We've been inundated with Australians!
My sister, who has lived in Australia for thirty years now, her Australian husband and their two sons, have been staying with us as part of a month-long holiday in NZ. It was the first time I've met one of my nephews - and he's twenty-five years old.
Sadly they leave tomorrow morning for the next leg of their journey. As my sister has six siblings to visit - and all in different parts of the country - they've got a large part of the two islands to cover.
So far while with us they've seen a castle, a sea-lion and her pup, seals, Chinese New Year celebrations, taken part in a Dunedin karaoke experience, drank at a few Dunedin bars, met Robbie Burns, seen bumble bees (the part of Australia where they come from doesn't have bumble bees - or sparrows) watched a cardboard-boat race, tasted different flavoured food such as hokey-pokey ice cream, pineapple chunks, Cadbury chocolate ... (according to my sister the food tastes better over here.) After years of being without, she wants to taste again whitebait patties, mutton birds, oysters, crunchy apples, apricots, mutton pies, egg-and-bacon pie, ice-cream soda ...
Today they went on a train trip into country not unlike the wild west, but which happens to still be part of the city. (The actual boundary lines of Dunedin city stretch for miles into the surrounding country.) Dunedin's railway station, constructed from bluestone and Oamaru stone, is apparantly listed as one of the top 100 buildings in the world. (Much to the amusement of one of my nieces, who was over for dinner last night to see her Australian cousins, and who said it was just a railway station after all, and really wasn't in quite the same league as the Taj Mahal!)
On their trip south tomorrow, they're hopeful of seeing dolphins, more seals, a petrified forest in the sea, the most southerly signpost in the world ... and more. My sister is looking forward to visiting old childhood haunts and showing them to her sons.
I hope to catch up with them again next month, after they have completed the North Island part of their journey (part of which will involve a visit with McD and Dinzienz) and just before they fly back home. I'm going to miss the laughter my sister brings with her.
Last night we rang McD in the North Island and we all spoke together over the internet, some of our recollections causing much raucous laughter. The males in the household were very tolerant (you know how loud women can get when they are hooting and screaming with laughter!) At times we almost couldn't breathe, we were laughing so much. What a workout. I hope it was good for my heart - at times I was laughing so hard it felt like it was going to stop.