Sometimes an event can interrupt a weekend. This time it was a visit from my mother. She came up as the Girls’ Brigades of Ashburton, Timaru and Southland joined with Dunedin to ride the Taieri Gorge Train to Middlemarch. I hosted her for two nights as there is no bus service between Dunedin and Invercargill for most of the weekend. We managed.

The train trip proved to be pleasant. Since there is no significant public transport throughout the South Island using trains at the moment I had forgotten how pleasant travelling by train can be, its sound and motion. There was also the unpleasant affects of watching objects speed past me at near distances. It disorientated me rather than setting off any motion sickness, a discomfort that sometimes affects me. The mayflowers were in bloom.

We watched the Taieri River go past, a muddy looking river. It had tributaries and we crossed over Christmas Creek where the flow of clear green-tinged water created a border where the brown water tried to invade it. The deep river valley inspires me with visions of the Nile or the mythic canals of dying Mars. Perhaps this is what it could have been like to live in those legendary places. The horizons bounded by the edges of the valley on both sides, and beyond the chilly iron-red deserts. At the end of the trip the train rises out of the valley and into the hills of heaven, a rocky landscape on the edge of Rohan, the March of the Riders, where gold-miners once huddled in a previous generation.

Middlemarch proved interesting. We wandered down to the public domain. The Lions put on a barbecue with a sausage each for everyone, and there were pony rides for children all eager to have a turn on the animals.

The local museum was opened for us to have a look around. I could have spent more time there. Originally the Masonic Lodge it just rambled further back as they extended it and included its history. I was surprised to find that so much of it was not roped off and objects like books could be picked up and touched. It included the old Masonic regalia, including a chair. If there had been any decorations in the building it had been stripped bare beforehand.

Now we have done the journey in spring and in summer. We would still like to make the trip in winter. I can imagine it with mists and cool weather. I would like to see that.