Topic: Little piece of Salisbury in Whiritoa

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Hauraki Herald reporter Jill Cleave talked with Whiritoa man Jim Green, who has developed an extraordinarily strong bond with the English town of Salisbury. This story appeared in the Hauraki Herald on April 8, 2011.

WHEN most people go on an overseas trip, the last thing they expect to end up doing is working for a council in a foreign country during their holiday.  But that is what Whiritoa man Jim Green has done twice during holidays in England. Jim and his wife Christina left Auckland in March 2006 for a 48-day cruise to England with no set plans other than spending two nights in a youth hostel in Salisbury upon arrival.

The couple were walking the streets of Salisbury – a city of around 50,000 people in the south of the country – when they came across a couple of council workers ‘‘having a sneaky smoko’’. ‘‘As a good Kiwi bloke I stopped for a chat and happened to mention I was looking for work,’’ Jim said. ‘‘They gave me a number to ring as the council needed workers and within a week of arriving I had a job.’’

Jim worked for the Salisbury City Council as a gardener and when he was ready to return to New Zealand he told them he would be back. Jim and Christina returned last year and once again Jim was back working for the council.

‘‘We had a great time and spent a lot of it visiting historic places,’’ he said. During a visit to Scotland to see Jim’s cousin, the couple visited Hadrian’s Wall. Jim said it was quite emotional seeing lumps of molten lead on the steps up into Hexham Abbey. ‘‘These were from when William Wallace – you know, Braveheart – burnt down the abbey in the 12th or 13th century,’’ he said.


The Greens also visited the gravestones of the parents of author Rudyard Kipling. ‘‘We saw the house he grew up in and I videoed the back yard and imagined Kipling playing as a child in that very spot.’’ Experiencing the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge was another highlight. ‘‘There I was at 8pm to 9am with about 4000 other people and I think I was the only one without a Moses stick. It was amazing,’’ he said.

One experience that wasn’t so much to do with historic sites saw Jim sitting in Rod Stewart’s permanently reserved seat at Celtic Park in Glasgow, home of soccer’s Celtic FC. ‘‘We went through the Celtic clubrooms and out the tunnel and saw the two seats, one for Billy Connelly and the other Rod Stewart’s,’’ Jim said. ‘‘My cousin said as long as I could sing a Celtic song I could sit in the seat – so I did.’’

While working for the council in Salisbury, Jim was given the task of ‘‘gutting’’ the 400-year-old Salisbury Guildhall. ‘‘We had to chuck everything out and when I saw the plaque in the skip I said to the blokes ‘I have just the place for that in New Zealand’.’’ The plaque now hangs on the outside of the Greens’ home in Whiritoa as a reminder of their adventures in Salisbury.

Jim has so many stories to tell of his time in Salisbury it would take a month to hear them all. One thing he is rather proud of is being the only Kiwi to toast King Harold on the spot were he fell in the Battle of Hastings. ‘‘We went to the re-enactment of the battle and I noticed some blokes around a slab on the ground. They were toasting and drinking out of a horn. ‘‘I asked them what I would have to do to toast King Harold and they told me I would need to become an atheist. ‘‘So for a few minutes I was an atheist, took the horn, placed my foot on the slab, took a drink and said ‘King Harold’.’’

Jim has documented his trips on video and said during the winter he and his wife sit and relive their adventures.



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Little piece of Salisbury in Whiritoa

First Names:Jim
Last Name:Green