Saturday, 25 January 2014

23rd Dec-14th Jan 2014 - Devonport, Auckland

I've be coming to Devonport every few years since 1980. Most of the maternal side of my family live here, so really it's a home from home. Aunts and Uncles, several cousins, and my dear Gran make this a wonderful place to come back to again, and again.

Flying in late and so missing the last ferry across the harbour from the city meant I had to call in a bit of ground support. Fortunately, Will was on hand to for a late night taxi service, having flown in a couple of days before way Sophie. Thank goodness for brothers. But first, a slight technical hitch - No phone signal, of all the places in the world, why would my iPhone refuse a connection here? Fortuitously the pilot of the plane from Adelaide that I'd just got off, got on my bus, and very kindly lent me his - now that is good service.

Despite being about as far from London as it's possible to get, and thus only half way around the world, arriving here almost felt like the end of my travels. After three months of culture-shocked tongue-tied strangitudes, here was a quasi homecoming, and that's why it was so difficult to leave and get back on the road again.

Auckland city as viewed from Stanley Point, next to Devonport.

I guess it's fair to say there's no more middle-class area in New Zealand than Devonport. It's not full of the very rich, like say Remuera or Epsom, but it is inhabited by comfortably-off families who enjoy a good life living in colonial-style villas, playing tennis or golf, going for a swim, or a picnic on the beach, and only when necessary, catching a 10 min ferry to the city to earn a living, or do some shopping. In Devonport there are caf├ęs, bars, wine retailers, art galleries and supply shops for those who want to paint, and a wonderful restored and reopened cinema. It is a very easy place to spend a lot of time doing not a great deal. I love it. 

The view from Stanley Point to the harbour bridge. 

Victoria road in Devonport, with Mount Victoria behind. The purple building is The Patriot, the last remaining pub since The Masonic closed a few years ago. (Luxury flats, since you asked.)

This is the Victoria Cinema, thankfully reopened a few years ago after a decade of development debacle, it's now fully equipped with digital 3d projectors that, even so, are not good enough to make The Hobbit pt2 an interesting film. Apparently it's the oldest running cinema in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere, and I remember watching Footrot Flats with my cousins there way, way back in 1987.
By now the wonderful Evergreeen Books will be closed. It's been a welcome feature of Devonport's high street for twenty years. Everyone in town has been vocally mourning its imminent closure, and business at 50% off was, if not brisk, then moderately enthusiastic . I for one will sorely miss browsing through old books of NZ architecture without spending a dollar. On this last occasion I spent hours flicking through almost every page of biographies of Dietrich, Garbo, Nazimova, Burton, Welles, Monroe and O'Toole before adding them to my amazon wish list. RIP the great bookshop. 
One of the two churches at the foot of Mt. Vic.
New Year's Eve fireworks viewed from the top of Mount Victoria.
Mt. Vic. viewed in the day time. My brother and I used to race up it, while the grown-ups timed us against the next glass of Sauvignon blanc.

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