Sunday, 6 July 2014

Two rides and a Ball

Last weekend (28/29 June) we were in Auckland for our grand-daughter’s second birthday. Of course we took our bikes along with us, as we had planned to detour via Paeroa on our way back to Wellington, to ride some or all of the Hauraki Rail Trail. Unfortunately, on Monday, the weather was appalling all across the North Island, so we scrubbed that idea, and just made a bee-line for home. The Hauraki Rail Trail will keep for another time.

Auckland’s Sky Tower, seen from the War Memorial Museum, in the late afternoon

By Friday (4 July), the weather had improved enough for us to go for a local ride. We hadn’t been down to the Wellington Waterfront for a while, so we parked at the end of Oriental Parade, and rode towards Evans Bay.

Houses cling to the hillside overlooking Kio Bay. The house at top right has a private cable car. In recent years more and more home owners on precipitous sites have installed cable cars (photo by John)

Evans Bay Marina

As we rode along the Evans Bay Marina, I became aware that my back wheel had developed an odd sort of “bump, bump”. The surface we were riding on was quite smooth, so that wasn’t the cause; I stopped to see if I had a flat tyre, but that wasn’t the case either. We carried on along Cobham Drive, and there John took a closer look. He noticed that the tyre had a bulge. To make sure it wasn’t going to go flat on me while riding, he let the tyre down, felt it all over, and pumped it up again. It seemed to be OK.

John checks the rear tyre on my bike. The airport is at the top right of the photo, and the Miramar Peninsula goes off towards the left

While John was checking the tyre, Alastair Smith and a friend rode past, and stopped to see if we needed help. Alastair is one of the movers and shakers of Cycle Aware Wellington (CAW) and he writes an interesting blog about his cyling adventures (which sound much more active and strenuous than ours!) 

He and his friend were heading to ride around the Miramar Peninsula. They said they had to be back in town in an hour’s time, so they took off pretty smartly.

We went only as far as the Miramar Wharf, where we turned around to go back. By now a rather brisk nor'westerly headwind had sprung up, and it was quite hard work riding into it, especially around the points of all the little bays. We kept going along Oriental Parade, as I was interested in taking a look at the new Clyde Quay Wharf development, which is now nearing completion.

This is the former Overseas Terminal, which has been rebuilt / converted / expanded into a plush apartment complex, with retail outlets on the ground floor. We took a little detour onto the wharf. The retail spaces were still not quite finished, but many of the apartments appeared to be occupied already, judging from the furniture and plants on many of the balconies.

According to the Clyde Quay Wharf website, 90% of the apartments have been sold, and the final ones are now available for sale, starting at a "mere" $1.4 million for two bedrooms and a car park!

The new Clyde Quay Wharf apartment complex has restored the finial of the original Overseas Terminal. I suppose the pre-fab in the foreground will be removed once everything is completed (photo by John)

The apartments appear to be occupied, but the retail spaces are not yet ready (photo by John)

We stopped for coffee at the Karaka Café. We were amused by a very persistent seagull, which decided to perch on top of the umbrella of a neighbouring table. The occupants of the table tried several times to shoo him away, but he obviously thought he had a prior right to be there.

“I’m the King of the Castle!”

On our way home, we stopped at the Johnsonville Bike Shop to get advice on the problem tyre. It turned out that it was a defect in the construction, where the fabric casing failed and the tyre became distorted. Luckily, Francis, the owner of the shop, will get us a free replacement.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Today, Sunday 6 July, we rode in the Hutt Valley. As our house is quite sheltered from the south, we were not aware that a brisk southerly was blowing. While riding up the Hutt River Trail from Seaview, we had the wind behind us. We rode on the stopbank, in the sun, and though it was cold, it wasn’t a struggle.

Setting out from Seaview, well wrapped up against the cold southerly (photo by John)

We rode without stopping until we got to the Pomare rail bridge. There we took a break, sat in the sun for a while, ate some apple slices, and allowed my numb bum to un-numb.

Taking a short break at the base of the Pomare rail bridge (photo by John)

The way back on top of the stopbank, into a brisk southerly, was an unpleasant prospect, so we rode on Taita Drive, which was a bit more sheltered from the wind. It was quite interesting riding in an area that we are not familiar with. I noticed that because the houses face the stopbank, which will never be built on, the numbering was continuous, rather than just odd or just even numbers.

We stayed on the eastern side of Fraser Park, and further along, of Avalon Park, then rode down some suburban Lower Hutt streets, into a dead-end street, and eventually onto the High Street. On the corner of Mitchell Street is a lovely café, the Janus Bakkerij (not a spelling mistake, it is the Dutch spelling of “bakery”). We sat outside, in the sun, and enjoyed some excellent coffee and baking.

Coffee and cake in the sun at Janus Bakkerij (photo by John)

I reckon John suggested a stop here to mollify me, because when we were having our coffee, he said that we could bike along and stop at Jaycar, as we weren’t so far away from it. Jaycar is one of his favourite haunts – a supply place for all manner of things electronic – where he is quite capable of spending an hour or more. Fortunately he didn’t take too long this time, while I waited outside in the sunshine.

From there we meandered through the roads of Lower Hutt, and down Randwick Road, back to Seaview, where our car was parked. We had ridden 24 km. A very pleasant ride, despite the cold wind.

* * * * * * * * * * *

And what about the Ball, mentioned in the heading of this blog post?

Well, last night I attended the Wellington Region Scottish Country Dance Ball. It had a 1920s theme, and attendees had been invited to dress up in 1920s style, if they wished. Many did, some didn’t. Most of the women arrived in wonderful outfits – “flapper” dresses, long strings of beads, feather boas, furs, and feather head-dresses. The men wore either kilts – this was Scottish country dancing after all – or natty striped blazers and boaters.

The (non-alcoholic) punch was served by suitably dressed non-dancing husbands

Members of the Tawa Scottish Country Dance Club

It was a wonderful event – I really did have “a ball”. The dancing was great, of course, and I came home very tired but happy, and with very sore feet!

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