Last summer we took our three granddaughters away on a holiday. This summer we decided to try a Staycation.
A Staycation is a holiday spent in your own home exploring your own backyard. It first became popular in the USA during the financial crisis of 2007-2010. Families found they could no longer afford to pay for petrol, airfares and accommodation so they took a Staycation rather than a Vacation.
We liked the idea of a Staycation in Auckland as there are plenty of opportunities for new experiences. There was also a lot to be said for comfortable beds, TV, and not having to pack up the car and put the dog in kennels. And the city is quieter and more relaxed in January as Aucklanders leave the city in droves to holiday elsewhere. Last but not least money saved (as there would be no accommodation to pay for) could be spent on outings.
Some families make a Staycation a technology free time. I liked the idea but I knew I’d be asking too much if I asked the girls to leave their iPads and Smartphones at home. They couldn’t possibly go for a whole week without checking their emails, texting and playing games!
On arrival they were keen to find out what the plan was. They liked it so we were ready to go.
They are all at different stages now, one primary, one intermediate and one secondary so we planned to do some things together and some apart. Each was allowed to choose a place to go out for a treat. The eleven year old chose a trip to Little and Friday cafe where their pies and cakes are legendary.
The nine year old, who is dairy free so can’t have ice-cream, went out for a double scoop of sorbet at Movenpick with her grandfather. And I promised my oldest granddaughter that we could lunch along Ponsonby Road.
One morning, armed with torches the younger two went off with their grandfather to explore the tunnels at North Head. They came back and reported that the most exciting moment was when Abby our Labrador nearly fell down a cliff. In the meantime the teenager remained happily at home with me so she could slouch on the couch attached to her Smartphone.
A trip to the zoo was a must as there is always something new happening there. They were keen to see the latest arrivals, four Tasmanian devils, furry creatures whose ears turn bright red when they are excited. But although they enjoyed their zoo visit the Tasmanian devils kept out of sight. They prefer to get active at twilight.
We were all fascinated by the Light Show at the New Art Gallery and the myriad ways the artists had used light to create art. A favourite was a series of rooms saturated in soft red, blue and green light. As we walked through them we felt we were immersed in a water colour painting.
There was an entrance fee for the Light Show but playing with Lego was free at the “Structural Evolution Project”. Here thousands of white Lego blocks had been placed on a 12 metre long table and kids of all ages were invited to join in and create a building. So we did.
It was fun to introduce my fourteen year old granddaughter to Ponsonby Road. We walked the whole length of it from Three Lamps to Karangahape Rd and back. As she loves art, design, fashion and baking there was plenty to see. We stopped at Mexicali for tacos, and at the Rocket Kitchen for a red velvet cupcake.
As grandmothers are wont to do I shared a few anecdotes about Ponsonby in the old days. It had its own charms and some colourful characters but it was shabby and rundown compared to how flash it is today.
The last day of our Staycation was the birthday of the eleven year old. Her big sister took charge of making the birthday cake. It was chocolate all the way, a towering double decker cake covered in chocolate ganache and piped decoratively with a myriad of chocolate buttercream roses and was amazing!
That evening on the way back to their home we enjoyed a celebratory birthday dinner with their Mother and Stepdad at Jambalaya in Whangaparoa where they serve South American comfort food.
Although tired I was happy that our three beautiful granddaughters said they had enjoyed spending time with us.
They want to have a Staycation again next year. I think they would be old enough to take responsibility for planning it- perhaps with a budget so they could make choices between which free and which paid touristy things they want to go to. They would enjoy the challenge.