Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Katikati Kindness

16th October is always special but today felt very peculiar being so far away from our daughter on her birthday.  It wasn't officially her UK birthday for several hours and we would have to time our phone call carefully. Still, we raised our breakfast mugs and wished her a NZ one.

Although we have a shower in the Motorhome, I prefer to save our supplies of water and energy when on a site.  Clutching soap, shampoo, dental kit and the 'oh so small' travel towel, off I went to the showers.  They were locked with a huge padlock.  Did I need a key?  Going back to discuss the dilemma with Hubby, who should I meet but Mrs Chatterbox from the evening before.  Still wearing her PJs and dressing gown.  Perhaps she was a ghostly figure, doomed to wander round the campsite for all eternity, dressed only in her night attire.

 Actually she was a very helpful lady who put me straight about the showers.  During the quiet season, only the showers inside the toilet block are operational.  These were timed so she warned me to get everything ready to make the most of the allotted time.  I did just as she said and was rewarded with a good shower, timed to perfection.  Hubby followed my advice with the same result. 

Fresh and wearing clean clothes we Sally-ed (Happy Birthday to You) forth into Katikati (remembering to return the now not dusty kettle on the way out).  

Parking in the main street, we were distracted by the unique murals round and about.  It seemed that Katikati was known as The Mural Town.  How strange.  Our neighbouring village in the Highlands has the same idea and wall paintings.  

The bank was open so we popped in on the off chance that our cards were there. As soon as I asked, the teller asked,'Are you in a Motorhome?'  See how quickly our fame is spreading!!  We showed our passports, signed for and signed on our plastic cards before arranging the final payment to Paul who'd helped us to bring the Motorhome over.  Hubby, in his usual enquiring manner, wanted to know about exchange rates and savings' accounts (Am I bored?  Yawn yawn). A queue was starting to build up, so the teller made an appointment with the adviser for later in the day. 

The two ladies in the Information Centre were so helpful.  They loaded us with leaflets, newspaper and a map of the town.  When I mentioned that I was hoping to meet up with a local resident, they both knew the family and where they lived.  Not only that, the phone number was checked and dialled.  The volunteer had a quick word with the recipient , then handed me the phone.

Here, I feel I should explain, I had never met the man on the other end of the phone.  His daughter had helped to make our trip such a success so far with her brilliant organisational skills.  You only had to hear her bubbly voice to love her. Recently I had befriended her Mum on Facebook.  So, phone to my ear and tummy in knots, what would I say?  I need not have worried.  The friendly voice at the other end invited us round for a cuppa.  I explained we had a bank appointment and would call later.

Being unsure of how long we could park on the main road, we relocated to a rear car park.  Returning to the bank we were greeted by a young woman whose name had strong Scottish links.  Her first name was Maree, spelt exactly the same as one of our favourite lochs in Scotland.  As for her surname, it was the same as the Scottish Doctor Who.  She had a great sense of humour.  She needed it to cope with her wicked computer which would only allow three lines in our address.  We narrowed it down eventually.  

The ever-vigilant Hubby noted that the exchange rate had fallen slightly (yawn!).  He decided not to deposit a large amount in a savings account until it increased again.  Look after the pennies and all that.  Bidding Marie farewell we left the bank and popped into a small shop to buy a mat and a can opener.  The former to keep things out and the latter to get things out.

As we crossed the car park, someone called my name.  Surely not.  Then I heard it again.  A man approached.  I knew him not but he appeared to know me.  He enveloped me in a warm, friendly hug before shaking Hubby's hand.  The penny started to drop.  The white-haired, white-bearded gentleman explained that he had seen the Motorhome and put two and two together.  Kerching!! It was Pete, my phone-a-friend.  

'Just follow me.  Hang a right and hang a right.'  Hmmm.  What exactly did that mean?  Were two people named Wright about to be executed??  No silly.  He was giving us directions to his house.

Pete had the qualities to make anyone feel at home.  He listened carefully to our stories of the trip and life at home.  He shared some of his incredible tales too.  

Time flew by.  The sound of a car door shutting announced the arrival of his wife, Marg.  The Gilbert and Sullivan song 'Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes' (not Gilbert O'Sullivan -he was much later) popped into my head.  Her eyes and smile said it all.  A lady with lots of love and willing to share it.

My British reserve set in.  I thought we should be on our way and leave these good folk on peace.  Not a word of it.  Out came the wine, beer and cheeses along with excellent repartee.  It was wonderful to hear more about the lovely Sassie (May I call her that now?)  we tried to phone her but had no luck.  

Pete prepared steak on the barbecue and Marg made a salad.  We were treated in style.  Dave had a great time in their garden, making his acquaintance with new plants.  Marg showed me Pete's new project - he's building a boat.
A caricature of The Rolling Stones hung on the garage wall.  Isn't it fab when you meet someone who knows the same groups you bopped along to when a young teenager?  

Pete and Marg have opened their home and hearts to many youngsters in the past, through student exchange.  Not all were planned but all had a happy ending.  Their fridge was adorned with smiling faces, including those of a Japanese family.  This was their Japanese daughter whom they rescued from a poor placement.  They remained close and even attended her wedding.

How quickly that evening passed.  I looked at Hubby.  Someone had painted black shadows under his eyes.  Marg had noticed too.  We called it a night and climbed into our little home,   We had one more thing to do before we could rest.  We made a special phone call to our very special daughter.  Happy Birthday Sally.  Even though we're far away, we think about you every day.  Night night.  God bless x x 

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