By Rhea Cavers
AFTER leaving bonnie Langholm on December 28, 2019, I would never have predicted my next Christmas being a Kiwi one.
The twists and turns of 2020 laid out my path and kept me in New Zealand for all the right reasons.
To have met friends, who have become family, all around the country is the best feeling.
Coming to New Zealand last December has been the best decision I’ve ever made.
I’m still loving every minute of being in this beautiful country and feel incredibly lucky to be here throughout this whole pandemic.
I’m so grateful to have Elspeth Zemla, a cousin of my late granny Joan Armstrong, and Joe Zemla in Cromwell as my ‘Kiwi’ parents.
Their house has been a second home. It’s been my base since the day I arrived here: My go to for help, advice, a comfy bed, a good feed, a familiar welcoming face and a Langholm accent.
To have this pair at the other side of the world has made my experience so enjoyable. I’m sure it puts my mum and dad’s minds at ease, too.
To spend Christmas in Cromwell with the Zemlas was the next closest thing to coming home.
In the run-up to Christmas myself and my boyfriend, Sam, went on a three-week road trip round the South Island in a camper van.
We saw some amazing sights and had fabulous weather. It didn’t feel Christmassy in the slightest, though.
On the 23rd Sam and I headed to Cromwell ready for the festivities to begin. We put up some Christmas decorations at Elspeth and Joe’s to try to get in the spirit of things.
It felt so peculiar and seemed as though it should have been mid-July.
A friend of mine, Jen MacLeay, from Inverness, who I met in June, also spent Christmas with us, which was great. Christmas morning was beautiful with blue skies all around. We had breakfast cooked on the barbecue, then drank champagne in the sun – the dream.
Another couple, who were friends of Joe and Elspeth’s, joined us for a delicious Christmas dinner.
Great food, drinks and lots of laughs were had. Hospitality at the Zemlas is always amazing.
My first experience of a Kiwi Christmas was a special one, even though I missed my family dearly and a few tears were shed.
I’m always thinking of everyone back home in these horrendously hard times.
I hope the new year brings health and happiness to all my fellow Langholmites.
Sending lots of positive vibes home from NZ for better days to come in 2021.