Planet Retirement can sometimes be a bewildering place and with a scarcity of UK retirement blogs out there (other than those proffering financial advice) I thought I'd keep my own.

Please visit from time to time and do add your comments. Popular posts and those highlighting my journey are specifically pinpointed on the right hand side together with a list of topics covered. Alternatively you may prefer to look at the Summary or the Tips from Wisdom Acquired or even our Have Visited List with its retirement atlas and dip in and out of the blog using the links given.

Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Project Restoration

We returned from Scotland last week with an empty diary and a boot full of cushions. Mister E, with his love of all things nautical, is embracing a new project and looking to restore a much cherished but recently neglected classic yacht of demure proportions. Just perfect for the two of us to sail apparently, after our family boat from the last decade, despite its electric winches, stands accused of causing bursitis in our respective shoulders and has been steadily getting a little high for my stiff knees to clamber aboard.

Possibly driven by a fear of joint pain, I have been willingly recruited to assist in Project Restoration. My participation started in Scotland with a meeting at Crinan Boatyard to explore the feasibility and timescale of various essential jobs as highlighted by a survey (time spent: 1 hour). Then there was an onboard meeting with the seller, his wife and their dog (time spent: 3 hours). The trouble with "boaties" is not that they find so much in common but rather that they can't stop talking about it!

The meetings were followed by an afternoon and morning (time spent: 6 hours) measuring and stripping out the interior where the fragrance of Eau de Diesel permeated all. The Bank Holiday heatwave stretching across the UK omitted only that part of Argyll that we were visiting, so we took the view we had to work up a sweat to avoid missing out.

To be fair we also visited the Scottish National Trust's garden at Arduaine from the adjacent Loch Melfort Hotel with its panoramic vista towards the Western Isles enabling us to watch porpoises and seals from our meal table as well as yachts entering and leaving the loch or Craobh Haven. There was also an opportunity to see the surrounding area, weighing up the pros and cons of various moorings and marina facilities as well as strolling around Crinan, particularly along the canal to watch yet more yachts! Yes that SNT garden was an idyllic retreat with its azaleas in full bloom and no floating vessels to be seen.

Our return journey was long but scenic, especially passing through Rest and Be Thankful with snow clearly visible in the crevices on higher peaks, a stark contrast to Loch Lomond where we finally picked up the British heatwave. Fortunately the sun has continued to shine and the Restoration Project has peristed within the confines of our garden. Whilst Mister E has been lovingly spreading sails and ropes out on the lawn, I have been waging war on mildew, that ever invasive enemy of boat upholstery. With a ready supply of white vinegar (I recently took delivery of 20 litres), I was well prepared to mount an attack on armies of mould as well as the odour of diesel. Believe it or not, despite its initial pungence, it's reckoned that vinegar is actually perfect for absorbing odours and with the assistance of a dilute bleach solution and a scented fabric conditioner I am steadily turning both cushion inners and covers into clean and fresh smelling articles. 6 pairs of curtains, 6 small cushions and their covers, 5 berth pads, their inner linings and outer sleeves; a canvas door: all now restored (time spent: 12 hours, excluding soaking time) and only another 6 berth pads and coverings to go. 

I have even experimented with cleaning a teak panel with a diluted vinegar solution (time spent: 1 hour) and it has come up gleaming and ready to varnish. Hopefully the rest of the boat interior will respond in similar manner, though goodness knows how long that is going to take and of course it can't even be started until major issues with the windows, plumbing, instruments and engine have been sorted.

Will this be a three month, a year long or a whole of retirement project? Mister E will not be drawn but as you may have worked out I am counting the hours.

Friday, 11 May 2018

B&B in Scotland - A Recommendation

It's sometimes said that Scotland is a decade behind England when it comes to eating out and comfort. I do still have memories of being served tinned pears and evaporated milk for dessert in a guest house that the whole family shivered the night away in but to be fair that must have been 15 years ago. In our experience though, whatever hospitality North of the border may have lacked in providing for English softies, it always more than made up for with its expansive scenery and overt friendliness.

