Taking a trip up the road.

We are going to escape on Thursday. For most people escaping was the first thing they did when the lockdown ended but for us, everything was here. The writing, the creating, the cars – what was the point of forcing ourselves out into the world where crazy people lived? But now, it’s time. The first draft of the book is off being pummelled by those unconnected to its birth, the junior cars are brightly painted and awaiting power and the weather is improving. So we decided, this week we’d go somewhere. Take a trip. So we’re going to Kaikoura. Just far enough away to be different. A touch of sea breeze or, as in the past, a howling gale and lots of horizontal rain. Or once when we were there, a solar eclipse. That was exciting. A bit like a glimpse into a mysterious past that left us in no doubt where superstition arose. When I thought about it today, we’ve done lots of things in Kaikoura. Swum in seaweed, smelled the seal colony, played pool in the pub surrounded by locals itching to get at the table, but the high-light I think was the trip through the bush to see the seal pups stashed up the creek for a few days by their mothers who went out to sea to fill up on fish. The incongruity of sea creatures 2km up a densely bush-clad hill, splashing around in fresh water pools, was amazing. Nature is one of the things we tend to take for granted in this country – I know we’re saving ducks and killing possums and feral cats because they kill our kiwi and songbirds, but things like this, we accept as random acts of wonder set in Godzone because, well, just because. Accommodation in Kaikoura has moved on since the days we spent in the camping area out of town. That was in The Blue Van (as opposed to “Brian” The Green Van was painted army green to disguise the Taylors Dry Cleaning bubbles and driven, very slowly around the lower South Island as an introduction to married life). The Blue Van (no name, we had kids) was a family affair with a little sink and pull out beds and an awning I think. As the boys grew it also had an accompanying pup tent and it’s that tent I remember hearing from the terrified occupants, that almost blew away at Kaikoura. Our other memorable accommodation was the Tree House Lodge. A lucky ticket drawn from a stall at the A&P Show gave us two nights perched in the sky, salivating at the prospect of another perfectly cooked meal from a Masterchef finalist. For Free. Could like get any better? We are not willing to pay the almost $1,000 per night it costs to stay there this time. This time we have a motel. To save money I thought I’d ring the place myself, only to discover it was cheaper online. That was a dilemma but with the help of Angelina who answered the phone, we worked out we’d possibly be paying that in the website’s creditcard surcharge. Plus it gave Angelina an excellent opportunity to talk me into spending an extra $15 for a room with a sea view. I’ve told her I’m expecting champagne and chocolates. ‘Righto. I’ll put them on your bill,’ she says. I think it’s going to be a good night in Kaikoura. Still not Bangkok or Bribie Island but

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