October 31st 1982

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Keri Keri

Before we’d left Auckland, Margaret had given us the address of a friend of theirs who lived at Ahuru Falls, near Paihia, + she said he had his finger on the button of local events.  We planned to hitch over to see him this morning.  Not that we got off to a very early start.  It had been so snug + warm in the tent that it had been difficult to drag ourselves out.  And then there had been a long, leisurely breakfast, with porridge, tea, toast.  We finally got moving at about 11. 

But one couldn’t complain about the hitch-hiking.  To get to Paihia, there are 3 stages: out to the main road, along the main road, back from the main road, + we managed it with 3 rides without a single car not stopping.  100%.  At the Falls, we asked a bloke gazing over his back fence if he knew where Art Thompson lived.  He turned out to be Art Thompson so that solved a problem.  Once we’d introduced ourselves + stated our situation, he invited us in, gave us a cup of coffee, + rang a couple of places he thought might need staff – a restaurant + a hotel.  Unfortunately, the right person wasn’t in at either place, so he passed on the phone nos. to us.

We then took a trail to Paihia, about one and a half hour’s walk, + very very pleasant, following the course of the river, only way up above it.  Then it descended to cross a boardwalk across a mangrove swamp – that was very interesting – + then came out across part of the golf course into Paihia.  We thought about visiting a museum set in an old ship, but decided to postpone that visit till we had some money.  We called in at a couple of motels, but no joy there, + then at the Bella Vista restaurant to see Cedric, one of Art’s contacts.  He was very friendly, + tho’ he said he couldn’t offer us work immediately, he told us to keep in touch, as something might come up.  We tried a couple of other places, + then called up the Hotel for a waitress job for Val.  The lady there told us to come on over – it was back at the Falls – so we went out there, + Val went in for an interview.  The upshot was that she was taken on, initially just on Wed, Thurs + Fri nights with the chance of some more work later if things went well.  This posed transport + accommodation problems, of course, but we decided to deal with them as they arose.  Hitched home, cup of tea, then dinner – the remains of the stew.

Yet another encounter with the astonishing friendliness and generosity of New Zealanders – those we have met, at any rate. And followed by a rather tortuous account of our various searches… though at least it did seem to end up with a positive result, with Val being offered a job. Which was our major purpose at the time.

October 30th 1982

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The Bounty (sort of)

Up for a shower + breakfast, + Val sewed a Union Jack, that we’d bought in Auckland, onto the pack.  Then Mr Pedersen packed us into his van, + drove us first into Whangerei, to see the reconstruction of the Bounty, which was moored there, + then way out beyond the other end of town.  He pointed out the farm that he had owned as we drove past it.  It was all very sad.  Being a bachelor is all very well if one is young; but the perils catch up with one along with age.  No children, no family, no interests.  At least Mr Pedersen is not poor – he flies home to Denmark for 4 months each year – but he is still lonely.

The road was rather empty, but after a little while a minibus stopped for us.  There was just one bloke in it, + he seemed pleasant enough.  He was going to Keri Keri, which was where we’d decided to head, but first he took us round by the coast road, from which we could get a better view of the Bay of Islands, + down to Paihia, a nearby town.  We’d explained we were looking for work (we explain this to everyone we meet in the hope that they’ll be able to help), + he stopped there to buy a local paper.  He also bought us 2 guides to NZ (which we later discovered cost about $9 each) + then tea, plus sandwiches, plus cake.  Totally amazing.  We drove on to Keri Keri, + he showed us some of the sights before dropping us in the centre, giving us his address + phone no in case we should need accommodation or help.  An amazingly generous fellow.  His name is Don Somerville, by the way.  I sat down on a wall where he’d dropped us, while Val went off to explore a couple of the tourist attractions.  Five minutes later, Don was back.  Incidentally, he said, if we didn’t have any luck with work we could come + stay at his place, + he could find us some work, about $30 a day each, around the house + garden.  Thanks, I said.  Val too was rather stunned when she returned to learn the news.

