Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just for a change, I thought I might share the past weekend not because it was a “typical” weekend, but simply because it was not a typical weekend. If Al drops by, he might even enjoy some of this…

This past weekend was my grandson’s first birthday. Now as that particular branch of the family is residing some 5-1/2 hours drive away, a birthday party – even of this magnitude – is not something that one considers as a day trip.

But there was more afoot than that. Daughter Kath and s-i-l Darryl have been involved for many years in the mediaeval re-enactment movement. Neither of them have that much interest now in the combative side but have been adding their shoulder to the organisation of the more important annual events.

That the annual Jousting Tournament in Taupo coincided with grandson’s first birthday was entirely coincidental. There were other far more important events that shaped the timing; a couple of weddings in the mediaeval re-enactment community; Wellington Anniversary Day (which included Taupo), the availability of a team from Australia, in that sort of order…

Now Taupo is a couple hours closer to Auckland than is New Plymouth so it is a sorta halfway house as well as the Joust. We packed necessaries such as swim gear, wet weather gear, and woollies (well it was friggin COLD in Auckland) and left the cat to his own devices for the day. Had breakfast in Cambridge at 8.30. Spent an hour enjoying bacon and eggs and strong coffee. Tootled our way down through the showers and got to Taupo at roughly 11.

No, we did not get free admission because D was one of the organisers. It cost almost as much as breakfast.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around, meeting peoples, looking, baby-sitting (that gets increasingly difficult as mokopuna start finding their feet and standing), and just being a general pest. I proved that I can re-start a fire from black hot embers using only found material – pine needles in this case – as tinder. Not difficult, just a bit of patience and not choking the air out while keeping the heat in.

The disappointments? The swimming holes (natural, thermal, and hot!) were crowded all day, and not particularly salubrious. The weather was cool, a drafty SWer, with showers that were dampening rather than wetting but still annoying. Finding that Mercer is a lot further from Taupiri than I thought and nearly running out of fuel as a result.

The highlights? Seeing that part of the family. Picking meat off a pot-roast chicken for lunch. Getting smoke in my eyes. Breakfast in Cambridge, toasted sammies at 9 pm when we got home again.

One of the peoples we met was Rangi. A lovely and quite remarkable woman. She is in her late forties / early fifties. She has a 33 y-o daughter, an 8 y-o and a 3 y-o, plus an 8 month grand-daughter. TF was right that she is Maori (who are Polynesians), and she also has “Celtic” (English) blood. Hence the two tattoos; Maori whakairo on the chin and lips, a “Celtic tribal” design behind her ear. She agreed that the latter was probably about as “traditionally accurate” as calling Govenor Hobson a Roman Prelate. For those who don’t know, the modern whakairo is tattooed with the modern needle process. The traditional form was actually carved into the skin; an extremely long and painful process. There were two kuia in Te Whaiti when I lived there in the ‘50s who had the old form; the patterns were actually grooves in the skin coloured a deep brown-green with a paste made from a fungus, and scar tissue beneath where the skin and some of the underlying fatty tissue had been “cut out”; shading was done with a “comb” cutter very similar to the modern process in effect.

One of the reasons for that previous post was a comment my wife made that “…if you saw Rangi in the street it would be very easy to label her as transvestite…”. And to so do would be a travesty to a beautiful lady.

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