Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Back home...


...and married! "Sunny" Napier failed to materialise, although we were extremely lucky that the actual ceremony, which we had thought would have to be transferred to the indoor venue, coincided with the only 2 hours of sunshine that day. The officiating reverend (the Kiwi's uncle) clearly has a hotline to the powers that matter...Shelley and I had a wonderful time on the day. I was in fear at our first dance, but Shelley had realised early on that the elaborate steps we had been taught (but not in any way practised) were impossible in her dress, so we didn't really have to dance properly at all. That left my speech, which I don't mind saying was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life. It was not the thought of speaking to a large number of people that disturbed me, but rather the fact that the speech was my introduction to a substantial part of Shelley's family that I had not met before. But I quickly realised that being rude about the Australians is an easy way of raising a laugh from New Zealanders (although I had some issues the next day with the two Australians in the audience) and they seemed to appreciate a few anecdotes about the culture clash of a Kiwi-English marriage.


We had a wonderful honeymoon in South Africa, spending equal time in Cape Town, the winelands of Franschhoeck and on safari in Kruger National Park. Shelley's uncanny ability to sniff out good winebars ensured we found plenty of watering holes in Cape Town. Unfortunately we missed the opening times of the castle but we did manage to visit a newly-excavated part of the old Dutch fortifications; I will post some pics and information about that in a few days. The safari was a real once-in-a-lifetme experience, although I never really managed to reconcile the concept of being on holiday yet at the same time being woken up at 5am every morning by a burly man in uniform banging on my door: I'm pretty sure that's what happens when you're in prison, not on honeymoon. Maybe there's a metaphor for marriage in there somewhere...


As usual, a key part of our holiday was wine and it featured heavily in both New Zealand and in South Africa. In NZ, I was again impressed with the quality of the rose wines, which I had already noted when in Hawke's Bay in 2007. Rich, elegant but still light and fresh, these wines are miles away from the dreary and/or sickly European offerings that still give rose a bad reputation (I think the best Kiwi roses are those made from merlot and malbec in the North rather than from pinor noir in the South). But South Africa was a revelation. Expecting bland whites and reds that were marred by "burnt rubber", we found wonderful wines of real character. During the course of visits to 27 wineries in Stellenbosch and Franschhoeck (which together with 13 in NZ made a grand total of 40 wineries visited, which aint bad..) and numerous bars and restaurants I noted only half a dozen red wines that exhibited earthy, "burnt rubber" characteristics, mostly at the lower end of the market and always either in cabernet or pinotage (although I think the latter variety might possibly benefit from the smokiness of "burnt rubber"). But the reds were universally much better than I had expected; the Bordeaux blends were particularly impressive. As for the whites, whilst I found SA's sparklers a little flavourless the sauvignon blancs were extremely good, capturing a tasty middle ground between the acidic Kiwi style and the more minerally Sancerre style - perfect for a lunchtime picnic of chicken and seafood. We were also bowled over by the quality, luxury and size, of the SA winery cellar doors. This is clearly a country with a wine industry that has ambition, and the recent requirements for the (predominantly white) producers to put something back into their local communities made for enlightening cellar-door conversation.

So for those who are interested in such things, wine highlights were as follows. In NZ: Unison Hawke's Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2006; Te Phau "The Point" 2006; Kennedy Point Waiheke Island Rose 2008; Mission Estate "Jewelstone" Chardonnay 2006; Elephant Hill Rose 2008; Vidal "Soler" Syrah 2005; and pretty much anything by Craggy Range. In South Africa: Waterford "Kevin Arnold" Shiraz 2005; Springfield Special Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2008; Diemersdal Estate Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2007; Vilafonte "Series C" 2005; Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc 2008; Rustenberg "Five Soldiers" Chardonnay 2006; Vergelegen "The Red" 2000; Alluvia "Ilka" Sauvignon Blanc 2008; Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon 2003; Rupert and Rothschild Baroness Nadine Chardonnay 2006; Fairview "Primo" Pinotage 2007; Beaumont "Ariane" 2004; Cordoba "Crescendo" 2003.

A few random photos are below, for what they're worth; I now appreciate just how difficult a job wildlife photographers have. I have been inspired to dig out my old Foundry/Copplestone Darkest Africa figures, so more wildlife photos might appear as and when I get around to painting some animals.








18 comments:

Fire at Will said...

Welcome back and I won't make any jokes about marital bliss....

Being woken at 5am seems modeate compared to my honeymoon in an alpine hut where we shared a matressenlager with a dozen others and then roused at 3am to climb up a glacier!!

legatus hedlius said...

Forty wineries? Forty? Good going. And how sensible to get back just in time for Salute. My little boy Guy is very impressed with your photography. He said that he was looking for a yawning hippo picture for a project recently and couldn't find a good one but yours is brilliant!

As for the Kiwi she looked truly stunning on the big day!

Congratulations to you both!

johnpreece said...

Congratulations to you and your beautiful wife.

I was woken at 6 on my honeymoon on the sleeper to Scotland, and I did visit some distilleries but the wildlife simply didn't compare being mainly midges.

Allan (AJ) Wright said...

Congratulations. The safari photos are simply breathtaking. It would seem you've started things out on the right foot.

jmezz382 said...

Congrates to you and the beautiful bride !!

I am sure that your honeymoon was a blast. The photos look great !

Joe

Peeler said...

Congratulations to you both, sounds perfect!

Greg Sapara said...

Welcome home, and congrats to the both of you!

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Welcome home indeed... as Legatus mentions I applaud you on your ability to manage your timetables such that you can make Salute.. :o)

I can't remember anything about my honeymoon night other than that the Hopback "Summer Lightning" the evening before was extremely fine (and may explain the lack of memory!), and that the current Mrs Steve-the-Wargamer insisted on a romantic breakfast in the room the next day which meant I couldn't have the full English... :o))

Peter said...

Congratulations to you both. Hopefully I'll get a chance to say the same in person on Saturday at Salute.

Any chance of getting a copy of the wedding speech? As a Kiwi in exile I'm very interested in reading the bits about Australians to make me feel at home!! 8O)

Long Island Wargammer said...

Congratulations! You both look beautiful! I hope you have many years of happiness together.

Stokes Schwartz said...

Hello there Giles,

Well, it looks and sounds as if your wedding and subsequent trip were lovely. Happy you both enjoyed everything. My very best wishes to you both!

Best Regards,

Stokes

Benno said...

Congratulations to you both! The pictures of the honeymoon looks great. Good to have you back! :-)

Sire Godefroy said...

A wargamer as well as an oenophile, I'm really impressed. It's also a nice change from all those beer boozing tabletop fellows.

Anyway, best wishes to you and the beautiful missus - what a lovely couple you are. :-)

Cheers

Author said...

Congrats man! The photos are beautiful, although to be fair not as beautiful as the lady on your arm! As if I wasn't jealous enough of all the great toy soldiers...

Secundus said...

Congratulations! I wish you all the best for the future.

Poacher said...

Giles said... "Have you changed your mind about David Cameron yet? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA"

Have you changed yours about marriage yet?

Lol..!!

Seriously though, Giles, You're a lucky man. What a lovely girl..!!

Chris

Snickering Corpses said...

Hearty congratulations to you and your Mrs. again. I'm so glad to hear all went well!

Christopher(Axebreaker) said...

I really like all your miniatures and the information you offer is first rate.
Your blog had a great deal of influence in getting me started in the AWI period.
You have inspired me to start my own blog,although I doubt I will have such a complete historical write up with each pic like yourself.
Excellent blog!