Monday, 31 March 2008 by kinakoJam
We spent 2 & 1/2 perfect days in Leigh (an hour up the east coast from Auckland) during this month's trip home - I wish it could've been a week. My Oma & Opa bought this section back in the '50s when they were fresh off the Willi Maria or whatever the boat from Holland was called, and they tore out all the gorse, planted bush and built the bach, sealing their fate as kiwis forever.
Above is a deepfrier, that we used to use to make 'oliebollen' (donuts made from a yeasty dough spiked with currants, and rolled in icing sugar) a traditional Dutch New Years treat, which I hence associate with hot summer holidays of NZ - sometimes we'd go blueberry picking over by Omaha Beach and then those would go into the oliebollen.
Going to the bach also meant the occasional tray of poffertjes (small yeasty pancakes served with butter & icing sugar), great big pieces of kingfish which my uncles caught in deep water, or maomao or snapper or kahawai, on the BBQ -
the plum tree outside the little bach (the smaller, original building) dripping with dark-fleshed fruits - pipis and cockles which we dug out of the sand at Whangateau (we did that this time, there were tonnes of cockles but pipis are much scarcer these days) - and plastic jugs of Raro fruit drink on the beach (which we never drank back home in Wellington), and hot milo or ovaltine before climbing up into one of those high bunk beds up among the cobwebs. And 50 cent bags of sweets, and of course 'chish and fips' as my father called it.
The creek down in the section of bush had eels in it but we never ate them, just let them be. I think they were too small. We did catch sprats on the wharf, which could be eaten, or maomao on a little dinghy, although turning vegetarian at the age of 13 after a trip to the Matakana butcher put paid to my fishing career.
If we threw fruit into the compost bucket that still had edible sections my Oma would fish it out, and cut off the bruised or moldy bits, her economic attitude to fruit a virtue she attributes to the war.
Below you can see the grapefruit tree and feijoa tree, between which, was the nameless terror of the compost pit, just over the ledge.
Since then, two of my uncles have built their own baches across the other side of the section - I wish I'd taken pictures of Basil's banana trees and the silver R2D2 shaped thing that he got from a chinese restaurant and uses for smoking fish.
Basil took us out in his boat, over the reef, on this far-too-short trip, and we caught some snappers and drank some beers. I used to be proud of being able to gut fish when I was 10 or 11. I thought my fishing career might be about to take off again, this time...if it wasn't for that small pathetic gasping noise, a sort of squeaking, that the snappers made when we reeled them in!
Before Basil gutted each one alive and chucked the contents overboard.
Our poor, delicious victims: