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Published: 05 November 2022

By Andy Ross

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Creative Fibre group in Oxford

The Coast of the South Island, our home, is a wonderfully wild and jungly place to live but sometimes one needs a break.

Last weekend we booked an Air BnB, an old railway carriage, so that we could have a day or two in the sunshine. The weather at home had been very wet and windy, and, although warm, it was time for a little dryness. We packed up and headed across the mountain pass and got to Oxford late in the afternoon. It was a great roadtrip. The mountains are always dramatic and it takes us at least three times as long as anyone else because of our frequent photograph stops. The Coast is green, filled with trees and creepers, ferns and lushness. The other side of the mountains is dry - a rainshadow effect - and the contrast is stunning. As the road heads out of the mountains onto the Canterbury plains the land changes over to farms and cultivation and becomes, once again, green but this time orderly and productive. Oxford is like that. With an amazing backdrop of hills and mountains rising to the sky, the green fields stretch into distance.

While we were in Oxford we visited the local gallery and had a chat to the custodian on duty. It turned out that she is a member of the local spinning group, part of the Creative Fibre network, and, before I knew it, I had arranged to give a talk on Shetland Tweed in April next year! This will be my first public presentation on the subject since moving here and it is Very Exciting to know that it is going to happen soon. 

The following day we returned to Greymouth Mawhera, over flooded rivers and with the last patches of snow on the peaks, but, instead of taking the main highway to the pass, we went inland and along a gravel road that runs along the back of a huge sheep and cattle station and between plateaus and hills. What an incredible detour that is. If you ever get a chance to drive the gravel road from Lake Coleridge to Porters Pass, take it and make sure you take a camera...

We returned home rejuvenated. There is something to be said for taking time out to do things like this.