In the early 1930s, my mother used to rent Parkinsons House on the Scenic Drive for the school holidays. The winding drive ran from just below where the TV Mast is now, down to a large rambling one-storied house commanding a wide view over the surrounding bush, down to the foothills of the Waitakeres and out to the Waitemata Harbour.
From the back of the house, a track led through the bush to a little stream which had been dammed to form a sizeable swimming pool, constructed from cement and marble slabs. (Mr Parkinson was a monumental mason.) To a child it was a little frightening, as the bottom of the pool was always blackish-green with unknown things, like rotten ponga fronds on the bottom, which were scary for bare feet. It was also extremely cold, even in summer. My mothers slogan was, Getting out is marvellous!
Having no refrigeration, in those days, we were grateful for the large food safe located in the cool of the bush by the track to the pool. Amongst other things this usually housed smoked schnapper, which was a good keeper, and in those days it was cheap. Mother also use to put down sausages in tins filled with dripping. Fresh meat supplies and bread were ordered from Auckland and came out on the Piha bus to be dropped off at the Waiatarua Store. I think this happened once, or at most, twice a week and we had to walk down to collect them.
Having no car, our initial transport to The Hills was by taxi. From Auckland City the single fare was 17/6.
There was a large open fire in the Parkinson house, and we used to scavenge regularly in the bush for dead wood to bring back to burn. The unsealed road from Waiatarua ended about mile beyond Parkinsons and from there continued as a bush track. I remember walking as far as Rua-o-te-Whenua with my mother, and being awed by pig rootings beside the track to the summit. Eventually the road was formed and put right through to Swanson. Steam rollers flattened the clay surface until it shone. When the men were not working, I did cart wheels on the surface of it.
In winter we delighted in the cloud mists which frequently enveloped us. Something we never experienced in the city.
Autumn brought black berrying, and there seemed to be no limit to the areas of brambles to which we had free access for picking.
There was a cottage on the Parkinson land beside the main gate, but as far as I remember, there were no other dwellings in the immediate area.
Those, I think, were the highlights of my childhood memories.