I love this time after New Year, when everyone goes away, the roads are quiet and there are no traffic jams. We have been going to Point Chevalier Beach for dinner, when the tide's coming in and it's not so hot. We sit under the same tree every time (it's always miraculously free, just waiting for us) and eat bits and pieces out of the picnic basket. I also love the history of this beach. There was once a dance hall called the Dixieland Cabaret, which opened in 1925, and burned down ten years later. As well as a band and dancing, it had a skittle alley, bathing room facilities and special floodlights installed for night swimming to the two rafts anchored a hundred yards away from the shore. Sigh. I often think I was born in the wrong era. I never think of Auckland as a particularly romantic place, so my favourite stories are the ones that show it in a sweeter and more nostalgic light.