I’ve just returned from a few days down at the family bach, which we’ve owned for 50 years. My Dad was a policeman, so I grew up in a never ending array of police houses, and this bach was bought when I was young. At the time I felt, very profoundly, the fact that we actually owned the land. The first thing I did was plant some peas in a small row in the sandy soil. It was a simple kitset dwelling that Dad had put on concrete blocks to make a two-storey house. For a long time we had a long-drop toilet in the back yard, and water that we pumped up from a bore in the ground. Back then (1983), I sketched this in my diary :
Nothing much has changed, except my dour expression is much lighter these days, and the prickly pear cactus MUCH higher. It is higher than the roof and has twisted past it to reach for the sky.
Still, I go down there to do much the same things as I did as a teen. Reading, lying around, and now, cycling down to the choice of cafes for a coffee, before throwing myself into the surf to cool off. It was particularly nostalgic this time, because in the space since the last trip (in January), Mum has died, and this bach will be sold as part of the estate. So after 50 years, I’m going to have to find somewhere else to base myself from, in order to walk the beach and ruminate on life. Here are a selection of photos over the years doing just that.
I’m not sure what it is about wind, surf, the stretch of watery horizon touching the huge arc of the sky, but it draws me out of myself, and lifts my vision from the immediate and into the future and away. When I lived for some years in Georgia, USA, it took 8 hours driving to reach the sea, and I didn’t do it for three years. When eventually I got there, I remember throwing myself onto the sand with my kiwi friend, and gulping the fragrance of the ocean in. It was amazing how I had missed it. Here in New Zealand, you can’t be more than two hours from the sea anywhere – usually much less.
I’m going to hope there’s another trip to the bach yet. Legal wheels turn slowly, and I can’t bear to think that this old weathered bach has seen my feet tromp up the stairs for the last time. Watch this blog.