We are just back from another trip to undertake boat related "stuff"  but our visit included a wonderful overnight at Whitestone Cottage on the Culzean Castle estate in South Ayrshire. A 20 minute walk through woods and farmland down to an empty beach; the property where Robbie Burns' mother  was born; 2 duvets on the bed  in case the central heating wasn't sufficient; a supply of CDs, DVDs and reading material including local guidebooks; through the trees a seaview and a sunset over the water; a breakfast to defeat the most hearty of appetites (I think I counted at least 7 courses); a great welcome and good conversation with the owner.

There was nothing at all pretentious about the accommodation which is divided into a double room and a well equipped apartment for 3, or the whole cottage if you wish. A far cry from the bling of Trump Turnberry a few miles down the road, but for a taste of authentic Scotland (without a pear in sight) I know where my preferences lie.

Friday, 20 April 2018

The Sounds of Spring

The temperature, which until this week seemed to have been in denial about the arrival of Spring, may have delayed my early flower display but it doesn't seem to have stopped the annual bird mating season. Male songbirds have been launching into full throttle from daybreak. I love the idea of living in harmony with nature and there's nothing more delightful than the melodic  dawn chorus of a choir of blackbirds and songthrushes.

Unfortunately for us, this year, one out of tune thrush has been welcoming the dawn every morning from a strategic position on the roof above our bedroom. "Cherie, Cherie, Cherie," he has been chanting, "Pull it up, pull it up, pull it up."

I could almost feel sorry for Cherie, except she isn't the only one fatigued by his instruction which somedays has continued unabated, or so it has seemed, until dusk.

So could anything be worse than losing sleep daily as a result of a discordant feathered creature and an early bird who never actually catches or rather pulls up the worm?

Well the backing group hasn't helped: two lovestruck starlings on a tree branch outside our window, the male of which proudly demonstrates his powers of mimicry as he raucously shrills in echo to the thrush, "Shree, shree; here we go, here we go." 

Johnny Thrush and the Romantics; it's easy to appreciate why not every retired town-dweller is looking to downsize to the country.

Fortunately and perhaps it is just coincidence but two phenomenally warm days seem to have brought a halt to the proceedings. Miraculously where there were only bare twigs at the beginning of the week, buds have now started to appear and open on the trees and bushes and all colours of flowerheads are now nodding in the garden. I am fervently hoping that the mad menage of two legged crooners has matured too and perhaps will now concentrate its efforts on nestbuilding and raising young.

Of course, it's not only birds that can create a cacophony of sound. Have you ever heard a village worth of lawnmowers, all making the first cut of the season together? Well, it may have seemed a strange choice but despite a sudden and twenty degree hike in the temperature over the previous week, rather than relaxing in the garden and living according to and in attunement with the weather as I have constantly been advocating in retirement, we fled 40 miles to Newcastle's city centre. 

To be honest we did need to view some light fittings but also enjoyed a good walk along the Quayside (laughing at the surprising display of palm trees in tubs at 55 degrees North, but entirely appropriate for the continental feel to the day) as well as through some of the many squares and back streets. We ate out and also crossed the river to take in an art exhibition at the Baltic, "Turning Forty Winks into a Decade" by Sofia Stevi, suggesting she hadn't been getting much sleep either. Perhaps that out of tune song thrush gets about.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Preparing for Disaster

I'm conscious that when we retired in the summer of 2014 it seemed that we were never still, dashing from place to place, event to event for many months. Winter, coupled with a touch of retirement-complacency, however, seems to have a dampening effect on activity levels and it can be all too easy to slip into a hibernation malaise or even, in light of recent weather conditions, a rain associated disorder.

The return of the youngest for a week was therefore a welcome wake-up call making up for the lack of Spring, that seasonal harbinger of action.

So as well as our Easter Sunday venture, a trip to the cinema ("The Greatest Showman") and a day splashing in the pool and hot-tubs (inside and out) at the spa attached to the gym I frequent, we decided that learning how to make cheese would be a useful diversion.

In my quest for a simpler life, I am conscious that were the backbones of society ever to crumble then my chances of survival as the last person on Earth would be slim to say the least. Once I had raided the local shop of provisions and eaten my way through my vegetable patch, to what extent would I be able to endure? Surrounded by wild flowers and plants from hybrid seed would I ever produce an edible bean again? Could I dig a well, generate electricity or even construct a wheel? How would I round up a field of cows or shear a sheep and spin its wool to knit or weave?  Winters in retirement obviously give me far too much time to ponder.

