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Posts tagged ‘port underwood’

Strictly scruple-free zone

If you’d asked me three months ago whether we’d leave Port Underwood, I would have said, “What? Eh? Sorry, I- I don’t understand the question. Why would we want to move? We love it here! There’s FISH!”

Of course we had discussed plans should we be fortunate enough to achieve extreme gestation. Husband and I were fully agreed that Port Underwood was an IDEAL location in which to nurture a baby with its abundance of natural beauty to nourish a child’s soul and herds of feral goats to keep them amused/alert.

Shortly after we got a positive pregnancy test, Andrew left me in the unsafe if not downright hazardous hands of his parents during his month-long business trip. While my defenses were low and coated in a thick slime of morning sickness and jittering anxiety, Her Goatiness worked her dark, bovidae magic.

By the time Andrew returned, I had practically purchased a property next-door to The Outlaws.

At least now, when he says, “I came back from Dubai and Niamhie told me we were moving,” I can respond, “Well, it’s your mother’s fault.”

Me? I operate in a strictly scruple-free zone.

The reality of extreme gestation resulted in a cosmic shift in priorities (along with my intestinal system – which is now more of an anarchic revolution).

Although conception involved WAY too many people, there’s no reason the rest of this pregnancy shouldn’t proceed normally (although I have to say that so far, my experience of pregnancy ridicules all previous definitions of ‘normal’). However, we don’t want to take chances given how far we’ve come to get here.

The idea of staring down labour with a 45 minute drive along a gravel road in a car that’s on its last wheels, as driven by Husband ‘Bite Me Schumacher’, is potentially a challenge too far. At least for me, if not Andrew.

Furthermore, we have little to no support here. We love our neighbours (well, I do; Andrew thinks they’re pretty nice and wouldn’t turn down a beer) – but there are only two of them. We see a lot of our landlords, The Mustachioed Muchacho and Hostess With The Mostest; also Sheriff and The Bunqueen down in the bay – but neither couple has children. While they’re thrilled for us, I can’t see myself swapping stories about episiotomies and mucous plugs with them.

What’s that? Why the <expletive deleted> would I want to?

Well, indeed. I’m not quite there yet myself. However, I have been reliably informed by Those Who Know – i.e. former people incubators – that there will come a time when you will beg me to shut up talking about lactation and just pass the parsley sauce, already.

I’m not sure Oamaru would have been our first choice of home, but it seems logical with The Rise of The Asset given the concentration of family, who originally settled there for the, er. Beets?

But even without the imminent arrival of The Asset, we would have had to consider moving on. Although we live in the most stunning location, we are on the bones of our arse at the end of each month. I recycle tinfoil and gladwrap; Andrew’s not allowed soap because HAVE YOU SEEN HOW MUCH THAT STUFF COSTS? RUB YOURSELF WITH A ROCK FFS.

I am admittedly privileged that my definition of abject poverty is being unable to afford maple syrup IT’S A TRAGEDY. Just as well, because we’re not close enough to rob anyone to fund my P addiction.

This situation has much to do with the exchange rate, since all our income is in US$. Every month for about two years, we’ve consoled ourselves: “At least the exchange rate can’t get any worse”. We’ve tried putting a positive spin on it – “The exchange rate HAS to get better”, but optimism hasn’t been effective either. Moving will significantly cut many of our costs.

Much to my surprise, after three years seeking privacy and seclusion, I’m actually looking forward to getting involved in a community again.

Puppy love: overrated

We left Port Underwood at 02:00 hrs to make an appointment with our macrobiotic accountant in Christchurch.

While Andrew drove through the night, I slept on a mattress laid out in the back. The dog made it clear he was unimpressed with sharing his boot space by sitting on my face. We argued. Then we kissed and made up. Afterwards, every time I opened my eyes, Jed’s big furry head was on my pillow staring at me soulfully if not downright romantically. Sometimes he burped post-digested possum. Puppy love: over-rated.

I was surprised how well I slept, even though the SH1 from Blenheim to Kaikoura is hardly conducive to balancing on top of a triple-folded mattress. But I was lulled to sleep by the thunder of the tyres on the road and the stars swirling by the window and I was only dimly aware of the wedges of orange light washing across my face in the townships.

