St Valentine’s Day. Hello, my lovers. Phoned Bruce’s aunt again in the morning, + she invited us round in the evening at about 5.30. Packed our gear up, which took ages, + walked to town. There was an old gold mine there, which it is possible to visit. It had been open the Saturday we’d arrived, but unfortunately was shut now, which just goes to show you should take advantage of things when you can. Walked in to the centre, + managed to persuade the girl in the garage where we were meeting Sybil (Bruce’s aunt) to look after our bags for the day. This freed us considerably, physically + mentally, so we celebrated with a pot of tea for one (which we shared) + a buttered bun each (which we didn’t), + then popped up to the War Memorial, set up on a hill overlooking the town. We took quite a few pictures up there, + of the buildings in the town. The last time we’d taken In a film to be developed, a lot of them hadn’t come out, + on close examination it seemed that the battery in the camera was gunged up, so now we were shooting our way rapidly thro’ a film to check that it was now OK. Fortunately, Thames is a photogenic town, resembling Skagway in many ways, reflecting the similarity of their origins as gold-mining towns. We then went on a short hike up into the hills above the town, on a well-marked trail. It was interesting, with quite a few gold-mines cut into the rock – we didn’t have a torch tho, so couldn’t venture too far into them. We turned back after about an hour or so – we couldn’t follow the trail all the way round, so we would have to retrace our steps at some point. Fortuitous, as it happened – just after we made it back to town, the skies opened, + it just poured + poured.
We whiled away an hour or so wandering up + down the shops, then collected our bags + were just on our way to the Post Office to kill some more time when a young + hairy man ran up + accosted us. “Were we friends of Bruce Mackie?” We were. This was Nick, Sybil’s son, who had come to pick us up. This was about all his role, in fact – he dropped us off, stopped for a swift beer, + was off again. Alan + Sybil were very nice, anxious to please, had a big + well-decorated house, + proceeded immediately to get us well and truly pickled, with beer + sherry, 2 bottles of wine at dinner, followed by liqueurs. The dinner was most excellent too – roast lamb with mucho trimmings. We then watched the snooker on telly, before tumbling off to bed – a real double bed, at that.
Aha – mention of camera problems, which could explain the missing photos. But it also explains the large number of photos we have of Thames. Probably, just as well – I shall undoubtedly come to a section where there are no relevant photos available, so I shall save these (plus others from our trip to Coromandel) for a rainy day, photographically speaking.
We do seem to have encountered more Kiwi hospitality, however, which makes life very pleasant (as well as saving us a deal of money.)