On Saturday we looked at a bike in Morrinsville. Prior to buying his current bike, we made a trip to Auckland, and when we stopped in a mall somewhere on the other side of the harbour bridge, I ended up buying some boots in a sale. So when we stopped in the main street of Morrinsville, right outside a shoe shop having a 40% off sale, it seemed like there was a tradition, or perhaps a ritual, to follow, and I bought another pair of boots!
Afterwards we visited our friends Eileen and Colin for a cuppa and a chat. Always good to spend time with one of my oldest friends.
On Sunday Mac wanted to look at another bike in Franklin. I wasn't going to go but hadn't been to Port Waikato for years. The drive up through Naike and Tuakau to Waiuku was glorious.It had been raining and was still slightly misty but the sun shone through, and every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree, sparkled, turning the countryside into a magical fairy land. The sun, the sight of new lambs, and the flocks of turkeys spreading their tail feathers wide and turning slowly in mating displays all signaled 'spring is coming'!
After looking at the bike, we had lunch at Tuakau, then crossed back over the Tuakau bridge to head for Port Waikato.
This area always brings back memories, for Mac, of the summer following School Certificate (Year 11) when he and his friend adventured from Hamilton to Port Waikato in a dinghy with a small outboard motor, camping on the edge of the river at nights.
Port Waikato is typical kiwi batch town, complete with old tractors used for taking boats down to the ramp for launching.
At Port Waikato the rain smashed down and the wind rocked our car as we watched the huge seas. The rain stopped for a few minutes and once I managed to force the door open and get out, the air was wonderful. I do so love our wild west coast beaches. As at Raglan, the seas are eating into the land - this car park area is now fenced off as half of in has broken away and fallen into the sea.
Heading home, we went down through the back country on the Port Waikato - Waikaretu Road. It is how I think of farm country: there is a sense of wildness, of hard work, isolation, and I love the feeling of returning to childhood journeys to visit relatives out the back of Ohura, Whanganui, and the East Cape and Gisborne.
I love the rock formations which give such character to the area.
Too many photos of rocks? Never! I love them!
Even the valleys are pretty rugged, the stream edges cut down into the ground, and the cabbage trees dragged inland by the wind.
An abandoned tractor and trailer disappears under the kikuyu grass.
Out here they still have the 'mail' boxes we had when I was growing up in the country. We had our groceries, bread, meat, chook food, everything we needed, delivered by the same vehicle that brought the mail, so a large box was required - almost a small shed, really.
This dilapidated shed had some kind of machinery rusting away inside - an old sawmill perhaps.
Eventually we came to the 'Nikau Cave and Cafe' and stopped for coffee. We did not feel inclined, now or ever, to visit the caves which involved making your way along a stream bed and crawling through narrow places, but the cafe was lovely, and had a little art gallery upstairs.
Further along the road there was a stretch of road lined with trees with lichen dangling from their branches like a scary forest scene in a fantasy story.
And then there were the flock of about 50 cockatoos - most flew off screaming angrily as I got out of the car to take photos.
Signs warned 'No Trespassers - No Hunting' but we saw so many wild goats that the bush must be under serious threat.
Then around another corner and Mt Karioi welcomed us home.
Home: where Mac lit the fire, while I made vegetable soup for dinner, and sliced up grapefruit and lemons to soak ready to make marmalade tomorrow. Not a dramatically exciting weekend, but interesting, peaceful and somehow very satisfying.