Rosy Fenwicke

Author

Author: Rosy Fenwicke Page 1 of 2

Rosy is the author of Hot Flush and In Practice.

Born in the late fifties in Gore, schooled in Invercargill, Rosy Fenwicke trained as a doctor at Otago University.

She has worked in a variety of medical disciplines in New Zealand and overseas and now works as an Occupational Physician based in Wellington. She spends her weekends developing a garden in Martinborough. Divorced nearly twenty years ago, she has brought up three children. Her dog, Buster, is her constant companion but hates the long runs she does, preferring to chill at home with the cat.

It’s the little things.

In Featherston, a small town at the base of the Remutaka hills and marking the entrance to the province where I live, there is a baker who has elevated the art of making bread, pies and pastries to a level which can only be described as sublime.

His unassuming bakery is tucked away behind the town’s pharmacy – the shopfront plain – the sign says ‘Baker’ – the retail space just big enough for three or four at a pinch customers at a time.

Three shelves hold six baskets refilled with varieties of loaves fresh from the ovens throughout the morning. Pick one up – feel the rough sharpness of the crust against your fingers, tap it and hear the hollow knock of a perfectly baked loaf. Bundle it into the thick brown paper bag and fold it over to seal in the goodness.

Dark heavy rye-breads, yeasty sourdough, tough skinny baguettes and my go-to, down-right all time favourite – the rye and caraway pictured above. A small cabinet displays mini- quiches and filled baguettes, the pie warmer freshly baked kumara and venison, beef and blue cheese or if you fancy vegetarian, lentil and mushroom pies encased with crisp cooked through pastry.

Tempting croissants, Danishes, light as air brioche, and my favourite the brunsvigers line up in quantities of fours and fives under the counter. Brunsvigers, a recent addition to the offerings, originated in Denmark and are made with a soft yeast dough (a cross between a crumpet and a donut) topped with butter and sugar then baked. There is no photo of the brunsvigers because I eat mine on the drive back to Martinborough. I could buy two and keep one to photograph when I get home but who am I kidding.

The Rye and Caraway is my at-home treat. Thick slabs of bread slathered in butter and eaten fresh. Then another one and then … Once I ate the whole loaf like this carving slice after slice. Twice I have eaten half the loaf in one sitting. Okay more than twice. It is the combination of the bread’s texture and its sour-sweet flavour which lasts on the tongue and in my mouth which I can’t get enough of.

I change how I eat. No longer fast and on the left side, I masticate slowly and purposefully. I chew thoughtfully, appreciating the intricacies of the bread firing taste buds from the front to the back of my mouth. I inhale the timeless combination of milled grain, seeds and yeast and I look out the window and watch the trees bending in the wind, I see the colours of the grass and I know somewhere behind the clouds is the sun.

Research and Writing – The pitfalls and distractions.

First the distraction. Talk to any author and you will find someone who could instruct a masterclass in how to avoid writing what needs to be written. Procrastination – thy name is author. If it isn’t making cups of tea, cleaning a spot on the wall which is annoying you, checking Facebook, checking sales figures, changing the sheets, washing the sheets, hanging out the sheets and getting the sheets in when it starts to rain, it is embarking on research trips and thinking about what to have to for dinner. Sometimes you have help.

Meet Rupert. He is the help. He is helping me not to write the next chapter in the third book of the Euphemia Sage series. He likes cuddles and a warm lap. He is moulting and I am wearing black. Hours of good solid procrastinating in that last sentence alone. I am looking after Rupert while his owner is away. We are old friends and I have looked after him many times before. Like people, dogs have different personalities. Rupert is loved by everyone he meets. Short with lots of attitude, he runs straight into your heart and stays there. If he wants to sit on my lap, he does.

Now for the pitfall. Empty Nests is the third book in the Euphemia Sage series. It has a nature theme. I needed to research a bird sanctuary called the Pounui Lagoon. It is an hour’s drive from my home and I hadn’t been there before. What better way to avoid sitting down at the computer than driving to a place you know little about. Part of me was glad I went. The other part of me the soaking MUDDY WET part … isn’t.

