206. Heading South

After six months getting our Christchurch home and garden into order, we’re on the road again, but not for long. We thought an invitation to a Clan Johnston(e) dinner in Invercargill plus a friend staying with us for a few weeks until her job in town finished was too good an opportunity to pass by! Asti is happy to look after the garden, goldfish and cats. particularly the latter. They will get plenty of cuddles.

Living at home has softened us both – we’ve had to think twice about things we used to do automatically such as all the interior checks before taking off on the road. For example, making sure the interior power switch and water pump are off, the shower door secured, and anything moveable off the benches. We discovered too late we’d left various things behind like the TV direction tuner, a large serving spoon essential for the kitchen and the coffee (but at least we remembered the percolator). Apart from those we had the fridge pretty well stocked with vegies from the garden including a big bag of herbs.

Our immediate aim was to attend a Clan Johnston(e) dinner in Invercargill in two nights’ time. No rush. So we spent the first night at the Oamaru Showgrounds, being VERY CAREFUL not to lose the caravan keys (as happened several years ago at that place).

On next day through the green and yellow countryside – yellow gorse, yellow canola/rapeseed crops, yellow broom, yellow road signs, yellow road markings. Down the steep hill to Dunedin, at this time of year lined with gorgeous rhododendrons in full flower. I love Dunedin with it’s beautiful old buildings.


We wanted to see the newly refurbished Otago Settlers Museum, and what a treat it was.


Particularly the Portrait Gallery which took my breath away when I first saw it abut 16 years ago. All the portraits have been rehung, according to a system based mainly on the date on which the persons arrived in Otago. A touch-screen easily enables one to locate any particular portrait and any information about the person.

This is what the Portrait Gallery looked like originally:


And now ….  the same on all four walls. Awesome.


The Buchanan Family from Kirkintilloch were there of course, and amazingly there was also a display of household items which the family brought to New Zealand with them on the Philip Laing in 1848. Dave’s ancestral Gibb family also came from Kirkintilloch and probably knew this family; they may even have been related although this has still to be investigated in depth.


There were lots of new displays everywhere and many touch screens. One that particularly impressed me was a whole series of old photographs of Dunedin streets; touch any one and up comes a modern-day photograph of exactly the same place. Even the awning lines coincide…   It has to be seen and experienced to be fully appreciated.


There were also many screens with videos of living people talking about (I presume) their families. While they ‘waited’ for some to touch their screen to activate their talk, their holograms could be seen to gently sigh, look around, shift their stance … it was uncanny, just like they were really standing there in front of you.

We spent the night at a new NZMCA camp right in the town, very convenient, particularly as it had water and a dump site.

Next day we made Invercargill without mishap and parked in the yard behind the Club where the Johnston(e) dinner was to be held. A perk of being a member of the NZ Motorhome and Caravan Association is the arrangement the Association has with various Clubs all over the country – very cheap or free parking and use of the Club’s facilities. We both got dressed up in tartan and sauntered round the corner and into the Club. What a way to go! 

The dinner was wonderful and we made some new friends. So many people had the surname Johnston and one even had the surname Gibb (no relation!). The well organised dinner bodes well for the success of the Clan Johnston(e) AGM and associated activities planned for next year.

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