In that vein and pandering to my imagination, we ventured into the Yorkshire Dales and to the Wensleydale creamery at Hawes. After a detailed demonstration as well as a peep into the actual factory, I'm not sure that it will be worth my while practising the ancient art of cheesemaking. If disaster strikes, however, I learnt enough to experiment, assuming always that I have it in me to extract some rennet from the stomach of a calf. 

Of more immediate use and greater enjoyment was the opportunity to sample some twenty or so varieties of cheese produced on site, as well as delighting in a wander around Hawes which we hadn't visited since those non-stop days of early retirement and Le Tour de Yorkshire.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

A Chilly Easter Sunday

When I was a child, Easter Sunday would invariably mean being decked out in new sandals and a summer dress. The youngest returned home for Easter this year but, apart from the fact that she'd never let me choose shoes or clothing for her, the temperature was such that there was no way I would even have dared suggest we wear such items. 

Instead layered up in a multitude of fleeces we visited Bylands Abbey (one of the many monasteries scattered around the Yorkshire countryside that have been in ruins since Henry VIII embarked on his policy of dissolution and plunder). 

From there and despite the low temperature we made our way to the White Horse, a renowned landmark carved out on the hillside to the east of Thirsk in the 19th century by, according to some accounts, a local schoolmaster and his pupils. Sadly it was looking rather grey and supports erected to prevent slippage of the stones were doubling as a collection point for wind borne litter. It's due a re-paint and spruce up this year but apparently in the interests of health and safety the Forestry Commission, rather than the group of volunteers who have been caring for it, are to carry out the work in future, suitably dressed, harnessed and tethered. I do wonder if some of those school children who helped in its construction (no ropes or harnesses involved presumably) wore sandals and dresses, of the Victorian type of course. Nevertheless, at the bottom of the hill, we spotted their hardy descendants queuing for ice-cream despite the 4 degree chill!

Does age (as well as more than 150 years of Health and Safety) bring commonsense or wimpishness? Not only did I seek to be cocooned in layers on the outside but the idea of removing gloves to devour frozen fare held no appeal. My nose alone was icy enough for my taste.

The benefit for us of walking in the cold was reaped instead when we re-entered the warmth  of indoors and conjured up a pot of tea.


Sunday, 11 March 2018


We are now, it seems, all familiar with the Danish concept of Hygge; a feeling of charm and cosiness that acknowledges special moments of intimacy. Yugga, according to an article I was reading in 'This is Yorkshire' (one of those items of reading material left out in hotel bedrooms), is essentially the same thing but in Yorkshire. 

Consequently we have just returned from three days spent revelling in the concept: a mini break; two charming country house hotels; roaring fires; my mobile off; a celebratory lunch with family; strolling along the cliffs at Flamborough Head and then the beach at Filey; pre-dinner drinks served to our sofa; exploring Beverley with its cobbled streets and huge Minster; locally sourced ingredients for dinner; cooked breakfasts; a spa with saunas, steam rooms and an outdoor pool; a memorable art exhibition; cosy coffee shops; small picturesque Wolds' villages and enormous vistas on the North Yorkshire Moors; Helmsley's Friday Market; a handmade cake, courtesy of my sister. 

Hygge, Yorkshire style, has much to recommend it especially when you are celebrating a milestone birthday.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

The 3 x 60 Challenge

So much is written about the post-work bucket list that as you approach retirement, you inevitably feel that you should have one. A tick list of 100 things to see and do before you die. You don't even have to think up your own any more, the Internet is full of them. Glance through them if you will and you quickly get the impression that retirement must be full of adrenalin rushed grandparents throwing themselves out of aeroplanes or climbing Kilimanjaro.

Indeed the eldest recently sent a book to Mister E and me entitled "101 Coolest Things to Do in Great Britain." Now it is a good read and has some, shall we say, "interesting ideas" but for those that hold the most appeal I can honestly say that I've already been there, done them, got the photographs. There are others that wild horses wouldn't drag me to. It may be cool, but somehow Mister E and I attending Bestival is beyond even the most vivid of imaginations.

