Fifi, dear Fifi, embarrassed herself this weekend. No, she didn’t wet herself again, she just clammed up, wasn’t in the mood and couldn’t be coaxed to behave. Talk about pick your moments!
I’d just gone down to the ferry to pick up Bob and Marion. Master of Wine Bob. Yes, that one. Bob and Marion were coming to stay with me and we were going to do a tasting of vintage wines for our event the next day at Casita Miro. I waved out to them as they walked off the ferry, and when we got to the car we put their stuff in the boot – Bob always travels with half a dozen bottles of wine (good!) – and once the loot was stashed I went to open the passenger door to let Marion in the back. Fifi refused to oblige. Like, she just went, ‘Nah, not doin’ it anymore’ and stayed shut. Very shut. Oh, this was new behaviour, and today of all days. I was glad it was not raining. There was no other option, but for them to pile into the back and for me to ‘chauffeur’ them to Rocky Bay.
Don’t get me wrong, they were absolutely fine with it, and on Waiheke, this is normal behaviour, and something you quickly learn is just to ‘let it go’, ‘cos really, who gives a stuff: you are getting picked up, in a car, not by donkey, and you get to where you are going. Some people though, do shuffle their feet a bit, and look wistfully at passing taxis, but definitely not Bob & Marion. I remember years ago being collected from the ferry by friends in rather suspect cars, and moving crumbs, dog hair, parking tickets and whatnot off the seats before sitting down in my newly washed and pressed Auckland clothes, then feeling gritty sand slide around under my shoes, thinking, ‘Oh, so this is Waiheke’. It takes just a moment to adjust. If you are adjustable.
Waiheke is like a childhood seaside adventure and living here just like a wonderful big dream. Holidaymakers have the life sucked out of their cars when they take them back to Auckland, but if you live here, what’s the point? You are sooner or later going to be picking someone up from the beach laden with wet towels, driftwood, shells … or you’ll have a dog in the back, if not the front, or bags of compost in the boot or rubbish to take to the dump, so as long as your car goes, and everything functions, all is good. I had a word to Fifi and told her I don’t mind her farting when we go around corners, belching occasionally, and smelling a bit, well, grungy, on hot days. But really! Refusing to open the door!
It was one of those weekends. It had been stormy. Friday I made hummus. Buckets of it, for the lunch on Sunday. Things went a bit weird. I could hear the tank going (pumping the collected rainwater up to the reservoir tank), and I heard it again later. It should only go for 16 minutes. I’d done washing, as you do on a wet day if you are stupid, and had to use the dryer, and the dryer wouldn’t start. I didn’t know why, so draped all the wet sheets (being washed for my guests) in the courtyard. The dishwasher completed a cycle washing up most of the hummus preparation dishes, but refused to start for a second batch. The tank kept on pumping and pumping … Something was wrong. I turned it off and made a cup of tea. I had hummus coming out my ears. I could hardly think. I decided to hunker down and wait for morning. I called Colin from Rangihoua and he came and sorted out the tank. He’s good like that. Empty the filter every few months he advised. He did it, and the tank was back to normal. And, if you push the reset button the dryer will restart. Hardly rocket science is it. But cool! The dishwasher was a mystery though.
Bob, Marion and I set about our tasting business quite seriously about 5.00pm on Saturday – long table, white tablecloth, all the wines, all the food items I had collected, cut, drained, fried or whatever, ready to go. Bob used a spittoon and did the swirly spit thing. Marion and I just swallowed. I mean, these were top-notch wines! After awhile Bob stopped spitting too! We made copious notes and put everything in order.
I cooked dinner, baked stuffed mushrooms and cauliflower steaks, and cavolo nero with chilli and garlic. It was all we needed after all that tasting. Then we realised we had a mountain of glasses and plates to wash and no dishwasher. Oh, gracious guests, well, they just got stuck in and did them. Then the hot water ran out. This was hardly a bother, as it is just a matter of switching a gas cylinder off and switching the new one on. Miracle of miracles, I had already ordered my new gas cylinder.
Sleep came easy to us all that night in Rocky Bay. The wind blew, the trees rustled, the rain fell in sheets. Come the morning Bob and Marion piled themselves into the back of Fifi and off we drove to Casita Miro for what turned out to be an outstanding event.
Fifi kept her worst trick for last. I drove my son Luca back to the ferry later in the evening. The driver’s door was marginally weird to open, but it did open, so off we went to the ferry. It was a black wet night. When Luca extracted himself from the backseat (he’s tall!) we both had a weird feeling that Fifi might play up and lock me in. I didn’t fancy sleeping huddled over the steering wheel until someone found me the next day, so I had a contingency plan and drove home very very carefully. She was fine and in the morning the driver’s door opened like a dream. But not the passenger door. I could always enter and exit the car via the hatch I suppose …