“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.”
Jeanne Moreau French actress, singer, screenwriter and director. 1928 –
Here in New Zealand, it’s summer. Well, so far this year it has been so disappointing. A few good days leading up to Christmas; a fabulous Christmas Day (well here in Wellington anyway) but since then it has been truly awful. Rain, gale force winds and more rain. So waking up today to sunshine was a surprise.
Many people are on holiday – Christmas and New Year are when most offices and services close down and families head off to the beach to their holiday homes.
In the North Island of New Zealand, older holiday homes are called baches (my guess is because husbands were left as bachelors to look after themselves while wives and children enjoyed life at the beach but Wikipedia suggest it is short for bachelor pad). In the South Island, they are referred to as cribs. I don’t know why this is so.
Baches and cribs are generally quite basic. Many have grown like Topsy. Our next door neighbours, who are also our close friends, have a batch about 75 kms from home and we were invited for the day. The one we visited on Saturday had started life as an army hut and been transported to the beach. Over the years it has been divided into a living room cum kitchen, one bunkroom, a bathroom and a lavatory. Recently it has had a lean-to added giving it a separate dining room, with one side open to the elements. One can close it up with a plastic screen that rolls up out of the way when not needed. Life in those seaside areas off the beaten track is very simple. Children run free and as everyone knows everyone else, nobody has to worry where the children are.
Saturday, dawned bright without any rain and it just happened to be the annual “Boat Day” at that beach. It is such a long time since I had been in such a simple yet lovely setting that of course, we had to walk the 100 or so yards to the riverbank to sit and watch. We saw people of all ages, and all walks of life I guess, simply enjoying themselves. The river running into the sea made a great place for canoe races. Single canoes, two-person canoes, blow up canoes and even a rowboat was brought into play to win prizes. There were races for children, races for teenagers and races for anyone and everyone. What fun that was to see people enjoying the simple pleasures of being with friends and making new ones.
A sausage sizzle had been set up on the far bank, accessed over a rickety bridge, and was doing a great trade with sausages slapped between slices of white bread selling for $1.20. Well, children having fun with each other are not gourmands.
We, however, were treated to a lovely lunch on a table set up under the trees. A whole smoked salmon, salads and fresh bread washed down with a cold wine were perfect. Desert of fruit and ice cream was served following which we all vowed we were too full for coffee and Christmas cake.
Then it was determined that a walk was in order. We walked over the rickety bridge where fortunately there were no trolls to scare us, onto the bank on the other side of the river. Most of the competitors had retired for lunch or to change into dry clothes following a dunking in the river. So we had an uninterrupted stroll along the riverbank down to the seashore and then over the dunes back to the bach.
The area was the scene of fierce fighting between the Maoris (the indigenous people) and the invading British bent on colonising the land and its inhabitants. In this the British were unsuccessful.
So another lovely summer day came to a close. Yesterday Sunday, it rained all day here but today has been beautiful. Tomorrow’s forecast? Rain in the afternoon so we have to make the most of any lovely day that comes our way.
And now to all my friends in the US who are being buffeted by strong gales and heavy snowfalls, my thoughts are with you. Love and hugs from the other side of the world.
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh