To Hastings Te Mata Peak and Birdwood
South to Hastings and Te Mata Peak
Fresh Produce, Birdman and Birdwood
The attraction of Hawke’s Bay as a place to live in another life is reinforced by a visit to New Zealand’s largest and longest running Farmer’s Market, (so says the tourist brochure although the numerous stallholders I asked could not substantiate this) held imaginatively at the A & P Showgrounds. I say imaginatively because if the sun shines the stalls are set up outside but if the skies are grey, as they were for us, the stallholders just dive into the vast dry area underneath the stand.
It was on a par with the indoor market at Mindelo, Cape Verdes and I just love the colour and variety of the produce and the human imput is a matter of degree. From harvesting the all local food, cleaning and trimming it for neatness to cooking and baking all kinds of breads, cakes, preserves and sweets.
The Swiss Chard or Sea Kale Beet as it is also known and the Jerusalem Artichokes brought back memories of my happy days of vege gardening in Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. The chard was the only lettuce/brassica like vegetable I could grow without it being eaten into a lace doily by the caterpillars and artichokes make the most delectable earthy flavoured soup known to woman. As I type the ones I bought are now in soup form and sitting in a pan ready to start off the diner we are having with Merv and Jeanie up at Shirley and Max’s retreat this evening. Remember the concrete house with the rounded corners overlooking Limestone Island?
A short drive down the road brought us to the truly delightful centre of Hastings. In the UK Hastings is along the south coast road from Brighton and Eastbourne so one would expect to see Art Deco architecture if the designers out here heralded from those parts and we were not to be disappointed, so maybe they did come from That part of home.
Locally Hastings is viewed as the poor brother of Napier, however I could not disagree more. I could easily spend a week or more in the area. We were there only briefly but in that time it was clear to see the modern day adherence to the Renaissance styles is totally loyal, unlike Napier. The I-Site itself is housed in a typical A-D building and the photo shows not only the cut off corner but also the Terrazzo walls, Australian pressed tin pattern of the ceiling underneath the canopy and the decorative use of glass shapes in the windows.
See also the wide and light, even on a dull day, pavement outside Westerman’s Café where we supped a coffee and the modern elegantly curved lamppost infront of the Cinema with its clean bold lines. We came away well aware of all that we had missed.
We were hoping the low cloud would lift as the day went on so we could take Tui, or Tui would take us up Te Mata Peak for a 360’ look around the area. So we delayed that climb until we had visited Birdwoods, home of Bruce and Louise who were ousted from their Zimbabwean farm by Mugabe 15 years ago. I wondered who was ousted from the land in the first place.
They have remained loyal to the skills of the local sculptors in the old home country and twice a year return there to buy up many pieces sculpted in green opal stone and re-cycled metal and display them in the pretty shopfront that is their garden. The work of New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay artists is also on sale. It is more economic for Americans to travel here and chose their items and have them shipped home than it is to buy them in New York. Which one would you chose? I think the hippo would take a lot of beating.
Can you spot the three giraffes? We didn’t take time for a ‘renowned’ tea or lunch as we were engrossed in the lovely African animals and the clouds were obediently ascending from the Peak, so off we went for our view of Hawke’s Bay and a nosey down at the homes of the rich.
I don’t think I would ever be inclined to try hang-gliding unless someone held a gun to my head but I can see the appeal. Ours buzzed us as he swum the sky around and overhead which was fun until an elderly joker said in a loud voice “If God had meant us to fly he’s have given us wings.” He might have been trying to wind us up so I replied with a smile,
“Well he did and he’s wearing his!” Looking at the man-bird. Had it not been for the fact I think the lady next to me was his daughter I might have gone on to say, ‘Walk up did you? For we were not born wearing cars were we?”