Sunday, 13 August 2017

Well, that was fun!

Way back in the dim dark past, about 5 or 6 months ago, David came down to the West Coast to join me and we spent a wet weekend in Reefton. In spite of the rain and a persistent migraine that started as we left Hokitika and continued most of the weekend, we had a lovely time and managed to meet some locals, find Gary’s childhood home and speak to the current tenants who remembered Gary’s dad, and explore the museum at Black’s Point.

One evening (Saturday, I think) we were looking for somewhere to have dinner, and met a woman walking in to a pub for her evening meal. We had a quick chat about the place she was going in to, and then kept looking around. About half an hour later, after a great deal of indecision (shall we have fish and chips, shall we eat in a restaurant, shall we go back to the pub  (???), we headed back to the pub.

In the interim, the place had filled up, so we joined the woman we had met outside – she offered us the seats but would not share her food, for some reason.

Anyway, in the inimitable way that NZers have of making connections fast, we all clicked, and when we had spoken about the narrowboat and she had expressed an interest in it, David suggested that she and her husband come and join us on it for a few days this season.

Understand, she was on her own in the pub, her husband was nowhere in sight (back at home in Westport allegedly), she didn’t know us from Adam and Eve – I’m aware it’s an easy mistake to make, not knowing the difference except for the facts that:
  • Adam and Eve are fictional characters
  • They purportedly were young and nubile
  • They were purportedly naked, or at the most, wore fig leaves.

The rebuttal of it being easy to make that mistake lies in the following:
  • David and I are real people, allegedly, and some disagree with that I am sure
  • We are 68 and 66 respectively – neither young nor nubile
  • In Reefton on a wet chilly evening, naked is not a sensible dress code, and we are sensible, in the main.

So why Leonie would make that simple-to-spot mistake is anyone’s guess. She is an artist, after all, and they are not usually renowned for their common sense … I mean to say, one of them cut off his own ear, and many of them have lived in garrets and refused to work as waiters or engineers or doctors because they are prostrating themselves for their art. Now none of that sounds very sensible, does it?

Anyway, David suggested, and I concurred, that she and her unknown and absent husband (Paul) should come and join us on the narrowboat. We, as we do, followed up that suggestion a few days later with an email, confirming that we had said what we meant, and meant what we said, because we are faithful, 100% (apologies to Dr Seuss for plagiarising from Horton Hatches the Egg).

So cut to Monday on the cut: Leonie and Paul turn up at the pre-arranged meeting place (Swanley Bridge Marina), and join us for a couple of days.

It all goes to show that going with the instinctive response to connecting with someone, in Reefton on a wet Saturday night is a good thing to do.

The four of us had a blast. The things we found out include:
  • Neither of them have a degree, so they have been invited to join the Zero Degrees Club;
  • Paul trained as a diesel mechanic
  • Paul taught David lots about the engine including how to check if the oil needs changing (probably not every 100 hours as per the Lister Petter manual, but more likely closer to 150 – 200 hours). The technique is to do with the dipstick, visibility of finger print through the oil, presence of black spots in it. If you need further information, send me your questions and I will forward them to Paul;
  • Paul steered the boat for the two days and did a sterling job;
    Paul steering into the lock - I don't think he touched the sides at all, or if he did, it was a mere nudge.

  • Leonie was lock-wheeler in chief, and did a sterling job;
    Lift bridges on the Llangollen Canal - and she was a star at these and the locks.

  • I was cook in chief, and I overfed everyone
  • Paul was insulting about one batch of bread that I didn’t put in the oven as soon as it had risen – it tasted great as always, but looked a bit wrong – he declared it was the ugliest bread he’d ever seen
  • The second batch of bread was given the thumbs up for looks and taste …
  • Paul doesn’t much like chilli so the Thai Chicken Noodle Salad wasn’t a big hit -  he didn’t starve though …
  • Dinner on the second night was more successful – braised steak and onions, mashed potatoes, carrots and peas, followed by apple pie and cream
  • David loved having someone on-board who took part of his share of sh*t, and he taught Paul about strategic positioning of cushions when anatomies were under threat
  • Paul explained why the dairy farm fields here smell so bloody awful at times – it’s the ammonia in the slurry (i.e. cow poos and wees) that gets stored and then sprayed on to them as fertiliser. Problem with it, I gather from Paul, is the grass can be toxic as the ammonia is so prevalent …
  • Leonie and Paul just got in and helped – no hanging back waiting to be asked, they just start off with ‘What can I do to help? What do you want me to do now?’ It is a wonderful characteristic.

Leonie in the galley checking what she can do to assist. I see the julienned veges for the Thai Chicken Noodle Salad on the bench, so that must have been Monday.

We had a great two days going to Wrenbury and back to Swanley Marina. And then we followed it up with meeting up in Woodstock on Wednesday night and going out to dinner together.

They know, and are living in fear of it, that we are coming to Westport in the motorhome and going to steal their power and water. Apparently we cannot block their driveway as they have a huge driveway with lots of trucks and machinery – we had better be well behaved, I think …

A parallel story is that the grandsons are on a cruise with their lovely mum. Slightly different than narrowboating - their ship has three swimming pools and can get to and from Canada.

Here they are dressed for dinner. Don't they look spiffing? I am going to try and find NZ flag bow ties for their next adventure ...


Carol said...

you've got my brain in a mess here Marilyn!
You went to Reefton which I think is in NZ and found Gary's home ... great! But what has that got to do with meeting a woman going into a hostelry on the Llangollen? Help!

Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Carol, Keep up, girl! The pub was in Reefton, West Coast, South Island, NZ; the canal is in Cheshire; and the events were separated by about 5 or 6 months.
I know the chronology gets a bit confusing esp when I go off on a riff ...
Sorry about that.

Jennie said...

Well whatever way my brain is wired I was with you all the way and realised where you had met up! So glad it wall worked well - it really does sound as though you had a fantastic time. Can I join the 0 degrees club, please?!! Mind there are many more of us of our generation as I think only about 10% went to University way back then. Jennie x