181031-So That’s What The Helmet Is For

I ate dinner at the pub next door. The TV displayed an international sporting event between New Zealand and Jamaica, but I couldn’t make out the sport. It was like, but clearly not, basketball. I eventually puzzled the sport as net ball. No backboard. Polite interaction at the net. Different scoring for baskets. A reminder that Kiwis speak English but I am not at home.

I returned to my room, aka event hall. I started a wood fire and settled in as storms raged outside. It reminded me of the time I tucked myself into the common area at a campground near Athy, Ireland to wait out the rain. When you only have DVDs of Talledega Nights, Dodge Ball, and Bad Santa, which would you watch?

As the storm settled out, winds rippled the metal on the roof, and the building rocked. Not winds – earthquake! 6.2 in nearby Napier. Only the night before Martin and I had discussed the Napier quake of 1931 that leveled the town !

I took a late start in the morning, successfully outwaiting the rain.

As I cycled along, minding my own business, something slammed into my helmet. I looked about, bewildered. No trees overhead, no people in sight. Then I spotted the culprit, a magpie who had decided I had come too close!

A couple of km down the road, barking dogs threatened from behind their fence. Then one slipped the fence! Loud shouting drove him off.

Nearing the campground in Porangahau, I decided to press on to the tavern in Wimbledon (after calling to confirm their existence and availability). Another blog had suggested that they offered accommodation. I’d made slow progress the last few days, and the campground itself was out of the way. Forecasts called for rain, so I preferred shelter.

On the way to Wimbleton I passed Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, the place with the longest name in the world! I had first learned of it doing Red Cross radio work practicing the phonetic alphabet. The instructors  kept threatening us with needing to radio someone with that place name. Like normal New Zealand Maori names weren’t enough trouble already!

This tavern didn’t measure up to the night before. They offered tent space in the tavern side yard, with a tattered outdoor men’s bathroom with no shower – only a slight step above wild camping. The only cost of camping was dinner and a drink at the tavern.

Eating dinner at the tavern I met Cahoo, who recently moved here to Wimbleton. He’s working as a general handyman and plans to work his way up next to a junior sheepherder. I had spoken earlier to Odette when I confirmed the existence of the tavern. She and her family purchased the tavern only the month before, a major life change from their former life in Auckland. Afterwards I chatted with local farmers, receiving advice on the roads ahead, before retiring to my tent.

Forecasts predicted wind and storms overnight into mid-morning, so a slow start tomorrow.


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