Wednesday 2 May 2018

Several sorts of flying things

Of course, the day I go home from this trip which involved two rained-off activities is the best, weatherwise. It was a real pleasure to walk along Whakatane's waterfront, as the sun came around the corner to light up Moutohora and the statue of Wairaka at the entrance to the harbour. She was a feisty woman who disobeyed tradition and saved a waka, and the other women in it, from being swept out to sea while the men were ashore. 
After all that eating over the last couple of days, it was good to have just coffee and a pastry at L'Épicerie before setting off back towards Tauranga for my flight home. It was a really pleasant drive, the traffic light, Mt Edgecumbe brooding, the bare trees skeletal and sculpted, the sky big over the sea. 
I stopped off for another meeting at ComVita, which turned out to be a remarkably big factory processing manuka honey, and Lara gave me a tour at the Visitor Centre. She was a bit mischievous with her trick questions - how many eyes does a bee have? What sex are the workers? (I should have guessed. Can you?) How many in a hive? How much honey produced in a lifetime? At least I knew that one - half a teaspoon - because having learned it so long ago it always makes me feel guilty digging my knife into the pot. And now that I know that, by choice, bees would not restrict themselves to the tiny manuka flower which makes their work even harder, I feel guilty about that too. The single-source diet is forced on them by plonking the hives in remote areas where nothing else grows. Is it slightly inconsistent that the company is all about health and mindfulness? But nice to see good old EMF being quoted there (see also: above right).
I drove on then back to Tauranga in the sunshine, arriving too early and killing some time in the Aviation Museum at the airport, which is a working/conservation affair, so there were lots of old white men bustling about feeling important as they played with their big toys. A few of the planes were accessible and I was kind of shocked by the claustrophobic interior of a De Havilland Heron - a civilian plane used by NAC from before I was born. But the windows were luxuriously big! It was really an enthusiast's museum rather than general interest, but they had a lot of machines, civilian and military, if that's your thing.
And then that was that, Bay of Plenty done. Shame about the kayaking, and the trip to Whale Island - one day later and I would have been good. Have to come back again, I suppose. But now it's time to do a bit of flying myself. Shame about the piddly windows...

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