The sleepover came and went with no drama to speak of. We took the gold BMW convertible which is sometimes a mistake because people can get a bit shitty and think you’re flaunting your wealth. Just putting it on the table, – no wealth to flaunt. And the car is 18 years old, but that didn’t stop the traffic cop giving us the once over outside Amberley and following us up the road. I did wonder too how it would be received at the numerous road stops we had to make on the way up, but the Stop Goers seemed to enjoy the fact that we could give them a quick word and a wave through a hole in the roof.

Kaikoura has grown from a small, mainly forgotten seaside town to become a destination with lots of things to do, and has done so without losing the common touch along the way. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere recently where so many people put themselves out to make sure I felt welcome. Yes, there was the one sourpuss in a souvenier store but the charming women in the op shop and the pub and the other places we went, made up for her a hundred times over.

It was mid-week quiet and I didn’t mind at all. Just because the whales were out being watched, the fishing fleet looked to be having a day off and the seals had moved somewhere else didn’t mean the waves weren’t lapping the shore and there weren’t things to buy. I discovered what has to be the best non-city bookstore in New Zealand. It’s called Novel Findings and it alone could have held me captive all day. I also managed to score a $3 copy of an original Penguin called “Adolph Hitler, My Part in his Downfall” by Spike Milligan in the Op shop next door. Now, apparently, all I need are parts 2 and 3 – though with the amount of laughing I’ve done so far, it might be prudent to give my bladder a rest. I also did my travel pie tastings that ranged from the A+ for the fish pie at the Why Not? café in Kaikoura, to minus numbers for the mangy slop wrapped in sturdy pastry from a desperate place situated next to the pub in Waiau. I also realize how far behind I’ve left my rural roots. On the way up I loved the ambience of nature. On the way home there were just far too many green paddocks, rollicking white lambs, lazy cows – and hills. OMG were there hills. We had chosen the inland route back to the city and at one point we’d gone an hour and a half seeing only the Rural Delivery mailman, a farmer on a tractor and an elderly couple in a tiny car whose driver looked as though he’d chosen that route by mistake and nothing would make him release the death grip on the steering wheel lest he misjudge one of the numerous 90 degree turns and plummet off the road. It will possibly take me another two or three weeks before I can settle down to watch Country Calendar and not feel the need to go outside and stand under the street light.

All in all, a good break but happy to be home and sleeping in a bed that doesn’t do the jelly roll everytime one of us moves.

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