I've been having some distinctly un-London like experiences recently. I was contemplating them today, as I walked to the bus stop, wearing far, far too many clothes. Such a thing has never happened to me before on the 26th of October, but today, my jeans, ballet pumps, lightweight cardigan, and leather jacket combined to make me inappropriately dressed. It was sweltering. In fact, so far autumn has been what I can only describe as awesome. Is this global warming? Do I need to be scared, and start taking shorter showers? A few cold snaps here and there - but nothing compared to what I've become accustomed to. The whole weekend was pretty glorious too - a little rainy on Saturday, yes, but more than made up for by Sunday. And Saturday was such fun the rain really went unnoticed.
I went into town. Again. That makes - um - quite a few times in the last couple of months (I don't keep count! What am I, a complete loser?) Escaped the SW6 yet again and made my way through Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Piccadilly, and down to Haymarket, for a lovely visit to New Zealand House.
And it really is New Zealand House. They're very authentic. We were there to pick up rugby tickets, and the first thing we saw upon entering was a handwritten sign (black Vivid on A4 - and you know it was a Vivid, none of this Sharpie rubbish) saying 'RUGBY TICKETS' with an arrow pointing to a table that was set up, literally two feet away. It was a beautiful thing. So Kiwi. Helpful, even though it was rather unnecessary, cobbled together quickly to fulfill a need, more a thing of utility than beauty. It was Taihape on a sign. It may as well have been made of No.8 wire and duct tape. Phenomenal.
We were expecting to run into problems at this juncture, as we waited in the NZ sized line (there were two people in front of us). H1 had not fully read the instructions on his email, because he doesn't really 'do' the bottom of emails, and so we didn't have photocopies of every passport, as required, nor did we have a printout of the email. We weren't overly worried - where there's a will there's a way. So we approached the lovely lady sitting behind the desk (it was like an old-fashioned wooden desk that people of my era had in primary school, when you graduated to J3, up from the communal tables, not like an impressive business-y desk or anything, as would usually grace an...embassy? ...Consulate? ...Tourist information spot? Hmmm, I have no idea what New Zealand House actually is, it seems.
We explained our predicament, starting with the passports. 'No worries' she said, with a look of slight surprise on her face. We continued to explain the lack of confirmation email. That too, was a 'no worries' situation. This time she looked surprised and...disdainful? From anyone else I would think disdain, but not from a Kiwi. Certainly not from this one, who gently asked for the booking name and found our tickets, all the while looking at us in a - aha - pitying way. She saw through us. She knew we'd been here too long, and she got why we thought it was going to be hard. I swear she nearly dropped a 'bro' onto the end of her second 'no worries', but lost her nerve, scared this would be the final straw to make us straighten up, stiffen our upper lips, and march out of there to have a nice strong cup of tea.
Then she offered us a Mintie. One for the road, just like that. We accepted gracefully, and laughed as we wandered out, chewing our Minties, our teeth loosening dangerously in our gums. We laughed at our naivety, our mild distrust of bureaucracy, our ever-so-slightly tense shoulders. Then we got back on the bike and drove towards the safety of Fulham at speed.
Three and a half years is a long time, but not too long. New Zealand is an incredible place, and when we're ready, it will be exciting to head back there - and we are lucky lucky lucky that we have that option, and lucky lucky lucky to have the option of being here, while it suits, while it still makes sense*. A visit to New Zealand House will be my new way of dealing with any stray homesickness that may crop up - I will just offer to make signs for them, or something. Mini-Taihapes** perhaps, small town wonders created from popsicle sticks and duct tape and No.8 wire (this is how the actual Taihape was built, right?)***
*I'm thinking that might be until the sun stops shining - then listen to how fast I change my tune. **Sorry for all the Taihape jokes - I spent a night trying to sleep in a van there once when I was 11. The Desert Road was closed due to snow, and despite us pulling in at the reasonable hour of 9m or so, all the motels were closed - it was unavoidable, and has scarred me for life. ***General apology to all who are not Kiwis, both for the Kiwi-oriented humour, and because you are not a Kiwi. Sorry.