A New Year


We wake early to a beautiful sunrise and start to pack away the tents, ducking out of site when a van drives around on litter patrol, no one disturbs us and we ride out stopping to photograph the sea and a Maori compass on our way. We head back into Raglan for breakfast it’s still early so there is only one cafe open but its obviously good as all the locals are using it. It’s a good breakfast and Kev and I also buy a quiche slice for lunch. I ask Rhondda if she wants a go on the back and to my delight she replies ‘do I ever’, which means my ulterior motive of getting to ride her dirt bike has worked. I enjoy myself thoroughly and our route even traverses a small ford. I can quite see how she hoons round on it, it was the perfect size for me, however when Kev tried it he found he was way too big for all the controls.
We swap back and say a fond farewell to Rhondda who is continuing on to her brothers. It was good to travel with her for a while she has been such a good friend to us, we have only had a riding companion once before (Scott in Russia).
We turn right and head for Bridal Veil falls which is suitably impressive, a 55m drop which we can view from top, middle and bottom. We are kept away from the waters edge by a series of walkways there are submerged rocks and no swimming signs which is a shame as is it a hot day. Back at the car park the bike has aroused it’s usual interest and we hand out a few cards. We chat to a mother and daughter and find out the mothers journey here is as unusual as ours. On retirement the husband and wife took off in their yacht and going via the Caribbean it has taken them 18months to reach their daughter in NZ. We have a good chat and find life is not so vastly different as they have to sit in docks to clear customs etc. Heading back up the gravel roads towards Kawhia we hear the distinctive tones of a Guzzi coming the other way. Don flags us down and says “have you time for a chat I’ve just been reading about you in Gambalunga”.
Don is a Kiwi who moved to the UK in the 80′s when work was thin on the ground at home. He has only just returned to his roots, we have a good chat for about 20 minutes and are just of the verge of saying our goodbyes when an old BMW GS fairly loaded and two up pulls alongside. It turns out Penny and Igor are embarking on an overland journey of their own, this was a little test holiday on gravel etc. After finding out they will be back home when we intend to travel down their neck of the woods we agree to pop in to see them. We stop for lunch in Kawhia again this is off the tourist trail so we are a huge source of interest amongst the locals, one elderly lady is overjoyed to see how loaded up we are as her husband always complains when they travel by motorcycle about how much stuff she takes so she takes a photo saying he can’t complain again now.
We prise ourselves away before it becomes too late, we are heading for Hamilton and Gavin’s parents who have a workshop so we can catch up with a few minor niggley things. We are greeted like family the bike gets a space in the garage and Hilary cooks a superb meal one of many we enjoy. After a good chat we retire earlyish the early start this morning has caught up with us.
Next morning finds Kev and Doug in the garage machining up a new spacer for the back wheel and  making new isolator keys to replace the one welded from bolts in Kazahkstan I meanwhile have made good use of Hilary’s hospitality to catch up on washing etc. We air and dry the tent as well.
There is a good ebb and flow of people coming and going, friends, Gavin’s sister with husband and dog. All this socialising means the day disappears very quickly so I don’t get far with blogging etc. We also find Doug and Hilary are demi famous. Doug appearing in the latest King Kong remake as part of the orchestra that has to run for their lives (Doug plays the tuba) and Hilary is involved in chorus singing (she sings tenor) and her group Waikato Rivertones won the international championship in Nashville, Tennessee last year (2009) we see a video of the performance and can quite see how they won.
We have so lost track of dates and time, it is new years eve so we break out the beer and wine and raise a glass to the new year. It is not how we envisaged we would see it in when we left 8 months ago but we have long learnt to let things flow. We hear the fireworks and watch Auckland’s celebrations on the TV before retiring in the wee small hours.
A more respectable hour later we all emerge with Happy New Year greetings. Doug and Hilary have invited friends over for a daytime BBQ, out here they have two days holiday after new year so a lot of people have a social on new years day. The food is good, the company great, we even test our brains cells on a game that was devised by Hilary’s dad. It has been really great to have a day off and relax but tomorrow is back to the grindstone.
Kev has taken advantage of Doug’s workshop and is modifying the exhaust cooking pots to get more heat. I am uploading photos from his new camera to our site this has taken all morning so we ask if it’s OK to stay one more night. I am suffering a little cabin fever by now so Doug suggests Hamilton gardens and kindly takes us. To our surprise it is free to enter and wander around. They have designed various themed gardens English, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, American and Maori also herb etc each garden is carefully thought out and weaves seamlessly past the next without spoiling any views of what is to come. Native plants nestle amongst exotic, it is interesting to see what are almost weeds at home being carefully nurtured here to grow. Doug leads us out towards a building which houses a massive wooden picture scene. This is all separately hand carved by two people on a massive scale with approx 12 blocks of wood each containing exquisite carvings of flowers, sprites, birds, insects etc it is a absolute work of art. Doug knows one of the carvers as this is another of his many talents. We head back home via the three span bridge across the river and Doug tells us a stunt rider rode over the spans, he did get in trouble with the law for it but Kev and I are impressed he did it at all as there is no room for error and we would struggle to crawl over on our knees as standing and walking over looked too scary!
A quick detour to the shops for supplies and we head home. After finishing up in the garage we come up to the house to watch TV for a change before retiring for the night.
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