The campsite just outside Helensville was a very wet one, the rain came down and the wind picked up to what seemed like galeforce, so we spent the evening running from van to kitchen and loos and the night in a swaying van and the sound of torrential rain lashing the outside. We felt cosy inside, but hoped our little van was waterproof, which it was. The next morning was still the same, so we abandoned plans of going to look round Hamilton (the Rough Guide didn’t think it was anything special anyway, and we were only going there as it’s the biggest city we haven’t visited) and instead phoned Robyn and Murray and asked if it would be OK to go back to theirs a day earlier than planned. As welcoming as they are they said ‘yes, the cake’s already made and the kettle would be on!’ What stars they are!
|The repositioned pump house (left) next to the huge void|
The mine is 195m deep and of truly giant proportions with huge diggers at the bottom looking tiny, but it is very visitor friendly with a walkway round the outside and a visitor centre telling us all about it. They even have a viewing platform for when they blast the face, but sadly there wasn’t one on the day we were there. We didn’t do the walk round either as the rain was still pretty heavy.
So after tea, cake and excellent food, I did battle with the medical insurance claim forms (yes, they are trying to wriggle out of it!) and then set off to the clinic for my appointment with the Doc with the knife! Private medicine is so much more pleasant (but also damned expensive!) and I was given a choice of slideshows to watch while they did the deed. I wasn’t bothered too much about that, but was rather pleased Jackie was in with me so I could grasp her hand (how can she watch these things?)! It was when he drew on my hand where he was going to cut to that I felt a bit shocked, it was big – about 40mm long to about 10 or 12mm wide! Don’t I need all that skin? No he said, the remaining skin will just stretch! I couldn’t see what he drew on my back, but the look in Jackie’s eyes said it all!
As usual with these things, the local anesthetic injections are the worst part and, after that the actual operation didn’t seem so bad, although of course I didn’t look! I’ve now got big bandages on, which come off tomorrow and instructions not to get either wet for 14 days! My left shoulder and right hand, mmmm, that’s going to be interesting, particularly as 14 days takes us to 21st May, three days after we leave New Zealand and arrive in Sydney! I will just have to find a doctor in Sydney to take out the stitches and declare me OK to have a shower. Jackie, I’m going to need some help keeping clean!
Anyway, we stayed at Robyn and Murray’s last night and went to their RSA club (Returned Serviceman’s Association) and had a couple of beers and a splendid meal (holding my knife very carefully!). We had said we were going to pay, but Murray dived in to pay first so we only managed to pay for the drinks. That wasn’t to plan, but thank you both!
|Here's a domestic scene - Robyn holding the screwdriver and Murray underneath fixing up his trailer|
Today, after a bit more catching up with insurance forms, we’ve set off for our last trip, but not goodbye to Robyn and Murray as we’re going back there on 16th to pack for Australia (don’t worry, that really will be the last time we’ll land on your doorstep!). We’re heading round the peninsular from Whakatane to Gisborne as we’ve heard its very beautiful (and also contains the most easterly point in NZ – one of the first places in the world to welcome the new day), so tonight we’ve got as far as a beachfront campsite in Makatu. When I say ‘beachfront’ I mean ‘beachfront’! As I write I’m looking through the window to the sea about 5m away. It’s a bit cloudy, but clear enough to see to the horizon and the volcanic island of White Island with its plume of smoke rising into the air – how very atmospheric!
Shall I help prepare the dinner dear? She muttered something about a chocolate fire guard! I’ll just open the wine then….