29 January 2003

Tahlia’s First Day

OldEric says :-) Well Tahlia arrived home today and she was in a cheerful mood. Her first day went well. Pat run her down to the school bus for the first day to make sure she found the correct one. Lisa Raynor, a local 5th former had promised to look out for her and she did. Lisa is six feet tall so Tahlia could not help but recognize her too.

Tahlia had a new pupil interview and got her preferred subjects approved ok.

This morning we took her photo in her new school uniform and she looked quite the young lady in her fitted white blouse, grey pleated skirt and sandals. No jewelry is allowed but she could wear her greenstone pendant around her neck.
 001      Ullswater.The Cottage  1939 We left Ainstable and we arrived at our new home at Sharrow Bay in 1939. I have a feeling it was late in the year and World War two was about to start. I have no recollection of leaving Ainstable or our arrival at our first Ullswater home in the Cottage at Sharrow Bay, not even a flicker. I wonder why we have complete memory blanks like this? Even to a boy of five years old going on six our move was an important event in ones life and should be memorable. I wonder if the upheaval of moving and the tearing away from ones familiar and happy surroundings to go to somewhere strange has a traumatic effect on a small boy could be the cause?

The cottage was new inside and large, not really a cottage at all. It had three double bedrooms, a sitting room, kitchenette separate toilet and bathroom and a large head high attic. Tacked on to one end of the house was the laundry, which was accessed from going outside. At the other end of the cottage was a large a double garage and workshop as big as the cottage and the two blended together as one. The garage housed two Daimler cars, one new and the other a few years older belonging Mr Nelson at Sharrow Bay mansion.

The cottage really was a conversion. Originally before the advent of the public electricity supply Sharrow Bay had its own private electricity supply. The oil-fired generating plant was housed in the area, which was to eventually to become the Cottage. When going up into the attic area the discoloured roofing timber from the oil fumes could be seen and when sniffed a smell of diesel could still be detected.

The cottage was built of blue-grey Lakeland stone in a lovely position overlooking what was then the enclosed berry garden area of the Mansion kitchen garden. To the garage side and rear of the Cottage stood majestic ornamental trees and large shrubs with a small bamboo grove from which we boys cut spears and fishing rods from the canes. To the other side of the cottage where the laundry was attached there was a large kennel area enclosed by iron railings six to eight feet high. The Estates dogs were kept here long ago but long empty now in 1939.

It was between the kennels and the laundry where my father placed his sectionalised Green Hut, now its third home.

In the year 2000 during our trip to England I visited Sharrow Bay with my brother John and we had a cursory look at the cottage. As we approached the cottage we could not see too much close up due to extensive extensions taking place. The whole building was now turned into holiday apartments and it was now double story the building had been extended outwards into what was the kitchen garden berry section. It was a little sad really nothing really existed of the cottage. Alterations were also taking place where the kennels once stood.

I do wish we could have had a closer look especially the rear.

I’m still trying to remember how long we lived in the cottage, the problem I have some of the vague memories that I have do not seem to not fit together. Ah well… after sixty years.

28 January 2003


OldEric says :-) Gill, Paul and family brought Tahlia across on Sunday for her two year stay with us. Tahlia will start Sacred Heart College on Wednesday, our tomorrow. The family left yesterday, our Monday to go back to Whitianga. It was our Anniv. Day on Monday so we all had a long weekend.

Today Tahlia is very quiet and I asked here if she was bored or did she have butterflies of pending tomorrow? It is a big upheaval for her and I hope she does not miss home too much and her two noisy sisters. I too left home at fifteen and although it was on one hand a big adventure on the other hand it was for me a big learning curve and a strange hostel enviroment.

I do hope Tahlia is happy with us, I do feel for her, we must seem like old fogeys to a fifteen year old.

25 January 2003

Ainstable The Barugh

OldEric says :-) H’mm I hear you say, how do you pronounce that? Easy… Barf. Barugh as far as I can ascertain seems to mean rounded hill. The Barugh comprised of three two-story pebble-dashed cottages joined together. We lived in the end one nearest Ainstable. We were fortunate to have a small paddock attached to our cottage for our use. Here we kept two female milking goats and a pen of hens for eggs and birds for the table.

