Wanstead, New Zealand
The best plan is no plan, as the sign outside Stables hostel and many others, I’m sure, says. I’ve not quite let go of having a plan, but I’m entirely happy to see it thrown up in the air. Perhaps I have more of an ‘idea’ than a plan.
All of which is by way of introduction to the fact that things did not go at all as I’d expected at the quiet farmstay. After the hectic and noisy life at Stables, where one French backpackers/idiot’s view of ‘shh, guys, no music’ was “ah, I will put it on, if there is a problem they can say”, I had booked a couple of nights at a backpackers that was a bit more expensive, having no dorms and just one single room.
Middle of nowhere, near Waipukurau, sounds perfect. I arrived, reported to a travel shop as requested and was given a lift by the owner once she finished work a little later. We stopped to grab piles of boxes – she and her husband were in the middle of moving house and doing the bulk of the moving the next day. We stopped at the new place, on the edge of town, as we travelled the 20km to the farm, and I helped shift some timber and corrugated iron before I and their two German girl helpers grabbed a plum from the tree in the garden and headed back for a beer.
I guessed what might happen when they had me sign in but didn’t talk about payment or rates, not to mention put me in a double room. Still, I had a quiet evening, sorting through photos with a great view over the hills.
The next day I was up late but Greg wandered by innocently, asking “what you up to, John?” I don’t need more of a hint than that; “I’ll just do my core exercises and then I’m yours”. Even then, I caught myself halfway through some press-ups; what am I thinking, these arms are going to be working. And that was my day, lifting, shifting, moving – also eating, talking and meeting the neighbours who had rallied round to help. We moved some mighty heavy objects, particularly the heavy farm scales, made of iron, I think. Done, fed and watered by 8.30, it occurred to me that I’d been useful for a sustained period for the first time in a while. I really couldn’t have sat and read a book while they all worked and in any case, it was a cool day with occasional drizzle. I grabbed the opportunity for a full body workout with both hands.
I was out lifted by some 60 year old men, mind.
Reading: Philip K Dick, We Can Build You.