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Posts tagged ‘coastal’

Brighton – not what we expected

Mum wanted to go to Brighton, just for a look, and failed attempts to do this on previous trips had only served to build up her anticipation. After spending a couple of hours at Goodwood we continued east 30 miles or so.

I didn’t really know anything about Brighton but had some mental images of what it might be like and I’m sure mum did too.

We reached the city and headed in to the centre, driving through what seemed to be run down areas. Except the run down areas didn’t end. We slowly realised that imagined Brighton was quite different from real Brighton.

After parking the car near the landmarks we wanted to visit we went in search of them. Walking along the busy streets this seemed to be a fringe city; eclectic, shabby, with a hippy vibe and a young population.

The beauty of the Royal Pavilion building and gardens is perhaps an odd feature in amongst this – though I think this contrast also makes it fit.

People people everywhere

The pavilion was built in the late 1700s / early 1800s as a royal residence for George, Prince of Wales, who later became King George IV. However, fast forward half a century and Queen Victoria wasn’t a fan of the place and the Royal Pavilion was sold. It was purchased by the town which has enabled it to become the immaculately maintained attraction it is today.

And immensely popular. Happily, in light of the congestion, mum wasn’t fussed about going inside and so we just walked through the grounds.

Far from the madding crowd there are places to admire one’s surroundings

The North Gate entry into the Royal Pavilion Gardens

Noice

We wandered down this side expecting to be able to find an exit… but no. Plenty of opportunity then to admire the striking and elegant building

This busker fits my new perception of Brighton perfectly

That ticked off the list, we walked in search of the beachfront.

And found it. Hard to miss really.

There we have it, Brighton Marine Palace and Pier – or just Brighton Pier

In the same general area is the beach, aquarium, ferris wheel and pier so you can guarantee this is going to be a busy place. There is just one ‘pleasure pier’ but there were two others at varying times, the remains of which are nearby.

Still feeling a bit out of sorts with the city we didn’t want to linger, save for a quick look on, near and under the pier.

We moseyed along this end of the pier but didn’t go through the main entry

From the pier looking west

I was intrigued by the structure out in the water which turned out to be the remains of West Pier which opened in 1866 but closed in 1975. It was to have been renovated but it seems a bit beyond that now, not helped by fires and mother nature

Looking east. The Brighton Wheel is relatively new

They ain’t dumb

Wiki lists Brighton as one of the world’s notable shingle beaches

Ladyhawke is a New Zealand musician so had to take this pic!

And with that we concluded our fleeting experience of Brighton. What was so unexpected was how different it was compared to most of the other towns and cities we had visited with (by and large) their historic buildings and associated aesthetic. In Brighton’s case, much of its growth and development happened relatively recently, in the middle of the 20th century. Ultimately it’s a very subjective thing and some places you just don’t get a good vibe from.

So we left Brighton and continued on to the next stop as the day was by no means over yet. I was happy as the motorsport theme from earlier in the day would make a return.

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A first peek at Portsmouth

Day one in Hampshire was a low key affair and after a lazy morning we had a fairly leisurely expedition into Portsmouth.

As mentioned, dad’s dad came from Portsmouth hence our reason for loitering in the area. Dad still has a few cousins in England, several of whom he hadn’t met, but the one he knows best lives locally. We picked Helen up from her place and ventured out for a late lunch.

Sunday roast for lunch (when in Rome and all that) at a pub in the Bere Forest area on our way in to Portsmouth

It was a slightly hurried affair. A gypsy fair was being staged in nearby Wickham the following day with many of them arriving that day, which prompted police to advise local establishments to close mid-afternoon on account of the trouble that may otherwise arise. That teensy observation of how cultures adapt to each other was quite interesting.

We drove on to Portsmouth, specifically the original historic part of the city known as … Old Portsmouth. (Can you see what they did there?) We parked and wandered along the waterfront.

