Wednesday 23 May 2012: Definitely winter
Brrr! It was just four degrees celcius this morning as I dropped Immy at school. On the way back I had to cross the cycleway and footpath that traverses several side streets in Stoke. Cyclists have right of way over cars at these crossings and I am always extremely cautious when approaching them because schoolchildren, particularly adolescent boys (secure in the knowledge that they are invincible), are liable to emerge suddenly from the trees and hurtle across without slowing down at all.
As I craned forwards to peer left and right down the dead straight track, I thought (as I often do) that I must investigate it further. It looked very appealing in the early morning, misty light with the low angle of the sun casting long shadows from all the trees lining the path. I parked the car and took the camera for a walk, soon discovering the reason for the true course of the path. It was once the Nelson-Glenhope Railway line, which was closed in 1955.
As railway lines go, it never really fulfilled its potential. Nelson is an isolated city and its inhabitants have dreamed of being connected to the main trunk line linking other towns in the South Island since the 1860s. Between 1876 and 1955, with much stopping and starting; financial hurdles; two world wars and frustration at the time it was taking to complete various extensions, there was a railway line but it fell short of reaching the main trunk line by less than 70km. This seems a great shame considering that the completed section includes a 1352m tunnel under Spooner's Range, which must have required much blasting. Now the surviving sections provide very pleasant recreational tracks. I would like to explore it a bit further afield - I see someone has posted pictures of the abandoned Glenhope Station on Flickr. If you are a railway buff or otherwise interested, have a look at those photos first and then compare them with this one from 1913!
It was jolly cold out of the sun and in the shady hollows the leaves, I noted, were coated with a crisping of frost. The birds were singing and there were a number of cyclists and walkers out enjoying the morning - many of them with dogs who stopped to sniff and wag while their owners rubbed their hands and nodded cheery but brisk it's-a-cold-morning-so-let's-keep-going 'hellos'. It would have been nice to have had Gypsy with me.
The day did warm up to around 14°, but ended on a cold note again for me as, being Wednesday, Immy had her four o'clock riding lesson. This time I was better equipped for the evening chill with sheepskin-lined ugg boots, a ski jacket and thermos-cup of coffee. Next week there may have to be a hat and gloves!