I had a great trip down to Wellington over the past couple of days. My father ferried me to the big city on Thursday and joined me to visit my grandmother, who is still with us, thank goodness. She’s turning 96 next Friday. That’s an impressive age.
I spent Thursday afternoon with my dear friend Anna and her gorgeous boys, three year old Sam and nine month old Charlie. Sam is such a nice little kid: friendly, happy, chatty – and brave, too. He was riding his scooter along as we walked to a local shop and he managed to knock his face with the handlebars (because he was adopting a low ‘speed’ stance). He put his teeth into his lip and it bled for a good ten minutes – serious amount of blood, dripping off his chin and all over the place. He barely even cried. I would have been howling like a loon if it had happened to me. And Charlie is the kind of smiley, sweet, chilled out baby that people like me just want to steal for a while. Anna is obviously a magnificent mother to have produced two such lovely chaps!
I was staying with my friend Davey during my time in Wellington, so we just hung out at home and ate pizza and caught up on Thursday night. Davey was coming to the tail end of a four-week detox, so we made our plans for our Friday of mayhem.
On Friday morning I visited Melissa, an old friend from school who I have been fortunate enough to catch up with again through the mighty powers of Facebook. Melissa has a two year old daughter, the beautiful Nienke, and a brand new baby boy called Willem. She also had her mother on hand to help with some of the heavy lifting, because she’s a smart cookie. It was all happiness in Melissa’s household: new baby on the go; a new house bought recently; a husband who, after a bit of career frustration, has ended up with work that he likes; and – as the icing on the cake – a very nice Lotto win last week – not a life-changing amount, but enough to make the house move much easier and more fun. It couldn’t have happened to nicer people.
It was so lovely to visit these sensible, grown-up friends, but it was also great fun to kick back with Davey and pretend to be young and stupid again. We met up at 1pm on Friday and ran around town for the rest of the day. We started off with a very tasty lunch at some Malaysian joint. Next up, we went to The Lanes for a spot of ten-pin bowling and a refreshing pint of cider each. And although Davey won both games, I must say that I was pretty awesome! You never know, I might become a professional ten-pin bowler and kick into touch all of that ‘save the world’ malarky.
The weather was terrible, so we resigned ourselves to indoor entertainment for the rest of the afternoon and headed to Ballroom to play pool and drink beer. We were both shockingly bad. I hadn’t played for a long time, and it showed. Davey has no real excuse – he was probably just letting me win, and managed to disguise it really well. Later on, Dion (another very old friend) joined us.
It was time for another pint of cider, so we went to Meow – a very funky bar that has been decorated to look like your parents’ living room, circa. 1974. And we were joined by Matty, a top bloke who I met in London a few years ago and who moved back to Wellington late in 2009.
We then spent a few hours at the Southern and joined some of Davey’s work mates – one of his colleagues was leaving. I met so many nice people (some of whom I had also met when I was in Wellington last year and went to a Guy Fawkes party). However, my memory is terrible and I can’t recall anybody’s name. Stink! This was another cool bar (seriously, Wellington is FULL of cool bars – it’s fabulous). This one was particularly funny, though – when I was young and living in Wellington a hundred years ago, this place was two separate venues: a smelly old man pub (the Southern) and a student bar (Zebos). Zebos would do a half-price cocktail thing every Wednesday night and we would all go there and get chopped to bits. Now, it’s all one place, and it’s like Meow in its decor: very funky seventies vibe. Zebos was famed for having a garden bar, and this new version of the place has kept it and made it glam. If I lived on that side of town I think I’d spend many summer evenings there.
While we were at the Southern we picked up a few more strays: Davey’s friend Dave (who I also met when I was visiting in October) and some English guys that were seconded from the UK to the Inland Revenue, were Dave works. One of the English guys, Ravi, couldn’t get in to the Southern because they said he looked under 25 (he was 25, I think, but he looked about 17, bless him), so Davey, Dave, English John, Ravi and I moved on. We tried Matterhorn (a bit of a Wellington institution these days), but either we were too impatient or things were a bit slow, because we didn’t get table service straight away and then decided that we couldn’t possibly put up with that kind of nonsense and had to move on. So we wandered down Courtenay Place and found the next venue: Library Bar. It was one of those places where you come to a totally unremarkable door next to a shop, tip a wink to the door guy, head up some hum-drum stairs and find yourself in an awesome bar. This place just seemed to do lovely drinks and also puddings, so it’s pretty much my idea of bar heaven.
We didn’t have pudding, but we did put away a couple of bottles of red wine. At this stage another English guy pitched up – Tom, who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying life on secondment and who tried many of his best lines on me. As he looked no older than 15 I asked him when he was born. 1987, he said. I told him that I started secondary school in 1987. Unperturbed, he tried another line or two. I asked him what he was doing in March 1999. He said that he would have been 11. I replied that I was getting married then. We agreed that he could have been a page boy – him and Ravi.
By this stage it must have been after 2am, so we rounded off the evening with some jaeger bombs at The Apartment. I think we left at 4ish, and headed back to Davey’s house for another beer before sending the English boys on their way and then staggering off to our respective rooms after 5am. Hardcore.
However, Davey and I couldn’t help but be reasonably responsible: we both drank a lot of water (and Coke, in my case) in between the beer, cider, wine, shots (I think we had shots at the Southern) and God knows what else, and although I was absolutely knackered yesterday, I was in fine fettle. But let’s be honest: I am far too old for this kind of caper…
And this post should have been illustrated with many photos, but these will have to follow, as I left my camera at that last bar and need Davey to collect it for me.