When I found out I was actually going to my brothers wedding, I was so excited. And then I attempted to save for the trip of a lifetime....but with a family of 5 to look after and not working fulltime...well, let's just say every time I saved a few dollars, it seemed to be soaked up somewhere else. I tried, I really did. The week before I was due to leave, Marty and I had a big money meltdown. Our oven died, and Marty had kept telling me money was tight, and I was freaking out, in tears that I shouldn't be going on this trip..it was going to use up so much of our family money that was needed elsewhere, not on a luxury trip for mum.
In the end, Marty confessed that he had found out weeks ago that actually, my grandmother had gifted me the money I needed for my holiday. He hadn't wanted to tell me this news because he wanted me to save as much as I could myself so I could have even more. Wow. I was speechless when Marty broke this news to me. GumGum (my grandma) had decided to bless each of her grandchildren with a sum of money...and I was so grateful for this precious gift. It allowed me to not only have food and entry fee money, but also some fun shopping money too on my holiday. I could really enjoy myself without that big burden on my shoulders of dipping into our (non existent) savings. I knew I needed to go and see GumGum in person when I got home and thank her for her gift.
With my other grandmother passing away just weeks after I got home, this became even more of a priority for me, so with a long weekend presenting the perfect opportunity for an overnight trip to Masterton, we packed the family in the car and headed for 'home'. I say home because I was actually born in Masterton, and lived there for the first couple of years of my life. I spent many a summer holiday in the hot Wairarapa, bunking down with my cousins at Aunty Di and Uncle John's place - in fact, in the same bedroom that we slept in on Friday night! Living in Auckland, I kept in touch mostly by writing to my cousins and GumGum, and letters flew back and forward between us often. When we did see each other, we had a blast, riding the silly bikes Uncle John made up and down the street, waving to strangers on Christmas Day and walking into town together or hanging out at the park. So when I drive into the city with the big Golden Shears on the sign and round the corner into Oxford Street, where GumGum lives at the top and my Aunty & Uncle live at the bottom....well, it feels like coming home a little bit.
And my kids were just as excited about a trip to Masterton, jumping up and down as they recalled the fun bikes and argued over who would sleep on the mattress. When we pulled into the retirement village where GumGum's flat is, Kate was full of questions as she recalled our recent stay in Auckland at a motel. "Does GumGum live in a motel?" she asked! When we walked in the door Luke strolled past her like he visited all the time and said with a wave at her "Hi GumGum!!". She was quite surprised by him I think! We had a lovely long visit, sharing lots of photos of my trip and telling her all the stories. We took the laptop, so were able to show her the family tree I am working on (she loved seeing all the old photos of her family and told me lots of stories) and she even watched some home video footage of the kids.
Then it was off down to Aunty Di and Uncle John's for the night. Big cycling addicts, Marty gets along like a house on fire with my Aunt and Uncle, who often do events with him and share stories. Marty had also cunningly made sure we were coming down on a Friday night - the night that my Aunty always plays card games with her friends, and Marty LOVES to go and join the fun when we stay. So off they went together, and Uncle John and I settled down in front of the telly (well, when the kids FINALLY settled!!). My cousin Blair showed up at about 10pm with some freshly caught crayfish and paua...yum yum, lunch the next day sorted! The kids were fascinated with the crayfish in the morning- Jaimee refused to touch it saying "EEWWW" but Kate and Luke weren't afraid to have a closer look. It was awesome having that chance to catch up with Blair, who is my age but who I don't see that often now. We agreed that it would be cool to get his girls together with our girls, and so I think a trip down at New Years is now in the cards to see the wider Masterton whanau...yay!
The next morning Marty headed out with Aunty Di for a 40km bike ride. He loved it but he said he lost sight of her after about 2 km...she was so far ahead! He felt quite stink I think that she was so much faster then him, but I did try and console him with the fact that he just doesnt do a fraction of the training she puts in! The kids spent their early morning riding Uncle John's funky bikes - although Kate couldn't quite master the clown bike!
When Marty got back, we popped over to GumGum's for the rest of the morning where the girls took great delight in attempting to teach her all about their tablet computer. She had lots of questions, and when I told her about the educational games and that some schoools had them she remarked "well, that must make school much more interesting!".
We left GumGum to have her lunch, and went into town to spend the $2 she had pressed into each of the children's hands and to show the girls the booksellers that my mum used to work at.
Then it was off to the coolest attraction in Masterton - the big Queen Elizabeth Park. Marty kept saying "they should so do this at Cornwall Park...They could so do this at home", and then finally concluded as we strolled "Right. That's it. We are moving to Masterton for this park!"
The kids loved the flower gardens and windy old trees, and ran all around the huge wooden playground fort with its many levels, slides and turrets. They whizzed down the flying fox with great glee, and the minature train ride on the island was a highlight for us all. The sign said "scream in the tunnel" so we all made sure we did as loud as we could. The girls were so excited to go around the route THREE whole times and didn't want to get off! As we left, waving goodbye to the friendly staff, Luke turned and said in a small loving voice "I love that one. I love that tunnel". Later on, every time the train passed us, the kids waved to the passengers and Luke would yell out at them across the lake as he tapped his chest with his spare arm "ME LUKE, Me LUKE!". Nice to introduce yourself baby, but I don't think they could hear you!
We were keen to hire a pedal boat on the lake, but decided to save this for next time. We did make sure we bounced across the swing bridge to see the deer on the other side though! Jaimee had purchased a sketch book with her money, and I caved and got her some proper pencils and a pad for Kate and I to share, so we sat in the sunshine and did some sketching together. I am useless of course, but I wanted her to see me try so she would have a go at drawing what she sees. And both girls did a fine job, looking like a picture as they sat on the edge of the lake drawing away. I did a tree, Jaimee did the stones in the water, and Kate concentrated on the park bench.
Thank You Masterton for another trip of memories made, we had a lovely time with my much loved family and vowed to be back soon.