We've been everywhere and 'all over' and now we're back from our South Island touring, without having seen all that I wanted us to see, without visiting every person I wanted to visit but back ... at my lovely little sister's house here in Dunedin.
And the little red car has done all we asked it to do, more than I expected it to, so I'm stunned and delighted. In its everyday red-car life it's a farm car but how it has impressed me. It took us out onto the West Coast via the Haast Pass, up over Arthurs Pass - a fact that still stuns me, then all over the Lindis Pass ...
Serious roads, each of them, but it got us back to Dunedin again and without one single complaint.
I have been tireder than I expected to be, driving all of these kilometres. Perhaps I haven't quite made the hemisphere shift as I dreamed that I might. There is an exact 12 hour difference between Belgium and New Zealand, with the Kiwis leading the way into each new day ... I stumble a little at times.
I left behind winter and now I'm tanned from this South Island summer. My arms are brown when I look down at the hands writing this story.
We prepared our New Zealand Christmas day menu today ... ham and some kind of roast will be involved, as will new potatoes, cherries, and all kinds of other things.
And much as I love 'the road' here in New Zealand, stopping has delights of its own. I'm just home from an evening spent with the lovely poet, Kay McKenzie Cooke, and her husband too. Gert made the comment about them being the loveliest people ... but, to be honest, we keep meeting the loveliest people here. We laughed when we realised. Everyone along the way has been 'the loveliest people'.
It has to be said that I am fortunate in that I know some of the best people ... in the world! They're not just here in New Zealand.
But I cannot begin to tell you how much we have loved reading Kay's poems as we've wandered through her worlds on this Red Car Journey.
The photograph of the sign that follows was taken near Cromwell, in Central Otago. We had lunch on a seat that overlooked the old 'meeting of the rivers' in Cromwell. We've been everywhere there on that sign except for Oamaru. And technically, we didn't make Christchurch, opting instead of Oxford and Springfield. No regrets but for not seeing two people I would have loved to have seen ... huge apologies to Kim and Catherine.
My much-missed Auntie Coral was out in Oxford and I cried when I had to leave her. Once I had said goodbye to her, I had to drive ... the Rakaia Gorge and down into the McKenzie Country, on into Mount Cook, only stopping when I reached Twizel. Otherwise I wouldn't have left.
It was like that ...