The problem with trying to buy into somebody else's dream is obviously that it is their dream and not yours. Moreover if any retired person has really adopted or even adapted a 100 item bucket list prepared by somebody else what have they been doing up till now apart from working?  Not to have determined what I really enjoy doing in the first part of my life and knowing from that what I wanted to build on or expand in the next part, would have seemed to me a gross disservice to both my imagination and experience.

Of course most people must land on Planet Retirement with all kinds of plans and good intentions, borrowed or otherwise, but, as this blog has probably charted, life doesn't necessarily follow the pattern proposed. Freedom and flexibility can foster indolence, but how many people ever include in their Must Do List "never rising before 10am"?

Before we retired, we had plans which I carefully documented on this blog (lest I perhaps forget). Ah yes, with reference to my preceding paragraph, a quick refresh would suggest I did plan on occasions to revel in doing nothing! 

Plans can be very different to bucket lists. In our case they were probably better regarded as a statement of intent, rather than a checklist to work through. In so far as we have any inventory of items to tick off, it is unwritten, shifting according to circumstance; a vague, unstructured catalogue or wish list, driven by impetuosity and whims. I prefer it like that. Imagine instead waking every morning knowing that the next item on the list awaits preparation and then conquest. How disappointing never to make it to the end of the list; failure to succeed in retirement. Or perhaps it would even be worse to complete the bucket list, and then be confronted by an abyss. What would follow? Contentment or an empty life?

I'm not proposing that in retirement we should all drift aimlessly, although if that is your preferred option then why not? If a competitive workplace has been your driving force for decades, however, then there may well be an inevitable tendency to look for specific goals and targets in retirement. Perhaps that even explains why the initial starting point is to think in terms of a bucket list.

However, I can well and truly say that, fast approaching my 4th anniversary of retirement, if I ever had a bucket it has now well and truly sprung a leak. Instead and with my big 60th birthday at the end of the current week, I have set myself 3 simple challenges. They are intended to fit in with my lifestyle and initial plans. So as I have previously mentioned  I am going to read 60 books this year (11 already down, 49 to go); I am going to swim 60 times (only 8 sessions to date, 52 to complete) and I intend to visit 60 unfamiliar places (impeded by wintry conditions, I haven't even started). I cannot countenance failure, and if necessary shall spend December swimming from place to place, paperback in hand.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

A Sculptural Conundrum

Readers of this blog will know by now that I enjoy modern art and sculpture and have spent many a day visiting galleries and exhibitions, admiring sculpture outdoors as well as inside.

Whilst staying in the Lake District last week, imagine, therefore, my excitement to learn that a piece for a new exhibition called Lakes Ignite 2018 was to be installed only a half mile or so up the beck from where we were staying. Called Ordnance Pavilion, it has been created by Studio MUTT and is intended to acknowledge the impact Ordnance Survey mappings have had on our interaction with the landscape.

Last year the Lake District was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site with the intention that this would help preserve and protect this beautiful English National Park with its rich cultural landscape. Lakes Ignite 2018 aims to celebrate this designation.

Now I like art to surprise and leave a lingering memory or conundrum to puzzle over. This piece certainly did that but maybe I'm simply getting old or else am a Philistine after all as, with the backdrop of  Wordsworth's "solemn Pikes of Langdale," it wasn't at all what I was expecting. What do you think?

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Lessons in Life from Alfred Wainwright

It is hard to visit the Lake District and not be reminded of Alfred Wainwright, the celebrated fellwalker and author whose Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells in seven volumes remains the leading authority on hill walking in the area.

Whilst out in the open air last week many of his written thoughts also came to mind. The joy of shared experience and of the human sub-conscious perhaps, or an attempt to answer the most profound of questions that haunt our every moment.

Wainwright's answer however, whilst illuminating, fell short of providing a definitive answer to that one word question, "Why?":

"...more and more people are turning to the hills; they find something in these wild places that can be found nowhere else. It may be solace for some, satisfaction for others: the joy of exercising muscles that modern ways of living have cramped, perhaps; or a balm for jangled nerves in the solitude and silence of the peaks; or escape from the clamour and tumult of everyday existence. It may have something to do with man's subconscious search for beauty, growing keener as so much in the world grows uglier. It may be a need to re-adjust his sights, to get out of his narrow groove and climb above it to see wider horizons and truer perspectives. In a few cases, it may even be a curiousity inspired by A Wainwright's Pictorial Guides. Or it may be, and for most walkers it will be, quite simply, a deep love of the hills, a love that has grown over the years, whatever motive first took them there: a feeling that these hills are friends, tried and trusted friends, always there when needed. It is a question every man must answer for himself." (Book 4, The Southern Fells)

Perhaps I ought not to have placed too much faith in an author who is also notorious for writing,"There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing." (A Coast to Coast Walk).  

