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 now – my 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.