A series of memorials for things such as the Falklands conflict and an expedition that circumnavigated our dear neighbour Australia

The Round Tower, part of Portsmouth’s first permanent defences, flanked by what was the Eighteen Gun Battery

Inside the Round Tower – me with dad and his cousin

Great walkway along the old wall defences

The lay of the land in this part of the world is a bit confusing without the context of a map, on account of the higgledy piggledy coastline and numerous waterways. A good chunk of Portsmouth is actually on an island (Portsea) and other islands take up quite a bit of the harbour. The harbour entry is quite narrow and what you assume is another part of Portsmouth across the water actually isn’t. The Isle of Wight is a short ferry ride away, though we wouldn’t be going there on this trip.

A border agency boat enters Portsmouth Harbour past part of the old naval facilities in Gosport

Old Portsmouth Beach

So far I was liking this city. Waterside location, lots of old bits, especially defences and fortifications, and some grey boats.

Peeking through Old Portsmouth to a moored naval boat

At Spice Island, one end of Old Portsmouth

After pausing in the Spice Island Inn for a fortifying red bull for me, cup of tea for the grown-ups, and warm chocolate brownie, we walked inland 15 minutes or so to where dad’s dad’s family had lived. Mum had been here before so kinda knew where we were going.

A thingy on the Portsmouth Cathedral which our route took us past

What you can do with those cannon barrels you no longer need

Street where dad’s dad lived when he left on his own for NZ as a teenager

The house was where the dark brown brick dwelling is now

A shame that the original house is no longer there but it was great to see the location all the same, and its proximity to the old city. There would be more family places of interest during the week, things that for me were worth the entire trip.

Walking back to the waterfront, we made one more stop in another area. We’d only been in Portsmouth five minutes but it was obvious and surprising how extensive the coastal defences were that once served the city. I saw church ruins nearby and like a magpie distracted by something shiny, I immediately detoured.

The Royal Garrison Church dates back to the 1200s and if not for a fire raid on the city in 1941, it may have been a bit more intact today

A good first day and I was looking forward to coming back tomorrow. Between the Royal Marines Museum and the Historic Dockyard it was going to be a busy one.

Tintagel’s legendary cliff-top castle

Tintagel is quite a well-known and well-visited place, though I hadn’t heard of it prior to this trip. (Not that that should be a benchmark of whether something is famous or not!)

The main reason for its allure are the legends that Tintagel Castle was the birthplace of King Arthur.

Today the castle remains are greatly diminished but still quite extensive and owing especially to their dramatic location, are well worth a visit. And being only a few miles from our base in Boscastle, it was an obvious inclusion on our to-do list.

After some confusion about where the castle was and how we got there (strangely it didn’t seem to be well sign-posted) after parking the car we instinctively walked to the end of the village. From the grounds of the impressive Camelot Castle Hotel we looked across a gully and there was the elusive castle. I hadn’t researched this place beforehand and I was surprised about how large the site seemed to be. It was also going to require a bit of effort to get there.

But the path to the castle wasn’t anywhere to be seen (so much for instincts) and we backtracked into town until we found it. Rather, we just followed the trail of other tourists heading the same way.

A ways down the path we could choose to head left uphill to some of the castle remains, or right downhill to begin at the visitor centre. Which importantly also had toilet facilities. Right it was.

The castle ruins are in two main sections, the more extensive site is on an island (though there is still a narrow bit of mainland connecting to it) with the other part on the end of the mainland. Back in the day they were connected via a drawbridge, until that fell into the sea. Quite a few sections of castle on both sides met a similar fate thanks to the rugged coastal location and exposure to the elements. Today efforts have been made to strengthen and stabilise what’s left.

The coastline and a cove called Haven lay just beyond the visitor centre. Fortunately it was low tide and the beach was accessible so down I scooted for there were a couple of interesting features to see.

The Haven

In Merlin’s Cave. Given the whole Arthur thing the cave sounded really intriguing but it was only named as such after the 19th century when Tennyson wrote a few poems about King Arthur

Then it was time to go up, past the turnoff to the mainland castle ruins, around the large group of foreign students on the bridge, and up further.

Steep climb up to the island

Breathing a lot more heavily than I had been two minutes before I stepped through the big wooden door into the courtyard and Great Hall. Strolling around ruins, one of my favourite things to do.

