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New Zealand 1982 - continued



Tuesday 28th September 1982


Woken at 4.30 am by a helicopter.  Tea and toast for breakfast and rush off to catch the company bus along with dozens of other ‘Gorilla’s’ from all parts of the planet half of them Maori.  Back by 4.30pm.  Wander up and down Main Street Whangarei looking for life but dead by 5.30pm, decide to catch a film in the local cinema, I counted 7 people in the gloom and 16 mice.  The film was a bit steamy ‘Body Heat’ a new release but the mice were unmoved.



Wednesday 29th September 1982


Tea and toast for breakfast at 6.30am, in the office by 8am for ‘Induction’ Photo and I.D. Card.  Issued with hard hat, steel capped boots and a red Swandri waterproof – never had this before in a drawing office! Presumably I have to go outside at some stage and risk getting swallowed up in some vessel or man eating tundish.  It was wet and cold that day so useful kit anyway.  A warm bath back at the hotel, a phone call from Allan Dickinson the manager at Hallam Eames to arrange another interview down in New Plymouth made things just a tad brighter.  Looking around for alternative cheaper accommodation but after visiting a few ‘doss houses’ decided to stay put in the Hotel.


Thursday 30th September 1982


Breakfast at 5.30, this time chatting to ‘The Big Maori’ - incredible character.  Rickety old bus to work, almost back in the old routine – more pipes to draw! Been here a week now, feels like a month.  Look at yet another grotty hotel for $75 a week all in – poke it.  Meal back at The Whangarei, Chili Con Carne, swede, cabbage and roast potatoes – very Gourmet!


Friday 1st October 1982


5.30am T and T for breakfast  bus to work.  Boring?


Issued with bicycle in order to ride round the site checking on rattling pipes, decide to cycle round the whole site including the port facilities – fixed the rattling pipes – on the drawing board.  Rumour spreading that the Unions are about to call a strike.  Fortunately I have the shared use of a company car so drive back in to Whangarei  only to find that Friday night is Booze Night and the hotel staff have abandoned the place to the drunkards, cans and glasses litter the stairway to the bedrooms – animals – decide not to join in!


Saturday 2nd October 1982


Woken by ‘noises’ from the room next door - very thin walls!  Took a stroll around Whangarei checking to see what it had to offer, not a lot as the shops seem to open and close when the shopkeeper’s feel like it, manage to grab a pot of marmalade before the door closes.  Found a full size replica of ‘The Bounty’ moored in the harbour, wonder what Fletcher Christian and his crew would have thought of Whangarei – probably mutiny!

5pm. The bar back at the hotel is still full of drunks littering the place but comforted by a dose of ‘Porridge’ with Ronnie Barker and friends on the TV.  My car sharer Derek returns with the car and car keys for my turn tomorrow, on the way to the gas station to tank up I am stopped by the police and asked for driving license, I.D. and breathalysed, comforting to know that they are on the ball!  I plan to drive 100 miles down to Auckland tomorrow – just for the ride?


Whangarei Hotel I think all these old facades have disappeared now.  Probably called Yummy Roast or something.


Just dropped out of my brief case so all this must be true!

Sunday 3rd October 1982


Hotel staff not too happy about me spreading my own marmalade on my toast at breakfast also complaining about my request for breakfast 10 minutes early.  Hey ho!  On the road by 7.30 am, sunny but cold, pleasant drive down to Auckland, pop another CV into the letter box for another job in Gisborne out on the east coast.  Drop in to see Eric and family and lend a hand knocking a few nails in his house down on ‘the section’.  Set off back to Whangarei at 6.30, not looking forward to Monday morning, tired, drive through unimpressive towns and villages littering the highway – what am I doing here?  Quit moaning and enjoy.


Monday 4th October 1982


Breakfast and bus ride with ear banging music is not the best start to any week but no option.  New intake of hotel ‘guests’ make the weekend crowd look positively saintly.  Decide to redouble efforts to find a decent Motel after work.   Barbara from Kiwiland shows me round her rooms after work – very impressed – with the rooms!  - not bad at $100 a week.  Might move in next week.