As I said previously I was four years old when our family came to live here and I was on a full tilt learning curve. I quickly learnt about goats and that goats often had evil intentions on their minds. I usually used to go into the paddock with my parents while they were doing their chores there and the goats would come around us hoping we had some kitchen scraps, which we fed to both the goats and the hens. We also milked the goats daily in the paddock but I didn’t like the milk much, I liked the milk from the Bramery better.

One day I went into the paddock on my own across to the green hut and the goats were feeding on the other side of the paddock and with usual curiosity came across to see what I was doing. After a while I decided to go back across the paddock to the house. I got about half way across and suddenly I found myself on the ground and one of the goats standing nearby, I got up looked around and continued on my way and I glanced round and saw the goat running towards me with its head down. I felt the goat’s head hit the seat of my pants and over I went with the goat standing watching me nearby. I again got up, I started running and shouting and the goat got me again. I stayed on the ground with the goat watching over me and by this time I was hollering loudly and my mother came out, she grabbed the goat and chased it.

Yes, at the age of four I learnt about goats. After my trauma with the goat my father used to tether the goats at weekends when I was out playing and I used to keep out of the paddock during the week. I also learnt that for goats to have kids that we needed to take the goats to see a Billy goat. One day my father did that, it cannot have been very far, we led the goat down the road to visit the Billy with a piece of rope through its collar as you would lead a dog. After a while we led the goat back home and I spent much time after that looking at the goat and waiting for its stomach to swell and the kids to appear. They never did and my father said next time we would leave our goat for a day or two with the Billy.

I sometimes used to go fishing with my Dad. Just down the road was the Croglin River, a small river that ran into the River Eden. He had a cane fly fishing rod and while he fished he would tell me about fishing and other things. After a while I would go exploring along the wooded riverbank. Sometimes we caught trout and we would take them home.

In the field to the rear of our home was a local farmer’s field full of rabbits. Rabbits were a pest in countryside in those times and the only way to keep them under control was by shooting them or a more efficient way was by using nets and ferrets or sometimes traps which was a cruel method. Aubrey’s father in the house at the other end of the block had a ferret and my dad and he would go into the fields and net rabbits. We often had rabbit stew in those days.

There was no butchers shop down the road for meat, we could not bring meat home from town or buy from the local farmers in quantity. Fridges and Freezers were not only a luxury they were a rarity even if you could afford one. So our meat requirements came from chickens, rabbits, and cured hams from a local farmer which, when cured by the old method could be hung for months plus fresh meat and sausages again from a local farmer when he killed an animal for his own needs and sold the rest. He didn’t have a freezer to keep all his meat either. Even so we lived well and cheaply as far as meat was concerned, probably better than we do today.

As far as I remember we never went into the nearest town of Penrith or the equidistant city of Carlisle during our twelve to fifteen months residence at the Barugh. Very few people had cars in those days and buses were often few or non-existent. In our case to go into Penrith or Carlisle by road was a distance of about twenty-five to thirty kilometres or fifteen to sixteen miles. Not far you say, by today’s standards, but in those days and our case it meant an eight kilometre walk to the nearest infrequent bus route first. A totally different lifestyle than today as I write this in the year 2002.

As I continue writing of the coming years I will from time to time comment on the social differences of then and now. Of country areas sometimes without electricity or telephone and no corner shop to on the other hand a life style of little regulation and a time of little or non-existent crime of a peaceful and happy life style.

Shortly we were to leave Ainstable and the Barugh to go to live on the shores of Ullswater Lake, the year was 1939.
Ainstable Starting School

OldEric says :-) In February 1939 I reached the ripe old age of five years old and it was time to start school. In those days Kindergarten’s did not exist, at least certainly not in the country areas and I suspect town areas either. The word kinder garden's was still a German word in the form of Kindergarten and as far as I know it did not exist in its English form.

Ainstable School was about two kilometres from our home at Barugh Cottages; I was too young to go by bicycle so I walked to school on my own. Up the hill from our home, along the top flat and down the hill to the entrance of the village where to my good fortune the school stood.

Next door to us lived another boy called Aubrey, he was old, and big and all of nearly fourteen. He was given the task of looking out for me at school which he did, making sure I had my sandwiches at lunchtime and lining up for the morning roll those first few days and other things. I liked Aubrey. I'm not sure how he got to school I think he probably biked.

