Last weekend we went on a little adventure. The kids, the hubby, the visiting in-laws and I pretzelled ourselves into the car (I thought, at one point, one of us might have to be strapped to a roof rack – it was like clowns in a mini). We buckled in and headed up North. The suburbs got further and further apart from one another. We saw sheep. Mist descended. Then cleared. The girls fell asleep while I thought about booking a chiropractic appointment. We hit the crest of a hill and saw the blue and beautiful ocean below us. We had arrived.
My Dad and his brother own a race horse and she was racing at Ruakaka. It was a better than great excuse to go to the races. I don’t know about you, but I love a race day. Especially when it’s out in the country, or in this case, so close to the beach there are seagulls riding in the wind right over the track. I remember race meets I went to as a kid, the one where they gave us a bag of onions when we paid to park in an open field, the one where there were hay bales to sit on. I love the smell of hot chips in a cardboard cup, the shimmer of jockey silks, the roar of the crowd as the horses near the finish line. I especially love The People.
It must be an occupational hazard to become a buzzing, distracted pain-the-&*%$ when a writer is in a place with lots of interesting people. At least I become a buzzing, distracted, pain-in-the&*%$. Matt had to remind me to look after the children every now and then (Oh right, our children which are dependent upon us; good pick-up honey). Race Day is always such a fascinating collision of different types of people it’s impossible not to stare. It’s not all glamour at the races and I like that. It’s got it’s cast of characters, just like a good book, a real mixed bag. There was the group of young people, dolled up and sinking the drinks. The guy in the Lion Red singlet with very few teeth. The tall, dark and handsome fella with the thick gold watch, smoking a cigar. It was a mid-year Christmas event so there a few elves and Santas too, just to add a surreal element. Men with well-thumbed race guides, women in huddles, happy children getting butterflies painted on their faces or hanging over the track fence. Fascinators and flip-flops. Sometimes on the same person.
The sun. Oh the sun! It just shone and shone like it was summer. Show-off-y Northland sun.
We ate ham sliced off the bone and stuffed into fresh, buttered rolls. Hot chips. Meat pies where they don’t tell you what kind of meat it actually is. Afghan biscuits and peppermint slice. Cold cans of soft drink. The girls had just about the best time evah, rolling in the pillowy grass and running across the concrete bleachers. They were enamoured with the horsies.
Dad’s horse was having a very good day too. It came third, bless her four fast feet.
When we wedged ourselves back into the car and the beach and the track were at our backs it felt like leaving a holiday behind. It had only been a few hours drive but had seemed like a a proper adventure. It gave me the same thrill that I get when I am travelling. People, together, interacting in interesting ways, saying interesting things, wearing interesting things. This is Life, that’s what I thought, as I leaned my head awkwardly against B2’s carseat and tried to regain the feeling in my toes. I wondered if my girls would remember the day and whether they too will become the kind of people who get a buzz from a crowd of people, hearty kai, warm sun and the drumming of hooves.
Do you love a Race Day? Where do you get inspired?
HUGS, Hannah x