I spent last week with my nearly-80 year old aunty in her small house in a small, Southland town. My 80-year old mother flew in from the North Island to be there as well and help with my aunty's recovery from major surgery on her heart.
During the week there I kept a bit of a diary. I thought it might help stop me from going completely mad in the micro-managed world I suddenly found myself in - the kind of world where to the inhabitants, things like the state of plastic containers, and how you place a towel, become extremely important.
Excuse me, Mum, I am no longer twelve years old.
The days here begin with me getting up first, my mother and aunty still asleep. I make myself a cup of tea and watch a bit of breakfast TV for updates on the Christchurch earthquake. It's a little like receiving war reports; the number of those killed and missing growing each day. It's chilling and upsetting.
We move on to Orepuki Hall where the locals' trademark spread of generous proportions, has been laid out on trestles. They are well-known for these spreads full of traditional kiwi fare – lamingtons, cinnamon oysters, club sandwiches, scones, pikelets. As well there is a crayfish and some whitebait patties.