Some of the happiest memories of my childhood are those spent with cousins. I can remember standing on a pile of rubbish at a house my uncle was demolishing singing I Love You, Timothy at the top of my voice with one of my cousins.
Cousins are nothing like friends. They are like part of the furniture of childhood really. I'm lucky, I have lots of cousins and when we get together as adults it's so much fun reminiscing about the past.
These days they are scattered far and wide as are lots of families including mine.
With two daughters in Australia and a son and a daughter here it's not very often all the cousins get together.
These school holidays three of the Aussie grandies came to New Zealand while their parents celebrated a special birthday in Fiji.
Unfortunately for them (the parents) they arrived at their very expensive resort, where they were to stay for two nights before moving on to cheaper accommodation, in the middle of a cyclone. They had no power, were not allowed out of their room and were given noodles for tea.
Lucky they have a good sense of humour. Anyway, I digress.
Because the grandies were in the Bay only for "three sleeps" we decided we had to make the most of it.
We had planned a bike ride, a trip to the lolly shop at Birdwoods Gallery and - the most exciting thing - we booked and paid for a trip to Cape Kidnappers with Gannet Beach Adventures.
I've been to the gannets overland years ago and been halfway there on the back of a quad bike a few years ago on a gorgeous day with lots of sand and calm seas.
The bike ride along Marine Pde on the Friday was lovely. Beautiful warm day, we stopped at Hot Chick for lunch — everyone enjoyed themselves.
It was to be an early start on Saturday as we had to be at Clifton by 7am to set off at 7.30am.
Our group comprised myself, my son and daughter and seven children ranging in age from five years to 16 years.
After days of sunshine the day dawned grey and overcast. That was okay though, we were all rugged up and raring to go.
When the tractors arrived the children couldn't wait to jump on board the trailer. Everyone was very excited. We met our driver, Ian, and were given a safety briefing before we set off.
We were sitting on the side facing the sea so the minute we hit the beach the water was at us. The children squealed and laughed as the waves rushed at our feet. Great fun.
Then it started to rain — by now one of the children was crying because she was wet.
About halfway there a wave swamped the trailer and we were all soaked to our waists. It was still raining and we were holding a tarpaulin over our heads.
There was still laughter — that high-pitched sort of hysterical laughter. When we got to the end and realised how far we had to climb in our wet clothes we laughed again — high-pitched (the crying child was still crying).
Up and up we went. The first thing I noticed when we crested the top was that there were hardly any birds. In fact I probably saw more rabbits on the climb than gannets.
But the view made every step worthwhile. What an amazing place. The children ran around holding their noses talking and laughing — well, most of them.
Then it was time to go back. The ride home was a little drier as we were on the cliff side — amazing views. Our driver was funny and obviously knew what he was doing.
We arrived back at the cars wet and cold but what an absolute adventure we had — one these cousins will always remember. I'm definitely going to do this again in the middle of summer on a hot sunny Hawke's Bay day when the colony is full of birds.
Somehow I don't think one of the children on board will want to repeat it no matter how much I talk it up. She told her other nana that she "hated it" — I bet she will never forget it though. It was an adventure that will be talked about for years to come.
■Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.