However, before I finally quit Australian shores, it would be extremely remiss of me not to mention two people without whom this whole trip would have been impossible. First, Gemma Black. Gemma was the catalyst who first got my wishes to return to Australia across to the necessary people, namely Linda Upfold. It was wonderful to see Gemma in the Gold Coast. She is now living just north of Brisbane, and when she came to the class at Neranga it was wonderful to see how relaxed and content she seemed compared with when we had last met, in Chicago. Wherever her future journeys take her, I can only wish her continued success and buona fortuna. She is, indeed, a lovely lady.
And secondly, and certainly not least; how can I possibly thank Linda Upfold. She has spent interminable hours on my behalf, continually calling and emailing trying to get everything organized, and how well it HAS been organized. In spite of my little niggles, nothing whatever redounds to Linda's organizational acumen. Her arrangements on my behalf have been nothing short of perfect, and I thank you once again, Linda. I know no other way to express my gratitude than in public and this forum seems the best. I doubt that I can ever thank you enough for all your hard work.
And so now I'm in New Zealand.
My trip from Coomera to Wellington began with an alarm ringing at 4.07 am and me making the quick dash out of bed and into the shower, to be followed by packing, breakfast, short trip to the station, fond farewells to Jim and Margot and then hopping onto the 5.40 train to the airport.
The check in went smoothly enough, but I have to admit to not being prepared for the line to get through EXIT customs. In my experience, customs is there to check your coming in, not leaving! In the end, my departure took much longer than my arrival.
The flight across the Tasman Sea was uneventful and we arrived just about on time in Auckland. I have to admit that my arrival in New Zealand left a lot to be desired. Auckland airport is, to put it bluntly, auckward. After a twenty seven mile hike to reach customs and immigration, I got into the country with no problem, but try to find your way around the airport. Where there are signs, they're very confusing, and I have to wonder why, in the imes of the global village, we can't have standardized signage.
Anyway, I eventually found the Domestic Transfer desk and having checked in for the short flight to Wellington, then tried to find my way to the domestic terminal. I was told to catch the bus outside door number 6. Fine, I thought. Except that the doors don't have numbers!! Eventually I found the bus after asking several people and arrived at the gate with about five minutes to spare.
On reaching Wellington I was greeted by Peggy Robinson, who identified herself by holding a couple of my books. I was supposed to be on the same plane with another lady, a student in the class, but she had been delayed because her bags were lost in Sydney. She arrived about twenty minutes later, and we all set off for Wellington proper. To say that Wellington is beautiful and magnificent would be to do it an extreme disservice. The drive in from the airport simply took my breath away. High hills surrounding a natural harbor with house dotted all over, enough to put San Francisco to shame. I had always thought of it as being a dour, administrative center, but WOW! Anyone coming to this magnificent country must visit Wellington.
Peggy's house, where we went after dropping Cathy at the railway station, is a charming small house in Brooklyn, overlooking Oriental Bay and the whole sweep of the Wellington inlet. The view from up there, to repeat myself, took my breath away again. The house must be at least a thousand feet up which I can attest to, having walked up there a few days later!!
The following day, Saturday, was the first day of the "Pen Manipulation Techniques" workshop, which was being held up the coast at Ramaudi Beach, about a 45 minute drive from Wellington. The workshop was a joint venture between the Hutt Calligraphers and the Calligraphers of Kapiti. There were 18 people in the workshop which meant my work was going to be cut out for me. We'd had a little trouble getting paper, but in the end needn't have worried, because Daniel Reeve and Alison Furminger. Daniel, incidentally, is the man who did all the calligraphy for the "Lord of the Rings" movies.
The workshop went very well on the first day, and I have to say a special thanks to David _____ for handling all the food and refreshments for the workshop. After the workshop was over for the day, a gave a short illustrated talk about my work and then most of us headed to a Thai restaurant for dinner, which was superb, as was the company! We stayed the night at the Ramaudi Beach Resort, which was quite luxurious, and I was able to catch up on my email and this blog.
The next day, was the last day of the workshop, and I tried to get around to each person to do them an alphabet as a keepsake. I nearly made it!! At the conclusion, I was presented with a thank you card and an original piece by Lorraine Brady. It was quite beautiful, and I only hope that I can get it home in one piece without damaging it. Lorraine, I should tell you, is New Zealand's first, and so far, only, Fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators, and an amazingly talented lady (as well as being quite hilarious!!).
Peggy and I returned to her house after dinner at the Fisherman's Table. I was quite exhausted, and soon after getting home, went straight to bed.
My last full day in Wellington, was spent relaxing. Peggy took me over to meet her son, Tom, where I was able to download the previous posting to my blog. We then took off to drive around the south shore, and see just how breathtakingly beautiful this area is. I was amazed that we could actually see the South Island from there. After a leisurely drive around the shore, we stopped for lunch in Courtney Place, the entertainment and eating section of town.
I wanted to walk down Lambton Quay, the shopping district, and try to sort out my cell phone. I'm currently in a Catch 22 situation, courtesy of Optus. I wanted to recharge my phone, but was told that my phone ID was switched off. In order to turn it on, I had to call Customer Service. Customer Service calls cost 27¢. I'm out of credit, so I can't call them, and I can't recharge the phone. Great!
And so to Tuesday and the start of another adventure. More of that next!