March 5th 1983

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0

Overslept, so out onto the road later than we’d hoped… as usual.  And then, for just an hour and a half’s driving, a whole succession of rides, including 2 of the shortest rides I’ve ever had.  First an old gentleman took us out a few miles, + then a nice long ride with a lady + her kids in a converted camper van.  Her husband + she had done it up themselves, + really plush it was.  The strangest thing about it to me (tho’ I suppose if anyone is reading this in a few years’ time, it won’t seem strange at all, rather old-fashioned in fact), was that it had a digital read-out, which could be switched to tell speed, fuel, time, fuel consumption, probably the news too.  She dropped us 20 mins from Wellington, + then came 2 entirely crazy lifts, one about 200 yards, one about a mile – amazing!  Still, both came in situations where all the omens indicated problems, so one should be grateful for small mercies… in this case, very small.  Finally, tho, a ride into the centre of Wellington, by a teacher.

It was a lovely day, so our introduction to the capital city was in its best possible light.  And I must say, we were immediately impressed – it seemed clean + attractive, + in comparison with Auckland, nicely compact.  A snap judgment, I suppose, but it seemed to have a sense of identity, the way great cities should, + which we found lacking in Auckland.  Only now did we discover that we didn’t have a phone no for Nick + Lynette, our contacts here (see above: Bay of Islands), so Val looked up where they lived on a town map, + off we plodded.  Val estimated it at 2 miles, but I think it was a little less, + to our own surprise, we found it easily.  Unfortunately, there was no one home, to’ by the looks of the inside thro’ the windows, + the stink of the beer outside, they’d had quite a party the night before.  And we’d missed it!

We sat there for a while, until another couple came along, confirmed our party theory (they hadn’t missed it), + told us that Nick was out at the races.  Story of my life (he adds, self-pityingly.)  So, since it was only about 1.30, we left our packs + a note on the porch, + went off to town to kill some time.  However, New Zealand’s Saturday afternoons aren’t exactly noted for their excitement, virtually everything being shut.  Still, we quite enjoyed wandering, window-shopping, admiring buildings, etc.  Best of all, we found a newspaper reading room, with a month old copy of the Observer.  Reading that again only served to remind me how lucky the British are in their quality newspapers, compared with the rubbish in other parts of the world.  Anyway, that occupied the day quite successfully, so we returned to Lindum Terrace – still no-one in, so we sat on the verandah.  Eventually Stephanie, another girl who lives in the house, arrived home + let us in, + soon after Nick + Lynette were there.

They seemed quite pleased to see us, which was encouraging, + then handed over a small pile of letters, which promptly shut us up.  One each from our mums, + a note telling us we had a package waiting for us at the Post Office, a mildly frantic couple of messages from the girl at Fullers, asking us to contact her by Feb 25th (ho hum), + best of all, from the point of view of entertainment + interest, one letter from Pete, + one from Rob, our old mate from Kelowna apple-picking days.  He sent us a photo of that time, +, shock of shocks, he informed us he was getting married in March.  Mein Gott!  Pete’s letter was up to its usual high standard, long + chatty, without being exactly informative.  One can’t blame him for that tho’, of course – life is progressing at its usual pace, so one can’t expect wonderful new things to happen every day.

We had a light meal, watched MASH on telly (as it gets older it seems to be deteriorating into sentimental whimsy), + then pushed off to yet another party.  Not “yet another” for us, of course, only them.  As parties go, it was nothing wonderful – rather too subdued for my taste, not a rage at all.  However, there was plenty to eat + drink, + I even managed to smoke a joint outside with a young lady I was talking to.  However, I was more relieved than otherwise when we left.  Am I getting old?

The idea of a digital read-out as the height of technology is indeed rather quaint, though actually, driving and all that goes with it has not changed very much in an awful long time – my Dad would have little problem managing a modern car, modern traffic. Only now are we starting to see the first signs of change – electrification, self-parking, self-driving soon enough.

And one of the few times, apparently, when invitations to visit were taken up. More often than not, a brief acquaintance might lead to all sorts of cries that we must do this again, sometimes even the exchange of addresses, but then nothing. But that is another nod to the technology we had then, which did not encourage ease of communication.

And then a party, even if it was on the tame side. And, like I say, I was starting to find such things less than exciting.

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