Recently I had the opportunity to return to “the old home town” – Wellington, New Zealand.
It did indeed feel a little like the opening lyrics from that song made famous by Tom Jones – “The Green, Green Grass of Home” – as for me:
“The old home town looked the same
as I stepped down from the plane…..”
Except there was no Momma and Poppa to greet me (as they had sadly passed away some years ago), nor anyone called Mary – however there was my best mate, Ross, whose 50th birthday I had come all the way from the UK to celebrate.
Many of the places we went to see together were very much in line with the sentiments of that song – from the old houses that I lived in when my parents were alive, to the student haunts we hung out at in our University daze. There even was our equivalent of “the old oak tree” – well, OK, it was a Narnia-style lamp post that was once the place that a cable hung from that was used to get the turntable to turn at the top of Woodward Street (and click on relevant link under The Gallery below to get the idea).
Yes, the latter was one of those – er – “iconic” places around Wellington that we made fun of at student graduation time. I trust you can get the idea from the captions and descriptions in my little “student gag-site gallery” below.
Wellington student gag-site gallery
Some of the pub haunts’ names had changed, of course – such as infamous sports bar once known to us as “The Loaded Hog” being no more. Instead there’s a trendy pub in its place, which is a microbrewery making its own beers on site. Microbreweries are a new trend now in New Zealand, given the horrendous prices on all other branded beers there – and they are springing up in all sorts of unusual places, from old garages to service stations.
The Civic Centre looked much the same though – apart from a silver ball that they have been suspended as a sculpture in mid-air over the centre of the square, perhaps as a complement to the pyramids placed next to the new town hall (known as the “Sir Michael Fowler Centre” – or “Fowl House” to the locals)
The one trusty stalwart that has stood the test of time though – even from when I was there over 20 years ago, as mentioned in The Sad Café post – is The Lido café.
Something about this place has allowed it to survive. Certainly it continues to sell great carrot cake and coffee, almost as I remember it (apart from the price now being staggeringly higher than I could recall it).
I could see how much some tinge of nostalgia had tainted my view – as really the café is quite nondescript when it comes to photographing it. Yet it still being there, after all this time – correction, those times – makes it my pick for “the home town café”.
It’s perhaps even unusual in that there is nothing unusual that makes it stand out aside from continuing to do what it does best:
serve great cake and good coffee in one of the most central locations in town.