Friday 14th February – Valentine’s Day!

I treated myself to a lie-in and got up at 9.15, 30 mins before check out!

I’d put clothes for today at the top of my rucksack when I packed yesterday, so all that was needed was a quick shower and I was all packed and ready for the day.

I left my bag in the bag room and bits in locker and headed out for breakfast at the cafe I always had lunch in when I first arrived in Auckland. Worked out how to get to the zoo – the orange bus and a walk and off I went!

The trip was easy with a nice walk through a transport museum past a plane and a tramline.

The zoo was fantastic, well worth the $25 entrance! I arrived just in time to feed a carrot to a giraffe, then got to straddle a monkey, see sleeping lions, meerkats, cheetah, otters, penguins, ostriches, a cockatoo called Captain – we had a great chat before I met Tori by the spider monkeys. We went to the cafe (awesome) and I had a yummy sweet potato pie for lunch. Sadly all too soon she had to go back to the reptiles leaving me to wander through the rest of the zoo before heading back into the city to meet Sal (friend from Borneo who’s lived here for 10 years). Sal had been looking after stuff I didn’t need in New Plymouth, so it was time to get it back, chat about the possibility of me being able to get a job in NZ, life in general and then to have a quick Skype with Nikki in Singapore!

Nikki was awesomely surprised, which was great! Then Sal headed back to work and I had to dash back to the hostel for some electricity and more Nikki Skype time. What greeted me when she picked up was a shock – she was crying – she never cries. I knew being on the boat (Clipper Round the World) had been hard, but not known how hard – still don’t really as we talked other stuff to distract from the upsetting stuff (that was a later whats app conversation!). As ever it was so good to talk to her, showed her a picture of me straddling the elephant and that cheered her up. We swapped sound advice, she’s promised to visit if I do move to NZ, so life will be good!!

Then it was time to say goodbye and catch the airport bus to meet my bf. His flight was in early and the bus was caught in traffic so he was already out by the time I arrived, we jumped on another bus back to the city, swung by my hostel to collect my stuff before catching another bus out to Ponsonby where we were staying for the night. I’d emailed it as a jokey suggestion, but thankfully he was too lazy/disorganised to look for anywhere else so I was treated to a fab b+b called Bella’s after their dog!

The bus journey there enlightened him to how NZ compares to England and especially London town. Part way through the journey we swapped drivers, he apologised for being late and climbed in through passenger door – there was no barrier between the driver and us (at home the driver gets in through his own door and there’s a perspex shield to separate him from the passengers) and even more amazing the cash box was just there, you could see inside it and easily reach into it!

Anyway, back to Bella’s – amazing!!!!! Beautiful house that the owners had designed themselves. The room was lovely, the fridge had beer, sprite and water we could help ourselves to, there was fudge, L+P chocolate, tea, coffee and most exciting of all port!!!!

Bf went for his first shower in over 48 hours and I, not quite knowing what to do with myself, went to sit with a sprite in the garden! Then got bitten by 3 mosquitoes and decided to come back in. The Coast to Coast was on the news and got talking to another guest watching it, then his wife and then bf appeared (wearing a Christmas present – strange how it’s now 2 months ago but only just seeing these things!)

The owners had also been in touch with bf to see if they could make a dinner reservation for us – this man had valentines so easy this year! They booked us into the Ponsonby Bistro, really nice, chilled out but busy place. Walked past the Skytower all lit up red on our way there. The menu could have been written for me – lamb followed by chocolate pudding with rosé to start, a chilled red with the lamb and then an amazing dessert wine. I even got a high 5 from waiter for guessing what the peaches in the dessert menu were stuffed with – Amoretti biscuits!

Randomly we got given our neighbours bill, almost paid it, but the crab gave them away! Had a nice chat with them (another ‘would never happen in London’ moment)

Walked back in the rain, but to the welcome sight of fudge and port!!

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