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The sun's out in Auckland
I’ve bought a whistling kettle.
Hilda Ogden eat your heart out. I don’t know if it was nostalgia that did it, but you can’t put a price on a whistle that you can hear going off within 500 yards of the house.
Before you start thinking I need to get out more, the whistling kettle has not been the biggest highlight of the week. The purple pepper has, but I’ll come back to that.
The sun has come out in Auckland and there’s been a growth spurt in the vegetable patch. It’s like tomato-Armageddon, I’ve counted 52 of them. They’re all growing at the same rate and I’m frantic with trying to work out how to make good use of them and put an end to their territorial expansion.
“Mix them in a salad with your purple pepper!” I hear you cry.
Well, I’ve got news for you. The lone ranger has reproduced. I now have a handful of purple peppers dominating their space in the soil. The man of the house says they will change colour into something more run of the mill eventually.
But I think my peppers are regal.
I was never a royalist until I left Britain. Now the royal family seems like a lovable cultural throwback - quintessentially British and I’m not embarrassed to say so. I’m proud of the Royals most of the time. Prince William is a good friend to New Zealand.
I cried when I saw footage of him in Christchurch after the earthquake last year. He mingled among the broken crowd of Cantabrians trying to make sense of their loss.
Nobody really needed to say what was on the tip of their tongue. “He’s like his mum”.
I was worried when Prince Philip got sick at Christmas, but secretly hoping he might drop a social clanger to one of the nurses in hospital and end up in the Sunday papers.
Is anybody still reading the dirty tabloids or are we boycotting? Just asking.
Sunday was far from mucky here, the sun came out to create the perfect setting for the first girls’ lunch of the year; all five of us are Brits at home in New Zealand.
We don’t set out to create a British sub-culture, but there seems to be a gravitational force that pulls us together.
To counteract the Britishness I made a Pavlova. Long thought of as an Australian dessert, the Kiwis have insisted for years that it’s their own. They also think they created pies (what about Wigan?) and fish and chips (don’t be silly).
They’ll be after the Yorkshire pud next.
Anyway, historical Pavlova research indicates New Zealanders are the rightful owners of the indulgent meringue.
Try telling that to an Aussie. So many territorial ownership battles - the Antipodeans must have got that from us.
It was my fifth attempt at creating a Pavlova masterpiece and it was spectacular. I say spectacular because it wasn’t burnt, the cream covered the cracks, and I didn’t drop it on my way from the house to the car.
That’s a win in my book.
So there we were, five English roses battling with a harsh Kiwi sun, drinking New Zealand wine and eating a traditional Kiwi dessert. Not a cup of tea or digestive biscuit in sight. See - we’re trying to fit in.
The abundance of homeland femaIes at lunch made me wonder if our attraction to one another is something instinctive, but I think it could be more serendipitous than that.
After all, it’s not difficult to bump into a pom in the supermarket, hovering over a pricey tin of imported Quality Street or scratching around the British aisle for a Sherbet Dip or a pack of Twiglets.
When you’re far from home you have to feed your basic desires, but more fundamentally you must create a surrogate family.
You need a substitute to bicker with in the absence of your siblings; someone to be frustrated with because they’re always right in the same way your parents are; and the comfort of a pseudo grandparent that lets you get away with murder but has your best interests at heart.
We’ve got a good dose of real-live Kiwis in our surrogate family too; when we mix with the natives we make a good team.
Where the Brits are brash, the Kiwis are modest; where the Kiwis are laid back, the Brits are relentless; and when the Brits are climbing the walls, the Kiwis are setting up a soft landing for the inevitable fall and saying, “You alright up there? I’m right here with a cold beer when you’re finished.”
Like all good matches, there has to be some polarisation for attraction to take place.
For example, the man of the house is a Kiwi and doesn’t enjoy Corrie in the same way I do and that’s fine. But he’s certainly paid more attention to it since Michelle took on more shifts at the Rover’s and Rosie Webster started talking about a boob job.
Until next time, from the land of the long white cloud, all my love.
In this section
- I'd watch everything from Jamie to Nigella
- New Zealand is still wonderful... but sometimes I yearn for more
- Has autumn arrived?
- The Naked Truth
- Catching up with British news...
- There isn't much more I really need...
- An All Black boob debate
- It’s good to be alive
- Housesitting... with a noisy cat
- A resident abroad - an expat, an alien and a pom