Letters home, 1999, June 29

29 June 1999 (to Dave Hearn, Te Kuiti)


It’s wet – if you’re trying to watch Wimbledon, you’ll see how wet. Temperatures are mild, though. I have applied for more than 60 jobs and 8 are still in the system. Plenty of hope. Elaine has had lots of teaching, so she’s keeping us going in the meantime. There’s no suggestion she’ll keep teaching for very long after I get a job.

The roads – and the traffic – are diabolical. Everywhere, and I mean everywhere, the roads are crowded. It’s like driving in rushour Auckland traffic all day; and no matter where you are, or what you are trying to do, there’s always a car right up your exhaust pipe. We went to Goffs Oak to take Elaine to the school this morning, for instance, about 20 min from here, and between 8:00 when we went up the road and 9:00 when I tried to come down it, there was a 2-mile long (20 min in the queue) traffic jam.

The roads are too small and they allow cars to park on both sides of the road, so that parts of it are one-car only. There’s also only one road out of this town, and that road has two roundabouts, a set of lights and a stop sign at the top. The town has about 2000 population and they all work in London. Incredible. The roading system here is almost at a standstill. Trouble is, there’s only a very poor public transport system that no-one wants to use because it’s slow, expensive and cumbersome. And when there is rain, you get hell of a wet using it.

Otherwise, it’s beautiful here. Absolutely gorgeous little villages and towns; richly textured landscapes and large fields of commercial crops like wheat, oats, barley and brilliant yellow swathes of oilseed rape. Everywhere there are huge trees, the landscape is glorious with them. The fields are all ringed with trees and the roadsides, both in the country and in the cities are heavily lined with these massive oaks, sycamores and walnuts. Takes your breath away. England is far more wooded than NZ. There’re way more trees.

I’m glad to see your email is working. Nice to hear from you.