure Edwina didn't really fancy ditching good Central Otago sauvignon and jumping in fully clothed. Back home we all enjoyed the traditional evening boxing day BBQ with Murray at the helm and Malcolm overseeing winding up the old fella on how to cook which was rather entertaining in its own right and whilst the grand kids caused carnage with water guns not meaning to aim at Grandad.
Before Jane's family dispersed to enjoy their regular camping break with their friends they joined the rest of us for a day out at Arrowtown River. Here the Adults (excluding me whilst I watched on in amusement) built a dam which apparently was for the children to play in, complete with a flag, Rochelle took up pride of place with a camping chair sitting in the middle of the dam proud of her newly created kingdom and overseeing the Gold panning techniques apparently it's in her blood you know, Maddalena certainly got gold fever 100% determined to find some gold and proudly showing her findings. Taylor took charge of the BBQ feeding the mob and transporting Nana and Grandad across the river in his truck. All the kids enjoyed finding a swimming hole further downstream where they went on boogie boards, dunking each other with the older cousins taking care of the younger and teaching Luca how to skim stones.
The following week it was lovely that Denise and Alex stayed till the 30th. Malcom and Rochelle stayed on until the New Year with their 3 children who are closest to ours in age and it was great to see them form relationships with their far away cousins, Luca was especially happy having the boys to play. Our days were passed by going into town watching the jet boats and general buzz around the place, going hydro slides at the swimming pool, walking up Queenstown Hill, swimming in Lake Wakatipu, dressing up in arctic clothing and having a mocktail at the Ice Bar, crazy water fights, skimming stones, and building dens in pine tree on the empty section next door. One thing that Arabella had been going on about for the past few months was wanting to get her ears pierced, the local pharmacy will not pierce a child's ears if they are under the age of 10 years but advised us of a another place to try. We had promised that she could get this done in Queenstown and didn't want to disappoint, so we found a tattoo and body piercing place down a side alley, here the guy greets us with a wide smile showing of his mouthful of silver plated teeth and multiple piercing's. Arabella not put off at all and with his welcoming gentle approach she chose her studs and let him do his thing. Arabella could not stop smiling all the way home and is super pleased with the result.
For New Year's Eve we had decided to go out for a family meal and booked the Lone star in Queenstown, a few days earlier the kids had found $50 at the local swimming pool, we felt the only just way was for them to divide it amongst themselves and spend it at the sweet shop and tonight since we were letting them stay up till midnight seemed like the perfect time to go. The sweets kept them going and all the kids stayed up until midnight (a first for Luca), we creeped up the hill behind Edwina's parents with a bottle of bubbles in hand to get a view of the midnight fireworks.
Malcom, Rochelle, Jimmy, Henry and Ella had decided to go home where an opportunity could arise to go out in the boat, Malcom and Rochelle had kindly offered to lend us all their bikes so we would follow them down but we first decided to stay for the Glenorchy races. We had been wanting to go here for many years now and they only happen once a year on the first Saturday of the year so we felt we should seize the opportunity. Alexander had returned from Wanaka after New Year so she joined us on the drive up to Glenorchy. Glenorchy and especially Paradise (just passed Glenorchy) is one of our favourite places in New Zealand and we always enjoy the scenic drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy. Considering we have been wanting to come here for so long we were a bit disappointed with the races, we loved seeing the Kiwiana organisation of the races and yes really enjoyed the horse races, but there were long delays between races, lots of young adults drinking and shout profanities and absolutely nothing else for the children to do, hardly what we would call family friendly, maybe we were expecting too much but I think a bouncy castle or some face painting won't have gone a miss. One of our highlights was Luca entering the 6 and 7 year old race on the course which ended with a lolly scramble he thought it was great and both I and Edwina pleased to see the confidence in taking part. The temperature was rising as the day was dragging on and the final straw of the races came seeing a bunch of young really drunk guys dressed in nothing but a sheep fleeces stinking of sheep covered with dags, it was time to pull the plug. $30 down on entrance fee, kids fed up and a little bit disappointed we leave and stop off at Bobs Cove. Neither I nor Edwina had been here and were surprised with the beauty of this bay, seeing fish jumping out of the water, the kids and Edwina went into Lake Wakatipu for a swim, but its glacier waters are too cold for me.