Day 1: The Trampoline House

Ligar Bay

It was time for a holiday. Not for a vacation – people didn’t go on vacation in New Zealand. They went on holiday.

This time, everyone slept pretty well the night before the trip. And everyone was reasonably healthy. Cora had had pink eye for the past day or two, but everyone just pretended she didn’t, which worked quite well.

Mommy and Daddy had packed up the night before the trip, after Annie and Cora had gone to bed. When Annie realized this, a little while before they were due to leave, it dawned on her that Mommy had forgotten to pack many, many clothing items. She could see a lot of clothes still on her shelves, which meant Mommy had not packed them. Which could only mean that Mommy forgot them. So she let her mommy know, and was in favor of immediately unpacking and then repacking her suitcase entirely, which all the forgotten clothing. Mommy was not in favor of this plan. After an extended discussion with Annie involving explanations, justifications, and bargaining, Annie finally agreed to leave the suitcase alone, with the caveat that Mommy would add in a few of the more important clothing items that had been forgotten.

While Mommy and Annie were bargaining, Cora found the itinerary that Mommy had created for the family, and began to eat it.


The family arrived at Christchurch airport quite early for their flight, 2 hours before it was scheduled to take off. 

Annie was in a very good mood. “Mommy, you can do things that I like or you can do something that I don’t like, I don’t care, I don’t mind, Mommy. I will just say to you, ‘Please don’t do that’ in a nice voice and then you will stop. That is because I am feeling so happy, I don’t even care whatever you do, it’s okay.”

It was nice having extra time in the airport. Annie loved airports. Daddy and Annie rode the escalator up and down, and then Mommy and Annie rode the escalator up and down, all the while listening to the man on the overhead speaker saying repeatedly in a friendly voice, “We value your security. Please don’t let children play on the escalators.” Then Mommy and Annie took a break from riding the escalators to admire some brightly-colored stuffed animals in one of the airport shops. The display had many, many different stuffed animals, with rainbow fur and small faces and abnormally large, glittery eyes. Many of them also had golden horns even though they were clearly not unicorns. Annie studied each one. Many of them were her favorites. The others were deemed “so cute”. “Oh, look at that one, Mommy, isn’t it so cute?” Annie would say in a vaguely patronizing voice, giving a tinkling little condescending fake laugh as she looked at the tiny large-eyed stuffed animals. She and her mommy spent a very long time admiring the stuffed animals. “It’s too bad we don’t have any money, or we could buy one,” Annie said with a sigh, and Mommy agreed that it was very sad. And then Mommy pointed out that they should really get back to Daddy and Cora, who would be wondering where they were.


The plane ride was just the right length. Daddy and Annie sat on one side of the aisle, and Mommy and Cora sat on the other, with a stranger sitting next to Mommy, by the window. Cora spent lots of time staring at the stranger, who was a young person, just barely a grown-up. He pretended not to see her. He especially pretended not to see anything at all when Mommy nursed Cora. He looked like he wished he had chosen a different seat. But since he was pretending so hard not to see anything, he could only look like this a little bit. Cora found him fascinating. 

Annie and Daddy had a lot of fun on their own. They played Guess Who, read the Safety Card at great length, and studied the in-flight magazine at even greater length. There was a page in the in-flight magazine that advertised for a ballet version of Hansel and Gretel. It had a picture of a gingerbread house as part of the advertisement. Annie studied this very intently. Sometimes Daddy would turn the page because he had finished studying the candy-covered house, but Annie would insist that she had not finished, and he would have to turn the page back.

When the plane finally landed, though, Annie wanted to get off right away. Daddy was able to keep her sitting in her seat until the other people started standing up to get their bags down, at which point Annie started shrieking, “Let me out! Let me out! Let me out!” with rising hysteria in her voice. Her father finally let her out into the aisle, where she calmed down and waited, fidgeting only a little, while Mommy talked about Taking Turns and pointed out all the people who would get to leave before Annie. Finally, the people in front of her started walking off the airplane. “Go ahead, Annie,” Mommy said with relief. Then, after a pause, “Go ahead,” she repeated encouragingly. Annie remained frozen in place. “Go on, Annie. Go on! Go on, Annie!” Annie did not move or even acknowledge she could hear her mommy. “Come on, Annie, move! There are people behind us!” And then Mommy had a feeling of rising hysteria in her voice, as Annie stood there in the aisle, blocking the last half of the plane from exiting.


The car-rental place picked the family up from the airport immediately, and had a car ready right away, and even had a bin of toys for Annie to play with for the few minutes they spent there. Annie was in a very good mood. Mommy and Daddy were in a very surprised and very happy mood as well. Cora, whose eyelids were somewhat stuck together due to conjunctivitis, was feeling a little grouchy. But she was happy to have her mother nearby. She suspected that at any moment her mother might sneak off, but it was seeming less and less likely as the day wore on. So everyone was feeling good as they packed into the very tiny car and drove out of Nelson, heading north.

It had only been a few minutes when they family saw signs for Peanut Butter World.

Peter had been dreaming of Peanut Butter World since he learned of its existence, a few months before. It had been in the back of his mind when they were planning their big holiday. But then the family had learned that the World didn’t give factory tours on weekends, so they had crossed it off their list, and a little part of Daddy’s heart had broken.

Daddy couldn’t resist a stop, though.

And when he saw the giant statue of a jar of peanut butter outside, he and Annie had no choice but to take off running towards it, hand in hand. Mommy and Cora followed more slowly behind them.