Tuesday 5th October 1982


Atmosphere at work already going downhill despite trying to stay positive.  A call from Allan Dickinson from Hallam Eames confirms all expenses paid trip down to New Plymouth for an interview next Friday – yippee!  Telephone home to check on Marcia and the children, they all sound like they want to join me but I don’t tell them that that is not likely to happen – I’ve already decided that New Zealand  is not for us.  I also call Gerald, now Gerald is an old neighbour of Marcia’s from her childhood and has lived in New Zealand for years and he also sends us a calendar every Christmas, he is a builder, single and I’ve never met him but promised to visit him down in Tokaanu next Friday (as well), it’s about 260 miles south in the middle of North Island on Lake Taupo.  Had a glass of wine or two.  Chat to some guy in the bar who has a small drawing office in Whangarei and may have some work for me for evenings/weekends.   Radio blaring from the next room all night.


Wednesday 6th October 1982


Book air-taxi for Friday with a local travel agent from Whangarei to Auckland and then Air New Zealand flight to New Plymouth, feeling a lot better about New Zealand not to say elated.  Difficult not to talk to somebody, anybody and share my good news but keep schtum as I'll probably be handing in my notice on Monday. Wander along the glittering beach at lunchtime considering my options.  What a lovely place!  Back at the hotel I ate too much, again, I’ll blame it on the ridiculous portions of mutton and swede offered at the carvery.  One thing they don’t have on the menu is New Zealand Lamb, believe it or not; they export all the poor little critters which leaves them with Mutton and Swede, Mutton and Chips, Mutton Pie with gravy or custard to choice!


Thursday 7th October 1982


The mournful wail of the distant  freight trains in NZ are the same as in the USA and wake you at 4.45am but I don’t care everything is rather rosy at the moment and I’m feeling excited about the prospect for tomorrow.  My request for a knock on the door at 5.15 am is on time as it seems everyone else in the hotel has made the same request, too bad for those that haven’t as its mayhem.  Two eggs, bacon and full English for breakfast (or full NZ) at 5.30am and off to work in a bit of a dream.  Arrange a day off for tomorrow which requires a ridiculous amount of form filling but job done.  Another visit to the ‘pictures’ in the evening to see ‘Last Tango in Paris’.  Two letters from home await me at the hotel – can life be better than this?  Yes – tomorrow will be even better.  Posted an anniversary card for our 16th anniversary on the 15th – thoughtful?


Friday 8th October 1982


The big day.  Breakfast at 5.30am followed by a change into interview suit – impressive – well I think so!  Taxi arrives on time at 6.30 am for ride to airport, weather sparkling and first blue skies for weeks.  A Cherokee Six taxi’s across from the flying club and the pilot invites me in to the co-pilot’s seat – well he would wouldn’t he?  Two smartly dressed females in the back introduce themselves; one of them recognises my voice as she booked my ticket at the travel agents and her husband works at the Refinery – whoops!  A smooth flight down to Auckland with Exec-Air but the Captain doesn’t need any help.   Meet Allan Dickinson and his business partner Tom Highams with his wife Tricia in a bar in the airport; they are off for a trip to Singapore.  They are not Kiwi’s but they love NZ and wouldn’t live anywhere else – maybe I’ve missed something.