One lunchtime some of the older boys broke through from the playground into the hayfield next door and a good half of the school went through the fence and trampled down the standing hay flattening the grass. The children were seen, the farmer informed and he complained to the school. We were all dragged out into the playground and all those who went into the field were told to go over "there". The rest were each interviewed and just before my turn came I felt a hand on my shoulder and a voice said, "say no when your turn comes". I looked up and I saw Aubrey. He knew the ropes; those who said yes got detention.

It was at this school at the age of five I got into my first spell of trouble. We were told that we were due again for a visit from the district nurse for our heads to be checked for lice and nits. The teacher had left the classroom for a while and I started to look in the girl’s hair in the desk in front of me for nits. I saw something black and I piped up and said out loud "she's got nits". The girl started crying, her older brother in the same classroom got nasty, the teacher hurried back and I was dragged out of my seat. I was told that what I said was untrue and I must say sorry. I refused to apologies maintaining I had seen something. Again I was told to apologies, I refused. I was threatened with the coalhole. I dug in my heels. The teacher dragged me down the corridor across to the coalhouse where the winter coal was stored, the door was opened, I was asked again to apologies and I refused. Into the coalhole I was pushed. It was pitch black in there. I was scared but very angry and I refused to cry. After what seemed a long time I was let out and marched back to the classroom and I was told to sit at my desk.

Dinnertime came... in those days we called Lunchtime Dinner, I decided I had enough of school; I collected my school bag and headed home up the hill. As I reached almost to the top of the hill I heard running steps behind me and a voice calling my name. It was Aubrey; he had been given the task of returning me to school by the Headmistress. Apparently I had been seen leaving the schoolyard and word quickly spread through the school and to the teachers. My classroom teacher was waiting at the school gate and I remember walking across the schoolyard with her through a long corridor of silent children lining our path on either side to the school door.

The headmistress collected me, took me into the empty senior's classroom and sat me down and I remember she sat down beside me talked quietly to me for what seemed a long time and instead of sending me outside into the playground full of curious children, she took me into my own classroom and told me to sit there and eat my sandwiches.

I must have made an impression on the headmistress; I have unfortunately forgot her name now. An old family friend from Ainstable, Grace Proud told me years later that on various occasions she would meet the then headmistress of Ainstable school and the headmistress would invariably enquire after me and be most interested in my progress over the years. Even though she lived to a ripe old age of well into her nineties she would still enquire. I'm not at all sure why she did this. Grace would periodically mention this in her letters when she wrote to me here in NZ.

As I write this I again wonder was the headmistress's enquires a good omen or a bad one?

20 January 2003

Country Schools circa 1940s

OldEric says :-) School in the 1940s were radically different to the schools of the 21st Century, particularly country schools. Each large or small village had its own village school. A village school would invariably consist of two classrooms and two teachers. The junior teacher would take the five to eleven year pupils and the senior teacher would take the eleven to fifteen year pupils.

Each pupil at the age of eleven years plus or minus a few months took an exam called the eleven plus exam. Those who passed this exam had the opportunity to go to a Grammar School for higher education provided you lived near a bus route or other means of transport and the nearest Grammar School was at a reasonable distance to your home. Those who didn't pass continued on at the village school until the age of fifteen years was attained.

That is a simplistic explanation in a nutshell. Village schools varied tremendously in learning content and depended greatly on an individual teachers ability. School discipline was strict and many teachers had their own ways of administering punishment. I will explain further as I progress through the years and use examples as I remember them.
Ainstable Our Arrival

OldEric says :-) Our family left West Cumberland in 1938 to live at the Barugh Cottages about two kilometres from Ainstable and to the northeast of Penrith. I was four years old almost five. It was at this age I really seemed to begin to remember things in detail and start to consciously work things out for myself.

My father came to Ainstable to work for a man called Parkin who had a large house and grounds on the edge of Ainstable village opposite the village school. We did not stay long at Ainstable probably not much more than twelve months before we moved to Sharrow Bay on the shores of Ullswater Lake. I don't think my father cared for Mr Parkin very much. I seem to remember my parents talking ......Mr Parkin says this, or Mr Parkin says I must do that, etc. Nothing specific, just a feeling of dissatisfaction working for Mr Parkin.

When I became five and eventually started school I decided one day instead of walking directly home I would go and see my father at work up Parkin's drive opposite the school gates. I went up the steep drive and found my father working on the circular portion of the sloping drive below the house. He talked to me for a little while and told me I'd better go home. I didn't want to. Two children appeared from the house about my age or a little older and we three started to play. A lady appeared at the door said a few words to my father and everything seemed to be alright and we continued playing until five o'clock came round and I went home with my father sitting on the crossbar of his bike. A little later I repeated the visit to my father's work place and he firmly told me to go home and marched me down the drive to the road telling me on the way down I wasn't welcome to play with the Parkin children. Mr Parkin's orders. I didn't visit again.

I often used to dawdle on my way home from school finding all kinds of interesting things to do. One of my favourite stopping places was at the top of the hill by the road junction on my way home. Here was a small wood with a wide road berm which the local Council used as a dump for roading metal or chippings. This was one of my magic places where imagination takes over and where I could make in the chippings roads with high banks and cliffs and rivers with bridges of twigs and bits of wood. Where I could run my imaginary lorries and trains and boats.

One day I did not arrive home from school and my mother must have panicked. Somehow she contacted my father at work, how I don't know, most people did not have a phone in those long gone days. He left work at his usual time of five o'clock looking for me to find I had only got to the top of the hill on my way home from school and I was lost in my own little world in the pile of Council chippings.

Another favourite stopping place was further along the road on my way home, it was at a farm called the Bramery located just before the road dropped down the hill to our home at Barugh Cottages . I would hang around the farm gate and very soon the farmers wife would come to the door and call me in for a glass of milk and a piece of her still warm daily baking. She kept an eye out for me each school day.

This road home from school was the road where I learned to whistle. In those days all boys learnt to whistle. I always practiced just after I came out of the school going up the hill. All I could do was all blow and no whistle until one day much to my surprise a whistle came out. After that it was practice, mostly blow and some whistle until after a while I could whistle at will.

The road home, mostly empty of traffic was certainly an interesting place for a five year old boy. Much better than the road to school where there was'nt time to look at 'things' and do 'things'.

15 January 2003

Ullswater Our Beck and a Fishing Tale

OldEric says :-) It wasn't our beck really; I just called it our beck. It was a place we played, where we fished, we even got our water supply from the beck. Our beck was only a short beck; it started high up on Barton Fell above and to the left of Hadley’s cave. The beck tumbled fast down the steep fell side running at an angle across the fell then down the lower slopes and into the yard of Lady Lowther's Thwaitehill Farm then through a cattle drinking trough across the farm paddock past our house, across the road and emptying into Ullswater Lake where the yacht club is now located on Seat Farm. Just a short beck.

As I said we got our water supply from Our Beck. The water intake was high up on the fell side above the track, which runs past Hadley’s Cave and just below the scree line. A small pool had been hollowed out in the bed of the beck and the intake pipe had been inserted below the water line with a filter on the intake end to filter out debris. The water intake was put high up on the fell to give good pressure to all who used it and the water was pure up here with no contamination and with little risk of sheep droppings or dead sheep draining into the beck. The Herdwick sheep roamed free up here on the open fells.

It was in Our Beck I caught my first fish. I would be about eight I think. We knew there were fish in the beck's lower reaches and one day I decided I would try and catch one. Peter Embley arrived. We had neither line nor hooks so I found some string at home and I fashioned a hook from a bent pin until it was the right shape and fastened it on the end of the string. The line wasn’t very long but neither was the beck very wide near Sharrow Lodge were I lived. The beck was channelled here across the field to prevent flooding the lower part of the field and was only two feet wide. I stuck a worm on the bent pin hook and popped the line into the beck. After waiting a while and nothing happening we went to explore forgetting the line.