The Lake District is renowned for its wet weather (how else could it be so green) and even clad in appropriate layers with waterproof trousers, hooded coat and boots, there was no disguising the torrents of rain and swirling cloud that followed the snow and for most of the week deprived us of any kind of view whilst turning the ground into a slippery muddy bog.

Still there is always his: "The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent, but the hills are eternal. Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits. These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is still time will be blessed both in mind and body." (Book 7, The Western Fells)

Unfortunately, in my case he totally underestimated the effect. I certainly spent a week in our favourite location in Langdale revelling in a forest beside a beck surrounded by high ridges. However, whilst I may have felt blessed in body, somewhere along the way my capacity of mind let me down again. Moreover and as has previously been the case, my lack of mental awareness was again closely related to a beloved camera. Last March I regaled for you the tale of how the dropping of a camera case set off a chain of  inopportune lapses. Then on our last stay in Langdale, in August 2017, I managed to leave behind the camera charger that I so much needed for the ensuing trip to Norway, recovering it a month later (and that after mislaying a charger for my previous camera). On this most recent occasion, however, I have outshone all previous failings and appear to have left behind my recently acquired camera, lens protector, case and USB connector! My mind may have been blessed, but with what I do not care to speculate. 

Of course, I am still in denial. Didn't I check our lodge before leaving; surely the camera case and contents were by my feet throughout the journey even if I can't now recall actually seeing them there; how come I even felt smug in the knowledge that I had most carefully made sure to pack the charger and ensure that the camera and accessories were piled on a chair for collection with an assortment of other important items all of which made it home? Was I really so distracted by the rain tumbling from the sky in torrents that, in preparing to make the short run from door to car, I overlooked my most treasured and constantly used item?

Yes I have made a telephone call. Somebody is ringing me back tomorrow. In the meantime I can only hope and draw solace from another of AW's quotes:
"You were made to soar, to crash to earth, then to rise and soar again."

At present, I am in crash position, crumpled and dejected.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Festive Fever

Eventful or calm and peaceful, I never quite know how to describe that week beginning with Christmas and ending with New Year. Interspersed with periods of: family and togetherness, memories and resolutions, indulgence and even gluttony, activity and then indolence, nostalgia and reflection; it is definitely a unique time of the year.

For us this year was different in that for the first time in modern history the eldest was at the opposite side of the world and not therefore with us to enjoy what have become our own family traditions. Even the beloved Boxing Day Quiz had to be deferred when he failed to rustle up an internet connection on the national park trek that he was undertaking.

A quarter down, we still manoeuvred our way through the week, even managing an overnight trip to Hull before its reign as the UK City of Culture 2017 finished. Less than 80 miles away, it took an end of year cut off date to get us there. Who thought working to deadlines has no application to retirement?

Of course we ended up travelling on the snowiest day of the winter so far, but with the early evening darkness were able to appreciate not only the city's Christmas lights but also a series of robotic installations in the atmospheric old town area by Jason Bruges on the theme of "Where do we go from here?"

There is something almost sureal about standing on a cold December night watching a robot attempt to communicate with a statue of William Wilberforce, not to mention a circle of them working together to send a series of laser beams upwards or the more inquisitive set outside the Minster which seemed to deliberately inquire and to interrogate the visitor beneath.

I really appreciate how art speaks to the individual and we each take something complex to describe but personally moving or inspiring away from it 

We wandered from gallery to gallery.

Amongst them we took in the Turner prize short-list at the Ferens Art Gallery and after seeing the winning collection by Lubaina Himid, I am of course inspired with the idea of buying china plates from charity shops and adding my own artistic flair and cultural message (if only) to them.