We lugged our bags 5 mins out of town to the Aranga Motor Camp, + booked in there, $7 for the 2 of us.  It was a pleasant place with a lovely view over a stream + some woods, + very well-equipped, with a kitchen, a laundry room, hot showers + a trampoline.  After we’d pitched the tent we both had a bit of a bounce, then lay around in the sunshine.  Now that the sailing trip is off, the weather has turned marvellous.  In the evening we cooked up a splendid stew with dumplings, + chatted a little with the people in the kitchen – 2 Canadians + a Kiwi.  Then back to beautiful warm sleeping bags.

Away from one generous host, and on to another, or at least the prospect of one. And then a pleasant evening on our own, which we have rather missed. Later on in our travels (no plot-spoilers) we were able to come up with a name for the position of feeling obliged to some one else, and therefore somewhat in their power… but I’ll save that until it happens.

As You Like It

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Last week, I was full of positive thoughts about the production; this week, it was a return to the reality of this sort of work, as I was missing two important people from the cast.  One was Azi, playing Rosalind, but actually I was less worried about her.  She had an appointment to see a solicitor (I think) but had warned me of this.  Even then, she was hopeful of arriving at the rehearsal before the end, only finally to concede defeat when she found herself still waiting, and on the other side of London.

More worrying was the absence of Kerira, who had joined us last week, had done very well, and had been very positive about coming again this week.  But no show, even after getting a call from Aisha.  Which puts the play back into jeopardy.  Also missing Rabar, the young Kurdish man, but he has always been uncertain, so no great shock there.  But still, a problem to be resolved.  We thought to solve it by moving Abdulaziz, but my impression was that he was unhappy about the change… and that could mean losing another actor.  Ah well.

In the circumstances, the rehearsal went well.  I had actual copies of the full script to distribute, and we were able to focus on certain scenes for which we had all the important people, such as the wrestling scene.  So, all a bit uncertain again, but I shall just have to remain calm, and see what happens.

October 29th 1982

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A hectic beginning, with me, Val, Margaret + her 2 kids all trying to shower, breakfast, pack, in a short space of time.  Fortunately, John had already left for work.  However, we managed it, + M soon had us dropped off on the outskirts of the city, ready to catch a bus across to the North Shore.  We had anticipated going into the city, where we could do some washing + drying (Val, moving on to Phase III, had hand-washed our jumpers, + they were soaked)  but it seemed simpler to go along with the change of plan.  We asked a middle-aged couple at the bus stop about which bus we should catch, + they were bursting with friendly helpfulness.  After detailing several bus routes, it was suggested that we start hitching straight away, as there was a suitable place just along the road.  We walked along there with our packs + 3 extra bags (one containing wet jumpers), + before starting hitching, decided to sort our bags out, + look for a map..  We’d just got everything  nicely arranged on the grass when there was a beep, + a man in a car was beckoning us in.  “Shit”, said Val, as we bundled everything together + shoved it into his boot.  He was only going just across the bridge, but told us it would be easier on the other side .  A friendly bloke – a steward with Air NZ.  A five minute wait, then a ride in the back of an empty lorry.  Not a long ride again, but useful since it took us off the motorway.  A slightly longer rest after this one, then a single lady with a small boy.  She was (had been?) English, + was fun, with an appreciative sense of humour.  However, not a long ride once again.  She was homesteading, just converting to horticulture, on 13 acres.  A good life, I think, but a hard one.  Our next ride was our longest of the day, taking us to the outskirts of Whangerei.  He was an Irishman who’d lived in NZ for many years.  He was listening to the horse-racing on the radio when we got in.  He said he liked to put a few bets on the horses when he was travelling to keep him interested.  A nice man, with some strange mixed opinions about NZ + its people.  We had one small emergency when we overheated, but luckily there was a house nearby, + I fetched some water.

