Hello 2015, you good thing. Coming back to Taranaki for a holiday does something for me like no other place can - and my soul needed it. This place fills me up and I knew that my tank had been running empty towards the end of last year. It's familiar, quiet, relaxed, everything operates at a much more sedate pace here and those are all good things. I grew up on a dairy farm on the southern side of the mountain and feel such a connection to this land. The majority of my parents' families still live in the region as do two of my siblings so we come back for gatherings every now and again, although the last time I was home was almost a year ago.
Having spent a great few days with family up north in Auckland over the New Year, we headed south to Taranaki to join our extended family for our annual family cricket match, which is played on alternate years in Okato. This is done as a way to honour the memories of my father and his late friend and their love for the game. Now into its 31st year, the match is always played in good spirit (with a few beers never too far away) and provides an opportunity for our children to see some of their extended family and play with their cousins.
|My nephew opening for his side with my brother. Cricket, beer, sun - it doesn't get more Kiwi Summer than that.|
Okato is a fairly typical small country town with just a handful of mainly convenience stores dotted along the main street. The cricket match was played on the grounds of the local combined primary/high school which is off the beaten path. I think it is a lovely spot and warrants a stop rather than just simply being a place to pass through on the way to New Plymouth, especially for people who possess more of a photographer's eye than I do. Like many small towns, there are hidden gems, like this cute wooden church, with sheep dozing in the paddock.
It was such a beautiful day, after my husband had his turn at the crease, we took the girls down to the local pool for a swim. It is tucked away down a side road which is accessible by car from State Highway 45, but we reached it by parking at the end of Old S Road on the other side of the Stony River and walked across the wooden swing bridge instead. There is quite a scenic walkway along the river although we did not venture too far off the swing bridge this time.
It was late afternoon, the girls played in the pool with their dad and cousins for an hour and it was the perfect way to finish off the day. I think this pool is another hidden gem, sitting there nestled amongst the native bush, although there were plenty of people there at that time of day to make me think the secret is out.
If you ask my children what their favourite part of the holidays were, they would say going to Rainbow's End in Auckland. If you ask me what my favourite part has been so far, easily, it was this day.
I hope you all have had a very restful festive season. Only four more weeks until our new school year begins so I will be blogging sporadically until we fall back into some form of a routine. I have never been one for making New Year's resolutions, but having seen that I am no further along on my fitness path than I was a year ago, maybe I should start making some!