This is a hide on the banks of the Pounui Lagoon. It is where birdwatchers sit and watch birds. The grass around it looks solid. It isn’t. It is entirely liquid and if you stand on it, you fall into ice cold (it’s winter) lagoon (mud, peat included) water. Which I did. My gumboots filled up and several hours later are still draining. My clothes are in the washing machine. So dear reader when you get to this part in Empty Nests, you will know that I know exactly how it feels to fall into a lagoon in the dead of winter. Research like water finds its own level.

Shoes.

Ten years ago (almost) I wrote a thing. I have updated it and here it is.

The seductive lure of another bargain in these straightened times got the better of me. (It still does except now I shop online.)

I mean to say EVERYTHING in the world seems to be on sale or at a reduced price. (And because it is online somewhere in the world at all times of the night and day, the temptations are huge.) These ridiculous discounts combined with low interest rates and uncertain financial times (as I am retired, the financial times are more certain – I am consistently poor) raise the imperative to buy now and to … as my grandmother always said … Stock Up…while I can.

A local shoe shop was offering up to 40% off and I needed ( Yes! Needed!) a new pair of high(ish) heeled black court shoes for work. (Yes! Work!). (These shoes are now languishing at the back of my wardrobe unworn and covered in dust.)

It was the very end of the sale. For the previous three weeks (two of which I had been out of the country ) I am proud to say I had resisted buying shoes on behalf of my overdraft and New Zealand’s debt position, but 40% off all stock! Finding a park right outside the store meant this purchase was destined to be. (It is difficult to find a park anywhere in Wellington because the council is trying to make people stop driving cars and so this wouldn’t happen now. Retailers take notice.)

I went in and looked at what was left. Evidently other women had also been compelled to put things aside for a really rainy day in the spirit of their grandmothers.

One pair of high heels (the only pair left) called to me as soon as the door softly clicked behind me.

‘Buy me … buy me …’ they called. ‘I am a bargain and I look sooo good.’ (I am older now and know that shoes can’t really talk.)

‘OK my heel does look very high but if you just try me on, you will see I am also high in the front and so you will not be pitched perilously forwards with every step. Your feet will not ache and your bunions will not sprout little bunions and ….(and then the kicker so to speak)- you will be able to walk in me, I promise I am not another pair of ‘sitting down shoes’. And OK I am made from raw calf hide and am a little bit hairy and will be hard to keep clean especially in the wet but then hey….that’s fashion…..dahhlink!’

So I slipped my (oh so young) 54 year old feet into the shoes and they were telling the truth – I could walk in them. (Inside the shop.)

I was not pitched forward into the abyss of gaucheness. In fact I could say hand on heart and standing still, these gorgeous shoes looked FAAAbulous!(Inside the shop.)

So of course rather than letting these beauties at a bargain basement price go to waste… I stocked up!

And lay awake all that night, planning exactly how I was going to manage to walk from the car to the airport to the plane to the taxi to work to the airport to the plane and back to the car in such high heels and not feel the pain.

The flat comfortable and perfectly fashionable boots, now in the back of the wardrobe … sniggered.

But a bargain is a bargain and new shoes are new shoes. I wore them and I could walk in them. From the car to the airport, which mercifully is a flat space. Lord knows what would have happened if I had had to walk downhill.

(This was when I realised that the shoes had lied to me.) (And yes I do know shoes can’t talk.)

My toes crushed against the front of the shoe reminding me of gruesome pictures from not so ancient China and women with bound feet, mishappen by years of feeding the need for women to be sexually available to men ( i.e. they were completely unable to run or even hobble at speed to get away should they need to.)

As I employed some basic mind over matter pain management techniques on the walk to the plane, I asked myself….How do women like Victoria Beckham and the Duchess of Cambridge (you know the others) manage to teeter about the world looking … Fabulous … (and still do and they are ten years older too.) Not only that they (still) make it look so bloody easy and (worse) deceptively comfortable.

Hell these women look like they could run the New York marathon in their Louboutins.

Not for them the oh so practical flatties from Birkenstock, Kumfs and the like.  Good honest shoes which can take a working women to any occasion in comfort. (Now my brands of choice – year round except when I am wearing Uggs, which is all winter.)