And so, Whangerei.  We were standing there hitching when an old man rode by on his bike.  He stopped, told us a better place to hitch, + then offered us a bed for the night if we would like one, + told us where he lived, before riding off.  We were somewhat stunned, of course, but thought that we would take the offer up.  It would be doing us a favour, obviously, but the old man seemed rather lonely, + it seemed almost rude to turn down such a kind offer.  We decided to take advantage of the situation to get our washing etc done.  Val took the stuff into town, while I sat in the park, listened to Walter Walkman, + wrote this.  (I was then much behind.)  However, after about an hour and a half, I was getting very cold, so carried the bags round to Mr Pedersen’s house.  He showed me our room, + then I immediately set off out again in search of Val.  I become restless + worried when she is late, tho’ I think this is only when we are travelling – in London we barely saw each other during the week + it didn’t concern me.  Unfortunately tho’, my going in search of Val rather messed things up for Val, who had just got a lift but then had to get out again when the car passed me heading in the opposite direction.  She then had to run like mad with a heavy bag of washing to catch me up.  Ho hum!

Mr Pedersen was a friendly old man, living in a new bungalow, which he’d managed to make into an old man’s house – newspapers, books, lying about, a few packets of food lying on a shelf in the kitchen.  He had a strong Danish accent, + used it to express some strong opinions.  He liked to talk, but not to listen.  We had a meal of boiled chicken + mashed potato, tho’ we also had bread + biscuits to fill up on, and, later, cocoa + more biscuits.  And Mr Pedersen talked – his opinions were mostly right wing, + he also expressed the view that life now is present.  Materially, perhaps.  We then watched television – late, after Mr P had gone to bed, they had McCabe + Mrs Miller, a Robert Altman film.  It was good, but no justice done to it by a black + white telly.

The usual litany of hitching rides. I commented upon this at the time, but it was remarkably easy to get rides. I wonder what it is like in NZ nowmy suspicion is that it will be following the rest of the wore suspicious of such behaviour.

Interesting that my account of Mr Pedersen should leave out two aspects that we refer to even now. One was his pronunciation of chicken – kikken – which is what we still call it now, from time to time at any rate. The other was our starter to the meal, which Mr Pedersen called kikken soup, but was actually just the water he had boiled the chicken in.

October 28th 1982

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Val with her blanket… and a sign

We attempted Phase 2 of Operation Clean-up this morning, taking in our sleeping bags to get them dry-cleaned, our cover story being something to do with having a new fastener fitted.  Rich gave us a ride into town, + while Val sat + finished a blanket she’s been crocheting, I dragged the bags into a dry cleaners.  Encountered a large snag, tho’, when they said it would take a week, because of having to let the toxic fumes dissipate.  Fair enough, I suppose, but still a bit of a pain.  We decided to give up on the idea – unfortunately, this meant we had to carry the blasted things around all day.  Ah well. 

The good news was that our black + white films had been developed.  There were some good, some not so – about what one would expect.  We found ourselves a sunny spot, + I wrote letters while Val carried on crocheting.  She wanted to get it finished, because the whole point of doing it was to sell it, + we reckoned the most likely bet was Auckland.  However, it took her longer than she’d anticipated, + the morning wore on.  Gradually, more + more people assembled all around us, until we realised that we’d chosen as our quiet spot the assembly point for a large political march.  It was quite funny to see Val busily knitting away, while the militants milled around.  In fact, everything was very peaceful + good-natured, with an amplified singer to jolly things along.  Even if his repertoire did consist of just 2 songs.  I decided I didn’t want to join in tho’ – man in the mass doesn’t appeal to me greatly.  He’s at his worst then.  It was a big rally tho’ – 30,000 we later learned – all assembled to protest Mr Muldoon’s wage + price freeze.  The gist of the protest seemed to be that prices aren’t frozen but wages are.  Which would cause difficulties, one must agree.  However, since I don’t intend to get into a discussion of NZ politics…

Val finally finished her blanket, + we set off on a tour of the shops, trying to sell it.  It was a thankless task.  Not that the blanket wasn’t nice, but there is a limited market for that sort of thing, + we had no idea where the suitable shops might be.  After some depressing trudging, I finally recalled a craft co-operative shop I had heard advertised on the radio, so there we went.  Val finally was able to see the man in charge, + he liked the work… but couldn’t take it because it had dyed wool in it, + the shop only had “natural” products.  A real body blow, that was, because although Val wouldn’t have received money directly, there would have been a good chance of selling it there for a very good price.  I was able to crow a little, since I hadn’t approved the dyed wool, but that was poor consolation.

