Nuggets of nostalgia

Instead of leaving home for our holidays this year we decided to stay put and enjoy day trips exploring Otago.

After tripping north yesterday, today we headed south stopping at Kaka Point for a walk along the beach and then continuing on to Nugget Point Lighthouse.

Poetry plaques, dotted alongside the footpath from the car park right up to the Lighthouse, pay homage to the wildlife, the plants, the coast………Nugget Point plaques

We heard their cries before we saw them. Fur seals slumbering on the rocks far below.

Fur seals collage

The steep headland has the lighthouse at its tip, now managed from a control room in Wellington.

Nugget Point Lighthouse

These rocks are The Nuggets.

View from the Lighthouse

Looking east from the Lighthouse

After leaving the Lighthouse car park  we pulled in at Roaring Bay. It was only midday so we had no expectations of seeing any  penguins, it was still their fishing time. But a tiny movement on the beach below caught my eye – a yellow eyed penguin playing truant! It preened itself for some time before waddling further up the beach, stopped for another preen and a stretch and then looked around as though wondering maybe I’ve been stood upsurely this was our meeting spot! And sorry no photos because, my camera battery went flat right then and my cellphone is very old, pre cellphone camera days in fact.

We stopped in Balclutha for a late lunch and then started our journey home detouring via Stirling as I was keen to see my old home, the Manse.  I knew our house was now privately owned but hoped to sneak a peek through the trees. It looked abandoned so after knocking on the door just to make sure there was no one home we had a quiet wander through the grounds. I pointed out to Barry the now bleak spot where Dad’s magnificent vegetable garden once reigned supreme. Mum and Dad’s well-tended flower gardens are now just long grass and overgrown shrubs.

I was hit by nostalgia. I could picture us trudging up the long driveway famished after a day at school, noses picking up the smell of fresh baking cooling on the racks or, racing indoors telling Mum I needed a new dress/frock/blouse because we had a school trip/dance/ event and I had absolutely nothing to wear. With three daughters all making these demands I only now appreciate what a wonderful woman my mother was.

We left Stirling wondering about the fate of the church and hall, both up for sale due to dwindling congregation numbers. Since I was in this nostalgic mood we wandered off the main highway and went to see the Lovells Flat church – Dad had three churches in his parish – Stirling, Kaitangata and Lovells Flat. Because most of the parishioners at Lovells Flat were farmers often during lambing or haymaking there would be Dad, me and the organist at church, and sometimes the odd mouse or two! The church was looking very smart from the outside – it was locked up. The grounds have been extended and gardens added. I read recently it is quite a popular wee church for weddings.

Well that was a convoluted blog – I originally planned to just show you the poetry plaques but I got carried away. So let’s return to poetry. I wrote this some years ago after a trip down south to Riverton, Dad’s second parish and the idyllic town of my childhood.

Vicarage kids

The vicarage lolled on the other side of our
hedge. We slashed a go between hole
inventing our own church union.

We reckoned if living in the vicarage made
their dad the vicar, then our dad must be
the man.

Their dad had a moonish face and always
looked puzzled. He would peer at us
over the top of his glasses,

as though he couldn’t quite remember where
we came from. And we saw him
every day!

He had a gold tooth tucked down the side
of his grin. Our dad said the bank was the
best place for gold.

On rainy days we’d weave flax mats in the
wash-house. When their mum got sick of
the mess she’d shoo us off

to the TV room. We’d sink into the darkness
of the tatty leather sofa absorbing Lassie,
Gentle Ben, poachers, and

deathtraps – a world away from Riverton. And
then after scattering thanks we’d head
back through the hedge

to mum’s warmth in the coal ranged kitchen,
baby in the playpen and bible readings
after tea.

Ruth Arnison


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One Response to Nuggets of nostalgia

  1. kiwiskan says:

    there is always nostalgia re-visiting childhood places…

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