Cat got out of the bag but an almost-surprise was welcome

IT WAS supposed to be a bit of a surprise. But two days beforehand the cat was out of the bag.

The surprise?

My son's 40th birthday celebrations in NZ - an auspicious occasion, but one that made me feel very, very old all of a sudden.

It was an expedition I had hatched way back at the beginning of the year, and I had kept in contact with said son's partner to make sure it all went smoothly.

At one stage, about six weeks ago, it looked as though it was going to fall off the rails as the young fella had to decide whether to continue with party plans or flag the shindig in favour of travelling with one of NZ's better bands as the trumpeter on a trip to somewhere in Oz.

The birthday party won at the end of the day, but at the time it left me wondering just how involved it would be to change flight plans.

So came along Thursday the week before last.

Bright and early I hopped on a plane to Brisbane, had a wait for an hour or so and then on the next plane to Auckland, where I had a six hour wait for the flight to Wellington.

No problem though - I rang a cousin of mine who lives in Auckland and we chewed the fat for a few hours over cups of coffee at the airport.

Finally, I arrived in Wellington, grabbed a rental car and drove to the family's home half an hour away and knocked on the door just on 10pm.

There was a great greeting, after which I sad, "You knew eh?"

"Yes," he said.

One daughter has let it slip on the Wednesday and the older daughter slipped on the day I arrived, but it was still a great greeting.

The weekend itself was one that I'll remember for a long time. I had the chance to catch up with the grandkids' activities - circus school, netball, violin concerts etc - and we had a great party on the Saturday night as well as a lovely meal in a Japanese restaurant beforehand.

A bit of a muso, the birthday boy plays in a number of bands and they all came along and spent the night jamming, keeping us all entertained.

What a weekend! Couldn't have wished for anything better.

Tell you what though - it was pretty chilly over there, and from a climate perspective I was really pleased to come home.

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Multiple crews attended the fire which broke out earlier today.

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Paramedics were called to the scene earlier this morning.