They tell me that this interview is purely a formality and wish me a pleasant trip down to the site in New Plymouth – lovely people.  So far I’ve only been exposed to a rather rougher strata of hard men, heavy drinkers and Maori’s although the Maori’s are very pleasant people and harmless when inebriated.   Board a 727 to New Plymouth and engage in a conversation with Karen who informs me about all the new strains of Venereal Disease which are invading NZ – amongst other things.  The approach into the airport at New Plymouth offers magnificent views of Mount Egmont in Taranaki State Park although now it seems they call it Mount Taranaki in Egmont National Park.  Met by Dave Morris who works in the local Hallam Eames Office he treats me to lunch in a particularly nice restaurant – things are looking up.  New Plymouth looks and feels inviting.  I have arranged to pick up a Hertz rental car (a big Datsun Automatic) as I have decided to drive back to Whangarei – about 350 miles after visiting Gerald.  Dave drives me out to the site to meet Terry Sherry, a yank, who is in charge of the Quantity Surveying Office my job this time will be on the Q.S. side monitoring all the materials – much more interesting (I hope).  After a brief interview and a look at the 1/33 and a third model of the site all parties seem satisfied that my qualifications and experience are just what they are looking for – fortunately.  The job will probably last 3 months or so taking over from 3 students who are off to college.   The site is a green field site (not built yet) Gas to Gasoline Plant near Waitara about 5 miles up the coast.  Seems like there is another Union Meeting or something as very few seem to be on site – ominous?  Only the money to sort out at a later stage.  Dave drives me back to the Hertz office to pick up my rental car, say goodbye to Dave who is a very pleasant and helpful Kiwi and I’m free!


It’s 4.15pm so off with the tie and braces and set about sorting out the route over to Tokaanu (no GPS or mobile phone remember) which can be a long drive around the mountains, about 200 miles, or 150 miles over the mountain road – I choose the mountain road which was probably the wrong decision as the surface was loose shale and precipitous for most of the way and not another vehicle to be seen.   Scenic drive nevertheless, passing through ‘Thermal Reserves’ oozing steam and sulphurous fumes also littered with sheep and dead possums.  Long descent down the other side of the hills.  Arrive at a telephone box in Tokaanu and try to call Gerald as believe it or not I don’t have his street address, only his PO Box Number, silly me!  It’s now 7.45 in the evening and I’m feeling a bit knackered after a full day.  No answer from Gerald.  The only place that seems to have life is The Delta Restaurant, must be somebody there who knows where he lives?  No, but they recognise my description as ‘The Long Haired Pom’ but nobody knows where he lives.  Have a rather nice meal of a large Perch in the restaurant while the manager offers to ring around to try to locate ‘The Long Haired Pom’.  No luck, he’s probably hiding, forgotten I’m coming or disappeared for the weekend.  It’s now 11pm and getting really tired and the local Motels are full so contemplating a night in the car.  A big fat Mamma in one of the Motels senses my plight and suggests I try the Fisherman’s Lodge a few miles out of town.  One final call to The Long Haired Pom and take the last room in the Fisherman’s  Lodge.   Should have stayed in New Plymouth. (or New Malden?).

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Whangarei Airport

Your carriage awaits!

Auckland Approach

Probably built up a bit by now.

Made it to Tokaanu but not sure why!

Thursday 7th January 2016


I’d just like to pause for a mo’ and reflect on this riveting story, which I promise will get even more riveting, and will test my powers of description and vocabulary to the limit.  We all have a special day, don’t we?  Well tomorrow is Elvis’s special day and today is my special day.  For those of you who are keen, sharp eyed, blog readers you will know that already so I will admit that today I have reached the grand old age of 27½ (but the half is half a century).  Lucky?  A happy birthday to you when it comes and to Elvis for tomorrow and thanks for reading my blog.   Love and hugs,  Bob. (Fellow Lover of Rock and roll, pop, rockabilly, country, blues, gospel, soul, rhythm and blues - not forgetting Pompey!)


Saturday 9th October 1982


Slept very well, so well I haven’t a clue where I am for a good 15 minutes after waking except that I must be in a forest somewhere as the birdsong is deafening and reminds me of home.  Maybe I’m in Oxshott Woods!  Bloody cold morning so why get up? Why should I?  I’ve decided to forget trying to find The Long Haired Pom and head back to Whangarei, (at a leisurely pace) a distance of about 300 miles via Rotorua Thermal Reserves and Auckland.    But first things first, ablutions, the hot water is coming out of the cold tap and the cold water is coming out of the hot tap but this is New Zealand!

Breakfast at 7am, alone, except for a waitress who has had no training in breakfast etiquette or customer satisfaction.  I’m not one to expect much in the way of service but I don’t expect to get my own cutlery and tea cup.  Too much breakfast – again, well it was $5 for all you can eat!


