A big breakfast in the morning, + then we finally said goodbye to Mike, who was heading down south to Wellington. We’ve enjoyed his company, but really I can’t say I’m sorry we’re now heading different ways. Our senses of humour don’t really mesh properly, + I think his North American arrogance (the Texas syndrome – everything is bigger, better, faster) comes thro’ stronger the longer one knows him.
Our own route took us north to Rotorua, so we sharpened up our thumbs + smiles, + parked ourselves on the corner. One short lift took us 5 or 6 miles out of town, + then we were picked up by 4 Canadians in the front of a big, borrowed pick-up. We rode in the back, but it had a built-in cab, cushions, mattresses, etc, so we were perfectly comfortable. They told us they were going to Rotorua (great) but wanted to stop off on the way at a place called Craters of the Moon. Lucky they picked us up really, since we were able to tell them that they had already passed it. So we all back-tracked. With the prospect of a ride to Rotorua, we were perfectly happy to visit the Craters again – they hadn’t changed. Other than this slight detour, it was a fast ride to Rotorua, so we were there about lunch-time. We strolled around town a little, even found somewhere to have my glasses fixed, + then Val phoned Doug. Only Barbara, his wife, was in, + her car was being fixed, but she gave us directions for the bus. We had quite a wait, tho’, so I sat down to write this while Val went off to the shops. “What are you doing here?” barked the voice. Doug, of course. He had arrived home, + driven down to meet us. He was quite his old self, + seemed just as much at home in his new luxury Toyota as he had done in Thyme. We had a cup of tea, + then he whisked us off to the first of our tourist attractions, the Rainbow Springs. This was a large garden, stocked with many native trees + flowers, with trout streams stocked with hundreds of trout running thro’ theplace, a Kiwi house. It was all very pleasant but eminently missable.
Home for drinks then… of course. I don’t need to say that I was well + truly pickled by the time dinner came. The meal was excellent, + once it was done, + we had washed up, Doug excused himself + went off to bed. We followed suit soon after, to our luxury apartment. Doug’s daughter Penny, who lived there with her husband + baby daughter, was away on holiday in the South Island, so the place was turned over to us. Really nice, too, especially the bed – big + soft.
My comments on Mike reflected my general feeings at the time, but actually I feel I am being a little ungenerous, as he had proved a good companion, and had pushed us to do things we might otherwise have avoided. And clearly the antipathy was not too great, for we were to see Mike on two more occasions after we returned, once in Canada, once in London.
Good to catch up with Doug, and to swee that really he had not changed at all, despite being in very different circumstances.