I slipped a year closer to the half-century in the middle of last week and received cards from friends and family near and far. In the card that she gave me, there was a small handwritten note from She Who Must Be Obeyed, cryptically hinting that we were to leave our home to the mercies of our four girls plus various invited friends on Saturday morning for a mysterious romantic night away over the weekend.
Well, she must have been salting away the grocery money for years because, after a relaxed and leisurely lunch at The Packing Shed in Oratia, we drove up into the Waitakere hills and ended up at the Waitakere Estate. The estate is Auckland’s equivalent of an eagle’s nest Bond villain lair – complete with helipad and steep winding approach road – set above the bush overlooking Auckland.
We had a great room with view right across the city and harbour to Rangitoto and the Coromandel beyond. Beneath our balcony was the pool and, following a walk through the bush and tall kauri listening to the call of tui, we had a cool, refreshing swim before relaxing and taking in the view. With a pre-dinner ‘nana nap’ under our belts, we headed to the dining room and a table that gave us a few of the city and Waitemata harbour in the setting sun while we ate a lovely meal and chatted about all sorts.
SWMBO skipped the starter but I couldn’t resist trying soft shell crab with stir-fried vegetables and Asian-inspired sauce, which came with the waiter’s hushed but redundant reassurance that I could ‘eat the shell as well’. After that, we tucked into a main course of fresh snapper for her and 60 day aged Waikato eye filet for me, along with sage-stuffed onion, roast new potatoes and a ‘trio of mustards’. We finished off by sharing a NZ manuka honey cheesecake with sauteed rhubarb, nut brittle and nasturtium flowers which prompted the waiter to again advise me of the edibility of my meal.
After a nightcap (to aid digestion, you understand), we slept like the proverbial log and awoke to a sunny morning. After a hearty breakfast overlooking forest and city, we packed up and headed home to see what was left of the house. While I am not always comfortable in such luxurious surroundings, our getaway was a beautiful gift of time spent together. I am determined to cherish such times, be grateful that we can experience them when so many have so little and know that we are blessed beyond words when we do.