The family bought some peanut butter, and then bought a peanut butter milk shake from the Peanut Butter World cafe. Daddy and Annie were very excited. The family traded sips, and Cora licked up the peanut butter from the edge. There was also a play area with toys, where kids could dress up in shark heads if they wanted to. Daddy got excited about this, but no one else did.

The next stop was the Jester House. This was a place that had been recommended to the family by someone at Mommy’s work. “Do your children like eels?” she had asked.


“We are going to a place with eels,” Mommy told Annie. “Do you know what eels are?”

“Seals?” Annie echoed enthusiastically. “Oh, yes, I love seals!”

“No… not seals. Eels. Seals are very cute. It would be nice to see seals. Do you know what eels are?”

“No,” said Annie.

“Ursula had them as pets,” Daddy said helpfully.

“Remember, in The Little Mermaid?” Mommy clarified. “The sea witch. She had eels as pets. They’re kind of like a cross between snakes and fish.”

“Are they mean?” Annie asked nervously.

“Well… the eels in The Little Mermaid were mean. But these are nice eels. They’re pets.”

“Pets?” Annie echoed, worriedly.


In the end, the eels were kind of scary, but also kind of interesting. Annie got to feed them. A nice lady was feeding them some eel food when Annie went down the steps to the river to look at the eels, and the lady shared her eel food with Annie.

“You have to move it closer to the eels,” Mommy said, over and over, pushing the stick with food on the tip towards the thrashing slimy creatures that were reaching their open mouths towards Annie’s stick, which hovered half a foot above the water. “Get it down into the water.”

Annie tried to get the stick lower without getting any closer to the eels. 

Annie later reflected that she “loved” feeding the eels, but at the time her expression was serious, an expression of mingled deep concentration and concern.

But the eels were just a small part of the Jester House. There was food. There was a pretend tiger Annie could ride on, and a spotted tail she could wear. There was an ancient playground. It had a steep slide that was too scary at first – Annie had to sit at the top and contemplate the plunge for awhile before she scooted forward and felt her tummy jump as she slid down, down, down. She used her gumboots to slow herself down on the edges of the slide. A little boy who slid down after her didn’t know to slow himself down, and he flew off the end of the slide and fell with a bump to the ground. Annie was more careful than that.

There was also a treehouse, which didn’t have any ladder or other way to get up to it; you had to climb. Annie tried to climb the tree but she wasn’t quite big enough, so she climbed up the slide instead, leaving her gumboots and socks at the bottom to get better traction. Cora mostly just watched from her parents’ arms. She was initially allowed to sit on the ground but kept eating handfuls of sand, so she was no longer permitted on the ground, and had to be held.

And then they brought yucky-looking food for Mommy and Daddy, and a large plate of snacks for Annie – apple and orange slices, carrot sticks, popcorn, chips, cheese, a cookie, and a chocolate fish. Mommy told Annie that she had to eat her apples, oranges, and carrots before eating the dessert. Annie accepted this but then, during a playground break halfway through the meal, she did some bargaining.

“I will eat the chocolate fish and the cookie when I get back,” she told her mommy.

“I think you were supposed to eat the apples, oranges, and carrots,” her mommy pointed out.

“I already ate some of them.”

“You didn’t really, though. You ate the chips and the cheese.”

“I already ate a carrot.”

“Yes, but no other healthy things.”

“Yes I did. I ate some apple.”

“I think you just gave the apple to your sister.”

“No, no, I ate soooo much. I ate this many healthy things.” She held up 5 fingers, then flashed another 5 fingers, and another. “Now I can have dessert.”

Mommy was silent. “You at least have to eat all your carrots before dessert.”

Annie nodded. “Okay, I will eat my other two carrots, and then I will have my cookie and chocolate fish, okay, mom? Is it a deal?”

“Okay, it’s a deal,” her mommy agreed.

Annie laughed. “That is a good deal. I eat the two carrots, and then I eat the dessert right afterwards. It is a deal.” She skipped with pleasure at the thought of the treats. They ran back to the table and as soon as she saw the delicious chocolate fish, Annie promptly forgot the deal. She remembered it about halfway through her chocolate fish when Mommy reminded her. Whoops!


Following the Jester House, the family went grocery shopping, and then got back in the car for the long drive up to their final destination, Ligar Bay, at the northern end of the South Island of New Zealand.

The children fell asleep instantly, as soon as they finished grocery shopping. This meant that they missed the 12-minute-long red light on Takaka Hill, where Daddy turned the engine off and the people in the car behind got out of their car for a smoking break. They missed the road that wound through the hills and along the edges of cliffs, twisting and writhing like the eels that Annie had just fed. They missed Mommy worrying about the car falling over the edge of a precipice. They woke up about 5 minutes before the car arrived at their new house – a house Annie was already calling “the trampoline house” in anticipation of its main attraction.

The Trampoline House did not disappoint.

Evening snuck up on the family. The two children sensed their parents’ relief and surprise at the fact that the trip had been so smooth and easy and pleasant, and each resolved in her heart to rectify the situation just a little bit. Both girls refused to fall asleep until almost 2 hours after their respective bedtimes, and only after a substantial amount of coaxing and cuddling and serenading by Daddy.

1 thought on “Day 1: The Trampoline House”

  1. Pingback: Ligar Bay: A Week in Paradise – Year in New Zealand

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