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Archive for February 10th, 2021

Nearing the end of my virtual journey, with just 46 miles/74 kms to go…this postcard and story about the route, popped up on 26 January….

Summer fruit orchards and wineries seem to be the economic backbone of Kurow, a small town that in the 1920s was the base for the construction of the Waitaki Dam.

Kurow sits within the Waitaki Valley, a rich limestone region with a cool maritime climate. With warm summers and long, dry autumns this region is a wonderful environment to grow grapes for wines such as pinots noir and pinot gris. The first vines were only planted in 2001, making this valley a very young winery region. I can imagine it took passionate and dedicated viticulturists to have the courage to explore new grounds and experiment with different plantings. Small scale, family-run vineyards are now dotted through the valley creating bespoke, boutique wines.

Stage 7
Stage 7

Just outside of Kurow is a family-run orchard growing summer fruits such as peaches, apricots and cherries. Conscious about fruit that is rejected by supermarkets due to imperfections, the family built a commercial kitchen and went about turning rejected fruit into a range of products such as jams, sorbets and baked goods. With a half dozen box of summerfruit tarts under my arms, I was ready to leave Kurow.

Joining the trail alongside the Waitaki River, I marvelled at its characteristics. This 68mi (110km) braided river begins at the confluence of Pukaki, Tekapo and Ohau Rivers with Lake Benmore atop it. The river acts like a link between the lower lakes by running through and connecting Lake Benmore to Lake Aviemore to Lake Waitaki before it freely and swiftly flows the rest of the way into the Pacific Ocean.

Between Kurow and Duntroon, I had to ford three rivers and I was grateful they were not flooded permitting me to travel beside Waitaki River and admire the mountain range behind it, instead of using a trail next to the highway. I’m also glad I read the instructions to not touch the fences along the way as many are electrically charged and not necessarily marked for information. Might’ve added an element of excitement I wasn’t really looking for.

Just before reaching Duntroon, I stopped at the Takiroa Rock Art Shelter to see the Maori art on the limestone rock that dates back to between 1400 and 1900AD. After the rock art site, I carried on through Duntroon’s Wetlands into Duntroon straight to the local pub for a feed and more Waitaki Valley wine sampling.

Seeing those grapes reminded me of when I was in Portugal on the Portuguese Camino coastal route to Santiago. The path invariably goes inland at some stages, and one day it took me through a vineyard. I shouted “Ola!! Buenas dias” to an elderly couple amongst the vines cutting down bunches of purple grapes. The lady and I got to chatting (her English was way superior to my Portuguese), and it turned out her daughter was at that time, living and working in London πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ How cool is that. So after a long conversation, she gave me a big fat bunch of the MOST delicious, juicy, aromatic grapes you could imagine…the flavour was like heaven.

I strolled along eating the grapes with relish, and shortly afterwards met the one and only snake in my entire Camino. 🐍😱😱 It was lying there, on the path, looking for all the world like a skinny stick, and as I was hesitating, thinking “is it, or isn’t it ” – the bastard moved. 🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣😱😱😱😱

It still cracks me up when I think about that…3 things happened simultaneously : I discovered that I could indeed run if I needed to, I lost most of the grapes, and peed my myself 😜😜😜😜 of course the bloody snake slithered off into the grass with an evil grin ‘gotcha’. 😬😬 not funny.

Of course, encountering that snake, thereafter put a slightly different perspective on my walk, and I never looked at a stick in quite the same way again, or crept off into the bushes without trepidation 🧐🧐🧐

Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of my Alps to Ocean virtual challenge across New Zealand. And I’m now seriously considering actually doing this route when I visit the island. It might mean postponing my trip down south to Ozzie land for a year to save more funds, but it would be totally awesome. And of course, if I did, and since I’m going that way, I’ve pinned my ‘intention’ to my metaphorical board of walking the Kumano Kodo in Japan. I mean seriously, how awesome would that be!!

Like the Camino de Santiago, the Kumano Kodo is designated a UNESCO heritage site and would slot in nicely with my Project 101 https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4952.html

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I have essentially been homeless for nearly 18 months now, staying in b&bs and guest houses between bookings since September 2019, with the occasional sleepover on my daughter’s couch.

My belongings have been in storage for much of that time. Some of the many boxes filled with stuff I’ve accumulated since I arrived in the UK and much of it brought over from South Africa in 2016 after I obtained my British citizenship.
Settling under the weight of my belongings has been tough. Walking the Camino taught me about just how little we really need to get by, but real life is not a Camino and so I find it hard to give up on ‘stuff’.

But on Monday I moved into a new place which I shall call home for the next 6 months at least. ‘Move in’ is a bit of a stretch of course since atm its just me and my suitcase 😝😝😝 Due to the snow I’ve been unable to get to the storage unit anyway even though I want to, and was supposed to on Monday afternoon.

So meanwhile I’ve had to borrow teabags, blankets and a pillow from my daughter, and a blanket, water-bottle, heater and kettle from the landlord, who also kindly bought me some milk last night when went out to Waitrose. I already have my own tea mug to hand that I take to bookings because I loathe using the client’s mugs…some of which are just manky.

Today I’m having a pj day and staying in bed till after midday…I think I deserve it after 5 weeks of getting up at 6.45 every day 😝😝😝πŸ₯±πŸ₯±πŸ₯± although I suspect my stomach may well get me out sooner….

But, since the ‘new place’ is essentially just a big room in a shared house, with separate, shared facilities, I will only be bringing over the essentials like my backpack and some extra clothes and my groceries plus bedlinen of course, and a towel. Its going to be so good to have some of my travel books as well…just to make it look homely. Of course pride of place goes to a framed photo of my grandson that travels around the country with me. That it always next to my bedside so that he’s the first thing I see each day πŸ₯°πŸ₯°

But the best of all is that once I’ve got all the stuff I want, to make life a bit more pleasant, I can just leave it all here when I leave for my next booking, and not have to stress about getting to the storage unit to leave or collect anything.

Its been really stressful and quite expensive having to look for a place to stay between bookings, but this place is a very reasonable rent and as I say, quite spacious. I’ve viewed so many rooms in the last 18 months and they’re all very small and expensive. My heartfelt thanks to my son-in-law who spotted the advert and alerted me to view.

So here it is…unadorned with my belongings as yet, except for a few odds and ends…the desk sold the place really…somewhere I can set up my computer – most important!!

There’s a little, unused, fireplace behind where I’m standing which I’ll fill with something decorative, and 2 small cupboards with hanging space and shelves.

So in all, and in comparison to what millions of other people around the world have to live in….its a palace…. albeit a feking cold palace atm πŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ₯Ά even with the heater on, its cold, which is why I’m having a pj day…with a hotwater-bottle under my feet. Roll on summer 😁😁

Welcome home Cindy πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

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