Jim and Judy combined three events in to one weekend - a Zero Degrees Club get together, a Burns night and early celebration of Judy's birthday.
So Friday 22nd July David and I drove up to Onaero, north of New Plymouth to stay in a motel close to J&J's place. As we had booked a couple of months earlier (I am a project manager after all, early planning is my stock in trade) we scored the only renovated unit at Seaview Motel - the honeymoon suite, which has a view out over the sea. The others in our Zero Degrees Club had two of the other three units - not so up to date by about 40 or so years, but serviceable and clean and a good size, and as I say, within walking distance of J&J's house, even in the rain.
Of which there was heaps that weekend - it bucketed down off and on each day we were there, and at times it thundered and lightninged, just in case you had thought we were having too gentle a winter here in NZ.
As David is a McDonald whose ancestors hail from Glencoe, and as J&J request a bit of tartan for this event, I organised to hire from Mitchell's Kilt hire (http://www.kilts.co.nz/mitchire.htm) a whole outfit for David - a McDonald clan kilt, the socks, the flashes, the sporran, waistcoat, Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket and the bowtie. He wore his own shoes and shirt, but they could have been hired too. Amazing service, esp as I was tardy in organising it (OK, early planning left a bit to be desired in this, but I only thought of it late - OK Marilyn, when you are in a hole, stop digging!)
I didn't call them till the Wednesday and they were very quick. Couriering the outfit to the wilds of Taranaki was going to be problematic, so Helen and Alan stepped into the breach and picked it up from Cambridge, sort of on their way through from Katikati. Such good friends!
|I iced and amateurishly decorated the yummy fruit cake that Jenny made - decoration was simple but said what it needed to ... We had bought a few flowers and Helen went scavenging for flowers to add to the bouquet and then did a beautiful job|
|Cutting the cake with the sparkler candles.|
The festivities and formalities of a Burns night had been superbly organised by Jim and Judy, the long tables were set up by Alan and Chris, and the tables were set by Helen, potatoes peeled by Jenny, turnips peeled by David and I know I helped with somethings but I cannot remember what ... Honest, I DID do some helpful stuff (glasses, whiskeys on the table, sautee-ing/sweating the leeks and veges for the cock-a-leekie soup. following Judy's instructions for anything that needed doing).
|The table set for all the people - carefully measured using ruler, just like at Downton Abbey, although Helen is nothing like Carson ...|
|Doesn't he look good? If we did more Scots-related stuff, I'd buy him an outfit for himself rather than hiring.|
|Jim wearing the Ross tartan, his mother's clan I understand, although he's a Kiwi.|
|Jim addressing the haggis or whatever the term is. Jim and Judy's daughter Katherine carried it in - there is something significant about that process, but I am not sure what - no bagpipes fortunately ...|
|I think it's a Burns poem he is declaiming in these photos - he is so expressive. We can tell he used to be a teacher - it's that stage presence that sits with teachers so well.|
|Is he caressing the damn thing?|
A week or so beforehand, Jim had phoned and asked me to reply to the Toast to the Lassies (the whole event is filled with poetry readings, toasts, jokes, etc). He had told me that the man who did the Toast to the Lassies would be giving women a bit of a hard time, so I was to feel free. Well, 'bad move, Jim!!' is all I can say. As soon as he was off the phone, it was out with my feminist tome: Picking on Men (a compilation of quotes about men). Armed with a set of pink stickies, I trawled through for the most appropriate ones. I typed them out with their source and then put them in an entertaining order - well, I thought it was ...
|At first they all laughed heartily.|
I did finish off with showing them my softer side - it was obvious to me that the people assembled for this event (four just over 40 and the rest over 60) that we had been through the mill in our lives - we'd lived, had kids, worked, had health issues etc so there were bound to be things we'd all coped with severally. And what was wonderful was that all of these people were married and clearly loved their spouses. So I said that.
But back to my Reply to the Toast to the Lassies: a taster for you:
- It took millions of years to make men from monkeys. Sometimes it takes only a few minutes to reverse the process.
- A man who is wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.
- The trouble with self made men is they quit the job too early.
- Bigamy is having one husband too many; monogamy is the same.
- The occasional lacing of my husband's dinner with catfood has done wonders for my spirit.
- What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set ingenious machine for turning, with infinite artfulness, the red wine of Shirez into urine.
- The daughter of a friend took her first bath with a male cousin when they were both 4 years old. Being well brought up, she was silent about her anatomical discovery, but that night, as her mother tucked her into bed, she said “Mummy, isn’t it a blessing he doesn’t have it on his face.”
- Women like silent men. They think they are listening.
- I know what a statesman is. He’s dead politician. We need more statesmen.
- The American male is the softest and fattest; this might explain why he loves guns. You can always get your revolver up.
- The only reason they say women and children first is to test the strength of the lifeboats.
- The trouble with some women is they get all excited about nothing – and then they marry him.
- Retirement means twice as much husband on half as much money.
- All men are NOT slimy warthogs. Some men are silly giraffes, some woebegone puppies, some insecure frogs. But if one is not careful, those slimy warthogs can ruin it for all the rest.
Not sure we'll be invited back next year - good thing we'll be on the boat at the requisite time, but if they do want me to to a repeat performance, perhaps I could do it by Skype from the canals ... I will get my technical consultant on to it! And I will keep an eye on the post ...