February 15, 2002-Cold and Cloudy is Getting to Me

I spent some time yesterday evening talking with Len Jones. He is supposedly retired, but sits on two town commissions, is the chairman of the South Canterbury Presbyterian Support organization (which manages church-run rest homes) and is still the chairman of his building company -- and he builds furniture in his spare time. Their home is full of really nice pieces that Len has built in his shop. Tables, hutches and cabinets made of Rimu, which is a native wood that looks a lot like teak. He does quite good work.

I left this morning to head to Waimate, which is about 50km from Timaru and off the main road by about 10km, sort of like Geraldine was. It was cold and gray and started to drizzle. Going out of Timaru was quite hilly. It was lots of short hills for about 15km. Like I said, it was like going around in circles up and down Howe Road for 15K.. The problem that I have with riding in this weather is that I don't really see anything. I get focused on getting to the next warm place and don't see much more than the white line along the shoulder. It doesn't make it much fun. I could just as well be riding on my trainer (and it would be warmer and there wouldn't be any trucks).

Things got better once I got through the hills and the road just undulated a bit (and I got to the first tea room). After that I felt a little warmer and the riding was easier. Although it was cloudy, the view was pretty nice. The road was back from the sea about a kilometer, but the fields between the road an the coast sloped down so you could see the Pacific. On the other side it was all rolling countryside. It was like the road was right at the edge of a plain with the hills just off to the right. It was more interesting countryside than the flat Canterbury Plain, with lots of crops, mostly wheat and barley, with a large helping of potatoes.

I wondered why they had so many potato fields, since I hadn't seen any before. It was answered as I rode into Makikihi and there loomed the Makikihi Fries factory.

As I was riding along, I could see one of the big hawks gliding along a tree line along the far edge of a field. Every once and while a pair of smaller birds would come shooting out of the trees and harass the hawk--not near our nest, I assume. This happened several times as the hawk moved along the edge of the field.

After a second tea stop, I finally made it to Waimate and found a farm stay just outside of town. It's called The Hills, since it is right at the base of the hills which rise behind Waimate. It is run by a 40ish couple, Daphne & Fred.

The major effort at the farm is breeding Ostriches. They also have some sheep and young cattle, but the focus is raising ostriches for sale to other farmers to finish for market. They had 97 when I arrived and sold 13 youngsters (only 40kg) today. The people who buy them grow them to 100kg before sending them off to become meat and hides.

Fred also is a self-taught web designer. He wanted to do a web site for the farm stay and get some training, but found it quite expensive, so he learned through tutorials on the Web. After doing his own, he has done several for other local businesses. They are not the most professional, but pretty well done.

The most interesting event of the day was this evening after I called. Daphne invited me to join them for dinner at her sisters. She insisted that I come since there would be other visitors as well. It was very nice. Her sister and her husband live about 5km away and were celebrating the 1st anniversary of moving to Waimate. It was a potluck dinner and there were about ten people, including an older couple from England, who were relatives and two women who were friends of Daphne's sister Sue. They were on there way to a dog show and had a van full of dogs, English Pointers, Irish Setters and Dalmatians. Sue is a breeder of Labs. She currently has eight puppies, seven weeks old, but, unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see them.

The couple from England, Carl & Rose, live in a wonderful house along side a canal in Chester, but come to NZ to caravan in the winter. They are probably in their late 60's. He is a tremendous storyteller and author. He has a book being published in November, which sounds quite interesting. I'm not sure exactly what he did when he was younger, but it was something with ships. He was describing his travels on the Mississippi and Yangtse rivers to do research on river traffic on a Churchill grant. I couldn't repeat some of his escapades.

Updated: 20 March 2002