Paua to the people

I finally hauled myself up the steep hillside behind the hostel to reach the ridge walk along the crater’s edge this afternoon, and it was worth the slog. There was no wind to disperse the heat, and I could feel it rising off the ground. The grass swayed golden, a sign of  Autumn’s stealthy march across the land. When I reached the ridge, it was a slightly tricky scramble across large boulders out to the edge of the peninsula. At the end, I found a big rock and sat for a while in a welcome light breeze, immersing myself in the sounds of nature’s industry – bees, cicadas, trilling birds. It’s strange how such a racket can be so peaceful. I watched a large bird of prey wheeling far below for ages – I think it must have been one of the New Zealand falcons that breed in this area.

Later in the evening (after another reading stint – Anna will now have to wait until I finish Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie…) I also took a walk down the steep track to the pebble beach below the hostel. Again, I found a bum-friendly rock and sat listening to the soothing sound of retreating waves sucking softly on the stones. The beach also had rich beachcombing pickings. Nestled amongst the dark grey stones were many large paua shells (like over-size mussels), with pearlescent turquoise and rose pink interiors. In tribute to its beachcombing credentials there was a table at the edge of the beach covered in other people’s finds. I felt I ought to pay my dues to the beach, and added a few paua from my own bulging collection as I left. I found out when I returned to the hostel that, strictly speaking, you’re not allowed to take shells out of the country due to biosecurity, d’oh. I’ll see how rebellious and risky I’m feeling when I come to leave…

Another notable incident from today is that I inadvertently became an integral part of a water-bomb fight between the owners’ children. I was just about to get my netbook out to check emails, and then suddenly a waterbomb sailed through the air from the other side of the house and landed right on my netbook case, exploding all down my front. This actually worked out really well for me because a) it was quite refreshing in the heat, b) the owners were incredibly apologetic and gave me free chocolate, an internet voucher and a paua pattie that they barbecued in the evening, and c) my netbook was completely unharmed (had it happened a second later this may have not been the case). One of those bizarre fluke moments – if someone had aimed the bomb at me, there’s no way it would have hit the target so perfectly.

As I write this, I realise mother’s day is just beginning in the UK, and therefore I’m afraid I’m temporarily ambushing my blog for personal means in order to send my lovely mum a gratitude-laden ‘blug’ (‘blog hug’) over the ether to the other side of the world. Love you loads, moomin! xx

View looking backwards across the harbour as I climbed up to the ridge – with grass that made me feel like Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

The beachcombing table.

Close-up of my own paua loot. The evening light doesn’t do the colours justice.

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