By this time it was far too late to do anything, tho’ we had hoped to have bought bus passes + gone on a tour.  We were off to John + Margaret’s tonight, + were going to meet M at her place of work.  We’d even arranged for Rich to deliver our packs there, so we wouldn’t have any humping to do.  M took us home, where we had a cup of tea, + then when John arrived home from work, we all went shopping, + then back again for dinner.  A strange evening, + a little disappointing –  I had expected to enjoy it more.  M snapped at her kids too much, which put me on edge, + tho’ she could be very friendly at one moment, all of a sudden she would close up + appear disapproving.  Again, not a trait calculated to put one at one’s ease.  The booze didn’t really flow as I’d expected either, which I suppose is one of the problems of socialising on a weekday.

Not sure I like myself very much at present. The idea of “crowing” over such a thing does rankle particularly. And our ever more devious concealment of our condition grows more uncomfortable by the day.

October 27th 1982

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The weather, yet again, was foul, but this was handy since it enabled us to embark on Phase One of Operation Clean-up.  I read the paper + wrote this diary while Val washed the vast majority of our clothes.  That took virtually the whole morning, + with the rain still coming down, we decided to treat ourselves to the pictures.  The only difficulty was in deciding what to go and see.  Eventually, rather against her better judgment, I persuaded Val to come + see “Rocky III”.  I thought it was by no means as good as its predecessors, but I still enjoyed it.  The fight scenes were well-done and exciting,  but the drama, or melodrama, of the other scenes was very stagey, and so weak.  And, as anticipated, Val didn’t enjoy it at all.  Tho’ she agreed that the guy playing Rocky’s opponent was superb.

When we came out of the cinema, the weather was just very pleasant… which shows what happens when we take ourselves out of circulation.  Spoke to Rich after dinner, since he thought it very unlikely that he’d be going out sailing this weekend, + since we didn’t want to be too much of a burden to Rory + Eva in any case, we decided to leave, + head up north on Friday.

In the evening, we all went out for a drink with John + Margaret, the couple we’d met at Rich’s welcome home party, who had invited us to go round for a meal.  2 other of Rich’s friends also came along, so we were quite a little crowd.  Everybody seemed to think the pub was quite nice, but by British standards it was cold, impersonal, + barren – more like a hotel bar.  Still, the evening was pleasant enough, without being anything very special.

Hm – sometimes I wonder if I ever read these entries after I wrote them. I certainly appear to miss the (many) times that I condemn myself out of my own mouth/pen. Operation Clean-up, for example, seems to have been conducted entirely by Val, while I read the paper, and then did some writing. And then I recount how I bullied Val into seeing a film she didn’t fancy.

October 26th 1982

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Val with ice-cream

After breakfast, into town with Rich.  He is starting his job-hunting today, but all being well he hopes to take us out sailing for a couple of days on Thursday or Friday.  In retrospect, our day wasn’t massively productive, but much of it took ages.  The weather was also disgusting – cold + rainy, so we wore our PInky + Perky outfits – we hate wearing matching clothes,  but our 2 ponchos are the same colour, so we don’t have a great deal of choice.  We went to the AA – Marge is a member, + had given us her card to use, so we could make use of their free information service.  But their response was a bit overwhelming – 2 big plastic bags of maps, guides + brochures.  Val visited the Family Planning clinic to top up her stock of pills, , but they only gave her an appointment for tomorrow.  We didn’t expect better.  We visited a camping shop – we both enjoy looking at all the camping gadgets they have on offer – + bought a screw-top food container.  We’ve been looking for this sort of thing for ages, + only now in NZ does such a thing seem to be available.  Unfortunately we’ve already bought one which was far more expensive, + doesn’t work too well, in Tauranga.  Such is the way of the world.

