Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Another malaise

It's been ages since I felt like blogging or even visiting other bloggers.    My doctor gave me some news that wasn't exactly welcome and I think I threw a bit of a tantrum.  I stomped off to a strange place and into a mood that was rather unusual for me.  Having written that, I realize I've written something similar before and, after searching back through my posts, discovered I was in a similar situation not long after I started blogging in '09. 

 I suppose we can all, from time to time, be gripped by moods that are vastly different from our usual mien. A little random gene that manages to fight its way past all the others that dominate, fights its way to the surface and takes command for a time before being beaten back into the depths by the daily troops. My little random gene has held all the others at bay for a few weeks – pretty good going for something that only pops up every few years..

The only word I can think of to describe my mood was a malaise which is a word I associate with Victorian ladies who fainted and swooned and drifted around the place in a dream. Weren’t they always sinking into a malaise at the drop of a hat? In my malaise I just felt exhausted, lifeless, had zero energy, it was an effort to walk to the kitchen to turn on the kettle let alone feed myself. I didn’t feel unwell in any way, I just didn’t feel well.  I did have a bit of pain in my hips and back and had almost resigned myself to accepting that was my lot in life.

And my mind was as decrepit as my body, couldn’t concentrate, had to swap books as the one I was reading suddenly became far too difficult to follow. And I even had trouble following the plot in a bodice ripper. 

I'm still waiting for my daily genes to regain command, I know they will.  But they are taking too long so I'm determined to force the issue and tell you about my recent trip down to the East Cape.

My friend Chris and I usually take a mid-winter break but hadn't got around to planning anything for this year.  We finally decided  to go somewhere neither of us had been before.  After a bit of a discussion we discovered neither of us has travelled the road from Opotiki north east to Hicks Bay.  And Chris had heard about a backpackers that is rated in the top 10 in the world on one backpackers site.  I wouldn't go quite that far but the place definitely had its own unique charm.

But first, a few shots of travelling south.  Heading towards the east coast I reached for my camera as soon as I spotted this mountain range ahead.  Strange how the shape of a mountain can transport me back to my childhood and revive wonderful memories of travelling up the valley towards my grandparents farm for the school holidays.  

We don't know any people in this neck of the woods but we stopped to chat with this chap.  He seemed quite interested in us. 

We lingered in Paeroa to look at the L & P statue - Lemon and Paeroa, World Famous in New Zealand as the ad goes, our national soft drink which has been popular with Kiwis since the early 1900s.

 We arrived in Tauranga after 5 pm and decided to stay there for the night.  Took us ages driving around to find a motel, obviously we weren't in the right part of town.  When we did find one, it was a little expensive but we were in a "what the hell" mood by then and enticed by "harbour views".   If I'd known that motel offered the best bed I was to see for four nights, I would have been prepared to pay more. The best view was from the kitchen window!  The next morning was sunny, still and clear.  The sunny weather continued all the time we were away.

We lingered a while the next day in Whakatane.  Chris is a very accommodating co-traveller.  It's been many, many years since I visited there other than to pass through.  I had a vague memory of the harbour entrance and Chris obliged by driving around until we found it. 

It wasn't far, it's very close to town.


 I wanted to see the statue of Wairaka.  She stands beside the harbour bar.  Tradition has it , that the early Polynesian males went ashore leaving the women in a drifting canoe. Paddles of the canoe were Tapu to the women. But not to be left helpless, Wairaka cried "Kai Whakatane au I ahau" I will act as a man and so the captain's daughter took up the paddle and returned the canoe to shore. 

The whitebaiters were out in number along the banks of the harbour.  New Zealand whitebait are caught in the lower reaches of the rivers using small open-mouthed hand-held nets.   Whitebaiters constantly attend the nets in order to lift them as soon as a shoal enters the net.  Otherwise the whitebait quickly swim back out.  It appears to require a lot of patience, watching and waiting for shoals to appear.   Typically, the small nets have a long pole attached so that the whitebaiter can stand on the river bank and scoop the net forward and out of the water when whitebait are seen to enter it.

Whitebaiting in New Zealand is a seasonal activity with a fixed and limited period enforced during the period that the whitebait normally migrate up-river. The strict control over net sizes and rules against blocking the river to channel the fish into the net permit sufficient quantity of whitebait to reach the adult habitat and maintain stock levels. The whitebait themselves are very sensitive to objects in the river and are adept at dodging the nets.

Whitebait is very much a delicacy and commands high prices to the extent that it is the most costly fish on the market, if available. During average to good seasons, I believe prices vary between $50 and $70 per kilogram.  It is normally sold fresh in small quantities, although some is frozen to extend the sale period. Nevertheless, whitebait can normally only be purchased during or close to the netting season. The most popular way of cooking whitebait in New Zealand is the whitebait fritter, which is essentially an omelette containing whitebait. Purists use only the egg white in order to minimise interfering with the taste of the bait.

A couple of watching and waiting shots.

It seems the birds have been waiting here, too.

 Some come prepared for a long wait.

Beside the harbour children play.  This scene made me smile, they were so sure their parents couldn't see them!


  1. Oh, Pauline, I think I understand this "malaise" you speak of. I have suffered from it recently. A deep tired feeling that is almost incapacitating. Then I think I've got some horrible disease or worse.All I want to do is sleep.
    I think we are getting old and our bodies are playing tricks on us. Our minds don't work as well as they use to and forgetfulness is an everyday occurrence. It is depressing.
    Get a good physical check up to be sure that everything is OK. Take a multi-vitamin everyday, eat good things and get some exercise on a regular basis. I find all these things tend to help. Also find something that you really like to do and do it.
    I think a good frame of mind is a great depression buster. Kick that "random gene" in its DNA and tell it to shape up and be happy.
    Take care of yourself.

  2. It's not a female problem. Growing old can be awful at times.
    I hope you come out the other side bouncing about like a spring chicken.

  3. Your trip down the east cape was such a treat for me. I'm so happy you were able to pop your "malaise" in a drawer for a little bit. Seriously though, I think the club is bigger than we think (I could relate to much of what you shared)
    It is lovely to see you post again though Pauline, and thank you for your lovely comment it touched me deeply.

  4. I hope you manage to come back to your old self, if not only for traveling and taking us with you on trips like these.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  5. I love it when you post about your trips, and this is no exception - so many new things for me here. I don't know Whitebait, loved the statue in the harbour and the story attached to it - and the water views are beautiful. The fishermen look like fishermen here - they could be on the breakwater at Ogden Point in Victoria.

  6. As soon as you used the word malaise I understood exactly how you felt and I'm sorry that you are feeling that way.

    As always, of course, your photo journal is so enjoyable. I know Whakatane and Tauranga and it's good to see them but I'm looking forward to the rest of the adventure.


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