11 August 2007

A New Zealand Birthday

Yesterday, I celebrated my birthday...for the first time in winter.

The day started in Wanganui at Pat's house. We packed the car and went for a nice breakfast at the cafe around the corner. I found my mushroom, garlic, and feta dish to be even better than its description on the menu - yum!

Our first stop along coastal State Highway 1 was Otaki for the Icebreaker outlet. Before venturing into the outlet, we popped into the hot bread shop (bakery) so that I could try my first NZ doughnut. Yum! It was basically soft layers of pastry dough made into a taco-like pocket. The middle was filled with a light, non-chemical cream flavored with chunks of apple and a hint of cinnamon. The whole thing was sprinkled with just the right amount of powdered sugar. Have I mentioned the food in New Zealand? It's GREAT! So Icebreaker...If you don't yet own Icebreaker and live somewhere experiencing temperatures below 70-degrees (21C), you really should consider making an investment in an Icebreaker. George has been wearing it for years, but I just got my first jersey in Auckland. I was the warmest I've been in New Zealand on the day I wore it...and I'm now a believer! We're glad Pat put us onto this outlet given the high price and limited availability of Icebreaker in the States. We did a bit of shopping, and I'm now confident that I'll stay warm this winter.

A few kilometers down SH1, and we'd arrived at our next stop: Paraparaumu. Without much trouble, we located George's grandmother's assisted living village. We enjoyed tea and an hour and a half visit with Nana in her sunny apartment.

SH1 hugs the Tasman coast and then cuts through a beautiful, windy gorge before making its way into Wellington. Approaching the city, you can see the harbor and downtown buildings at a distance before actually arriving. It's a stunning city!

Nearly an hour ahead of schedule, we arrived at the home of George's father and stepmother, Paul and Robyn. They have a nice apartment in a modern downtown building not far from shops and Wellington's harbor. George's brother, Heath, joined us shortly after that. We shared some champagne before enjoying a nice evening at a local restaurant. Once we got back, they surprised me with a round of Happy Birthday and chocolate cake. Meanwhile, the three Sadlier men shared a bottle of scotch that had been waiting for the three of them to drink together. The evening ended with a call to my mother.

It was a very special birthday indeed.

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