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Posts tagged ‘auckland’

You can’t see anything for the goosebumps

Since our bask atop Mt Eden last weekend, Auckland has enjoyed a week of near perfect weather. Yesterday was so warm, I was moved to strip down to a camisole top while lunching on the deck with the family in Mt Wellington.

This morning, we awoke to another perfect blue sky, sunshine winking in the bedroom window. We decided to go to Karekare Beach.

“Let’s take the MR2,” suggested Husband.

Last summer, Husband and I drove everywhere in his sports car, posing in sunglasses with the roof panels off. It is a two-seater, apparently designed for anorexic models and athletic teenage car-jockeys. In other words, not much spare room for anything more than a spare bikini and a credit card.

So I travelled to Karekare with 36kg of canine sitting on top of me. Jed occasionally managed to kick Husband in the face with his hind leg, before he discovered the optimal position sitting on the floor on my feet, with his front paws on my lap. Sadly, it was far from the optimal position for my bladder.

Unhindered by cloud, the glittering sun cast deep shadows beneath the trees. Our drive was accompanied by the sticky sound of melting tarmac and the acrid stench of lightly broiled bitumen. Just before Karekare, we turned onto Lone Kauri Road, where the warm, buttery smell of gorse wafted us down to the beach. Ah, the scents of spring.

I’ll tell you how hot it was: I went for a swim in the sea.

Perhaps that only tells you how insane I was.

Husband would have come in too, but he has a rare condition which makes him react violently to salt water and he could die. What’s it called again? Oh yes: Being a Total Wuss.

Husband took a video, but you can’t make out anything for all the goosebumps. So here’s a clip of another swimmer:-

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Greeting spring with a good wallow

There are hints of spring in the air (for the purposes of argument, I am choosing to ignore the rain dashing itself against the windows). But recently, the weather has been so much more clement, to the extent that we opened the bedroom window the last couple of nights and complained about the heat.

On Friday, after lunch with Husband’s grandparents, we went up to the summit of Mount Eden. The sky was a flawless blue, the breeze gently playful. Husband cracked out the sunglasses. Jed was moved to crap four times in a row. I lay on the grass, which was slightly damp but warm from the sun, and napped until attacked by a worm the size of a fucking snake.

Yesterday we went biking in Woodhill. It is great exercise for The Jedster, especially on the weekend when – in addition to tearing after bikes and snuffling around acres of woodland – there are plenty of fellow canines. This means wrestlefests galore, butt sniffing bonanzas, leaping and pouncing, and hint of humping.

About halfway round our favourite trail is an exercise area with jumps and tricks. In the center is not a puddle so much as a pit filled with viscous, slimy, foul smelling greenish-brown mud. Jed gambolled straight up to the mud hole, plunged in head-first, and – there is no other word for it – wallowed in it, like a baby hippo or apprentice pig.

090829 Wallowing

Mud + stick = heaven

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Come on in!

090829 Let me at it

Hey! Whatcha doing? Let go! I’m only half covered in mud! Let me at it!

090829 Mud monster

See? NOW I’m covered.

090829 Fetch

Windburn

I planned on driving until I felt tired, then pulling up beside a lake or stream, cuddling up to Jed for warmth, sleeping like an antivampire, then waking to watch the sun rise over snow-capped mountains.

Husband failed to appreciate this romantic vision. In fact, he really didn’t enter into the spirit of the road trip AT ALL. He suggested that if I slept in the car, I should camp in a populated location like a garage or Mitre 10 carpark. If I was questioned by police, I was to say I felt sleepy,  so pulled over for a nap as recommended by their copious advertisements lining SH1. He asked if I had a torch; when I answered in the affirmative, he asked if I had a 48” monkey wrench to twat all the assailants who would be queuing up to break into a 1992 Toyota Hilux Surf with duct tape over the rust spots.

Husband finally snuffed out the last vestiges of my spirit by pointing out that a guesthouse would be equipped with a shower.

He booked me into Sequoia Lodge in Picton: $27 for a bed in an empty dorm, complimentary hot water bottle, bedlinen, and lashings of hot water.

At 04:00hrs, I woke up feeling cold, and lay there for a while fretting about Jed’s temperature in the back of the car. I got up, pulled on a top and pair of jeans, and went to check on him. Jed was shivering, so I wrapped my fleece around him and put his little paws in the sleeves. I rubbed him for twenty minutes, then added another two rugs to his wool blanket and left him again. However, I was still anxious about my puppy, so I got up early.

Applying makeup at 06:00hrs is a measure of how much I love Husband. That, and how haggard I looked (after six hours of sleep, I resembled two-week-old carrion).

