Saturday, 23 May 2009

Diary: 23 May 2009

I had a grand time with our spurious expedition to the Hamilton Gardens.

We set off at midday after a late breakfast, and toddled off on State Highway 1. It was a luverly sunny day for a nice long drive. Blue blue sky. Scudding clouds. Chill winds, which is why the car windows were firmly shut.

The car was looked after at the first Service Centre (properly petrolled and windscreen-wiped), whereupon we decided we deserved looking after too. With my usual decision-making skills, I avoided the processed chocolate biscuits and msg'd junk food. It was a wrench but what can I do, if the companies make fake foods? I convinced myself it was much better to scoff genuine 100% sugar and mint flavours. I'd forgotten Minties can take out your teeth.

Proceedin' along --
-- we had forgotten the cassette tapes of "I'm sorry I haven't a clue" and the radio reception wasn't up to much. Husband tossed out the word 'Eragon' which prompted the start of the Alphabet Game.

The rules of the game are simple: the first letter of the subsequent word has to be the last letter of the preceding word. For example,
1. Eragon,
2. nuzzle,
3. effervescent,
4. tumescent,
5. the,
6. et cetera...

You get the idea.

Standard word-play rules apply - where the word is not recognised by all players, the user must provide spelling and/or definition and/or example of use; repetition and derivation is discouraged (not illegal, but certainly frowned on).

It is approximately two hours travelling time on State Highway 1 from Auckland to Hamilton. The game paused when we reached Hamilton.

My memory being lacking, we meandered through the central city area of Hamilton before we located a sign ("A sign! A sign!") indicating the general direction of the Hamilton Gardens. And it was a good and accurate sign.

The ambience of the Gardens was welcoming as always. So open. So fresh. The kauri rickets in the carpark are growing nicely, providing more shade than they did the previous year.

So this was the end of the 2hr trip. The public commode was a most alluring sight. Upon entry, I noted the multitude of water residue (in the form of 'wet') on the toilet seat, and walls of the wide, single room. Did I mention the season is Winter? And the toilet had much airflow betwixt the fresh air outside and any meagre chance of warmth inside. This endeavour promised to be fraught, even as my memory delivered imagery of self-cleaning public toilets.

Needless to say, when I heard an unexpected rumbling noise emanating from the walls, I vacated the room promptly regardless of unfinished business.

The Visitor Centre was very friendly and helpful. The desk lady informed us of the new Te Parapara Maori garden

Husband and I glanced at the garden map we acquired, refreshed our memory of the layout, and put our best foot forward. We found the start of the entrance to the Maori garden. And I convinced him to take the path least travelled, which led us to a deadend in the Italian garden. Nice view. After a u-turn, we were in the right spot again. The Te Parapara website is a lot more impressive than the garden I saw, so I recommend reading the webpage then visiting the land.

After our mutual bewildered experience of Te Parapara, we sauntered into the Perfume garden (which I can't locate on their webpage) but it must have been the wrong season as I only smelt fresh air (and very refreshing it was too). We sauntered out.

Taking the unpaved track, we found the sign to the Sustainable Backyard Garden.

I convinced husband to detour through the Kitchen Garden so that I could recognise supermarket plants au natural. I can spot spinach, rhubarb; he can spot carrot, raspberry. Who knew oats look like grass?

Husband gently reminded me of my interest in sustainability. By a fortuitous coincidence, we were standing by one of the entrances to the Sustainable Backyard Garden. Chicken Tractor, worm farm, compost, water chestnuts, sprightly fantail, comfrey were some of the highlights there. Thoroughly educational.




My thirst of knowledge slaked momentarily, we bethought to nourish ourselves at the Garden Café. What better way to complete this visit than tea and cake by the lake?

'Twas a cold and windy wait for tea. My cake became a memory, as did my half sandwich. Husband staunchly held out for his cuppa before deigning to enjoy his portion of cake. Tea duly arrived, and it was much appreciated. Luverly biiig pot. Which is all I could say really. Taste-wise, not so much.

Everyone concerned was now much more cheerful, and warmer for the hot beverage. I continued to take pleasure in viewing the olive trees as the sun shone through the leaves.

Oh, the warm afterglow of consumption and repleteness...priceless.

And the visit wouldn't be satisfying without an attempt to inspect the turtles of the lake.

I posited the turtles were in hibernation. Then we exited the Gardens. I admired the bush full of small dark-pink flowers. At a guess I'd call it a Manuka. Wikipedia reckons the manuka blossoms are white varying to pink. So I'm uncertain of the name of the plant. But it sure is purty.

The navigation back to Auckland was very easy; all signs point to home. I'd almost feel Hamilton didn't want Aucklanders to stay.

Two hours more of the Alphabet Game; we ended at "Rome" in our carpark. I am pleased to say that we still have more words in our combined vocabulary to continue the game.

"Eragon" was on tv tonight.

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