20 May / Lost forever
A day ago we returned from our big holiday in Hanmer Springs. The trip was an exhausting hour and a half drive, so in order to make sure we made it home before nightfall my darling insisted that we leave our unit by eight o’clock.
In the morning.
We couldn’t even check-out because the office wasn’t open. It opens on the dot of eight am, but that would’ve meant staying in their beautiful large furnished apartment for a good ten minutes longer.
Well. Not having that sort of restriction on our holiday, are we?
So we locked our front door key into the apartment, and hoped that they understood our need to scurry away before daybreak really got broken.
I don’t necessarily understand myself, but you don’t get to twenty years of unmarried bliss without blindly accepting your partner’s foibles.
It’s been a number of years since we last paid a visit to Hanmer. We used to go at least once a year, at least it seems that way now, but counting back we both worked out that we haven’t been since the earthquakes, which mean about five years or so.
Still, much of the place is the same. Jolly Jack’s is empty at the moment, which was a bit of a shock, but it’s been through changes of hand in the past without harm.
The fish ‘n’ chip shop we remember down the side lane has also changed hands and cuisine, but we weren’t in the mood for fast food anyway so it didn’t bother us none.
Driving back to Christchurch however, there were a few things that made me a bit sad.
The hill next to Balmoral Forest, where your stomach always used to end up lodged somewhere in your lower jaw, has been flattened out to a shadow of its former self.
The bungy jump out over the old bridge doesn’t even seem to be in operation anymore. If it is, then the signage around it is sadly lacking.
And worst of all is the travesty that is Frog Rock.
That was always the landmark that used to tell us we were truly on the road to or from Hanmer. The giant old rock worn by years of wind into a sculpted frog squatting on a hill; leaning out over the road as thought it were keeping watch.
I remember when some department or other confirmed it was necessary to blow it to smithereens in order to avoid it deciding to part company with the hill one day, and potentially smashing some poor unfortunates passing on the road beneath.
I’m sure it was in everyone’s best interests, I certainly have no wish to be squashed to death in the car by a giant frog, but couldn’t something else be done? Maybe just carve out another bend in the road?
So now we pass the old shed proudly proclaiming FROG ROCK and there’s not a frog in sight.
The only joy comes from imagining carful after carful of people speeding past, squinting and trying to make out a natural frog sculpture that’s no longer there.