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August 21st 2006
Published: August 21st 2006
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Simon strippingSimon strippingSimon stripping

Stripping isn't as good as it sounded!
When you next drink a glass of wine, spare a thought for the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into making it! This weekend, Simon and I headed south of Auckland for the first time and stayed at a vineyard in the Mangatawhiri area, where we partook in some 'stripping'. No, this was no warm-up to the upcoming Erotica festival being held here in Auckland next week (male readers will be interested to hear that one event in this festival is imaginatively titled 'Boobs on bikes' and involves topless women being driven down Queen Street on motorcycles). Basically our role was to go down rows of vines and pull dead branches that had been pruned, away from the wires. The work itself was not too bad, but there were numerous hazards including potential blindness (luckily I was equipped with some goggles after several injuries to the face), whipping to all parts of the body and severe scratching to the arms - hopefully people at work won't think I'm a self-harmer!

Although the work was hard, our host Andrew was a friendly if eccentric guy (he had no tv and preferred to play golf around the living room with a ping pong ball as evening entertainment). We were made to feel a lot more welcome than last week and joined another wwoofer, called Keita, from Japan. Having been there for the previous week, Keita was an old hand at the stripping and well settled in the house - Andrew's dog Grigio seemed very happy sitting on his knee beside the fire of an evening, despite my attempts to draw her over to me. The other dog (called PC as an abbreviation of 'pale cheeks') was introduced to us as one of Grigio's 'unwanted children' and Andrew was keen for me to take him with us...tempted as I was, I just didn't think that Max would have enjoyed having a canine resident while we're out at work!

On Sunday after a hard morning's slog on the vineyard, we headed back to Auckland via another area of natural beauty around the village of Hunua, where there was a lovely waterfall and several dams. We drove back up along the coast and looked across to the Coromandel Penninsula, where we plan to visit later on in our trip, probably just before we fly to Oz. Keita had hitched there that morning after

Well who would have thought it...Simon spotted these Gallway cattle on our drive back to Auckland (just for you mum!)
writing a sign saying 'Coromandel for Remons'....this was literally 5 minutes after we had finished trying to teach him the difference between pronounciation of the letters 'L' and 'R'. Andrew had several lemon trees on the property and was looking to offload them, so Keita took them to exchange.

Our week at work just gone had passed without too much difficulty. Simon now has an office job and consequently a lot more energy, although it is coming to its end and until his next one starts in a week or so he may have to revert to the building site. I'm finally getting to grips with the systems in my office and have stopped making so many little mistakes. Had to fill in for the managing partner's secretary on Friday....was quite scared to say the least but managed to get through it. This morning the regular secretary sent me an email saying the woman had been singing my praises! God knows how I managed that!

The highlight of our week was a special meal out on Tuesday as we hadn't been for a posh slap up dinner to celebrate getting engaged. The food was delicious and the setting
Auckland HarbourAuckland HarbourAuckland Harbour

My building is the tallest office tower nearest to the quayside.
was spectacular - up Auckland's equivalent of the CN Tower, the Skytower. After drinks on the observation level we went up to Orbit, a restaurant which slowly revolves every hour. We had the most yummy risotto to start (on a par with yours Bec) then Simon tucked into some roast lamb while I had venison. Desert was a mixed board for two with raspberry creme brulee, chocolate torte and pear mousse. At $150 we thought the price tag to be very reasonable (in pounds anyway at approx 50 quid)...although our German friend Anja was shocked with our extravagence!

Next week there will be no tales of woeful wwoofing work as we have decided to take a weekend off and have a proper look around Auckland - places like Devonport, One Tree Hill and the Domain.

Additional photos below
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21st August 2006

glad to hear my risotto getting the respect it deserves! oh, by the way, me and liv are moving to brixton (cant remeber if i told u that) this weekend. we have decking, a bbq and a washing machine you move the sofa to get to. nice.
22nd August 2006

Wow - it certainly looks like you're having an amazing time! I've decided to follow in your example Mr Fricke and have resigned from work and will be setting off on a RTW trip next month. May see you in NZ / Oz if you are still around! Congratulations on getting engaged! The rocks look fab - very good choice!
28th August 2006

Good plan
Good plan on resigning from ClinPhone Becky. You can't have been there long though!! Maybe there will be a mass exodous now the best people have left.

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