Beaches and baches (CONTAINS VIDEO)

Trip Start Oct 21, 2006
Trip End Mar 21, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Thursday, October 26, 2006

I stayed up till about 1:45 yesterday morning watching the cricket, so we sleep in a little this morning, until my sister Jess wakes us up with a phone call to ask us what we are doing today. "Well, we were going to sleep in", I mutter drowsily.

After a slow start to the morning, we drive off to a place called Waikawa, an hour and a bit out of town, where my family used to have a beach house, or 'bach' as they are called here.

My childhood memories of Waikawa were of running down 50-metre high sand dunes, lazy weekends of reading and exploration, Scrabble with the parents in the evening (no TV!) and then, as I got older, long weekends of food and drink with friends. My parents sold our bach about 10 years ago because we didn't use it quite so much and when we did there was so much maintenance required that there was no time to enjoy it. The small settlement of Waikawa looks pretty similar these days, despite lots of marram grass planted in the sand to stop the dunes from blowing into the houses.

Jane and I walk through the forest and across the great desert-like expanse that separates two series of sand dunes, over the last hill and down to the vast, rough, beautiful and completely unoccupied beach. There are no other people on the beach at all, so we spend a good hour or so just wandering along, enjoying the moment.

On the way home we stop at Lindale Farm, a half-touristy complex where you can watch sheep shearing, buy sheep-related products and eat cheese and ice-cream. We do the latter.

Our evening engagement is with my auntie Lindsay, who has a delightful little house with quaint knick-knacks, tasteful decoration and a very homely feel. She cooks us a delicious risotto dinner and we have a nice time. The only problem is that my cat allergy is angrily inflamed by the presence of a long-haired feline. I start off slowly with a quiet sneeze but, before long, I am reduced to a puffy-faced, runny-nosed, wheezing mess of a man, either sneezing or blowing my nose. At one stage I counted 28 consecutive sneezes without more than five seconds between them. Naturally this doesn't make for very exciting conversation, except about allergies, so we have to push off earlier than intended.
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