One massive job which we undertook was to get our Christmas cards out of the way.  A touch early?  Not if you’re sending them surface mail.  We are, in fact, a touch late.  We despaired very quickly of finding half-decent ones, so opted for Woolworth’s cheapest.  We then, with a good deal of cheek, found a teashop, ordered one tea between the two of us, + sat down to write them all, nearly forty of them.  Our efforts were also considerably slowed by the fact that we only had one pen between us, it whisked back + forth across the table.  We were there well over an hour, but the owner didn’t seem to mind.  I like teashops here.  I got a good pot, plus a jug of hot water, plus ample milk.

We asked at a chemist’s shop if they could recommend a doctor – we had thought it might be cheaper to visit a hospital, but it seemed not.  The doctor could see us straight away which was a blessing (I’d had a rotten night because of the feverish itching + scratching) tho’ we did have to sit + read Time for a time.  He was a nice old man, a bit deaf + doddery, but he seemed to have a good idea what was wrong with us.  He thought we probably had scabies, an unpleasant parasitic infection.  Having both been brought up in rather genteel homes, we were naturally horrified, but he didn’t seem to think we’d die, + prescribed some lotions for us.  He was also able to fix up Val’s contraceptive problem by prescribing six months worth of pills for her.  Val had to say she’s been recently examined, but the doctor swallowed that little white lie without a murmur.  He charged $14 for the lot, which seemed to be a sort of cut-price deal.  We had a little bit of trouble back at the chemists, when they only gave Val 3 months’ pills because that was all they had.  At first she accepted this with unaccustomed meekness, but I sent her back in to kick up a bit more fuss, + one of them bustled off somewhere to get some more.

This done, it was time to head home, so we posted our letters, grabbed a bottle of wine, + caught the bus.  By now, we were joking with each other about our disease, quietly warning off other people against sitting next to us.  On a more serious side tho’, we decided not to tell our hosts about our little problem, since it would be likely to panic them.  Our medical instructions were to smother ourselves liberally with “The Application” after a hot shower, for 2 nights running, + only then to change to new, clean clothes.  A real problem, since virtually everything we have has to be washed, yet surreptitiously, more or less.

The evening was a quiet one, just chatting, then on with the stuff.  It smelled vaguely unpleasant, + was uncomfortable in sensitive areas… in my case my arse + my cock.

Can’t say that I am especially proud of our decision not to tell our hosts about our condition, nor for the feeble justification I gave for it. The truth is almost certainly that we were concerned we might be ejected, so we were being entirely selfish, as well as irresponsible. A reminder that this is a warts and all account; apologies that on this occasion the warts are accompanied by scabies and some ugly self-interest.

Incidentally, if you think you have already seen the photo, that was because I used it to accompany a previous post, only to discover a more suitable photo later, which is now the one posted.  So, rather than waste this wonderful photo which could have come straight out of my parents’ 50s photo album…

October 25th 1982

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Marge and Val at MOTAT

Off to the zoo this morning.  Fortunately, Rory has passed on some free entrance tickets that he’d acquired from somewhere, so that was a considerable financial help.  It was a very pleasant zoo, + there weren’t too many other people around, even tho’ this was Holiday Monday – the weather was a bit bleak, but then MOTAT (which we visited later) was pretty crowded, so I don’t really know why that was.  Obviously, I can’t list all the animals we saw, so here are just a few highlights.  We saw our first kiwis – of the feathered variety – + a more preposterous bird you could not imagine.  The stupid thing looks just exactly like the cartoon they have of it.  It’s as tho’ a duck really looked like Donald, or a mouse like Micky.  They had a really remarkable little chameleon-like creature there too, whose name I cannot recall,  which just blended in exactly with its background, whether it be brown, green, yellow, whatever.  The real stars of the place were the monkeys, who put on a wonderfully entertaining display, wrestling, arguing, hiding, fighting.  Apart from those, the animals were much as most zoo fare: lions, leopards, bears, an elephant, giraffes, none of which were very lively.  Marge kept going on about how wonderful the otters had been the last time she’d been, + when we got to the otter pen there was not one to be seen.  You winsome, you lose some.