On our way back and remembering the line we went to have a look. The line was stuck in the side of the channel in a hole between the stones. I pulled the line and the line stayed stuck. I gave a mighty tug and the line came free and on the end of the line a writhing black shape. We got a fright but quickly realized it was an eel. I grabbed the eel and looked how to get the hook out but the hook was well down in the eel's mouth. Neither of us were game to put our fingers in there, to our young eyes those teeth looked sharp. What to do? I got out my knife; you know the one with lots of blades for different things and a spike to get stones out of horses’ hooves. Peter grabbed the body end of the eel and I grabbed the head end with my hanky and I cut off that eel's head. After the deed was done Peter let go of the body and I dropped the head on the grass and we both stood aghast as we watched the eel's body still writhing and nearby the eel's head its mouth opening and closing. What had we done? After a while the mouth stayed closed and I wanted rid of that head so I tossed it into beck. Meantime the body had stopped writhing and was still. I gathered up the eel and put in my bag and took it home. I showed my mother the eel and I remember she did'nt say much, she did'nt throw up her hands in horror, she was a farmers daughter and well used to such things. She got a plate and curled the eel on the plate, put a cover over it and placed in the pantry.

About three days later I came home from school. I had thought a lot about that eel during the past three days but hadn’t wanted to see it. I could still see that writhing body and the head with its mouth opening and closing. But after three days curiosity got the better of me and I asked my mother to see the eel. My mother a lady often of few words looked at me and said simply "Dad and I ate it". I was thunderstruck and mulling this over for a while and I finally I asked "but why?" and she answered, "it would have gone bad".

13 January 2003

What have we here??

OldEric says :-) Tom Cruise upsets Maoris over holy volcano

And a 2000 pound greenhouse payment??

12 January 2003

Ullswater: Martindale School.
Sometime in the 1940s, possibly around the mid 1940s

RAF Compton Bassett 4 Postscript

OldEric says :-) At last we neared the end of our nine-month course and it was time to say farewell to this pleasant place where knowledge and study was the important requirements and 'bull' took less than second place. I really was reluctant to leave.
Most of our intake were posted to various RAF establishments throughout the UK and when it came to my posting it was Cyprus and my spirits soared once more. I was going overseas again and to something fresh.

Cyprus.... I remember feeling very exited, never mind the terrorists, I was on my way to pastures new. I have always felt like this from my first trip to sea after graduating from South Shields Marine College. As a young boy I would read of far off places of seeming mystery and as the years rolled along I still felt the same when going overseas. As I write this in my golden years that feeling has never left me and I still sometimes dream of far off lands and places. I digress.

We were given leave before departing to our postings, we packed our kitbags and backpacks and we said our farewells once more and I headed for home for a few days. It was good to see everyone again on my leave home and it did'nt seem long before the day came to head overseas to Cyprus. Several others and I were flown out to Cyprus on a noisy RAF freight carrier and not at all comfortable. There must of been twelve or fifteen of us. We were given one .303 rifle and no ammunition among all of us, it was just shoved in the nearest persons hand. God knows what we were supposed to do with it. No one commented as far as I recall. By this stage in the RAF we had learnt not to try and reason why.

In April this year 2003 Pat and I go to stay at our sons home in Cricklade in Wiltshire not very far from Compton Bassett and I intend to go down the little side road to Compton Bassett village off the A4 road. Down the side road a short way before the village is a right angle bend in the road to the right and a little way further along was the camp gates on the left hand side of the road. I believe there is nothing there now only fields but I will take a photo of the fields where this large busy camp once stood and when we return home I will look at the photo now and then, picture the camp and I will think back to those once vibrant times I and many others like me experienced there.

RAF Compton Bassett 3 Two Tales

OldEric says :-) The camp was divided I think, into three wings or areas. Or was it four wings? Each Sunday morning a ceremonial parade would be held on the parade ground. The members of each wing by rote would be required to provide the airmen for the parade. When our weekend turn came round to hold the parade, forty-eight hour weekend leave was cancelled. On Sunday morning we were required to assemble outside the administration offices at 9.30am where we were marshalled into required order and inspected prior to moving off to the parade ground. At a guess the number of airmen on our wing would number 200 to 300. Or do I exaggerate the number?

No one liked the parade. It meant bring dressing up in our freshly pressed and ironed uniforms, badges cleaned, boots shone up and a haircut if too long. It cost half a day of our usual leisure time. To make sure everyone from the wing was present for the parade the NCOs went to look through the huts and especially the ablution blocks for reluctant airmen. To take a roll call of everyone was not really feasible due to the length of time required and so the NCOs relied on the flushing out enough reluctant personnel from the wing area. They knew many airmen wagged the parade and as long as they got a good number to hold the parade they had to be satisfied.