An exhibition that stood out for all of us was a Portrait of a City especially the photographs by Martin Parr of food in Hull. It did little to convince us of haute cuisine on Humberside nor were we persuaded of the need to try a deep fried pattie but I was left with the memory of the vibrancy of  the culinary delights on offer and, albeit solely in the imagination, the smell of cooking. 

We also enjoyed the display entitled "Turner and the Whale." JMW Turner's paintings of whaling ships were showcased alongside pictures from the Hull school of art and artefacts from the historic whaling industry in the city. Forget painting china plates, I want to create a masterpiece in oils of sea, and light and waves.

A feverish boost of creativity lasting 24 hours had to be a sure fire way to return home uplifted, motivated and ready to make my resolutions for 2018. Except it wasn't... yes, I had festive fever alright but of the sneezing, high temperature, runny nosed variety. Confined to bed for two days, I missed the New Year's arrival and have been too weak and befuddled to consider my objectives for what is already the present year.

Thankfully the brain fog is now lifting but to make life easier for my somewhat delicate state (I exaggerate), I simply avow to continue with those resolutions from last year which somehow seem even more appropriate with increasing global turmoil. So once again in 2018 and without comment on how I fared last year, I resolve to follow what I seek to be the pattern of my retirement and:

1. Be happy and enjoy the fun in everything
2. Stand up for what I believe in and endeavour to engage others to fight the cause
3. Use less (avoiding single use plastic in particular), live simply and shop locally wherever possible
4. Think globally and be aware of the impact of my footprints on the planet and the suffering of all those in war zones or denied the liberties that I enjoy, doing what I can to raise awareness and improve outcomes
5. In an annual tradition, or perhaps because I'm still suffering from a virus induced delirium, lose weight and get fit.

Finally, albeit a little delayed: best wishes for 2018, everyone.

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Grand Finale: Wellington and Auckland


Wellington with a population of just over 400,000 people is the capital of New Zealand, neatly placed at the bottom end of the North Island across the Cook Straits from the South Island. Auckland with a population of over 1.5 million is the country's largest city but was its capital for a brief period of 24 years only, commencing in 1841. Although now both modern, outward looking cities, they are very different.
We were privileged to stay two nights in Wellington in  a harbourside hotel, within walking distance of all the main sights. The city has a reputation for being "edgy." That's a state that is hard to define but you do come away feeling that it lives up to the concept, regardless. Coffee shops and craft beers; sculptures and a redeveloped waterfront; the cable car/railway and botanical gardens; the wind that whistles through and makes you bend double; the historic buildings especially around the Parliamentary quarter. 
We visited the National Museum, Te Papa, with its floors devoted to Maori history and the natural world and geological phenomena of the country; perhaps that is somewhere that may be of more interest as an introduction to the country as, nearing the end of our time there, it served more as a reminder of what we had seen and learnt but was woefully incapable of reproducing fully the experiences within the confines of a museum's walls. We did, however, see an exhibition in the National Library which concluded our journey of discovery and included the original Declaration of Independence, Waitangi Treaty and the Women's Suffrage Petition (women were granted the right to vote in 1890, 38 years before their counterparts in Britain).

We flew back to Auckland for our last 3 nights in New Zealand, the longest consecutive stay
that we made anywhere during our trip. Although we had passed through Auckland on 3 previous occasions, we had not explored the centre and now did so including the waterfront and Viaduct Harbour,  Britomart, the Art Gallery and of course the Sky Tower. It's true, people really do pay to throw themselves off the tower (rope attached); an entertaining spectacle for those admiring the views from the revolving deck.

We also went by ferry to Waiheke where we made up for failing to visit a winery in either Matakana or Marlborough and sat out in the sun, surrounded by vines and a distant view of the Auckland skyline, to do the whole wine tasting experience.

Wellington may be edgy but Auckland seeks to be sophisticated; the only place in New Zealand that tries, some might say. Of course many deliberately distance themselves from it as a result, with countless numbers of people telling us how they hated the traffic, the crowds, the noise and the bustle. Globally Auckland is not an anomaly but in New Zealand it is unique.

Finally, we spent our last day experiencing a typical North Shore Sunday in the style of the eldest and his girlfriend as well as numerous locals: Takapuna Market then the beach. What isn't there to like about that?