Almost cannot believe I’m here. Really.
I think I’ve been talking about coming to New Zealand since I was a teenager. Here and Canada were the top two places on my list when I was 15 (I was very loyal to the old Empire in those days).
I moved to London and made almost exclusively Kiwi friends, who then disappeared off to their homeland as quickly as possible. So I’m hunting them down.
But first, some long needed rest.
After the mania of London in the run-up to Christmas, Auckland was spookily quiet. At 11 on the morning I arrived there were virtually no people on the streets, shopping or pushing or rushing. There were about five cars on the road. The pedestrian crossings seemed rather redundant, as did the multiple lanes for traffic. Yet, Japanese-style, we all waited obediently for the animated green man to appear casually strolling, to indicate to us that we could also saunter across the road, should the mood take us.
Also unlike London, Auckland has birds – little sparrow-like creatures pecking away at bits on the pavement and singing madly all day long. Maybe it’s the lack of clamour that means I’m noticing them, or perhaps its the fact that London doesn’t really have sparrows that made them remarkable.
But Christmas is still on its way here – a giant Father Christmas with two reindeer hang on the corner of the department store, looking incongruous in broad sunshine and the bright daylight of high summer.