As I hobbled (Thank Goodness I no longer do this) up the steps of the plane and then hobbled more dangerously down the five steps again (enough danger to have the attendant reach out in alarm as I teetered and towered over the poor woman) in Hamilton, I realised that I am no longer in the market for such shoes.(You were fifty-four. Bit of a slow learner.)

I am not the best of  women. (Still not.)

I am not so rich (Definitely not) that I do not need to work and therefore I can’t wear sitting down shoes all day because I don’t. (Now I am a full time writer the irony is that I do now sit down all day.)

I am not so beautiful and young I can stare languidly (aka mindlessly) off into the distance – immobile- while people take of me photos for glamorous magazines. (As if!)

I do move and sitting down shoes are lets face it- NOT AN OPTION!

I am not so smart people come to me and I do not have to go to them.

I am not so organised and clever and wealthy I have a ‘staff’ of people who do my housework, drive my car, bring my plane to me on the runway or who buy my groceries for me and then put them away in the kitchen without me even knowing.

I am not so anatomically perfect, I can walk in these shoes without wobbling, falling over or developing painful bunions, black toenails and/or worn out knees.

I am not the woman these shoes were obviously designed for. (Looking back I am not sure I ever was.)

I am not the ideal woman of the magazines or movies or TV chat shows, catwalks, awards ceremonies, rock concerts, advertisements and I am not an Essex girl, or a gypsy bride or Paris Hilton wannabe. These are the BEST women aren’t they? Or why would so many shops, magazines, shows and gossip columns advance them as the feminine role model? (And sadly still do except more so. A Kardashian any one.)

I am older. (Add ten years to that older.) I have sore feet and worse … sore knees ( don’t start me on the effects on knees of high heels). I have incipient bunions. (After a year of wearing gumboots, Birkenstocks, Ugg slippers and flat boots, my knees and bunions have improved considerably.)

I like to walk fast, I live in a city with hills and mud and stairs and other people who walk fast and don’t want to have to get a crick in their neck to hold a conversation with me.( I live in the country and walk the dogs every day on flat ground. Yes I do miss the hills because they help kept my bum in shape).

My new shoes are now in the side of the wardrobe where the ‘sitting down shoes’ lurk waiting for the days when I want to feel glamorous and languid, and when I know I will not have to walk far.

(Different wardrobe, still in the sitting-down-shoe-section where they wait for my grandchildren to be born and get old enough to come and play dress-ups in them … but that’s another blog.)

The Cat Who Won’t Come in from the Cold.

To have a new cat on the mat tells you two things.

1. We had an old cat.

2. The old cat is not here anymore because as any cat owner knows cats do not share mats.

The old cat’s name was Polo. He was a lovely black cat who died of old age (with the help of the vet) when he was seventeen. Polo turns out is also the new cat’s name. Not his real name, but it is the name I end up using by default. I am getting used to the new cat’s name which is Louis.

You would think being called Polo would be confusing for Louis, but in exchange for food and a warm bed, he seems content to answer anything.

As a rescued cat he had at least one earlier name. Neville. Nice enough but Neville is not me. Louis doesn’t care. He’s not stupid and has figured out that a high pitched cat-call from the back door in a voice he barely knows means the door to warmth, adoration and more importantly that dinner is ready. Louis is smart.

To date he is rather aloof with me, but when it comes to my 20 year old daughter he is a real pussycat. He melts into a purr-fuelled frenzy of rubbings and snugglings, whenever she picks him up.  I am tolerated. I open the cupboard, rattle the box of kibble and put food in his bowl. He may give my leg a quick rub and allow me to scratch behind an ear for a second or two but only if I am quick. Otherwise, he whips around and bites me. Leg, hand, arm whatever part of my anatomy is closest and thus annoying him most.

My daughter on the other hand gets the gushy, loving Louis. He spends all day lying on her bed regarding me with a passing stare if I should happen to walk into her room with a pile of clean clothes.  He lies back burrowing luxuriously into her duvet trying his best to ignore me. If I stop what I am doing or try to get his attention, some tiny indication of his approval, I feel his gaze travel over me before … I am dismissed and with his back leg high in the air, he licks his anus.

A cat is the only animal who can make you feel ‘not quite good enough’ in your own home.

