DAY 231...Frosty, Clear Day

This morning I’m sure it must have been cold everywhere in NZ, as we had crisp ice-encrusted grass. Fun to walk on in bare feet and much better than sodden wet grass! The sun was rising and the mountains in the distance were snow-capped. All in all, a glorious morning and as calm as in Nelson Bay. Gradually I defrosted and we laughed because the small amount of rainwater in Louise (my white kayak) was frozen! Now, finding myself with the luxury of waiting an hour before my morning paddle, we drank hot coffee and made a few calls. I was happy to hear that there was a large swell on the West Coast and then focused on my few hours of being out on the water in and around Nelson Bay. It was a stunningly beautiful morning and an absolute joy to launch. As one local put it – welcome to the Nelson Lake! I am lucky to have this wonderful area in which to enjoy some paddling days. I try out my new long-legged Sharkskin pants and marvel at how warm and cosy they feel (thanks guys!) Without getting anything wet (except my feet) I head onto the water, marveling at the others who are already out paddling, then settle into my morning workout, promising Jase that I would see him for lunch by 1pm. 

There were a couple of very large container ships heading out of the harbour. It always amazes me how they even manage to float as they are so huge. I now understand why ocean-going yachties never sleep at night for fear of being run down by one of these huge beasts. Time paddling today swept along all too quickly and, sooner than I really expected, it was time to remove myself from the water. I aimed for the beach and a soft ripple was all I had to negotiate to land peacefully. We loaded Louise up onto Cuzzie’s roof and chatted to others who were either returning from or heading out for a paddle. What a great bunch of locals! Nice to see some like Ross and his cute dog Cleo for a second time and also to be introduced to Frosty, a local surfer and keen SUP. The sun was shining and everybody was wearing their totally happy faces.

Over the road to a local café that Jase has marked as a favourite. He has his strong flat white and a piece of carrot cake while I’m on the peppermint tea. Phone calls done. Then off into town to bank funds into the MHFNZ Charity Fund, as we had accumulated quite a lot of donations in the bucket we carry with us. Once these had been banked, it was time for a late lunch. Much to my delight, I discovered a baked-potato stall; far more exciting than sushi on a cool, crisp winter’s day! Thanks to the friendly stall owners. The potato was totally scrumptious. I’ll be back for more, that’s for sure! If ever you’re in Nelson, go and check out this stall (just by the ASB bank) it’s called “Original Baked Potatoes Ltd.” Jase just had his sushi but I was more than glad to have something warm to eat as we sat on the sunny steps in Nelson. 

Again, the day was slipping away and we needed to crack on with what was left of it. Firstly, just before jumping into Cuzzie, we grabbed some home-made fresh sausages and veggies for dinner from another cute little store. We were both enjoying how things were panning out today. A quick stop at Burnsco and as we headed back to the campsite (my second home it seems) we saw another huge container ship leaving port under the guidance of the harbour-master and tug boats. We just had to stop for a while to watch the skills involved in getting that huge vessel out of the tiny harbour. It all seemed to happen like clockwork but I bet there’s an awful lot of work involved behind the scenes. Then, out of the blue, a friendly face appeared at the window of Cuzzie. We’d been recognised by a wonderful man (Doug Howard) who introduced himself. We had spoken by e-mail prior to my trip and also along the way. He happened to be in Nelson, just visiting. It was nice to chat and great to be able to describe my love for the South Island. As we chatted, we decided we still had lots more to talk about, so a catch-up is planned for tomorrow morning. Thanks for spotting us in Cuzzie, Doug and (perhaps even more importantly) thanks for saying “Hi!”. It’s truly very special for me to actually meet up with you in person! Looking forward to our catch-up tomorrow.

Tonight is another crisp, clear night. Jase has his woollen socks on and I’ve got on my over-sized Ugg boots (thanks Paul!). Tomorrow we have to fit the leg braces to Louise (if and when the glue arrives!) and then a few more days of paddling in large circles. Then I’ll be visiting a few new places solo because Jase heads back to Auckland and Cuzzie and I will be looking after ourselves until the weekend. Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be allowed to move northwards. 

I have to say a huge “thanks” to a wonderful young man up in the North Island for sharing some new and exciting locations in and around this area. Each email and each snippet of information he shares, makes my eyes shine and leaves me feeling more and more intrigued. I’m happy to have stayed a while longer in these places, to feel the warmth of the locals, to have felt every moment of every day and just to have been able to stop and listen. Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone deserves a smile.

My smiles today:
Barefooted on the frosty grass (like my farm days).
Meeting keen paddlers (wow, what a great little community!).
Baked potatoes, filled with yummy, fresh and healthy fillings.
Talking to others about depression and making them smile, making them feel they’re not alone as supporters and carers.
Meeting (at last) people I have only known up until now via email.
Winter sunshine. It feels warm and magical.

My thoughts for today:
Live without pretending, love without depending. Listen without defending, speak without offending.

For now, dinner is calling and I have a little night-time studying to do, so it’s time to make a move.

Thanks to you all. Goodnight from Red.

Nelson. What a beautiful morning.

Nelson. What a beautiful morning.