I‚??m not going to lie to you. ¬†I‚??d never heard of Hawke‚??s Bay Golf Club until Bart mentioned it. ¬†I mean, one might assume there would be such a club ‚?? but for whatever reason it had never come to my attention. ¬†Nor Michael‚??s, if I understand correctly. ¬†Bart however sweated and toiled for hour upon hour throughout his formative years at the practice ground, and as a result grew into the Tremendous golfer he is today. ¬†So it has a lot of fond memories for The Gaffer. ¬†And it was only natural that with two games to tee up in the area pre-Kidnappers, we‚??d pay a visit if they‚??d have us. ¬†
Mike and I rose at Dave‚??s place to a sun intent on streaming through defenseless windows. ¬†Toyed with the idea of kicking off proceedings by inhaling a morsel of Nadine‚??s infamous Christmas cake, but held strong. ¬†Dear friend Jimmy James Harper had invited us to bruncheon at his parents‚?? place over the hills, up in the Wairarapa. ¬†Always a lovely place to go. ¬†This time was no exception ‚?? parents Vicky and Grant, and sister Alice, were present and counted. ¬†For an hour or two we sat outside under shade while Jimmy did his best to burn our eggs. ¬†Hilarity was the name of the game though, when dear mother with a swing of her tongs spat bacon fat onto James‚?? pristine white t-shirt. ¬†A dummy was spat too, for good measure. ¬†Ah, frivolous familial quarrels ‚?? gotta love ‚??em. ¬†
Lamentably we had to Roll, before James murdered poor Vicky. ¬†Pleasantly replete and looking forward to a leisurely drive, we said our farewells and got moving. ¬†Next stop: Waipukurau ‚?? habitat of Bart‚??s mother Margie. ¬†Another mother, they‚??re everywhere. ¬†Poor Bart coughed and spluttered his way out of the back door to greet us; still heavily under the weather. ¬†Pneumonia or something of the like. ¬†‚??Gay Bart‚?Ě now renamed ‚??Sick Boy‚?Ě (important to always have nicknames, for team building you see...). ¬†¬†¬†¬†
The first thing I noticed on arrival was a striking poster, for an ‚??Ebony vs. Ivory‚?Ě match on Waitangi Day (for you non-Kiwi folk, that‚??s 6 February, the date The Treaty of Waitangi was signed by Maori and the Queen‚??s representative back in 1840. ¬†Long story...). ¬†As you can see, the Ebony boys are also known as ‚??Da Bro‚??s‚?Ě and the Ivory boys as ‚??The Pro‚??s‚?Ě. ¬†Not the sort of poster you‚??d see in many golf clubs, but arguably an indication that race relations in this part of the world are healthy. ¬†
Sick Boy led us to the 10th tee to get under way. ¬†Over 400 metres of par 4, into a stiff breeze ‚?? a gentle start you might say. ¬†Or you might not. ¬†I was pleased to walk off with 5. ¬†Sick Boy must‚??ve been distraught to block his opening tee shot Out Of Bounds ‚?? in the sense that you always hope to play well at your childhood haunt. ¬†No doubt SB‚??s pummelled countless drives straight down the middle from an early age; perhaps the (self-imposed) pressure got to him. ¬†
You could see in Sick Boy‚??s eyes and tone of voice a hope for approval. ¬†This was a place holding cherished memories for him. ¬†Naturally any praise we heaped on the course would appease this tension, and on the other hand any criticism would cut deep. ¬†So when Goldy chucked his toys at low hung branches just in front of the 13th tee, the milk turned sour. ¬†For once I adopted the stance of observant bystander and didn‚??t add my 10 cents to the fire. ¬†Sick Boy ‚?? who let us remember was, at this stage, really quite Sick still ‚?? looked troubled to say the least. ¬†Fortunately it didn‚??t come to blows. ¬†Fortunately for Michael that is: Sick Boy though sick was still significantly bigger and stronger!
On a lighter note, Mike‚??s parents and grandfather arrived on the scene as we came up 18. ¬†Jeff couldn‚??t resist the invitation to join us for the front nine; and couldn‚??t believe it when Sick Boy told him he was ‚??sweet‚?Ě to wear jeans! ¬†It looked very uncomfortable. ¬†And just plain wrong. ¬†But most would agree that uncomfortable golf is better than no golf at all ‚?? and anyway what else did Jeff have to occupy his time? ¬†Wine tasting? ¬†There would be plenty time for that over the next couple of days...
As we approached the 6th green a Maori chap, Charlie, pulled up on a bike. ¬†With a kind face, massive dreadlocks and a strong handshake he greeted Sick Boy, who was obviously tickled to see his old mate. ¬†All of a sudden Bart‚??s accent changed to one befitting of a TV weatherman, much as mine probably did when I was back in Scotland. ¬†In fact I began to question whether The Gaffer was indeed of Anglo Saxon descent, or whether he‚??d had a Michael Jackson-esque procedure carried out during his teenage years before we met him. ¬†I have no doubt that if a blind man was present he might‚??ve imagined two men of Charlie‚??s appearance ‚?? rather than Charlie and a pasty Dutchman! ¬†On an unrelated note, Charlie had carded 6 birdies that day ‚?? putting our meagre total to shame...
A barbeque dinner at the Goldsteins‚?? rented cottage amongst the vines followed. ¬†All of a sudden it was starting to dawn on me that The End was close... ¬†
JP ¬† ¬†
This morning - our last one in England - I'm rinsed. ¬†England I must admit has got the better of us, with darkening skies and dropping temperatures making us feel like we've aged 5 years in 5 weeks. ¬†The body's a' creakin'. ¬†
Bart is our physio. ¬†He was brought across to preserve and even improve our physical shape. ¬†The irony in all of this being that HE'S WRECKED ME! ¬†A couple of nights ago I pressed him for a few exercises, to at least postpone for a brief moment the constant bloating of my body into that of a middle aged man. ¬†So he gave me a rigorous regime of unnatural poses and the like - and since I woke up the next day I've hardly been able to move. ¬†Hitting the ball 150 yards and / or in remotely the right direction was an order too tall for me yesterday at Ganton. ¬†i only hope that this morning's foray to Bingley St Ives is less disgraceful.
With only a few days to go until our Dubai hop, we're rather exhausted. ¬†But, honestly, having a ball. ¬†Last night we had the pleasure of staying with the Tennant family, the middle son of which played cricket with Goldy in Wellington last year. ¬†What great people. ¬†And lovely to stay out on a farm after the urban madness that's been plaguing us. ¬†The air's therapeutic out here...
Now hopping in the car to drive 2 hours back west to Bingley. ¬†Then it's a mission over the border to the Land Of My Mother - Selkirk. ¬†Little brother Conor has come back to the homeland to play rugby, so I'm looking forward to hearing how his first 3 months have gone. ¬†And to seeing old family friends that he's spending a lot of time with. ¬†Likely to be a long day, but a good one. ¬†Might even catch up on a few course reviews along the way...
Have a good one y'all!