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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 29 - Mr and Mrs

“The next morning we nervously entered the hotel dining room for breakfast. It was strange to discover that I would have tea to drink and Woody had coffee only. We tiptoed around each other finding out what the other would be like to live with. We were exceedingly polite to each other and I felt that everyone knew we were on our honeymoon; I thought it showed on my skin. Woody laughed at me and I relaxed slightly…’’ Gayle Woodward and husband sit down to their first breakfast as a married couple.

Our first joint decision as husband and wife was to stop at Aitiamuri for some hamburgers. We were both starving having not being able to eat breakfast because of nerves and being too excited to eat at the reception. Our finances were under stress now and we had to decide whether we could afford to do this with expenses coming up for the hotel charges. But hunger drove us to splurge.

We arrived in Rotorua at dusk. The Geyserland Hotel was very grand and a bit daunting for us both. We were shown to our honeymoon suite to find a bottle of the best bubbles available in 1969 which I think was Marquee Vue, very sweet and not very alcoholic, waiting for us. We drank the bubbly sitting on our balcony feeling very rich.

We had no dinner as we had eaten the hamburgers and took ourselves to bed at ten o’clock, both feeling very tired and me a little headachy after a long and stressful day. At midnight we were both shockingly awakened with a roaring noise and bright lights. Woody dashed to the windows and threw open the drapes to expose Pohutu Geyser in full flight, gushing 100 feet into the night air. The whole area below us was brightly illuminated and there were tourists galore standing under our balcony. It was a fitting and glorious end to our wedding day but I was still shaking as I tried to get back to sleep.

The next morning we nervously entered the hotel dining room for breakfast. It was strange to discover that I would have tea to drink and Woody had coffee only. We tiptoed around each other finding out what the other would be like to live with. We were exceedingly polite to each other and I felt that everyone knew we were on our honeymoon; I thought it showed on my skin. Woody laughed at me and I relaxed slightly. He said, “We are allowed to be here and we are going to get used to this so enjoy it”. Soon we were off. I was going to find over the next few months that Woody did not want to ‘muck around in the mornings’ whereas I loved to wallow in bed till late. Oh, there were so many things to learn about each other.

We travelled out of Rotorua and gradually entered the forests leading to Murapara. It felt now as if we were on holiday. We were heading for the Urewera National Park, a beautiful park of virginal native forests. To get there we drove through a scrubby landscape and I noticed some blackberries on the side of the road. I asked Woody to stop and clambered through the grass to find the most succulent blackberries away from the dust of the metal road. He had never before tasted blackberries, wild or otherwise. I could not believe that.

It was late afternoon when we registered as Lance and Gayle Woodward at the Lake House Reception. We were shown to a room with a high double bed, old but clean. There was a lovely soft afternoon light and warmth coming into the polished wood room and it seemed quite homely. We wandered outside in the gardens to catch our first glimpse of beautiful Lake Waikaremoana, the sight of our first camping as a family later in the year and the base for Woody’s future hunting furores into bush.

It was peaceful and warm; no sound but for native birds singing and the odd wood pigeon flopping overhead. This is the afternoon that I first felt our baby move. It was such a little flutter that I could not really believe what I had felt but the place was so calming and peaceful that it felt right too. Woody had a beer in the bar that night before dinner and it was olde world and dark in there. I was not used to drinking in a bar and felt rather awkward sitting there clutching an orange juice that I didn’t really want. However, dinner was nice and the bed in the room soft and inviting.

Before long we were back in the dining room for breakfast. This time Woody ordered tea for me, without being told and I felt as if our marriage had began now. We left the Lake House vowing to return, which would not happen the way we wanted. It was owned by the Tourist Corporation of the day and was not a viable moneymaking proposition because of the isolation. It would close down operation in the next few years. We did stay there again seven years later as refugees but the House was a shadow of its former glory then and nowhere nearly as beautiful as it was on the second night of our marriage.

We left and backtracked a bit to find camping grounds and the Rangers hut for hunting information then continued driving out of the park towards Gisborne. We both fell in love with the Ureweras, both for the unspoilt beauty of its bush and the peacefulness of the Park. Our Gisborne stay was uneventful except for the bathroom in the hotel which was shared by the guests on the second floor. I vowed never to stay in such a place again. We continued the next morning through the Waiotaiki Gorge to Whakatane. There, fortunately, we met friends of Woody’s parents who owned a bach at Lake Rotoma near Rotorua. They told us their bach was available for us if we wanted to spend the rest of our week there. We would have to take food to cook but a boat was available for use. We were keen, Woody to use the boat on the lake and me as I thought it would be good to begin to play house there.

When we arrived though, I was annoyed to find the beds were single divans on either side of the living area with not a double bed in sight! On our honeymoon! Oh, the indignity of it! We got fish and chips from a local takeaway and some toast and jam for breakfast the next morning. We spent a pleasant day on the lake, me dangling my fingers in the cool water as we rowed along and explored.

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