On the road by 8.15am, head up the east side of Lake Taupo on Highway 5 towards Rotorua, beautiful drive, scenic forests, spring flowers, lush vegetation.  Take a detour to The Lady Knox Geyser which is in a Thermal Reserve near Wai-O-Tapu.  The Lady Knox Geyser is renowned for its regularity, it blasts steam 20m skywards at 10.15am precisely every day, it is worth the detour if you happen to be in the area.  On the Saturday morning I was there, there was no one to be seen – no car parking attendants, nobody to collect admission fee and no tourists so my wander around the area was like being on another planet.  Menacing looking sulphurous craters, boiling mud pools, gurgling ‘cooking pots’, spectacular coloured encrustations, I am enveloped in Sulphurous fumes and stench and the arrow indicating the route to take is across a dodgy looking plank floating on a thin crust of red custard, the end of the plank is not visible through the sulphurous fumes and steam, might never be seen again.  By now the sun is adding to the heat and spectacle.  Fortunately the plank leads me safely to firmer ground.


Head on to Geyser Land Rotorua, a much more ‘touristy’ spectacle of bigger and better ‘cooking pots’ inviting you in for a swim or a hot mud bath, steam once again firing up your trouser leg from all directions.  Incredible power from the depths, endless power and pressure.  There are many Thermal Power Stations generating electricity in the area, I wonder if these are classified as renewable or green energy?  Drive on into Downtown Rotorua which has a mini Las Vegas feel about it, stop for a Big Mac and a strawberry shake.  Drive on towards Hamilton feeling a bit peuky – never learn.  Nevertheless a ‘Devon’ cream tea in Hamilton seems to settle the situation.


Now getting tired and really shouldn’t be driving, head and neck ache aggravating the problem but a long way to go to Auckland.  Finally reach Auckland and pop in to see Eric and family, fortunately he insists I stay for the night.  Thanks again to Eric and family.

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Cooking Pot.

Hot bath.

Solid waterfall.


Central heating pipes.

Endless Power?  Incredible.


The sinter encrusted flat below is so named for the coloured pools which frequently change position and the chemical deposits that streak its surface.  Colours -

Orange - Antimony

Green/Yellow - Sulphur, Arsenic

Dark Grey - Sulphurous Mud

On the right is The Champagne Pool, the overflow from which is forming the terraces on the left.  Champagne Pool occupies a crater formed by a steam explosion which occured about 900 years ago.  The clay and block material on which you are standing was ejected by that eruption.

Sunday 10th October 1982


Wake up still with the headache, must be the old neck problem.  Thanks and apologies to Eric for not stopping but need to press on the last 100 miles or so back to Whangarei and ‘home’ before incapacitation sets in and before I squash any more possums - sorry.  A relaxing bath and clean laundry back at the hotel go some way to getting me back to feeling normal.  I’ve arranged to move in to Kiwiland Motel tonight but looks like I’ll have to cancel as Allan Dickinson calls to confirm $20.50 an hour plus $20 a day expenses start Monday week down in New Plymouth - fantastic.  Barbara at Kiwiland has forgotten about my reservation anyway so no worries!  Another gourmet meal of sweet and sour chicken, swede, cauliflower and roast potatoes, headache back with avengeance.


Monday 11th October 1982


5.15 am call comes about 2 hours early, or that’s what it feels like.  Company bus fails to turn up so lucky to get a lift to work with John but lying prostrate in the boot again does nothing for the neck problem.  Not feeling too good either about handing in my notice but Hey ho! There are some things that don’t feel right and some things that do – this feels right.  Rob the agent calls to complain about me leaving already and him losing his commission and wants my expenses back – sorry Rob.  Agents have to take that sort of thing – they are thick skinned.  However it will be the day I leave NZ before I receive my cheque for work done so far – a grudging gesture even then.


Manage to book a session with an Irish Physio to sort my neck problem but all I get is some nasty neck graunching sounds, a burnt neck from a hot water bottle and a less than friendly fare well . Somehow the sandstorm outside helps to relieve the situation.   My view of NZ is going downhill fast but maybe uphill from here?


