local-kiwi-alien

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A trip to New Zealand ..... and back



All this time I had been back to New Zealand once after eleven years.
We couldn't afford the tickets  but the family in NZ very generously got together and paid for all the Greek family to spend Xmas together at my parents beach house at Pukehina in the Bay of Plenty (North Island of New Zealand)



For the first few days New Zealand was  totally foreign.  Green was the dominant colour. Endless fields, trees and grass. The houses were made of wood with real lawn around them. There were blue houses and yellow houses and brick houses, with jacaranda and hibiscus.  None of the fat round bushy basil the greeks planted in an empty olive oil can.  The cars were Japanese or Korean, no longer european and mostly automatic. 

There was a distinct smell of cooking oil covering my old home town.  Fish and chips in some sort of vegetable oil.  The bookshop smelled of unopened, pristine books, and they were all in English!  And there were english magazines.  The radio played music I knew with voices I could understand.  The newspaper was another wonder.  I stared in fascination at the ads  on TV, loving them all while the rest of the family just wanted to turn the sound off.

I was astonished at the variety in the supermarket.  Back then Greece had only just started selling milk in bottles (instead of cans).  European goods were slowly coming into the shops.   A greek mini market had canned tomatoes, milk, tuna and sardines and dried beans and lentils in huge open sacks.  In a NZ supermarket there were aisles of canned goods, freezers full of packaged food.  Shelves full of everything, except octopus, feta and salted fish.  Nowdays Greek supermarkets have freezers full of NZ lamb and NZ supermarkets have shelves of Greek yoghurt and even octopus.

My parent's house was just yards from a white sandy beach and across the road was an estuary where at low tide we could dig for cockles and oysters and my sister in law, Rainy, found us a huge net which we put out one night to catch flounder, with little success but lots of fun.


Ocean beach on one side, estuary on the other


Xmas day was cold ham and trifle and swims in the sea, but only between the flags where the lifeguards could see us.  There was a bad rip out there which often took unwary swimmers out far beyond the waves and into danger.  When the tide was out we dived in the gentler waves and dug for pipis and tuatuas.

The whole family got together, coming from further south in NZ and even from far away Perth in Australia.  My mother and father were thrilled but ensured their peace of mind by moving out into the little guest house off the garage!

The stars seemed so low in the sky, like a twinkling blanket above our heads. Haley's Comet was somewhere up there and we searched the night skies to catch this once in a lifetime appearance.

The little greek-girls could understand english. I had made damn sure of that.  They rebelled a bit against the sterner discipline of kiwi grandparents but generally I think enjoyed the experience, if not that longest of long haul flights from the northern to the southern hemisphere.  


If you've got to go cattle-class at least go Singapore Airlines.  One thing which I will always remember is the way they looked after my two little girls 4 and 5 years old.

Back in Greece I hated the sight of the dusty dirty streets of Athens.  Our flat in Piraeus seemed tiny and it was months before I settled down and got used to the routine of cooking greek food, shopping at the outdoor market and walking everywhere instead of driving.


22 comments:

  1. Kathryn Creasy7 June 2017 at 17:14

    Linda I am loving reading your story! I remember that we were all in NZ for christmas one year but I don't really have any other memories. Didn't you come to Perth as well?? You must keep writing, I need to keep reading.
    Love Kathryn

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    1. Yes, we spent a week in Perth I think. Had a wonderful time. Brad was just toddling.
      Warwick and Robert were with with us as well at pukehina. Last time I've seen Robert!

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  2. One of the things I miss (even in France) is the variety of foreign foods in the shops. They are better than they were here, but they still won't accept that other countries produce wonderful things.

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    2. French is best! As Greek is best! We do get some variety in our local supermarket but things like coffee we get a good choice and yesterday saw Chilean grapes

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  3. Another enjoyable chapter Linda. You must have been very sorry to have to leave NZ after that trip home.

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    1. It sure was hard to leave! Depressing. K had 2 weeks before and theoretically I could have just stayed, but I couldn't handle starting off all over again, kids adored their dad and I suppose I did too, cos here I am

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    2. K had left 2 weeks before us. He was in the navy and had only a short leave

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  4. Yup. That long haul flight is a killer. I'm glad your family were able to come down under and enjoy a summer Christmas. It must of been hard for you to go back

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    1. My older brother is here at the moment with some of his wife's family ie our extended kiwi family. It brings me a breath of home.

      The girls have been downunder 3or 4 times and know all the NZ family.

      Used to enjoy long haul even with kids, but no more!! Got older and need comfort.

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  5. Linda, Just curios you your girls and grandchildren speak to you in English and their dad in Greek?.Or do you all chop and change speaking both languages?.

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    1. Greek to grandad for sure. Girls and I speak greenhouse. Grandchildren bit of both. Oldest grandson speaks only Greek to me, the rest usually hear my English and answer in greek

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    2. Dear old spell check. Yeh, I speak greenhouse lol. gREENGLISH!

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    3. Must be helpful having a grandma to help them at school with English lessons.

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    4. Do you still think in English and translate to Greek?

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    5. I think mainly in Greek....I think lol! Sometimes just freeze when translating either way !

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  6. I know the feeling of comeing back from Europe to my dusty and dry country,frastrating.

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    1. Exactly Yael. You know how it is!!

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  7. I bet your daughters wondered at the space there is in NZ. Where as in Greece, the houses are closely grouped and if poss by the sea. Greece is best viewed from the water in my opinion.

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    1. Tomorrow we're taking my older brother and his family around Poros by sea. Completely different view. Im sure they'll love it. Lucky son in law has water taxi

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  8. p.s. every time I read your blog, in my head I have one of Zan Batist tunes swirling in my head. My friends over there love him.

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    1. Zan Batist? Have to google . Lots of Greek music tonight. Had a big family get together....

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