A nice section of stone remains I thought. Later I checked it against the guidebook and, well, seems that it was part of a latrine

Island courtyard wall and gate

The path continued beyond here, past some Dark Age ruins (the site evolved over many centuries, chopping and changing as different rulers and landowners occupied it) and up to the top of the island.

Dark Age remains. While the guidebooks use this term apparently it is rarely used now by historians

Sitting low on the hill is the Iron Gate which was originally built to prevent access from the cove below

Looking down onto the courtyard and Great Hall

Pausing at the chapel where there is a mix of foundations from various ages, possibly back to the 5th century

A cave-like tunnel, no one knows for certain what it was used for

Looking from the island over to the mainland ruins

Then it was time to catch up with mum and dad who were making their way over to the mainland part. ‘Over’ = steep steps down + steep steps up.

From the mainland looking back to the island

Upper mainland courtyard

Lower mainland courtyard

You could spend all day wandering around here, or I could at least, but we had other stuff to go and see. Mum and dad’s respective dicky ankle and knee held up on the return walk to the village where we flopped into the closest watering hole.

Time to go find some lunch

Like the umbrella says…

Where doctors, chefs, pirates & mice roam

Posts have been a little sporadic lately. I returned from the UK and had a couple of things going on for my birthday in and around being reunited with my job. Now that things are settling back down I will get back to writing up the rest of the trip.

The day we visited Lizard Point began with a whistlestop tour through some Cornish towns.

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Port Isaac

The phrase ‘picturesque fishing village’ is a bit of a cliche in this part of the world but it is accurate enough. One of mum’s reasons for suggesting we stop here was its use as a location for a few TV series and things.

After finding one of the village carparks – now that were getting used to the fact that you’re hardly ever able to just pull off to the side of the road here – we rugged up for a walk. It was cold and it was windy.

Mum found her TV doctor’s house. Turns out she doesn’t actually care that much for the doctor but does like the rest of the show

I will also remember Port Issac as being where my DSLR started spitting its proverbial dummy. Swearing at it had no effect and frustrating as all this was, I was grateful that I always travel with a compact camera as well.

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Padstow

Obeying the crisp instructions from the satnav (by now I had changed it to a soothing English accent – it seemed appropriate) we arrived swiftly in Padstow. Another suggestion from mum, this was included because of the extensive sandbanks at low tide and because it is home to a few Rick Stein eateries.

As always with these coastal Cornish villages, there were plenty of sights in and around the water that one could study with a camera.

We saw some of the effects of the sand but it wasn’t anything spectacular – we probably weren’t in the right place and the tide may not have been fully out – and we didn’t have time to wait for it!

We found out where to find Rick Stein’s Cafe. I don’t care much about cooking and ‘celebrity chefs’ but tagged along nonetheless, lest I ended up with another case of AWOL parent.

We weren’t there to eat but apparently it would’ve been pretty good

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Just somewhere on the way

Had to make a quick photo stop when we drove through the town that is very nearly my name. Really wanted some paint so that I could add a Y at the end – it just looks… unfinished…

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Penzance

I’m not a fan of stage shows but I can’t think of Penzance without mentally attaching the words ‘Pirates of’ in front. There was no particular agenda with our stop here, lunch and a bit of a wander.

I had something specific in mind for lunch, something I hadn’t yet tried.

When in Cornwall, eat a pasty

I’m sure they weren’t supreme examples, but they did the job.

Our walk was confined to the immediate area around where we parked and had lunch so there was plenty of Penzance that we missed.

Next time you go to throw out old footwear, think again!

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Mousehole

Not far from Penzance is the village of Mousehole. Lonely Planet convinced me that we should go here on account of its description of Mousehole (apparently said like mowzle) as one of Cornwall’s most appealing villages.

Once there I felt like the archetypal tourist, but hey. Sometimes you just are.

On the edge of the village we saw a bus, presumably not familiar with the area, react to a sign advising that buses would not be able to turn beyond that point. The driver began a very awkward attempt to turn around and he was still trying to extract himself and his (amused? embarrassed?) passengers 10 minutes later after we’d parked and walked past. First and last time he went to Mousehole I bet.

