Firstly, a pic of the hills behind our place at one of our recent sunsets, and an update on Roadkill, whose official name is “Amaya”:
It’s hard to get a good picture of her, ’cause she’s always moving.
It’s a bit tragic, really: we’re her only friends. None of the other cats really seem to want to be friends. Slow Top is the closest, and the best that can be said there, really, is that he ignores her. Studiously. Even when she’s bouncing in circles around him practically shouting, “Hey! Hey! He-ey! Look at ME!! Hello-oo!” The conclusion that we can’t help but draw is that she just doesn’t speak cat. She still jumps and scurries under the bed when Stephen bangs pots on the other side of the house, but appears entirely oblivious to the direct, personal threat posed by a growling, hissing Azami. This annoys Azami no end, as you can imagine. TV One showed an old Warner Brothers cartoon recently when they had some space to fill — it was the one with “Claude Cat”, whose owners bring home a new puppy that is constantly surprising Claude up onto the ceiling. We wonder sometimes if Amaya was raised by dogs.
Still, if the cats aren’t great fans, she has no lack of human admirers. Heck, in the same day, she had a complete stranger (to her) from Australia knit her a new toy, and got to lick chicken crumbs out of Geoff’s beard. That was Saturday, which started off with a Gypsy Fair on the Petone foreshore. I’ve tried describing the House Truck phenomenon before, as you run into them at various fairs and shows around the country (or sometimes just camped on the beach — we run into James the Blacksmith everywhere, it seems). But Stephen got some good pictures this time, so you can see what we mean:
There were maybe twenty or so trucks and buses there: some craftspeople of various sorts, some selling imported stuff from India or Indonesia, some doing fortune-telling, and some just hanging out. We hooked up there with Stephen and Jennifer and Donyale, an Aussie SCAdian who’d stayed on with them a bit after Canterbury Faire. They waited ever-so-patiently chatting while I shopped (I got a nice little scarf/wrap-skirt, a koru for Keri back in Boston, and a little bag of pretty cats-eye shells to play with. The score of the day, though, was one of the best little carved skulls I’ve ever seen:
Not sure what I’m going to do with it, but it’s terrific workmanship, done in antler, and vastly underpriced.
From the Fair, we walked to the Petone Italian food market and got lunchables — bread, cheese, tomatoes, olives, beef pastrami, and a little pot of fresh basil (no heads buried in it, not even the little antler skull) — which we took back up to Elmwood and ate in the living room (it was actually a little too sunny in the yard). Yummmmm.
Yolande comes from horse people, so after lunch we introduced her to the horses as well as the camelids, and then showed her the site in Gallop where there are plans to build the “castle”. We’d been told previously that if we built a castle, an assortment of re-creationists would cheerfully come lay seige to it. The trick will be letting it double as a stock shelter so it’s tax deductible. BONUS: With no planning or urging at all, the little tour turned into a five-person ragwort patrol, which nearly cleared the gallop paddock in hardly any time at all. Yay ! Later on, Richard, Beth and Geoff came over, and we watched some more Hellsing.
Anime was on Saturday this week, because Friday night the Wellington folk music club was starting up a jam night at the Roundabout Pub right here in Tawa, so we grabbed Kerry and went. *That* was interesting. It started out with mostly folkies in their 40s or so, playing an assortment of instruments around a couple pushed-together tables. We sort of hung around at the fringes, waiting to see if they’d play something we actually knew. I could see them trying to figure out where we fit in, since we didn’t have any instruments. They finally did “Wild Mountain Thyme”, but we really earned our street cred (as it were) when we were two of only four or five there who knew “Flower of Scotland”. Eyes widened. Eventually, one of the tenors came over to swap contact details and chat about reforestry projects (he has three acres just north of here). Kerry and I plan to bring songbooks next time we go.
So that was Friday and Saturday. Sunday, following our jaunt up the Otaki Gorge last week, we made good on our plans to return and do a bit of “tramping” in the Tararuas. The Tararuas have a reputation for chewing up people who aren’t prepared — people are regularly rescued out of there after being clobbered by surprise gales, fogs, snow and the like — so we packed extra clothes, rain gear, a sleeping bag, lots of water and snack bars and stuff for our little day hike. The Tararuas, for those who don’t have a geographical representation of the North Island in their heads, is the mountain range that runs down the southwest of the island. If you follow our little chain of hills north from Wellington, you get to the Akatarawa Range, which in turn melds into the Tararuas. We hiked for about 3 and a half hours up the track called the Southern Crossing. It starts in Otaki, which is about an hour’s drive up the coast from Tawa, and takes about two days to cross the range to Kaitoke, north of Upper Hutt.
Our hike was a good one, starting at a swing bridge in the river bottom and climbing through different climate zones and ecosystems up to one of the camping huts and beyond it to a boggy alpine meadow called Table Top. [Here, Stephen takes over the narrative] The 3 hours it took to reach the hut matched the listed time to climb — which made us feel less slug-like. On the way we passed and were passed-by (as we each took breaks) John and Barry. They were heading to the hut to spend the night, and we chatted for some time. They are both farmers in the Palmerston North area who have been tramping for fun the last few years. They were both really fun and friendly, and we would have chatted longer, but we needed to push on to Table Top, with enough time to get off the mountain before the sun set. Coming back down after table top we said goodbye, traded some email addresses, and were offered a shot of whisky from the small bottle that had appeared in our absence. Truely, experienced trampers. The rushed descent from the hut took only 2 hours and 15 minutes, but boy were our knees and legs sore by the time we got the bottom!
On the way back home we stopped at the Paraparaumu Pizza Hut for dinner. The food was adequate, but it was nice to eat there without an associated trauma. Two of the more memorable times we have eaten there were after nasty events left us unwilling to cook (septic water in basement in December 2003, Chris’ death in August 2004). At least this time we were simply exhausted.
We want to do the hike again, possibly staying the night in the Field Hut then pushing further into the ranges. I wonder if we can find anyone that is keen enough to head out with us for such an adventure? Nobody super-fit, mind you, as we have no desire to be hiked into the ground!