We were past Blenheim when the sun rose over the sea. It was so beautiful – full of golden promise, the sanctity of a new day, a suggestion of redemption – that it brought tears to my eyes. Alternatively, it might have been the knowledge that I willfully passed up another couple of hours in bed, or Jed vigorously licking my left ear, or a combination of all the above.

Pulling off SH1, Jed and I bounced down to a wide, shallow river tumbling over bleached rocks. It was balmy: the sun was warm, the sky a piercing summer blue. I stripped down to a thermal top, long sleeved t-shirt, woolly jumper, fleece and a jacket (it was a lightweight jacket). Jed splashed around a while, then settled down by the water to chew his bone. I sat on a large rock and raised my face to the sun and felt fulsomely content.

After Blenheim there was a garage drought, so even though I still had a quarter tank of diesel left, I stopped to fill up in Kaikoura.

“How much is diesel per litre?” I asked when I went to pay, still mildly stunned at having to fork out the same amount for three quarters of a tank of gas as a full tank in Auckland.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said the cashier, fingering his left nipple. “Changes all the time. Goes up and down.”

“I noticed neither you nor the BP Connect up the road advertised the rate.”

“Yeah, we’re too embarrassed. The locals don’t like us much.”

“Well, I’m from out of town and I don’t like you much either. If that makes you feel any better.”

“Oh, ah, no, not really.” Although he laughed, but I wasn’t really joking.

For two days, I had subsisted on a restricted road trip diet of a) crisps b) salted peanuts c) sandwiches d) pies e) chocolate f) whole, solid forms of fruit and/or g) mints. Further down the main drag in Kaikoura, I stopped at Hislops Organic Café to treat myself to breakfast, and had a visceral response to the hash browns served with my eggs benedict. They were a genuine taste sensation. The staff at Hislops also recharged my mobile phone, brought Jed a bowl of water, and scratched his ears. In fact, the service could only have been improved had they scratched my ears, too. Highly recommended, campers.

Although vast tracts of the trip were unremarkable, there are snapshots that stand out with a shining clarity: mist over Lake Taupo; the incredible blue of the sea driving down the east coast – each wave trailing a half rainbow; Jed charming drivers out the back window; sitting by the road with the morning paper in Kaikoura with my dog by my feet. There was something liberating about not being answerable to anyone, with nothing to do but drive and think about whatever popped into your head (admittedly, not that much, usually).

Every time I let Jed out for a break, he went berserk; yet not once did he refuse to get back into the car. I was so proud of my little boy.

We arrived in Oamaru shortly before 17:00hrs. Jed was overjoyed to see Husband again and leapt around doing cartwheels and somersaults, much like myself.

ROAD TRIP STATISTICS

Total mileage
Auckland to Wellington 658km
Picton to Oamaru 583km

Total driving time
Auckland South to Wellington 8 hrs
Picton to Oamaru 7 hours

Percentage of time Jed stuck his head out the window
8

Injuries sustained
Niamh: superficial scarring on forehead from stick wound
Jed: windburn

Sobriety: elusive

We flew to South Island yesterday, which explains the dearth of blog posts – not being in South Island so much as the volume and quantity of Stepfather-In-Law’s G&Ts. It is also the occasion of Sister-In-Law’s 40th birthday. Realistically, I aim to be vaguely sober again by Tuesday.

At Auckland Airport, about to board the airplane:

Husband: What seat numbers are we?

Me: 29 E and F.

Husband: So do we board through the front or rear door?

Me: Well, I suppose there must be no more than forty, forty five rows on the plane. So the back.

Husband: Let’s board at the front.

Me: Why did you ask my opinion if you are just going to ignore it?

Husband: There’s less people boarding at the front.

Me: So what-

Husband: And the check-in attendant said rows one to thirty board through the front door.

Me <doubtfully>: She did?

Husband: Yes, definitely.

So we boarded through the front door, whereupon we spent the next 20 minutes fighting through swarms of passengers to get to the SECOND LAST ROW OF THE PLANE.

Husband <collapsing in seat>: Maybe she said, rows one to THIRTEEN board through front gate-

Me: Gah!

Dairy free

This afternoon I cycled into Henderson to pick up a litre of milk for Husband. I was motivated by love, devotion – and guilt (I forgot to buy milk during the weekly shop).

It was only when I arrived in Henderson/Misty Valley that I realised I had left my wallet behind.

To put this in perspective: I had just cycled 8km, my knickers had disappeared up my arse, I was splattered with sweaty mud, and I had an acute case of Helmet Head. Had I been driving, I would probably have returned home to collect my wallet; or – more likely – rummaged around the ashtray, delved into the seat joins, and turned out the glovebox until I scraped together $3 worth of 5c pieces.

