Friday 27th November

Wow!
I have just seen a photo of our front yard taken a year ago.
And here it is beside one taken today.
The forest has been removed, the deck has been altered, the garden has been replanted, the fence has been relined.
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I often feel that I am not achieving much, that things are not being done fast enough, but when I stop and look back on the photos of a year ago I realise we have done a lot!
I stress about the boxes still left to unpack, the ‘mess’ they make stacked up in the kitchen, the front entrance, the hallway.
It really gets me down at times.
I have developed a method of coping with it – turn a blind eye!
But I can only do that for a time and then I ‘see’ it all again and it depresses me.
I just seem to manage to have enough energy to get through the days normalities without adding in sorting stuff.
But then I stop and realise, its only been a year here.
And then I take another step back and think, it’s only been 2 years and 9 months since my world was tipped upside down and the earth exploded beneath my feet.
2 years and 9 months and 9 days.
It seems so long but yet it is such a small amount of time.
And in that time we have done so much.
Admittedly most of the first year was spent in a stunned bubble, the second year running away, and now this third year has been spent putting down new roots, making a new start, building a new normality and trying to make sense of life as it is now.
No wonder this year feels so long and yet so short.

It was a weird day.
Very windy with grey heavy threatening clouds hanging over the hills.
I was on pager all day but it was quiet so I just pottered around.

Azzan came in from school and after a snack biked off to youth group.
Mahalia walked to rowing training at the gym.
Shoshannah packed up and drove out to Bridge Valley to a youth group overnight camp.

The weather really packed a wobbly later in the afternoon.
I shot into the cinema to pick up tickets for Azzan and his friends for tomorrow’s movie date.
I then zipped to the library to suss out something I’d been trying to do for weeks.
A very cold rain began to pelt down just as I was running into the library.
It’s funny, when we lived away we would spend all our time in the library.
It was Azzan’s favourite place to go.
Now we are in town we hardly ever come here.
But the website I needed to suss out is only accessible via the public library system – crazy!
I got a 15 minute computer and quickly found what I needed.
I was just finishing up when Mahalia text to as if I could pick her up.
Good timing.
I nipped down to the gym and collected her and then headed back home.

Mahalia cooked a delicious macaroni cheese for dinner.
I had to laugh when I saw how much she had made.
We just don’t seem to be able to make small amounts of food.
It is ingrained in us from the days of cooking for multitudes on the farm to make copious quantities.
It is good though cuz it lasts for several days so we don’t have to sweat the cooking process to often 😉IMG_1602

I got busy out in the garden while Mahalia cooked.
The rain had stopped and the temperature was very pleasant to work in.
Azzan was under a threat of no movie night if he didn’t pull finger and get his assigned chores done.
So he was working under duress.
He didn’t really achieve all I wanted a=or needed from him but he did do something I guess.
I really got into the swing of things and planted out everything I had bought.
The garden it looking so much more productive now.
I got Azzan to help me lift some sleepers over as temporary garden edging just to contain it all until I can get the edging I want built.
So interspersed with he feijoa trees I have planted tomatoes along the back and marigold in front.
I made a basil garden at the base of the bird bath and added some verbenas around the edges of the triangle piece.
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The two zucchinis I planted over in back of the section near the pumpkins that Shanni planted.
They are doing great there so I figured the zucchinis might too.
I placed the picture frames around them so they won’t get stomped on while they are still small.
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Behind them in the old washing tubs I have mint and spinach and a raspberry which are all doing well despite being quite dry.
By the time I had finished it was late and dinner was ready.
So I cleaned up and headed indoors to join the kids.
Felt very satisfying.

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Thursday 26th November

I woke at 5:35am and as per normal I wandered into Mahalia’s room to open her curtains and check she had gone.
Oh dear!
She was still asleep.
Some quick dressing and fast food and we were out the door.
I was racing down Weka Street when I realised I had left my pager at home.
Prayed there would be no call out in the 15 mins I was away!!
I had her to rowing just in the nick of time.
The novices had just finished their core strengthening time and were just heading off to the boats.
Whew!
They did some readjusting and assigned her to a boat.
The moon was dramatically huge and sinking into the western hills as I left.
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I came back home and seeing as I was up and dressed already I made Azzan’s lunch and breakfast.
After he left for school I decided to head into the city to suss out a sale at Cache.
I just wanted to compare something I had seen elsewhere with what they might have.
But alas, I got my dates wrong – sale is one next Thursday, not today.
I was in a bit of a ‘I need some space just for me’ mood and as I had nothing pressing to go home for I decided to go for a coffee.
I have been really missing Nathan in the past days.
It has been very surreal that he is not here.
I guess I have just gotten so used to having him around over the past months that is absence has been playing tricks on my mind.
I keep looking out the kitchen window expecting to see him walking across from his sleep-out.
But the sleep-out has gone and so has he.
Yesterday I was about to call him to ask if he could pick up some bread for me.
Crazy 😕
I went to Cafe Affair but they were not quite open yet.
Leita called me so I sat on a bench and had a lovely morning catch up with her.
Then after 9:30am I ventured into the cafe.
I have always loved this place.
It is consistent with service, value and quality.
But today something was missing.
Nathan, it doesn’t feel right here without your smiling face to greet me.
I was only going to order a mocha but the menu called my stomach to attention as it remembered the lack of breakfast.
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So I also ordered a salmon eggs Benedict.
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I sat in the window seat and read the Dom Post and savoured my breakfast and enjoyed the calm of the morning with just a tinge of sadness.

