On any pilgrimage, the return journey is as important as the long soulful slog to the holy destination. To reach the goal and savour it is all we focus on as we march imperceptibly onwards. But once there, we turn and retrace our steps, hurriedly and practically. We return to our ordinary lives and the journey back is a transition, a moving back from one reality to another; we move from the holy to the mundane in a little anti pilgrimage.
So on boxing day we headed South, past Kawakawa with its famous toilets. When I first met Clemency she sang in a folk group with Paula Feather. Paula's sister lived with Friedensreich Hundertwasser , the Austrian artist who once lived in Kawakawa and built the town's loos. With a close personal link like that (I'm astounded I wasn't mentioned in his will), of course we had to stop and take a look. I felt a little odd walking into a public toilet with a large and obvious camera, but the place was crowded and everyone was taking pictures with a variety of equipment, so I wasn't arrested. The toilets are wonderful, an object lesson in how public buildings could be if they weren't all built by people whose primary goal is usually to make them as ugly as they might possibly be. And it's interesting to see how Hudertwasser themes are permeating many other buildings in town. And how many people are going out of their way to stop and see them.
We drove on to Thames and stopped with Bev and David, friends from our days in Hamilton. Bev's daughters have known us and our kids forever and her youngest, Sarah, is a sort of de facto niece. (as Nick texted from Australia, "it's a real holiday now that Bev and Sarah are involved") Bev, David, Clemency and I walked into the Coromandel ranges for long enough to give Clemency, an inveterate tree hugger, some soul time with a kauri.
From there it was Tauranga, to meet a new/old friend. Katherine Steeds is a painter, a greenie, a fellow blogger and a long time correspondent. She has turned her lovely old Greerton home into a gallery. She lives there, amongst her beautiful, finely detailed, witty, clever, poignant paintings and from time to time has exhibitions where lucky people endowed with enough good taste and enough cash can walk off with one of her exquisite works. We camped beside the house and spent a lovely evening with simple but delicious food and complex but delicious conversation.
Hierarchy by Katherine Steeds. Acrylic on paper.From there, we drove to my niece's place just outside of trendy little Greytown in the Wairarapa. We took the scenic route through Napier. Toni has a small but quite beautiful house on 3.5 acres on which she keeps 2.5 horses and a couple of dogs. The weather was hot. Catherine fulfilled one of her holiday aims of having a little equine time. My sister Val was there with her husband Mike and we had gentle, happy couple of days. Toni's place is on the market, and I couldn't help thinking it would make a very good The Good Life sort of property if someone added a big vege garden and an orchard and a few chooks. Just right for someone like... oh, I don't know... a retired bishop for instance.
Note. Neither of these is Boulder Bay. These are the Abel Tasman. But they look sort of similar.
So then it was home. Through the Lewis. Across the plains. Over the Waitaki bridge and into Otago. The sun set, spectacularly, just as we left Canterbury. I was home in my own diocese. A promising year stretches ahead.
Red at night.