Bates Family South Seas Sabbatical travel blog

Glowworms in cave habitat

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Angora rabbit shearing

Boys help out in frontier show


Why Waitomo? Well I blame Gav. "Best bit in the whole of New Zealand. Glowworms but thousands of them in caves. You drift past them on the ceiling. Absolutely amazing!" This from the man who had his stag weekend in the Brecon Beacons, mountain biking and you guessed it... caving. He knows I am severely claustrophobic but not content with throwing our backgammon dice out of a train within the first 10 minutes of a 48 hour train journey he suggests we go to Waitomo...Cave central.

Well on this occasion Gav was right. It was amazing. Horrible little slimy slug/maggoty hanging from mucusy strands of spiderweb in the light: magical specks of blue-green starlight held aloft in a fantastic fascimile of the night sky, in the dark. After this even the proper caving was tolerable to me and quite fun for the others.

Even so, I hear you say, an unusual venue for Vanessa's birthday celebrations. Yes it was, but we did all sing Happy Birthday to her in the Cathedral cave once they shut the lights off. What more could a girl want? Eel feeding? Well that was called off I am afraid.

In the afternoon the boys bounced endlessly on the trampolines while we enjoyed some sunshine. I checked out the local Waitomo Caves Hotel, the upmarket hotel in the area for an upmarket slap-up special meal for my nearest and dearest. Built in the 1930's and perched up above the village of Waitomo it looked great. It was a memorable meal but not perhaps for the usual reasons. The delay of fifteen minutes for service in the bar was possible to overlook. The Church's Road Sauvignon blanc served warm demonstrated a "training need" as Lil euphemistically puts it but the noise of the outdoor gas heater overwhelmed the incidental piano music from the owners wife. Still mustn't grumble it was warm in the dining room and its pretty parky down at the campsite now.

The more astute of you will have noticed the absence of something in our website offerings. To date, I have made no mention of the Lions game against the Maori. At the risk of sounding bitter I cannot believe I expended so much time, effort and emotional energy in obtaining the tickets and getting to the game to see such a poor performance from my team. They defended well but had no possesion or ball retention which meant the final score was flattering. O'Driscoll's try was a quality sidestep but showed up the paucity of skill from the others. Steve Thompson may be a fine fourth loose forward but he cannot throw anywhere other than to the front of the lineout. Ahhh!

I just hope the Lions test team is better than that. Still It won't stop me watching the match on Wednesday.

Love Gordon xxx

ps. Thanks to all for cards, pressies and emails to Ness.



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