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Off to Collingwood, and to Somerset House – Day 43
Monday 9th May 2005
I was off to Collingwood today to a backpackers called Somerset House. The name sounded lovely, and the location looked as though it would live up to the name. I was looking forward to getting there and seeing for myself.
Collingwood is situated on the northern tip of the South Island, and the town here is the highest town on this island. This information alone made it feel important, and I imagined a small town where everybody knows each other, and everyone is happy and content. I hoped it would have a little character.
The views along the way were lovely, and the sun was shining brightly, although still a little cold. Inside the car it was lovely and warm, and it’s days like these that I could happily drive all day long and not get bored. It’s also days like these that bring on my beaming smile and my stupid in-car antics. (Screaming out the window and laughing to myself hysterically). I’m glad nobody witnesses these moments, as I’m sure I would be sectioned if anybody were unfortunate enough to see me. I guess I’m just having such a good time that all my inhibitions go out the window – quite literally.
Collingwood was reached and I parked my little red car outside, ready to make my acquaintances with the current residents in Somerset Lodge. From my first impressions of the town, and from the look of the place from the outside, I was sure I was in for a treat. I liked the look of this place already.
Inside, people were non-existent. I was the only person as far as I could tell. But experience tells me that this is rarely the case. Come dinnertime the place would be full, or at least more occupied than it is now. I met the owner – who seems to be extremely kind and caring, almost like a father figure the way he was speaking to me – and proceeded to settle in by pouring myself a cup of tea. It is more like a home than a hostel, and all you could possibly need was here, for everybody’s use. I love this about some of the hostels I have stayed in so far. It really makes you feel more at home.
I put some washing on, then took a walk to the town. It wasn’t much to look at to be honest, but it was very quaint. I strolled onto the beach and was surprised at all the debris and driftwood scattered about the sand. I walked further and noticed a tree that was hugging the bank while leaning out over the beach. The roots were on show, and it looked as though a recent storm had washed away much of the bank, leaving this tree exposed to the elements. It looked almost as though it was clinging on for dear life. What were more peculiar were the rocks that had entangled themselves within the roots. It resembled a piece of artwork, and looked deliberate, but was completely natural.
Anyway, whilst admiring this trees roots for some time, I remembered I had washing on, and that nobody else could use the machine if my things were still in there, so I had to get back.
Once back at the hostel, many more people had arrived, including a large group of lovely Japanese people. I guessed some of them worked in the hostel, others worked elsewhere, but they were all here busily preparing their evening meal, albeit very early. I got chatting to some of the guests, including a girl called Astrid, from Germany. I booked a trip for Farewell Spit for tomorrow, then sat out on the balcony in the glorious afternoon sunshine looking at the wonderful view of the sea. At one point, the owner of the hostel stepped outside to ensure I had sun cream applied to my face, which I didn’t. Nice of him to care though.
I spent a while back in the hostel talking to an annoying guy from Israel. He was annoying due to the fact that he disagreed with everything I said. After each of my sentences, he would reply “no I don’t think that’s right”, or “no, that’s not what it is”, or “I don’t really think so”. I wanted to punch him at one point, but held myself back.
I had my evening meal once everyone had deserted the kitchen area, but felt slightly conscious of the fact that the Japanese people had made a meal fit for a king between them, whereas I had to settle with a bowl of pasta. I liked pasta though. There is a strong bond between the people here, and a bond between the owner and the Japanese people. I figured these people had been here some time now, and it felt like a large family. The owner certainly treated everyone as though this was the case. It felt nice, even though I was on the outside at this early stage.
I was looking forward to my trip to Farewell Spit tomorrow as I lay myself down for bed.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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