Nothing beats a classic Kiwi summer holiday with the family. And two weeks out from our big move to London, our six blissful days in the sun has made me fall in love with New Zealand all over again.
It was a short holiday, granted, but with moving date looming closer, it was all we could squeeze in. Tony and I took baby Milin on a flight to Auckland and then drove him straight up State Highway One for hours on end. He didn't cope particularly well with the journey.
He wriggled non-stop on my lap on the plane for a start. Those tiny domestic planes were not designed for mothers travelling with mobile babies on their knees. Milin is a little one year old who must be moving at all times. We tried his favourite toys, his yummiest snacks, his beloved bottle - but he wasn't fooled. He knew he was strapped in tight and no matter how much he tried to get free, in his eyes, I was keeping him captive.
We got away with just two stops on the long drive north, but there was plenty of complaining coming from the capsule in the back seat while we were on the road. Milin is not so keen on long car rides, it would seem.
Getting out for crawl-around breaks on the side of the highway, however, he quite likes. How on earth are we going to fly to London when getting from one end of the North Island to the other seems like torture?
Fortunately, once we made it to our destination, Tony's father's piece of paradise a short hop from Cape Reinga, the journey was forgotten. With temperatures hovering around the thirties, sunny skies overhead and the ocean calling, it was a holiday out of the book.
Growing up in London, my holidays were spent in Europe. With my parents, I remember checking out Barcelona just before the Olympics; one lovely trip ended in Paris but not before long lazy days at an old stone cottage in rural France; countless other summer days were spent on the edge of the Mediterranean where my sister and I spent every daylight hour in the sea.
But for Tony, who grew up in Wellington, summer meant driving up to the Coromandel and spending every day kayaking the same estuary and playing on the same beach around the corner.
It has always sounded like bliss to me - the idea of the whole family away for the holidays, at the same bach or beach year after year. And now, after seven summers in this country, I have had a taste of it for myself with our own little family.
Milin loved every second. He loved the orchard, where he picked fruit from the trees while on Tony's shoulders. He loved the dogs, who he tired out with his boundless energy and desire to play.
He loved the sea, where he sat on the shore line and digged up shells to put in his mouth. He discovered a new favourite food (garlic bread), and it didn't take him long to realise that staying up late every night was more fun than going to bed at 7pm.
He loved being with his grandfather and great grandmother. The oldest and youngest family members nearly a century apart in age - it was amazing for them to spend time together.
In the spirit of being on holiday, I relaxed about his routine and he loved staying up late, sitting around the table with us at night, and finally falling asleep when it got dark. It obviously didn't do him too much harm, as last night, back home in Wellington, he was sound asleep by his usual bedtime of 7pm again. I think the holiday tired him out.
In fact, our return journey was a million times better than the trip north. Perhaps Milin will get better with each trip we do.
There was no complaining in the car, he slept half of the way; and he didn't really mind sitting still during the flight either. But he did have garlic bread. Which might actually be a trick to remember when we make him fly all the way to England in a fortnight.
But I'm not going to worry about that journey just now. Instead, I'm going to dwell on the wonderful family break we had. I've been spending so much time looking forward to returning to London recently, that I've let some of my last Kiwi summer pass me by.
Well, no more. Our little family had a perfect little holiday in the sun, - we fitted in the boat, the beach, and plenty of countryside adventures for little Milin. Holidays anywhere else just won't be the same. Do you agree? What are the things about holidaying in New Zealand that are special for your family?
- Essential Mums