Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Summer Sizzle

We’ve now been in Hawkes Bay for 22 days and for every single one of those days the sky has been clear and brilliant blue with a big golden orb beaming down on us. And every day we’ve sweltered under temperatures reaching well into the 30s. Fantastic beach temperatures…if you’re at the beach. But not when you’re parked up in suburbia doing maintenance on ‘Out There’ and catching up with family.  And as some of you will know hot summer temperatures in suburbia, where there is no hint of a sea breeze or even a whisper of a wind, are at least 5 degrees higher than what is reported by the media.

Every time I head off to the van for the night & I’m laying on top of the sheet tossing & turning, David Bowie’s song comes to mind-

Here am I floating
round my [hot] tin can
Far above [below] the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do

…..except remember to leave all the windows & top hatches wide open 24/7 to catch a little cool air when it does breeze through. Thank God for the security door which I can lock, leaving the main door open overnight. We do have air conditioning but we only run that if we’re in the van for awhile and usually in the morning when the sun is streaming down on us from the east side where we’re parked. Plus we don’t want to scare Mum & Dad with a mighty power bill after we’ve left!

And if the forecast is anything to go by, it doesn’t look like we’re going to receive any relief from this relentless heat anytime soon. A boom for the local fruit & grape growers who will be in for a bumper season and vintage. The ‘Fruitbowl of New Zealand’ is definitely living up to its name with many roadside stalls selling everything from cherries, plums, nectarines, apricots & peaches to nearly every type of berry you can think of; blackberries, raspberries, blueberries & strawberries to name a few.

Many local orchards & market gardens have stalls at the Hastings Farmers Market which is held every Sunday morning at the A&P Showgrounds in Hastings. I headed over there early Sunday morning to beat the crowds and the heat. Hundreds of locals and many visitors soak up the friendly, relaxed atmosphere of the market every weekend.

First port of call for many is one of the coffee carts with their hot freshly roasted coffee, once that’s in hand it’s off to get a pastry, a bacon roll or maybe a fruit smoothie or an icecream for other members of the party. Meanwhile the rest of the family or group have located a table & chairs out on the grass in the middle of the market and it’s here that they’ll sit catching up, calling out to passing friends or just watching the passing parade of people.

Most early arrivals are there to purchase their weeks supply of fruit & veges, they’ll have the best choice and possibly buy before the stall sells out- especially produce with a short season such as figs & blueberries- they’ll fill up their carry bags and get out of there before the later flow of leisurely shoppers arrive.

Some may buy a loaf of two of freshly baked bread for lunch, salami or fresh meat from the delis, chutney or pickle and cheese, free-range eggs, manuka honey or freshly pressed olive oil, unusual vegetables or herbs along with plentiful supply of beautiful & tasty sun-ripened fruit, all direct from the orchard or farm.

The guy on the left looks pretty pleased with himself- he’s just bought a couple of cupcakes!

The blueberry van was doing a steady trade in both fresh berries and berry icecreams.

After walking the circuit a couple of times and being tempted by the gorgeous smells & delicious treats on offer I resisted the urge to spend up large, settling on some juicy apricots, white fleshed nectarines (the only nectarine for me), a dozen sweet corncobs (for a BBQ we were having later on) & a coffee. I found myself a chair in the shade, drank my coffee and ate most of the cherries and some of the blueberries I’d also purchased!

As I left, the rear guard were arriving, dozens of cars filing slowly into the park, choking dust from the limestone tracks hanging in the still, hot summer air.

Footnote- I jinxed the weather, Day 23 has dawned overcast but humid with a very light drizzle falling for the first couple of hours. In fact it could hardly be called a drizzle more like a mist, not even enough to wet the pavement although very pleasant & refreshing while I was out for my early morning walk. I'm sure the cloud will burn off later in the day but for the time being we're enjoying break.

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