Until this morning.

Louis is not dumb and has come to realise, if he wants breakfast, I am the person to be nice to.

I get out of bed earlier than the aforementioned daughter and feed him, while she gets her beauty sleep.

This morning, after he ate breakfast and when I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper and drinking my tea in that lovely quiet morning time, Louis jumped up beside me and sat close enough to allow me to scratch behind his ear.

I did.

He moved a little bit closer.

I scratched his ear and his chin.

He started purring. Just a little.

He moved close enough to touch me and for a moment, we enjoyed a cat/person bonding moment.

Then my daughter came in.

The moment we had was enough … for now.

The shop I can’t do without…

My marriage was over. I had taken the sewing machine and the cooking utensils, and he kept the lawnmower and the barbecue. I had bought a small house to do with as I liked. It had a lawn. It had a garden and it had an outdoor space where we could eat outside on fine summer evenings. If only we had a barbecue…and something to cut the grass with.

I discovered the delights of the local hardware store. My first purchase was a barbecue which came flat packed in a box which with much sweating a swearing only just fitted into my tiny hatchback. Unloading it at the other end was similarly accompanied by a single woman’s sound effects – groaning, swearing, huffing and yelling when the bloody thing landed on my foot. The afternoon was spent putting it together with a series of Allen keys (look them up, I had to) and finally ta-daaa, it was ready. I had gas, salads, paper plates, sauce, sausages, steak, kebabs and my own set of barbecue tools.

My mannered male guests uncomfortable at the sight of a woman in command of her own barbecue, offered to relieve me of my tongs, my long handled spatula and the thingymajingy but I was having none of it. I suggested they set the table or check the salads and could they grab me a beer while they were at it. The hand that turns the meat rules the world.

Next I bought a lawnmower, a hammer, nails, screws (both types), picture hooks, drain cleaner, a plunger, a set of screw drivers(all types), paint brushes, gib-stop, hinges, and the piece de resistance, a power drill. A pair of overalls and I had become a weekend handy-woman, tackling the fun stuff around the house, the repairs, the odd jobs. Repairs and maintenance chores are way more rewarding than vacuuming the same floor over and over again, or cleaning the fridge, or polishing the table, or worse cleaning windows. An odd job done once, done right can be a source of perpetual pleasure.

It is many years later and I still live alone. I have mellowed and am not so strict about barbecue etiquette. The children have grown up and left home. One can sew, three can cook and not one of them has ever mowed a lawn, raked two oak trees worth of leaves in autumn, painted a room, trimmed a hedge, cleaned out the guttering or dug a border. None of them know how to use a power drill, much less invested in one of their own. None of them know their way around a hardware store.

These joys await them.

Wine is for the Birds

The guns are quiet. For now. Who knows when they will start again. I get a fright when they do. I jump then check my watch just in case someone has been murdered in the village and the police will need a witness to establish the exact time of death. I note the time on a scrap of paper and then forget where I put it.

The guns have no respect for the dark or for sleep. They blast randomly through the night. Visitors wake shaken if they got to sleep at all – shocked to realise they have landed in a war zone and not the bucolic Wairarapa promised by posters of beautiful people picnicking in sunny vineyards.

The guns blast throughout the day competing with conversations in restaurants, with bargains in shops, ceremonies in churches and lessons in schools. We who live here have grown accustomed to the battery. To being at war with birds.

The countryside is transformed with swags of white guarding grapes from the flighty.

Hawkes circle overhead searching the grassy avenues for mice and rabbits, unflinching in the battle of the blanks. House cats indifferent to boundaries and ordinance patrol the verges lying in wait for unsuspecting free loaders.

All this to preserve grapes nurtured on vines through the frosts of spring, the dull days of summer, the droughts of early autumn to get them to the harvest.

When the nets come off, it is every creature for themselves. The guns stop.

The harvesting machines rumble to the year’s conclusion.

The birds always come back.

Seals, Eels and 12 Slaves.

New Zealand is a long thin country with mountains forming a rugged spine down the middle. This means you are never far from the coast or one of the rivers draining the high country on their way to the sea. Water is all around. The further away from the cities and towns you get – the more likely the water will be clean and clear and the more likely you will be to come across the creatures which inhabit that water.

