"I'm not going in there," says Kirstie
disapprovingly, "it's a waste of time."
"Very funny. How about you boys? Do you want to come?" I
ask. They grin at me as they hang or swing from the monkey
I try to stir up a little enthusiasm, "Look, it's the biggest
collection of clocks in the Southern hemisphere. We might
see Hickory Dickory Dock, the climbing mouse and her friends."
Kirstie remains unimpressed but the boys suddenly drop to
the ground. "I've already got a watch Dad," says Matthew
heading for the swings. Cameron follows, like trailer follows
Kirstie chases after them both looking somewhat relieved
to be able to stay and supervise them. "You've got half
an hour, see you back here at one thirty." she calls as
I head off alone to visit Whangarei's National Clock Museum.
It's one o'clock and time for lunch... not that you'd know
that in here
It's surprisingly easy to lose track
of time in the midst of thousands of clocks; grandfather
clocks, cuckoo clocks, workplace clocks, ship's clocks,
shadow clocks, gingerbread clocks, French clocks, anniversary
clocks, mantel clocks, ormalu clocks, ornamental clocks,
decorative clocks. Clocks from every age and of every construction,
marking time with hands, dials, shadows, sand, water, ballbearings
and the glow of electronic digits. In this hall of clocks
I struggle to find two that tell the same story; thousands
of precision instruments unable to agree upon the time.
Hundreds of pendulums swing gently back and forth; ticks
and tocks fill the air like a thousand chattering teeth.
Soft bells add a random accompaniment with silvery tings,
deep chimes and sweet melodies that count endless quarter's,
half's and hour's. And dozens of cuckoos randomly pop in
and out to mark the hours with cheerful woody whistles.
There's no dusty sound of silence in this museum; just the
sound of time passing. I get lost for a while watching time
pass, marvelling at the precision of clockwork chronometry,
trying to decide upon a favourite timepiece, listening to
the orchestra of timepieces marking time.
tock, tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.
thought I heard a cuckoo but which one was it?
It's easy to lose track
of time on a bike too. There's no real need for clocks or
watches. It doesn't seem to matter what day it is. It's
easy to forget what month it is. The slow creep of changing
seasons and cycles of the moon mark the passing months.
The setting sun marks the passing day sometimes without
us knowing which day it was. Hours pass as pedals turn,
the scratch of pencil on map, the count of the altimeter
or changing digits on milometer marking progress. It's time
to go when you're ready, time to eat when you're hungry,
time to stop when you're tired, time for bed when it's dark.
But in this timelessness there's
also a growing sense of urgency and excitement. With Kirstie's
belly expanding slightly every day and just over four weeks
before we're scheduled to fly out of New Zealand, the race
is on to see if we can make it to our finishing line at
Cape Reinga. We're well positioned with less than 300km
to go, but the terrain is tough and daily progress can be
as little as 20km. Factor in rest days, some time to celebrate,
getting back to Auckland, getting a scan for Kirstie, packing
up the bikes and saying goodbye, and things look as if they
could get a little tight. Although Kirstie is still comfortable
on the bike, I think we both wonder with each passing day
when the belly will get too big or the tiredness of pregnancy
will prove too much. Only time and Kirstie will tell.
The sudden familiar chime of Westminster
reminds me suddenly of home and of Kirstie and the boys
waiting outside. "What time is it?" I ask another visitor.
He consults his watch. "Nearly two o'clock" he says. I'm
Outside, the boys are running around
chasing an older boy who's shinning up poles, climbing onto
the roof of a picnic shelter like a monkey. Kirstie is in
the shelter, chatting to his mother. "Sorry I'm late," I
say as I approach. "Oh.. doesn't matter," she says, "I wasn't
watching the time. I've been chatting to this lady from
South Africa. She sailed here with her husband and two kids
via the Caribbean. They didn't know anything about sailing
when they started and learnt as they went……" And as the
baby grows inside her so too does another dream for another
time. But let's finish this one first while we still can.