However, there was no way I was about to CYCLE home and back again. I just don’t love Husband that much. Is this wrong? It might  have been his birthday, but it was hardly as if a litre of milk was his present. He got a Playstation III and a pair of spiffy sunglasses. All things considered, I felt that cycling into Henderson ONCE was an operatic response to the call of duty.

In the superette (similar to a newsagent store) at Parrs Cross Road, I explained the situation to the shop assistant. Perhaps I overdid the forehead slapping, because she refused to consider gifting or loaning me a litre of milk, or opening a credit account, because she only worked there and all the above were against store policy.

Since there were no cows in the vicinity, I decided to try the second dairy on Henderson Valley Road.

By this stage, I was completely mortified. What, you thought that emotion didn’t feature in my range? Not at all; I’m Irish, so have an innate patriotic ability for mortification especially of the flesh.

However, I focussed on the journey home: 8km of it involving 400ft climb, and the joy and hope dying in Husband’s eyes as he slowly realises I have returned empty handed and dairy free. I was therefore compelled to enter the other superette.

This time, I had my story better prepared. I didn’t go into details about the sweaty mud, because that was largely self-evident. But I told the store manager about my great journey; how it was Husband’s birthday and he couldn’t have his muesli that morning and had to drink black coffee; how terrible that made me feel; how – if they only found it in their hearts to donate a litre of milk – I would return on Wednesday to pay and thereafter shop at their store with a fierce loyalty and regularity until I died.

God, I love New Zealand. As I cycled home, litre of milk digging comfortingly into the small of my back, I only regretted not scoring a refreshing bottle of sportaid as well

Photos and rare footage from Woodhill

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Husband surfs a thermal

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Speedfreak

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Husband dodges charging pinecone. Don’t be fooled by the fingers on the brakes – there is no evidence (photographic or otherwise) of him EVER pressing them into service for anything other than hanging his helmet from

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See, Husband does occasionally smile. Think he mistook the camera for a trick flower

0901-left-the-bro-right-husband

Here, Husband is smiling because The Bro had just headbutted the ground. Not sure why The Bro is looking so pleased with himself – probably relieved he didn’t dent his head

0901-the-bro

The Bro negotiates a twiglet

As usual, there are no photos of me – BUT! As a special treat, there is VIDEO FOOTAGE.

Deadlyjelly confuses diving for cycling. Note how Husband’s camera never wavers, maintaining his artistic integrity throughout

Deadlyjelly demonstrates how to pull knickers out of arse without anyone noticing

And one of The Bro in a rare, almost (but not quite) uncool moment, getting taken out by a seesaw

The long way home

0901-greetings-from-shannon

2300km later, we are home. We decided to take three days for the return bike trip: Oamaru to Hanmer Springs; then to Wellington via the Interisland Ferry; and the final stretch to Auckland.

Since I am now a seasoned biker, I was pretty confident. Leaning was second nature; I could crack walnuts with my core muscles; and boy, could I wear a set of leathers.

Unfortunately, the day we set out for Hanmer Springs, New Zealand hosted a heat wave. To give you an idea how warm it was, Husband ventured into a river for a dip. (If you noticed an arse flexing beside Highway 7, that was probably mine. I hope you liked it.)

When biking under normal summer conditions, I wear a fleece and quilted insert under my weatherproof jacket. An hour out of Oamaru, I shed the fleece and the jacket insert followed shortly after. By the time we reached Hanmer Springs, I wanted to crawl out of my skin and spend three weeks in a nice, dark fridge. Or alternatively, lie down and moan. Since that appeared to be the simpler option, that is pretty much what I did for the next three hours.

That evening, we stumbled into Hanmer Springs for dinner. Afterwards, we propped each other up and supported ourselves to a patch of green by the side of the road. We lay out on the grass and watched the tree branches turn dark against the waning light, and a bird crapping overhead.

“Something just crawled up my jeans,” I said.

“You don’t sound that worried.”

“No, I am. It’s just that I don’t have the energy to do anything about it.”

The following morning, the fleece and insert went back on. We biked through Springs Junction, stopped for coffee in Minihaha, then on via Wakefield to Nelson. Just beyond Havelock, we turned onto Queen Charlotte Drive, which was where a police car buzzed us.

Husband flipped up his visor. “Honey,” he bawled. “I think that police car just checked us. Were we speeding?”

“What’s this ‘we’?” I roared.

“Ok – was I speeding?”

“Most likely.”

“What limit is this?”

“No idea.”