Tuesday 12th October 1982


Another day in the office trying to keep a low profile and not upset anybody else as I need to get my time sheets signed by the boss, which he does, reluctantly but mumbles a comment that sounds like ‘he’s been paying for my holiday’ – my diary records my real feelings.  Call Hertz to book a car for the drive back down to Auckland and then book the flight down to New Plymouth on Saturday.  Letters from my children await back at the hotel  - a bit choked – seriously consider forgetting New Plymouth and NZ altogether and start the journey back home on Saturday instead.  Write a long letter home and asleep by 9.30.


Wednesday 13th October 1982


A brilliant day – but I don’t know it yet.  Mansoor signs my expense sheet, beginning to like him and the job!  Visit the Northland Centre after work to see a Country and Western show which blows me away, the kids in the show transform my view of NZ – NZ is great.  Back at the hotel I meet Colin an auctioneer/dealer who also impresses me with his enthusiasm for everything – lot of nice people about – maybe NZ is not so bad after all.  Maybe it’s me that is screwed up.


Thursday 14th October 1982


Not a lot to report except that I collect my cheque for expenses, a few more circuits around the site on my bike in the warm sunshine, a few beers with the lads, back to the hotel for Oysters, Steak and Kidney Pie, Swede and Roast Potatoes, start to pack my case as this will be the last night in this place and finish the evening in a warm bath considering flying instead of driving down to New Plymouth tomorrow.  What a prospect?


Friday 15th October 1982


Today is our 16th wedding anniversary and I haven’t forgotten – but not much I can do about it. I shan’t be sorry about the fact that I have just spent the last night in a particularly uncomfortable bed also the breakfast is particularly yucky this morning.  One more bus ride to the site in the pouring rain – but I don’t care.  Some of the lads invite me down to the pub for a farewell drink which I am surprised about as I don’t know any of that well but a nice gesture.  Hand in my free issue gear and try not to look too happy when 4.30pm arrives.  Bus back to Whangarei to pick up an expensive rental car, a Mitsubishi Mirage.  Return to the hotel to pick up my gear but on entering my room I discover that all of my gear has disappeared and been replaced by somebody else’s gear scattered all around – a touch annoyed but I suppose it’s my fault for not clearing the room out before I left for work at 6am.  My gear has been roughly packed and left at reception and the receptionist is off hand when I request somewhere to get a wash and shave.  Jump in the car with my gear and spend a long time trying to work out if I’ve left anything behind and whether or not I am doing the right thing.  Yes.


Hit the road at 5.45pm heading for Auckland and maybe a new life. I encounter many vehicles without lights with signs on saying ‘Disabled Driver’ – wonder if being disabled entitles you to drive around with no lights in NZ!  Snapper and Chips at some road side café before arriving at Eric’s for the night – good night’s sleep.

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Camper van New Zealand style, Maori meeting house and Maori Carving

Saturday 16th October 1982


Breakfast with Eric’s children tucking in to a box of Roses Chocolates! – hope they are OK.  Eric says goodbye and heads off to his ‘section’ (or ‘siction’ as they say in Kiwi).  Thanks to Eric and family for putting me up, again, and head down to Auckland Airport for the flight down to New Plymouth – getting a bit concerned about cash as haven’t been paid yet.  Smooth flight to New Plymouth pick up another rental car to check out the area as I haven’t a clue where I will be staying tonight –  'Cheyenne, Cheyenne. Where will you be staying tonight'!


At least the sun is shining – could be an omen?  Where now?  Drive around New Plymouth which initially looks welcoming but most of the shops seem to be closed on a Saturday afternoon?  Drive a bit further North to a place called Waitara which will be nearer to where I will be working, first impressions are reminiscent of a town out west (USA) with board walks and a Main St with a derelict Gold Rush town feel about it – the shops are closed.  Back to New Plymouth this time to a pleasant area called Inglewood and Egmont Valley – obviously a touch more up market but no Motels.


