At the end of the road along Palliser Bay you will find the Palliser Lighthouse, still into operation. It was staffed till 1986 and then it was automated.
Very steep stairs with 258 steps will lead you to the red and white coloured lighthouse. Enjoy the view of the cliffs and wild coastline of Palliser Bay and across Cook Strait till the mountains of the South Island.
Feel 'the end of the world'.
See for official description: http://www.lighthouses.net.au/nz_lights/cape_palliser.htm
On the way from Martinborough to Lake Ferry and Palliser Bay we passed the Burnside Church, more or less in the middle of nowhere. We made a stop and looked around in this 140 years old wooden church.
It is situated near the village of Pirinoa.
Over a gravel road along Palliser Bay with some fords you will reach Ngawi: an old Maori fishermen village. Most remarkable are the tractors on the beach, colourful or corroded. They pull the boats of the fishermen in and out the sea.
A little bit (to the left) from the main road lies a small tea-room for a last opportunity to have a drink or a snack before reaching the fur seals and the end of the road near the lighthouse.
From Martinborough drive to the south and just before reaching Lake Ferry turn off to the left to Cape Palliser (signposted).
Suddenly the road will descend and reach the wild coast with views over Palliser Bay on your right and a spectacular landscape with the eroded and steep Whatarangi Bluff on your left hand side.
When I was down to my last jar of coffee and rewinding the ribbon on my typewriter!
Got a letter at the post office (now a brasserie) telling me I had won the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield short story award. (Her Pop was one of the high ups in the bank which is why he could afford to ship her out to England with an allowance.)
Had to hitch over the Rimutakas to the award ceremony at the James Cook Hotel. An empty cattle truck pulled up for me. As he pulled up a wave of what the cattle had left behind surged forward and nearly tsunami-ed me! Just missed!
On the way down the Rimutakas the nice young bloke quipped that he hoped we wouldn't run out of brakes! I hoped so too.
Because my story was on the rude crude side the winner of the junior section's story was read out at the ceremony. And the NZ Listener didn't publish it. They usually published the winning story, always published the winning story. But they made an exception for "The Man Who Died Twice."
But I didn't get left out of the book when they celebrated fifty years of winners!
This is the window he lobbed a brick through.
He had created it. He destroyed it.
A few weeks later he turned up, wrote me a cheque for the price I had paid for it, and took the shards away.
I cycled slowly up to town, watching his orange kombi van vanishing in the dust, and bought a paper.
His leadlight exhibition in Wellington had been broken into and vandalised.
(Only now I realise I might enquire among my large extended family as to how that might have happened.)
Or was it kharma?
A week or so later he rang me in Wellington while I was visiting my mum.
"Have you cashed that cheque yet?"
"Well, don't bother."
A man who was unfraid of kharma.
The window was called Over The Hill because that's what the locals called going to Wellington over the Rimutakas.
Going over the hill.
Alister Taylor (publisher) lived in the big house up on the hill. He bought the land Honey Cottage was on (for a vineyard) and wanted Honey Cottage for a smoko room for the toilers in his vineyard.
He'd published a book by photographer extraordinaire Robin Morrison (who died way too young!) so it shouldn't have been a surprise to me that Robin took a snap of the road down to Honey Cottage.
(BTW the building you can see is the pump house. Honey Cottage is behind the stand of pine trees.)
But when this pic featured on a calender of NZ roads (for Firestone tyres?) and was everywhere for the month of June? July? just after I had had to make way for the workers and was wandering Wellington at a loose end - it was just a bit odd.
I couldn't make any sense of it so I got on a plane to Sydney.
They leave every day from Rongotai Airport - and fly over the roof of 70 Bridge Street where my mother, brother, sister-in-law and their four kids live.
And so my life began all over again.
"Jennifer Compton vividly remembers writing "The Man Who Died Twice", the story that won her the 1977 award.
'I was very poor, down to my last jar of coffee. Luckily back in the old days you could rewind the ribbon on your manual typewriter. I'd hitchhiked over to Palmerston North and got back to Honey Cottage after dark in a sort of frenzy of poverty. I sat down on the couch with my cat Le Miou and wrote a short story that would win the K.M. I was so sure. And I did. I still remember and use that feeling of passing through despair and doubt into a state of raging hunger, although these days the hunger is different. I'll go to my grave with the memory of raising my head in the gloom and aiming so as I couldn't miss. And the way my cat looked at me!' "
... "It's a naive domestic burgundy but I think you will be amused by its presumption."
How odd it is to look inside my front room again.
And even odder that I kept my wine in that dresser.
There was no lock on the door so when I went to Australia every year to attend to business I would just shut the door behind me.
A Sydneysider asked me if I was worried about thieves. I quipped I was only worried about the alcoholic farmer's wife who lived on the other side of the river. (Sad but true. She was a terrible trial to her husband and her two little kiddies.)
When I got back - wine gone out of the dresser.
Not saying it was her. But I like to imagine her dashing across the swing bridge for a quick snort of what she needed. And dashing back again to fling the chops under the grill for dinner.
But it could have been the possums. With their tiny prehensile hands.
It was put on the back of a truck and shifted.
And it is no longer called Honey Cottage.
It is now the tasting room for Te Kairanga Vineyard.
Martinborough rolled over, woke up, and found it had become Yuppie Heaven. With vineyards, tasting rooms, wine trails. The Post Office had become a brasserie. It's now the winingest, diningest town in the whole of the Wairarapa, apparently.
Or how to end it.
This experience was very much like the beautiful green river, the Hungaroa, that flowed a hop, step and a jump away from my back door.
Honey Cottage was interesting in that it only had one door. I called it the back door. But it might have been the front door.
Can't say I wrote a great deal here.
But I do remember writing a radio play called Morning Glories (that was produced in Australia and New Zealand). I had a feeling that I would finish it one night. Had a good night writing but - no - didn't get finished.
The next day I got up and had a look at it - and lo. I had kept on writing three pages after the ending. The obvious, the natural, the perfect! ending.
Please note manual typewriter! May be the reason I have two frozen shoulders.
... because my two years in my secret valley are something impossible to ... make sense of ... when you abandon yourself to ... whatever, then no one can tell you what will just turn up. On your doorstep.
I had done Sydney. Done it to a turn. And it was a bit - not what I was after.
What did turn up my doorstep?
A hedgehog eating a screaming frog.
A possum climbing up my doorpost.
A young bullock who would leap the fence into my vegetable patch.
A heron. Who sailed over my house and called out to me.
And one night. What was it? A meteor?
... trying to write this story.
Was there a reason I needed to be alone?
And what was that reason?
Did he follow me?
Did he put a brick through my window pane?
This is the shed he was using as target practise and I told him not to.
He just growled and said there was no reason why he shouldn't take a few pots at it with his shot gun.
But after he had headed off back to his real life in his orange kombi van I found he had killed the tin of loo chemical on a shelf in the shed. Killed it quite dead.
... as the only peacock in our literary garden.
But, of course, she was a pea hen.
Found this card when I opened a new weetbix packet one morning.
Laughed and laughed.
But noted that the Bank of New Zealand and Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award was coming up soon. $500.
And $4,000 doesn't last very long.
So I used a kero lamp or candles or if I was doing some fine knitting I would rig up a reading lamp on a long cord. But the moths were many and the cat would try to catch them and knock over the lamp and the bulb would break. And that was a big item out of my budget.
I had a radio but no television.