A polar bear in a tropical zoo

I went for a trundle in the car this morning to Matakana, just north of Auckland with Zoe, my daughter. We skipped fencing club this morning. The big Z is feeling discouraged because she is smaller than the other girls in the class and the boys her size are a little confused by the whole point of the exercise - a little too much Jedi knight/light sabre action happening there.

The weather was perfect - for the first time in weeks. Zoe and I had had a contretemps the day before. The mood today was like a clear day, figuratively, after a storm. She is reading the first Trixie Beldon book and described the chapters she had read (since last night) in great and elaborate detail. The book seems to contain a character who sucks poison from a wound inflicted by a copperhead. I guessed it was a snake variety and ventured that hypothesis.
'Of course it's a snake…what else could it be?'
'Well, it could be a nail.'
'what, like a fingernail.'
'No, like a hammerin' nail; nails have heads - they are the bit you whack.'
'I'd whack a snake on the head if I saw one.'
'I don't think that you'll be seeing one anytime soon. We don't have snakes here in New Zealand.'
'But we have White-tails.'
'White tails? …what, is that a bird?'
'Daaaad, I know you are smart, but don't you know anything?'
I confess, I don't know what a white-tail is.
'Is it a kind of kitten?'
'Not even close.'
'Ok, I give up. What is a white tail?'
'A spider - OF COURSE!'.
'Ah, that's right. Of course! A spider. … but hang just one second young lady…'
(long pause, how do I break this minor detail about arachnoid architecture)
'…spiders don't have tails."

I timed her response:
Two kilometres clicked over.
Five clicks.
At six and a half she emerged from her thoughts.
'I'm hungry. Oh, and - by the way - you are SO literal.'

The joys of being eight, nearly nine.

Remember the Art Linkletter TV show Kids say the darndest things?

Matakana has changed beyond recognition. It seems to have been utterly gentrified. Felt like somewhere in the Sonoma Valley. Loads of Porsches and stupid SUVs.

We had lunch at the fish and chip shop by the Farmer's Market (which was all but over by the time we arrived). The shop is called 'C' and I can say, straight up, the food was the best I have ever had from a deep fryer. The young woman who served us was bright and friendly. She broke out into song and asked me what I thought of the song. I told her I liked it and that it was the first time I had been serenaded in a fish and chip shop.

I couldn't help but recall the house of horrors I visited in Greenwhich, London where surly staff served skate (which I don't count as fish) and soggy fat soaked, deep warmed, par-boiled potatoes.

In Matakana the fish was locally caught snapper, beautifully cooked and the chips were perfect. There were too many fries though and I resented binning most of them - the price was high and I don't like waste.

Z & I shared a burger, halved by the kitchen staff. Home-made pattie, simple fresh salad ingredients. Very, very good. The Zoemeister complained about the raw red onions but I liked them and added hers to my half.

I give Matakana a thumbs up. We'll come back - leaving the Porsche at home.

The highlight of the afternoon was heading a little further north to Kaiwaka. My travelling companion advised me that means 'food canoe'.

Kaiwaka is the home of the Utopia Cafe. A funky festival of ferro cement. It is one of my favourite places. The coffee is good. The food organic (not that I care). And it is the antithesis of slick.

My mid-term plan is to head for the hills. The winter-less north. Simple life to balance complex problems. I never feel that sitting at a desk in an office works for me.

I feel like a polar bear in a tropical zoo.


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