The Old Coach Road

It’s funny how something – even a little thing – will either remind you of something you had to do, or spark a memory of a bygone time in your life that you had forgotten, without you necessarily knowing why or what for until you follow up on it. 

I had both in one brief moment on Monday of this past week, while out for a very nice dinner for my birthday.  

All set for Dinner down at Looe

It was sparked by seeing the name “Old Coach Road“, as just one of the many choices of wine, and one from Nelson, a favourite part of my native country of New Zealand.

At first I saw it as a reminder that I really ought to get back to completing the story of my recent three nights’ and four days’ journey by bus down t’auld Canterbury Road – that road I did not take twenty years earlier on first arrival here in 1991.

Then I realised how much of that journey has been about trying to echo, as much as possible in the modern day, the experience that those first English (yes, English) pilgrims might have had in taking their coaches and horses along what had essentially been an old coach road up to five hundred and fifty something years before. 

The main difference with recreating that journey was that horses and coaches would have not travelled that road – or so I thought – for a goodly hundred years or more. So the nearest I thought I could come to doing it in the same way as them was by using the horseless coach of the modern day, that is to travel by bus – and ideally, for nostalgic reasons of my own, by a double decker one.

However, I also realised a very personal and perhaps subliminal reference from the name of that wine back to a very nice time in my teenage years, and early twenties, to when I lived both by the sea and on the verge of a road by the very same name. 

The Old Coach Road was the name of a former road that ran along the lower coastline of the North Island of New Zealand, and part of it bordered a dilapidated beach property that my parents had bought back in my pre-teen years, at a place called Paraparaumu.

Like so much of that coastline of my youth, the road and many of the houses along it have been washed into the seas of The Pacific Ocean by ever-increasing high spring tides and storms. It is hard to say whether this erosion is due to global warming or not, however I do have fond memories of my father acting like a modern day King Cnut in working out a way to reclaim his property back from the sea using natural rather than man-made means.

My Dad was also a natural raconteur too, and one who would have happily joined in with sharing his tales with those of the many who are met along the way of an old coach road.

So it is in memory of my Dad, who sadly passed away 7 years ago, that I will shortly recount my next tale of a man I met on my journey who is still alive and remembers the last days of horses coming into a coaching inn.


About Matt's Tale

A New Age travel writer, seeing the old in the new and the bold in the blue - but mainly seeking the freedom to be, as much as to do. His tales come from meeting modern day travellers following their likes of King Arthur to Geoffrey Chaucer, leading him on to places considered "Camelot" and different ways to see Canterbury and cafes a lot. Email: Twitter: @mattstale
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2 Responses to The Old Coach Road

  1. Cindy says:

    hiya Matt. enjoyed your post. firstly I would like to wish you a very happy birthday!!! hope you had a fab dinner.
    2ndly, I so enjoyed what you said about the Old Coach Road. The setting sounds idyllic and remided me of a wonderfuk place in South Africa called Knysna where i enjoyed an idyllic holiday about …oooo..25 years ago! Its interesting how memories do pop into our heads from time to time. and it fascinates me how when you get talking about old times (ok so maybe not so much of the old…but you know what I mean 🙂 ) how the more you talk, the more things that happened years ago and about which you had no thoughts suddenly arrive! I learned at one of the multitude of PD courses I did, (not sure which one), that every single little thing that we have done or experienced is tucked away safely inside our memories and that whilst we dont think of them, and so we think we have forgotten, nothing is forgotten and all it takes is something happening to remind us of the time. of course many memories are easy to drag up and recall, but what I found fascinating is that everything is there. I test this out now from time to time when reminiscing with my sister or my daughter about times gone by, and works a cracker every time. Something or other will suddenly pop into my head, something I had not thought about for years and years.
    looking forward to the next episode of your pilgrims journey. Not sure when I will get to do mine, but I am thinking that since I missed it this year, then I should plan for April 2012 and start the next leg of my journey.
    Hope to catch up soon over a coffee or tea! or whatever! 🙂

    • Matt's Tale says:

      Hey Cindy, thanks – as ever – for your nice comments and continued support for me blogging my heart out! 😉

      I just realised a further sad thought about this posting being about remembering things – as my father died of brain cancer and so his memory slowly eroded in his last days, much like the Old Coach Road has slowly slipped away – bit by bit – into the sea. With that erosion, so went the storytelling, and so perhaps it is poignant to have picked up on this memory – and the need to remember – at this point of the journey.

      Still, the good thing is that Dad passed so many of his stories on – albeit verbally to us (like the original Celts would have done). So it is now up to my family and I, the next generation, to preserve them by passing them on (truth or truths notwithstanding) for the next generation to appreciate – and, you never know, maybe it will help them to find the way or their way. Or at least appreciate a good journey and a story to go with it.

      A further thought crossed my mind, in reminiscing on this, about the contrast of this Celtic-style heritage in parallel with that of other cultures who maintain oral story-telling traditions – and how it can lead one (or many) on to different places. For instance, I understand that the Australian Aboriginals find their ways – often supposedly after many generations have gone by – back to a watering hole that past ancestors would have visited, but they have never seen or been to before. I further understand that they will know about this from a myriad of drawings, stories and other means that have been passed down from one generation to another – and perhaps much like this little snippet of a story has been passed on now (and which has also allowed me to now learn about Knysna from you – which sounds like a place I ought to visit). So maybe we could say that we create our own Dream Time (if this is the same thing – but must check to be sure) from following our dreams, if we dare…

      That said, maybe it’s simply just like what Robert Frost seems to be saying in his poem, about how “way leads to way”, that just following one road or another will simply lead us further on to discovering more about the world – and ourselves – innit (sic). However, maybe this road not taken, is really the one that would have been my father’s road. Now THERE’S a spooky thought (especially as my Dad LOVED to tell ghost stories!)

      OK, getting back to Earth again, I’d be really interested to know more about those PD courses you did and hear about your plans to find the way, or your way, along this Canterbury Road. So, yes, we must do tea or lunch again some time soon! 🙂

      Cheers, Matt

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