Way back when ... when my first husband joined the New Zealand airforce, he was recruited by Peter Kirker. And Peter, being the kind-hearted soul that he is, told his wife that this new recruit had a wife and she might need some support as her 30 year old husband disappeared into 6 months of basic and officer training.
And that was where our friendship began ... so many years ago, it played out on Base Woodbourne in Marlborough and we've stayed in touch over the years.
So when they heard we were coming home, they suggested we arrive in Auckland so that they could introduce Gert to the North Island of New Zealand ... a territory that has remained relatively unknown to me. I'm a South Island girl and was always so completely in love with the other island that I never did get round to the roadtrip 'up north' before leaving home.
Since arriving on Monday, we have been introduced to Auckland, wandered in Rotoroa, slept at Taupo, eaten enough exquisite food to make me wonder why it was that I left and, last night, we have arrived in Wellington.
We have laughed often as we've wandered with this lovely couple, talked endlessly, been taken care of like we were special and we have had a most marvellous time.
Returning has felt something like someone opening up their red wine cellar up to us, and bringing out all their treasures, inviting us to taste each one and, rather than getting drunk, we find ourselves filled up with the goodness that is a return to New Zealand.
I'm really struggling to focus down in on each individual story ... the people, the places, the sights seen. The stories, the 'incidents' (mmmmm, there may have been some incidents), and the details of this return home after 8 years away.
Last night I was talking to my dad and my sister, anticipating arriving in their world at the weekend. And exchanging mails with Giovanni and Inge, lovely friends made via the internet ... people I'll be seeing while here in Wellington. There are people to visit with all over this country of mine and I love that.
This morning, 5am (the new normal), and the dawn chorus exploded into the room. I love it. I have missed so much about 'home', deep inside of myself, in that place where these kinds of memories hide themselves.
Anyway, enough of the deluge of words ... I photographed our lovely friends while they were showing Gert a Fantail on one of the pathways in Rotorua. Meet Christine and Peter Kirker, people I am so honoured to have as friends.