After waking at my normal time and reading for a bit, I got up late. It was my birthday after all. Weather forecast had a bit of everything coming, so I was thinking of a lazy day. Perhaps finishing my book and Tara and family might come for lunch. She wasn’t sure but would let me know. I had said I wanted no fuss. We’d have a party in the summer time. It’s too blimmin cold this time of year.
I watched Simone packing all sorts of goodies into the chilly bin as they planned to meet friends for morning tea at the park, but she assures me she’ll be back for lunch, and my scones. That’s odd I thought. Morning Tea with friends on a Sunday, as I watched container after container being loaded in. How could they even eat that much for morning tea? “Who are you meeting for morning tea?” I asked Kahu as I made my porridge. “I don’t know” Kahu said with a quizzical smile looking up at me. That’s strange I thought, as I buttered my toast.
When, with great fanfare Tara burst in the door with her children close behind, wearing party hats and a special one for me. “Oh you’ll have to get changed, she noted, looking me up and down, and don’t muck around ’cause we’re leaving at 10 on the dot. “Where are we going?” I asked. “I don’t know, she answered, we’re waiting for a call”. “Pardon?” “Hurry up Mum! Get changed, get changed!” she bustled me off. “Make sure its ‘active wear’, ” she shouted behind me, as I headed up to the bedroom.
Chee, on speaker phone wished me happy birthday and the rules were thrust into my hand on my return, to discover we were going on a treasure hunt. Tara had by now whipped the kids into a frenzy, as it was decided who was to be in which cars, seat belts on, motors running and we waited for a text. Simone left in a flurry with Gilbert, getting away before us, as Tara and I contemplated the first clue.
I was rural when Nanny T went to me, and I still am rural too. I gave reading, writing and arithmetic, which can help you get out of the poo. Need to hurry to me now, no one should be here as it’s Sunday. I’m en route to uku water, if you’re coming from Puke Hill way. Even though nanny hasn’t been with me, since before she became a teen. You’re all welcome to come and spend some time, and see a place Nanny has been.
“Puni School?” I looked at Tara. She didn’t seem so sure. “Its got to be” I said as she hesitated at the corner waiting for more info. Beep the next text came in…
– How much does anchor 1 litre lite blue cost at Jay and Hansas old place? 10 points
– what was the 3 digit code for a 1 litre lite blue? 5 points
– take a group selfie at the Mauku school with the sign in the background. 10 points
– take a group video at the Puni rugby club all singing a song! 20 points
We quickly turned right so as to pass the dairy en route to Mauku school and I raced in with Lagi to the fridge with our party hats on. I snapped a pic of the 1 litre milk and smiling broadly, waved cherrily to the staff behind the counter.
“Do you reckon we can phone a friend?” Tara asks as I’m racking my brains for the code. I had almost erased twenty years of owning a milk distribution business and all its now useless detail. Despite searching all the recesses of the filing cabinets in my brain, I came up with nothing. I dialed Damen’s number. “Hi Dame, How are you?” “Good”, he answered warily. “I was just thinking about the milk run and what the codes were for the milk. Like a 1 lite lite blue, I continued, as if I had all the time in the world. What would that code have been. I was just wondering mate.” He gave a little chuckle but hesitated. “Just a clue mate, just a clue”.
We try to remember the codes for milk
“Well, do you remember a 2 litre?” he asked. “Ummm 500? or 501”. Silence was on the end. So was a 1 litre 511, 512. I reckon its 512? Damen was still quiet. “Might be”, he volunteered. “Thanks Mate!” 512 seemed the most likely, but there was a nagging doubt. What was the order. Breakfast then blue or blue then breakfast. Did lite come before green? God we lived and breathed these codes…how could I forget that!
We arrived at Mauku school, where the children went to play centre, as Monie’s group snapped a pic, and we were taking ours as she wheel spun outta there. Debating what the song should be, it was decided Happy birthday would be the fastest and as we arrived at the Puni Rugby club, they were driving off. Shit they were fast and where’s Renny anyway! We jumped, out raced through Happy Birthday and cursed seat belts as we checked everyone was buckled up.
Pulling in to Puni school Monie’s group were getting out, so they took the points for first there. Ren arrived soon after and we meet Paul for the first time as she is teased for her late arrival and non ‘active wear’ get up as she wears a gorgeous deep green, thigh high dress and knee high blue suede boots on bare legs. Milan peels off into her group and can’t keep his grubby shoes off her boots, much to her horror and our delight, as we all negotiate our challenge of taking four balls over the jungle gym, tapping the green ribbon for extra points, before letting them go down the slide.
