Hello everyone! We haven't blogged in a few days as we've not had much to say, but now we've got so much to say we might be here forever! Don't panic, we won't :)
So, on Tuesday, I went to school with Lydia and Dad went with Jim to climb Mount Maunganui. I didn't go in until morning break because i was still a bit tired from the hot pools the night before, so Dad and Jim dropped me off at about 11 on their way. So when i got there, Lydia met me and took me into the 'quad'. Their schools aren't like ours in that there are little blocks with about 4 classrooms in them, arranged around the central quad. So to get to each lesson you go outside to the next classroom. The first lesson we went to was French. It was odd because they use the same textbooks that we used in Marden! The teacher was lovely and really welcoming - she actually comes from Birmingham which made me laugh. No one did much french to be honest but it was interesting to see just how LITTLE i remember of french! Next was Geography which was a bigger class. The work (although i didn't do it) was hard and I suddenly realised why i dropped the subject as soon as i could! Then it was lunchtime so we ate the lunch we had brought with us. They don't really have a canteen here, just a little hatch where you can go and buy what they call 'sausage sizzlers' but is blatantly a hot dog! But they don't have a seating area or anything so people eat in the quad or go in one of the classrooms, which is what we did. After lunch was the last lesson of the day - music. Lydia's music teacher is really really nice, and Lydia has been keeping her up to date about when i was coming and what we were doing, so when i met her, her eyes filled up with tears when she realised who i was - it was really nice! We didn't do much in music again except plonk around on the piano and chat to some other people - but it was fun! And then it was hometime!
When we got back, Dad and Jim were back too and had had a great, but tiring and hot, climb up the Mount. They made it to the top and felt like true explorers i think, they were proud of themselves and we were all proud of them too. Although you wouldn't catch me doing it!
We had a bit of a restful evening and watched Peter Kay - with all of us laughing out loud a lot!! Lydia and I decided to put strawberries and cream face masks on - trust me, they don't taste of strawberries and cream. We even put a bit (but only a bit) on Dad's head! I asked him later if his head felt smooth and he said 'well, only the same as before'. I think it was possibly a once and never again experience for him!
On Wednesday Dad and I decided to have a not-so-busy day and went shopping! We certainly shopped until we dropped because we went shopping at the Mount, then onto Papamoa Fashion Island then back to Bayfair Shopping Centre! Dad drove Jim's car and it was very strange there just being two of us again. We had lunch in Papamoa at Subway (there's loads of them here) and then we decided to go to 'The Cheesecake Shop' next door. It is the most amazing shop, with cheesecakes galore! You go in and you just want to eat a bit of all of them. Normally though, they only sell them by the half or full cake, but they were selling wildberry cheesecake in slices on that day so we both had one - YUM! They were gorgeous and we will definitely be going back there!! On the way back from Papamoa to Bayfair, Dad and I got stuck in the Papamoa estate. It was horrible, just like a huge retirement place with loads of houses stuck together and no community. But anyway, loads of the roads were dead ends and so we kept having to turn around. At one point, Dad tried to stop the car and turn it round, but forgetting we were in an automatic car which has no clutch, he put both feet on the brake! We stopped fairly quickly (understatement) but i think we just about managed to survive without whiplash! That night Dad and Jim went out to the quiz at an Irish pub on the Strand, while us girls stayed in and made / ate pancakes!
Yesterday was Thursday and this is really the bit we wanted to write about, but i had to do the other bits first! So Thursday was the day of our big trip to Rotorua! I slept in a bit in the morning but we still managed to be out the house before 11. On the way, we decided to stop at a kiwi fruit place called Kiwi 360. At the front of there they have a HUGE kiwi fruit model, which you can climb up. So Dad and I did the tourist thing and took some pictures there, as well as going in the gift shop!!
We then carried on to Rotorua. When we were getting closer to the city centre, you could begin to smell the delightful Rotorua smell of rotten eggs. We went to the tourist information centre and booked the tickets for everything we wanted to do. So first on our list was going to Whakarewarewa, the thermal village. It's actual name is: Tewhakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao - so just a bit of a mouthful! We had a quick look round before going to the cafe, where we were booked in for a traditional Hangi lunch. This included chicken, corned beef, corn on the cob, sweet potato 'kumara', carrots, cabbage, potato, bread stuffing and gravy! Then there was pudding, of steamed chocolate pudding, fruit, custard and cream. Obviously we were feeling more than slightly stuffed afterwards!
We then went on to the cultural show. While we were waiting, Dad and I started to fear we were going to get the giggles. But when it began it was actually really good and they even did the haka! The Maori faces did make me laugh though so i had to occasionally look away! We even got a picture taken with them afterwards!
