Friday, December 7, 2012

Oakura Happenings

As the the Indian summer gives way to longer nights and the brisk chill of winter beckons in the holiday season for all our Northern Hemisphere friends and family, we have no such reminders that Christmas is upon us.  While back in the States we would have begun decorating and shopping during Thanksgiving weekend.  Here it is almost the 10th of December and we don't even have a tree yet.  Instead of unpacking our winter gear and sleds we have been heading to the beach for boogie boarding or surfing (though not so much this past week due to Taranaki weather).

We wanted to use this blog entry to update everyone a little on what our lives have been like here this Spring (October / November).

One of the kids favorite holidays has always been Halloween which hasn't really caught on down here.  The Kiwis generally find it a little peculiar that children dress up and come knocking on their doors for treats.  While most everyone knows what Halloween is and how it is celebrated in the US, the vast majority of New Zealanders don't want anything to do with it.  
Enter my wife Jenny, the consumate planner.  Last year we had a small party at our house with 6 or 7 families attending and it was a lot of fun.  This year, not wanting to leave anyone out, she rented the Surf Lifesaving club and extended an invitation to all the kids at the school.  About 100 of them showed up all dressed for the occasion and we distributed candy around to several houses in the area so they could all go trick-or-treating.  A good time was had by all

The Organizing Committee representing The USA, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Ireland

Princess Popcorn


Lindsey, Izzy and Cream as a very convincing Zombie

Skyler, Melonie and Aoife at the Hangi

The Hangi or earth oven is the traditional way in which the Maori cook food underground using hot rocks and steam.  When the rocks are red hot from a fire they are placed in a pit, wire baskets of food are placed on top, and this is covered with wet sheets and finally covered in dirt.  The school was invited to the Oakura Pa which actually means fortified village or refuge in Maori lore.

Here they are uncovering the cooked meals.  

We had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner at our good friends Paul, Mary, Gavin and Melonie Bishop's house.  Mary, an Italian American introduced us to several additional antipasta courses to go with the traditional turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.  Andy, an English mate of ours, incredibly made the most delicious homemade pumpkin pie, no canned pumpkin here.  Wendy, Andy's wife also made an incredible pecan pie. We were joined with friends from Germany and New Zealand. It was an excellent meal and a real opportunity to feel thankful for all that we are blessed with including great new friends in this "New World" of ours.  

Lindsey having a go with sailing with The New Plymouth Yacht Club in the Harbor

Oakura Take Out

Jenny ran legs 13 and 14, total of 15.5 km
Skyler ran legs 15 and 20, total of 8.7 km
Brad ran leg 17 total of 8.7 (barely made it)

Thanks to organizer Emma Wilson and the entire Wilson family for inviting us to run on their team

Owen has been playing Cricket this spring.  Rather than try to explain a game we really know little about, we thought we would give you a description of it rendered by one of our favorite authors.  
"It is not true that the English invented Cricket as a way of making all other human endeavors look more interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side affect. I do not wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions, some of them awake and facing the right way, but it is an odd game. It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares it's name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as the players, more if they are moderately restless. It is the only competitive activity of any type, other than perhaps baking,in which you can dress in white from head to toe and be as clean at the end of the day as you were at the beginning.

Imagine a form of baseball in which the pitcher after each delivery,collects the ball from the catcher, and walks slowly to center field, and that there, after a minute's pause he takes to collect himself, he runs full tilt towards the pitcher's mound before hurling the ball at the ankles of a man who stands before him wearing a riding hat, heavy gloves of the sort that are used to handle radio active-isotopes, and a mattress strapped to each leg. Imagine moreover that if this batsman fails to hit the ball in a way that heartens him sufficiently to try and waddle 40 ft with two mattresss strapped to his legs, he is under no formal compunction to run; he may stand there all day,and, as a rule,does. If by some miracle he is coaxed into making a misstroke that leads to his being put out, all the fielders throw up their arms in triumph and have a hug. Then tea is called and every one retires happily to a distant pavilion to fortify for the next siege. Now imagine all this going on for so long that by the time the match concludes autumn has crept in and all your library books are overdue. There you have cricket. "

Bill Bryson
In A Sunburned Country                                                                                            

Owen "bowling".  The ball has to be delivered with a straight arm and at this age it can really go anywhere.  

Owen as a "batsman".  After hitting the ball you run back and forth to the wickets to score.  You keep batting until either an opponent catches one of your hits, the bowl (pitch) hits the wickets or you get caught running between wickets when the fielders get the ball back in and hit the wickets with it.  

We are very proud of Owen.  He doesn't really like Cricket, and who can blame him as even at this level the games go on for over 2 hours, but he has stuck with it and has greatly improved.  Rugby is more his sport.