In the morning I note that a bible has jumped to it’s death out of one of the adjoining rooms window. Perhaps it has died so that I may live.
I set out in search of breakfast. Dunedin is a city that makes stuff. OR at least it always has been.
Wilsons Whisky, Cadbury Chocolate, Greggs Coffee, Speights and Emerson Beer , Cowells Pavlova the list goes on. I walk past the gapping space that was once the chocolate factory. It’s soon to be a hospital. Then there will be a gapping space where the hospital is. And so it goes. I don’t hold on to yester year like Michael Obrien does but having grown up in the heady smells of Berhampore’s Goulds Small Goods Factory and of the Tip Top Bread bakery in Newtown I have a soft spot for places that make stuff. Their passing with production moved to Fiji , or Sydney or Wiri is always sad to me.
Anyway it does seem that for every factory that closes 10 funky eateries open in Dunedin so I guess that is a silver lining . I wish we could have both but I don’t make the rules and that is probably for the best.
I end up at one of my regular brunch haunts. Morning Magpie. A breakfast bowl is ordered. Initially I am told they don’t have tofu, I say just replace it with bacon. They are disapproving of my seamless shift from vego to omnivore. They find some tofu. It’s extremely good.
I meet Mel at the café. The day is glorious. She drives me out to Portobello . We try to enter the pub. There are people inside drinking. The doors are all locked. We go to a café up the road a little. We drink tea and talk politics and I eat a cheese roll . It’s not judged to be great but it also ends up being the best of the trip.
We pick up Bob. Formerly the main man at Emersons and head north to Arc Brewing at Evansdale. Arc is out on its own in the countryside . The sun is shining and the place is heaving. Jono the brewer recognises me. He is clearly stoked I made it out. I’m glad I did. The beers are great. It’s awesome to see the place humming.
Mel drives us back into town and Bob and I head to Noisy. The beer is good. The taproom comfortable and full of families. We talk mortality. Middle age and the loss of a parent seems to bring out these topics of conversation in me. Sometimes beer lubricates the big issues.
We wander over to Steamer Basin. It’s the beginning of a renaissance in a lane in the warehouse district. It reminds me of Twisted Hop in Poplar Lane in Christchurch at the beginning before mother nature wiped it from the earth. History repeats, and over and over.
Bob heads home. I shower then head to Al Bar. Al Bar is one of my favourite pubs in the country. I usually christen my Dunedin trips by heading strait from the hotel to it’s door and ordering a pint of something handpulled and a malt of the month. Arriving so hung over yesterday has put me a day behind. I sit with my Emerson’s London Porter and glass of whisky. Al Bar has what I call snob screens but really they are just booths. To one side an enthusiastic conversation is going in French. The other some chaps , I’m going to hazard a guess at University folk, are discussing the socio-political implications of The Sex Pistols playing Manchester, Elvis and The Ramones. I appreciate their earnestness. I suspect they are my people.
It’s time to eat. I head for a Nepalese restaurant but they are mopping the floor. I take the Taiwanese joint next door. 3 generations of an Asian family are eating there so I take it as a sign of quality. The guy running front of house is Pacifican , he is keen to talk about my tattoos . We talk about how the designs are from my head, not in any Pacific Island tradition but there is definitely some influence. We talk of my tattoists. We talk of how well my oldest ones have held up. I say they have held up better than the rest of my body has since 2001. I get the laugh. I leave on the punchline.