Arrived home to find Caspian had gutted his favourite toy all over the lawn!
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Phillipa messaged so I wiped back into town and met her at Yaza Cafe.
It was really nice to have some unlimited time to hang out with her and catch up on the past few weeks.
We carried on over to Briscoes and did some shopping.
Then to finish off the afternoon we called into Content to see what treasure they are currently stocking.

Mahalia walked Caspian and then went to hang out with Sophie later in the arvo.
Quiet night in.
Peaceful day.
Just what was needed.
A calm in the midst of the storm.

Wednesday 25th November

I had put my hand up to volunteer as a parent help today in Azzan’s Japanese cooking class.
I was also on pager, covering for one of the girls, so had another one covering me during the cooking session.
Complicated life at times.
But it was all good.
The pager was nice and quiet all day so I could carry on with my maternal duties.

I spent the morning doing accounts.
That was stupid.
Nothing like adding to the depression levels 😦

I headed up to Prep just before midday as Azzan had instructed me not to be late.
I was actually way too early!
Sat outside the classroom and read some older Prep yearbooks.
Always interesting to increase knowledge about the place.
Some more volunteer mothers arrived and at 12:30pm we were heading to the cooking classroom with the thronging mass of noisy 12 & 13 year olds.
Their teacher greeted them.
I love their Japanese teacher.
She has such style – and they listen to her!!
She had them all firmly under control fairly quickly.
I need lessons from her 😉

They had all been given a recipe for sumo stew and in small groups had already determined their individual ethnic take on it.
I had brought Azzan’s contribution with me in a chilly bag.
We parents were instructed to not be with our own son’s group.
We were not to do anything for the boys.
Our job was to observe and ensure they weren’t going to burn the place down or kill themselves with the knives – or us I presume!
The boys spread themselves around the room into each cooking pod area.
They had only about 40 minutes to get their food cooked, clean up and have it plated onto the presentation table for judging.
Pretty tight deadline!
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So I gravitated to the group nearest me – the smallest group of just 3 lads.
They were doing a reasonably authentic take on the recipe.
My amusement was the two containers of strawberries.
I asked what they were for – ‘for the presentation’ I was told.
But most were disappearing into Leo’s mouth as they worked 😉
Blake & Toby had things under control.
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My boys were having a lot of trouble with getting their pot to boil.
The induction elements weren’t co-operating quickly enough.
I found out later that this was the same slow element that had stuffed up Azzan’s group last term.
Finally about 10 minutes before the clock stopped they were able to add the meatballs.
That was almost a disaster as they took the lid off and began throwing them in from a distance!!
Suggested a spoon to drop them in carefully might be a better option with less boiling explosiveness!
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They then added the chopped veggies and noodles and put the lid back on and hoped for the best while I encouraged them to clean up as they were definitely running out of time.

Azzan’s group was down the opposite end from me.
I had a quick wander when I thought my boys were under control.
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They were being marked on planning and cooking, cleaning up the cooking area, the presentation, and the final taste test.
Any parent assistance was marked against them.
Azzan was displaying great intent on achieving the best group.
I was quite impressed as his team really did have things under control.
They had assigned duties according to each others strengths and abilities.
Azzan used his OCD skills and cleaned up as they cooked.
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Then he gave the presentation speech to the judges at the end.
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So my boys might’ve been running close to the wind but they presented it beautifully.
Hey, who cares if the meatballs might not be cooked right through!
And the strawberries – where are the strawberries Leo? 😉
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Another group did a Mexican version – apparently it was very hot!
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Presenting and judging.
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Whew!
That was an exhausting but very entertaining time.
After everything was cleaned up I headed back home to collapse.
I was starving, hadn’t managed to sample any of the food.
I went to try Azzan’s but it was too good and they had eaten it all 🙂

I had a chilled afternoon.
Anson & Dave arrived around 7:30pm for a business discussion.
That all went well.
Lots of ideas and things to go away and think over.

