Staying in Dunedin piques curiosity

Jennifer Connolly, as a visitor to Dunedin, muses about the city.

Dunedin is not a city I am very familiar with. 

I have spent a few days of most academic years here for the past seven or so years helping settle/unsettle offspring into various types of student accommodation.

Dunedin City Council's blue recycling bins.
Dunedin City Council's blue recycling bins.
I have now spent a couple of weeks at a stretch here and have been left wondering about a few things other than why they didn't take away my blue recycling bin last week and why the quick wash on the washing machine takes more than an hour to complete its cycle.

Other things that I have been wondering about, as I wander up and down the somewhat bedraggled Princes St, is what really goes on at Servants Health Centre. Does Dunedin still really have servants or is there something missing in the definition of the word ''servant''. Maybe it means something altogether different here.

I wonder why there is hardly anyone else on the bus regardless of what time of day I catch it. I wonder why I always get lost getting to St Clair.

I wonder why I can never find what is reputedly Dunedin's best coffee place despite several ventures down alleyways to find it. (I can only conclude it is closely connected to the so named ''Hard To Find'' cafe in Auckland but harder still to find.)

I wonder why I keep wanting to put a ''g'' in Hanover St. I wonder why I never have the right parking meter money and why the meanie machines resolutely refuse to give change.

I wonder why students look so young these days and why the schoolboys and girls, in their blazers and ties, are pretty much the best dressed people in town. I wonder why anyone would drive a manual car here.

I wonder why more neighbourhoods don't have working bees like the one going on outside my back door last weekend. It looked like it could be fun.

I wonder why the house in the neighbouring street has wallpaper on the outside of the house.

I wonder which is the very best op shop in town and wonder whether I've located them all or not. A Dunedin op shop guide (note to i-Site) would be really useful and not just for the student population!

I wonder how many landlords of student flats there are, like my daughter's, who, noting how busy the spiders had been over the summer, sent the window cleaners around to sort them out - the spiders that is.

I wonder about the Coptic Orthodox Church (Diocese of Melbourne) down the road which Archangel Michael looks after and how it fits in to the city's history.

I wonder who the Cedars of Lebanon Club is and where it now meets, if no longer on the corner of Stafford and Melville Sts, as the footpath plaque says it used to, until 2003.

I wonder where the building housing the local Alliance Francaise is. I wonder what used to go on at the Costume and Mantle Manufacturers all those years ago in Dunedin's more prosperous days. Was costume hire a big thing back in the old days too? I thought mantles had something to do with camping lanterns until I looked ''mantle'' up and found it related to an ''outer item of women's clothing akin to a shawl''.

I wonder if anyone conducts walk-about history tours of this interesting, if somewhat run-down, bit of Dunedin in which I am staying.

The Harbour Mouth Molars .
The Harbour Mouth Molars .
I wonder why some people don't like the waterfront molar sculptures, which I find sit very well on the landscape. After all Dunedin is the only dentistry school in the country, isn't it?

I wonder why I've hardly worn any of the summer clothes I brought with me.

Apart from these wonderings I have also made the odd important discovery - like where, in Princes St, one can have trousers shortened (plain hems only) for a mere $6 a pair, for instance.

But most of all I wonder why my favourite clothing shop in town still isn't having a summer sale ... already the trees are beginning to change.

- Jennifer Connolly is a writer from Wanaka.

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