So, after some tea + a meat pie, we moved on to MOTAT.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have any free tickets for this one, + they rushed us $3.20 apiece.  The price of knowledge.  MOTAT was alright, but it could have been wonderful.  There were some things working, operating, but everything should have been.  The computer room, for example, had a few computer innards laid out dormant behind glass panels.  Unsurprisingly, the place was deserted.  Why do museum proprietors show such a lack of imagination?  You would think they’re all fossils, like their exhibits, dead + lifeless.

We returned home in the afternoon, + I spent my time recording some music, so that we’d have something different to listen to.  I made up one mixed tape, which I christened “Kiwi” in honour of our funny friend, + then a David Bowie tape, + a classical tape, so a fair little variety there.  In the evening, the 4 of us were invited over to Herman’s mum’s for dinner.  She is a very nice + active old lady, who still speaks with a very strong Dutch accent.  She is widowed now, but has 10 children to keep her busy.  We had a pleasant meal, after which another of her sons + his wife called round.  Since we’d earlier met yet another of her children, this meant we’d met 5 out of the 10, or 50%.

After this, Herman + Marge drove us back to Rory + Eva’s.  We stopped off on the way at One Tree Hill, a famous + appropriately-named landmark of the city, but the wind whipping across was bone-chilling, so we didn’t stay long.  We sat + chatted with Rich, Rory + Eva for a while, mainly about what sort of a job we could try for, + then bed.

Incidentally, you will remember I wrote some time ago that I was feeling very itchy, especially at night.  Well, the situation has not improved.  In fact, it has grown considerably worse, + Val has been suffering from the same thing.  It has been pretty bad, actually, + has become rather embarrassing since I feel the need to scratch a lot, + the itch is often unbearable.  We have resolved to see the doctor, to see what he can do for us.

More conventional sight-seeing – the zoo and the museumwhich passed the time pleasantly enough (there’s that word again.) So the most notable comment is probably about our medical condition, and at last a determination to do something about it.

October 24th 1982

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Herman and Chris

It was quite late when we emerged, + by the time we’d polished off breakfast + got ourselves ready, it was nearly noon.  The weather had improved somewhat, tho’ it was still very windy.  It was decided that we’d take the scenic road, + just stop off for a couple of short hikes along the way.  In fact, our first stop was at a small curio shop cum museum.  They had a good mixture of stuff there, some at ridiculous prices, some remarkably reasonable.  Then on again, to a spot where we could take a short but steep hike down to the dam of a big reservoir.  There are no common law access rights to land in NZ – as compensation there is a complex + healthy system of publicly maintained trails + walkways of various lengths.  We sat for a while down by the dam, looking out over a magnificent vista of virtual jungle.  Herman + Marge pointed out various trees, birds etc to us, + tho’ my interest in + knowledge of biological matters is slight, it was useful to have an informal couple of guides along with us.

The next stop was to go on a trail down to a small waterfall – this trail was rather muddy, so being the only one not in suitable footgear, I fell behind, + it was something of a struggle to keep my feet dry.  And it wasn’t as if the falls were anything very spectacular, since most of it was covered by an outcrop of rock.  That done, it was back to the car, + only just in the nick of time, since it immediately hailed furiously.  We then called in on another of Herman’s sisters for a cup of tea.  She was very nice, like all of the family, it seems, with two pretty girls, + a friendly, rather gentle husband of a Dutchman with a severe red nose.  And then home, calling off on the way to buy some hot bread, with a huge, tho’ as it turned out rather tasteless, apple turnover each.

So that was our day, like many days in one’s life, pleasant… but that’s all.  It was nice to get out + get some fresh air into one’s lungs, + Herman + Marge revealed quite a fair sense of humour, mostly passive, but that can be just as good company.  We had a nice, casual evening, with a meal of spaghetti, + then sitting around a real fire, reading etc.  On telly, they had quite a good programme on rock music, with a couple of new, incredibly good videos rock groups seem to be able to turn out at will, followed by an interview with David Bowie, plus some of his videos for good measure.  The one of “Ashes to Ashes” is incredibly good.  He is a talented man, that is undeniable,  Eva + Rory came round for a while, thus presenting us with a chance to pick + choose where we wanted to stay.  We didn’t care really, just so long as we didn’t offend anyone, but what seemed the easiest thing to do was to stay with H + M for another night, so that was what was arranged.