We’re staying with the Outlaws in Oamaru for the next few weeks. Normal service will resume next Sunday. In the meantime, I hope you all have a happy Easter infested with chocolate bunnies.

Official fish inspection

Up until recently, I was convinced the waters of Port Underwood were the aquatic equivalent of an arid wasteland. Absolutely swimming with kelpie – but technically they’re more vegetable than fish.

Last weekend, Husband deemed conditions ‘ideal’ for fishing. Well, he says that every time, but the signs were good: it was on the turn of low tide, there was a gentle swell and visibility was good.

Still, I brought my book.

Which is probably why WE CAUGHT FISH! You know, in the same way as ensuring fine weather by packing an umbrella, or minty fresh breath by sucking on a haddock.

See, I don’t understand where that analogy went so wrong.

We caught a terakihi and four blue cod, returning seven that were only 1-2 cm shorter than the legal limit of 33cm.

When I say ‘we’, I do of course mean me. I catch more fish than Andrew because I bait the hook with chunks of finger, which appears more tempting than squid. Also, I practice a form of psychic fishing which involves visualizing the fish trundling around the sea bed and willing them to impale themselves on the hook. It is frankly uncanny the number of fish I hook through an eyeball or gill or the tail. 

Four blue cod and one terakihi


Jed inspects the catch


When we got home, I called my stepfather-in-law in a high state of excitement to grill him on how to grill a terakihi.

“How big’s it?” he growled.

“Around 29.2cm.”

“Fish that small, bake it whole with salt and pepper and some bloody ginger,” he said and hung up before I could retort, “SMALL? I’m sure it wouldn’t feel that small if you shoved it up your arse, Fishboy.”

I’m so totally lying. I’d never say that to Agent of Death, not even on the phone.

Four days later, Agent of Death went fishing off Oamaru and, in the space of two hours, caught 40 blue cod and 20 sturgeon or something.

Yeah well ah, you know, I’m more interested in quality not quantity.


Our young seadog blowing a raspberry.

I gave Husband a fishing boat for his birthday.

I know, I know: love makes you do crazy stuff. Also, I’m generous.

Unfortunately, Andrew had to sell his roadbike to facilitate my generosity. I couldn’t afford to buy the boat for him, since my career as an impoverished author nets me an average annual income of roughly $20 – or a third share in a lifejacket.

Equally unfortunately, I own nothing of value that I could sell to augment the boat fund. Second-hand dogs don’t fetch much on Trademe, and while I suppose there’s a family member or two I could auction, the logistics would be tricky unless I could export them from Ireland to close the deal.

On second thoughts, I should TOTALLY have done that.

But, no. No, no. I don’t want to hector or lecture or moralise, and I’ve never been into using my beliefs as blunt instruments (although I have been known to occasionally tickle people with them if the right moment presents itself); however, in this case I’ll make an exception:

Slavery is WRONG, folks.

Since collecting the boat three weeks ago, we’ve made a number of excursions to identify the optimal fishing spots around Port Underwood – or, more accurately, eliminate the worst. So far, we’ve caught one legal blue cod and various sea vegetables. I’m considering changing my name officially to The Kelpie Queen.

We wondered how The Jedster would take to the boat, since he isn’t a consummate kayak enthusiast. He definitely prefers the boat, demonstrating an impressive knack of always being precisely where you don’t want him.

He’s much more interested in the process of fishing. At least, he’s the only one going for our bait, having developed a keen taste for re-frozen squid. His new favourite game is attempting to impale his tongue on a fishing hook.

Jed has more faith in our ability to catch fish than we do; when we drop our lines, he stands at the side of the boat quivering and peering intently into the water.

It’s touching how excited Jed gets when we start reeling in. He gets pretty peeved when we throw back undersized fish or kelpie; when we went fishing off the rocks, he used to dive in after them. So far, we have dissuaded him from trying the same trick from the boat.

So, we've taught him to SIT! on the boat. Now all we have to do is train him to catch fish, and/or not capsize the boat.

Husband allows me pilot the boat.

There’s a killer whale in the back garden, dear

Brett and Debs are new friends – but not quite.

See, twenty five years ago, I was Brett’s brother’s penpal. If you want to go even further back, Brett’s father went to university with my dad. Although Brett’s family lived in the UK, both families would meet up once or twice a year at orienteering events.

