October 31st, 2006


Fruit, sunshine, beer - rain

We raced the rain this evening; we pulled away into sunlight as we crested the hills for the run down into Nelson past the fruit groves, hopes and vines. You get a distant glimpse of the sea and then it disappears again until you come to the broad estuary. The sea was grey brown with little ribbons of pale blue reflecting the sky. The rock the sailors took pot shots at looks a little smaller this year. Found a motel with a balcony room and down into town for food, beer - and the rain.
full steam ahead

Noah, Shenandoah and the circus horses

It rained all evening (mussel and beef pizza nd Ginger Tom beer), all night, all morning (apple and raisin fritters with bacon and a long visit at Shades of Jade www.westcoastjade.co.nz - there are lots of jade carving shops, this is run by a father and son and I've been there every trip since I bought my first greenstone, which I always wear, they're very friendly and talk about the jade and bring out slabs of stone to show you, so not only are they recarving a piece I bought there that broke, they're also making me a hair stick and matching ear-rings and Simon has a black twist and a black ear-ring bead coming... And shipping is peanuts), all lunchtime (we went up the other side of the Grey river which was brown and turgid to Blackball, home of salami and endless wheels), all afternoon (soaking in the hot black water of the Japanese pools at Maruia Springs with the raindrops splashing and rebounding from the water in exclamation marks and bannister finials, then dashing from the hot pool to the cold shower) and really all day.

A thousand rushing gushing streams and waterfalls dash and tumble brown and white down the slopes. Maruia falls might be sedate normally but today they were a torrent of water hurtling down a step the full width of the river. We sat behind three blue and white vans for a while; I thought I saw smiley faces, Simon saw control panels. When it started belching fumes and pulled over so we could pass it we saw circus horses - a merry go round going merrily down the road.

A rainbow at the rainbow falls ski field. We didn't go over the Gowan bridge. Saddle lookout: 634 metres and a hairpin bend down... And finally it seems to have just about stopped raining.
full steam ahead

To the sea!

Nice and sunny this morning. The motel landlord suggested the cafe we had in mind for breakfast - Morrisons - so we repairewd for banana bacon pancakes and venison sausage poached egg spinach hash thing and then pottered around the bookshops of Nelson, hunting books by Australian writers who are slightly easier to find over here (Sean Williams and Kerry Greenwood). Walked in and back by yet more paths through the grounds of the cathedral, which is more spire than you'd think possible.

Took the fast coast road to Motueka and Marahau, stoppping at Mapua for manuka smoked salmon (smoked over manuka chips, sweet as honey, succulent as fruit) and ice cream (strawberry kiwi/pineapple lime in neon yellow green) and to gaze at the expensive but phenomenal spiral pounamu window. Amazing with the light through it. Everything is espaliered to an inch of its life here - apples, pears, vines, hops... the pebble writing of the estuary is still there, names and symbols and slogans, bright against the mud and blue water puddling nearby. Then from gentle hills to the hairpin slopes to the coast. The sea is brown at the estuary from the floods then emerald green and palest blue.

We hiked up the track to the first beach and paddled in the sea and slept on the sand, read, knitted, wrote with shells, gazed out to sea and relaxed, then walked back along the beach and across the estuary - when the tide is out there's a little stream to ford and some mud to avoid.

Got a room at the b&b where I stayed. In fact the same room where I stayed! Dinner at the always excellent Park Cafe, with Macs Gold and Emersons Weissbier to wash it down. And stars, stars, stars - dimmed only by a moos so bright we had shadows!