Friday, 27 October 2017


It's been over four months now since I moved here. It's been great watching the seasons change from winter to spring and getting lots of salubrious and sultry days with the water like glass and the sun pelting down with not a breath of wind until later in the day. 

Growth in all ways is a beautiful thing, and there has certainly been some of that internally. However, growth in the garden remains a somewhat hideous challenge for me. The weeds are now bigger than the plants I planted and it all seems just too big, too steep and too daunting, and I am procrastinating badly. However, Rory came on Tuesday, bless him, and weed-eated around all of the plants and will come back next week and carefully spray wherever there are no plants. I have always consciously avoided spray, don't like poisons at all (apart from my previous passion for booze of course, and a few drugs). It is rather shameful what a turncoat I have instantly become when the alternative is to spend the rest of my days in the garden (which mainly consists of very steep tall banks) weeding my life away. Just not my thing I'm afraid. It's  enough for me just to keep up with the watering! I was a bit over zealous on that front last week and managed to run my tank dry! Progress has been made in the San Pedro cacti department. 36 tall ones have been cut off and the ends sharpened like pencils and are lying down at Rorys place drying out before being bought here for planting. The rest will be dug out, and they will go in the 33 metre long planter out the back and get full sun for the rest of their lives. I am so looking forward to that challenging enterprise being completed, but I'm dependent on others, so I must be patient, it will happen just when they can. I hope it is soon though, it's a long wait. I also hope the cacti don't die once planted, which is always a possibility I guess. I'll be an old hand at all this with a green thumb in a couple of years I hope, but in the meantime I feel a bit out of my depth. I like to have a man when I garden. I like to point and man dig. 

The internal growth I spoke of is more like an exercise in patience and humility. In a new community, without children to connect you with others, without alcohol lubricating the way into a social life, without living right in amongst the community, and being 61 instead of 30, it is a little harder to integrate oneself and begin new friendships. I have been making an effort though. I had a good time during the French Festival. I volunteered and was put on the merchandising stall selling French berets, flags, posters and caberet tickets. The Friday night was a fun party in the street with a live band, lots of dancing and revelling, much local comeraderie, and the stall was very busy. On the Saturday it rained but still quite busy. They gave me a French beret and a ticket to the caberet in the big marquee. I ran into an old Akaroa primary school friend during the day who was attending on his own so we agreed to meet at the door and sit together, which was fun, and we laughed and chatted away with ease. During the evening I ran into Al Park and his girlfriend Mel who were geared up to sleep in their car up in the hills. It was pouring with rain so I invited them to stay. We left the caberet quite early and had a real nice time here around the fire talking and getting to know each other better, until about 2am. They insisted on taking me for breakfast in Akaroa the next morning. 

A couple of weekends later Al invited me to go to the Rhododendron Gardens in Little River, owned by an old hippie friend of his. The gardens were in full bloom and open to the public that day and Al was providing some ambient music on the veranda as a favour for his friend. So off I went, and had a lovely afternoon in the most beautiful setting and it turns out the owner, Bruce, is an old friend I knew back in the eighties and hadn't seen for 37 years! He even helped Mum and Dad move into Clearbrook Farm, as both my brothers were away I think. The music was mellow, the sun shined down, the gardens were gorgeous. I remembered I had seen Al Park play once at the Town Hall before Marianne Faithful came on, one of his more memorable gigs. I had a curry in the slow cooker for Al and Mel so invited Bruce as well and we all had a nice meal together and lots of chat and humour. Bruce left, Al, Mel and I stayed up quite late, then in the morning they took me on a big hike up to the Whakamate Waterfall in the Hinewai Reserve. It was a long uphill climb starting from Long Bay, quite a challenge for un-fit little me, but I managed it and felt great afterwards, and we had a picnic up at Akaroa's version of Stone Henge. So yeah, new connections are being made, slowly but surely, and even though none of these people live here, it is nice to be making some new friendships.

 I am doing okay. I am grateful every single day for the beauty of nature. How can one feel too alone when they have the company of the ever changing sea to look at every day, and the sunrises and sunsets which are so much more noticed here, and the hills with their jagged outlines meeting the sky. It is a beautiful, quiet, safe and tranquil little piece of paradise. I have been here four months, and that is a tiny space of time in the grand scheme of the rest of my life. 

I am lucky. And "No thank you, I don't drink". Don't even think about it all that much any more.

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