|Catching the last of day's sun|
We felt like we were the only ones in the whole wide world when we woke one morning, just bird song & the low rumble of the river in the distance. No vans, bikes, tents or people to be seen, just us & nature. It wasn’t until we drove out to the road that we were confronted with this gathering in the clearing near the road. Where on earth did they come from! We later learnt that they were on a ‘safari’ and had been travelling around the North Island.
One damp morning I was sitting typing a blog when I looked up to see this large bus coming around the corner followed by a mini van and another vehicle. Looking excitedly out the windows were the eager faces of 50+ boys; 10-11 year olds from Hereworth School in Hastings on a school camp for four days. ‘Oh great’, I thought. ‘there’s our peace gone’
They all piled out of the bus, laughing and chasing each other, full of energy and keen to explore their surroundings. I think there must have been at least six parent helpers and two or three teachers with them too.
Once they’d retrieved their packs from the back of the trailer they were sent off to pitch their tents. It seems they’d been told they could set their tent up anywhere within the central camp area. I went for a walk later and there were tiny little tents everywhere, tucked into the bush, backed into the rock face, beside the road or near the toilets (wise boys).
The bus disappeared back to town; the boys were ferried in the vans to various places over the next few days. They walked Blowhard Bush the day before we did, in the pouring rain. Another day they were split into groups with one group taking up residence in the clearing behind our van, all day I could hear the Outdoor Instructor-who had a very loud voice- teaching the group how to read maps. I’m not sure they were taking much notice, he seemed to be repeating himself many times.
Another group were down at the river where I’m sure they would have been swimming if it had been warmer but were instead having fun lobbing rocks and stones into the river. No trout will be caught in that area for a few days. The boys were all very well behaved and we hardly knew they were in camp, it was great to see how much fun they were having. They packed up their tents on the second to last day and were ferried to the Lake Carpark where they had a 6 hour tramp (with packs) ahead of them to one of the huts where they were going to stay at for the last night (adults in the hut, me thinks) and then tramp out the next day to meet the bus back to Hastings.
We came home one afternoon to find these blow-up pillars lined up in front of our van. For the next few hours we watched as the boys were taught archery skills, at first they just had to shoot the pillar targets and then once they got the hang of it they were split into two groups facing each other with safety masks on, trying to knock balls off the poles in the middle and shoot the other team who were hiding behind the pillars. They were only allowed to carry two arrows at a time, running out to retrieve extras and hoping not to get hit and if they were, they had to retire.
Once the boys were finished and had returned to the communal tent, the adults were left behind to deflate the pillars and tidy up. But ‘boys will be boys’ no matter how big they get. For the next half hour there was a running battle of men in masks, great whoops of delight and laughter filled the air. The men played strategically, biding their time hiding behind the pillars before aiming at the others, unlike the boys who were all on from the get go. In the end they let the air out of the pillars, still trying to hide behind them as they deflated.
And it’s here that I can write once again, you’re never far away from someone you know in New Zealand. It isn’t six degrees removed here, it’s more like two or even one degree. When the boys were having their archery lesson a few of the adults came over to talk to David by the van. I spoke to the head teacher who happened to say he lived in Clive (HB). I told him my mother’s family are from Clive and gave him a few names including an uncle’s name who has only just left Clive.
He said “You’ve got to be joking, his son-in-law and grandson are here in camp”.
And so it was that he bought Kevin, my cousin’s husband down to see us later on. That is Kevin being a big kid in the green jersey below. Small world! Mind you you’re never far away from a Johnstone relation when you’re in the Bay- we're a big family.
David & I celebrated a wedding anniversary while we were at Kuripapango and who should come on a Sunday drive to see us for the day? Mum & Dad! And it was a Friday not a Sunday, but they drove the 75kms or so out to have lunch with us on our special day.
An extra special day it was as we got to see them one more time before we head back to the South Island. It was lovely having them in camp for the day and great to get a whole lot of extra supplies just as we were running low on a few things. Included was Mum’s home made specialty, Shepherd's Pie, which meant I didn’t have to cook dinner for the next couple of nights. She’d also sent up a bacon & egg pie early in the week when David had to do a trip to town on some maintenance issues. We’ll definitely miss Mum’s home cooking once we’re gone; although my waistline might breath a sigh of relief. We moved the table and chairs over into the shade and settled in for long lunch.
And just to show you that living on the road doesn’t mean we go without; we had Mum’s sausage rolls for morning tea followed by, for lunch, freshly baked bread rolls made by moi! Mint marinated BBQed Lamb fillet, corn & tomato salsa, pomme anna and Dad’s home grown beans followed by grilled summer fruits and sabayon custard all washed down with Morton Estate bubbly (those in the know will recognise the name, it's where we married all those years ago) and my favourite chardonnay, Stoneleigh. It was lovely to see Mum & Dad again and we had a lovely relaxed afternoon, it was one of our better anniversaries.
There was still one more surprise in store for us. The very next day dawned cold and wet and as I was sitting at the table typing away on my laptop I saw a mini bus approaching. I couldn’t believe my eyes when, as it passed us, I read ‘Tours 4 Matures’ on the side of the van. Good friends Sherry & Chris run their tour company from Tauranga and here they were out in the wops with seven cheerful clients, having left Napier in the morning, stopping at Kuripapango for morning tea, Taihape for lunch and Turangi overnight. They were on their great East Coast tour taking in East Cape and Hawkes Bay along the way.
And then they were gone. It is truly a very small world. See you down south sometime Sherry & Chris!