Some might think that Otane, in Central Hawkes Bay, is about as off the beaten track as it’s possible to get. Wikipedia seems to think so. But Otane does have a school, a café, a town hall, a country pub and, on Sundays, a market. Once a year, on Waitangi Day, that market upsizes and turns Otane from quiet to positively bustling, some might say crowded.
Parking was in short supply – by country standards. We had to walk an entire 300 metres from the car to the action.
People came from far and wide to sell their wares and to join in the fun. There were plant stalls from Hunterville, wooden toys from Paihiatua, and bantams from Otane. There were bric-à-brac stalls, there were relishes and jams and chutney, crafts and books and more crafts. Most impressive of all was the woman selling bales of pea straw. She delivered! To Napier. Up our narrow and windy lane with her trailer, to the gate. Awesome!!
There was plenty of good will and good country fun. The brave among the crowd tried The Bucking Bronco. The national record is a matter of seconds and it wasn’t broken – not while we were there.
For those who wanted to rest their battered bones or who fancied a musical distraction, Cabin Fevre cheerfully obliged.
Followers of this blog will know that we’re partial to a pub lunch, especially a country pub lunch. So, although the sizzle from the steak sandwich stall made our stomachs grumble and our mouths water, we held off. We wanted a pint to sate our thirst, a place to kick back, chew the fat and brag about the bargains we’d found, as well as a bite to eat. We thought the Otane pub would be it. It’s a pub with history, folks. Like many of the great classic country pubs it’s been razed by fire. Four times. And rebuilt four times. They’re a determined lot in Otane. Sadly, on the day of the market the cook wasn’t cooking. Perhaps she was busy finding herself a bargain.
Our solution was ten minutes up the road at the Paper Mulberry Cafe. Others had made the same decision. The queue was out-the-door-long, a thirty minute wait long. But it was a wait that was fully redeemed by a perfect long black (two, actually) and this luscious almond citrus cake. Yum!
This weekend we’ll be back in Otane. We’re going on a steam train, art deco style. For pea pie and pud. And this time we get to try out the pub. It’ll be grand!