The two woman sat there looking well endowed, while their husbands loudly traded property wisdom across the table at each other, and anyone else within earshot...which was most of the outside deck area of the restaurant. Apparently Auckland was the place to be and the regions were stuffed as far as investment properties were concerned.
"There's no money in it anymore. Especially in Palmerston North."
Being Palmerstonians our ears pricked up...but we didn't recognise our neighbours.
Our road walk from Canvastown had been uneventful but full of expectation. We'd just sat down to Sunday lunch in a swanky, sea-side eatery in Havelock and were feeling pretty good. We were about to eat the feed we had been imagining, but failed to get, when we walked out of the Richmonds and into the Pelorus Bridge cafe yesterday.
I ordered the Mega Breakfast, even though it was lunch time. Whiona ordered the Mussel Kilo. Coffee, beer and wine followed.
My breakfast was indeed mega as was our mood.
I don't know whether "achievement" can be described as a feeling, but if it can be described as a "sense" (as in a sense of achievement), I'm sure a "feeling" is fine. Anyway, we were almost overwhelmed by it. We had just walked from the South Island's southern coast to the sea on what passes for its northern coast. Strangely it didn't seem like it was a long way.
We sat beside our packs and sticks, in our walking clothes and boots. We'd done the laundry the night before so didn't stink the place up, but we were definitely oddballs in a world of Saturday morning jewellery, SUVs and big-noting.
Our walking poles and scallop shells were our jewellery. Our packs and boots our SUVs. Our hairdos probably let us down a bit, and neither of us had shaved for nigh on 4 months. We felt a million bucks.
The property developers left and the attention of a quieter table of diners soon fell on the hairy, grinning idiots sitting near them. Fortunately we weren't drooling...at least I don't think we were. It wasn't long before the questions started flying and we got to tell them our success story.
It's always interesting hearing what different people want to know about our trip. It's an interesting insight into personality types.
There are the "organisers" who want to know about our logistics. The "measurers" who want to know about times, distances and weights. The "non-believers" who can't wrap their heads around it at all. The "techno-freaks" who love talking about gear.
The "relationship counsellors" are always fun. These types always ask about our arguments and our communication skills.
"You must've got sick of each other really fast."
But it's the "dreamers" we like best. These people get quite cosmic in their questioning. Childhood memories and life-changing events mix fluidly with feelings of being somehow trapped in their lives. These people are often astonishingly honest and usually accent their questions with distant looks and wistful expressions.
Our latest inquisitors were executives, so kept the questions professional, but motivation- and success-focused. I think there was one dreamer amongst them. As they left he took our photo with my camera.
As the rich food and drink worked its magic, our bodies started to feel whole again. A wholeness that was brimming with fitness and strength.
We didn't talk much...but we smiled a whole lot as we savoured our food.
It had been a while since we'd sat in the sun for any length of time and we could feel that we'd walked into a new season. The sun was hot, but didn't burn. The sea breeze made the whole thing even more enjoyable.
Even the ever-present wasps seemed like decorations...part of the Slipinn Cafe's decor.
WE TOOK AS MUCH TIME as we could at the cafe, but eventually had to tear ourselves away to go and find somewhere to stay. Our tent was out of the question for such a special day, so we had the choice of a couple of backpackers and the camping ground.
The backpackers had that faux groovy look about them that's designed to attract fun-lovin' youngsters through their doors. Being close to pension age, we opted for the nerdiest and most charmless looking campground I've ever been to.
But what a great place. We slept in a plastic container the size of our double bed. We ate in a kitchen with fluorescent lights, food-designated chopping boards and a large TV.
Then there were the toilets.
You know you're in a great campground when the mens' urinal has a sign telling urinators not to spit into it. A sign that hangs near a flower arrangement.
Our great day ended in the pub. It was the final of the overhyped Cricket World Cup Final. We aren't sure why we went to watch it, because we knew New Zealand were going to loose. We knew this because the newspapers that morning predicted a glorious victory.
The pub emptied as New Zealand were dismissed. No-one wanted to stay and watch the Aussies do it to us again.
What a great day it had been. For us.
The next day we would walk to the Marlborough Sounds where we'd start the last section of the trail with our son Tom.