Dad was content to rest his dicky knee and stay with the car. Mum and I set off in separate directions with a half hour time budget. I strode very purposefully through the teensy weensy streets to the far side of the small harbour and back. And LP was right, it is a very cute place.

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Could have been somewhere else on the way

I was tempted to make another detour to get closer to the impressive looking St Michael’s Mount, which was an obvious landmark across the water, but time was marching on and I was keen that we get to Lizard Point.

St Michael’s Mount, from afar

One week based in Boscastle

Boscastle is a coastal village in northern Cornwall where we based ourselves for several days. Of many potential destinations, Boscastle was the lucky recipient of our collective presence because my great-great-great-great grandfather lived there once upon a time. Mum had been there before and was keen to return.

Roads

If you were to drive to Boscastle direct from London it would take around five hours. We drove from Bath with considerable phaffing along the way so it took much longer.

England has such a diverse mix of roads, from fast multi lane highways to the most narrow lanes. Our journey to Boscastle and the ensuing week covered the lot, with satnav often taking us through the network of back country lanes.

Beautiful country lanes, narrow though they were

Not only are the lanes somewhat narrow, often you can’t see any of the countryside on account of the hedging, let alone around the next corner

Bit breezy in these parts?

Accommodation

Boscastle has an old and new part. We had planned to stay down in the old town near the harbour, in a self-contained cottage that used to be a carpenter’s shop in our family. Unfortunately there was a botch up and we had earlier learned that our booking hadn’t been received and couldn’t be reinstated. We found an alternative place up in the new town. It was fine though didn’t have the same significance, and we were more reliant on the car up there.

Our cottage in Forrabury Hill

Departure day pic outside our cottage with its views to the other side of Boscastle

Village

Boscastle originated in three distinct parts: the area built near the harbour; an area further up the hill around ‘Bottreaux Castell‘ (from which Boscastle derives its name); and a farming area on top of the hill. Today old has blended with varying degrees of new and these parts have spread into each other.

The harbour area has a definite old feel to it: stone shops and cottages, potted flowers, narrow streets, cobblestones. Many of the buildings here have been converted to accommodation for the tourist market. A destructive flood in 2004 changed the face of the town permanently, though today you’d never know it happened.

The village has a few pubs – though nothing like the 20-odd it had in the 1700s – which we made our way around for some of our evening meals.

This was the original cobblestoned high street of the old town

Valency River running toward the harbour. The 2004 flood swept down this, taking with it 75 cars, several boats and buildings. Around 100 other buildings were destroyed

Dinner at Cobweb Inn, a great Boscastle pub with tonnes of atmosphere. Dad is doing his usual trick of talking while the photo is being taken

The Wellington Hotel, we had dinner here on our last night

Harbour

Volcanic rock created a natural harbour inlet that a couple of entrepreneurial settlers enhanced into a small port. Boscastle used to be a busy port up until the railway arrived in the region. Today it is the domain of a few fishing boats.

The main pier is on the south side of the harbour and is supported by a smaller outer barrier on the north side. What looks like a walking path to the outer pier, especially at low tide, and albeit with some wet and slippery looking patches, is not actually a walking path, though it could be that the sign advising this is not really noticed until one has in fact completed the return walk along it.

There are a couple of good short walks from the village alongside the harbour and up to elevated points on either side. For the more extreme walker, there is a coastal path which extends some seven miles.

On the main pier behind the inner harbour looking back toward the village. In behind, the harbour winds in an S shape from the mouth to the outer pier, which was rebuilt in the 1960s after being destroyed through the combination of a drifting German mine post-WWII and subsequent storms

The entry to Boscastle Harbour

Headland & coast

Some consolation for not staying down near the harbour were the features of interest up near us.

Track up to the Coastwatch Lookout at Willapark. This headland was home to a fort around 2500 years ago. The building you can see was originally a summer house in the 1800s, then used as a lookout to deter smuggling, before becoming a coastguard station. In the last 10 years it has resumed its function as an active coastal lookout

Along the cliff tops at the left you can see the coastal path. I was keen to walk some of this but ended up running out of time

From Willapark looking down to Penally Point and the harbour entry

Forrabury & common

Forrabury Church, St Symphorian’s, has an elevated position above town and was 2 minutes walk from our house. It is a family church so mum visited a couple of times. I liked the graveyard… and the fact that 3G coverage was possible just beyond the church

Forrabury Common (or ‘Stitches’) lies between the church and the sea and dates back to Celtic times. The land has been divided into strips, about 40 in this case. These days it is owned by the National Trust but is still farmed using the original crop rotation method. Locals also walk their dogs there

Sunset over Willapark and the Lookout

Me freezing while watching the sunset just beyond the church

Technology

Internet access was a frustrating aspect to the week, mainly as I had hoped to keep more on top of the blog than was possible in reality. Access existed here and there if you knew where to find it and this information was hard to come by. I sniffed out 3G access and a couple of inns in town had wifi, I eventually realised, which prompted some of our evening meal routines.

The Falcon Hotel in the nearby town of Bude with me sitting in front using their unsecured wifi

Unfortunately during this week my DSLR camera sucked the kumara. First the autofocus went on the shorter lens and for several days I diddled around with manual focusing, which I grew to enjoy. But then an error message kept appearing when using both lenses and I gave up on it in disgust. So for half the trip I had to use my little Canon compact.

Activities

We didn’t spend all that much time around the village as several day trips were planned. Below is a summary of the week, though many things will require separate follow up posts to do them justice.

Day 1: After a welcome sleep-in the plan was to take advantage of the good forecast and jump back in the car for a day trip back into Devon. This also seemed like a good way to mark that it was Mother’s Day in NZ. We lunched in the nearby town of Bude and stopped again at the village of Kilkhampton where mum chanced a visit with someone she knew. Our main destination though was Clovelly, the very quaint village which I have covered separately.

Day 2: A wet day so we hung around Boscastle. It only rained lightly and cleared up in the afternoon. While it was still grey and moody I ventured up to the Stitches and Willapark and found some great views of the wild coastline. Later on we ventured down into the village and moseyed through the shops – I did not come away empty handed – and along the harbour. In between that and dinner I zoomed back to Bude to pinch some wifi. This was before I knew that we’d find good wifi at the Napoleon Inn where we went for tea.

Day 3: A long day out and about. We stopped by the coastal towns of Port Isaac (where Doc Martin is filmed, those of you who this means anything to), Padstowe, Penzance and Mousehole. The main destination was the southern-most point in England, The Lizard. I preferred to go here rather than perhaps the more obvious Lands End. Not far from here is a big naval air base and we scooted into a viewing area as a helicopter was landing which was pretty cool. On the way home we drove through Bodmin Moor and dad and I were stoked to find the road goes through an old air force base, complete with ruins of buildings and runways.

Day 4: We drove to Tintagel, a few miles from Boscastle, to look at the castle ruins. I had planned to walk five miles of the coastal path from there back to Boscastle, but upon seeing the walk required over to the castle and the extent of the ruins, and given that the castle is quite legendary with reputed links to King Arthur, I put the walk on the backburner. We returned to Bodmin Moor in the afternoon for mum to stop at a couple more family churches and for dad and I to go through the museum of the old air base we came across the day before.

Day 5: Another big day in parts of Cornwall and Devon. Our southern route took us through Launceston, Tavistock, Dartmoor, and Widcombe-in-the-Moor, and possibly another church or two. Dad had well and truly lost count by this stage. Our main destination was the coastal city of Plymouth where there was loads to look at including navy ships, memorials for wars and ships of settlers bound for NZ, and preparations for hosting the Olympic torch relay. This was our final night in Boscastle.

I really liked Cornwall and would like to return to see the things I didn’t get time to. That family originated there is a nice bonus as I just really enjoyed its picturesque and historical features.

Clovelly: the trek is worth it!

We were going to have a rest day after arriving in Boscastle but due to the forecast later in the week, decided to bring forward a day trip to Devon. Primarily, Clovelly.

This was such a unique place to visit. The main reason for that is its location, and I don’t mean the northern part of Devon. It’s built into a cleft in a 400 foot high cliff and from there continues on down to a small harbour.

Access into the village is by a steep cobblestone path best suited to able-bodied-ish people, and donkeys.

On the walk down to the village you pass Mount Pleasant which remembers men from the village who died in WWI

Due to vehicles not being able to enter the village, Clovelly has a long association with donkeys. You can see them in paddocks on the way down/up, if not actually on the path itself.

For a donation you could stop on your descent or ascent and say hi to a donkey. (Donkey is the furry one on the left.) This is Noah – he looks a bit over it but he was lovely all the same

The harbour meant that Clovelly used to be a fishing village. They still catch seafood but tourism is I’m sure the biggest earner. This has been made possible by the efforts of the founding families, another interesting aspect being that the village is privately owned.

It was another gorgeous day and yes it was hot down in the village – my clothes for that cool wind up higher were not required here!

Such a quaint place to wander through. Intrusive, probably, but tourism is an everyday part of life for them and helps enable the village to continue thriving

A good indication of the steep path is the great view it gives you over the harbour. At left is the Red Lion Hotel where you can stay and apparently there is another road down so you don’t have to haul your suitcases over the long cobblestone path! At the bottom is an old lime kiln that back in the day was used to convert limestone into stuff for reducing soil acidity in fields

Down by the harbour

Clovelly from the pier off the drystone quay

There was a comfortable number of people around on our visit but the place must get chokka in summer. The entrance fee charged at the top would generate a pretty good revenue. That is used in part to help maintain the village.

Part of me felt like just another cookie cutter tourist doing the expected thing in this part of the country; but getting over that, it is a very picturesque and unique place to spend time in. The all important history of it gives it substance.

Enjoying a breather!

A boat tour leaves the harbour

On the quay are bollards which were once cannon barrels, believed to be from Spanish Armada ships

There is plenty to occupy your time, even just sitting at the bottom admiring the view. Several shops and eating establishments provide a good excuse to stop and rest.

Mum and dad embracing that ascent

Pit stop on the way back up. We were in Devon, hence mum had to have a Devonshire tea. The cream (clotted) is spread on the scone first, followed by the jam

The climb back up didn’t seem as long but then again the trip down was interrupted with much photo phaffing

This looks suspiciously like Noah again. He’d knocked off his fundraising work and was getting down to business in the paddock. Well the eating kind of business anyway

So that was a great little outing. And happily, mum and dad’s respective knees/ankles/dodgy leg parts held up well. There would be a few grumbles the next day though!

Vietnam: 14~Ahhh, resort life

Confirming our suspicions, in daylight the resort was indeed nice. Very nice. Mind you it doesn’t take much to impress me in such matters. It was quite fancy, had nice gardens, it was on the beach, and had no obvious creepy crawlies. That kinda does it for me. Read more

New Year Trip: 8~Killing time in Wakkatain

There was a tv ad on a while ago which featured an ‘Australian’ pronouncing Whakatane as ‘Wakkatain’. (For non-Kiwis reading this, it is in fact closer to Fha ka tah nay.) Mike and I often now refer to it by this nickname, just coz it’s a bit funny.

We woke earlyish with the expectation of readying for the tour. The forecast was OK, the only question was around the state of the river.

Which wasn’t good as it turned out – they called us to say that tours had been cancelled. Rats.

But, would we like to rebook for the following day?

We hummed and hawed for a few minutes. The plan had been to drive home then in time for me to be back at work. But, work wasn’t hellish busy and I could probably wangle another day of leave. It was more important to stay for the opportunity of the tour. I called back to book us in and extend the motel stay by another night.

So what to do with our spare day? It was going to be hot and sunny and there were parts of the Whakatane area we hadn’t seen much of. We decided to do a bit of good old sightseeing.

First, on foot, in an upwardly direction…

Steps along the trail up to the lookout. The artwork on the edges is a vertical progression and at the right angle appears as one scene. Pretty clever

A green-filled gully

View from the lookout across part of Whakatane to Whale Island

Looking north - a good vantage spot for the flooded bits

South toward the river mouth

…and back at sea level…

The Commercial Hotel in art deco style

One of the hillsides above town was strikingly covered in agapanthas

We found a couple of murals tucked down alley ways

A building across from the motel

For the rest we jumped into the car.

Popular Ohope Beach, just south of Whakatane

The beach, normally quite pristine, was awash with drift wood and other flood debris

Ohiwa Harbour from the domain at the end of the peninsula, past Port Ohope

Whale Island as seen from Coastlands beach, just north of the Whakatane River

In the distance, White Island vents away. Hopefully we would get there tomorrow!

From Coastlands looking south

Heavy and prolonged rain resulted in the brown tinted water off-shore

Near the Whakatane River mouth

During the day we checked on the river a couple of times. Each time the water level had lowered quite a bit, and the flow rate seemed to reduce. It was looking promising for tomorrow. Hopefully we would finally be going to White Island!

New Year Trip: 4~Old schools & a shelly beach

Our walking adventures the day before stopped short of the long detour needed to see my old high school so we did a quick drive by. It’s a much more imposing place these days with a steel fence around the perimeter, a bit of a sign of the times I guess. Mind you, 1985-89 is a very long time ago.

Ahhh, good old Kaipara College

Next we sailed on through Parakai and out to South Head. About half way up the ~35km peninsula is my old primary school. Its 75th jubilee was held there in 2005 and it was good to have a proper look around the place again. Either those playing fields got a lot smaller, or I got a lot bigger. Hmmm.

I can still manage the cross-legged thing, just

I grew up at the end of the peninsula though we didn’t go right out there again this time. We zoomed back toward town, noting the flash vehicles in the golf club carpark, and stopped briefly on the corner of the road where we last lived before I moved into Auckland to go to polytech.

They still have Calf Club day!

Our old bus stop, which dad co-built

The plan for lunch was to stop at the macadamia nut farm café but it was closed. Mike had been looking forward to visiting the shop and especially its bags of chocolate-coated nuts (which you’d think the local town might sell, but apparently not). After that crushing blow we decided to detour down to Shelly Beach.

Shelly Beach is a small community within the general South Head community, being a little seaside settlement about 5km off the main road. It has continued to develop over the years, with new subdivisions and a pretty decent little cafe now. A new concrete wharf helps cater for the boating traffic it gets and also I imagine those who like to chuck out a fishing line. The beach was as I remembered, fairly small and narrow, lots of shells, and flanked one end with mangroves.

The wharf, just across from the cafe. We walked out there and boy, Wellington wind had nothing on the coastal breeze that day

Now that's a classic community noticeboard

The Maori name for Shelly Beach is Te Aukahanga o Aotea (shortened to Aotea) meaning where the Aotea canoe lashings were overhauled. You could almost imagine the area's, er, European settlers... "So, what shall we call this place?".... "Hmmmmm" ..... "Say, aren't there a lot of shells on this beach?" ....

The mighty Kaipara is one of the largest harbours in the world

Taking a wide berth around a couple of, um, interesting local male specimens, we returned to the car and back to Parakai.

New Year Trip: 3~Perfect place to clear cobwebs

The rain had still not arrived the next morning so we went out to ‘the coast’. Locally this is generally taken to mean the top part of Muriwai Beach which extends for about 50kms beyond the Muriwai settlement further south. I love and probably prefer coastal areas when the weather gods are in a bit of a grump, so today was ideal. It looked nice and moody.

We got there via Rimmer Road, just west of Helensville on the way to Auckland, with the last few k’s on forestry roads. There’s often a bit of traffic because of the dedicated 4WD and motocross parks now operating. The beach itself is a road too and you need to keep an eye out for the 4WDs that travel up and down to go fishing.

Even so, it’s usually a quiet place with rarely anyone else in sight. It was great to go out there again, though my car’s wellbeing back in the carpark was gnawing on my conscience so we didn’t stay too long.

Spot the subtle modification 🙂

Probably the most fun way to get down to the beach. Coming back, not so much

Coastal highway. In the background is a couple fishing

Straight ahead: Australia

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