I like the others detested the Sunday parade and I found a way to avoid the parade. Instead of trying to avoid the parade by hiding or skulking in the ablutions I found a simple answer was to go across to one of the other wings at the other side of camp. About 9.00am I would get my towel, wind it round my waist under my shirt, put my soap in my pocket and a put a novel inside my battle dress top and away I would trot to the on weekend leave wing on the other side of camp, mostly empty of airmen. I then used to go into a selected ablution block and have the longest bath in history and then come out all wrinkly. I would spend my time in the bath reading my novel and topping up the chilled bath water with hot from time to time. Sometimes I would doze off and more than once end up with a wet book.

Some time after the finish of the parade I would return to our wing, go to our ablution block, divest myself of my towel and book and return to our hut. I never told anyone of my devious method of avoiding the parade and as far as I know no one cottoned on. I'm sure others had their own methods and probably did the same as I, but I never met anyone I recognized from our wing on the other side of the camp. I think it really was once more, a show of independence in this very regulated society we lived in.

To be caught doing something like this earned punishment usually in the form of fatigues during off duty hours. This could take the form of general cleaning up, cookhouse duties, office duties or similar. The worst and most common punishment was the cookhouse. These jobs were always the dirty jobs the cooks did not like doing.... pots and greasy pans, floor cleaning until the floors shone, cleaning down.... if your uniform got stained that was your problem.

The most feared cookhouse job was being sent to the mess of "Mad Mary" which if I remember rightly served the officers. Mad Mary was a Flight Sergeant in overall charge and her domain which was by repute a place of perfection. Mad Mary always had plenty of jobs waiting for punished airmen. Doling out the fatigues Mad Mary expected no less than perfection on completion of the jobs. Any unfortunate airman turning in a job less than Mary's high standard not only had to redo his work, he also had to suffer Mad Mary's tirade. Mad Mary would shout, she would bellow, she would scream, she could be heard at the other side of the camp on her "good" days. Her language was blue; swear words and profanity came by the torrent and the poor recipient shrivelled on the spot. Those who did fatigues under Mad Mary and did their chores to Mary's approval say they always finished with a first class meal cooked to perfection by one of her staff.

The members of the mess treated Mad Mary with kid gloves and an unfortunate officer who crossed Mary was not above receiving a mouthful of profanity followed by, sir. It was said that Mad Mary was up for a posting to another camp and the reluctant Commanding Officer had the job of informing Mary of her posting to which she is said to have growled "over my *? *&@? * Dead body, sir. Tell them to stick it up their ******* a***, sir." and walked out. It was said no one from HQ was brave enough to try and enforce the posting and the posting was quietly dropped to the relief of all.

I never had the misfortune to meet Mad Mary, I had heard her tirades and can only repeat what was told by others over a quiet beer or cuppa. It was a fact though she could swear and was a very fearsome lady.

6 January 2003

NZ Whitianga Rainy Days

OldEric says :-) The rain came after midnight and it has rained most of the following day. 10pm and it is still raining.No wind and warm. The rain has come down from the tropics and is probably the remnants of Cyclone Zoe after its demise up in the islands. Fine weather sits dorment in the Tasman waiting to move in, another big anticyclone.

Tahlia has had a day off from her holiday job and this evening has gone to a hip hop evening held by one of the local churches. It was to be outside at the marina but the rain put an end to that and is now being held in the "Monkey House", the place where the movies used to be held. Tahlia phoned up at 10.30pm to be picked up in the heavy rain, she has her own cell phone now which makes things easier. She told me she had enjoyed her night out and the dancing and music.

Pat says she is ready to return home so we shall go back Tuesday. She misses the cats and her home at home and the comfort of her own bed.

Next Morning

The rain is still with us this morning and the humidity and now with a little breeze. Gillian, Paul and the tribe are due this lunchtime. Pat is busy preparing a big chicken for their dinner tonight. Gillian phoned up yesterday to tell us they were staying until Monday despite the weather. The children were enjoying playing and swimming in the warm rain.

I've fed the cats, Pat is sure that they have put on weight since we arrived.They are usually fed when someone remembers so the cats think our visit is great.

