The Secret Diary of Adrian Petford Aged 39¾

You are 4!

Posted in Auckland,New Zealand 2009 by Adrian Petford on August 15th, 2009

Before I left Auckland, I had a very important task to perform – buying Chevelle’s birthday present for her party the next day. On Saturday, I headed off to the cumbersomely named “Westfield WestCity Henderson” mall which is the largest shopping complex in the local area. Being used to the immense Merry Hill centre at home (now also owned by Westfield), I always find it odd how each suburb has its own shopping mall but they are smaller with less choice. Often you have to try two or three before you can get what you want, if you’re looking for something obscure.

I haven’t been back to Henderson for years (I’m thinking it could be as long ago as 2001) so it was interesting to see the mall, which seems to have hardly changed. I had lunch in the food court and went to Whitcoulls (the New Zealand equivalent of WH Smith) to look for storybooks. I thought if I buy one for Chevelle I’ll probably get to read it to her! No self interest there at all then, oh no…

Uncle Adrian's careful preparations for Chevelle's 4th birthday – 08-Aug-2009
Uncle Adrian’s careful preparations for Chevelle’s 4th birthday – 08-Aug-2009

I found something perfect – My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes by Eve Sutton – so perfect in fact that I thought they’d probably have it already, but it turns out they haven’t as I called Steve to ask. Guess what? Champers, one of their cats, likes to hide in boxes. Result!

I bought the book, a nice pink bag to put it in and a 4th birthday card with a cat on, so was well pleased with those choices. In fact the book was the first I picked up off the shelf, which must’ve been an omen.

Chevelle's playhouse – 09-Aug-2009
Chevelle’s playhouse – 09-Aug-2009

I drove over to Titirangi on Sunday morning for the birthday party. Arriving at Steve and Cherie’s I saw Chevelle’s main present, a large plastic playhouse and it’s brilliant! It’s pink and white with a door and letterbox, swing out seats and a basin and mirror inside. There are even little trays for flowers to go in! Apparently the tarpaulin they had over it began to slide off in the night so Chevelle saw it first thing in the morning and was absolutely amazed. She’s going around pointing at the house saying “Mummy’s house” and then the playhouse, “MY house”! Judging by the amount of books and stuff in the playhouse it looks like she’s already preparing to move out!

She smiled and laughed when I arrived, although with two other kids there as well she was far too busy in the playhouse to take notice of anything else! I gave her my present, which she loved and it was already safely in her bookcase by the end of the day. Tania arrived with Max and then there were four bundles of energy running around at lightspeed! They played on the trampoline and in the house, ran about while Chevelle also rode her bike around. An attempt to feed the ducks was aborted when no one could find the ducks! They’d obviously taken cover (they did turn up later). Then it was time for party food so the kids all lined up as it was dished out. Cherie had done a brilliant spread, miniature spring rolls, burgers, sausages, crisps, cheese, dips etc. which were all delicious. Chevelle’s birthday cake was chocolate with bright pink icing and a silver “4” on top. The wind blew out the candles as Cherie brought it out, but Chevelle still made a valiant attempt to blow them out!

Champers. After a hard day's sleeping, it's time for a quick nap... – 09-Aug-2009
Champers. After a hard day’s sleeping, it’s time for a quick nap… – 09-Aug-2009

In the afternoon I chilled out with the grown ups as the kids bounced around on next door’s full size trampoline. This was hilarious to see. Chevelle was standing up most of the time while the others had fallen over in a heap but were still bouncing up and down!

Around 6.00pm I was called upstairs for bedtime story duty! I got to read my storybook to Chevelle and she enjoyed it so much she asked me to read it again. I also got to read another one to her. She’s very intelligent and imaginative.

A very nice pasta dinner ensued with Steve and Cherie. I talked about my road trip and they gave me lots of good advice. Cherie talked about some of their past holidays and tours of the South Island. Steve has already had to repair Chevelle’s new Barbie fairytale castle! I left around 9.30pm and felt quite emotional as I was driving away; although I’ll be back in two weeks it was sad to leave them. All in all the day was great fun and I was really pleased to be a part of it.

And so the first stage of my trip was over. Next stop Dunedin…

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