Day 33. Friday 8 December.
A day to ourselves before the first event of the reunion in the evening. We drove to Takapuna, a shopping precinct about 5 km north of Devonport for a spot of browsing in an area which is remarkably similar to Manuka or Bondi. T was in serch of some hot weather clothing. So much for the bag of thermals from Canberra! Traffic was intense and on street parking impossible. We left as soon as we could!
Our first catch up was at the organiser’s house in Devonport, where he put on drinks and nibbles for the 51 participants and quite a few others from family and associates. Our greatest fear was not being able to recognize people from 45 years ago – but although there were a couple of minor moments, it was all ok. The babble continued for 4 hours, with continuous food platters and liquid refreshments and of course some photo bombers prevailed. The hosts were indeed generous.
Day 34. Saturday 9 December.
The NZ heat wave continues. D joined the walking tour of the North Head Historic Reserve (basically artillery batteries built to defend against invaders, including the Russians, Germans and Japanese, none of whom came) organized for the group.
T wandered into town for a coffee – catching up with whoever arrived at 1100 outside The Esplanade. The town band was playing Carols outside the Library and a different Christmas tree had been positioned next to the NZ Christmas Trees that are just coming into red bloom (Pohutukawa trees).
A trio of girls adjourned to the shade of the wharf coffee shop and got down to verbal exercise. Another pair arrived and the workout got more energetic. Later, after D had spent 45 minutes trying to track down the verbal exercising T who was not at the designated meeting spot, we lunched with long time friends, the two men having been best man and groomsman at our wedding 45 years ago (anniversary is on Thursday 14 December) before heading back to the motel for a ‘nana nap’ ahead of the dinner tonight.
Drinks in the bar pre-dinner: ‘Is this a conference?’ asked a bewildered customer as he tried to buy a drink. ‘No, it’s much worse – it’s a reunion’. We were moved into the dining room, transferring a rising babble of conversation and laughter that never seemed to peak.
Few speeches, wonderfully short, toasts to the members of the class, to their partners and to those who have passed on. The meal was excellent, the wine flowed, the stories poured out, possibly embellished, histories updated… Hotel staff were excellent, managed by a young woman who gave lots of cheek. One class mate remarked to her that she reminded him of his daughter. She replied that he reminded her of her great grandfather!
The night ended at Cinderella time as the Hotel Esplanade called last drinks. There will be hoarse voices, possibly a few sore heads, but great memories to add to the store.’