We had a lot of fun in Whanganui, catching up with old friends - it is so important to maintain those connections, and it feels more important as we age. And it's mind-blowing in a way to consider how much we have changed as we age. Mary and I were young mothers together - we knew of each other prior to that as we were both teaching, and Wanganui (as it was always known then by pakeha) is not that big a city and teachers from most schools congregated at the Riverside Tavern late on Friday afternoons to unwind from the week. Mary and I met officially when we both joined La Leche League, an organisation that supported (does it still exist?) mothers in breastfeeding - the rise of formula was vigorous at that time, and breastfeeding was in decline. From those meetings, an Aramoho playgroup started. We met in each other's homes on Wednesday mornings; if it was at your place, you provided morning tea with food. The babies/toddlers played alongside each other (not much playing with occurs at that age) and the mothers chatted, solved problems, discussed washing powder, got support from each other. I remember one week when one mother very very bravely informed the group that her child had been diagnosed with a brain damage issue. At first there was a shocked silence but I seem to remember I encouraged her to talk it through and tell us all more. Some of the mothers were uncomfortable, but it did make it easier moving forward to discuss Shelley's development and helped her mum to relax with us - unfortunately there is an unwitting competition in terms of each child's progress, and when one child is clearly lagging behind the 'normal' curve, having open conversations about that is much more supportive and helpful.
When David and I moved to Wellington in 1979, I was unexpectedly grief-stricken by homesickness for playgroup and Wednesdays in Kilbirnie were a time of tears for me. So catching up with Mary in particular is a must.
However I must complain that she no longer does any home baking! I had to rely on Cheryl for that (lovely muffins and some cheesy treats - note to self: get recipes from Cheryl) To be fair though, Mary did give us a jar of her freshly made lime marmalade to take away...
And it was Mary and Alan who lent/hired out their camper to 2IJ for 5 months starting about a year ago.
While we were in Whanganui we also caught up with Tom with whom I worked in Telecom; so he is a much newer old friend, but no less precious for all that. Last time we caught up with Mary she was stunned to find out that Tom is a friend of ours - she knows him through SeniorNet as they have both been involved in helping people with computer and phone hassles. Tom won't touch anything Macintosh and is quite scathing - as are many people who are determinedly Android. Sounds suspiciously like alien to me - weren't R2D2 and C3PO androids? and weren't they alien?
On the day we caught up with Tom, Cheryl and I had been to the pool at 6.40am and walked for an hour in the water. It's very convivial because we could chat together and with her friend Pam who comes too. Easier and less breath-taking than swimming and probably not as good for me as swimming from an aerobic pov, but better because it still has some impact. That day, David wanted to walk down to meet Tom - about 4kms probably - but I cried off and Cheryl dropped me off. However I did walk about 3/4 of the way home as I met Cheryl at the supermarket, shopped and then got a ride home. I had managed before that to buy new shirts for David from Farmers. Lovely ones. The guy on the till asked what my husband had done to deserve them. He got fat, I answered... A woman also waiting to pay for goods said she had refused to buy new trousers for her husband because he'd gained weight - she told him he needed to eat less. At least I am doing both ...
Of course, I felt generous towards David as I had bought a lovely blouse for myself ...
|Sunset reflected in the windows of the motorhome.|
|The actual sunset...|
|I need to check if this wine cellar is actually the way in to open the waste water tank to clean the probes that register the water level ...|
After 3 very enjoyable days, 3 wonderful dinners and 3 peaceful nights at Denny and Cheryl's we headed away.
|As we were preparing to leave, Cheryl had a phone call from Libby updating her about their visit to Judy the day before. Judy id recovering very well!|
|Denny and David - David is wearing one of his new shirts, Denny is not.|
Please note though that Denny did not manage to explain to me what he thought this coalition of 3 rightwing parties was going to look like, what compromises would be needed and what the resulting government could achieve... So I am still left thinking they are a wagonload of wankers, a fiasco of f*ckwits, a vanguard of vultures, a swamp of selfishness ...
