I began my long tour walking around the departure lounge trying on a variety of hats, another challenge!
Our first stop to break the journey was San Francisco. I have never been there before so I thank those of you who gave me advice on restaurants and must do sightseeing, Our boat trip round the bay, strolling along Fishermans Wharf, riding the cable cars were all great but Alcatraz was of course the highlight. I had no idea how hilly the roads would be. I was reliably informed San Fran was built on a mountain which must have been very challenging when building such a beautiful city – Lombard Street is a good example – it Zig Zags crazily and attracts many tourists and car drivers.
After a wonderful short break, we arrived in Christchurch for the first T20 – 4 seasons in one day. I was last here a little over 18 months ago and it has changed so much – it is beautiful. They are still trying to get back to normal since the terrible earthquake in 2011 and they have only in the last year or so decided to repair the Cathedral which will start next year. I can imagine it will be quite a process as so many pigeons have made it their home!
I seem to spend most of my time in the gym trying to get fitter for the long road ahead and so far am winning the battle. Although I was unsuccessful in my step challenge. Probably due to a few nights out. We had a great group with us and I was looking forward to a great T20 Series with them. After going 1-0 up in Christchurch we had a lovely dinner in Fiddlesticks before departing to Wellington. We were greeted by our driver who just happened to be a South African so a great bit of banter took place. After he dropped us off at our hotel we had time for a short stroll before we made our way to the Old Bailey pub for the rugby, the food was good – garlic butter loaf in particular, but the rugby left us with a sour taste in our mouths with the Kiwis supporting SA – maybe because we were there?
Cricket the following day didn’t entirely go to plan, as James Vince shelled two catches to make the score 1-1. We then departed for Nelson, once again a lovely jolly up in The Free House – an old church – great beers and a very different place where we sat outside taking in the sunset whilst eating take away curry! The third T20 ended with another defeat so in the evening we ventured to Smugglers Inn with great food and beer to match. The following day we hired a mini bus to Kaiteriteri in the Abel Tasman and attempted to find the Split Apple Rock that was then followed by another evening in a Eddylines brewery, seems to be a theme here! Pizzas all round.
Following day we departed for Napier, totally rebuilt Art Deco seaside town. In 1930 they had a huge earthquake that flattened the town and some of the surrounding area – two hundred and fifty lost their lives.
In the evening I once again decided on the venue this time it was the Thirsty Whale on West Quay, another popular pick, I’m sure I could be the next Egon Ronay!!
The table next to us was occupied by the” skipper” Eoin Morgan and James Vince, he ordered catch of the day, but unfortunately he dropped it!
We next departed for Auckland, where some might refer to the locals as a Jafa!
Having been here twice before I knew the perfect place for dinner, and once again it didn’t disappoint – it was called the Kingslander, where incredible tender beautiful steak is served on a hot stone for you to cook yourself. Another lovely evening.
So back to the cricket and the crucial deciding match between the sides which suffered from quite a few rain delays resulting in reduced overs.. None of the previous four matches had been close. After England had put NZ in to bat they went off like a train. Even James Vince taking two catches could not prevent a huge score in 11 overs! England lost regular wickets and we never really looked likely to win, at one point WASP was 4% but somehow we equalled the NZ score and the amazing heights of the summer and once again England triumphed in the super over, you couldn’t write it!
We are off on my South Island adventure now before the Test Series begins so look out for my next blog in about 10 days’ time. Those of you who haven’t been here yet it’s a must so start planning for 4 years’ time.
All the best