5 January 2003

NZ Whitianga A Morning Walk

OldEric says :-) I was up this morning by 6am and on my morning stroll by ten past. Instead of going my usual way down Cook Drive I cut down through the walkway past the Art's Centre then the Kindergarten and the Motor Camp and on to Buffalo Beach Road. I have been having trouble with my Gout over the holidays, at least I think it is my Gout, I always seem to get bouts of it during the hot weather. The Doctor says I should drink more water. However I won't let it spoil my morning walk which I enjoy during these warm balmy days meeting people and exchanging cheery morning greetings as we all take in the early morning scene.

As I arrive at the wharf the usual busy morning of boat launching is absent this morning only a couple of drunks returning home from an all night party, sharing a large bottle of beer and shouting friendly abuse at a lone fisherman on the beach. The wharf is empty; I'm the sole occupant, no one even catching sprats. Yesterday was the big local fishing contest and boats big and small were out by the hundreds after the big prize and I guess the enthusiasm of more fishing is at a low ebb this morning. the boat trailer park is almost empty. Only a few cruisers from the marina heading out for a spot of marlin fishing. The whole usually busy place feels strange.

Even the early morning walkers are down in numbers. Last night was warm and unusually balmy. The usual chill coming with sundown didn't come and when Pat and I went for a ride in the car the town and esplanade was buzzing with like-minded people enjoying warm evening. The wharf was alive with young fishermen catching never ending shoals of sprats attracted by the wharf lights. The ferry was still running across the estuary.

I think most of the early morning brigade must have slept in this morning. As I continued my walk along past the hotel and marina I looked at the large parking area and visualized the scene when the block of twenty-two shops is built on the hotel car park. A builder Philip Leather originally from our hometown of Huntly now a big operator bought the Whitianga Hotel and land to acquire the car park land and then re-sold the Hotel along with a small block to another builder As I rounded the Hotel corner I saw the other builders efforts. He was in the process of completing a block of nine townhouse apartments of three stories and an internal lift to the upper levels.

As I walk along a little further I come to Sleeman's Park, a pocket sized piece of land where I used to stop and sit in the sun for a few minutes and savor the estuary views but now partially blocked out by the tall masts and superstructures of the marina boats. Sleeman's Park was a rough piece of forgotten council land on the waters edge and which was tided up and planted by an old European immigrant as a labour of love. He lived alone outside of town and he would often be seen trundling his wheelbarrow down the road to his pride and joy. He has long since gone and the Council in a their wisdom named the piece of land after him and put up a plaque honouring him.

Facing the park across the road is a house which I often think of in passing, a house that Vicky would like and appreciate. The house is newly built in the last two years but it built to plans of the late 1800s, early 1900s era and it is of period cottage style. Looking at the exterior of the house it is a perfect replica of an early settler house with a veranda and curved corragated iron roof overhang of that early era down to the last nail. The inside, I imagine would would be modern and I doubt that the interior walls would be planked, covered with scrim and then wallpapered. The outside still has a look of newness and it just needs a a dulling of the bright paint work and a mature cottage garden to complete the picture.

I'm now two thirds of the way to completing my walk. I move up to and over the main street past our favourite coffee shop, across the newly tar sealed main car park which used to be a large expanse of grass and up the side streets back to Gillian and Paul's house with not much to stare and ponder over on this last leg of my walk.
Whitianga 1

OldEric says :-) Well our fine long spell of fine weather continues and today the temperature was running here at about 25C and other parts of the country higher. We have been going out early before the heat of the day and arriving back by midday.

Anthony arrived yesterday to stay two nights and had a good look around.

We have found a good cafe, new to Whitianga and the long blacks are the best I've tasted, we keep going back for another fix. The town is crowded whether it is morning or evening and people watching on the wharf is excellent as the ferry comes and goes across the estuary. Boys fish all day long catching sprats on the wharf whether it is 6.30am on my morning walk or the evening. The canals are now being constructed for the waterway development and the first stage has been connected to the estuary and the sections laid out each with boat ramp and wharf. The canals seem to be about 15-18-foot draught.

Tahlia's holiday job is now down to 9 to 5, she seems to be tired after her log spell of overtime but her first pay packet seemed to make up for it so she and two of her friends went to see "Twin Towers" showing locally.