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.
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.