It turned out that I wasn’t needed to train anyone else, so we decamped – along the road to the park over at Earnscleugh. We checked that there was room and left the car, and went off to Alexandra in Suzi to dump the waste. And caught up with a friend of Wyn’s. The afternoon wore on, and I finally got to mow some lawns – a neighbour’s of Wyns friend. It was a long story, and the short version is that I mowed them and got some lovely spuds in return. And there was a bit of a bike ride around Alexandra – our first one in ages. Eventually we returned to the park over, in time for the Saturday BBQ.
Sunday probably involved washing and lazing around. And another bike ride – later in the day we rode over to the Millenium Track, and followed it into Clyde. We had a look around a rather empty Clyde, and headed back. Activity at the bridge over the Clutha suggested some jumping in was going to happen – there was quite a contingent of young people – sounded sort of Spanish. We weren’t convinced jumping off the bridge was the best idea of the day, but anyway, away they went and jumped in. About three of them. It wasn’t all that far down, maybe 10m or so. The thing was though that they were not great swimmers, and the current at that point was all wrong for getting back out again! Two of them just made it to the side, but the other one was swept past, out into the middle. One of his mates was on the shore and luckily summed it up fairly early and jumped in after him, and was able to catch up with him. He tried to help him towards the shore, but that didn’t go well, the guy in trouble started going under. For what seemed like forever, and was maybe 10 seconds, we thought we were watching someone drown! Somehow his rescuer had the presence of mind to give up on trying to get him to the shore, and both concentrated on floating and breathing. They went with the current, and slowly were able to make there way to the side, quite a distance further down. Judging by the amount of time the first guy spent sitting in the water, then sitting on the side, then sitting on rocks, he was about done. He was a very lucky young man, and probably his friend saved his life. It was awful to watch, even that was enough of a shock.
More sorting out Monday 2 February
We’d decided the previous day that we would use our time to rest up our bodies, and to catch up on our paperwork. So we started downloading bank statements, and sorting out where our money was disappearing to. And there was more washing, and a happy hour.
Getting down to business Tuesday 3 February
There was a cold start to the day – only 12 degrees when we got up – late. It was a grey day, so I ran the generator for a few hours to charge the batteries up a bit. We had an outing to Alexandra to post mail and find the recycling place. Why is it that almost everywhere has better recycling faciulities than Dunedin? We had a walk, up to the clock. It was a hot afternoon, and a lovely view, and I forgot the binoculars and remembered the camera but the batteries were dead!
Pancakes and biking Wednesday 4 February
The day before we’d stocked up on fresh fruit. Wyn made a great fruit salad for breakfast, with pancakes and yoghurt. Eaten outside on a lovely sunny morning. Then to compensate, we got back on our bikes. We biked up to the Clyde Dam. We met a couple from up north in the parking area – they were parking and fishing. They were having some success, their morning catch was smoked for lunch. Back at the park over, we borrowed a step ladder and cleaned the solar panels – in the hope that they would work a bit better. And then cleaned the front of Suzi – all the bugs that had splattered on at 95 kmph! Finally we stuck our wings on the front – to show that we are members of the club. On a roll, we moved on and cleaned the back end of Suzi – she really had got dirty over a couple of months!
Around the valley Thursday 5 February
Despite a cool start (11 degrees) it was clear that this was going to be a hot day. We decided on a longer bike ride and tried to get away early – managed to start by 11am! We went back down to the Millenium Track, and into Clyde. We checked out a couple of shops and then biked on to Alexandra along the rail trail. By this stage it was warming up – probably about 30 degrees. So we went straight through Alex, and across the bridge, and onto the Millennium Track. This was lovely, in the shade and beside the river. Wyn had biked and walked this before, but it was a revalation to me – a landscape like nothing else I’ve seen in NZ. It is a lovely swoopy track through the willows, with stunning views of deep emerald pools of the Clutha – beside the track. Plus there were occasional breakouts with vistas of the dredge tailings. Our total distance was 33 kms, a step up for us. Later Wyn’s friend came around for tea. After she left, it was still lovely, so we had a walk along the road in the moonlight.
Time for a holiday – Waitangi Day Friday 6th
We had been going to move on, until we realised it was a public holiday, and the reserves and parking areas would be busy. So we decided to lay low for the weekend, and keep on getting sorted out. We filled our water tank and started cleaning the windows, and scrubbing off all the marks on Suzi’s sides – the ones that were not going to wash off. This was hard work – and aggravated our sore arms and backs and shoulders from the orchard jobs. It seems the effects of that are going to linger for longer than we thought.
A cold Saturday in Alexandra
The morning in Earnscleugh was not bad – 15 degrees when we got up. But by the time we got to Alexandra and the market, it was miserable – windy and cold. Luckily we found some spare clothes in the car. We met a friend of Wyn’s at the market, and more Dunedin people in the coffee shop across the road. The town was full of bikers – of the motor kind – there was a rally at Galloway. They were everywhere all through the weekend – they must have been a good sight to the businesses in the area as there didn’t seem to be many others around. We bought more cleaning gear, and back at Suzi proceeded to wash her thoroughly. By the end of all this, she was shining, like new. It all took a while, but was well worth the effort. Now we’ll just have to keep her cleaner, maybe a side a week?
The sun is red and so is the moon Sunday 8th
The forecast was for a hot day, and it dawned with a hazy sun. We figured on an early bike ride, and headed over to Clyde, via the road for a change. We followed a motorhome across the bridge, and realised that it might have been Mark who started www.nzmotorhome.co.nz, a wonderful motorhome on-line forum. We chased the bus through Clyde, and split up to search. I found the bus down at the river, looking to launch a kayak. It was indeed Mark and Kathy, Mark was about to paddle down to Alexandra. So I left them to it, and headed back to find Wyn, who by this stage was hot from having biked all round Clyde looking for me! Back at the bridge over the Clutha I finally got to launch my helicopters – the sycamore seeds I’d been carrying around for days waiting for a wind down the river. We rode back along the road with a good tail wind. The wind increased – as promised, and the day got hotter – as promised. It was at least 28 degrees in the shade and in the wind. It was washing day again, in the good old agitator machine. In the afternoon the sun went red. I know it is supposed to be red, but this was really red. The light from it varied from red to pink to orange. It must have been smoke in the atmospherefrom Australian bnushfires. At some stages it appeared simply as a red orb through the clouds, and it was possible to look at it, and photograph it. Later we drove into Alexandra to catch up with Mark and Kathy. It was great to meet Mark – he has done a great job initiating the motorhome forum. I was the first proper member after Mark, and have been a keen supporter. It is a wonderful discussion and information forum, already with over 250 members and growing fast. Back at the park over, the moon rose red as well, a spectacular end to the day.