Ren’s group do it in 6 minutes as Tara whispers we have a definite advantage not being first on this one, as we watch them stumble at every problem. Monie’s team is next and when the way is clear I have a go at the jungle part and swing off only to discover what was incredibly easy when I was 5, is now incredibly difficult as I am hanging inert, unable to move forward or back and simply have to just drop to the ground. Our turn is next and with a fair amount of cheating we manage to do it in just over 3 minutes but Monie’s team has just edged us out, so we are placed second.
Back in cars Monie has gone to the bottom driveway for a quick exit and Tara attempts to block the other driveway but Paul slips up on our right side as Ren winds her window down and yells out “Give way to your right” and gives us the finger before winding it back up. “What!” Tara and I look at each other when suddenly Monie takes off and Paul immediately follows as the next text comes through.
When Uncle Damen grew out of his clothes, he gave them to Tara to wear. Then Tara she said “you ave them Chee”, who gave them to Ren with care. For you see at this place there was no Aunty Monie, she simply had not yet arrived, and so Mum and Dad and their so far four children with a German Shepard lived inside. So head up on East and then take a turn, up to the great big tall tree. Find Mum and Dad’s first big purchase, and go and have a look see.“Our house at Totara Ave” I tell Tara. “Go faster”, Lagi encourages his Mum. “No, she answers, we don’t break the speed limit…” The next text gives us our tasks.
– What are the opening hours of the delivery doors at the old Woolworths? 10 points
– who used to be the store man in the back of Woolworths? 5 points
– group selfie with 2 blue 2s at 222 in the background. 10 points
– group photo at Bledisloe park playground. No one can be touching the ground and the photo needs to be taken by someone else so everyone is in it. 25 points
We shoot around to the back door of Countdown and while I’m still trying to open my phone to camera, to take a pic of the hours rather than writing them down, Tara yells out, “Got it Mum, as we pull away. Who was the storeman?” We are both racking our brains and I can’t believe I can’t remember it for the life of me. I keep trying to remember his wife’s name hoping that will trigger his. It begins with a T. “Was he PI? Toa?” Tara yells at me, “Tia? I’m sure it was Toa, or like Toa” she demands. I feel like if I don’t try too hard it will just slip into my consciousness, but it doesn’t. Dammit!
The next one has us completely stumped. 222. what the hell does that mean? We both have no idea. We decide to carry on as we might get to the next spot first and get those extra points anyway. Wait a minute we have to get a pic, taken by someone else at the park. Monie and co are already there. Damn there’s no car parks, we lament as the play ground is full of families. Tara shoots past Monie to the next lot of carparks and is about to slip into the only free one when I yell. “No, it’s for disabled!” “Good to see our ethics are still in place.” Tara laughs, swerving out again and parks on the side. “Get the kids up on the seat”, she yells at me, running over to a woman with a toddler. She hands her my phone as we climb onto the seat and Tara quickly runs back, but slips in a mud puddle that covers about 4 sq metres and deep enough, that as she slides in, a wave almost comes in before her. She lies completely still and I get off and step into the puddle and stretch out my hand. “Are you alright ?” I ask. “Yep”. she answers tentatively as she expels the breath she had been holding and then takes my hand to pull her up. We step up onto the seat and I am holding out a muddied hand as she turns her back slightly to the camera so the pic gets it all in. An old towel from the boot is stretched over her seat and we are off again.
Tara’s back is covered in mud as she slides in for a pic
We take a pic outside our old home and delight in how beautiful it looks. The leadlights and new extended veranda and French doors. I remember the wide hallway and we can see they have added a huge new bit at the back. I almost wish someone is here so we can peak inside. I glance around the houses and remember Jack and Rosemary next door and how we chatted over the fence as we both hung washing out. Connie and Tory on the topside with the swimming pool and old Fred and Maureen in the house opposite. There’s Keitha and Dave’s on the corner looking every bit as grand as it did and memories flood back of our early days. The sound of children’s laughter and play as they nipped between houses. It was a real street of families and what a great start to my life as a Mother surrounded by wonderful strong women.
Outside our first home with the new and improved veranda
Wheri asks for a photo to be taken of her on her polaroid instamatic camera. I sneak behind to be ‘in shot’. Sorry but not sorry! Hilarious as she watches the photo develop and she’s looking closer to see whats behind her.
It’s Sunday lunchtime now and there’s barely a soul to be seen on what was such a busy street of young families with a healthy mix of other children’s Nana’s and Grandpas that we all happily shared. Tara takes us up to the bush as I tell the story of when Uncle Damen went missing and was found after a couple of hours and how frightening it was. I tell Tara there weren’t many days that I didn’t walk up here. A five minute burst of fresh air or quick wander through the bush on a hot day or an hours picnic on the grass at the edge. It was my sanity in the craziness of four children born in seven years and the fifth, Simone, born soon after we left when Damen was nine.
