Andrew’s grandfather, Eric Batchelor, died last Saturday night.
We drove down to Oamaru yesterday for the funeral today. We left the house at 6:30am. It was still dark but for a pink smudge along the horizon. Frost sparkled in the car headlights.
At the bend before Rarangi, the car tangoed across the road and slid to a graceful stop at the verge. We came across three accidents along the SH1, including a freight truck slumped drunkenly in a ditch. Until we reached Kaikoura, the act of driving was a bit like playing Russian roulette in a Gran Turismo PSIII nightmare where the stakes are YOU NEVER WAKE UP. (Sorry about The Drama: I recently read two of Tim Winton’s books – Dirt Music and Breath – which both depicted spectacularly splattery skin-crawling scenes of viscerally grisly car crashes.)
The remainder of the journey was more relaxing. It was a bright, sharp day which dramatically presented the snow-capped mountains in black and white. There were explosions of spray as the sea dashed itself against the coast.
We stopped for a picnic just beyond Timaru. I had baked bread the night before but miscalculated the timer, with the result that the bread was too hot for cutting before we left the house. Beside one of the wide, bleached rivers the South Island does so well, I carved the bread on the back tyre and dressed it with cheddar cheese and chunky feijoa chutney. Jed was torn between playing in the shallows of the icy river, or begging for crumbles of cheese.
We made good time; the trip took 8½ hours including diesel stops, coffee top-ups and chasing sticks.