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Posts tagged ‘road trip’

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.

The soundtrack

Me: Ok, I’ve been thinking about music for the trip home. Now, as far as I see it, we have two options. Number one: we can load up a memory stick with both our songs. Strict 50/50 split. Neither of us can fast forward the others songs. Or maybe we can allow one FF per ten songs- actually, no. That gets complicated. You would cheat-

Husband: And the second option?

Me: What? Oh, yes. Ok, option two: we both prepare memory sticks. Although I only have a 1Gb stick, so you’re only allowed to have . . . er, the equivalent number of MP3s. And whoever’s driving gets to play their stick- no, wait. Even play-time. Maybe three-hour stints. Although three hours of your musical choice might fry my brain. Yeah, make that one hour. And no moaning, whining, groaning or other expressions of displeasure while-

Husband: Tell you what, why don’t you prepare a playlist for the journey?

Me (tremulously): Seriously? You’d- you’d trust me to do that?

Husband: Yeah.

Me (all choked up): Oh, sweetie! I- I won’t let you down!

Husband: But no Alison Moyet-

Me: Of course- of course not! And plenty of lamé rock, and the rest of the sort of shite you like. You won’t regret this! I will compile the best road trip soundtrack EVER!

I took the challenge seriously. I soon realised that I had underestimated the weight of responsibility – it nearly crushed me. As the date of departure loomed, once – in the dark, chill hours of early morning – I reared up in bed gasping ‘Led Zepplin!’

After several days agonizing, I put together a selection of hard pop and frothy rock with the occasional surprising little nougat amongst the vanilla fruit and nut. The total numbered 237 songs, which, at an average play time of 4.12 minutes, gave us 15 hours, 57 minutes and 30 seconds of quality music. That fell 2 minutes and 30 seconds short of the total drive time, but I figured we could just drive a little faster.

For those who have far too much time on their hands, or are preparing for a road trip at this very moment (in which case, why aren’t you packing the car? Get on with it!), the complete list follows. Some general comments though:-

Songs/artists I totally don’t regret not including:-
Celine Dion: let’s face it, she’s creepy

Songs/artists I regret including:-
Artists that feature heavily on easy-listening radio stations

Bryan Adams: I don’t know if it’s just me, but his songs make me want to widdle, an unfortunate result when pounding up the SH1. Forget the call of nature; Run To You is like the ROAR of nature. Go on, try it: listen to any one of Bryan Adams’ songs, and see whether it doesn’t vigorously massage your kidneys

Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie’s version is better

Once Soundtrack: the movie is sweet and uplifting, a paean to the triumph of the human spirit. Unfortunately, the songs made me wish I hadn’t wrists due to the compelling urge to slash them with the broken lid of a polystyrene takeaway coffee cup

Patrick Hernandez – Born To Be Alive: I only included this song to avoid accusations of discrimination. In the end, his song didn’t make the cut with the random selection, and I can honestly say I didn’t miss it

Sentimental value songs:-
Andreas Johnson – Glorious
Billy Myers – Kiss The Rain
Little River Band – Man On Your Mind
Rolling Stones – Angie

Songs for which I have no reasonable excuse:-
Falco – Rock Me Amadeus / Vienna Calling
Human League – Fascination
KC & The Sunshine Band – Baby Give It Up
Michael Jackson – any of them

But no apologies for:-
Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger

Songs/artists I wish I had included more of:-
Metallica: much to my surprise, it appears I am a closet Metallica groupie.
REO Speedwagon: after MarkJ‘s endorsement

Artists that made me drive faster:-
Led Zepplin

Dodgiest copy:-
Stranglers – Always The Sun

Hands clashing over fast forward button:-
OMD – Enola Gay

Surprise hit:-
Queen – Radio Ga Ga. Not even in my Top 50, but the random play selected this as we approached Blenheim in the dusk. For some reason, it made the blood surge in my veins

Tragic mistake:-
Bugs Bunny – Kill The Wabbit: first composition up at 05:34 hrs. We were en route to the Picton Ferry, we were late and lost. I can’t begin to tell you how inappropriate it was