Tuesday 24th November

Mahalia was walking to NMIT for a final lunch with her classmates so I took Caspian and walked part way with her.
There is always wonderful displays of colour along the way.
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I came back along the river and decided to call into see Karel as I was alone and had no pressing engagements.
Since it is almost a year since she came bearing cake to greet us in our new house I figured it was way past time to stop by.
It is so crazy that I haven’t found the time to visit with her till now.
She had been busy cleaning up after guests at her B&B so was glad of some time to sit and chat awhile over a cuppa.
She gave me a tour of their establishment.
It is absolutely gorgeous.
Finally I headed back up the street.
We diverted into see if Mary-Anne was at home but to Caspian’s distress she wasn’t.
He whimpered all the way back up her lane.
Back home and I sort myself some lunch and crashed out for a rest while it was quiet.
I watched a movie called ‘The Family Stone’.
But as per usual, as soon as I find a few quiet moments then they get shattered fairly quickly.
Mahalia arrived back, then Azzan, then Glynnie popped in to visit right at the very end.
I had to zoom once it finished.
Mahalia was cleaning the bathroom but vacated long enough for me to shower.
Then while I got myself ready for the evening out Glynnie sat in my room and talked with me.
I tore out the gate around 4:45pm and headed up to Nelson College.
The day was so hot I was having problems keeping the sweat under control!
I arrived and on checking my invitation discovered that the function began at 5:30pm, not 5pm – duh!
Oh well, I parked up and went for a wander and sat on the boys lunch seats in the shade for a while.
It was quite pleasant out of the sun.
The college has some gloriously large old trees scattered about the grounds.
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The sun was lowering in the west and was glistening spectacularly through the branches of this gnarly old moss & fern laden tree.
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Finally it was closer to the expected time so I headed in to the Crush Hall where the Sponsors & Supporters ‘Thank You’ Function was being held.
I was a bit lost so had to ask the way from two people I found in an office, that was a very amusing encounter.
I was greeted by Jarrod who is the teacher in charge and behind the Kickstart project to raise funds for the development of the Nelson College Business School which I have helped to sponsor on behalf of, and in memory of Tim who was an old boy of the college, and in anticipation that it will also benefit Azzan as a prospective student.
Jarred took me on a tour of the new Business School and talked me through the developments, of what they have already achieved and what they are working towards.
It is really interesting and incredibly inspiring – makes me wish I was back in school if I could’ve been given educational opportunities like this!
Fantastic to see and hear what some of the students from the current & past couple of years have already achieved.
Back to the hall which was by now an incredibly noisy thronging mass.
Rather daunting actually.
But I soon found another lone woman and struck up a conversation, and we were soon joined by several others.
It was lovely to meet them, all very interesting ladies.
They work at the College so good to get some insight into life here.
Towards the end of the evening I found myself encircled by the amusing man from earlier and a couple of his friends.
We got to talking and I discovered they were old boys and one would’ve been there at the same time as my two uncles and one when Tim was there.
But they didn’t remember them specifically.
Plus his grandson is in Azzan’s class.
Anyway, it was a very entertaining encounter to finish the evening  🙂
I headed off home with a lighter step.
Had some dinner and then opened the gate to welcome Shoshannah home.
She had flown in this arvo and gone straight out to Youth Group.
Lovely to have her home again after her week away.

Monday 23rd November

Azzan headed off to school – inadvertently leaving his lunch in the fridge 😦
I got myself ready to leave for my 9:45am appointment.
There is always last minute things to do and no matter how prepared I am I always seem to be chasing my tail.
The wheelie bin had to be put out.
The puppy captured so I could manoeuvre the car out the gate.
Then the puppy released and the safety fence put up.
Breakfast totally forgotten in the rush :-/
Mahalia had eluded me and was in the bath when I left so I called to her through the door that there was a note on the bench.
I was 5 minutes late but managed to catch my breath and had a good therapy session.
I was still enthused over the seminar I had attended on Thursday so had a lot to discuss.
Afterwards I nipped back to New World for a mocha and picked up some take out cheese cakes for Sebastian & Ross.
I then raced along the motorway to Richmond for a business meeting with the two of them.

