The way I felt at that moment, I simply had to agree with them. “How far is it to my destination? I ask them. No, don’t tell me it’s another 5km, please!”. Well it was. But what I discovered is this: Kiwis, as blunt as they are, secretly admire some types of stupidity. For some reason, these people thought my stupidty was worth supporting and donated $25 to the fund.
The generous couple who offered me a bed for the night (in a railway carriage in their back garden!), took me to a BBQ with some friends and donated an astonishing sum to the charity. Richard and Sally taught me much about selfless kindness, and I was educated a little about New Zealand dairy farming.
Yesterday, as I sped towards my campsite, a car pulled over to the side in front of me, and a lady got out and indicated that I should stop. The reward for stopping was $30 being thrust in my hand, with the straightforward comment “Good on you”. She climbed back in the car and left.
In the campsite that evening, I fell into conversation with a delightful couple, Barry and Joy who, when they discovered I had yet to shop for my evening meal, spontaneously invited me to join them. I spent the most enjoyable evening learning about their background with the Salvation Army.
The approach to Wellington was greeted with, not only the first rain of the journey, but a veritable downpour. I eventually arrived at the Head Office of Save the Children NZ, welcomed with open arms, introduced to all the staff, told a little about their work (especially in the Pacific Islands), and given a gift of 62% Whittaker’s chocolate (my favourite) to see me on my way.
But perhaps the key event of the whole journey to date has been my visit to Kimbolton NZ. It has ancient historical connections with my own Village of Kimbolton in Cambridgeshire, and I was keen to get there and meet some of the residents. Linda Cambell, Head of Kimbolton Primary School, arranged a small welcoming party, and we had coffee and cakes in the local cafe, Hansens, before a tour of the school and the rest of the village. I was delighted to be able to present a letter of greeting from our own Parish Council and a short history of the village. This could lead to further contacts between the two communities. There is certainly a sense of shared identity.
I have now completed the first leg of a three leg journey, totalled some 1400km, and now await the ferry crossing across Cook Strait to be met by the President of Save the Children NZ, and be whisked off in their boat to their holiday home, where I will spend my first night on South Island. Bluff, here we come!!
Donate to the children of Syria: http://www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1