Monday, 9 May 2011

'Patience Achieves Everything'

Lately I feel like I'm being jolted into a different space. I am still processing it all, but I suspect it has something to do with the lost art of patience. I am thinking, if I practice patience a little more, will it give me more control over time?

Take any weekend here in Dunedin, and you have a choice of gigs to attend, art galleries / studios, museums, movies, coffee houses, restaurants to enjoy.

If you are more inclined to just wander and look, there is interesting architecture; buildings and cathedrals to look at; mid-to-late Victorian, Edwardian, 1920's art deco, 1930's and '40's villas, 1950's bungalows.  There is the decorative, bluestone and limestone Railway Station designed by George Troup.

If fashion is more your thing, Dunedin is a leader in innovative fashion and there are many clothes boutiques to visit. There are jewellery and pottery shop / workshops and galleries, where it is possible to buy (or simply look at) locally made crafts and jewellery.

Nature can be found both within the city as well as on its outskirts. Easily accessible beaches are home to penguins (the Yellow-eyed and Blue) and fur seals, sea-lions, and at times dolphins and whales can be spotted. Some of the beaches are surf beaches - however, wet suits are advisable; the southern ocean is not tropical.

The Otago Peninsula is a picturesque sleeve of land that separates the city from the eastern beaches and Pacific Ocean. A twisiting road takes you past bays, beaches and harbours. There are craft shops, galleries and historic houses to investigate. The high road with views over the harbour, and in parts lined with historical limestone walls, is where Larnach's Castle (even if a very small one) is located on its own windswept headland.

The Taiaroa Head Albatross Colony is located at the end of the peninsula. Here, depending on the time of the year, it's possible to go on guided tours to see albatross soaring, landing and nesting. During the winter, if the birds have nested near enough to the observatory, the tour guides will show you the baby chicks - large, fat snowballs of white fluff, that before they fledge, are bigger than their parent birds.

A bit over three years ago, I spent a season there as one of those tour guides. An occupation that for me proved too tedious. I resented having to repeat the same spiel four or five times a day. The trip out to the colony too, although beautifully scenic, was a long drive on a tricky road. But I have great memories of seeing albatross flying up close; splendid giant birds of the ocean. Another highlight of my time there was when Fleur Adcock, a NZ / British poet, turned up in MY tour group. Sweet.

And then there is the Gorge Railway expedition train ...  and Tunnel Beach, the glow-worm caves, the walks, the climbs ... The poetry readings, the art scene, the cultural scene ... The University part of town and all the energy that that creates.

Dunedin's weather is not its best feature, which puts a lot of people off living here. This is not a bad thing as it means we never have to worry about congestion. Necessity demands that any unreasonable expectation of a long, hot summer are constantly lowered. Call it a perverse quirk of nature, but to me this is part of Dunedin's unique charm. Don't get me wrong, sunny days in Dunedin do exist, it's just we can never rely on a whole row of them.

At the risk of sounding even more like a tourist brochure, there is much here to explore and re-discover. To appreciate. To get around them all is going to take time. And patience. I wonder ...


J.T. Webster said...

When Dunedin is blessed with a sunny day - it's magic!!
Wonderful post Kay, you painted Dunedin beautifully and realistically. It's good to be reminded why I love the place so much.

Kay Cooke said...

Thanks Sue. I need to appreciate it a little more than I do.

Dona Bogart said...

Thank you for the lovely tour. I would so love to see it all in person. I am facinated by the brick and rock wall. Is that a house? Business? You take the best photos!

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