Memorable moment:-
Cream – White Room:
Deadlyjelly: Yeaaaaaaaaaaow! Oh, sorry. I guess the electric guitar kicks in later-


Adventures – Broken Land / One Step From Heaven / The Sound Of Summer

Aerosmith – Cryin / Dream On / Janie’s Got A Gun / Livin On The Edge / Rag Doll / Sweet Emotion / Walk This Way

Alanis Morissette – Head Over Feet / You Outta Know

Alice Cooper – Poison

America – A Horse With No Name

Ana Johnsson – We Are

Anastacia – Heavy On My Heart / Sick And Tired / Left Outside Alone

Andreas Johnson – Glorious

Animals – House Of The Rising Sun

Aretha Franklin – Respect

Badly Drawn Boy – You Were Right

Barry White – The First The Last My Everything

Beatles – Twist And Shout

Billy Idol – Hot In The City / Mony Mony

Billy Myers – Kiss The Rain

Blondie – One Way Or Another

Blues Brothers – Rawhide / Sweet Home Chicago

Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine / Blaze Of Glory / Wanted Dead Or Alive / You Give Love A Bad Name

Bonnie Tyler – I Need A Hero / Total Eclipse Of The Heart

Bruce Springsteen – Can’t Start A Fire Without A Spark / Cover Me / Eyes On The Prize / Gypsy Biker / Last To Die / Thunder Road / You’ll Be Comin Down / Your Own Worst Enemy

Bryan Adams – Cuts Like A Knife / Run To You / Straight From The Heart

Bugs Bunny – Kill The Wabbit

Coldplay – Everything’s Not Lost / Shiver / Speed Of Sound

Cream – White Room

Creed – Higher

David Bowie – Heroes / Modern Love / Sound And Vision / The Man Who Sold The World / Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie and Queen – Under Pressure

Deacon Blue – Dignity

Def Leppard – Hysteria / Let’s Get Rocked

Depeche Mode – Policy Of Truth / Walking In My Shoes

Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms / Local Hero / Private Investigations / Romeo And Juliet / So Far Away

Don Henley – In A New York Minute / Boys Of Summer

Doors – Riders On The Storm

Dr Hook – Spirit In The Sky

Eagles – Desperado / Take It To The Limit

ELO – Don’t Bring Me Down / Love Is Like Oxygen

Elton John – Blue Eyes / I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues / Tiny Dancer

EMF – You’re Unbelievable

Eric Carmen – All By Myself / Hungry Eyes

Eric Clapton – Knockin On Heaven’s Door

Eurythmics – Here Comes The Rain Again / It’s Alright / Love Is A Stranger / Sisters Are Doin It For Themselves

Falco – Rock Me Amadeus / Vienna Calling

Fatboy Slim – Praise You / Right Here Right Now

Five For Fighting – Superman

Foreigner – That Was Yesterday / Waiting For A Girl Like You

Garbage – I Think I’m Paranoid

Gary Moore – Still Got The Blues

Gary Newman – Cars

Glenn Frey – The Heat Is On

Human League – Fascination

Idlewild – You Held The World In Your Arms Tonight

Iggy Pop – Real Wild Child / The Passenger

INXS – New Sensation / What You Need

Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower

Joan Armatrading – Drop The Pilot

John Mellencamp – Check It Out / Hurts So Good / Jack And Diane / Small Town

John Parr – St Elmo’s Fire

Kasabian – Club Foot

KC & The Sunshine Band – Baby Give It Up

Keane – Bedshaped

KLM – Doctor In The Tardis

Led Zepplin – Kashmir / Stairway To Heaven

Little River Band – Man On Your Mind

Lynard Skynyrd – Comin Home

Marc Cohen – Walking In Memphis

Matchbox 20 – Push / Real World

Metallica – No Leaf Clover

Michael Jackson – Shake Your Body / Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough / Rock With You / Can You Feel It / Beat It / Human Nature / Thriller / The Way You Make Me Feel / Dirty Diana / Leave Me Alone / You Rock My World