I stopped writing to Brett’s brother shortly after he held my hand and I panicked because I was only fifteen and not ready to settle down and have children. I don’t recall whether I puked on his shoes or not, but it would’ve been close.

A couple of months ago, mum told me Brett and Debs were living in Christchurch. Husband and I called on one of our road-trips back from Oamaru to blag lunch. We were so taken with them and their family that if I were into abducting kids theirs would totally make the top of my list.

Last week, Brett and Debs and family came to stay with us for two nights. Despite three of them being miniature, that was a LOT of people in the house, but I thought we handled it pretty well.

The morning after they arrived, we were in the living room when Debs said, “Hey- what’s that? In the water. It looked like a fin.”

And I’m thinking, ‘Oh SURE; you wouldn’t see dolphins from up here’; until Debs said, ” . . . THERE!”

And just below our promontory were either two dolphins on STEROIDS, or a pair of killer whales. Even from a distance, we could tell they were absolutely he-owge.

Everyone rushed outside; I snapped away with the camera but stopped when I realised I was missing The Experience. After a while we saw the two whales were part of a larger pod; we counted nine in all, tooling around the Bay.

It’s difficult to describe The Experience, but I’ll give it a go. It was, like, AW WOW! mega WOAH TOTALLY AWESOME and way COOL that’s cool with five syllables.

In short: it was real.

There are killer whales in the back garden, dear

To Hector: many thanks

Here at Casa Deadlyjelly, the last month hasn’t been much fun. In fact, there’s no excessive hype or bole involved in saying that it has sucked on the same sort of scale as being drawn into the jet engine of an Antonov An-225.

The details are too unutterably dreary and depressing to go into, but few of these recent events were unexpected. Unfortunately, they were virtually impossible to prepare for.

Now, clearly, I have an awesome life. There’s the husband I love so very much, who happily returns the sentiment (at least he claims to – occasionally voluntarily); we are lavishly adored by the best dog ever in the history of dogkind; we have the good fortune to live in an amazing part of the world; we have our health and as much margharita as we can sink without throwing the rest of the equation.

But when it visits, misery can consume you whole, making it difficult to appreciate the awesomeness. In the midst of this crisis, I’ve struggled to focus on the substantial portion of my existence that is RIGHT.

Although I do appreciate one positive outcome: the opportunity to quote extensively from ‘Tears of a Clown’. Do feel free to imagine me belting this out at top volume, complete with tears rolling down my greasepaint-smudged cheeks:

Now if there’s a smile on my face
It’s only there trying to fool the public
But when it comes down to fooling you
Now honey that’s quite a different subject
But don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Cos really I’m sad,
Oh, I’m sadder than sad
Like a clown I appear to be glad ooh yeah

Well there’re some sad things known to man
But ain’t too much sadder than
The tears of a clown
When there’s no one around
Oh yeah, baby baby, oh yeah baby baby

To resort to terrible cliché – but hey, I’ve just quoted Smokey Robinson, which you’d think HAS TO BE the nadir of this post – life goes on.

The other day I took Jed for a walk to the beach next to our house. As I descended the track, I looked out over the bay glinting like a jewel in the sunlight. A seagull hovered just above the surface of the water. At first, I thought the disturbance beneath must be a shoal of fish.

When I stopped and shaded my eyes and squinted, I saw it was in fact a dolphin, idly spooling around the bay. Then I noticed a second one about 200m from the shoreline. From where I stood, I could see them quite clearly, their fins sporadically breaking the surface in joyful arcs.

Later I learned they were most likely a pair of Hector’s dolphins which occasionally adorn the bay.

I had no idea how long I’d been there when the dolphins left trailing magic in their wake, but it was only then I realised my face had been hijacked by a huge smile.

It galls me to admit – although EXCEEDINGLY GRUDGINGLY – that life is really rather grand.

Good internet coverage if there are no waves

Husband and I have been to the beach most days recently, taking advantage of a run of gorgeous weather. We stroll along, me throwing the ball for Jed, Andrew checking internet coverage on his mobile phone.
Here are some photos from the other day:

The first thing we do is throw Jed in the creek, in a vain attempt to get him to drink that rather than seawater. At this stage, he is usually too excited about the prospect of charging monotonously after a tennis ball to consider preparatory hydration.

Runaway tennis ball sighted.

Splash study.

This is what you call full stretch.

My men, varying degrees of wetness.

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