Round the bays

3 April 2017

As the weather deteriorates into autumn and we contemplate a long, grey winter, it was a pleasure to wake up early on the last official day of summer (the day before we turned the clocks back) to a brightening sky and cheerful birdsong. I made my way to the top of St Helier’s Bay road and took in the view: calm sea becoming blue in the growing light, the clouds turning rosy-hued with the rising sun and Rangitoto standing guard over it all. I walked down the hill and turning left onto the footpath, walked briskly in the direction of Kohimarama.

I was not alone. Just in front of me a grey-haired, spritely woman was striding out. “She must be at least 15 years older than me” I thought as I determined not to be left behind. Just as I caught up to her and prepared to overtake her, she stopped to talk to some friends coming the other way. My puny triumph was short-lived.

As I walked I watched the water changing colour, the waves rippling with the outgoing tide and the birds wheeling, diving and bickering.  But I was also fascinated by the passing parade of people – old, young and in between, all shapes and sizes, walking, running, cycling and paddling. There were the stereotypes: the perfectly coiffed older women in their designer active wear and state-of-the-art trainers, one of whom looked me up and down and almost audibly sniffed at my scruffy walking shoes; the younger women running effortlessly with their earphones connected to the devices strapped to their arms (what are they listening to I wondered when there are the sounds of the sea and the birds to be enjoyed?); the couples walking hand-in-hand chatting amicably and those who take absolutely no notice of each other; dog-walkers stopping to let their charges sniff around for as long as they want and those impatiently tugging at their dogs’ leads. There are always people who stand out from the crowd. One was a young woman who was running fast and chatting to her son, who was pushing himself along on a scooter beside her – how fit is she I exclaimed in my head. There was the young man who was running so fast and whose singlet was so drenched with sweat that I hoped he wasn’t going to collapse. Then there are the lovely people who smile and say hello and who you think you could probably make friends with instantaneously if only you didn’t have to get all the way to Mission Bay and back.

As I turned back into St Helier’s Bay road I could smell the cinnamon of the hot cross buns being taken out of the oven at the bakery. I had dropped a few coins into my pocket before leaving home so I could pop in and buy one. Once home, I enjoyed it with a cup of coffee while reading the paper. Could there be a better start to the weekend?