This morning I come to you from a slightly overcast but wonderfully green and lush ‘Top 10’ Holiday park in Martinborough, New Zealand. It’s 5.45am and my family is still sound asleep in our tiny, two room cabin after they partied their butts off last night at one of my best highschool friends' wedding.

I love a good wedding (who doesn’t!) and last night's banger did not disappoint. It was also the kids first proper wedding which made it extra special as they’ve been talking about it for months. Alice finally got to wear her rainbow, sequin ballet flats with the pink bows that had been brought several weeks in advance for the occasion. 

I hadn’t been to a wedding for years and last night I was reminded about how incredibly fun and meaningful they are. Honestly, I’d always been quite sceptical of the whole thing (marriage that is, not my friend getting married). I’m not entirely sure why, but it made the decision for Matt and I to elope an easy one. Perhaps I didn’t truly appreciate how important weddings are to the people who surround and support the couple getting married. Obviously the focus is the couple getting married but last night there was an overwhelming feeling of comradery amongst the guests. 

We were like a passionate crowd cheering on their favourite sports team. I think this vibe was exaggerated by the fact that I was hanging out with some of my closest highschool friends, which, having lived in Australia for the last 19 years, doesn’t happen all that often.

I went to a rather small, all girls presbyterian school that was Form 1 to 7 (grade 6 to 12 in modern terms maybe) so I first met some of these ladies when I was 11. There were only 48 of us and we quite literally grew up together. Age 11 to 18 are probably some of the most formative years of a young person's life. 

The friendships forged in those years made deep grooves and like a favourite record, you know all the words. Despite years having passed, there is but a beat before you step back into the beautiful familiarity of a song you all know so well. I’ve missed that having lived overseas for all these years but it's also humbling coming back and dropping into the same tune like high school was just yesterday.  

I’m always proud to bring my family to New Zealand. I want to show off the place and the people but this time it was the kids I was most proud of. Man, those kids can party. Frank was given a green light on drinking coke (reserved for special occasions only and in limited amounts) and he went to town. I must’ve seen him go up to the bar a dozen times getting refills. He was going for the hard stuff as well, not the sugar free. An old mate said they heard some kids up at the bar asking for a coke and when the guy behind the bar grabbed for the sugar free bottle, the kids said, ‘no, not that stuff, I want the good stuff with the red label please’. At least he knows what he likes - I was secretly hoping he’d drink so much he’d be sick and never do it again but it turns out the kids can hold his fizz.

Alice on the other hand was the life of the party. I’ve never seen a 6 year old work a crowd so well. She had all my highschool friends smitten with the first hug and she was the ringleader of the babies with quite a few under two’s at the party being entertained by her. 

My two favourite parts of the wedding were when the dance floor started and Alice, Matt and I had a dance (Frank won’t have a bar of it) and during the speeches at the end. Alice was sitting on my lap and getting restless so to entertain herself she lip synced along to the speeches and acted out what was being said. It's hard to capture how hilarious this was in words but it was one of the funniest things she’s ever done and Alice is a funny kid. I loved every second of it.

The family is starting to slowly rise now and I’ll have to sort out breakfast which is coco pops in a mug because we’re completely unprepared for life in a cabin. It’s been a real treat bringing my family to this part of New Zealand and reconnected with old and loved friends. I often think about what it would be like if we lived here rather than Australia. It would be wonderful to have some of these lovely people in our lives more but by not living here we keep New Zealand 'special’. It’s a treat and a gift and we’re so grateful for the time we get to spend here. I like to keep NZ on the top shelf, alongside Frank red label coke.

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