Mike & The Mechanics – All I Need Is A Miracle / I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight / Silent Running

Moby – Lift Me Up / Look Back In

Mr Mister – Broken Wings / Kyrie

Music – Take The Long Road And Walk It

Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World

Oasis – Do You Know What I Mean / So Sally Can Wait / Stop Crying Your Heart Out / Supersonic

OMD – Enola Gay

Once Soundtrack – Falling Slowly / If You Want Me / Leave / Lies / Trying To Pull Myself Away / When Your Mind’s Made Up

Otis Redding – Love Man

Pat Benetar – We Are Young

Patrick Hernandez – Born To Be Alive

Pearl Jam – Even Flow

Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers / In Your Eyes / Red Rain / Solsbury Hill

PJ Harvey – This Is Love

Placebo – Every You Every Me / Taste In Men

Pretenders – Spiritual High

Prince – Raspberry Beret

Puddle Of Mudd – Blurry

Queen – Flash Gordon / Radio Ga Ga / Who Wants To Live Forever

REM – What’s The Frequency, Kenneth / All The Way To Reno / Imitation Of Life

Richard Ashcroft – A Song For The Lovers / Check The Meaning

Richard Marx – Endless Summer Nights

Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl

Rolling Stones – Angie

Roxy Music – More Than This

Run Lola Run Soundtrack – Believe / Casino / Introduction / Running

Simple Minds – Waterfront

Simply Red – Sunrise

Smiths – Every Day Is Like Sundays / What Difference Does It Make

Stereophonics – Handbags And Gladrags

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel – Make Me Smile

Stevie Nicks – Desert Angel / Rooms On Fire / Sometimes It’s A Bitch / Talk To Me

Stranglers – Always The Sun / Walk On By

Suede – Animal Nitrate / Beautiful Ones / Trash

Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger

T Rex – Get It On

Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels / Laid So Low / Pale Shelter / Shout

Texas – Inner Smile

The Calling – Wherever You Will Go

The Muppets – Manamana

The Seekers – Morningtown Ride

Thin Lizzy – Don’t Believe A Word

Tina Turner – Better Be Good To Me / River Deep Mountain High

Tom Petty – Life Is A Highway / Refugee / Stop Draggin My Heart Around / Don’t Come Around Here No More / Free Fallin / Learning To Fly / Into The Great Wide Open / Waiting For Tonight

TV Theme – MacGyver / The A-Team

U2 – Beautiful Day / Mysterious Ways / The Unforgettable Fire

Van Halen – Why Can’t This Be Love

ZZ Top – Gimme All Your Loving / Sharp Dressed Man

Large MIG welder

Reasons I haven’t posted in the last few days:-

  1. A tragic event involving an aerial canine stunt, a loaded whisky glass and my keyboard. 

    Blame has been duly attributed to my Stepfather In Law, Agent of Death. It may have been my keyboard, but the whisky was under his supervision at the time. So, allegedly, was his dog. Looking on the bright side, there were no fatalities.

    The morning after the incident, the q, a, z, w, s, x, e, d, r, f and spacebar keys did not respond.

    Unlike my Compaq Evo, which once copped about three times as much pineapple juice, Husband’s attempts to wipe off the whisky with a squeegee were unsuccessful. Luckily, Husband had a spare keyboard and mouse in his wallet, so that I could continue . . .

  2. Finishing the second draft of ‘About Time’.

    My editor has been ridiculously patient, but I set myself a deadline to complete it by last Thursday. Since my first two deadlines were not wholly successful, I was determined to hit this one.

    I emailed the manuscript at 11:40pm after working on it all day (plus most of the previous year).

    Three seconds later, I received an out of office notifier from my editor. Bum!

    But at least I had it finished before setting off on . . .

  3. The road trip home with Husband, Dog, and a large MIG welder.

Stay tuned


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.


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

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

32 PSI

On Wednesday morning, Husband rang as I finished packing the car.