Back to Waitara, weather turned cold and miserable which reflects my mood.  Check out the local deserted beach which is a beautiful shade of oily black, obviously been deposited there some years ago by the local volcano towering on the horizon (Mount Taranaki).  Collect a sample of black sand in an old film canister.


Reluctantly check in at The Waitara Hotel at the corner of Main St, the residents are loud and could be an issue, the meal at the hotel does nothing to enhance its reputation.  Not much to do except try the bars up and down Main St for a beer and maybe some interesting conversation but most of them are too far ‘gone’ to converse except for one young lad who seems to pick up on the fact that I am missing my family – wonder why?  The hotel room is particularly poky with very thin walls so if you are unlucky enough to get a moaning drunk puking up all night in the next room it is not very pleasant also my room stinks of half burnt paraffin but not sure where it’s coming from.  The moaning drunk suddenly burst into hysterical laughter.  I have now decided to start my journey back home to Cobham in the morning.  My view of NZ is now at its lowest level – I think.


Sunday 17th October 1982


Pack case as I don’t intend to spend another night in this place.  I decline breakfast (which for me is unheard of) as the moaning drunk is now eagerly tucking into a ‘full English’ – feel sick.  Decide to drive off without paying the bill but conscience kicks in before I leave town and return to pay the bill.  Where now?  Visit the local airport to check flights to anywhere but not a soul to be seen.  Drive to ‘Motonui’ which is where I will be working, chat to a jolly Yorkshireman on the gate who goes some way to restoring my faith in human nature.  Perhaps I’ll stay?  Drive round New Plymouth trying to find a decent Motel with vacancies, find one called the Timandra Unity Motel which looks more like a mobile home park so decide to book in at $26 a night plus meals, bit pricy but quite like the quiet location.  Drive around checking out the local area (again) discover some nice parks and then a longer drive up to Mount Taranaki Park Visitor Centre, very impressive but again not a soul about.  Where the hell is everybody?  Contact Dave Morris as he is my liaison person for the job, he kindly invites me over to meet his family for the evening which is spent chatting mostly about England.  Drive back to my ‘unit’ which I discover is perched on the edge of a cliff with great views vertically down, I hadn’t noticed before – hope it’s not earthquake time.  Looking forward to tomorrow and doing some work.


Saturday 9th January 2016


Celebrated Elvis’s birthday (and mine) last night at The Bulls Head Barnes, The Fallen Heroes blew everybody away, shame you missed them but you can enjoy HERE.


Monday 18th October 1982


Lovely to lie in until 7am, breakfast left on a tray outside the door, grab it before the possums wake up.  First morning on the job and already ‘comfortable’ taken out to visit two companies who are fabricating sections of pipe for the plant, this will be my job as it is a QS role (Quantity Survey) and involves checking on suppliers, costing and keeping an eye on ‘the books’.  Back ‘home’ to a nice meal, received another large cheque for expenses.  It’s cold and windy.  Put an ad’ in the local paper ‘English Gentleman seeks accommodation’, well it sounds good.  Still struggling to come to terms with my new situation but don’t know why.

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Main Street Waitara on a busy Saturday afternoon!

Large pipe arriving on site on a 160 wheel trailer.

Tuesday 19th October 1982


Fortunately my cabin stayed perched on the cliff edge again, try not to look over the hedge as there is nothing there except a 500ft void.  The work I am doing is tedious (already) but it is better than drawing lines and circles.  Wondering how I will cope without the rented car as I have to return it tomorrow.  A phone call to Dave to see if I can wangle a permanent rent.  I do have the use of a company vehicle for running around during the day so perhaps I shouldn’t be too greedy.  Check out a house for rent at $100 a week, includes bed linen, cutlery, stereo record player and fully furnished – can’t believe it.  Back to the edge of the cliff and in bed by 8pm.  Cosy?


Wednesday 20th October 1982


Two answers to my ad’; visit one of them on my ‘rounds’ but turns out to be disgusting, filthy, smelly but cheap, perhaps not.  Hoping to work over the holiday (Labour Day) weekend but disappointed as it’s not to be, not going to make much on this trip.  Phone home in response to a letter from Marcia – she puts on a brave face.  