I don’t see much from the pillion, apart from a close-up of Husband’s helmet-clad head. Also, I was busy picking dead insects out of my lipgloss at the time.

Let’s just say that, in a 60kph zone, chances are Husband was charging along at a clip that would make a policeman choke on his doughnut. He pulled into a driveway to await the long arm of the law, while I dismounted to perform some imaginative stretches.

“Can you see them?” he fretted.

“Nope.”

“Quick! Get back on the bike.”

“Shouldn’t you wait a bit longer-”

“No, they had a fair chance.”

There was still no sign of the police as we roared off down the road. They were probably consulting the index of their standard issue first aid manual for ‘Heimlich Manoeuvre’.

We pulled into the ferry terminal at Picton around the time the officer was having emergency surgery to remove the half masticated piece of doughnut from his oesophagus.

The motorbike is a bit like a puppy or a third nipple, in that it attracts a lot of friendly attention. We parked beside another bike to wait for boarding, and an old geezer came over for a chat: ex-services blazer, slacks, slip-on shoes, not a shred of hair and a hole the size of Spain in his cranium.

“Nice motor-cycle,” he said. “What size is it?”

I said, “Er. 800cc? I think.”

“No idea,” he responded. “I turned back because of rain.”

“Um,” I said. “Ok. Yes well, we had a bit of damp outside Whangamoa.”

“Can’t say I do, young lady. Where did you get that notion?”

“I’m not really- what were we- ANDREW!”

“Trout or herring?” said my buddy.

“What?!”

“Wait. I’ll put my hearing aid in. Can’t hear a blessed thing without it.”

Turned out our 82 year old buddy was the pilot of the other motorbike. He had biked halfway to Invercargill that day, before turning back. In other words, he was unbelievably cool. Certainly cooler than us.

“What sort of speed can you get out of her?” he said, nodding at the Honda.

“Well, I’ve done” – Husband cocked an eye at me – “100, maybe 110.”

“Miles per hour?”

“Kilometers.”

“Get 240 out of mine,” he cackled.

That evening, we biked from Wellington to <Unpronounceable Name Possibly Beginning With P>, about 45 minutes up Highway 1. Biking at night was strangely mystical: the swirling darkness, the roar of the wind, the thrum of the engine.

This was our second night in a YHA. I spent much of my youth in youth hostels chatting up Danish backpackers (top tip: ‘Would you like some baked beans?’ has limited efficacy as a chat-up line. I would not recommend it).

On the journey to South Island, we stayed at Sequoia Lodge in Picton, an independent backpacker’s hostel. For $70 we had an ensuite double room, wireless Internet, access to the communal spa pool, free chocolate pudding, tea, coffee and breakfast. So I had high expectations for the YHA, which charged roughly the same sort of price.

In comparison, the YHA hostels were disappointing. I’m pretty sure there were fleas in the Hanmer Springs hostel. The one in <Unpronounceable Name Possibly Beginning With P> was better, but the following morning our helmets were covered in ants enjoying a bonanza buffet of dead bug biltong.

I was tasked with de-bugging the helmets. When I went out to the bike, Husband was talking to a German woman who looked like Sylvester Stallone in a long, red wig. Strangely erotic, in case you were wondering.

Husband was saying, “Aw yeh, you’re all right if they don’t catch you.”

I gather he was talking about the police. Evidently, I should paddle his helmet harder.

At Whakamaru we stopped for lunch. Afterwards, Husband spent five minutes on his hands and knees crawling around the bike. He likes to appreciate it from many angles, so I just assumed he had overlooked this vantage point previously.

Turned out we had picked up a screw in the back tyre. The tyre was largely deflated – as, indeed, were we. Fortuitously the café – in addition to having a delectable range of pies, pastries and other baked goods – was across the road from a garage.

There was a fabulously slutty peroxide girl at the garage, with – intriguingly – a Tiffany pendant nestled in the gently oily valley of her lush bosoms. If my squandered vocation weren’t Rock Goddess, I would so totally regret never becoming a female mechanic.

Unfortunately, her job description did not extend beyond the cash register. An uninspiringly ugly bloke fitted a tubeless tyre bung for $10. These are the most amazing things: basically, a rubber compound is jammed into the puncture, which expands inside the tyre and plugs the hole. People seem to be conflicted about exactly how temporary this measure is, but it took us the remaining 250km to Auckland.

I think the trip is best summed up by this little exchange, which probably took place at one of the countless numbers of roadside cafés and diners we visited en route.

I asked Husband whether he was enjoying his road trip.

“Well,” he said, “Ye-ah-hmm. I think I’ll enjoy it more when it’s finished.”

In a rare moment of understanding, I knew EXACTLY what he meant

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