“How do you feel this morning?” he asked solicitously.

“Terrific!” I said.

“Right, pay attention,” said Husband. “We’ve been discussing how to get you and Jed to Oamaru, and we think the best way is to parachute you in-”

“I’m driving.”

“You’re joking,” said Husband.

“Nope. Little road trip. <Jed: come! Sit! Good boy!> Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a ferry to catch in eleven hours-”


“The eight o’clock. We’ll be with you sometime tomorrow.”

“But what about Jed?”

“He’s looking forward to it. <Jed: hup! Hup! GOOD BOY!>”

“Have you got food for him?”

“Course. Stacks of Tux, some dog sausage, half a cow carcass.”

“Is there enough money in the account-”


“Have you got music for the trip?”

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN YAY! Hey – how much air should I put in the tyres?”

“Niamhie, are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Absolutely. You’re so negative. Why are you denying my natural instinct? I was BORN to drive the open road.”

“What if you break down?”

“Eh, some bloke will probably stop.”

“I think you’re mad.”

“Get counseling.”

I mean, come on: it’s not as if New Zealand is that big. Why, it’s not even a fraction of the size of Australia. Well, obviously it is a fraction, but a very, very, very, very small one.

And we were off. We left the house at 09:30hrs, but only hit South Auckland at 11:00hrs after a pit stop to fill up on diesel and air.

I always underestimate the time it takes to get from Auckland to Wellington. Well, obviously, I have limited experience having only done it once before. The AA website estimates the distance from Auckland to Wellington as 658km, or 9 hours and 25 minutes – but they probably cater for the lowest common denominator i.e. tourists trying to locate the accelerator on a campervan. However, it’s a 40-minute drive from Henderson to Auckland Central, and the Interislander specifies check-in NO LATER THAN 1 HOUR PRIOR TO DEPARTURE TIME and they really sound quite snotty about it.

It was a foul day – driving rain. Luckily, I was prepared with Deadlyjelly’s Ultimate Road Mix, a solid foundation of Foreigner, the Erics Carmen and Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Crowded House, Matchbox 20, and Dire Straits, with a dash of Mister Mister and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

I obviously took full advantage of Bruce, since Husband has declared the house a rock-free zone. He makes the occasional exception for Bon Jovi, Van Halen and Aerosmith – really, any rock band that relies heavily on lamé and/or spandex. However, the soundtrack of our lives mainly comprises female artists that sound as if they are preparing a compilation for their own funeral.

Driving through Kaimanawa Forest Park south of Turangi, the rain retreated and mist drifted through the trees. Jed was inspired to blow raspberries out the back of the car. The Desert Road was bleak and beautiful.

Apart from a diesel stop in Waiouairouaeaou and the odd five minute break to stretch Jed’s legs, I pressed on. So you will appreciate my joy when I discovered a bar of chocolate Helen had abandoned in the center console. In that moment, I loved Helen in a romantic and entirely inappropriate way. Probably just as well she was not present.

In Hunterville, I pulled over to give my puppy a trot and he lifted his leg for the first time. I am not sure whether it was because I had been on the road too long, or I was tired, or because it was a gorgeous evening with late sun tinting the country with a sepia glow, but I got quite emotional thinking about my little dog growing up and how Husband was not there to see him balancing confidently on three legs.

Coming into Wellington, I called Husband and asked him to book me on the 20:00hrs ferry that left in 45 minutes. The Interislander had closed Internet and phone bookings, but there was plenty of space when I rolled up to the check in booth. The Hilux Surf was the only car, dwarfed on all sides by articulated lorries.

Dinner was a smoked salmon sandwich I had purchased in a BP Connect in Paraparaumu. I had prepared a description of my falsely advertised soggy sandwich featuring the faintest trace of salmon flavour. In fact, it was a superb and supremely salmonly sandwich and I am hard pressed to recall a more satisfying meal. I will also seriously consider serving up Bluebird crisps for dessert the next time we have guests.

