Who would have thought Central Otago would never prepare you for the big city?

This is me and my Dad hanging out in Cromwell.


Now I know Cromwell isn’t exactly a large thriving metropolis (*coughs awkwardly at use of… um… “mild” understatement*), but I have to say, it was kinda cool growing up in Central Otago. I grew up in a Fish and Chip shop and Restaurant up until I turned 7. There were plenty of opportunities for fun and excitement in a fish and chip shop… I used to help with taking orders and loved to watch my parents making all the food. Heaven to Me was when I got to sit on top of the freezer and finish off the last of the Condensed milk that went into the Salad Dressing (which to a <7 year old was the equivalent of winning Lotto in the early 80s)… I also used to revel in the fact that my parents would do the lunch run up to school for lunch orders when you were allowed to order Fish and Chips in for lunch… I would have fish and chips for lunch on a *cough* regular basis… lucky we were pretty active as kids in the 80s…

My Mum won second prize in the Golden Kiwi in 1979(ish) and our family went to Sydney for my Dad and Sister’s birthdays. There were many “firsts” that living in Central Otago had not prepared me for:

I learned that going UP the DOWN escalator never ends in joy or happiness no matter how much you believe the glory of reaching the top will make you invincible when you tell your friends back at Cromwell Primary… You see… The sum-total of buildings in Cromwell that had a second floor that would require an escalator was equivalent to the number of girlfriends I had by the time I was 20 – and let’s just say we aren’t dealing with big numbers here!!!

Our family learned that the Subway was a force to be reckoned with. Cromwell’s subway was limited to the transportation of body-waste to the treatment station… and to my knowledge, still maintains this unfortunate lack of an underground transportation system (with PEOPLE in mind) to this very day. We had never seen doors that would open and close in a nanosecond which stressed my Mum out a little bit. At one station she grabbed my hand and leaped aboard the train, only to hear the banshee like scream of some lady that was none too pleased to observe my mother kidnapping her Son. Looking behind her, my mum saw my Dad holding my Sister’s and my hands calmly making his way toward the train…

My Grandparents also came with us to Sydney and my Grandad piddled on his shoes. Now this could have happened anywhere, so it is probably pertinent to put this into context. We had gone up to the Revolving Restaurant at the top of a large building (Australia House?) and one of the things I am world-famous in my family for is checking out loos when we go places… All of my 5 years of existence and research into toilets had never presented me with a urinal that stuck out from a wall… yes… I had “christened” urinals that were concrete walls with little channels below and I had wet the walls of large stainless steel contraptions in fancy back-country pubs… but never a ceramic one that protruded out of a wall at such an… unachievable height! My response as my Dad, Grandad and I ventured into the great unknown, was to stare quizzically at this lavatorial conundrum and arrive at the conclusion that I should turn around and climb up high and sit down to pee… hence my Grandad’s cracking up and losing his concentration on the job… ummm… ‘at hand’… therefore turning his Hush Puppies into Splash Puppies…

Well – our little trip down memory lane to 1980s Central Otago would not be complete with out paying homage to the family Kingswood… one of 2 that we owned in Cromwell… I would love to hear your memories of the 1980s… assuming that you remember more than nappies… 🙂


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