Michelle, an old friend, dropped in last week on her way north – her visit, perfectly timed to coincide with the onset of ten consecutive days of summer.

Yes she was crowing!

Michelle does summer.

The South Wairarapa has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the country – the one lane gravel road narrow, rocky and dusty skirting towering sandstone cliffs. The sea on a good day – a flat Aegean blue – on a bad day a roiling sickening green flecked with spumes of white. Twenty shipwrecks over as many years led to the erection of the Cape Palliser lighthouse in 1897 and it still stands watch today. It was too hot to climb the near vertical staircase to get to the light- that’s a tourist chore for winter days. Instead we pootled down to the fur seal colony at its base.

Seals have camouflage down to a fine art as I found out when I nearly stood on a cub, the bleats of outrage from under a bush making me jump back.

Yes there is a baby seal under this bush. That’s where they come from. Biology 101.

The rocks were festooned with seals of all ages, barking and biting irritably at their neighbours. They regarded us as nuisances to be tolerated at a distance, and to be charged at if we got too close. In the bay below flippers and tails kicked up in the swell, as the seals dived through kelp in search of food.

Look harder and you will see them.

‘A good start to a tour of the North Island,’ said Michelle.

We drove home to lie in the sun and read books. She left a day later and I went to a conference about the environment. I learned a lot about the incineration of rubbish (better than landfills, produces useable energy, doesn’t pollute the ground water and cheaper), how we dispose of packaging in NZ (about 80 to 90% of glass and paper waste is recycled already) power generation (we will need more), trees to offset carbon emissions (not as good as not emitting carbon and we are nearly at peak tree now) and the amazing fact that each person in a developed nation currently uses the energy/work of 12 slaves to prop up their lifestyle.

I’m not sure the speaker meant me because I don’t use all 12 slaves at the same time. There are times when I may well use more, but generally I’m a 10 slave kinda gal – I compost. I grow basil. What the hell am I going to do without the energy/work of 10 slaves to keep my life in order? What are we all going to do if to reduce carbon emissions we have to drop back to 8 slaves or lord help us … less than 8 per person? Or worse – 7 and 1/2.

The green vibes of denial induced by the nature walk the following day muddy the prospect facing us all – lower carbon … less energy expended to keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed. The smugness of being in nature meant we were doing our bit. We could put off the day of reckoning. We went by bus (6 slaves per person at most) to Pukaha, a reserve not far from where I live and worth a visit. Apart from the native birds, like the resurgent and charmless kaka- and the back-from-extinction takahe- a mainstay of any good reserve in NZ, there were insects and reptiles

Kaka – Will do anything for food!
The kaka is not happy the takahe has its own special supply and is laid a complaint of discrimination.

and eels – water creatures who unlike seals – loves humans.

These monsters of the creek slithered into position right on 1:30 pm to be fed chicken from a spoon. Old girls and old boys; 60 to 80 year old long fins (differentiated from the short fin because they wrinkle when they bend) were fattening up before making their way down the river to the sea and then on to Tonga where they discharge 21 million eggs … only to die and leave their young to make their way back across the ocean, unaccompanied (three thousand kilometres) to the exact same creeks and rivers their Mummies and Daddies had just left …

Please tickle me … go on … please.

dodging the grumpy hungry seals with big teeth hanging around on the coast on their way home.

The Mountain Man and the Klutz

Nothing beats drinking a cold beer while standing in a hot shower as you wait for the anti-inflammatories to start working. Nothing!

But I get ahead of myself which may have been the problem all along.

‘I’ll take you fishing,’ he said. He; being an old friend from Medical School – a man who has been outrageously fit throughout his life, a man who regularly goes into the back country, skiing, fishing, tramping, mountain-biking and generally communing with nature. ‘Kate (his sensible wife) is going to visit her mother,’ he said. ‘We can go up the Waiohine Gorge and do some fishing. It’s only a short walk. Easy’. He said.

The words, ‘gorge’ and ‘easy’ used blithely by aforesaid MM in the same paragraph should have been the first inkling this might not be such a good idea. Pride and falls being what they are. Supremely confident in my ability to tackle the most difficult landscape, I took no notice of the great bronze bells peeling their warnings in the background. After all, I’ve run marathons, half marathons, run up hills and down dales, I swim every day, walk the dogs every day- what could be so hard?

I donned my fishing vest laden with tackle, over which I shouldered my back-pack stuffed with a jacket (bright yellow- much to MM’s disgust) lunch and a thermos of coffee, and over all this I slung my rod in its case. MM carrying only a tiny foldaway rod in a small velvet pouch and wearing his back-pack forged ahead up the first hill, and down it and up the next one and down the next one. I’m talking sheer drops. Tree roots – nature’s hand-holds – needed on both the way up and down. Loose shingle treacherous underfoot, the track giving way in places over drops down to the river. I made slow progress. Now and again I would catch sight of MM in the trees on the other sides of valleys as he waited patiently for me to catch up.

The first time I fell, I only bruised an arm and my right knee. Gash is probably too strong a word to use, but there was blood when I peeled off my leggings later that night.

The second time I tripped, I pitched head first into a tree trunk. Today, the resulting haematoma is threatening to slide down the left side of my face but the aforementioned anti-inflammatories did eventually relieve the splitting headache after I got home.

MM kindly stopped. We had chocolate brownies and a coffee.

We carried on. MM insisting I go in front. Self preservation, he explained. He did not want me falling into him when I tripped the next time going down a steep hill.

An hour and half later we were at the first turn off which took us down to the river bed.

Beautiful. Clear clean water, shallow (ish) and warm. Each rock with its own different ankle bending shape unique to itself. MM negotiated the river bed with ease. Needless to say the klutz didn’t.

MM gets his rod ready and with a few flicks of the line on the water proceeds quickly upriver. I wave him on. And he disappears behind a bend to what I imagine was welcome peace and quiet away from me.

I’ve come all this way I reason. No point sitting and waiting. After untangling the line on my reel I surprised myself by remembering how to attach the fly, then wearing my Polaroids to see into the river, off I went. A joyful half an hour of casting and not catching anything and I was starting to wonder where MM was. Turning around a foot caught under a rock. I face plant into the river. Luckily only half of me got wet ( the half lying in the river) and my ankle didn’t hurt that much. Not really.

A sandwich, another piece of chocolate brownie and no MM. I set off upriver, hoping nothing had happened but checked my phone just in case. No service. Excellent. Reassuring even. Not. After an hour negotiating boulders, noting the deer footprints at the edge of the water, the possum droppings, the pig rooting signs and with only the cicadas to keep me company, I was starting to get worried. Silly I kept thinking, but how come I hadn’t seen him. We were in a narrow valley, the river the only highway. How was I going to tell Kate I’d lost her husband? Silly. Could I make it back in time to call in search and rescue and would there be enough daylight for the helicopter to find him? Less silly. I turned around and started back concentrating hard so I wouldn’t fall and bugger up the rescue operation I was about to set in progress.

MM was sitting on the side of the track (I hadn’t seen it) waiting for me when I staggered back down the rocks on my way to get help. As I pointed out to him after I stopped yelling, living alone means I use language not usually heard in polite company. He said he understood.

The track back was as bad as the track in, only in reverse. In the interests of us both getting out before nightfall MM relieved me of my rod and wet fishing vest. My left ankle went first. And then it did it again. Twice I collapsed into the undergrowth as my joint betrayed me. I staggered on. I’m not sure if the bee stung my finger before or after I sprained my right ankle. The last hour had become a bit of a blur.

Surprisingly today I don’t feel too bad. My knee is swollen and hurts, but the bleeding has stopped. My head is tender and my vision is only slightly blurry. My right ankle is puffy and aches but the left one is as good as gold. The bee didn’t manage to empty his sting into my finger so that’s fine.

I must be fitter than I thought.

Cuba, Martinborough and the Beach Boys.

I have never been to Cuba. Some of my friends have and they loved it. Mostly. Sort of. It was interesting, they said. I love great coffee, great beaches a warm climate, 1950s architecture, Latin music and an intelligent health system (considering the money they have at their disposal). The home of Hemingway (one of my heroes) is a place I may not get to. (She thinks wistfully).

