Another day in the future. Well that is how this trip was feeling with the time difference of +13 hours meaning we seemed to mostly be a day ahead of everyone at home. It was all so very strange.
We both had another good nights sleep and had another slow start to the day. We had declined the opportunity to purchase the continental breakfast from the owner and had bought a large bag of porridge from a supermarket the night before which we prepared in the microwave. I thought it was OK but Karen prefers her porridge out of a packet. She doesn’t seem to understand that it is the same porridge just measured out into packets and then the price inflated by a factor of about 20.
In many ways I don’t think I will ever understand women. Actually it maybe that it's just Karen that I will never understand. Devoted readers of this blog will recall that Karen has moaned about the lack of ‘down’ days on some of our more arduous trips. This time we have built some in and today was one of them. Now it was here she was unhappy about it as she felt she hadn’t travelled all this way to do nothing in particular. My head almost exploded at this as I calmly explained that we did have things to do today, its just they were more gentler and didn’t involve hours of driving or big ‘exciting’ things.
Today we were going to just stay in and around the town of Nelson. We started in the centre where to try and motivate Karen we went to the first Starbucks we had found in NZ. And they had Wifi which was a bonus because in our Motel the only complaint I have is that the Wifi is very hit and miss (actually more miss than hit). They hope to be put on fibre soon and they need it as it is woeful. So it was nice to be able to catch up on messages for a few minutes.
We then walked to the Cathedral Bell Tower which was an open modern tower with the bells visible. On the way back to the car we passed the ‘Two Dollar Store’ which Karen allowed me to investigate. I would rate it somewhere between Poundland at home & Dollar Tree in the US but with a NZ slant. I bought another cable for our phones as one of my Poundland ones was no longer working. I may take it back and complain when I get home.
The next part of my plan for the day was to walk up to what is known as the Centre of New Zealand. This is on top of Botanical Hill overlooking the centre of Nelson (which despite being named after Norfolks Horatio - does not appear to have any statue of him anywhere). It is considered to be the geograpical centre of NZ. There are lots of arguments of what that actually means and whether by any of the definitions it is actually the centre. It appears to be the spot that they originally took all the locations to the rest of NZ from. Anyhow it is not well sign posted and is at the top of a very very steep supposedly 20 minute trail. It is stupidly hard work to get up and we had to have a number of stops to catch our breathe.
The effort was worth it with splendid views all round looking down onto Nelson. There was a 360 degree vista and looking one way it looked like the Alps and I felt sure I could hear Julie Andrews singing as she climbed up one of the valleys.
We sat a while with several other people who were also all catching their breathe after the climb. We probably only sat about 15 minutes before making our way down but in that time both managed to get burnt by the sun without realising it at the time.
The walk down was a challenge as Karen struggled to cope with the sheer gradient and the strain it placed on her knee. I had to walk in front for much of the way so that she could put 2 hands on my shoulders to lean on as she walked. That put strain on my back but there was no other option for her to get down without doing herself some real damage. It took us as long to get down as it did to get up to the top.
At the bottom we sat and ate the rolls we had bought for our lunch whilst watching a local cricket match.
From here we drove the short distance to the Founders Park Heritage Centre. We parked up and wandered around deciding whether we thought it looked worth the $10 admission fee. We decided to waste more of the boys inheritance and went for it. I was delighted when they accepted our Student Cards and reduced the price to $7 each.
The Centre is an open air museum made up of individual old buildings that have been moved here and restored. It was all rather well done. Each building had exhibits or shops in them. We almost had the large site to ourselves. The trouble was the Centre was set up in the 1980’s by a group of eager volunteers. Many of the exhibits would have been state of the art then. The trouble is that nothing had been updated since. The gardens went kept neat and tidy but they needed to maintain everything else, including some of the heritage buildings themselves which were starting to look a little too authentically shabby in parts.
As I walked around enjoying the Centre more the longer I was there, I started to hear in my head the voice of Bill Bryson trying describing what he thought of the place in his friendly but acerbic tone. I am sure he would have also enjoyed it but I am starting to worry about the different voices that seem to be taking over my head this trip. Anyhow some of the highlights for me were the Bristol Freight aircraft, the hospital, the bus depot and Ernest Rutherford’s family home which had been moved here.
By now we were ready for the on site cafe which was also strangely for a museum a fully functioning bar. Even weirder it rated as one of the top places to eat and drink in Nelson. We had the tea and a warmed scone each. The NZ scones are remarkable and are really the distinct cousins of a British scone. The Bacon & Cheese ones are absolutely delicious. Karen prefers the Date ones. They are less scone’y that the ones at home. They are lighter and gooey and just full of loveliness. You may be able to tell in a Bill Bryson type of way that I am a big fan.
Karen then declared that she felt good about the day. It hadn’t been wasted and we had done good things without over exerting ourselves (she had already forgotten about the climb earlier).
She then declared that the boys would love the Heritage Centre. This confused me somewhat. I thought Barry might have a passing interest, but could not see it holding the attention of Neil for too long as there were no big rides. It turned out she was not talking about the boys now, but instead 25 years ago where as youngsters they would have loved pressing buttons, being able to climb in aircraft, riding the real train and controlling the model railway. Yet again, I cannot keep up with the way her mind works. Perhaps it is just me.
Back in our room, we chilled for a while as we were not ready for some food after our mid afternoon scones. In the end we just walked across the road to the Sports Bar opposite.
It was weird. It was attached to a cheap Hotel. It was definitely a Sports Bar with a few TV’s showing cricket. It was also a Bookies. It was also had a gaming room at one end. There was a band setting up to play later. It seemed to be serving food although we struggled to find a menu for a while. It was quite full. The clientele was 98% male in groups of all ages just having a laugh together. We ordered Pizza’s and a glass of wine each. We were probably the first people to order wine this decade. The Pizzas were surprisingly fine. We decided to leave before the band started. They were called Chasing The Rabbit which I thought did not auger well for the sound they might make.
Back in the room, we were in bed by 10pm struggling to keep awake watching the end of the film Notting Hill on TV, another of my favourites.