I've been back in my Napier home for 96 hours as I start this post. During those hours I've slotted back into my New Zealand life as if I'd never been away. There was a time when I walked back into the Croquet Club, for example, and people welcomed me back as though I'd been away for half a lifetime. Having been back to play my first game this afternoon there were some "welcome back, stranger" comments but it was almost as if I'd not been away during the previous 6 months. It was the same when I had my hair cut. Then there is the television: the same programmes; the same adverts.
What is different is the centre of Napier. Many buildings have been torn down and are being re-built. The new Farmers has opened and the old shop has, fortunately, been taken over by another company and is not lying vacant. A lot of shops have closed and a few new ones opened. Like everywhere though the signs of the recession in the retail trade seem to be showing. How so much change can take place in 6 months is amazing.
Friday afternoon was special. I collected Catriona from Woodford House where she is a weekly boarder. She had no idea that I had returned or that I was collecting her. Her welcome was to drop all her books (carefully!) and rush up to give me a huge hug. We then stopped off at The Strawberry Patch for an ice cream which we ate sitting in the sun. I took her back to school early this evening (Sunday).
It's 124 hours as I end this post and time for bed (said Zebedee). Ermintrude would have been very happy with the last few days.
|Cloud mass in the deep low over the North Island that greeted my return|
|First priority: make cornflake crunch|
|A rally of several hundred motorcyclists this morning at Ahuriri where I was having coffee with a friend|
|I'm not sure what it was in aid of but most of the riders had teddy bears with them|
|The Ahuriri boardwalk forms part of many kilometres of foot/cycle path around Napier|
|Lots and lots of these wild flowers made a wonderful contrast with the azure waters of the Bay|
|Kiwis doing what Kiwis do|
|Modern mixes with traditional on Bluff Hill.|
|All overlooking a friend's house (in the foreground) down on the waterfront|
|And in front of The Cottage the wonderful scent of Honeysuckle|
|in full bloom|