Friday, October 20, 2006

journeying north

After I'd been at JYF Camp I headed north for a 'real' holiday rather than a week not in Wellington feeding 20-25 people! I needed it... although how much of that was due to a week on my feet in the kitchen and how much due to a rather late night and the ubiquitous session of ratchet screwdriver/the kissing game is up for debate. My bruises weren't a patch on the YF Camp ones but then more of the participants were smaller than me this time (altho' my stomach did take a while to recover from landing on Roland's foot...).

The flight up to Auckland was spent head against the window drifting in and out of sleep and clouds. There was some debate as to where we were at one point between the passengers and flight attendant - we had been late setting off as the navigation system had failed but had been fixed just as we were about to head across the tarmac to another plane, so when we found ourselves well out to sea on a route that usually hugs the coast there was somewhat greater interest in where we might be than usual! It turned out that a backlog at Auckland airport meant we were some miles out from Manakau rather than half way to Tasmania. As we came in to land we discovered why there had been a backlog - now Wellington can do rain pretty dramatically at times but Auckland that day probably got enough to green the Sahara. Taxi-ing along the runway a bright flash was seen - lights? lightning? Nah, came a voice from the back of the plane, it's a speed camera. I wish it had been, we got drenched just going the 50yds from the plane to covered walkway with thunder and lightning all around, but better drenched on the ground than still up in the air when that hit I reckon.

For me Auckland as a place is a staging post rather than a destination. Much as I love the people I know there I'm always glad to get going again; it's just too big and busy and the air and water have a definite city taint. On a visa application you get an extra 10 points for not wanting to be in Auckland - woohoo, gimme, gimme! Altho' given the choice of Auckland or leaving I'd thole it there. I do like catching up with the people in Auckland tho' and getting fed by Sarah and Margaret was doubly welcome after all the cooking at camp =)

It was a somewhat surreal interlude of being in the big smoke before immersing myself back in the countryside again. I felt a distinct sense of relief as the bus headed north and I watched the suburbs give way to fields, bush and seascapes. So with Don McGlashan playing on my discman (an album now reluctantly returned to it's owner... cheers Pete!) I gladly watched the miles pass by as we headed up the more scenic stretch of Highway 1 (that you would pay to see!) and then round the coast via Bay of Islands and Kerikeri to Kaitaia. I hadn't seen the route north of Whangerei since I was up with Si & Susie so even though it meant the journey took far longer than the more direct route it was quite nostalgic and a good reminder of what's worth another visit when Mum & Dad are over next month. They are still resurfacing the road north of Paihia though...

Paihia itself is so touristy it doesn't feel like a 'real' place - having spent the majority of my life living in tourist destinations (the Holme Valley & Edinburgh) I have something of an aversion to the over touristification of places (not sure if that's a proper word but it'll do). You used to be able to buy badges in T'Paper Shop that said 'I'm not a tourist I have to live here' with a rather badly drawn sketch of Compo on them. There were times when I wished I still had it in Edinburgh - especially during the Festival. It's hard to strike a balance between what brings money into a place (especially when traditional industries are fading fast) and what people need as part of a community to survive day to day and particularly outwith the tourist season. You can't eat tartan tack (other than Edinburgh Rock and Tablet but that's not going to keep you going anywhere other than the dentist's) or collect a prescription in a gift shop. However despite my antipathy towards the place I could have done with more than the 5 minutes we had between buses to get a decent lunch in rather than just a hastily munched half sandwich! You can't eat on the bus and we'd lost our lunchbreak due to being late so I was starving by the time I got to the end of the journey!

The further north we got the stronger the feeling grew that I used to associate with crossing the Border just after Berwick upon Tweed, going over the crest of Carter Bar or catching sight of Berwick Law and Arthurs Seat coming round the coast or dropping down through Pathhead, and years before that coming over Holme Moss, especially after dusk and seeing the twinkling lights of the Valley stretched before us - a sense of coming home. When we reached Mangonui and turned the corner so Doubtless Bay was laid out before us and then being able to see the sandhills near Ahipara in the distance I'd've happily torn up my ticket back to Wellington.

Obviously I did come back to Welly, Marion would never have forgiven me for dropping her in it if I hadn't! I haven't got my photos yet from up north - somehow I've managed to mislay the film I finished up there and haven't finished the next one so you'll just have to wait a bit longer for those. However to tide you over until then and I get around to writing an account of my time up there you can read what Ruth said about it all =) My stay was over two of her diary weeks so it can be found here and here!

No comments: