family reunion

We headed off to Blenheim on Friday afternoon. Fish and chips and slides and swings at Murchison then we drove through the Wairau Valley as dusk fell. There were rain clouds ahead and then on top of us and the valley was beautiful in this half light framed by mountains. Usually we drive through in bleaching sunlight and the miles and miles of monoculture grapes, tanalised posts leaching toxins into the water table, sprays and other resource hungry inpouts all to put a product on the tables of the rich all get me furious.

By 9pm we were in Blenheim and I didn't much care where stayed so long as I could find my bed soon. We found a reasonably priced motel and the children slumbered. Up with the birds at 5.45am, they didn't find similarly excited parents.

After breakfast we had some spare time before visiting hours at the hospital. Fionn and I wandered through the car boot sale and I loved being in a more multicultural setting than our home town currently offers. The music from a group of Pacific Island (possibly Vanuatu) men was impressive, coming from singing, some guitars, a stick of wood and an instrument made of a string attached to a big box with a piece of wood. I think they are in Marlborough to work on the vineyards. My family variously sought out new lives in New Zealand from Ireland, Cornwall, Alton (Hampshire, England) and Scotland. Favourite Handyman and I loved loved loved our five years in London. I also love seeing other people out here learning and living in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Our world should be the oyster of all who are keen, not just the rich.

Up at the hospital, my parents were also visiting Grandma. I've got a little arthritis-like feeling in my hands at the moment, just in the place where Grandma's knuckles are huge and have been in pain for years. They are the least of her worries right now as she contends with fractures in her back and a (crushed I think) vertabrae. I sat on the floor where I could have my own kids in my lap when they wanted easily and looked up at the woman who I have been visiting since my earliest memories. This is the woman who until this current hospital stay drove the long trip to Nelson alone (she is 83) for specialist appointments without a second thought. She has raised five children, run a household and helped with farm work for more than six decades. The other awareness I came to sitting there, with Mum just behind me, was that I will be in hospital visiting my own mother one day, just as my Mum is now. I'm lucky to have so many people around me right now.

Once we found our cabin in Pelorus, then it was time to head to the big rellie session. Grandad, my parents, lots of uncles and aunts, cousins and my cousins' children. That was lovely, especially to see the children having so much fun together. The older children found sticks and went on pig hunts and my daughter found a plastic bike and careered down steep hills. Again and again and again. Grandad slipped away early on - he is also unwell and so missed the photo session.

This morning I left the children with FH and drove to Grandad's. I didn't want to go without saying goodbye. I am so glad I did. I grew up hanging around Grandad whenever I visited, watching him in his workshop, accompanying him on plumbing jobs, learning to milk the cows, feeding out hay and grubbing ragwort. Now I take the children with me and I never talk to Grandad on my own for more than a minute or two until today.

On the way back, I stopped at a roadside stall called Pelorus Peasants and bought a wee souvenir - a seedling of the pumpkin 'ironbark triamble'.

Through to Nelson and I stopped at my favourite tiny suburban stall in The Wood and bought marigold seedlings and some red peppers and an aubergine. We all checked out the Nelson Museum which is so wonderful and sophisticated.

A play at the flying fox playground at Wakefield and then we were off back to the Coast. Twice we had to change route just before home because of accidents and I am so grateful that we are all alive.

Back home there were some new arrivals:
1. first Flanders poppy out.
2. seedlings through in the windowsill of either pumpkins or zucchinis.
3. more purple irises.
4. more chrysanthemums, more nasturtiums, bigger lettuces, water down in the chook run, more germinated silverbeet and lettuce, the celery starting to run to seed. It was obviously good weather here.

I am going to let the celery run to seed and provide more food for the bees. Tomorrow I need to do a LOT of work in the garden. Besides all that weeding and wood stacking, I need to make MORE garden! I need more space for pumpkins, potatoes and zucchinis. Plus I need to repot heaps of tomato seedlings, mostly not for planting outside just yet but for some more food and to get bigger in the next 2-3 weeks. Oh and plant out sunflowers.


Rach said…
You come from Alton too? It only seems like yesterday that we were visiting family we didn't even know we had in Alton. Cute town. And a good second-hand bookstore!
Rachael again (oh yeah, and I finally get to read you....and I see a veiled - heehee - reference to my sad whitebait fritters - I'll try again, truly I will, without flour, heap coals on Mrs Edmonds!!)
Hi Rachael. Yup, they were brewers (as in occupation, not surname) in Alton and then when they came out to Nelson, NZ, in the 1840s, they grew apples and made cider.

Whitebait reference is not to you but to the fact that paying big prices for a whitebait entree in a restaurant will yield you a floury pattie, not the divine concotion you get if you make your own without flour.

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