Saturday May 12th /06
My dear Father
Very many happy returns of your birthday. This ought to reach you a few days early. I am writing this time by the Vancouver mail which leaves here next Monday and is timed to reach London June 20th. The Frisco mail notice is I see crossed out on the post office list of English mails so I suppose the service is still interrupted.
I was very glad to get Mother’s letter yesterday written March 29th but sorry to hear bad news of Aunt Susan. We ought to have received Frisco letters this week which would give us of course later news but they will be at least ten days late this time so I must possess my soul in patience.
You will be surprised at the way we are paddling about in N.Z. I have become so used to being always on the move that it seems quite the natural thing by now. Aunt Lottie had it in her mind I think since our first visit to Napier that we might come again and Mrs Hutchinson’s invitation quite settled it. I am very glad she accepted for we had a delightful few days up at Rissington the station where they live 17 miles out of Napier. Mr Hutchinson Senior is a sheep farmer and goes in for a special breed of Romney sheep, he gets many prizes at shows and only sells for stock and not to the meat companies. Mr Frank Hutchinson, the one we met on the boat, works with his father, he is also a great naturalist and spends a good deal of time over flowers and plants, shells and stones, birds and insects. Mrs Hutchinson is a very charming and bright little woman, she was so friendly and made us feel so much at home. They are really a Quaker family. Mrs H. is Irish and lived at one time in Limerick. She knows some of the Goodbody family. A visit like that up country is certainly an experience any one coming to N.Z. should not miss. Life there is so very different to that in the towns, there you get the simple hospitality and the slackening of conventional restraints which I think the expression “colonial life” conjures up before us English people, but which one certainly does not notice very much in the towns. We had a taste of it before of course at the Byrches but they having come so comparatively recently from England their ways and talk were scarcely those of true New Zealanders. The Hutchinsons have been out since 1881 but have been home once or twice since.
You will think I am becoming quite an accomplished horse woman when you read in my diary how I have had various rides, of course I have always had a reliable horse and could not come to much harm, I never felt a bit afraid so I think I can’t be yet too old to learn to ride at least passably. Our expedition up the hill at Rissington was a most delightful one and the view from the top very interesting and different to anything I have ever seen elsewhere. The sweeps of grey-brown grass hills intersected by deep and narrow gullies of bush are most weird when viewed from a superior height. These gullies are favourite haunts of Mr Frank Hutchinson’s in his natural history researches. Just think of having roses all the year round as they do at Rissington! By the time you get this your roses will be nearing their full bloom, I hope it will be a good year for them.
Fancy Mother having to make a presentation and a speech! I am glad she got through it all right and that the evening was a success. I must write more letters now so with much love and best of wishes
I remain your loving daughter
May E Sladden