Next stop was intended to be Pukawa to stay with Adair and John. So taking the advice of Denny and Cheryl and Pam in the pool, we headed up the Paraparas. It's a much better road than I remember - last time I travelled on it was with a friend when we went to a mutual friend's funeral - we'd met in Wanganui and took her van up. She was not taught to drive by my first husband Lou and accordingly she used to brake on the corners rather than before them ... AAARRRGGGHHH!!! So my memory was tainted by that overarching sense of fright and impending doom...😅 (that time I did insist on driving back to Wanganui or I was going to hire a car and drive myself. 😄)
|Raukawa Falls in the Paraparas|
|A closer shot - good heavens, the iPhone camera is good at zooming in!|
This time, we got to Kakatahi and I noticed the telltale signs of an incipient migraine - the wiggly flashing lines that obscure my sight. The road is narrow but I found somewhere to pull almost off the road and I dashed for the bathroom cabinet to get and swallow 400mg of ibuprofen. Fortunately we were just opposite a turn off that had a layby with gravel piles. So I pulled over to the layby, parked and went to lie down on the bed while David closed blinds, got me a drink of water and then left me to it. The aura disappeared after about 15 minutes, as it does if I get the ibuprofen inside my system quickly. And I rested for another 15 minutes or so just to be sure. Then on we went.
|That is Ruapehu behind/below that cloud|
|It's a very big mountain|
And when we arrived in Pukawa, there were John and Adair - yay!!
John is looking so much better than he was when we saw him in March - he's lost 35kg (mostly through having fluid pumped out of him) and that is helping his ability to move. It's not done much for his breathing, but he looks much healthier - better colour and more interested and involved in conversations - it's hard to feel interested when you are struggling to breathe or move.
Adair is amazing - she is extremely fit and always busy - she works constantly and consistently in their large garden and has a developing orchard, a greenhouse, a fenced off veg garden (rabbit deflection - Mel was no use in ridding the property of them, dammit. When is he going to start earning his keep?) and her flower/shrub garden is looking great - as she says, there's still lots to do but it is coming along beautifully. She has compost bins, a worm farm, buckets of worm wee, sheep poo tea and horse poo tea and some concoction which deters bugs - rhubarb leaf tea perhaps?
But back to me: I had to be careful for the rest of that day and the next because the trail of the migraine can be long - tiredness, slight nausea, a general headache. So the following morning I didn't take Adair up on her offer to join her in her early morning walk - it sounded arduous.
But I did it the next day - and it was! Bruno, a lovely dog, joins Adair on the walk, unbidden but he is self assured enough to believe he is welcome... The walk goes along the main road to the Omori turn off, along that where Bruno awaits, then a right turn along the street and down a steep, zigzagging path. At the bottom of the path, it's turnaround and go back up - the path seems steeper on the way up for some reason, not sure why... Adair is fit enough to walk up without stopping. Not me. I stopped at every zig before it zagged. And on the early zigs, I stopped halfway up the zig - zags weren't even featuring and I needed to get my breath back! And at the top, Adair went to the lookout and waved and called down to me. Unkind!
|On the arduous walk - this was at the bottom - I made sure to have a wee break here, knowing I would need all my strength to get back up the path - steep, zig zagging.|
|This is the beginning of the bottom zig that I had to climb up, having just walked down it. Difficult to see, but to the right of the path is Bruno who, as is the way with dogs, did the path about 10 times to our one.|
|Adair on the lookout point - I waved but walked past determined not to stop by this stage until the path was no longer uphill.|
It was wonderful to see John and Adair too - this trip to Northland is serving more than one purpose, that is for sure!
After the walk (read route-march) and breakfast, we taught Adair how to play Quiddler. She won - but not really, because we didn't teach her how work out her score. She was good at adding up the values of the letters in her hand, but kept forgetting to let us know if she had gone out and failed to deduct the points for unused letters ... So I actually won, but we don't know by how much.
|David and John as we were about to depart - after Adair had not really won the game of Quiddler...|
|David and John and the one who did NOT win Quiddler! Adair potted a cutting/seedling of an osteospermum for me - it is a lovely yellow with a purple centre - beaut! It's residing in the shower cubicle at the moment!|
|And the selfie!|
We headed away, intending to get to Rotorua for the evening to stay at the NZMCA camp at Ngongotaha.
We thought we would stop for lunch at the cafe at Motuopa - nope!! Such extremely high prices had us leaving - $16 for a roast veg frittata that was the size of a muffin, $13.50 for a ham and cheese croissant. Nope nope nope.
So we moved on and found a layby down by the lakeside. And I made sourdough toast with hummus and sliced tomato. Much cheaper and very yummy.
The NZMCA park at Ngongotaha is good and well equipped but it's a bit noisy overnight: logging trucks on the adjacent state highway, and somewhere close by there was a yard where trucks were being loaded very early in the morning, i.e. about 4am...
Still and all, we had a long lie in with about 3 cups of tea for me. Then we walked into the village centre and had the most delicious brunch at the best cafe I think we have ever been to: Cafe Dynasti. Just wonderful!
And we had both forgotten to take our phones so there are no photos of our food, and we had to talk to each other. There were about 5 occasions when we would ordinarily have looked things up. But no, we couldn't ... And we have no photos to show for that section of our adventures, dammit!