Nelson – Kiss me Hardy! (Day 116)
A day in Nelson and celebrating Tim's Birthday. Food, Art, the Centre of NZ - really? And connecting with family - the benefits of technology
It is Tim’s Birthday – Hip Hip Hoorah. Our lovely host Alicja made us coffee and we had a long chat with our son George and girlfriend Laura where they sang to Tim, had made a cake for him with a candle, asked him to blow it out and miraculous it was extinguished, and the cake was eaten. (Not on this side of the world though!). They read out a very large Mother’s Day card for me. I hadn’t realised it was Mother’s Day in the UK, it’s not here in NZ. All lovely.
It’s so different travelling now, much easier. I went travelling 30 years ago in my late 20s. The only way to communicate with loved ones was writing on thin blue airmail open envelopes that you fold up and post. Then find the main Post Office to see if any post is waiting for you. I can’t remember how we found out the PO Box number. Alternatively there was the option of very expensive telephone call where you save all your change and it rapidly disappears down that slot whilst your rabbiting ten tons to a dozen before the money runs out.
Technology in some ways does make life a lot easier, well it does with travelling. And it has been lovely seeing all the Happy Birthdays for Tim from friends all over the world on Facebook. I know he is very grateful.
Connecting with family was at both ends of the day, so a lovely chat with our other son John and girlfriend Georgia in our evening. They were still in bed as it was early their morning. Wonderful to hear how our boys and girlfriends are getting on. It means the world. And Tim had a quick chat with his lovely sister Jo and Mum. I am sure his Mum thinks that it is costing us loads to speak with her and it costs nothing.
The rest of the day was exploring Nelson, the oldest city established on the South Island by English settlers in 1841. However various Māori tribes have settled in this region for over 700 years with tribes from the North raiding and taking over the area in the 1820s.
Walking around the streets we noticed that a number of the roads have names associated with Admiral Horatio Nelson, who, of course, the area is named after: Trafalgar, Nile, Hardy and St Vincent Streets. Our first port of call was Nelson Provincial Museum which gives the history and identity of the area. It was nicely laid out, with lots of artefacts and information of the geology, the history of the Māori, the English settlers and how various industries grew, and the wildlife.
Time for lunch and we discovered a very nice café called DeVille which was off the beaten track – googling came up trumps again. My Quesadilla with vegetables, fried avocado, black bean salsa and sour cream was very tasty and Tim had the special – Sticky Pork with spicy salad in a bun and a large Berry Shake. A bit too spicy for his liking.
By chance we then found @SuterGallery which our friend Robin had recommended. It’s the third oldest art gallery in NZ, however has a very contemporary feel. It was the last day of an exhibition by Sally Burton called Pale History, depicting in three dimensions The Wairau Incident where in 1843, twenty six people were killed during violent clashing over land rights. Figures made from driftwood and draped with very thin papery cloth represent individuals from this conflict, and very cleverly showed their characters within the posture and facial structure.
We couldn’t go in one of the galleries as there was a talk going on. The room was packed with people watching, what looked like, a very boring presentation. Why oh why do people use powerpoint with mundane bullet points and writing and then read them out. Come on – you can do better than that! That really is “death by powerpoint”, yet this tool can be used so much better – with visual representations of what the talk is about. Especially being in an Art Gallery!
The other two galleries had work from national and local artists and potters and we had the opportunity to vote for our favourite one. Our chosen pieces were quite different from one another – Tim’s was an abstract representation of autumn and mine quite a traditional painting of Abel Tasman – beautiful and such talent.
A stroll through Queens Garden which was founded to commemorate the 50th Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s coronation and then on to the Centre of New Zealand walk. Phew – up a steep hill to the summit. We were greeted with stunning panoramic views though so worth it. I do wonder if it really is the centre of New Zealand. Funny how it happens to be right on top of a hill don’t you think?
After a rest in the sun, we descended and crossed the Botanical reserve, the site of the first ever Rugby game in New Zealand, played by two Nelson teams. Onto the Cathedral – there was a service on, so we didn’t enter, wandered around to look for Hallowell Cemetery. I eventually found it. A narrow flight of steps between some houses took me to a large open space. Not much to see as far as graves are concerned, however, lovely view.
By this time, it was early evening so we popped into @EastStEatsandBeats, a veggie restaurant for the most amazing meals, so full of flavour. Tim had “Stacked Up” – stuffed mushrooms and veggie fritters and I had “Save the Cow Pitta” – very unusual flavours – delicious.
Back to our Airbnb with lovely long chats with Alicja about work and life. The great thing about travelling is we get to know people quickly. There is no time for formalities so we are who we are. I remember the same happening 30 years ago as well. It’s a bit like children – straight in there, being curious and getting to know one another – wonderful. And what’s more, Alicja gave Tim some Chilli Dark Chocolate for his Birthday – I do hope he’s going to share it.