Sunday, 5 June 2016

A weekend away

I wrote the post below about a month ago, and with the hours I have been keeping at work, it wasn't till I posted this morning that I saw this one languishing in the Drafts and rescued it. I could have edited it but decided it would end up in Drafts again if I did that as I would be bound to get interrupted - cups of tea, brekkie, book to read ... So here it is, unabridged, unexpurgated: Just cast your mind back to about 9 June, before Brexit, before Bor-exit, when Farage was still going around in his bus saying you'd have £350bn a week to put into the NHS ...

We are just coming to the end of a long weekend here in NZ - Queen's Birthday Weekend is celebrated with an extra day off on the first Monday in June. We are much more observant of the Queen's birthday than you lot in the UK are - we have made it into a holiday!

So David and I have spent the weekend with Jack and Sarah at Olive Estate in Richmond near Nelson. David flew down from Wellington to Nelson on Friday (preceded by a train trip - free, of course [it's the Gold Card, don't you know] - in from Waikanae, then on to the Airport Flyer bus - free of course [same deal]). Jack and Sarah picked him up at the airport - also free. His trip was probably about the same duration as mine, but I drove for 4.25 hours from Hokitika to Richmond, with a stop off for salami and bacon from the Blackball Salami shop. Blackball has several claims to fame, not the least of which is the Salami shop. Two others are:
  • Blackball is the home of the NZ Labour Party - it's an old mining town, and miners were pretty radicalised in terms of protecting workers' rights
  • it's the home of the hotel known as 'Formerly the Blackball Hilton' - as you can tell, it WAS called the Blackball Hilton, until the Hilton chain found out and threatened legal action if they didn't change the name. So they did. Now it is world famous, unable to be sued, and doing a roaring trade. Note to self: some US companies are dumb, so do not emulate them ...
The drive over here was special - the countryside in this part of the world is out of this world - gorges, hills, mountain ranges, rivers. At this time of year, with a week or so of solid fine days with frosty mornings and evenings behind us, there has been a need for roads to be gritted. As I came over the Hope Pass, I saw a couple of women had stopped and got out of their car to take photos. Why, I wondered. And then I glimpsed the deep frost down off the road - still in place at 3.30 in the afternoon.

And because we've had the wettest May on record on the Coast, the rivers are still running quite high and the hills have the remains of the waterfalls to release the surface water.

The weather here in Richmond has been stunning - the views of the mountains from Olive Estate are lovely - not as grand as the ones along the highway between Greymouth and Hokitika, but quite lovely for being less grand and more distinctive.

But sadly, or not, Sarah and I have been working for a goodly part of each day. I have commissioned Sarah to re-jig a really important document. She is the cleverest person I know at this kind of work, and she and I have worked together numerous times since 1988 (that is a really long time ago - but she was very young then! In fact we both were - I was 38 and she was 28.) You know how there are people (now known as go-to people) who can turn their hands to an amazing range of tasks, and if you need ANYTHING done, you know if you ask them, they'll take it on and do a fabulous job? Well, Sarah is one of those people for me.

So we have reviewed the content of the document and worked out how it should hang together. It's literally (using scissors and sellotape) been cut and pasted. I am heading back to Hokitika tomorrow, and Sarah is going to be left to pull it all together on the computer. I do hope she remembers what all the notes mean. Of course, she's 10 years younger than me ...

In the meantime, David and Jack have:
  • walked the dog, 
  • walked the dog,
  • reviewed a TradeMe ad for selling Jack's boat
  • reviewed a TradeMe ad for selling Jack's boat
  • laughed, told tall stories, 
  • laughed, told tall stories
  • reminisced.
The food has been good:
  • Friday dinner was a pork and apple cassoulet
  • Saturday lunch - I was going to make BLATs, but there was no lettuce to fulfill the L. So I made BACTs with celery instead
  • Saturday dinner - some fish dish made by Jack (I slept through it and had consumed enough nibbles to obviate the requirement to eat fish) ... but I did have some of his famous and yummy carrot salad 
  • Sunday lunch - pizzas made by Jack and David - the production process was like watching paint dry. (Sarah, who is kinder than me says it was painfully slow - note that paint and painfully share the first 4 letters. And, by the way, we were able to work while observing ...)
  • Sunday dinner was a Rick Stein Albanian lamb dish - yummy and will be replicated at Cafe Rata
  • Monday lunch was a frittata with mushrooms, bacon, spring onion, tomato and feta, served with Sarah's plum sauce
  • Monday's dinner was a chicken curry.
The wine hasn't been bad either - I shopped in Hokitika for pinot noir (S&J), muscato (D) and chardonnay (me).  Then we ran out, so in a rare release from the work prison, Sarah and I walked to Richmond and bought more - equal division of duties, I chose and paid, she carried. Seems eminently fair to me!

 On the Tuesday morning, I drove back to Greymouth for a planning meeting - following the previous week's trip to the Alexander mine site. Then on to Hokitika, and as the weather was due to turn to icky custard a couple of days later, and I didn't want to be unable to get back to Waikanae, I changed my flights and flew back to Wellington and caught the train back to Waikanae. It was a long day and I travelled for about 9 of the 16 hours I was awake ...

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