We said our goodbyes to Sally Ann and Ian this morning. It was a lovely few hours spent in their company and good to have a proper, comfortable bed.
We passed a couple of hours in the morning at the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum in Wellington viewing the Gallipoli Exhibit, which was stunning in its creativity and powerful in emotions. They have followed the lives and experiences of several soldiers who took part in the conflict from their arrival to the withdrawal following the failure of their campaign. To breathe life into these individuals Weta Studios have created oversize 'models' of them which are incredibly lifelike down to the hairs and veins on the arms, the sweat on the brow and the tears in the eyes of the nurse who is holding two returned letters sent to the brother she hoped to be reunited with at Gallipoli. The wording on the letters simply says, 'return to sender, killed'
As we advanced through the days and weeks of the campaign we came to feel the hardships, the initial camaraderie and optimism which turned into horror and futile loss of life. However, the exhibit preserves a dignity and also does not condemn the Turks, rather they are described as being equally heroic in defence of their country. Neither does it linger on those responsible for making fatal decisions which resulted in such awful losses. At the close of the exhibit we were invited to add some words to paper poppies and then leave them at the foot of the final model. I took a few moments to readjust to being out in the museum again, particularly as, inevitably, we emerged into the museum shop! If you are in this part of the world, make it a must see. Our govt. could take a leaf out of their book for the Somme memorial later this year. My blip is of part of one of the wonderful Weta models, Jack Dunn eating from his can of corned beef, covered in flies. Dysentery was a significant claimed of lives, the fighting apart. Jack fell asleep at his post on sentry duty and was condemned to death but then reprieved at the last minute because of his earlier brave conduct. Ironically, we felt it was probably more sensible not to kill one of their own men when every soldier was needed for the fight!
So we went to queue for the ferry to find out it was running an hour late but, never mind, we are now comfortably ensconced in the premier lounge (another treat!) and have been well fed. The young waitress emptied the last of the bottle in to my glass of Shiraz so I could well be asleep shortly. It is, at the moment, a very calm and quiet crossing. We took the decision to book into a campsite two minutes from the ferry in Picton because all the hanging about has tired us out and we want to be fresh for travelling tomorrow.
Tony has just spotted that we are now sailing through the Cook Strait and the views are just superb in the evening light.
Finally, we are here parked up and we've done a round of the sleepy little place which is Picton, apart from the two bar restaurants at the end of the High Street close to the picturesque harbour, all very different from the bustle of Wellington several hours ago. I asked the kind waitress in the lounge if I could steal a packet of hot chocolate so that is supper sorted. Tomorrow, onwards!