Friday, 17 February 2012

Summer in February

I have lived in the UK for over forty years so I am as familiar as anyone else with February being a cold and dark month.  When it all gets too much I turn my mind to New Zealand where I grew up.  There February is the height of summer (the equivalent of August in Europe) with plenty of heat and sunshine if you are lucky.  Leisure time includes lots of time spent on the beach while if you are a worker you will aim to eat your lunchtime sandwiches in the park.  If you are at school you will be doing a lot of sport.  In 2008 I spent February in NZ (the only time I have been back in high summer).  It was a particularly good summer which also means drought.  I had a weekend in Hawkes Bay where we lived when I was small.  Signs of the drought were everywhere:

I went on a wine tour which also took us to the top of Te Mata Peak, an extraordinary mountain rising straight out of the plain.  From here the drought was very evident:


We used to picnic on the banks of the river just here and had cousins who farmed on the land between the river and the ocean (the Pacific).
I spent my youth in Wellington, the capital, but even in a city summer is all about the beach and sport.  After work people go to the mid-city beach:


while at weekends they go for a stroll at the nearest beach.  This is Titahi Bay, now a commuter area about fifteen miles from town but in my youth somewhere where people had holiday baches (cottages).


I hope that if you are in the middle of winter, these photos will remind you that it doesn't last forever.