After our one and only summery day over the long weekend, Sunday was cold and windy again. Our sun kissed limbs from sitting outside in the sunshine the previous day were no longer on show. Due to the drop in temperature, our bare limbs of yesterday were covered up again with long trousers and jumpers.
We took a drive around the local area in the afternoon to see what we could see. The “River Loop” behind the shopping area appeared to be full to overflowing. Flax thrives in this swampy landscape and from 1888 to 1974 the production of flax fibre was Foxton's principal source of income. Flax mills abounded and were usually situated in close by the flax swamp and on the banks of a river or stream, ensuring a good supply of running water which was needed to wash the fibre after it had emerged from the mechanical flax stripper. Most of these early flax mills were powered by steam engines, but some used water wheels, or were driven by horses walking in a circle. The fibre was then exported to Britain, USA and Australia, where cordage companies spun the fibre into ropes and twines.
The wind was blowing even stronger down by the estuary and we sat in the car looking out at the birds, while we enjoyed our ice-creams. A couple of hardy souls were standing on the sand flinging their fishing lines into the water. Hope they had some success before they were overcome with hyperthermia from the freezing cold wind.
We all gathered in the hall later in the evening for a night at the races. The tote was opened, the dice were rolled, and the horses took off, helped along by Robin and Peter.
Why should the men have all the fun? Ladies can be jockeys too – who can remember Linda Jones? She was the first New Zealand woman jockey to gain the right to race against men, in 1977. After she gained equality, her career was short but spectacular: in 18 months she rode 65 winners. As lady jockeys on the night, Dot and I did reasonably well, especially as our horses were tiny little wooden steeds. At 20 cents a bet, no one really made a killing on the tote, but Geoff and Eileen picked the most winners.
It was a very wild night with wind and heavy rain lashing our caravans, and big puddles everywhere on the ground. After morning tea we quickly packed up and headed off to our respective homes. Not too far for us, about 30km down the road. The traffic on the roads was quite heavy, with people returning home after the long weekend – the last long holiday weekend before Christmas.