A Place Re-Visited by Susan McLeod
Susan McLeod, married 43 years to one man who continues to coach her to go that extra lamp post. Three adult children, eight grandchildren.
Hinge Bay, Huia 1957 – 1969. We were the baby boomer generation. Summer, autumn, winter, spring, every weekend the natural boulder beach and sandy terrace opened itself up gracefully to a new generation to explore and enjoy.
It all started with a deal. My father, on the hunt for a new venture, had eyed a small piece of land between two other baches on a beach at Hinge Bay owned by Farmer Colin Hinge. In those days you didn’t need building permits or consents and before very long Colin the Farmer was hammering together our bach. In a very short time, there she stood, like a ‘woman’ dressed in turquoise with her shoulders back and chest held proud.
The kitchen, the hub of the house, you couldn’t swing a cat in, but out of it came unforgettable food; pan fried piper caught moments before in the net that was cast out almost from the front door, paua fritters, mussels steamed open on a slice of corrugated iron perched over a fire on the beach, doused in vinegar then sandwiched between bread, hot date scones dripping in butter. And Mum’s fried chicken, we’ve never been able to replicate it to this day.
As kids we hung out in a gang swarming over the beach and bush. We water-skied from one tide to the next. Dad always the driver, never seemed to tire of towing us round and round the bay. When the tide receded, leaving only mudflats and a strip of sand to play on, out came the cricket bats. We had some very good swingers and when that cricket ball flew out and over into the mud flats, the batsman just took off and retrieved it, mud up to the thighs and armpits, laughing all the way back to the pitch. If the weather was foul, we took off high into the Waitakeres in searchof the Maori caves and crystal streams to cool our sweaty bodies.
In the cool of the evenings, you would often find Mum and Dad , sitting on deck chairs under the Pohutukawa tree listening to piano music playing from the tape cassette player. The coloured fairy lights they had threaded through the branches reflected in the still waters that lapped gently on the shore only feet away.
In 2011, my husband and I took one of our daughters and her three children to view the site where our turquoise bach once stood. On the beach we looked up towards the lush native bush that grew unencumbered down to the sea wall. No words were spoken but I felt a special memory was being passed on to the next generation. Our days at Huia were re-visited, another link in the chain of history.
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