The Bay Walkers - Christmas 2013

5 years, or 260 Mondays ago I went on my first Oriental Bay Monday Morning Walk. That friend who opened this door for me has since moved up to Hawkes Bay. I miss her company and appreciate this legacy. It did not take long to realize how lucky I was to have landed an address on Oriental Parade in Oriental Bay. More than a parade of shops and flats, it is a close, vibrant (neighbourly) neighbourhood. Unlike other neighbourhoods, everyone here lives on the same side of the street and shares the same view, though not always the same viewpoint. The Monday Morning Walkers, a diverse and energetic group of women total approximately 21. Men are discouraged. Walks are vigorous, fast paced and hilly. Every walk is a good one and starts the week off with resolve. Wind direction and a cafe are serious things to consider when deciding the route. Coffee plays an essential role. A long black had better be hot, a decent cremora must be apparent, and cappuccino w/chocolate, whether trim or regular should not be forgotten.

I could never miss a Monday Walk, or I would never have known which restaurant to try, or what part of New Zealand I should visit next, or who was in and out in politics. More books, films, art exhibitions (in and out of the country), ballets and trips abroad have been discussed. Many global & health problems were solved while heaving ourselves up through the bush to Mt Vic. or careening along the fox line in Brooklyn’s Central Park.

This group had been walking many years before I stumbled onto them and their established traditions. The annual Christmas Walk held each December unites this group and is the only walk where everyone comes on the day. It is more of an amble where all catch up with each other en masse. Each Christmas Walk is memorable, probably most memorable for the three women slated each year having the task of planning the route and organizing the lunch. Where we go, how we go and where we eat are closely guarded secrets until THE DAY. No spoilers allowed. December 2013’s IT GIRLS, Viv Callendar, Cathy Kennedy-Good, and Annabel Leask orchestrated an exceptional Team Christmas Walk. One Monday, in early December, we trooped to Central Station commandeered the rail car to Silver Stream and continued on our way. Crossing the bridge we cut across fields in the sun onto the St Patrick’s College campus. Ahead, in the shade of trees an impromptu outdoor café was assembled, complete with tablecloth, steaming coffee in blue and white cups, juice, platters of strawberries, cherries and cheese biscuits (All wanted the recipe) Julie O’Connor stationed here with Faith Taylor, efficient baristas provided morning tea. On we walked, past the golf course, through Barton’s Bush, down garden alleyways and paths opening up into a private back garden. No lunch in sight, another red herring. This was the champagne stop. Just a few minutes on, the trail ended at the Fig Café in Lower Hutt. This former church fellowship hall sat prepped, ready for us and for Christmas. A long banquet table lined one wall set for our lunch. A ninjas appeared with generous bowls and platters of well-dressed salads, tasty savoury quiches and breads. Good food, good wine and especially good company marked the day. Back onto the train and into Wellington this group of long time and comfortable friends enjoyed a day they will continue to share. I will leave New Zealand in June and return to the United States. Fortunately, they have Mondays there also. The Vermont branch of the Monday Morning Oriental Bay Walkers will be in full swing by September. All are welcome (no men).

Susan Wagenhofer, Bay View newsletter 63, May 2014