Just back from a few days bouncing around the North Island, so call this summer musings from the road.
The car stopped at the statues of two of the true legends of New Zealand sport, as opposed to the half-baked variety who are sprung up far too often.
Tootling around Taranaki we pulled in at quiet little Opunake and there, seemingly bounding towards us from across the road by the post office, was Peter Snell. Three Olympic finals, three gold medals. 'Nuff said.
Due respect to Graham Mourie, Jim Bolger and Carl Hayman, he remains the most celebrated born and bred man of the small town. There is a distinct spring in his bronzed, upright stride.
(And here, a non-sporting guernsey needs to be handed out.)
Five days at Mt Maunganui were followed by four in the Naki. The standard of the food, and service, at cafes and restaurants in Taranaki were so far superior to the Mount it wasn't funny.
It struck us the Mount is taking the view it has a captive audience and doesn't need to try. Just plain sloppy, disinterested service, actually an embarrassment watching overseas tourists repeatedly adopting that puzzled look of "what's going on here". Seriously ordinary, as if living off it's overblown reputation. Time to give itself a few upper cuts.
Taranaki by contrast was excellent, in food and service, and attitude. Not hectic and jazzy but throw in the key sights of the region, and that mountain, and you can see why the Lonely Planet named it the second best place to visit last year, behind somewhere unpronounceable in Peru. (There, that's enough disgressing.)
After Snell, on the road north, time for a cuppa in Te Kuiti and that means You Know Who. There he was, C. E. Meads ball clasped in one mighty mitt, charging forward as if on to the main street past a neat group of photos of the man in his All Black prime.
One quiet point: There's a word missing on one of the captions, but there you go. Can't have everything. It is a fitting tribute. The locals just wandered past, they've seen it all before.
Which brings to mind the story of the person who went into the Te Kuiti supermarket one day and there was the great man in line at the checkout clutching a basket of bits and pieces. A brief conversation ensued:
No fawning in that neck of the woods.
Some cricket was watched while on the road, through the square box, and so it's time for a pet hate, for which commentators should slap themselves after uttering.
The gee-whizz-fizz-bang Aussies are shockers at this but New Zealand's cricket box has its share, and they know who they are too.
Explain this: (shouted breathlessly) "Tellyawhat ... " or for variety "I'lltellyawhat". No. Don't. It's naff and invariably stating the bleedin' obvious.
Don't treat the audience as kids. Grow up and put some thought into your utterances.
Now I know this won't make a jot of difference but, tellyouwhat, I feel better with that off my chest.
Oh yes, there's another limited-overs international in Dunedin today.
The good news? There's only another 16 to go before New Zealand's next test so we're not even halfway through the ODI drudge.