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When I was a child, we used to drive north every year, through all sorts of tiny townships on the main route, Bulls, Hunterville, Ohingaiti, Rata, Mangaweka, Taihape and so on. Some of them are still there, even thriving in their own little town way, like Taihape and Bulls. But some have gone. Rata has gone. Ohingaiti is just a pub and a railway crossing, Hunterville's okay (and it's less than 1600m long). But Mangaweka had a special place in our hearts. We used to drive through it and up the hill behind town to enter the mighty Mangawekas, a winding, climbing/dropping/climbing and challenging roadway that led you out of the Rangitikei district. It was a nightmare of a road, delving deep into bush then rising high along ridges then down again.
At the first rise beyond the township there was a lookout over a railway bridge. It was a long bridge, and one famous in our family because my grandmother had walked over it at the age of ten. Highly illegal but she was always one for a dare. A bit like that movie, Stand by Me. But she knew when the trains would come. The bridge has gone now, the railway line has moved down below the town, the main road also now bypasses the township, the mighty Mangawekas have been tamed into one huge climb uphill followed by a huge downhill, quite straightforward, and the tiny, abandoned Mangaweka is a ghost town. To show the children, I drove in there today. Bright, hot sunshine, not a breath of wind, and not a person in sight. Dead calm. Dead silent. It was ghost town to the extreme. The pics aren't that good because the sunlight was so bright but you get the idea... (I think they have preserved the Mangaweka garage for historic reasons perhaps. It looks in pretty good nick)

And so we are safely home again. Saw a car burning itself out on the way, with the supervision of a fire engine. Otherwise just a lot of road works and long waits for one lane to open and let us through in several places. We're back and I have to fight the things I left behind. But at least I feel able to try and get on with it now. A break away for even a few days is definitely a good plan. Mind you, I'd love to spend a week in Mangaweka, just me and my writing book...


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 9th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
Beautiful pictures Jen. I love the way the sunlight plays in them :0)
Apr. 11th, 2010 10:38 am (UTC)
Thanks, John. It was just suddenly so very still, so very bright and so very silent. Not a soul anywhere. It made me feel breathless.
Apr. 9th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC)
Places we knew a long time ago are so strange to visit when they've changed! You're good at bringing yours alive for us - we almost didn't need the lovely photos.

Enjoy the chocolate rabbit - tomorrow is its last day for this year. Oh, and for reference next year, the Maltezer rabbits are called MaltEasters...
Apr. 11th, 2010 10:45 am (UTC)
-You're good at bringing yours alive for us - we almost didn't need the lovely photos.
Thanks! Maybe I'm better with words than pictures *g*
That town felt like the lighthouse in an odd way. I could go back.

MaltEasters... very funny! They must have wet their pants with excitement when they came up with that one!
Apr. 11th, 2010 11:04 am (UTC)
Yes, you can just imagine all the ad copywriters sitting round thinking and then someone coming up with that... and there are some sweets as well, called Malteasers, chocolate with tiny crumbs of Maltezer in them.
Apr. 11th, 2010 11:09 am (UTC)
A spring icon! And we're just getting darker over here.

-Yes, you can just imagine all the ad copywriters sitting round thinking and then someone coming up with that...
Yeah, it'd be a - maybe a watershed moment! And everyone would think, why didn't we think of that before!
Apr. 10th, 2010 09:41 am (UTC)
Very evocative pictures. Conjure up a whole different world.
Apr. 11th, 2010 10:42 am (UTC)
Thanks. It sure is a different world. A quiet, farming, old-time world of unlocked doors, country women, trust in your neighbours and in strangers too, and little towns - a world that doesn't truly exist like that any more.

You always have great pics.
Apr. 10th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
My fingers itch to get to the piano !
Apr. 11th, 2010 10:40 am (UTC)
Hee! The piano looked very dilapidated but it was just sitting there with the other stuff. I felt like it would have been funny to play it, too.

Do you have a piano?
Apr. 11th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
We did have one before we moved to this house, but sadly it had to go due to lack of space. Now the girls have moved out I thought of getting one again but the prices......!!!!!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )



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