Although I was prepared for it, in the end Husband ensured I did not spend an intensely unerotic night sharing the boot with my dog

Official portrait: Road Trip 2008


Biker chic

Two weeks ago, Husband bought himself a roadbike.

It would have been an impulse buy, but for the fact that he has coveted a road bike for the last 10 years. He started lobbying early in our relationship, but there was no way I would let him loose on a motorbike on the Middle Eastern roads.

Upon our return to New Zealand, Husband resurrected the campaign, with new tactics including begging, whining and/or pleading: “Aw, aw, aw, come on Niamhie! We can pick up a bike for just a couple of thousand dollars, and – hey, I know! – we can sell it after summer for three times as much.”

“What’s this ‘we’ all about?”

A few weeks ago, he called me into his office.

“Look, here Niamhie,” he said hyper-casually, but it did not escape my attention that his keyboard was festooned in drool.


“This motorbike,” he said, pointing at a listing on Tradme. “Seller’s just put a ‘Buy Now’ on it.”


“Seems like good value.”

“Right, but it’s a couple thousand dollars more than we wanted to spend.”

“Yeah, but it’s REALLY good value.”

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked, peering at the bike. It looked nice. Grey, two wheels, quite shiny, the CUTEST little side mirrors.

“Well . . . nothing, apparently. It seems in pretty good nick. And similar models are going for three times that much.”

I didn’t believe him because Husband’s existence is based on an alternative reality. But in this particular reality, he appeared to be correct.

“What do you think?” he said, quivering with tension.

“I don’t know! What do YOU think?”

“I don’t know. What do you-”

“Look, do you want the bike?”

“Oh yes,” he slavered.

“How much do you want it?”

“This much <holding his arms out wide (NB bear in mind he uses the span of his fingers to demonstrate how much he loves me)>”

“Well then . . . do it.”

“Ok! I’m going to DO IT!” he shouted, hand twitching the mouse. The cursor hovered over ‘Buy Now’.

“Go on, I dare you! Do it!”


So he did. The deal was closed within three minutes of his showing me the listing. A big, fat smile took over Husband’s face; he rolled his chair away from the desk and roared: “PAHAHAHA!”

He was so chuffed with himself, I couldn’t help feel a bit of that too. Especially when I can call it a Christmas present and come across as a top-class wife. Seriously, we are both winners.

Husband collected his Honda VFR800 the following day. Further inspection showed it to be in extremely ‘good nick’, according to the official terminology. The seller had purchased it two years before for $6000 and felt he had made a fair deal. After updating the listing with a ‘Buy Now’ option, he said he went to fix a cup of tea and returned to find it sold.

A couple of days later I bought a helmet, and Husband talked me into biking across to the beach at Piha. For the first time in my life, I was viscerally aware of the fact that motorbikes have no seatbelts.

Husband provided cryptic instruction:-

1. Always announce when you’re getting on/off the pillion
2. Lean WITH the bike when going around corners
3. Don’t put your face next to the exhaust pipe
4. Try not to puke in your helmet

I am determined to be absolutely supportive of Husband in sharing his passion, so in particular I took #2 seriously.

Me: Have you ever had a better leaner?

Husband: You’re pretty good for a novice, all right

Me: What are you talking about: novice? I have an innate, instinctive talent that needs no training

Now, I’m not sure who suggested it: Husband or me or The Drink. But somewhere along the line, we decided to bike down to the Outlaws in South Island for Christmas.

I have to admit, it seemed like a much better idea two weeks ago. In fact, when it was first conceived, there are not words to describe what an amazingly outrageously tremendously fantabulous idea it was – which can definitely be attributed to drink, specifically margaritas. We were embarking on a wonderful adventure, a Road Trip with merry japes involving missed turns,  exploding livestock, rustic weirdos, and awkward yet hilarious situations involving nudity.

We got kitted out with padded waterproof jackets and tear resistant jeans. We considered buying panniers, but the permanent lockable ones cost too much considering we weren’t – correction: I wasn’t – sure how often we would use the bike for long-distance road trips in the future. Especially if this one involved lots of nudity. In the end, we mailed 5kg of clothes to South Island for $7.50.