Tara’s activity is to collect bits from the bush and decorate frames that we slip our Polaroid Instamatic shots straight into.
Nice little comments are added to each pic. Awww, Thanks guys….
Its a fun interlude before we stop for prepacked lunch at a different park. One that is a couple of acres and full of swings, slides and a flying fox, with a bike track and heaps of families enjoying it. We leave enough time to stop at McDonalds for coffee and the next text comes in.
On the side of the hill, where it all began. The home of many, and one Trish trash can. A basic home, kitchen with dirt floor. But much laughter and happiness, never wanting for more. So now all these years on, to the Burrow make haste. For the next stop and activity, there’s no time to waste!
– What is the street address of the place Uncle Chee was born? 10 points
– how many of Nanny T’s kids and moko were born there? 5 points
– how much does it cost for an anchor 2 litre blue from Pravina’s old shop? 10 points
– what was the 3 digit code for a 2 litre blue top? 5 points
– take a group selfie outside the Indian hall on Ward st showing as many teeth as possible. 20 points
“Johnies, I’m sure of that!” and we pass the hospital to be sure of the street address. Did many a visit there I did! Not only to deliver our babies but years of helping other new Mum’s get started with breastfeeding. I used to give talks on ‘being a new Mum’ and even did one a day after delivering one of ours before going home.
Monie’s group get their Blue top 2 litres
We dive into Pravina’s old shop and they laughingly tell us the other two groups have already been. My hopes are dashed at being first there. We go the long way to get a selfie at the Indian Hall and don’t even take seat belts off as we take our selfie while still in the car. We’ve realised thats how Monie is gaining time on us. We are laughing aloud and still trying to remember what Woolworth’s storeman’s name is when we round the corner and see another car coming down the hill. “Thats Monie, I yell at Tara, Put your foot down so we get there first”. Tara floors it and we are shrieking with laughter as we arrive at the same time but Monie with the right of way, skids in blocking our entry to the house and we have to go in the top driveway. We jump out of the cars all laughing when Johny appears at the doorway, looking a little perplexed. No doubt wondering what the hell all the commotion is. We are all talking at once and he is smiling. “Of course I know its your Mother’s birthday, he smiles. I was going to text her soon. Come in, come in”, he steps aside as we confirm no one has told him this is happening and that we all should appear. Ren’s task is…” We are to reinact the first meeting of Gilbert and I, fact or fiction…
Sara and Johny are enlisted to judge first, second and third. There’s points to be considered after all. My group look at me. “Surely you remember?”. “Well, yes….We met at a dance at the local hall, I believe they were playing Van Morrison’s ‘Brown eyed girl’,” I added mischievously. When something reminded me we had met many years earlier. In fact when I was three and he was six years old. Gilbert’s Father had asked my Dad to help build his steel framed shed and someone switched the power back on while Dad was completing the wiring. He yelled as he got shocked and Graham, who about was 11 years old was standing nearby, quickly raced over and switched it back off. So as Gilbert and I apparently were there, that’s our first meeting!
We act it out with Tara playing Grandpa Louie getting shocked. I’m Goong Goong and Tara shakes very convincingly like she is actually getting electrocuted. Lagi is playing Uncle Graham and switches the power off. Leilani decided she doesn’t want to play act this afternoon. All three plays are hilarious and Johny and Sara leave the room to confide and return with us as the victors, and who cares what happened to the others…
Its pouring with rain now and we know the next clue is about to come in and are readying ourselves to leave. Then it comes…
Roast beef sandwiches warmed in microwave, rhubarb, or mince and vege pies in her speckled oven tray. A lovely warm smile is guaranteed, when she meets you at the front door. Sometimes, without her false teeth, but love and great conversation for sure. A racing car driver, who never really grew old, stories of his adventures will forever be told. It’s always a good time to call in and say hi, where they both lie together looking up at the sky.
Remembering Mum, Ren starts to cry as lightening cracks through the sky and we all realise its the grave side we need to go. The next txt beeps and we see our tasks.
