My commute to work – for Talk Wellington
In the third of our series, Dayna Berghan-Whyman – one of Talk Wellington’s social media gurus – shares her school run commute – featuring doom, a cafe, a car saleyard, poppies, and an enormous cat.
[Editor’s note: Dayna’s cat is too glorious not to be the banner image, for all that she features only briefly in this commute. Please send all complaints here.]
My own commute to work is a bit of a cheat – I work from home. I can literally and figuratively roll out of bed and be at work in my pyjamas in about 30 seconds. There’s a one storey flight of steps involved so I might arrive at my computer with a fracture or two.
So my contribution to the Talk Wellington team commute stories is about my travels during the day, getting my daughter1 to school before 8:30am and arriving to collect her at 2:45pm. I, like many other wranglers of children do the school “run”. And “run” it can be some days.
The famous gum tree
At the end of our street is a large beautiful gum tree. Or, a terrible tree that chews up the pavement with its roots. The urban legend of the street is that one household were engaged in a furious correspondence with the local council about the tree. The Husband was writing that the tree should be chopped down. The Wife was equally writing with intensity to the same council to save the tree.
So far, so good for the tree, and the big tree goodness it gives us.
I mention this beaut tree because you spend a fair amount of time underneath it in your car waiting for the opportunity to turn right.
The Elizabeth Avenue Childcare Centre
One of the reasons that you spend a long time waiting to turn right, is because of all the busy wranglers of children doing their own turning right to take their charges to the Elizabeth Avenue Childcare Centre. You have many opportunities to observe those already starting their day at the centre playing on the swings and slides. There are many days where I fondly wish to join them. Even though I may get stuck in the slide and the swings may break under my weight like some sort of Upper Hutt Godzilla.
Here’s the thing about why I spend so much time waiting to turn right. It’s not just the Childcare Centre users, it’s the opposite of Elizabeth Avenue. The Shelbyville to Springfield of Heretaunga. Kiwi Street. They’ve got their own childcare centre, the Heretaunga Park Early Learning Centre, and access to Heretaunga Park. But, what kicks me the most is that they have a glorious left turn to go north to Upper Hutt. The very direction that I want to go with my dreaded right turn.
The right turn of doom!
The New Zealand transport Agency has helpful guides of what to do with everyone nicely turning right.
However, the exit from Elizabeth Avenue, at roughly 8:15am (ish) to turn right is a Give Way of fraught terror as you negotiate the traffic on the median waiting to turn right into Elizabeth Avenue from Fergusson drive (to drop their kids at the centre); the traffic heading north and south along Fergusson Drive getting to and from work; the traffic turning left and/or right from Kiwi Street; and those in cars waiting on the median strip waiting to turn right to get into Kiwi Street from Fergusson Drive.
This is where, I can honestly say, I am the mercy of how good other people are feeling in the morning. Have one person miss their Weetabix and refuse to let you creep in, we are at a traffic grid lock.
NZTA Images – all the permutations of right turning chaos that go on at 8:15am Monday to Friday.
After we have cleared the Right Turn of Doom, then we continue our merry way along Fergusson Drive. It’s here where we get glimpses of the Upper Hutt Council initiative to beautify our little city. You can read more about the community murals here.
The Fig Tree Café
Next along our journey to school, we pass The Fig Tree Café. The café itself is in a restored chapel and on special occasions like Mother’s and Father’s days they bust out the good china and it is reserved seating only.
On a usual day it’s full with people from the armed services conducting meetings (the Trentham Army Camp is the next block over).
The Fig Tress Café have a coffee cart outside for the busy people on the go; and this is very popular with the lycra clad set just finished running around Trentham Memorial Park and the golfing enthusiasts heading off to the two golf clubs that are either side of Fergusson Drive (Royal Wellington Golf Club and the Trentham Camp Golf Club).
Soldiers’ Memorial at Trentham Memorial Park
As we trundle along Fergusson we pass the Soldiers Memorial at Trentham Memorial Park. The locals deck out the memorial stone in poppies every ANZAC. I have no idea when this started and it certainly is an eye-catching sight when in the memorial is in ‘bloom’.
The Trentham Memorial Park is a lovely area and used by many for sports and recreation. It’s here that I wish to do a shout out to the Upper Hutt Axeman’s Club. They have their clubroom in the Trentham Memorial Park and helped me train for the World Champs this year2.
Cars for Sale
Don’t ask me why, but next on our list of sights is the unofficial car sales yard that is on the stretch of Fergusson Drive that shares a border with Trentham Memorial Park. Every day cars are parked with for sale signs on windows.
Trentham Community House
Turning off Fergusson Drive we travel down Merton Street and go past the Trentham Community House. A hustling centre that has an Opportunity Shop, community gardens and a place for the kids to hang out before school and eat breakfast together.
Destination Hikurangi Street
Merton Street turns in our destination – Hikurangi Street. Hikurangi Street is a destination for not just the kids that attend Fergusson Intermediate School with Freya, but the kids that also attend Upper Hutt College. I’m considering following the example of my gum tree writing neighbours and suggesting to the Council that we rename “Hikurangi Street” to “Future Leaders of Upper Hutt Street”.
And then you must do it all over again at 2:30pm
Freya is safely at school for the day.
I return home to work and hang out with our cat Tasha3.
Then, at the strike of 2:30pm I face the right turn of doom again to fetch Freya from school.
Here we go again…
- “Why doesn’t Dayna’s daughter Freya walk or take the bus to and from school?” Freya is missing a chunk of chromosome 9 – it’s called “Alfi’s Syndrome” and you can read about it here. Freya also has Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Asperger syndrome (AS).
- I came 5th in the world for the International Medieval Combat Federation Women’s Poleaxe Fights.
- Tasha is short for Nastasja. She is a Norwegian Forest Cat and Queen of the House!
- Do you go to school, or take someone to school, in Upper Hutt?
- How does this compare with your trip?