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One might think that spending time with family and friends would become easier when one retires. It hasn't happened in my life - yet - but when opportunities arise to do just that, they're very special times and provide happy memories.

By chance, Suzi had a long weekend off duty in Tauranga and Julie had a short weekend off duty in Auckland at the same time. So I flew to Tauranga for several days and Julie joined us for the days she was free. She arrived at 11.00 in the morning on the most beautiful sunny day. The weather forecast for the next day was dire so we popped home for her to change and then started off on a walking adventure that Suzi had planned. The drive to The Blue Spring at Te Waihou Walkway near Putāruru took us about forty-five minutes through beautiful countryside. It was time well spent. The Blue Spring is internationally acclaimed with water so pure it supplies around 60% of New Zealand’s bottled water and is very, very beautiful.

The sign at the entrance says, 'The Blue Spring (Te Puna) is a natural taonga (treasure) formed through the special and delicate merger of geology, ecology, freshwater biology and geography, over many hundreds of thousands of years. The Blue Spring is very fragile, and the clarity and purity of its waters sustain not only the Putāruru community but many others in New Zealand and the world.'

This was our first sight of it and it was very beautiful and very blue, thanks in some part to the sun that was shining brightly. We noticed on the way back that cloud cover affected the colours.

We were doing the walk back to front (so to speak) so it wasn't long before we came to the first bridge and could lean over and take a photo with our silhouettes reflected in the clear water.

And I couldn't resist taking a photo of my two very happy companions as we lingered on the bridge.

It was decided that I would walk as far as I could comfortably and my two stalwart walkers would leave me somewhere lovely while they went to the end of the walk and back again.

The water wasn't always peaceful and tranquil. We passed some roaring waterfalls as the banks and vegetation closed in beside the excellent pathway.

And it wasn't all flat either. There were steps to ascend and, of course, what one goes up one has to go down again, so there were the same steps to descend on the return journey. The 'girls' were very attentive and determined that I wouldn't attempt too much so they left me beside the beautiful water in the sunshine and carried on, sweeping me up on the way back!

The pathway was pretty busy and I confess that there were times when I would have loved to have contemplated in total silence with just the water and the bird songs for company, such was the beauty that surrounded me. But the gaps between passing 'tourists like us' were long enough for peace to reign and tranquility to return.

All too soon it was time to complete the walk back to the car and return home. Suzi and I had gone out to dinner the previous night to a small restaurant on the corner of Cameron Road and 4th Avenue (more on 4th Avenue than Cameron Road actually) called Salva D'or. The food had been beautiful and the service exceptional so we decided to go there again! Delicious and delightful, and we can highly recommend it!

On Sunday, the heavens opened and we thanked our lucky stars that we'd completed our wonderful walk in the sunshine the day before. We hit on the idea of attacking one of the large shopping malls to see if we could get ahead of ourselves (three months ahead that is!) and select Christmas presents for each other! I rarely spend time shopping and I don't think Julie or Suzi have much free time either so this was a treat in itself and gave us lots of time to explore and chat. And perhaps the memory of the choices will fade by Christmas and we'll all get surprises!

All good things must come to an end and we all returned to our homes, well satisfied with another experience ticked off the bucket list and enjoyed enormously in each other's company.

Tauranga - 14-18 September 2018

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