Travel : Came on Holiday by Mistake – Geometry, Fire, Iron and Whisky

I breakfast at a vibrant bakery that also does café service. A dome of scrambled eggs , sausage patty , confit mushrooms and glazed ham all spiked with Szechuan crispy chilli oil.

A family dressed like it’s 1983 walk along Lower Stuart Street. They are animatedly discussing the city’s wifi service. They head into one of the city’s ‘Scottish shops’ .

I feel like some salt air so I book an uber to St Clair. I walk the promenade. Surfers bob up and down in the swell , two teen girls run into the sea in bikinis , they last all of 30seconds in the vibrantly fresh southern ocean. Dogs chase seaweed. They yelp and wrestle and run.
St Clair always reminds me of Wellington’s South Coast but with the poshness of Oriental Bay.  

I return to the hotel , freshen up. I then head across Queens Gardens to The Duke of Wellington pub. The place is a gin palace of a pub that imports its own kegs of English beer. I settle down with a Theakston’s Best . Along the bar a middle aged pilot is holding court with a pint of Murphy’s Stout. A much younger man from Hong Kong is in attendance. I am drawn into conversation in the way things go in the best pubs. He was an airline pilot who used to work with the man from Hong Kong. Our conversation winds through the future of my local airport , the nature of Wellington , the crime of Auckland , my theory of how geography impacts social cohesion. The pilot is unreconstructed. I’m sure he would say if asked anti-pc. He praises Asian immigration but is positively racist about immigrants from the Pacific. He snarls when I use the word iwi. But he is also charismatic and shows sincere concern for the man from Hong Kong’s overdue girlfriend. He is not the sort of person I often interact with, I disagree with him but I am the better for having heard him.  

I head to Careys Bay. The historic hotel was once the local of the artist Ralph Hotere. I have a pint and a whisky then walk towards Port Chalmers. I romantically associate Carey’s Bay and Port Chalmers with Hotere . When I visit I see geometry and I see fire, I see iron and I drink whisky. The constant thump of containers dropping from the cranes at the port is somehow appropriate. Dunedin makes stuff and Port Otago sends it away.

I wander round to Port Chalmers. I meet Mel at Portsider the wonderful pub/restaurant run by Pip and Hanz. Mel and I chat over Pork Rillet and Bitterballen and Venison and Steak. When we are done and leave, the sky has put on a show in the dying light. It’s more Salvador Dali than Hotere to my eye but it’s pretty special.

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