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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cake Tin

Finally caught my first live rugby match the other day. A vet friend from work, Nicky, invited me to go to the game with she and her fiance Richard. He has season tickets and his brother wasn't able to go, so I got to go along for free.

It's pretty obvious why they lovingly call this stadium the 'cake tin' from the outside, yet it really is a nice venue. There's a well-kept large grass playing field, which also doubles as a cricket pitch (cricket is a game akin to American baseball, except that it makes your average baseball game look like an "8-minute Abs" workout). There really isn't a bad seat in the house, and the seats go all the way around the inside of the 'tin'. The proper name for it is Westpac Stadium, by the way.

There's never a line for the bathroom and the crowds are really very well behaved - it's hard to believe you're watching a game in which the guys are tackling each other as hard as they do in the NFL, all without pads. One or two of them will wear these funny-looking bits of headgear that look like old-timey pilot helmets to protect their ears, but that's it for the 'padding'.

The Wellington Lions, my official team now, won the match pretty handily, and this they did without the several All Blacks that play for them. They do have the recently-retired captain of the AB's, one Tana Umaga, an energetic player who came in late in the second half and scored within five minutes.

Nicky and Richard were great hosts, having me over first for coffee before the game, then afterwards inviting me back for a great dinner. They got me hooked on NZ Idol, our version down here of American Idol, and there's even an Upper Hutt girl in the mix. Richard had cooked lasagna, which just so happens to be my favorite dish, and it was a great meal. I hope to one day soon have my new flat properly done up so I can have people over and return the favors!

Sadly, Nicky is leaving next week, off to work a better job wherein she doesn't have to do any large animal call-outs. I'll miss her as she's really great to work with. Nicky works hard and is friendly and intelligent. Hopefully when we find someone to replace her, they'll be just as good.

At the very least, I've got two new friends in her and Richard, as even though she's leaving the practice they're not leaving the area. In fact, you can see the new house they're building... right from the backyard of their current home. They live in Maungaraki, a great suburban retreat set over one of many hills in the region. From several spots you can see Wellington Harbor, and if I do stay in the area long-term, I know I'll be looking for a house up there eventually.

If I do buy a house on a hill, however, I'll be sure it's well away from the edge. I don't need to join the growing list of homeowners whose houses were washed down the hill in a mudslide caused by excessive rain, referred to as a 'slip' around here.


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