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Published: March 28th 2011
It’s quite a while since I had regular internet communications so haven’t been able to do the blog…but now I am up and running again. So here we go….
I was on my way from The Catlins to my next home exchange at Mainholme Lodge. Sandi and Graham run this Heritage house as a B+B and also I had their cottage at Pudding Island on the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin as part of the exchange. The house was very “old” for NZ and beautifully restored and tastefully decorated…I loved the original handpainted friezes around the ceilings and the Italian silk wallpapers hung by Sandi. So for a couple of nights I wallowed in this luxury …but I couldn’t really get carried away by it all – I know my place ( downstairs not upstairs)– as on the first night I volunteered to help out with serving up dinner in the banquet room for the local Lions Club meeting. …I thought that my experience being the kitchen help at my friend’s hostel in Sweden might be an advantage there. So, Lars and Lillemor you will be pleased to hear I can now set up a table with glasses for wine and beer
– and helped plate up 28 salmon meals – I was allowed to put the chilli sauce and a slice of lemon on- and then serve and clear the tables- followed by dishing up the butterscotch sauce on the sticky toffee puds. I think I did ok!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ( Lesley – I could have done with you there to help too!!!!!!!) Of course the best bit was I got to eat the food too – so that was very nice.
When you do home exchange it is always full of surprises and also gets you off the beaten track a bit where most tourists don’t go.
If anyone is going to visit the town of Gore which is the brown trout capital of the world apparently ( don’t you just love all these little facts I keep throwing at you!!) – well there is a very good Art gallery there – quite a surprise with a fabulous collection of African Art as well as NZ artists… a collection donated by John Money who was a famous sexologist.
An overnight stay in Dunedin was next with Glyn and Howard - more Intervac people who I have been in touch with for a
couple of years so it was great to meet them at last – and that was another link in a chain as they are friends with Jocelyne and Mac. I had mucked around with my dates following the Earthquake so thanks Glyn for being so understanding about the changes. It was a lovely day in Dunedin when I arrived and I had a bit of wander around the city centre until I went into the cathedral when I almost had a panic attack as the thoughts of the Christchurch Cathedral and the earthquake came flooding back and I just had to get out VERY QUICKLY!!!! And I think I hadn’t realised until then that mostly I have been in the countryside and very small towns since 22 Feb …so hadn’t thought how I would feel when I was in a place with high rise and old stone buildings.
Saturday afternoon Glyn drove me up and around the city – the steepest street in the world is in Dunedin – just in case you get a pub quiz question on that…. a beautiful drive. Then on Sunday Howard and Glyn took me to the Botanic Gardens for lunch – a lovely
walk around there and then we sat and listened to jazz played in the park.
Next stop I drove along the Otago peninsula in the barmy sunshine ( 3 years ago when I was there the waves were being blown onto the road as the rain lashed down) and arrived at Pudding Island Cottage near Portobello- which is a tiny place a shop and a couple of restaurants and a café. The cottage and garden were idyllic and I was quite content to sit and look out at the island and the water and not go anywhere….which was just as well as the weather changed back to what it was 3 years ago…so I did not venture far. And thanks Jill D. for the books you gave me – I read them all that week. However I did get myself moving one day and drove to the headland to the Albatross Colony – it is the only breeding grounds on a mainland. Amazing birds – I didn’t take the guided tour ( $30) but walked to the cliffs to see for myself- there they were soaring in the wind as I avoided being blown over…lucky there was a fence….and I
could see more sealions and seals down on the rocks below.
In Portobello there was supposed to be the “best” fish and chip shop from Dunedin up the coast to Timaru – so that was on the menu one night – but I was disappointed – didn’t think much of it – but Marilyn and Tel - our cheapo fish n chips from the Chinese takeaway in Wanaka was much better.
A visit by Howard and Glyn to me in the middle of the week was another chance for us to swap travel tales and plans and as always it doesn’t take long to feel like we are all old friends.
My one sunny day there came at last so it was off to visit Lanarch Castle – the only castle I NZ I am told. Quite an adventurous drive along the spine of the peninsula – scary steep drops and bends in the road again with not many barriers in place… perhaps I am just getting a little nervous of all these roads now… not for the fainthearted…. Or maybe my earthquake experience has made me want an easier time while travelling. Anyway the castle was worth it –
with beautiful carved wall panels and Venetian glass, Italian marble fireplaces etc etc – the bloke who built it had brought many materials and artisans from Europe to build it…and recently a family had got the place restored to its former glory….and also done wonders with the gardens. I especially liked a view through a pergola across a pond with a maori sculpture and between the trees you could spy the city of Dunedin. And being high up there were fabulous views of Otago Peninsula from the battlements. A very nice lunch of a steak sandwich in the castle ballroom with log fire set me up and then it was off to Sandlfy Bay.
Now if you read a previous blog we had named a place Sandfly Bay on the West Coast as it was there we got bitten by the little buggers- but this Sandfly Bay was different – apparently it is so named because the wind whips up the sand and it flies… and so it does. It is the home of penguins and seals and sealions but it was a bit early in the day so I didn’t spot any penguins unfortunately.
Mop and bucket day had
come round again – so leaving Pudding Island Cottage spick and span I called at Glyn’s for a delicious lunch (– I have been so lucky that everyone I meets is a great cook) and then set off for a drive to Christchurch.
Dave’s old minivan Lucy had done us proud – I didn’t keep track of the kms I have done and she might look a bit old and battered but she had got me, Marilyn and Terry out of Christchurch in our hour of need and transported us and Angela and all our luggage and stuff all round the South Island. And she might sound a bit rough at times and lights wink on and off so you learn to ignore them but I got quite fond of her and was with some reluctance I arrived at Diane and Dave’s amd parked her and said goodbye.
This was “Face the Fear” time for me to come back to Christchurch but once again I was welcomed with open arms – so in fact although it was once again alarming to have aftershocks again with thoughts of what could happen it was actually a healing process fro me to be
there with Diane and Dave– who are going about their lives as normally as possible. It was also useful to talk the events through.
I did venture out with Diane and we drove around past many of the devastated areas and of course the city centre is still cordoned off so you have to do detours all the time. Many of the supermarkets are still closed so everyone has to drive quite a long way to those which are open… I saw many portaloos in the streets and waste sewage dumps , water tankers and stand pipes where people have uncapped wells in the backyards and neighbours help themselves…. And all the time you are driving you are watching out for huge cracks humps and holes in the road and in some places its just like a rollercoaster .
But this all didn’t put us off having a good time- and Diane and I went out to a local restaurant which was buzzing – many people who would normally be in the city centre have now to frequent the places in the suburbs which are still open…so it was very good to see so many folk out enjoying life. And
next day a special treat for me– I was invited to take a drive in Dave’s Model A Ford which he has been restoring for 8 years and now has it ready for the road …well almost its got no windows!!!!! So off we went – avoiding as many potholes and cracks as possible …now Marilyn and Terry know what a good driver Dave is …so need I say more – was it madness to go with him??- at least we didn’t go far and I have to admit we got back in one piece if a little windswept. He says the car will be ready in 3 wesk and he and Diane are doing a rally …I bet Diane is looking forward to it.
What a wonderful couple they are and it was sad to leave them once again – as Dave said it feels like I am one of the family. But it was only au revoir as hopefully I will have them visit me in June.
Off I flew leaving the South Island behind and arrived in Auckland to be met by the lovely Patricia – who is going to put up with me again for the
next week until I leave NZ.
So bye South Island and all my lovely friends there for now – I cannot believe I have been away now for 6 months – and next week I will be home.
Love to all xxx
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