Hu­mour­ing the ‘loop­ies’

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - RACHAEL KELLY

Town was com­pletely bonkers with the pre-Christ­mas rush, and the mad­ness doesn’t stop when the Box­ing Day and New Year’s sales kick in.

It’s ru­moured that some peo­ple have had to ac­tu­ally walk the length of the main street be­cause no-one can find a park right out­side the shop they want to go to, like they usu­ally do.

There’s been the odd crash at the round­about, there’s queues at the petrol pumps, and if you didn’t pre-book an ap­point­ment at the hair­dresser or beau­ti­cian months ago you’re go­ing to look a lit­tle windswept and in­ter­est­ing head­ing into the new year.

Mean­while, in my lit­tle town, the pop­u­la­tion has swelled from us 100-or-so die-hard lo­cals as hol­i­day­mak­ers move in.

They’re called loop­ies - ap­par­ently be­cause it was once thought that you had to be a bit loopy to want to spend your hol­i­day there. Not so much now though. There’s been a steady flow of car­a­vans and camper­vans into the vil­lage in the last week, and the camp­ing ground is chokka.

Tents are pop­ping up in back­yards all over the show, and the only traf­fic kids rid­ing bikes have to worry about is the old boys on their mo­bil­ity scoot­ers or 4-wheel­ers head­ing for the pub.

And at the pub, lo­cals worry the place has be­come a bit trendy, as big town and city dwellers search for some­where to have a Christ­mas hol­i­day like the ones they had when they were kids. Re­mem­ber those?

Where you spent the whole day swim­ming in the river, build­ing dams and swing­ing from the rope hang­ing from the trees?

When you walked to the shop and got a $1 mix­ture in a white pa­per bag and got heaps of lol­lies?

Where you made in­stant friend­ships with kids from other towns when out on your bikes, and spent the whole day bik­ing around town with them, look­ing for the best places to do wheel­ies?

Where tea was al­ways a burnt sausage off the bar­be­cue and salad out on the deck, and you played back­yard cricket till sun­set?

Those hol­i­days still ex­ist in wee towns just like mine all over the coun­try.

But in hushed dis­cus­sions at the pub, lo­cals worry that the in­flux of tourists is go­ing to cause house prices to go up.

For­get­ting that you can still buy a sec­tion for $40k and a house with a quar­ter-acre sec­tion for a shade over $200,000.

Hous­ing boom in­deed.

They marvel at the ‘traf­fic’ in town and the speed it’s do­ing along the main street.

They eye up the new­bies who, un­aware, have taken their usual spot at the bar.

They’re an­noyed that they can’t get their usual park right out­side the dairy - which has sold out of the day’s news­pa­pers, ice and ice-cream.

They’re closely guard­ing their best-kept se­crets - where the best swim­ming holes are, where the wild cherry trees are and where to pick wild rasp­ber­ries.

Ask a lo­cal for some fish­ing ad­vice and you’ll get it - but they won’t tell you where the best spots are, or what to catch them on.

But they wel­come the loop­ies to town any­way and we all play nicely to­gether.

Be­cause that’s what hol­i­days are all about.

Lo­cals closely guard their best-kept se­crets, like where to pick wild rasp­ber­ries.

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