As a child my Christmases were sun filled. Yuletide cards might have boasted snow and icicles but this wasn’t a reality for me. My reality involved holidays, beaches, bbq’s and mucking about in boats.
Hot long summers produced magnificent Pohutukawa flowers. To New Zealanders everywhere and through time these trees represent not just Christmas but lovely long lazy days. Ahhhhh bliss.
Then I moved to London and everything changed. I struggled to produce meaningful work after 3.30pm so dark and nightime-ish was it outside. The icicles and snow became a reality. As did the rain, never depicted on cards I can recall.
But there was something magical about a ‘real’ Christmas and I have embraced that magic ever since. More or less.
In the West End on a solo shopping expedition recently I hunted among Soho’s little side streets for a café to reenergise without breaking the Liberty diminished bank balance.
Eschewing the Starbucks, Prêts and Costas I found a welcoming coffee house, Sacred that boasted a corner table with my name on it (well, you know what I mean).
Ever conscious of my increased proclivity for talking to strangers I said nothing on realising it was a fellow countrywoman who took my tuna melt and Americano order. Feeling proud of my restraint I sat, checked my cell, reread my shopping list and waited for my food.
This was my order number.
“Tuna melt and long black?” another young thing asked me.
Had I fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole? No one says ‘long black’ is this here neck of the woods. She too had a Kiwi accent.
I looked around carefully seeing for the first time Kiwiana everywhere. Maps, tikis, NZ flags, and this framed bus route from Wellington, my home town. It even includes the hood of my youth.
The long black was off the highest New Zealand barista standard, the vittles yummy and I plan a return visit to try the brie and cranberry panini which is, I am informed, festively topical and to die for.
As pleased as I bet Mary was to find that manger I am delighted to have fallen upon this café, a Kiwi oasis 12,000 miles from home.
Mere Kirihimete y’all.