Testimonials

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                                                                    Merle and Richard Caldwell.bmp

Merle and Richard Caldwell at Hastings Top 10 Holiday Park. (Jan 2003)        HB Today Picture: Tim Whittaker

Camping spot home away from home

Wellington woman Merle Caldwell can't remember much about the first time she stayed at Hastings Holiday Park - she was, after all, just five months old. But she must have liked it, because this year marks her 50th holiday at the camping ground. Her husband Richard says it was strange driving back into the camping ground on Saturday morning.

"We left 11 months ago, but it feels like a week, like the year didn't happen. Its like coming home" he says.

However, Richard admits he is a Johnny-come-lately compared to Merle's family, who have been holidaying in Hastings since the 1930s.

I've only been coming here every year since the 1970s he says modestly.

Merle, a Lotto saleswoman, says she had missed only a few holidays at the camping ground since 1947.  Richard, who sells building supplies when not camping in Hastings, says he gets a bit of stick from his workmates about his choice of holiday.

"They ask me: why the hell do you go to the same place every year? I tell them we've been all over the North and South Islands and to Australia, but that's different.  Then we feel we have to do as much as possible.

"I can come here and the world gets along without me for a couple of weeks."

Merle says there is no pressure to sight-see because they have already seen everything in Hawke's Bay.

" We can just sit under our tree and blob out," she says.

Since the 1970's the Caldwells have camped on what used to be called Nobs' Row, the most desirable part of the camping ground.  Once, you practically had to wait for someone to die before getting a space on the coveted strip of grass.

The Caldwells seized their chance in the 1970's when someone failed to turn up and site 25 had been theirs ever since.

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