Having settled into my room at the lodge (motel), the first thing I did was go for a run. This is probably the last thing on most folks mind when they hit town having flown halfway round the world but it seemed as good to banish the stiff legs and check out the local neighbourhood at the same time. The local neighbourhood turned out to be like a lot of Auckland – hilly. No matter which way I turned, I seemed to be running uphill so after half an hour, I called it quits and headed back to shower. After doing so and grabbing a cool drink, I picked up my contacts book to make a few calls. One of the things I did in preparation for this trip was harvest as many Kiwi contacts as possible from friends and colleagues so I can meet local folks and get a feel for normal family life in NZ. Linda and Gideon are just such folks. When I rang to introduce myself, Linda immediately asked if I was up for company and promptly invited me to dinner when I said ‘yes’, saying that she’d be by to pick me up in an hour. At the duly appointed time, I was standing on the corner outside my lodge when I heard my name called across the street and turned to see someone waving, smiling and beckoning me to join them. Proferring hastily-purchased flowers and chocolates, I crossed over the road and was whisked away on a brief tour of the delights of Tamaki Drive and Mission Bay whilst Linda remotely organised the family preparing the evening meal back home via her cell phone. Given that I am a previously never mentioned husband-of-a-friend-of-a-sister, Linda and Gideon, along with their children Sarah, David and Amy, were gracious in their hospitality and I very much enjoyed their company over a pleasant dinner. As they had sagely prophesied earlier, the minute the meal hit my system and I sat back in the living room with a cup of tea – having wisely eschewed alcohol since London – my eyes grew heavy and I started to lose the thread of the conversation. As the minutes passed, my mind seemed to be undergoing a gradual shutdown and the harder I tried to concentrate, the more elusive clear thought became. Spotting my declining mental and physical state, my kind and understanding hosts simply guided me to the car and drove me back to my lodge. Once there, it took all my will power to stay awake long enough to make a slurred ‘good morning’ call to SWMBO and the sprogs before hitting the bed like a redwood toppled by a lumberjack’s axe. So, on my first day in a country that I have long planned to visit, my first impression was the dent I left in the mattress.