If you've read A Second Chance, you may recall that A Certain Character is "exiled" to a small town north of Auckland called Russell. He greets the news with outrage:
‘I can’t go and live in Russell! Good Lord, I’m not sure I even know where it is.’
‘You certainly can’t continue to live in Auckland. Unless prison appeals, that is. And I’ll see that you find your way to Russell, you need have no fear on that score. It’s quite a distance north, but a boat goes there occasionally. I understand a good deal of fish is shipped out of Russell—I believe it’s the only real activity in the area these days—so it’s possible the boat may be somewhat odiferous, but that can’t be helped.’
Russell had a wild past in the early 19th century, though by the time of A Second Chance it was something of a sleepy backwater
—not an appealing place for a man used to the dizzy social life of Auckland. But despite his ill-informed reaction, Russell is a charming little town, and one we re-visited just recently.
Although it can be reached by road, Russell has something of an island feel about it. My favourite way to visit the town is by ferry across the bay from Paihia:
The red-roofed building on the right of the photograph is the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, which, although re-built after fires, has been on its present site for over 170 years. I imagine our exile visiting this establishment as often as his slender means allow.
The pretty building on the left is Russell's police station:
Until 1890 this was the town's Custom House, built in 1870 when Russell was a much busier port.
I envisage our exile in a cottage very like this one. He sees it as quite a come-down after his grand house in Auckland—though, as several readers have remarked, it's rather better than he deserved. It would be nice to think he learned to be grateful, but I doubt it.