Clearly no great urgency in the day’s activities, but good to have some company to show us where to go, what to look out for. While being away, we had very largely missed the revolution in rock music, with every song having its own video. And the Ashes to Ashes one has long been regarded as a classic.

October 23rd 1982

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Albert Park

Because Val had perhaps rather foolishly told Eva that we were keen trampers (Item no 1 in the NZ/English dictionary: trampers means hikers, + has no connotations of tramps as ragged, scruffy men at all) she had rung up her brother, another keen tramper, + arranged for him to take us out tomorrow.  Rory + Eva would drop us over there tonight – in the meantime, we would amuse ourselves in town for the day. 

We caught the bus in, which seemed excessively expensive, + dropped off 3 rolls of black + white film to be developed.  We then picked up a copy of the Tourist Times, + discovered in it a short walking tour round Auckland, so we followed that.  It was hardly exciting, but pleasant enough, + we even had some sunshine.  The route took us round some of the older streets, but by English standards they were more genteel Hampstead than historic.  We also walked thro’ Albert Park, which had a large statue of Queen Victoria.  One of the great disasters of New Zealand is that the shops all shut on Saturday afternoons, so that city life withers + dies for virtually the entire weekend. 

We were then just in time, so we thought, to catch the free double-decker London bus out to MOTAT, which is the Museum of Transport and Technology.  However, it didn’t turn up – or at any rate, there was some confusion in the newspaper as to where it was supposed to turn up, so we didn’t catch it.  Instead, we thought to walk out to Parnell, another “historic” district, + then on to the War Memorial museum.  Parnell was true Hampstead.  It had lots of old buildings, restored to look like an old colonial village, + all now housing frightfully trendy shops.  Still, the place did seem to have some life to it, even tho’ it was a Saturday afternoon.

Incidentally, we have discovered that Peter Gabriel has released a new album.  I was severely tempted to buy it (+ doubtless would have fallen) but my miserly angel, called Val, was at my side.  She’s probably right tho’; we’ve been going thro’ money like water, + really need to get a job of some kind.  We discovered how much it costs to fly to Australia today – about $400 each, which doesn’t leave us a lot to play with.

The museum was quite nice.  It was free, which is very nice.  We arrived just in time to see the next showing in the planetarium, + since neither of us have ever been to one, we trotted along.  It was very disappointing tho’ – the guy gave a technical talk, + gave it very fast, so it was difficult to follow, + in any case the whole thing only ran about 20 mins, so no sooner had one got used to the dark than it was over.  We just looked at a couple of other exhibits – they had one display devoted to Gallipoli, but in general there was a paucity of material.  This needn’t necessarily be a bad thing, since if there is too much that can be overwhelming, but I think this erred on the other side.  Tho’ not from choice, I imagine.

After the museum, a walk back to town down thro’ the park, + then on a bus back to St Heliers.  Rory + Eva drove us across to the other side of Auckland to where Eva’s brother Herman + his wife Marge live, stayed for a quick beer + a chat, + then departed, leaving us behind.  They were a very pleasant, hospitable couple.  Herman is tall + slim, + tho’ Marge has a pretty face, she is a very strange shape, being very short yet very broad.  Herman got out a big box of maps + guides, + started telling us about 3 or 4 day walks which were particularly good, + we were able to pin him down to the 2 or 3 top ones.  Because of his advice, we abandoned our plan for visiting the Coromandel peninsula, which would have meant re-tracing our steps in any case, + decided instead to go to Tangariro N P, in the middle of the North Island, + perhaps a couple down in the south as well.  Of course, our plans are always fluid.  Things change, y’know.   Marge cooked up a lovely meal, + then after dinner we just chatted.  About five years ago, they had gone on a similar world trip to the one we’re on, so we had quite a lot to talk about.

Our first real encounter of the sleepy pace of life then the way of things in NZ. Our understanding is that it has changed somewhat since then. Other than that, the usual sort of touristy things – museums, sight-seeing. And more NZ hospitality – we really have been treated most royally.