On the way, I stopped for a coffee and a look at the shops in the tiny village of Waikouaiti. There is a cute little gift shop, a decent second-hand shop (where I successfully avoided temptation), and a gorgeous library.
By the time I got to Ommers it was after 12 and the Trash'n'treasure garage sale in the Opera House was almost over. Talk about a misnomer - I have never seen anything less like a garage than the Oamaru Opera House. It has been recently restored and is a stunner. Kiri Te Kanawa is singing there next year and my father has been given tickets by his employers, Network Waitaki.
|Opera House exterior|
|Opera House on the right|
|Musical memorablia in the stairwell|
|Royal china collection|
I have strong family ties to Oamaru - both my parents went to school there (Waitaki Boys and Waitaki Girls), and my grandad was born there. I love the Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Many of the buildings are made from the local creamy-grey limestone. Every time I visit I find that some more have been restored.
There are some excellent cafes. I had a cheesy aubergine pie from Roost, and a chocolate hazelnut slice from another cafe - both gluten free.
|A giant steampunk motorbike sculpture|
|Note the unrestored building on the left.|
|An Alice in Wonderland playroom in the Slightly Foxed bookshop.|
|Imagine how great this will be when it's properly conserved.|
|Union Stores building. Pity about the car in front.|
|Lane's Emulsion building. "For coughs and colds. Good for young & old".|
|Gran and seed merchants store.|
|Wool and grain warehouses.|
|Note the zeppelin and steam engine.|
My great-great grandparents emigrated to Oamaru from Tullymore in Antrim and Shankhill Road, Belfast, and were lucky to escape a life of poverty, back-breaking work in flax-mills and religious conflict.
I felt an overwhelming feeling of self-indulgence as I was driving home with the sea on my left, the green rolling hills on my right and some scalding salty deep-fried spuds in my hand. You can take me out of Ireland but you can't take my spuds away from me.