Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Happiness is ...

Happiness is being reminded what a great guy you married.

Being an old married couple, the Carnivore and I haven’t celebrated Valentines Day in years. It’s too commercial, we don’t need a special day to say “I love you” – the usual reasons. Occasionally we might give each other a card if we happen across one that’s insulting enough (I was tempted this year by one that said They say opposites attract. Happy Valentines Day from your intelligent, beautiful and amusing wife) but usually the day slips past with no acknowledgement.

But …

This year at the girls’ school they had a scheme whereby, for the princely sum of $2, you could buy a rose for a friend and have it delivered during roll call. There was much excitement and planning of who was buying roses for whom. All would have been well, except they underestimated the number of people wishing to buy roses.

Demon Duck came home devastated. She’d managed to order a rose for her new best friend, but they’d run out before the friend could get her one in return.

“I’m not going to get a rose on Valentines Day!” she wailed.

You might imagine this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, since she’s never received a rose on Valentines Day any other year either, and managed to live through the experience. But she was really quite disappointed. Briefly I toyed with the idea of buying her a rose myself, but a) roses are hideously expensive on Valentines Day and b) I’m a cheapskate, so that idea didn’t fly.

I decided to do something more in the original spirit of the day. I gave each family member four red paper hearts and told them to write a loving message for each other member of the family. We sealed each person’s messages in an envelope to be opened and read out at dinner on Valentines Day, so we could all hear the nice things we’d said to each other.

Satisified that Something Was Being Done about Valentines Day, I thought no more of it, and was taken completely by surprise when I came out for breakfast on the day and found this:

The Valentines Day fairy had been and left me a beautiful bunch of flowers, a single rose for each girl, and a beautifully wrapped present for Baby Duck (which of course turned out to be a box of lego).

Demon Duck was thrilled that she got her rose after all, and I was touched that her thoughtful daddy had taken in all the lamentations on the subject and decided to do something about it. It was such a sweet surprise. He’s so sneaky! And obviously not as much of a cheapskate as his wife. I think I shall keep him.

As for the messages we wrote each other, they were a lot of fun too. Some members of the family cough cough demon duck cough couldn’t quite get the hang of being unreservedly nice, and had to get their snark on. For example, her note to her dad began “I love how you think you’re so funny even when you’re not”. Others, like Drama Duck, crammed whole heartfelt essays on to their little paper hearts.

Baby Duck’s note to me said “You are the awesomest mum in the whole known galaxy”. Can’t do much better than that, can you!

Hope you enjoyed it too, if Valentines Day is your thing. And if saying it with flowers doesn’t appeal, maybe next year you could take a leaf out of the Carnivore's book and try saying it with lego instead. Guaranteed to make an impression on the small boys in your life.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Baby Duck's guide to Auckland

Hi there! We’ve just returned from a couple of weeks touring the north island of New Zealand. Very pretty place, lots to see – we didn’t even cover the whole north island, much less get a chance to see any of the south island.

I tortured the kids, as I did on our Japan trip last year, by making them keep travel diaries. There was much complaining, but I hope one day they’ll be glad to have them to look back on and help them remember. Baby Duck’s is often unintentionally entertaining, so I thought I’d share a few extracts.

Baby Duck’s Guide to Auckland

Today we went to some cafĂ©. Then we left, walked, and went to a park. [Ed: I hope you weren’t expecting actual useful details] But it started raining, so we went back to the hotel. But on the way there we were stopped by a bridge we had walked over that had gone up like this.

But the bridge lowered a little while later and we decided to take the SHARK-BUS to the Aquarium and set off yet again.

[Perhaps you can guess from the excited capital letters that the shark bus was pretty impressive to a certain nine-year-old tourist.]

When we got there the Aquarium looked really small but the person driving the SHARK-BUS told us the actual Aquarium was underground. [It was Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World, and well worth a visit if you’re ever in Auckland.] There were rays, sharks, a giant squid that’s head was coming off so you could see its brians [very nasty, being able to see a creature’s brians, you know. Probably goes without saying that it was a dead giant squid], fish, jelly fish, shrimps, sea horses and a octopus and also some penguins.

Don’t eat the yellow snow, penguins!

There was also a little stall that had water in it with a sign above saying “Arctic water see if you can put your hand in for thirty seconds”. My sisters touched the water, said it was too cold, but I put my hand in for thirty seconds.

[I shall spare you the regular descriptions of what he had for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He hasn’t quite got the hang yet of only including the salient points. Or maybe food is very important when you’re nine.]

One Tree Hill – long drive up the hill, no tree. Should be called “no tree hill, instead of tree, big monument”. Boring.

Dad’s office: extremely boring!

After One Tree Hill we went to a museum. It was boring.

[Are you sensing a pattern here? Yes, sadly, dear readers, Baby Duck has little appreciation for cultural experiences. Or sightseeing. Or shopping. Or pretty much anything you do when visiting a foreign country other than checking out its amusement parks.]

Then for dinner we had Mongolian [one of those restaurants where you select your own ingredients and they cook it in front of you on a big drum]. I liked how you could serve yourself.

After breakfast we went on a ferry to Devonport. Then we went on a harbour tour. The captain was very funny “Please don’t fall overboard because it creates lots of paperwork wether I find you or not”.

When we stopped at an island the captain said “If you hear this sound (HOONK) you’ll know to start walking back to the boat. But if you hear this sound (honk honk honk) you should have been running because you just missed the last boat back.” Since there were no houses at all nobody would want to sleep there. Dad got off the boat but got back at the last minute. [His timing gave me a few anxious moments …]

But when we got to dry land nobody started kissing the ground. (Well at least I didn’t see anyone doing it.) Then we went to Lord Nelson’s for dinner. [He didn’t mention the shopping that came in between, but I can assure you he found it boring.] When we got out we saw two girls get on the bungy ride across the road. I think it looked really fun, but mum and dad said “NO”. So that was decided.