One weekend my friend Donald Beere, Chum (my dog) and I took off on our bikes for a day rabbiting up the Ngarororo River, just north of Hastings. It was one of those very hot summery days and we didn’t have much luck with the rabbits. In the early afternoon we decided it was time to head back down the river to our bikes at the bridge. By now it was stifling-hot and we were tired from carrying our gear, which included Mr Beere’s heavy shovel, essential for digging rabbits from their burrows. So we decided to make a raft for our gear and soon we were busy collecting sticks, logs and flax for the binding. Finally we added all our clothes to the heap and launched the raft. It was great prancing naked down the river flats in the sun with the dog. Our spell in Eden ended when the raft swept under a weeping willow and emerged upside down. Our predicament was quickly realised. At the next rapid we waded out trying to recover our lost gear. All I recovered of mine was a singlet. Donald found his pants and nothing more. I suspect that Chum was smiling. So in the dusk we reached our bikes at the Pakowhai bridge and, with the singlet draped about my middle, biked home to what I was sure would be a good hiding. Luckily my uncle was visiting and I was somewhat spared. The next night Donald’s father accompanied us back to the fateful willow tree and we were made to scour the river for his lost spade. We never found it but we suffered mightily from sunburn on parts of our anatomy not normally exposed to the Hawkes Bay summer sunshine.
I also remember a great camping holiday at Waipatiki Beach – there was no development in the area in those days and we spent lots of time catching rabbits. Uncle Ron and his son, Gavin, came out from Hastings at one stage with a sack full of wood off-cuts. The rabbits were so plentiful that you could get heaps by just throwing sticks and rocks at them and we spent a fruitful afternoon killing rabbits. The funny part was that Chum could not catch any because every time he chased one rabbit several other new ones would cut across his path and he would keep changing course and soon becoming exhausted.
One Saturday morning I was bird nesting with my cousin Jimmy and our dogs. Jimmy asked if I knew about the baby my mother was going to have. I didn't - nor did I know how come she was going to have a baby. So Jimmy moulded a woman in the river sand and, with a stick, showed me how women became impregnated! I was astounded! My mother was horrified to hear what I'd learned and how I'd found out. That morning Jimmy and I found our first quail's nest. John was born a few months later.