Sunday, 26 January 2014

Plimmerton to Aotea Lagoon

Saturday was a gorgeous day! Beautifully fine, but windy. I must say, I am getting heartily sick of all this wind! It’s spoiling what little summer we are getting!

This was going to be a short ride, as John has been having a problem with his vision – one eye is causing him double vision. No, it is not a hangover; and yes, he has seen a doctor about it. But he wasn’t going to let it stop him from going for a bike ride, so he taped up one of the lenses of his sunglasses, and that seemed to work reasonably well. He wasn’t safe to drive the car, but surprisingly, he was OK on his bike.

Later, he made himself an eyepatch, and we couldn’t resist taking a picture of “Pirate John”. He wasn’t very good at doing the “Har har, me hearties!” thing though … And Polly is actually a miniature toucan!

"Pirate John"

When deciding where to ride today, John thought I should be made to do some hills, to get in training for the Otago Rail Trail (which is mostly flat, they say!). Yes, we’re in the process of planning to ride the Rail Trail in April – provided health issues don’t throw a spanner in the works!

We went to Plimmerton, to do the Ara Harakeke ride up to Pukerua. But there was quite a strong headwind and I was having a struggle even on the gentle uphill. So when we got to Whenua Tapu, I refused to go up the hill towards Pukerua, as I just knew I would have to walk it and I saw no point in doing that.

John scoffed “Do you want to do the Rail Trail or not?” But I reckon that’s different. I will do the hills – walking, if I have to – to get from A to B, but this would have been just to get to the top of the hill, only to turn around again and come back. Pretty pointless.

So we headed back to Plimmerton. We took no photos, and I thought this was going to be a bit of a “nothing ride”. But in the end, we rode 22 kms, as we kept going a bit further, and then another bit further into “new territory”.

Beyond Plimmerton, we kept going along the waterside track to Paremata. We stopped to have coffee at “Ruby’s Café”. It was just after 3pm, and I think the staff had started to relax, and was getting ready to close (they close at 4pm). Our coffees came reasonably swiftly, but they forgot about the slices of cake I had ordered. I went back inside to check, and the plates were just sitting on the counter – “Oh, are they for you?”. Duh! We were the only customers by this stage …

Ruby’s Café thoughtfully provides hats for its customers on a sunny day (photo by John)

After our coffee, we carried on, through the Ngati Toa Domain, past the marina, and over the Paremata Bridge, along to the railway station by the Paremata roundabout. We were now into “new cycling territory”. From here we rode up onto the overbridge to get to the other side of the motorway.

The Paremata roundabout, from the footbridge over the motorway

Once across, we turned right, to find our way to the Aotea Lagoon. We rode along Paremata Crescent, which soon became Papakowhai Road. Into a side street, which led us up the hill, and past the entrance to the Harbourview Rest Home, from where a narrow path led us back down to the main road.

Looking south, to the Waitangirua intersection, and Porirua beyond

Past the Police College, and into the gate of the Aotea Lagoon Reserve. It is decades since I was last at the Aotea Lagoon. We occasionally visited there when our children were small. It is now rather more extensive, and looks like a great place to bring the kids. There were several large groups of families having a picnic get-together, and kids were swarming everywhere.

The large lake is encircled by a miniature railway track, complete with a train station and ticket office. But the train was not running – apparently it only runs on Sunday afternoons. By the lake is a windmill of an interesting design, with a cladding of wooden shingles.

The windmill by the Aotea Lagoon (photo by John)

To the left of the central gate into the reserve, there is a quiet garden with a small pond, a little bridge, and some ducks. I tried to take a photo of a mother duck and her duckling. It was quite tricky to get the two in the same frame, as Junior kept paddling away from Mum, eager to explore the world, while Mum made little crooning, quacky sounds, calling him back.

Mum and Junior on the duck pond

Beyond the pond is the Rose Garden – a formal circular garden surrounded by brick walls and seats, with a central water feature, and raised rose beds. John noticed that the brickwork on every one of the raised beds was a different pattern from the next one.

The Rose Garden (photo by John)

I was really chuffed that my yellow rose photo turned out quite well. I thought I had taken note of the names of the roses I photographed, but I now don’t remember them. I’m no rose connoisseur, but I do appreciate the beauty of a perfect rose.

Yellow perfection

Coming out of the Rose Garden, the brick insets in the path took my eye. Every square was different.

Creative brick insets in the path

We cycled around the lake, and came to the “duck and wild fowl pond”, which has a small island and a boardwalk, as well as some fountains.

The island in the large duck pond

Overlooking the pond, was this old-fashioned telephone box (but no telephone – everyone has their own cell phone these days …). On the seat in front, a little girl seemed to be unwilling to join in with the other kids that were running around.

“ Nobody wants to play with me …”

We headed back to Paremata, back over the footbridge, and then down the path under the Paremata Bridge to get to Paremata Road which leads around the Pauatahanui Inlet, toward Whitby.

The path goes under the southern end of the Paremata Bridge (photo by John)

We were pleased to see that there was a shared foot-and-cycle path along the edge of Paremata Road, and we rode it for a short distance. But, being a sunny Saturday afternoon, there was a lot of traffic, so we decided that we would come back some other time, on a weekday, when it would be quieter.

Boats and boat houses on the Pauatahanui Inlet (photo by John)

We turned around, rode across the Paremata Bridge, and back past the marina. By the Mana Cruising Club, we discovered a row of colourful boatsheds, and John took a shine to a “modest little” cruiser, with the cheeky name “Liquid Assets”.

Boatsheds by the Mana Cruising Club

John with “Liquid Assets

It was well after 5pm when we returned to our car. As we were coming down the waterside path towards Plimmerton, the beach presented a very different picture from the last time we were here – quiet little waves, and lots of people playing on the beach and in the water. The perfect sunny weekend!

Plimmerton Beach

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