Saturday, 9 March 2013

Third Time Lucky

It has been very hard to find a host because a lot of people have discovered wwoofing, as well as escaping to New Zealand for the winter! I had a few places that appealed to me, such as, Coromandel Mussel Kitchen. The Coromandel coast is famous for the green lipped mussel, perna canalicula, which is known for its beneficial effects on arthritis. The place was fully booked for weeks. Then there was also Driving Creek Cafe in the hippie Coromandel Town. Full up, again. Mana Retreat Centre was also full. Naomi at the Herbal Dispensary was also booked. Even tried B and B's, no go.

John to the rescue. This was my third time to stay with him. The first time was in 2000! He met me off the bus from Auckland with a fag on the go and I thenremembered just how strong his Liverpool accent was, even after over 30 years. His wife died two years ago, she was an even larger than life figure than he is.

Most of my stay was concerned with helping to prepare and repaint his 100-year old house, which was transported some 100 miles to its present site 15 years ago.

The rear of the rimu wooded house has wonderful views across from the Coromandel mountains towards the Haraki plains,which are full of dairy and beef farms.

View looking south

The local town of Thames which formerly had been the centre of an 1860's gold rush area The yellow leaved areas in the picture are English privet which have become a pernicious weed in the highly mineralised soils of NZ

A view to the south west. There has been a drought since Christmas!

Part of the rear of the house which i had scraped. Lovely working in the fresh air every day. I need to be careful on my return as my coloured skin could draw attention to me

Up the gravel road to the east shows pinus radiata the favoured tree crop for forestry of the region on the left of the picture

Houses here are far larger than in the UK. This is part of the east-west line

View looking east towards the Coromandel Range

My new friend, Poppy, the Staffordshire, who follows me everywhere faithfully 

Moon rise over the pine covered mountains, which have lots of wild pig roaming them

A surreptitious pic taken in the local casino full of spaced out punters

Thames is now a quiet, small town compared to its gold mining past. Full of locally owned and run shops and coffee bars. I used to pop down for a coffee on my bike. Coffee is well-made here, as it is a very competitive market

Old fashioned shop fronts are comforting. So much better than a cloned town

I helped do night time deliveries of bread to supermarkets and cafes in the region. After delivering we had to stack the shelves with fresh bread and remove time dated ones 

Some of the pigs who were fed scraps, windfalls and waste. I had forgotten just how voraciously they eat, just like cyclists

Front view of part of the house, after repainting

Rob at the wheel of  the a/c bread delivery van

Just some of the bright, colourful flowers that are seen. The bright, intense sun makes the colours more vivid 

Some of the colourful blossoms to be seen

Early morning with mist on the plains

A sort of bougainvillea 

Some of John's steers

Beautiful and varied colourful flowers

One of the original buildings in Thames

A smallholding just down the road

One of our neighbours

Looking over to the north

Patches of yellow plantain on the hillside in Thames


 A ripening chestnut, of which there are a number

Red delicious, which is one of a number of varieties which includes, braeburn, bramaley, crab and cider 

One of the steers (castrated male for fattening)

View of Thames from the war memorial

A common trumpet shaped flower that grows along the roadside

Evening view showing the extent of the parched grass. Cattle and beef cattle prices have plumeted in this driest year ever. The opposite to the UK

John Martindale

My favourite colour, pink !