I’ll talk about cars instead because cars got me thinking about Cuba in the first place. Every year, our little town in the Wairarapa hosts Cruise Martinborough a festival of American cars from the 1950s and 60s. Men (they are usually but not exclusively men) arrive several days before the Saturday parade of cars – the deep thrum of engines driving over the hill and into our valley announcing their arrival. The bars and cafes are full of grey-haired men, their stomachs slack with age talking about makes and models, engines and spare parts, paint jobs and hood ornaments.

On Saturday morning, the streets are closed. The cars form up in an orderly manner (revving not only permitted but encouraged) at the rugby grounds. From there they proceed to the centre, loop the town square and park for the day in their allocated spot where the public can ooo and aahh at the work of the American twentieth century automobile industry. The style, the excess, the sheer inpractibility of these machines can take your breath away.

I hate to think how many miles to the gallon, these cars need to get from A to B, but the local garage owners are always pleased when Cruise Martinborough rolls into town. So too are the local retailers, and the public who turn up in increasing numbers for a dose of wonder.

In the fifties and sixties few New Zealanders had access to American cars. We ( by that I mean very definitely – my parents ) drove British made cars. Occasionally we would see one of these on the roads. Too flashy for my father to entertain ownership.

Mighty great tanks, their top speeds around 60 mph, no seat belts, bench seats front and back, no safety glass, no airbags and no air-conditioning. They had temperamental engines and delicate tires, cornered atrociously, and had next to no shock absorbers. What’s not to like?

The stuff of culture, these cars. American culture. The culture we envied and aspired to back then. Movies, TV, magazines and songs. The car of the Beach Boys; the T-Bird which no one’s gonna take away gunning it down the freeway to Malibu, loaded with suntanned youth, surfboards and Gidget.

The cars of the last century, collectors items in New Zealand lovingly restored by their owners are similarly cared for by their owners in Cuba. A hobby in New Zealand. An essential means of transport in Cuba.

Morning Walks in the Wairarapa

Summer 2021

I live in Martinborough, a village surrounded by vineyards and farms in the Wairarapa (meaning in Maori, glistening waters). Rivers; the Ruamahanga and the Tauherenikau run through the plains of this lower Eastern side of North Island of New Zealand, emerging into Lake Wairarapa at the coast. The Ruakokoputuna river is smaller and runs through the magnificent Patuna Chasm but more of this in later post.

Every morning, rain, hail or shine – Cookie, Buster and me walk the roads around our home on the outskirts of the village. Cookie and Buster are Jack Russell terriers – wonderfully loving dogs, stubborn and wilful – they are my companions in this age of the coronavirus.

Cookie starts getting excited about her walk as soon as it is light. Buster and me – not so much. We are not morning people. We like to sleep in.

By 07.00 Cookie has usually had enough. Using her teeth she drags back my duvet, does her tail catching circles, and bounces against the bed occasionally achieving sufficient height to actually land on it and me – to the surprise of us both. At 07.20 I get up.

It is the 21st of January 2021 and today the sun is shining. The playful gusts of gale force winds (40-80 mph) which have plagued us for the last week have gone away and by 07.40 it is already hot.

Cookie happy nosing through the long grass, disappears under hedge rows inhaling the smells necessary for her daily existence and is generally enjoying herself. Buster is sulking. Two reasons. He doesn’t like the heat and we didn’t walk where he wanted to go.

Buster likes to start a walk at rat corner. Where the rats are.

This is a photo of Buster hunting rats in the agapanthus at rat corner. The rat has gone already but the thrill of the hunt (along with rat smells) remains and according to Buster, ‘this is his favouritist thing in the whole world to do’.

Consequently when a walk does not start at rat corner, well, it’s not really a walk. Is it? It just something to tolerate and some days he doesn’t even do that. Like today for instance. We walked half a kilometre past the Colombo winery set up for the arrival of the lunch crowd …

then another half kilometre to Puruatanga Road …

to see the vineyards and the sunflowers…

up close …

Buster was having none of it. He sat down his face pointing back the way we had come. We came home.

Some days walking in the Wairarapa with dogs can be better than others.

Tomorrow we will go past rat corner.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén