Travel : Came on Holiday by Mistake – Up with the ghosts

I wake early. Shannon was out last night so I creep around the house, feed the dog, dress and set out with Rubes for an early morning walk. I head up past my family home where the light tells me mum has stirred and is starting her day. I walk a road edged by bush on one side and the nursery that grows plants for the council garden beds the other. The Berhampore golf course extends across the hill in the distance. When I was a child a house stood on the boundary of cultivation and golf. A large rotund nursery caretaker lived there and he used to chase us when we hopped over the back fence to play in the nursery grounds.

I continue up the road. Originally an Edwardian Orphanage in later years this road led to an old peoples home and a half way house. A friend’s grandmother ended her journey in the old peoples home. The half way house filled my childhood with colourful but wounded characters , out of the 19th century style institutions and into the streets of south Wellington , victims of ‘shell shock’ or the 60’s or an imbalance or just life.
Both these worthy presbyterian institutions are gone. A gate bars people from entering but I slip through a hole in the fence. Rubes revels in the morning breeze coming up the valley from Antarctica. Kingston the suburb above has begun to give in to the inevitability of gravity. A decade ago it started sliding down upon Berhampore a little too hastily for comfort. The elderly were evicted , the wounded moved on. Now all that remains are marks where the roads went, sewer accesses , and tussock and gorse. A house still balances on the precipice , raining bits of its flesh down on the bank below. We walk back to Shannon’s. It’s time to leave my k9 baby in her care and fly.

At the airport the domestic terminal is a hive of action. It’s the school holidays so travel is in fashion. The AirNZ host directing the bag drop has a nose as sharp as his shoes. He holds a ‘makeup counter’ smile that almost succeeds in being authentic.
We proceed through the security vetting , and on into the flying pencil that is to transport us south . Towards the end of the flight the pilot comes on the intercom , he tells us the temperature and weather conditions and apologises that we will be alittle late landing at New Plymouth , we are meant to be flying to Dunedin. I seem to be the only one concerned.
We emerge into a glorious Dunedin day , snow on the hills and air that is a tonic for everything. After an hour on a park bench a coach arrives to take me to Oamaru. I have paid extra for a first class seat at the front. The first class seats are full of elderly citizens from Invercargill , the driver has his stuff all over the one spare seat. I head past to cattle class, its where I am more comfortable anyway.
As we navigate the streets of Dunedin there is a moment where the driver meets an impasse with a car which won’t pull over to allow the large coach to swing round the intersection. The driver jumps from the coach filling the air with venom tipped expletives aimed squarely at the car in question. He jumps back on board and seamlessly shifts to smooth host again. We are off.

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