Father's Day: Weekend in Wellington to reconnect with dad

Getting sweets in Waiarapa with Dad.
AUDREY MALONE/FAIRFAX NZ

Getting sweets in Waiarapa with Dad.

On March 9 1983 at 4.53am the mustachioed Stephen Malone's life was turned upside down and changed forever. That was when I came screaming into the world, so obviously for the better.

I am the third of four children that he has played the role of father to. He is the typical father, you know, loves us, feeds us, and makes terrible jokes and then sits there giggling away while everyone watches him waiting for the punch line. Oh and he lies and says he lets me beat him at board games, when we all know he doesn't stand a fighting chance against me anymore.

But we've been through it all, Steve and me. Crashed cars, poor attempts at cooking, good attempts at cooking, sneaking boyfriends in the bedroom window, broken curfews, groundings, trips to hospital, phone calls from police to ask to collect me from the hospital after indulging one too many, bad haircuts, broken hearts. So, when I was told I could meet up with my father in Wellington and bond for a weekend,it was a given that I decided to give Steve the call up. It was a great opportunity for us to hang out and reminisce.

Some of the soldiers Dad helped paint for Peter Jackson's WWI exhibition.
AUDREY MALONE/FAIRFAX NZ

Some of the soldiers Dad helped paint for Peter Jackson's WWI exhibition.

It started off swell, I had the flu and heavy snow falls in Timaru meant daddio might be stuck and unable to head north. Eventually he made it. I picked him up from the airport and we collectively decided to go to find some food.

Having lived in Wellington, I decided I knew the place to go. ​En route he insisted on plugging the directions into Google Maps.

"Audrey, you need to park up here. It's just over there," oblivious to the fact I knew where I was heading and had eaten there several times before, hence my reason for choosing it.

The CityLife apartment in Wellington's CBD.
PROFESSIONAL PHOTO RENTAL/SUPPLIED

The CityLife apartment in Wellington's CBD.

You have got to love old people and their fascination with using technology. It reminded me of the time he got his first cellphone and had gone away for the weekend with my mother.

"Audrey, so how do you send a text again?" Steve warbled over the phone line to a 16-year-old me.

After having talked him through it, 30 seconds later my phone pings with a message. It was dad.

"Audrey, just wanted to say hi."

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After lunch, it was off to the accommodation. We were booked into a suite in the heart of Wellington's CBD Citylife on Lambton Quay. It was a cold weekend, and we were looking forward to getting inside our rooms. They  felt freezing. We rushed around putting on the heating in all the rooms. This led to ample discussion about insulation. Part of me wondered if I missed the arguments we used to have if I was one minute over curfew. No, I was grateful that we could talk about how to improve buildings. I was even more grateful I can now choose what time I have to be home in bed, which is remarkably earlier than the time I opted for in my teenage years.

The next day we headed over the hills to the Wairarapa. Dad then decided to talk to everyone about insulation.I think it comes with old age. You become fascinated with one topic and then you tell everyone about it. I am going to start planning my discussions for down the track. Turns out everyone has an opinion on heating, but it's not as contentious as politics or abortions.

Nice work Steve for saving the day. My head was not in the game to talk to anyone and he was able to draw everyone into conversation, enabling me to stand there looking like a zombie, my eyes and nose dripping.

The highlight of the weekend was not what I expected it to be. Dad is a war gamer, which means he paints little figurines and then reenacts historic battles. I have never appreciated the efforts he goes to in painting the miniature soldiers, including the research ensuring historical accuracy. When Peter Jackson put the call out to construct the World War I exhibition, Steve was one of many to put his hand up. 

When we went to the exhibition, I was transfixed.

The soldiers were amazing. The way the whole thing had been put together blew my mind. I discovered a new-found respect for my father and his innate knowledge of the war and all the ins and outs of how the warfare was conducted. I also discovered WWI basically happened because some family members didn't get along.

As I dropped dad off at the airport, sans Google Maps, it was with a heavy heart. Living so far away I don't get a chance to beat him at board games, hear his terrible jokes, tell him mine, and argue over politics and insulation.

There is no other relationship like a father-daughter one. So, here's to you Steve. Thanks for everything, especially putting those boyfriends through the ringer.

MORE INFORMATION Booking.com makes it transparent and easy to compare prices and availability for stays all over the world – from small independent hotels to five-star luxury to guest houses, apartments, treehouses and even igloos. See Booking.com.

The writer travelled courtesy of Booking.com

 - Stuff

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