Friday, August 5, 2016

The South: Nashville to Savannah

We spent two weeks in the South this summer. Crossed three things off my bucket list. To see Nashville, to see Savannah, the homeplace of the book Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil. And best of all, to see the wonderful New Canaan, Connecticut family who hosted me for a year when I was 17. They'd moved to Hilton Head.

Savannah is everything you ever thought it would be; drippy with vines, muggy with heat and wet, knobbly old bars and very friendly people. Charmant, but not at all slick, despite the thousands of clattering tourist buses that run along the streets.

Lines around the block all day long
Three of the best restaurants there are owned by an Australian!

These old bombs were in a decor store

Everyone embraces color

And lounging around...

Apparently someone thought Jesus was a Republican?
We saw loads of For Sale signs. Apparently many city folk come to live down here, then realize there are many trams and other vehicles outside their home all day gazing in their windows.

You could spend a whole day at the cemetery. The statue of the girl which was on the cover of the book "Midnight..." was removed to a museum. The family were concerned that people were climbing all over her whilst taking photos.

 Make sure you go to the town of Beaufort too.

We dropped Cy off at an old fashioned camp (no screens!) in North Carolina, his first sleepaway camp --and it was four weeks. We were worried and there were a few wobbly lips on the drop-off, but he loved it. Story for another day.

 Nashville is just one street really but great fun.

 We stepped onto the stage at the Grand Old Opry.

The food is tasty white and fried carbs, my kind of stuff. FF asked me: biscuits and gravy-- is that the same thing as scones and bechamel? Yes it kind of is!The sauce uses bacon drippings or lard instead of butter.

Biscuits and Gravy, Hermitage Cafe in Nashville, their slogan, "sobering up the wildlife since 1972"

In Hilton Head I saw the half of the family who hosted me for a whole year when I was 17. Back then they lived up in New Canaan, Ct. and it really was the best year. Quite incredible to think a couple with four kids would take on another teen!

We saw the Biltmore Mansion which was overwhelmingly huge and not at all human sized. The rooms that most interested me was the kitchen and the underground pool, which they had to fill for each use because they didn't have chlorine in those days.

The pool was kind of creepy

Nashville has become the second most popular destination in America for bachelorette parties, so we found ourselves in a giggling sea of women wearing loads of pink ribbons and feathers.

We also got to see the most bizarre thing in Savannah and Nashville. It's the open air traveling bar. You know when you've had a few choice margaritas or bubbles and you think of some really wild contraption and you think: This is the coolest idea ever! And in the morning you realize it was stupid and dangerous and no one would ever manufacture it? One idea that did make it is the traveling bar. Drunk people all sit around a bar with wheels and pedal through the streets, hooting, yelling and drinking. And I haven't told you the best part--it's all open air!  Someone could fall off drunk and be smooshed by a car. Not only has this traveling bar taken off, they are veritably crowding the streets.

So you see, there's hope for cocktail-inspired ideas after all...

The Big Day

Well, Dad turned 80 years old alright, and it was a corker. The theme was "The Beach," natch. Had all the ingredients of a good Kiwi knees-up: ham on bone, marinated mussels and champers, followed by enthusiastic dancing to The Beatles (who are surprisingly perfect for that sort of thing), followed by a good old sing song--Ten Guitars and the like.

Dad (right) and his friend John Harwood on the Heafy Track. Like his beret!

Dad (left) with his friends from the bank. Like his cravat!

Dad and Mum at opening of Wellington Airport, 1959. Mum made her dress

Dad (middle) at age 17 with his siblings, Leo, Mary, Gabriel, Chris and Paula. 

All the Big Names from Down The Road were there: Hendy and Pam and loads of other people I've known since I was five. Living in a small town (we're talking 2000 people!) keeps you honest--and tolerant. (Living in a larger town, as I do, some people feel free to burn bridges and they are not called to account.)

My sister Sharon and Dad in the back yard
My brother Tony and I went as tourists off a cruise boat. Very fun costume to wear for dancing

Lead me to the buffet, baby!
Mum with grandkids, Leah and Finn. They wore t-shirts with pic of Dad roller blading 
Reece, Kerry and other sister Pietra came as Edwardian bathers.
Not sure what's going on here but involving speeches
Tallulah's letter

The day came good 

You know my technique by now: I stayed off the booze for a couple of hours, so as not to blow my arse.  Then tried to be vigilant about not being "over-served" by the bartender.

Not so with the tuis outside who kept sipping on the blooms from the Fire Tree: they get drunk on it and fall out of the tree!
Drunken Tuis outside celebrating Dad's 80th

Dad spent most of the winter months last year in the old toy room writing a book about the first years of his life. (He published 1000 copies for $1,000 through the local Whakatane Beacon newspaper, which I thought was jolly good value.) His family moved from Manchester, England to Bahrein and then to NZ. At age 16, he did not do well in his exams and his parents were very short of money, so he was sent to work on the Cobb Dam for a year. It was extremely hard yakka, as they say, but it sorted him out. He saved money and returned to school, determined to pass his exams.

The cover photo from when Dad's family was in Eqypt

Dad is pretty hale and hearty, still doing his walk over the hill bike rides, and golf I asked him what kept him so fit.
"Doing exercise every day."
He thought more.
"Not eating or drinking too much."
Thought some more.
"Cutting back on food and drink now and again."
And finally.
"Honestly, I think it's genes."

Next morning

Friday, June 17, 2016

Faraway And Over The Hill

Back home in Ohope Beach for Dad's 80th. Its wintertime here. Bit of a shivery smile here.

Every morning at 7.30 Dad walks over the hill to Otarawairere Bay. Here's the routine, unchanged for decades. First on the agenda: Cuppa tea and wait for sun to come. It's the Eastern most point of the world so first to see the light, wouldyabelieve. Here it comes...

Nearly here...

And it's here! A scorcha! I was actually seeing red stripes all day after taking these snaps. 

Now we're off. My neice Devan came too.

Climb climb, huff puff. Knee creak, oh heck.

Me , Devan and Dad at the top o hill.

Now down to Otarawai Bay...

Oh no! they're doing work on the path, so we cant go any further. Crikey! Bit of drama! Change in plan! Turn around.

And climb down back home...

Poppi's standing guard.

Past the surboads and succulents..

Past the wee boy in the garden

Take shoes off and back inside so Devan and I can reclaim the couches.

And look out at the view.

So yeah, All g for go here. What's your morning been like?

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