Thursday 21st October 1982


No deal on rental car from Dave so trying to work out how to exist without a car.  Discover that the company are not prepared to pay Hallam Eames for my first two weeks as they say I am ‘learning’ the job – cheeky b………s – decide to quit tomorrow.  Check flights and times with a local travel agent who confirms that there are seats available.  Sorry NZ.  Another response to my ad’ for accommodation which sounds worth checking out, if this no good decide then goodbye NZ.


32 Ihaia Street, Waitara turns out to be a tin roofed bungalow (which is standard in NZ) owned by middle aged Dorothy, or Dotty, as she prefers to be called, with a potty cat that goes by the name of Kit (Kiwi for cat).  Dotty tells me I can have the use of her motor bike as well, all in, including meals for $50 a week, done, move in tomorrow – give NZ another chance.


Pay the bill back at the edge of the cliff, phew, $194, daylight robbery and pack my case, hopefully for the last time.


Friday 22nd October 1982


Last breakfast on the edge of the cliff to the sound of loud adverts from next doors radio for ‘The very best Cows Tits you can buy’.  Today I have to plan carefully as I have to drop my gear at my new ‘home’, drop the car back at the airport, collect some photos and, Oh yes!  Do some work.  Then quit NZ, but hang on a bit I can’t go without my photos so I’ll stay.


Not too keen on the feeling of being without wheels so join the line for the company mini-bus after work back to town but the driver obviously objects to ‘contractors’ riding the company bus but reluctantly relents – miserable sod.


Walk back to my new ‘home’ and to Dotty who has cooked a reasonable meal of powdered milk amongst the fumes of a stinking cat – well it tasted alright!  Two letters from home cheer me up no end, a bright and breezy one from my eldest daughter and one from Marcia who sounds OK but the letter is at least a week old and I am wondering if I should catch the next flight, again.  It’s damn cold again and the windows are wide open which helps with cat smells but does nothing for your core temperature.  The cat, fast asleep, falls off the cold radiator.


Saturday 23rd October 1982


Woke up in new ‘digs’ feeling a lot better after a good night’s sleep, what have I been moaning about?  You’ve got money in the bank haven’t you?  No.  You’ve got a good job haven’t you? Yes. Dotty cooks a nice breakfast while the cat is strolling around the kitchen working surfaces looking for any scraps.  Stroll around Waitara collecting thoughts, another visit to the oily black beach strewn with driftwood, select an interesting looking piece for a souvenir.  Stroll back ‘home’ via the golf club and a shop that happens to be open on a Saturday morning and buy a bottle of wine.  To hell with the expense.  Spend the rest of the day in Dotty’s deck chair in the garden writing a letter home.  Contemplating borrowing Dotty’s motor bike but maybe leave that till later – quite like that idea.


Keith, one of the guys at work has very kindly offered to pick me up and spend the evening at his place with his young wife Kathy.  They are lovely Kiwi’s and tell me that they much prefer Dunedin on the South Island – so it’s not just me!  Maybe I should try the South Island?  Howling wind and rain all night testing the corrugated tin roof panels.


Sunday 24th October 1982


Lie in till 9pm – bliss?  Can’t find any bread so stroll round to the deli’ for a loaf in between the cold showers, not feeling too good without wheels.  Only one bus out of town today and probably doesn’t return.  Dotty kindly drives me round Waitara introducing me to some of her friends.  Dotty is a middle aged Kiwi who has had a tough life which shows, she goes to ‘bid at tin past tin ivery night usually with the cit wripped around her nick’ – but she’s lovely.  Dotty invites her friends round for a game of ‘Euchre’ some card game which produces lots of giggles but not much conversation.  


Not sure why I make notes of what we had for ‘tea’ but tonight it is White Bait Entre, Chicken and Spuds followed by pancakes cream and passion fruit.  Still very cold howling wind and rain and the cat falls off the cold radiator again.


Continued on PAGE 7

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