Today is Seb’s 25th birthday.
He enjoyed the cake but was feeling and looking far too weary to be wanting to celebrate much.
Life is pretty stressful for us all at present.
We are trying to keep the ship afloat and it is really hard work baling sometimes :-/
But he did enjoy his cheesecake – Happy Birthday my boy man.
Special delight of my heart.
You work so incredibly hard for me, and I know I don’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you.
But I do and I love you very muchly xxxxx

I love this photo of him and Sapphie.
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Here’s a precious reflection taken 23 years ago – Tim sharing a moment with Sebastian.
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We spent a couple of hours discussing business stuff.
Around 2:30pm we left to carry on our day.
Mahalia had been having a very relaxing day but soon after I arrived home she was heading off to Kip McGrath.
I got home in time to greet Joy who was having great difficulty getting through my gate.
Wonderful security measures I have 😉
It was really lovely to have her pop in.
We had a cuppa and the grand tour as this was her first visit.
Then when we were relaxing in the lounge talking, Seb walked in the door and collapsed on the couch beside me.
Joy mistook him for Nathan and asked him why he was still here?
Great laughter over that one 🙂
I had heard Nathan say he had been getting mistaken for his older bro but hadn’t seen it happen.
The afternoon was running out fast.
I scooted around and got ready as I had to head out again just before 5pm.
Heated up some leftovers and scoffed them down while saying goodbye to Joy and welcoming Phoebe & Sapphie.
Azzan was back from school so he and Sapphie were playing on the trampoline when I left.
Left a note to Mahalia as to what to cook for dinner.
Bit like ships passing today.
Whizzed into our Business Meeting breathlessly a few minutes late.
It was such a hot day today I realised when I got back in the car afterwards and it was a tad cooler that I had stripped off my jacket at Ross’s this morning and left it there.
I dropped Glynnie back home and then came home for dinner.
Mahalia had made a large rice dish with heaps of veggies and eggs.
Yum – I was so hungry.
The kids had done a clean up while I was gone so the place looked much better.
I managed to get Azzan to try on his formal clothes to see what fits him still.
Was very glad to see he has an outfit that fits well.
I took my dinner to my room and chilled for a while.
I could hear some noise and found out later that it was Azzan.
He had decided that he needed to get his exercise routine up and running again so was doing a workout in the lounge.
Poor Mahalia had gone to be early to sleep as she had an early training session :-/
Finally got the lad off to bed & crash out myself.

Sunday 22nd November

Annoyingly when I could’ve slept late I woke far too early at 7am.
Stayed in bed till mid morning and then decided I really should make a move.
So packed up my gear, tidied the house, fed the elusive cats, and said goodbye to my lovely wee hide-a-way.
Tracie, you can go away any time you like if I can come stay – love your cute, private, quiet, peaceful, interesting, wee home xxx
Drove around the corner and spent some time with the rellies who were still on site.
Soon after I arrived Lloyd & Val left to go socialising before catching the ferry back home.

This bowl of dove eggs proved to be a great source of fascination last night.
Some refused to believe they were not chocolate!
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The kids needed some outdoors time so Tahi, John and Sara walked the four of them to the reserve nearby.
Before she left I quickly got a photo of we three cousins – Vanessa, Tahi and myself.
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Vanessa & I carried on talking for some time.
Then she & Myles had to leave with Roland & Jenny.
They dropped me off at the Kaitaia Reserve and I wandered down the hill to find the others.
It was a glorious day – rather warm, I was wishing I had packed some alternative to my jeans.
We reclined on the grass while the kids played int he creek and enjoyed a really interesting discussion on many topics.
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It is such a beautiful area.
Next time I will have to make time to explore further.
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Sarah & Jon went off to find the kids as it was far to quiet.
They had progressed their explorations around the bend in the creek and were having a ball.
There was major resistance to going home 😉
Sara piggybacked Fern along the creek and up the hill and John brought Bruno back playing games along the way, Zion & Zeke followed us all up the hill.
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On the way home we admired flowers and gardens as we walked and talked.
We saw the most glorious display of red poppies.
Bruno, in his delightful 3 year old chatter, mentioned them being like the biscuit soldiers.
Tahi quickly caught his drift thankfully.
He was connecting ANZAC biscuits with the ANZAC day poppies which we wear to commemorate our fallen soldiers on ANZAC day.
So in his mind the biscuits we refer to as ANZAC biscuits naturally connected to the poppies.
I so love the way his mind works 🙂

