November 6th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
View from Flagstaff Hill

We encountered Wayne, the owner of the camp, this morning, but he was not nearly so encouraging as his wife had been, + seemed to throw some chilly water upon the free accommodation idea – one of the most attractive parts of the deal in our eyes.  This depressed me, + put me out of countenance for the whole day.  Since we weren’t working today, we decided to make the trip across the bay to Russell.  We hitched in to Paihia, grabbing a lift with the same nice feller who’d given us a lift yesterday, + were just in time to board the ferry.  A pleasant enough little trip, + Russell was a pleasant, sleepy little town.  It had a terrific little museum, just chock-full of knick-knacks + memorabilia, none of it worth anything at all, but nearly all of it fascinating.  Other than that, we paid a short visit to the church, the oldest standing church in NZ, stopped off at the maritime park building, strolled along the waterfront, + the4n up Flagstaff Hill, a site of historic importance, in that an annoyed Maori called Mone Itake had once chopped down the British flagstaff four times.  He sounds a bit of a Guy Fawkes figure, thumbing his nose at authority, + becoming in the process a sort of folk hero.  There’s a new flagstaff there now, but the most rewarding part of the trek up the hill is the view it affords over the bay.  We spent a very peaceful hour or so sitting up there reading, + then virtually ran back down the hill.  Just time for an ice-cream + a bag of crisps, then back on the ferry.

By the time we got back, it was about time to eat, so, in due time, after a suitable pause for tea, biscuits + a sandwich, we ate dinner – mashed potato + baked beans.  During the evening, a young Canadian couple, Tom + Jo, cooked popcorn, which they, we, + a somewhat boring Australian couple, + quite a friendly + funny German guy, nibbled at.  We then played dice, which was alright, tho’ the evening was definitely lacking in one vital ingredient – booze.

In a sort of limbo, looking for work, but killing time in the meantime, with some light sight-seeing. I can now be rather pompous about doing without alcohol, as being of lessening importance, but then it was my route to confidence sociability, humour, approachability. My father’s son.

Good to be able to find a photo specific to the blog.  It will be, I fear, increasingly rare, for some time to come.

  1. Kevan Baker

    We also took the trip from Paihia to Russell and visited the church. Found two graves next to one another for a Bullen and a Baker. My Grandmother’s maiden name was Bullen and, yes you guessed it my Grandfather’s name is Baker. No prize for that. As far as I know no relatives ventured to Russell but fascinating I thought. Maybe a hidden message from beyond drew us to Russell. Probably not but …….

    In the intervening 30 odd years between your visit and our visit did anything change, probably not too much except the prices. 🙀

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