What I like to do is visit small town cemeteries – the other day the cemetery in the town of Herbert was in my sights.

What we quickly established was that back in the day, the town with the rather odd name of Herbert, was more commonly known as Otepopo. In fact the cemetery is called Otepopo cemetery, not Herbert cemetery. Looking up the name I find that these days Otepopo is noted, but only on topographical maps. Otepopo has become the name of the district and not the town.

The first thing you notice upon driving into this neat, well maintained cemetery, is the handsome, albeit rather imposing, feature of a limestone (Oamaru stone?) Celtic cross, erected, as the headstone says, by friends of a doctor.

The cemetery has its fair share of quaint and often heart breaking little graves and headstones that tell their own story.

Worthy to be called a poem. (Note the altered year of death.)

This little spot Is all my lot
And all that kings aquire
My home above is a gift of love
For reader there aspire

I’ve never come across a grave like this before.

Naturally enough, Excalibur and King Arthur and his knights come to mind.

A curious young sheep peered at us from farm buildings on the eastern boundary of the cemetery.

As in all cemeteries there was sadness, sure, but above all, I sensed an over-riding feeling of peace and that even if some lives had been cut short, they’d been lives lived out with a fair amount of purpose, imagination, fulfilment and freedom.

A plaque at the cemetery informs visitors that this spot is where the whole of north Otago was surveyed, from the coast to the east, to the mountains to the west and in the north. South lies to the back of the cemetery where large dark macrocarpa are growing as a shelter belt, so we couldn’t see that outlook. However, as we live in that direction, I’ve already got a fairly good idea of its aspect.