I just had time to say goodbye to Owen & Hanne and then I was off to the train station to meet Tracie.
She had flown back from Christchurch and had taken the train in from the Wellington airport.
It was nice to have a little time to catch up with her.
She took me to a delightful shop called Paula’s.
Wow! What an amazing inspirational treasure trove.
We had a wander around and admired and dreamed, then as I was hungry Tracie drove us to Mitre 10 and we had a quick late lunch and chat before she dropped me off at the Kapiti airport.
It was a slightly bumpier flight back to Nelson but the skies were clear enough for us to have spectacular views.
I managed to reach across the lady next to me and catch a view of home as we flew by.
Port Ligar is very recognisable – the bay in the centre with West Entry, the long spit, curling across the entrance.
A little tuft of white cloud marring a view of Waterfall bay but the highest point, Crichton’s Hill standing clear.
I whispered my love to Timmy as we flew by.IMG_1534
On arrival Tracey was waiting for me.
We loaded into her car and caught up on the weekend as she drove me home.
Thanks Tracey – really appreciate your taxi service xxxx

The kids were pleased to see me.
Katherine and Azzan had been having a great time.
They had biked around to Tahunanui and enjoyed fellowship with the congregation at St Stephens.
Azzan had also been mountain biking with some friends on Saturday and had taken a tumble into a pile of gorse.
His arm and torso were a mess of red sores – I had no idea that gorse would infect like that.
After dinner he had a very long soak in a bath with Epson Salts and rose petals then I smeared the sort with Pawpaw ointment.
That worked as the sores were almost gone the next day.
Mahalia had been in the wars since I left.
She collided with the bridge on her bike as she was heading to Friday training and scraped & bruised her knee badly.
Then during Saturday training she was put in coxswain position.
As she is much bigger than a normal coxswain she had to really squeeze in, and after 20-30mins when she got out her legs had gone to sleep so when she stood up to get out they wouldn’t work properly.
She fell in the water cutting her elbow on something as she fell.
Loads of blood, quite a deep sharp cut, but Katherine fixed her up with butterfly dressings etc.
So when she headed off to Sunday’s regatta of on the Wairau River she wasn’t sure if she would make the grade.
However, the wind proved to be too brisk for them to row on the river so the boats were reloaded and they raced indoors on the erg machines.
Apparently Nelson won!
Margaret called by to pick up Katherine.
I unpacked and got several loads of washing on the line during the evening.
The kids were off to bed reasonably early.

Saturday 21st November

I didn’t wake until 8am.
And I may have slept even later if Sunni hadn’t messaged me.
Poor wee Lily has been sick for quite a few days.
Rather a worry.
Plus the weather in Auckland has been pretty rubbish so Shanni & Sunni have been quite housebound.

I stayed in bed until 11am.
It was so lovely and peaceful.
I just loved having a rest without fear of interruption.
Around midday I wandered round the corner to visit with Hanne & Owen.
Tahi had taken the children for a walk so the house was very quiet.
When they returned I helped Tahi clean up the mezzanine and make a bed for Lloyd & Val.
Guests began arriving mid arvo.
We had gathered to celebrate Owen’s 70th birthday.
A very auspicious occasion and most worthy of celebration 🙂
Before the all the guests arrived I caught my Uncle Owen and his lovely daughter and my dear cousin Tahi in these two beautifully special photos.
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Fern wanted to entertain us with dance so she practised inside for Tahi & me.
She allowed Bruno to join her dance too.
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Unfortunately the men disappeared outside and weren’t participating in her required audience so Tahi suggested she take her show out to them.
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Later in the day the children rested in front of the ‘crutch’ aka tv 🙂
And of course the rest needed to be shared with their grandfather’s crocodile!
Cuz thats what you do in Owen’s home 😉
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Family friends, John & Sara arrived with their Nanny’s food truck.
John has incorporated his Jamaican cuisine over for NZ’ers to enjoy.
He provided delicious food throughout the evening.
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I was amused by the contrast of ethnicities in this photo.
A Scottish piper playing Happy Birthday to a Kiwi in front of a Jamaican food truck.
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It is all very fitting as our families have always embraced the diversity of world cultures.
We welcome all into our homes, we marry them, we give birth to variegated children.
A truly colourful heritage that I am proud to be a part of 🙂

There was a delightful mix of folk joining together throughout the evening to celebrate.
I enjoyed catching up with family members there too.
Aunty Janet had brought her two younger brothers photos of their childhood years.
They gave us all immense pleasure as we poured over them and reminisced.
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I was about to walk back and find my bed around 10:30pm-ish when one of the guests collapsed.
There was a lot of consternation as we kept him comfortable and great relief when the ambulance finally arrived.
He was taken to the hospital to be given a thorough check over and was discharged next morning with nothing sinister identified.
Tahi & Roland walked me home at midnight.
It was a gorgeous night and a lovely time to chat along the way.
I was glad to have a comfy bed to sink into and not be joining the masses on floors and in tents 😉