What a week to start the New Year. It was all about catching up with old, and new, friends, and all with barely any pedal power required. Thanks to Richard & Jayne’s kind offer we had wheels for the week, this time including a steering wheel and engine!
After a couple of nights at Matt & Gilly’s house we moved out to Tahuna Beach and what was without doubt the biggest campsite we have ever camped on anywhere, and apparently it is the largest in Australasia. There were hundreds of tents, camper vans and caravans and after a deluge of rain one night the roads turned to rivers and the entire place was more like an overrun refugee camp.
In between pre-wedding bbqs and picnics on the beach we managed to catch lunch with Rob & Marion, Dave’s De Winter family, and we had dinners hosted by our old VSA friend Ian and his wife Jenny, as well as Steve & Kirsty from Arrowtown days.
Dave joined Matt and co for a stag day of deep sea fishing, slashing the tops of his fingers trying to capture drone footage, or rather capturing the drone when a rogue wave hit, while I eventually got shopping for a frock for the wedding (the cycling lycra wasn’t going to cut it), and there was time for a girls only long lunch, the last for Gilly as a Hindley.
Our whole reason for this trip was to be here in New Zealand to celebrate with Matt and Gilly on their wedding day, but as we all know there is no such thing as a wedding ‘day’ anymore! This was a three-day affair and we loved every minute of it, although after three days of 30 kids we were ready for a quiet lie down in a dark room!
Having a car meant we could help schlep some of the wedding paraphernalia from Nelson to Lake Rotoiti, and it also meant we didn’t have to ride the 90kms as Jayne & Richard had given us the loan of their bike rack too! And no need to pitch Olive either as we were staying in bunk rooms along with most of the other wedding guests.
It was all hands on deck the day before the wedding to get the room and tables set up and decorated, only to be followed by a few hours of fraught tension trying to keep the kids from touching. I had to resort to my past nanny experience and my raised voice was enough to stop the kids in their tracks and at the same time I think it petrified some of the parents!
The wedding day itself was beautiful as was the bridal party, and as ever the competitive one Gilly practically ran down the aisle to make sure she was the first to get Matt, after all she had been waiting 14 years for this day! They were married in a simple ceremony in a stunning location by Big Ali, the local Saint Arnaud mechanic and celebrant, in front of their family and friends and with love all around them.
Yes I'll marry you & I wanna grow old with you
I was both honoured and privileged to be asked by Matt & Gilly to read at the ceremony, and the fact they trusted in me to choose something was a true testament to our friendship. But choosing a piece to suit them both was a challenge. I tapped into my celebrant friend Ida’s resources and narrowed it down to two readings, one for each of them.
For Gilly I read “Yes I’ll marry you” by Pam Ayres, and for Matt it was a piece from Adam Sandler “I wanna grow old with you”.
Yes, I'll marry you
Yes, I'll marry you, my dear,
And here's the reason why;
So I can push you out of bed
When the baby starts to cry,
And if we hear a knocking
And it's creepy and it's late,
I hand you the torch you see,
And you investigate.
Yes I'll marry you, my dear,
You may not apprehend it,
But when the tumble-drier goes
It's you that has to mend it,
You have to face the neighbour
Should our labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me
It's you that has to whack him.
Yes, I'll marry you,
You're virile and you're lean,
My house is like a pigsty
You can help to keep it clean.
That sexy little dinner
Which you served by candlelight,
As I do chipolatas,
You can cook it every night!
It's you who has to work the drill
and put up curtain track,
And when I've got PMT it's you who gets the flak,
I do see great advantages,
But none of them for you,
And so before you see the light,
I do, I do, I do!
I Wanna Grow Old With You
I wanna make you smile, Whenever you're sad.
Carry you around when your arthritis is bad.
All I wanna do, Is grow old with you.
I'll get you medicine, When your tummy aches.
Build you a fire if the furnace breaks.
Oh it could be so nice, Growin' old with you.
I'll miss you, kiss you, Give you my coat when you are cold.
Need you, feed you. Even let you hold the remote control.
So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink.
Put you to bed when you've had too much to drink.
Oh I could be the man, Who grows old with you.
I wanna grow old with you.
To end the ceremony, I choose a traditional Irish blessing for them both, but delivering it almost became too much for me when I was overcome with emotion and tears of joy and happiness. I was not the only one blubbering, I saw a few others sob too – gotta love a good wedding for a good cry!!!
Traditional Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May God be with you and bless you;
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.
Of course the tears did not stop there because there were still the speeches to come! All beautifully delivered including a lovely poem by Candice and a surprise recording from Ali who sadly was not able to make it over from England. And so the party started...
This 9-week trip to NZ is not all about biking. We start by dropping the bikes in Auckland, flying to Queenstown to spend a couple of weeks and to run the marathon. Fly back to AKL and ride south to Nelson via Eastland & Hawkes Bay, before returning from Wellington to AKL by train.
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