Merry Christmas from New Zealand to our families, friends and followers.
The picture is of an amazing Pohutukawa tree, or the New Zealand Christmas Tree. The blazing red flowers bloom at Christmas time and apparently, even by Kiwi standards, this year the Pohutukawa have been esepcially beautiful. This particular tree lives in the Parnell Rose Gardens in Auckland.
For both of us, this is our first Christmas away from home in the UK. The lines, 'But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be / On your own front door' have never felt more true. We've definitely missed 'Faithful friends who are dear to us / Gather[ing] near to us once more'.
However, what an experience we're having this Christmas Day. We are sitting on the sofa at Maddie and Allan's surf pad in Papamoa and the sun has come out strong. While they're away, we're feeding Steve the cat and we bought each other a handful of edible gifts from the supermarket yesterday along with frozen sprouts and a huge bag of stuffing. (No parsnips!) We cycled down to the beach this morning and paddled in the fierce waves, not going out too far because of the mighty rip: today was forecast to be a washout and so Olly proclaimed a Christmas miracle. We had pancakes in the yard for breakfast and for the first time ever I applied suncream on 25 December!
For anyone else experiencing a 'first' this Christmas, especial festive love and cheer to you.
To our parents, Mum and Dad (Marina and David) and Mum and Dad (Hilary and Andrew), for their first Christmas without us! And this extends to our families too (big up the G-Team).
To Lauren & Dan, MavDan and Will & Emma for their first Christmases in their own homes.
To The Collies, their first Christmas as Mr & Mrs.
To Heath, Isaac, Isla, Margo, Zach, Albert, Arthur and Edith on your very first Christmases. (And to their mums and dads too!)
To Beth, she'll know why.
To Ron, back 'down under' for the first time in a long time for a barbie on the beach in her thongs while birds sing merrily in the bush.
To Gracie on South Island: we're coming for you. Happy Kiwi Christmas! Your first in NZ too.
Although our dearest are not our nearest this year, we've been welcomed into a few new families for the first time this Christmas too and so to our NZ family: Helen & Richard, Dave, Kevin & Megan, Diane, Ian & Ryan, thanks from our helmets to our pedals for your kindess as Christmas has approached and you welcomed us like relatives into your homes to share in some festive cheer.
Love from Lorna and Olly x