Blenheim / Picton / Wellington
What a great trip to Wellington! (Can you hear the echoes of hollow laughter?) It began to go wrong before we even got up this morning. We'd set the alarm for 6am, having carefully calculated how long we'd need to drive to Picton and be at the ferry port an hour before the ferry left. Having woken long before the alarm went off, I was mentally computing what time we would have needed to get up if we'd had to take the 8.25am ferry (it's the sort of stupid thing I do instead of going back to sleep!) and came to the conclusion that 6am was a little early to get up for the 10.05am ferry that we were travelling on. As Murph was awake, as well, I told him my thinking and suggested that we re-set the alarm for 7am, which would give us ample time to make the half-hour journey to Picton. Needless to say, neither of us was able to get back to sleep and tossed and turned until around 7am - when we could both easily have fallen asleep. Typical!
We got to Picton in good time and boarded the ferry, noting the information board which had, 'Sailing Heavy' written on it. We felt a little uneasy about that word, 'heavy' and what it meant, exactly. Still, we considered ourselves up to the challenge and felt quite smug as the ferry sailed from Picton Harbour, calmly reading our books and regretting that we hadn't taken a seat outside to enjoy the sunshine. Clear of the harbour mouth, however, the fore deck was cleared of passengers and just in time, too. The first wave crashing onto the bow and over the fore deck was entertaining and was greeted with howls of amusement and appreciation from the passengers. By the time the bow had ridden the waves and crashed in the troughs there was a distinct division of Kiwi's and Celts and the Kiwi's proved themselves the more sturdy stock! Man, it was rough. I'd got my head down fairly quickly as I know that helps me and when I caught sight of Iain's ashen face staring at the sea ahead of the boat, I suggested that he might do the same. His head was horizontal so quickly that he must have been grateful for any suggestion that might help! The trip was three hours long. Allowing for the ubiquitous half-hour trip from harbour to open sea, we had two hours of suffering ahead. And suffer we did. One Murphy more than the other, it has to be said; I must have inherited a few (unfortunately not them all!) of my Dad's sea legs (and constitution). Just as Iain decided that for life to continue he would need some sort of relief, and staggered very drunkenly on the pitching floor to the toilets, the boat made an almighty dive and double roll from side to side and back again. Wine glasses slid to the floor from their rack on the bar, oven doors apparently flew opened and hot pies spilled onto the floor, kitchen pots, pans, dishes and utensils crashed in the kitchen, and I had visions of Iain landing on his back, trying to keep his stomach in control! When I heard one passenger tell another that someone had fallen and smacked their head open near the toilets I was convinced it was Iain, so bravely lurched to my feet and swayed in an very ungainly and unsteady fashion through the next lounge area, not always avoiding contact with other passengers, and found Iain, upright if a little unsteady, leaning against a wall and holding onto a handrail with grim determination.
Apparently, as he had made his way down the same lounge area the force of the dive / double roll sent him reeling into the wall and, at the same time, sent a lady, chair and all, hurtling backwards and smacking her head open in the process. Several passengers rushed to help her and Iain knew he had to forgo courtesy and press on with his own personal mission!
With my ability to misread my watch I had seen that the time was approaching when I estimated we should be entering the relative calm of the harbour approach. Alas, not 12.45 as I thought, but 11.45; that last hour was going to be very long.
Iain eventually arrived back, with a little more colour in his cheeks but rather less in his stomach, and we stoically held on for the remainder of the journey. When the ship smashed down on the waves everything just shuddered and juddered and you really wondered how much more strain she could take. Aparently, today's weather was much improved on yesterday's when it had been so bad the journey had taken TWO HOURS longer than normal! Doesn't bear thinking about. We ended up about half an hour late and that was quite enough.
To add to the general lack of bon viveur, the skies were grey and overcast and it was raining. Wellington was not being very inviting.
We were planning to visit Ken and Sally, Iain's godparents, who live just outside Wellington. We'd booked a B & B in Masterton, about an [estimated] hour's drive from Ken and Sally's house. Actually, a fellow passenger had said that Wellington to Masterton would only take 40 minutes, so we figured that would be half an hour from Ken and Sally's.
Iain needed to eat something and we had a MacDonalds, as it was the only place we could find to eat in. Not the best in the circumstances, but needs must. We then rang Ken and Sally to get final directions to their house. Except they weren't in!Neither were they in when we called twenty minutes later. We go all that way….!
As Masterton was only the estimated half an hour away we decided that we'd get to the B & B, check in and then drive back to Wellington, having first made contact, hopefully, with Ken and Sally.
That would be 'Estimated' with a capital E. First we had to climb a huge mountain - about half an hour up one side - in pouring rain and low-lying cloud, making it a bit of a hairy drive. Probably took nearly as long to get down the other side and then another 50 kilometres or so to Masterton. Thirty minutes, my eye; make that an hour and a half - and now nearly four o'clock.
Plan B, or was it C or D at this point: check in, stay in, early night, Wellington in the morning! Sounded good to us, so that was the new plan.
Found the B & B, which is the most picturesque, settler-mansion type weatherboard house set in what appears to be quite a few acres of land. We know how to live!Unfortunately, because I'd told them we'd be late as we were visiting people in Wellington, they'd gone out! You've got to laugh. And things had been going so well up until then!
The rain was coming down in sheets by now, so we decided that we'd wait in the car and read our books until the owners arrived. Which they did, only moments later. And offered us tea and coffee and were absolutely delightful.
We finally made contact with Ken and Sally (all telephone calls are apparently free in New Zealand so we used the landline here; how cool is that!). We suggested calling with them around 11 o'clock the next day but they had a lunch appointment and would need to leave at 11.30, so we would have to get down there around 10.30 to see them at all! These are the people who apparently 'never go out'!! Iain is on a mission, now, so they're going to see us!
Unfortunately, the very long track from the house to the road comes before we can get back into town for dinner! Our trusty steed didn't like it on the way in; it was very bumpy!
We took the recommendation of our host for a venue for dinner - The Horseshoe - and weren't disappointed. Lovely meal, although we both ate far too much. (I realise this is nothing new!)
After dinner, we attempted to set up the camera to take a picture of us both. This involved much movement of ourselves, the furniture, and not least, the camera. We were just setting the camera on a card on a wineglass (lots of trial and error involved) and checking the view when a fellow guest offered to help by taking the picture for us. I thought that, out of interest, she might have at least waited to see if the camera would stay supported long enough to take the photograph. The result is not exactly the most flattering photograph, but it's an amusing memory. I think I look like Cherie Blaire; it's the mouth, I think!! Fairly bad.
Had a little stroll around the area and then back for an early night. Got a big visit tomorrow!