– Group video on the top of puke hill telling a joke. 30 points
– how much for a head of broccoli from the vege shop at the the roundabout on Manukau Rd, opposite the new countdown? 15 points
– how many people have scored a perfect 300 at the ten pin bowling alley at the cossie club? 25 points
“OK, I say, its too wet to go to the graveside with the children. How about we give that a miss and go straight to the Cossie Club?” Everyone agrees. and we jump in the cars ready to sort out the task points. After a quick joke up on Puke Hill, we drive down. Suddenly the rain clears and the sun streaks amazingly through the sky. “Left here to the grave side”, I tell Tara. “But didn’t we say we would skip that bit?” she asks. “Bugger that, I say. It’s stopped raining and we need those extra points.” Tara whips up the road and soon we are at Mum & Dad’s grave side, lost in our own quiet thoughts. “Nana would have loved this”, Tara says as we make our way up to Gilbert’s grandfather’s grave. Its looking a little worse for wear as Mum tended that head stone and many others for the close to forty years she tended Dad’s. I decide I should come and spray wet n forget on it, as we head back to the car.
The Cossie Club is a great diversion for the kids who are all rather tired now and we don’t even have to give them any money as they play with all the games happily. Its a welcome rest for us all as we laugh about the treasure hunts we used to organise for the kids. There was the time Gilbert and I organised a rally just like this. We ended up for a swim and BBQ at Miranda hot pools.
“You can’t get more than 300 can you?” I ask the girl at the counter hiring out shoes and balls. “I have no idea, she answers. I just started here and you’re the third person to ask me that!” We relax for a bit and then the next text comes in. Man am I tired and so ready for a drink. I ask Gilbert if he knows if we are ending at the village bar and he immediately and surprisingly says, “Yes” . He’s not very good at keeping secrets I remember.
The journey, well it’s almost over, and you’ve done so well to be here. Time for some kai and surely a drink, maybe a wine or a beer! So teams, make your way to The Village, not a town, in a place that’s no longer so small. Where a dairy with fnc is now a 4 square, where paddocks are now houses galore. When you’re there be sure to reflect on the hunt, I really do hope you’ve had fun. Get some more bonus points on the way then count up to see who won!
– Collect 3 leaves from hunters bush. 20 points
– group selfie where we stopoed to get choc blocks on the way to music lessons. Opposite the golf course. 30 points
– what colour is the house at number 20 Helvetia rd? 10 points
– why is this house significant? 10 points
– Nanny T’s grandpa would make what kind of lunch on a Sunday after church for them all?
A) beef B) lamb C) chicken? 10 points
– was it A) roasted B) boiled C) fried? 10 points
No 20? That’s Nana & Grandpas I assume though I didn’t know the actual number. I never pass there without a glance in and remember them. “Through the roundabout, I tell Tara and go straight to the Village”. No Mum we have to get selfies at no 20. She stops and I try to take one inside the car as she’s furiously texting and demands I get out and do it outside. What the? I get out and do it and she yells out, “Take a better one!” so I go back. What’s her problem, she wanted to do them inside before? Seems she’s not in a hurry any more but I’m tasting a ‘whiskey n dry’ in my mind and can’t wait to get there.
“Now where’s the place we got choc blocks on the way to music….?” Tara muses. “I don’t care, I tell her. That’s the Caltex station, but we’ll go straight to the bar.” “No, no, we need the points!” she prompts. “Forget the points. Left here. We’ll take a shortcut.” I cut her off. “But Mum…” “Nah, straight to the bar.” “Well, we’ll stop and get the leaves at Hunter’s bush,” she decides. “Bugger the leaves. We’ll get to the bar first and get those points, I say. Quick left here!”
The kids are busily collecting leaves at Hunter’s Bush, hehehehe….
We pull up at the bar and the place is packed, even more than I expected. “Lotta people here,” I tell Tara. “Will you know anyone Mum?” Tara asks coyly. “I expect so, I answer nodding at a couple going in. Lots of locals here on a Sunday. Probably see Pete n Lee as well.” I go straight to the bar while Tara’s texting still. We get drinks and I grab one for Gilbert knowing they can’t be far behind. Let’s go in here, I tell her as we head into the other side. The place is packed and as I look around for a space for our group I see Lai, Josie and Puea, Willie…what the hang? As it dawns on me, I look back at Tara who is grinning from ear to ear. What a fabulous surprise! “I couldn’t keep her away any longer.” Tara apologises loudly to the group. “She wouldn’t do any of the last clues!” “Oh, who cares about clues.” I laugh as I move from one to the other for a kiss and a chuckle about the day. What a day it’s been. I’m actually buggered. It’s been full on since 10am when Tara arrived and so much fun. The afternoon sun is streaming in to the bar. Platters of food arrive and more drinks. What a perfect end to a perfect day.
Thanks Kids, I loved it! The only thing missing today was Damen, Chee and their families. We’ll all be together in October for the other part of my present. A garden working Bee. Can’t wait.