It was back to our old stamping grounds of the Hutt Valley yesterday - we had places to go and people to see. And what a lovely day it was for a drive, blue sky, warm temperatures, just another typical day in paradise for us. As usual, there were various road works to slow the trip down, such as on the narrow Pauatahanui Road where workmen were busy resealing the road surface.
It was sad to notice that several buildings in the central Hutt Valley which related to our (separate) early years had been pulled down recently. Such as the King’s Cross Hotel where Robin had worked many years ago. He took a second evening job as a bar man to help out with house building costs as a young married man way back in the early 70s. And I was saddened to see that the Horti Hall in Laings Road had been demolished as an earthquake risk. It was here that I attended the Sunday afternoon Capistrano Youth Club when I was a young teen, where I learnt to rock’n’roll, and where I met my first husband. Those were the days. The Town Hall is being strengthened, and the Horti Hall will be replaced by an Events Centre.
The Horti Hall used to be behind the fence line, right next to the Town Hall
Any trip to the Hutt Valley is a good time for Robin to travel down to Petone to fill up the water bottles with fresh aquifer water. But now it is also available just across the road in Dowse Square. In fact, two stations have been available here for a year or two, and we didn’t even know about it. That’s what happened when you move out of the area, you just can’t keep up with all the changes.
Water filling station in Dowse Square
We had travelled down especially for the day to enable me to check out an exhibition in the Dowse Art Museum and then we treated ourselves to lunch at the adjacent cafe. The food was very tasty, but why oh why does the music have to blast out while we are eating? We suspect that the music is more for the staff to enjoy than the patrons
With a little time to kill before our next appointment, we parked down at Petone Beach to do a little people watching. Good keen blokes were pounding along the path in their jogging gear in the heat of the day, family groups were walking by with the kids on scooters, skate boards, or safely ensconced in their push chairs. Being such a lovely summer’s day, there were plenty of children building sandcastles or frolicking in the shallows. The wharves and CBD of Wellington City were off in the distance, with suburban houses perched on the hill sides.
Petone Beach looking across to Wellington
We watched as a variable oyster catcher walked along the water’s edge, probing for food with his long, bright orange beak. Usually these birds are always seen in pairs, so we wondered where the mate was. Previously shot for food, variable oyster catchers reached low numbers before being protected in 1922, since when numbers have increased rapidly. They are long-lived, with some birds reaching 30 plus years of age.
Lonely variable oyster catcher without a mate
Then it was time for our afternoon visit to P&E’s new home, and they have settled in nicely to their new abode. We were welcomed by this cheery fellow standing on guard duty. This is no ordinary gnome we were told, he is practically antique, and had previously belonged to our host’s Mum for many years. We had a lovely afternoon, having a tour of the new home, and catching up on news.
Saying our goodbyes, it was time to head home. Pauatahanui Inlet looked as pretty as a picture with the pohutakawa trees with their touches of red flowers starting to appear.
Joining SH1 we soon caught up to all the workers on their long drive home after a day of toil. Never mind, as retirees we don’t have to deal with this every day, just now and again if we are late heading home. It was a great day out, and we ticked everything off our “to-do list”.