Well, after travelling through it twice by train, twice by bus, and twice by car, today I finally visited the largest town in Central Hawke's Bay, Hastings. The Hastings district is known as the "Fruit Bowl of New Zealand", as a lot of apple, pear, and stone fruit is grown in the area; New Zealand's red wine industry is also based here. Because of all this agricultural production Hastings has a close relationship with the Port of Napier, and the two are often referred to as the "twin cities".
After driving past the library where we would meet at 11pm, Skye dropped me off on Russell Street close to the bus station at 9am, and then headed off to her appointment. I walked down the street to the famed railway fountain (the one with the rail line running directly through the centre, as I described in this blog post... amusingly, as I type this, I can hear a train clickety-clacking over the Waipawa River bridge!). I now have several pictures of this fountain - albeit without a train in them - but they will make a nice compliment to the photos I have taken on board J 1211 as we passed through on the 23rd of October.
Continuing down Russell Street, I headed into Kathmandu (The New Zealand Equivalent of Mountain Equipment Co-Op) and purchased a walking stick and a tent for my Heaphy Track hike in January. When I booked the Heaphy I could only get a bunk in a cabin for one of the four nights, so the other three will be spent in my Lansan Light tent. Although I'm not too keen about having to carry it around, it is very light (1.85kg, or about 4lbs), and may even provide a welcome respite from mosquitos, sandflies, and snoring coinhabitants of the huts (earplugs are definitely going to be a must).
I headed back down Russell Street toward the library and explored Hastings' downtown (which reminded me a little of old-town Duncan). I wandered down Heretaunga Street into Seekers, a thrift store, and bought four shirts (for gardening and dealing with the humid weather) for a grand total of $16 (I love $4 shirts). I then treated myself (or rather, Skye treated me, as she insisted on giving me some money to buy a coffee and snack in thanks for my singing and contributing to the community yesterday) to a mocha at Taste Cornucopia Organic Café. The café is attached to Cornucopia Organics, a store Warwick told me about that he and Elizabeth do a lot of their shopping at (and Skye has things delivered to the house from there as well). The mocha was indeed delicious, but it did have the nasty effect of leaving me anxiously wired for most of the afternoon (I never learn).
At the library I picked out Toy Story 2 and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit for Finn, met up with Skye, and we drove back the 45km to Waipawa. By the time we got back the caffeine in the coffee had really kicked into high gear in my system, so after lunch I went for a big walk up Matthew Street, down Abbotsford Rd, onto Tikokino Rd, down into Coronation Park, along the Waipawa River, then back up the "wrong side of the tracks", one could say, and into town. It was overcast, but the humidity was formidable... I was in a t-shirt, and felt uncomfortably hot. I haven't been in humidity this high since I was in Hong Kong, and I don't like it any better here than I did there.
When I reached the New World to buy milk, yoghurt, and tomatoes I was crashing, and by the time I got back up the hill to Skye's place I was exhausted. I made myself a cup of tea and flopped down on the bed for a short rest, and nearly fell asleep, but was woken up by Finn cutting the grass with the push-mower outside my window. I dragged myself out into the backyard (feeling rather guilty because I hadn't done any work today) and set to pulling weeds out of the paths on the sides of the garden, gradually moving to ripping dandelions out of the lawn with a garden fork. There are a lot of them, however; I fear if I tried to do the whole lawn there would be more dirt showing than grass!
After dinner Finn and I watched Toy Story 2, (which he rated 7.5/10, so Skye told me I had made a good choice). I hadn't seen it since I saw it in the Duncan Caprice theatre in 1999, the same night that my middle school band teacher went, causing him to call me "Jessie" for the next few months. It was as good as I remembered, and made me want to watch Toy Story and Toy Story 3 again. :-)
Now I'm off to bed... apparently tomorrow there is another clump of yarrow waiting with my name on it that Skye has decided needs to come out. Good decision! En garde, monsieur yarrow! Je te tuerai!