It's rather hard to get Mr Neat to go on holiday — he's a homebody through and through.
However, with a two-week holiday looming I started planning a small break in the Taranaki. I talked about it a lot, every day for a number of weeks.
Then the first weekend of my holiday on Sunday night, we went into a level 2 Covid lockdown. Not only that but we found out that the positive cases had visited New Plymouth and surrounding areas.
That was the end of that idea. Even when the lockdown was lifted after just three days there was no way I could talk Mr Neat into going. So I changed tack.
Let's go to the Wairarapa, I suggested. A cunning plan on my behalf because it would be a trip down memory lane for Mr Neat, whose family are from Masterton. He spent many a school holiday there so he was keen.
But not too keen — "three nights is all I can manage at this stage. Very busy at the moment."
Okay, I thought, one night in Masterton is enough and then I had a brainwave — I booked two nights in Martinborough - wine country. I've been to Martinborough before - years ago - for its famous fair but never stayed and explored.
We set off on Saturday morning — first stop Mt Bruce, the Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre just out of Eketahuna. The weather was beautiful, in fact it was so hot most of the birds were hiding. We did see a kiwi moving about and a beautiful kererū flew right over our heads in the free-fly enclosure.
Given the lack of visible birds, we decided to do the Loop Track. According to the sign it was only 2km to the top. Nice walk. And it started out that way, lovely and cool in the bush, flat ground with a few inclines. Then we started to climb and climb and climb.
To cut a long story short, by the time we got to the top neither of us could talk. Then of course we had to walk another 2km down. I wasn't really dressed for hiking and was so relieved to get back to the car.
On any journey, or for that matter any day of the week no matter where you are, one of the biggest questions of the day is what or where are we going to eat.
We found our eating experiences on this journey varied, to say the least.
In Masterton we chose a restaurant within walking distance of our accommodation that had been recommended to me. We sat outside and enjoyed a couple of drinks and outstanding service, however the food was very disappointing.
Next morning it was up early and breakfast at Cafe Strada. Wow — they make the best omelettes and eggs benny. Delicious.
Off we headed to Castlepoint. Well worth the drive along a windy, narrow road. We walked up to the lighthouse and enjoyed the beautiful views. Wonderful spot.
Back to Masterton and then straight on to Carterton, where we stopped for a stroll and then on to Greytown, which was pumping. There were people everywhere. We spent a couple of hours looking at the shops, before heading to Martinborough.
I had booked into a B&B called Swan House and it was just divine. The owners were so welcoming, the room was gorgeous and best of all, Mr Neat couldn't fault it. They had bikes available for guests to use and use them we did. We cycled to the Martinborough Hotel, perched ourselves outside and watched the world go by.
Next day we headed to Cape Palliser, which was the highlight of the trip. This place simply took my breath away. The scenery is amazing. We certainly live in a beautiful country. I climbed the steps to the lighthouse — they were rather steep but I was determined to do it and it was well worth the effort.
We found the seal colony and spent lots of time just watching their antics.
On our last night we went to Circus Cinema and Restaurant. You can watch a movie and have a meal or opt for just the meal, which is what we did. Best food choice of the trip. It was outstanding, as was the service. Loved it.
We did just over 880km in four days on our little roadie. I have another break coming up in a few months — might start talking about the Taranaki again, or maybe Cape Reinga.
• Linda Hall is assistant editor at Hawke's Bay Today.