Here we are back again at one of our many bases in Northland, just having paid for a further week in our formal surroundings, in as much as a “budget” camping ground can be considered “formal”. The camp has been busy over the past week as the country has undergone a series of rain storms, all at odds with the dry weather February usually offers in this part of the world.
For all those readers who may feel sorry for us holed up in our motorhome in such inclement weather, we have been even more sorry for those travellers who hole up in far less sophisticated cocoons: little pup-tents, whizz-bank vans with little ventilation and cars with even less. Rain free spaces in the mornings see colourful collections of bedding and clothing hung on makeshift lines and fences in rather futile attempts to dry. How glad we are to have our space and our ventilation hatches; everything is relative.
But with the warm temperatures, still not a patch on those being experienced on Australia right now, comes incredibly high humidity and this seems to be nationwide; the sort that makes a shower all rather pointless, rendering one as wet with perspiration or even more than when one stepped into the cubicle.
We are no further to leaving Whangarei for even the briefest of tikki tours, as the leak problems at the Big House are no further resolved than when I last posted. The men with their fancy cameras came and hovered about, clocking up their chargeable hours, then left with no resolution and yet with no invoice. That is a little joy we may still anticipate.
However we did manage to track down the son of the people who built the house, then sold it to us over twenty years ago. He was but a young single apprentice then, now a tradesman in his own right. While he had no magical answers, he was able to speak with authority about the building process and offer new insight into forward planning. As a result of this, my husband, who is not as young as he used to be, spent the greater part of yesterday digging coffin-depth trenches beside the house, and has a plan which he hopes to have endorsed tonight when yet another “expert” comes to inspect the problem. Oh the joys of property ownership! Oh the joys of relying on others who prove to be no cleverer than oneself!
Speaking of coffins, I had the opportunity to “holiday” away with my parents for a few days, travelling south to the King Country for the funeral of my mother’s older sister. Perhaps I should say “her last sibling” because that is the sad truth; but an innings of nearly ninety eight years is more a matter of celebration rather than tragedy. It was yet another opportunity for family to come together, travelling from all over the country and one from the other side of the world, a reunion of cousins, most of us a little greyer but more determined to make the most of the time left for us. Plans are being made for a pilgrimage to the sisters’ childhood stamping ground around ANZAC time, so many of us will reconvene around a country lodge dining table after a day in the wilderness sometime soon.
My parents and I spent a couple of nights in the little motel in Piopio, the only accommodation aside from B&B’s further out from the township. We were one day late for the proprietors’ wedding which was just as well as we surveyed the chaos still being sorted late the next afternoon. Considering all that, we found the accommodation quite acceptable, although we were disappointed a team of cyclists saw fit to consume our bread, margarine, yoghurt and milk; no one had explained to them that the contents of the communal fridge were not so communal. Still we did not starve and made up for the scant breakfast with a massive morning tea at a quaint little tearoom beside the Waikato River at Taupiri on our return north.
|A fine resting place|
Mum and I went for a wander down Piopio’s main street, and she pointed out the blacksmith (now the museum, open by appointment) where she, and presumably her siblings, used to ride their horses in from Waitunguru, a distance just short of thirty kilometres by road these days. Funny to hear about such things because I’d never really thought of my mother as a horsewoman; that moniker was given to her sister.
Way back in history, Piopio itself was never a significant Maori settlement, although there were plenty of Pa nearby that were. European settlement came in the very late 1800s, swelled by the rehab sections that were balloted out to returned soldiers, first from the Boer war, then the World Wars that duly followed, including that taken up by my great uncle. He soon died and it was his father , my great grandfather, that soon busied himself with establishing a school and stirring up community matters. So it is no surprise that I too have ties with this little village.
There is also an excellent little craft shop that sells handmade jewellery my mother struggled to resist. She has already accumulated a little trove of treasures from here and surely will add to it next time she is down. I could easily have been tempted but for lack of space to squirrel such gems away.
Piopio is undergoing rejuvenation, fuelled in part from hosting Tolkien fans; part of the Hobbit films was set just up the road in the Mangaotaki Valley and cyclists obviously see this as a good place to pass through if you’re on a big cycling safari.
Back here, The Boss’s ribs are healing well which is just as well, with all this digging on offer, and did I mention it? We have booked our flights to the United Kingdom. My husband decided it was probably better to fly direct rather than detour through the USA. I told him that was a good idea. Perhaps he is learning to read my mind?