My Englishman gave me a priceless gift for our fourth wedding anniversary, it out-trumped mine.
I had been consulting wedding anniversary gift lists and discovered the traditional wedding gift for the fourth wedding anniversary is fruit and flowers – fruit for the boy and flowers for the girl, I assume.
So I racked my brain. Fruit. What kind of fruit. An Apple – no not that kind, can’t afford that kind. A fine pair of pamplemousse? (Oh la la!)
What about grapes hand fed to him as I fanned him with a palm frond.
That would have been perfect if it had been summer. Or if we’d been in Fiji. Sadly neither of those two conditions applied. It was Auckland and pissing down. And surprisingly cold.
So I did what any resourceful wife would do in the circumstances – I booked a trip overseas. To Waiheke, the island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, 35 minutes by ferry from our home in Half Moon Bay.
No matter that it was pouring with rain. No matter that it was a little brisk. No matter that they were predicting gale force winds of over 120 kms per hour.
We jumped on the Sealink using their special deal of only $1 return and headed out onto the harbour. Sealink is typically a vehicular ferry but the upstairs lounge is quite comfortable for foot passengers. They even have good coffee, but then this is NZ- that’s par for the course.
The trip out from Half Moon Bay Marina was calm enough and the sea was lizard green. My Englishman and I, still shy at being recently reunited, fussed about each other politely.
“Egg and bacon muffin?”
“Thanks very much. It’s quite tasty isn’t it?”
The waters passed under the boat – time moving on. Five months’ worth of time and distance ebbing away.
We arrived at the Sealink terminal at the southern end of the island and caught the Sealink shuttle up to Oneroa for the princely sum of $4 return, and spent the rest of the morning browsing in the vintage shops and perusing the art at the Waiheke Art Gallery.
The main drag on Waiheke takes all of fifteen minutes to wander through, and even on a dull day the beach below looked absolutely divine. Fresh, clean and new with every insistent roll of surf crashing in onto the shore.
We dodged showers and sipped coffees, wistfully wandered past The Oyster Inn (I did, my Englishman’s not partial to oysters) and laughed at the sign atop the local butcher’s shop, which read ‘All animals are created equal, some just taste better!’
As we sipped coffee, I smiled quietly as I remembered a warm September day in 2007 when we had last visited Waiheke on my Englishman’s first trip to NZ.
A cafe owner had pointed out how smiley we were.
‘Oh lovers, how wonderful,’ she had exclaimed. And we’d both blushed beetroot.
Was it that obvious?
There was no blushing today, our relationship no longer new, though not old and tired either. There’s been enough excitement in the past six years to keep us guessing and learning.
He knows I fear surprises, of not being in control. I know he hates being late (even though he frequently is).
I hailed a cab for our trip to Mudbrick Vineyard.
It took us along the hilly streets and out onto the ridge behind the Matiatia Wharf to Mudbrick’s carpark, where roses – each one sprinkled with recent rain – led the way to the cellar door.
The fourth anniversary is traditionally celebrated with gifts of flowers and fruit. What better fruit is there than the fermented grape?
And Mudbrick Vineyard was the romantic setting for that lovely afternoon we had shared together on Waiheke back in 2007 when our romance was still new.
The divine vineyard platter ($60) served in the little dining room off the cellar door was full of tasty bites of seafood and calamari and rare Angus beef fillet. There was a tasty artichoke dip,home made breads and freshly seared prawns.
We drank – slowly – a glass each of Shepherds Point Shiraz from the Mudbrick Vineyard enjoying every last tease of flavour - of blackcurrant and licorice.
And as the cloud shrouded the city in the far distance we pulled in close together in the soft light of the afternoon, Putamayo music in the background and fairy lights strung from the rough-hewn rafters.
We talked, remembered and reaffirmed our romance.
That was my wedding anniversary gift to him.
He sucked back fear and flew 12,000 miles to arrive back in Auckland on the actual date of our wedding.
It was the perfect wedding anniversary – fruit, flowers and each other.
But more than that, it was the perfect ending to a new beginning together in Auckland.
Where: Waiheke Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. The island has a population of 8000 and is known for its magnificent vineyards.
How much: Sealink will cost a family of four and a car from their Half Moon Bay Marina – $140 return.
Where to eat: Oneroa has a number of smart cafes and brasseries, though for something special you cannot beat Mudbrick. Cellar door platters for two are $60. Wines by the glass from about $16. Wine tastings at the cellar door are priced from $10 each.
Why go: For the wine, the food and to get out of the big Smoke. The wine is a treat – carefully crafted you can taste every ounce of love. Food is fresh and world-class. There’s a delicious novelty about being on the island and the views of Auckland and the harbour are magnificent.