After that we went outside and met a guide who would give us a tour of the village. It was a brilliant tour - we saw some of the amazing steaming pools and heard what they use them for. Depending on the temperature, some of which were up to 150 degrees C just on the surface, they were used for cooking and bathing! We were told that they cook the corn on the cob in the pool and saw how they did it. It cooks really quickly because of the temperature. We also saw the hangi pots where they cook the food, it is like a wooden box built into the ground. They use only geothermal heat in these hangi pots and when the lid is on, the temperature can reach 250 degrees C! It takes only an hour to full cook a chicken from frozen, and only 2 hours to cook an adult pig! These boxes are definitely hot. She also showed us the meeting house, their church and cemetery and other things.
The village there is really nice because it is still lived in by the people and they still do the same things that their people have done for hundreds of years. Our guide was really proud of her family and living there, she referred to everything as 'my home', 'my bathroom', 'my kitchen' etc when she was showing us round. She didn't look very old though either, around 30, but she told me she had 7 children, the oldest of who is just turning 16. It's a lovely family atmosphere there, she said that 75 people live in the village, split between 25 families. They refer to everyone as auntie, uncle or cousin and they really are like a big family. It was a fantastic place to visit.
The geothermal stuff was amazing too. You would just see random bits of steam coming out of the gutters, bits of the land, little potholes etc. Then there's big bits of steam coming from all the pools. The steam is what smells of sulphur - the rotten egg smell. We even saw the 2 geysirs 'erupting' - which was pretty cool! The whole village is built on very geothermic ground though - if you touch the ground anywhere in the village it is hot! This can make it quite unsafe for them though, and too hot in the summer so it would burn their feet! This also means they can't bury bodies underground, so they have a built up area where they put the bodies in, then cover them with concrete. Dad and I really really enjoyed our time there!
Then we headed to Hells Gate, which is a big geothermal place again but this is where the mud spa is. When we got there, the egg smell was really really strong. We decided to go on the walk round Hells Gate before the spa, so we set off with our little map. The walk took us around loads more steaming pools and holes, a mud volcano, the largest hotwater waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere (40 degrees C) and a huge bubbling mud pool. It was amazing again but it was getting a bit cold and we had seen a lot of it already at Whaka. So we headed back towards the spa. On the way, Dad was too busy reading the map to watch where he was going and he kind of fell down a pothole!! He didn't fall flat but stumbled, twisting his ankle slightly in the process. I would have helped him, but couldn't move due to extreme hysterics! Sorry Dad!
When we got to the spa, called Waiora Spa, we were given boxes to put our stuff and then we went to change. When I came out in my swimming costume i was absolutely freeeeeeeeeeezing so we got in the mud pool pretty sharpish! The mud pool was really strange because the mud kind of settles to the bottom and feels a bit slimy under your feet or if you sit on it! It was nice and hot though... The man told us to completely cover ourselves in mud and then he would come and take a picture. So we had to grab big handfuls of mud from the bottom and slap it all over ourselves, swimming costumes included! It felt so strange, kind of like clay, but it was really warm? So we did that and had some pictures taken. After 20 minutes, the guy came and told us the time was up (you can only stay in the mud bit for 20 minutes because of safety rules or something) and we then had to face the cold shower to get the mud off. This shower was outside, and it was definitely cold. Dad went in and shrieked because it was so cold and i just thought i was going to die!! The man who worked there was hosing down the floor with a hosepipe and said to me 'I'm not supposed to do this but do you want me to use the hosepipe on you so you don't have to stay in the shower as long?' and i said YES!!! So i had a freezing cold shower down the front and freezing cold water from the hosepipe down the back!!! When we were done we could go and get in the sulphur pool, which was a gorgeous 40 degrees C! We felt much better in there! There was no-one else there when we were, so we had the whole thing to ourselves. We sat in the pool while the sun set, then got out when it was dark!
It was an amazing experience and we have some funny pictures from it! We drove back from Rotorua in time for me to get my GCSE results that Mum had promised to email me. I got 5A*s and 2As!!! A*s in English Lang, Maths, Additional Sci, Child Development, Business Studies and As in Core Sci and Eng Lit. I'm not sure how I got those grades but i was (and still am!) so happy and excited i thought i might explode! I was really scared to look at them at first, but i took the plunge and did it and I can't believe it! It means I can go onto Sixth Form now and not have to retake the year I missed - I'm so pleased. We had a celebration last night with some champagne that's not quite champagne and copious amounts of milkybar chocolate!
So there you go, that is our very busy day yesterday and a bit about the days before. Thank you to everyone for your messages about my results!
Lots of love,
P.S. Dad and I still smell of the Rotorua rotten egg perfume (!) today - it won't go away and lingers on... eww.