As the date approached, Brian was a marvelous source of comfort. “What you’ve got to understand,” he said, “is if you ride a motorbike you’re eventually going to have an accident. Most of the time it’s just a small thing: you break a few bones, burst a kidney or two. No big deal.”

Husband attended a series of lectures I conducted entitled: ‘Motorbikes: Health and Safety’. I sensed the prevalence of his father’s genes in Husband’s response: “Look Niamhie, most accidents are caused by other drivers. They either don’t see you or . . . well, most of the time they don’t see you. So if we do have an accident, it will be someone else’s fault.”

So that’s what I’ll be focusing on as I try to retrieve my head from under a lorry. I’m sure it will make me feel much better about the situation.

The great day dawned and we set off at 07:00hrs (although we had to go back to turn off the gas). We were on Motorway 1 by 07:30.

Half an hour later, I had a splitting headache, but realized it was just my singing – which was easy enough to fix. Burping was also quite unpleasant depending on the flavour. It certainly put me off puking in my helmet (even more).

Husband stopped every hour or so to allow me to creakily alight from the bike and stretch my legs.

I would be lying if I said I enjoyed the first day. In fact, I spent most of the trip composing Husband’s eulogy (which is very lovely and really brings across Husband’s integrity and wicked sense of mischief. I moved myself to tears a couple of times, as much for my noble stoicism in delivering it with melted bits of fuel-tank embedded in my skin instead of arms/legs).

Husband had acquired a pair of Bluetooth headsets for us to use as intercoms/MP3 players. The intercom didn’t work over 20kph, which was largely crap because Husband only ever attains 20kph at warp acceleration.

The MP3 player was also substandard; at high speeds all you can hear is random snatches of cymbal-based percussion. Admittedly, it is fun guessing what song is playing at any given time. Husband said he was belting out Billy Idol when he slowed down for a town and found he was actually singing along to Clannad.

I was a bit concerned about how my bum would withstand the trip. Never again will I moan about flobber-arse – or at least, not when I’m astride a motorbike. Once, upon alighting, I thought I had sprained a cheek. It was a tense moment, but turned out to be a temporarily malfunctioning glute.

I had more problems with my cranium and knees. The helmet exerted skull-crushing pressure on my head. I also developed pains in knee joints after a quarter hour squatting on the back of a bike. These things were generally manageable as long as we stopped regularly.

We caught the 18:00hrs ferry and stayed overnight in the Sequoia Lodge in Picton. We fell into bed at 22:00 and slept right through until 06:30 the next morning.

The second day was much more enjoyable. It is hardly a relaxing experience, but you see much more on motorbike: ‘Disco Dan’s caravan with the glitter ball jiving in the back window; the woman collecting her mail in emerald satin pyjamas; ‘Blazing Paddles’ canoe club; the guy in running shorts doing squat thrusts. And it all feels more REAL – which admittedly was not so great with the guy in the shorts.

Sometimes when writing, I am guilty of compromising modesty for artistic integrity. Well, not this time: I was a MODEL passenger. Husband said that sometimes going around a corner, he would come across a bump and need to adjust his line, but it was difficult picking the bike up because I was swinging off the back by the toes, in a world-class yoga-style lean.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s his problem if he can’t choose the optimal cornering route to begin with.

He also bitched about my flashy dismount (I swing wide in a modified cartwheel to land with arms outstretched). Considering my willingness to balance precariously on a charging motorbike, it’s fair to say some people are NOT ONLY never happy, they are also ENTIRELY UNGRATEFUL.

Unaware that we were traveling by bike, Mother-In-Law had put an order in for raspberries. Just outside Oamaru we stopped for a punnet/chip, which Husband lashed to the top of the rucksack. It flew off somewhere en route. It still makes me giggle to think of a driver copping a kilo of raspberries across the windscreen.

It was one of the most intensely uncomfortable experiences of my life, yet strangely exhilarating; and I am so grateful to Husband for this new experience

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