Last night, after an lovely afternoon and evening spent in the company of old friends, Gert and I fell down the rabbit hole into sleep. It was 8pm, and it is probably more accurate to write, we plunged into sleep.
It's 4.30am as I begin this, here in New Zealand, sitting up in bed, laptop on my legs, typing as the Bellbirds begin the morning chorus ... I'm so glad to be home.
Actually, if you select Dawn Chorus, on this page, you'll get a sense of what I am currently listening to, here in this city of just over 1 million people. It's a city like no other I've known. There is always the sea and so much nature, in the most beautiful way.
But I would say that, wouldn't I ... perhaps 'the most beautiful way' is going to be code for all that is familiar.
Yesterday, after our second long flight to the bottom of the world, Peter and Christine met us at the airport (with some mad Hobbit character, who I feared was an old friend in disguise - an exuberant character who would surely mortify me. He wasn't and didn't.) After the hugs and the tears (Christine and I) they introduced us to 'their' Auckland city on the drive home to Christine's parents.
Then came lunch on the balcony and it was no ordinary lunch ... it was a kiwi 'almost summertime' lunch, just like Nana and Mum used to make.
I, who rarely drinks tea now, had a big cup of tea in honour of those women I've lost. There were the sandwiches filled up with fresh lettuce, hardboiled egg, tomato, and cold roast chicken, with options of cheese and of ham too. And that big bowl of fruit and the sweet juicy delight of a fresh New Zealand orange.
It was bliss because it was familiar ... bliss because I was sitting there with old friends on the inside a New Zealand family again, bliss because the neighbours called in just as they always had back in my childhood home.
Late afternoon found me barefoot and in the sea, as captured by Gert back at the top of this post. A mild sea, pale-turquoise and so inviting, writes this woman who forgot her swimsuit ... or togs, as we call them here in the land downunder.
Dinner was Snapper, fresh from yesterday's ocean, and exquisite, of course. Followed by a huge bowl of strawberries and ice cream.
And we were finished. I was suddenly at a point of exhaustion where I completely undone. Some deep breathing got me to sleep, calming my senses and bringing me back from that place of complete overwhelm.
Our first day in New Zealand ... old friends who welcomed us in that kiwi way that is so familiar ... a mix of humour and tears, and so much kindness too.
Today we begin our roadtrip south with them. Christine and Peter had long-ago suggested we fly in to Auckland and that they would drive us home to their place in Wellington, pointing out it would be a great way for Gert to get a taste of the North Island but erhemm, South Island girl that I am, I haven't done this drive either.
We will be wandering off to Rotorua and Taupo today. There may be one or two photographs taken along the way, much laughter, good food and some hours spent with some of the kindest kiwis I know.
Thank you to Christine and Peter Kirker, for that friendship you offered when I was a newby airforce officer's wife, for all those cups of tea and homemade baking in that sun-filled kitchen of yours on Base Woodbourne, and for keeping this friendship warm all of these years I've been gone. It is so good to be back in your lives again.
Meanwhile the NZ seagull who shared his waters-edge with me yesterday.