What I did on my holidays: drove through wintry showers from Waiheke Island to Napier. Lake Taupo looked windswept and the volcanoes were obscured by low grey cloud. The welcome was, as always, warm by Roger and Ross in their Napier Hill homestay.
They are now officially the only gay venue in the Hawke's Bay, now that the Embassy in Hastings has closed. Highly recommended if you are passing through and have enough of art deco architecture and wineries.
On to Masterton and Martinborough for family Christmas lunches and dinners. By then the weather had improved for a grand Boxing Day out at the beach in Riversdale on the eastern coast of the Wairarapa, an area unfrequented by tourists.
Back to Auckland via another set of in-laws near Palmerston North, where the highlight of the trip was the new massive windfarm on the Manawatu hills.
Some nimbies oppose the windfarm, but all I can say is: I'd rather have the slender, elegant, white windmills wooshing than a power station a la Huntly thundering, hissing and belching on my doorstep. 100,000 people get their power cleanly and efficiently from a few dozen beautiful additions to the landscape. We need another 40 of them around the country.
The trip back north went past Vinegar Hill, a notorious gay camping ground over the summer holidays, but since it was 8.30am, all what was missing was a road sign warning: "Shhh! Queens sleeping". So we pressed on.
Ewen had never seen Mt Ngaruhoe with snow on in Summer, and Mt Ruapehu also looked fantastic with huge amounts of snow on its flanks. The Desert Road is one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand, but there was some strange graffiti on the road signs, outing two men as "homosexuals" by describing their sexual actions in a few spray painted words. What an odd place to do so.
Back home now and back to work over the next holidays.