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Playtime!!!

March 11, 2010

Ok, I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  It may not be a shocker, but it is a secret.  It is AMAZING to swim early in the tide.  I know I know, not a great secret, but honestly I don't have great secrets and this little blog keeps most things from being secret anyways.  Right where was I as this isn't a blog about all my little secrets.  Ah yes, swimming early in the tide.  I LOVE IT!!!  Here are the reasons why:

1. It doesn't give me time to get my undies all in a bunch and for me to get to the point where I'm so nervous I should be committed.
2. It doesn't allow all my cheerleaders to get nervous either 🙂
3. My family knows right away if I'm alive or not.  Not that I've ever been in a serious situation, but these swims aren't exactly a small paddle in the pool and the swims can be dangerous.
4. I know how it has all turned out in the end, as this always bothers me that I can't read the future. 
5. I get to PLAY!!  This is especially great if I have fun people to hang out with, which I usually do.

I know most people think that these swimming "holidays" are always fun and relaxing.  On the contrary, they are hard work.  They are very stressful.  And often it rarely allows time for me to decompress from all the work and training that I have done.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change it.  It is my choice to use all my holiday time going on these swimming adventures, but I'm not lying that sometimes just laying by the beach with a mai tai looking at the water rather than swimming in it has its allure.   However, if I swim early and I don't change my flight back home, there is some playtime.

These last few days have been some amazing playtime.  Tuesday after the swim, Steve and I pretty much were slugs.  It was AWESOME!!!  We got up late, walked around town.  Steve had some work commitments in the afternoon, so I went to the Te Papa museum for a little while and then there was a lovely and short afternoon paddle.  Steve declined the paddle for soaking up the sun on the Oriental Bay beach.  Then we cooked a lovely fish and risotto dinner.  Yum!

Wednesday found us on the ferry to Picton and the South Island.  The ferry here is not like the ferry in England.  It is really quite slow.  It takes 3.5hrs for the ferry to get from Wellington to Picton, but the trip was lovely and sunny.  They announced that there were dolphins and whales, but Steve and I didn't see them.  I think it may have been a game that the ferry crew play to see all the passengers run to one side of the boat and then the other.  After arriving in Picton, we went to the local bakery aptly named The Picton Village Bakery.  It was here that I finally broke down and tried my first pie.  I know for those Aussies, Kiwis and Brits this is a shocker, especially since I lived in England.  However, I could never bring myself to eat a pie (or toastie or whatever they are called).  We don't really have the equivalent thing in the US.  Steve went first and ordered a bacon and egg pie.  Assuming that he knew what he was doing, as he always assures me he does :), I went ahead and ordered the same.  I don't know what I've been so afraid of the pie was as they say LOVELY!  Let me see if I can explain it.  It is about the size of a softball, but pie shaped.  The crust was flaky and buttery.  The filling was delicious with a sort of ham, egg, and veggie filling.  You eat it with your hands, but I have seen people eat it with a fork in a restaurant.  They can be purchased pretty much at every convenience store, bakery, and grocery store.  And they have various fillings, but most commonly I've seen egg and bacon and steak or mince filling.  I'm sure they aren't the healthiest things in the world, but it was wonderful.  We sat and ate them on the beach while the sea gulls squawked their protest at not receiving a bite.    Then it was off for our wine tour.  We were 2 of 16 on the wine tour and the bus was actually a pretty quiet affair.  We went to Nautilus, Forrest, Hunters and St. Clair.  There were a lot of wines to sample.  Most were Pinot Noirs or Sauv. Blanc (No I don't know how to spell it completely).  I believe that Steve and my favorite vineyard was Forrest.  They had some great wines and their customer service was amazing.  Our tour guide also made a quick stop at the Makuna chocolate factory and they make this crazy good Very Berry Toffee Crunch which is toffee, white chocolate, cranberries and macadamia nuts.  I thankfully didn't buy a box as it would have never made the ferry ride back to Wellington.

Thursday, I went to the beach for another short paddle while Steve went to go do some work things.  One of the clinics that he knows wanted to do a short press conference as well as take some photos for an article.  He of course obliged.  We met up at the beach and I gave him some flak as the photographer was taking his photo.  I got some lovely shots of Steve and the photographer.  Then Steve went for a short paddle while I soaked up the sun.  Steve says I have to try to get rid of the cap line on my forehead that I acquired in the swim.  I don't think it is going to happen, but I'm encouraging my freckles to darken so that it maybe is blended a little bit.  The afternoon I went exploring Wellington while Steve did some shopping.  Ok, so the botanical gardens in Wellington are beautiful and the plants are labeled very well.  However, the paths in the botanical gardens are not labeled well and I spent most of my time walking in circles trying to find the right path to get where I wanted to go.  After an hour and a half of wandering mostly with aim but not finding my place, it started to rain so I said goodbye to the gardens.  I went and checked out the Beehive parliament building as well as the new St. Paul's Cathedral (not great and can be avoided) and the old St. Paul's cathedral (beautiful).  Then back home to meet up with Steve and our swimming friend Heather who has come down to play from up north.  I don't know if I mentioned this but on the beach on Sunday we met some locals and they have quickly become friends.  Donna invited Heather, Steve and I to dinner on Thursday night and what a dinner it was!  While the food was fantastic, the company and conversation were just amazing!  It is moments like these that really make these trips a joy.  Donna is a treaty lawyer, so I got to understand more about the treaty and New Zealand history.  I got more of the story that I had started to understand from the Te Papa museum.

I think today we are going back to Te Papa museum to finish what we haven't been able to see and then who knows what we will do.  Perhaps a paddle, perhaps some wildlife hunting as I really want to see the seals and Steve wants to see a blue penguin.  I think that would be cool too.  Tomorrow there is the National Triathlon in town, so maybe we will watch that or maybe we will get out of town to avoid the crowds.  Either way, I'm enjoying the downtime. 

Oh I don't know if I mentioned that my only major injury from the swim is some amazing sunburn.  It has concentrated itself mostly around my swimsuit straps, but I'm afraid to go to the zoo as I'm sure that I could attract the baboons.  The redness is slowly subsiding, but I'm sure I'll be into the next stage of sunburn soon…itching.  See I told you there weren't many secrets 🙂

4 Responses to “Playtime!!!”

  1. katie says:

    Michelle,  Sounds like you are having awesome time and meeting more incredible people.  Enjoy.  Thanks for sharing your trip and swim, with us. 

  2. susan albright says:

    Michelle,
    Congratulations on your swim. I never think of your swims as being relaxing. I know it is a lot of hard work. But,  am glad to hear you are finding some time to relax and just hang out.
    So I have to ask, do any of those pies come with quinoa filling?
    Susan

  3. MP says:

    Congratulations Michelle on yet another accomplishment. You're such an inspiration and its nice to see you back in the water again. Love you-

  4. Donna Llewell says:

    Kia ora Michelle, Just quick note and great to finally read your blog on Cook Strait swim and your time in Wellington let alone mention of the Treaty of Waitangi and my fabulous cooking…  Hope all well for you.  I am actually physically in France having 3 month sabbatical in attempt to learn French and revitalise body; mind and spirit…  I was particularly thinking of you recently because I am fitting fit and back into the ocean the last 2 weeks up to 2.5km – the recovery from pneumonia had taken another dive so now I am really pleased with myself.  Returning to Aotearoa mid-August after quick adventures to Paris; Ireland where my cousin has organised week pool membership for me; London; and Thailand for new suits…  Kia kaha; LOL Donna xx

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