Farewell, not goodbye fair hamlet of Rai..It was a great year, a wet year, an adventure, he wrote me. But it will soon be summer and time to go,so wrote The Vagabond Godfrey
.The road Southwest beckons, there are passes to cross, I”ll ride off in the cool of morning, leave familiar bunk behind, and pernickity boss- Miss Clare, leave the quaint old hostel, for which I have grown to care. Fondly I will remember the flood water pouring down. I remember having my knee sewn back on in town, from unfortunate tumble over an old iron frame. I was chasing a three legged sheep. And have only the hem of my old kilt to blame. Indeed, the blood was nasty and yet, the sheep’s life was spared, they kept her for a pet.
.I will leave the friendly chickens and Vivian the goat. I will leave The Whelk, my leaky old boat. Will miss the evenings, warm sitting on the back steps, across from the old outdoor loo. Miss reading in the shade of the Macrocarpa tree, the garden where Miss Clare’s pumpkins and sunflowers grew.
Miss Clare wears many keys, we hear them jingle.They are chained to a long stick of wood. She whacks her son when he misbehaves, and her husband to when she could…I was cheeky, called oh Miss Clare, long may you stand, with “That Look” on your face, toilet brush in your hand. “yes it was I you heard singing until the early dawn” ” You look lovely today, is that a new smock you have on”? Her moody husband did not like me, we spoke only once in a year, all he said was “Shut-up Godfrey. But i loved the job and remember still, watching glow-worms at midnight and the steep climb up Takorika Hill.
I could hear Sarah laughing up ahead of me, she strode through the ferns, I was under them on hands and knees. If chance allow that I grow old, may I not forget the sight, of Sarah on the mountain’s summit eating from a jar of Vegemite. For I had the oatcakes and apples in my pack, we feasted in the sun before reluctantly heading down the rough track. Soaking wet and muddy she and I, vista of ocean and sky. Since that day nothing I could say or do, would come close to the joy I shared with her, Sarah and that glorious mountain view.
So grubby from the climb down were we, we were not allowed in the cafe for ice-cream and tea. That night for her alone, I baked scones and Neenish Tart, Sarah shares a place with daring Clementine, in the sticky cookbook of my heart.
In many Youth Hostels dwell a house-cat, to keep rodents out and comfort the sad. Eight cats the old school house had. Two goldfish in a jar thrived on neglect, and chickens out side roamed and pecked..free with the sheep and cow, in a paddock sloping down to the sea. It’s farewell not goodbye, schoolhouse hostel at Rai, little town at the head of the sound. I will miss the narrow road along the mud-flats rank. Will miss greeting travelers at the hostel gate, and all the fish and chips that I ate. I will miss the kind town folk I got to know, and the evening hollering of Drunk Bugger Joe. Long may No Pasaran Beets read the sign in the hall. Farewell from Godfrey, Farewell to all..