The deadliest, jelliest site ever. Brought to you by Niamh Shaw

Posts tagged ‘te anau’

The Ferret

Eric Batchelor

Since Eric died last week, he’s been at the front of my thoughts. I’ve been meaning to write about him and putting it off, because although I only came to know Eric relatively recently, I loved him.

His death shouldn’t have come as a shock because Eric was ill and increasingly frail, but still I can’t quite believe he’s gone; that we’ll never again see him sitting in the living room, leaning on his cane and hanging his hand out to pat whatever member of the pack was slinking by, or chipping into a conversation with a sly joke and knowing grin.

Eric and Thurza were the first members of Andrew’s family I ever met 10 years ago. It was my first trip to New Zealand as Andrew’s honorary girlfriend; we flew into Christchurch and stayed overnight with Eric and Thurza on the way to Te Anau.

They were impeccable hosts; more importantly, for me, they unconditionally welcomed and accepted me into the family. Thurza plied us with unbelievable quantities of food, and the following day we set off with a back seat full of the choicest picks from Eric’s garden (although regrettably not my underwear).

Over the course of the years, I heard of Eric’s wartime exploits second-hand. Eric himself rarely referred to it; I always got the impression that Eric would have chosen the thick of a battlefield over the centre of attention. It was only in the last few years that Eric talked about the war, but only if pressed with a bottle of vintage port.

It was almost impossible for me to reconcile the hero who surprised a German stronghold and captured 30 of the enemy accompanied by only three other members of his troop (“There was a bit of a fight”), with the unassuming self-effacing man I knew. In the normal course of life, most of us are never called to test the extreme boundaries of our courage. Perhaps without the awards bestowed on Eric by his country, I might never have suspected that side of him.

After Eric’s funeral however, Craig reminisced about his father and a more detailed picture came into focus; of  a born soldier who loved the army but his family more, an extraordinary man who opted for an ordinary life, someone who had an absolute morality and stark sense of justice yet kept his instinct for fun close.

One of my favourite war stories involves how, towards the end, Eric captured an extremely young German soldier, who was distraught. Eric – no doubt little older than the boy – arrived back at camp leading him by the hand.

That humanity was always evident.

We will miss him.

Waimate Cemetary

Reusable dental flossing device

An incident recently reminded me of the first time I met my In-Laws, about seven-eight years ago.

I was understandably nervous. I really REALLY wanted Husband’s family to like me. Correction: I wanted to leave them in no doubt as to why Husband was completely besotted with me, and even experience a little of that lovin feelin themselves, although preferably platonically and largely internally.

Husband granted me maximum exposure to his family. We stayed overnight with his grandparents, Thursa and Eric, on the way to Te Anau; then spent three weeks with Agent of Death and Her Goatiness. I wasn’t sure I achieved full lovin feelin (see above), but I thought I passed. Maybe I tried a bit too hard. No harm in that.

A month after we returned to Dubai, Husband called me from work.

“There’s a parcel here for you,” he said. “Looks like it’s from my mother.”

“For me?” I said. “Oh no, I don’t think so. It must be for you.”

“No, it’s got your name on it.”

I was overwhelmed. WOW! I thought. I must have made a GREAT impression! She must really like me! Although: sending gifts to your son’s girlfriend? Hmm, was that a bit desperate and possibly hinting of codependency? I’d have to watch out for her.

At the same time, I was intrigued. When Husband arrived home, I charged him as he walked in the door and seized the package. It was small and yielded when I squeezed it. It could have been wrapped more elegantly, but I wouldn’t hold it against the woman. A gift is a gift.

I shredded off the tape and paper. It was a pair of knickers. I was confounded. I mean, they were nice knickers – Calvin Klein knickers – good choice – but still. It struck me as a rather eccentric present. And they were rather skimpy – all lacy and see-through. What was the woman trying to say?

Then I realized, they looked familiar. Were they – hang on – oh no! My god, NO! They were MINE!

According to the informative note accompanying the underwear, I left the knickers under the bed at Thursa and Eric’s house. I had visions of Thursa holding them up, going: “But where’s this string supposed to go? There . . . there’s no bottom bit. Eric, I declare this underwear to be the work of satan.”

Thursa sent them to Agent of Death and Her Goatiness, but the package arrived after we left. This time, my over-active imagination has Agent of Death roaring: “Goat Mistress, the light shines right through these. In my opinion, I don’t know why she’d bother wearing knickers at all!”

These days, I am exceedingly careful where I air my underwear

One of my finest moments

A friend of The Real Outlaws’ offered to take us out on Lake Te Anau in his boat this morning. The plan was to moor at the other side of the lake and take a trek up river to do some fishing.

I was not heartened by the blokes – packing their waders – advising me that I should expect to get my boots wet. In my opinion, there are very few sports that merit the sacrifice of toasty feet, and I’m just not that keen an angler yet. So I was pretty dubious. And the morning would have given a polar bear acute hypothermia. I was packed in six layers, daintily garnished with a scarf, hat and gloves – but the cold was still nibbling my bone marrow.

On my fourth cast, I got my lure caught under a rock.

Bafflingly, the men seemed to seize upon any opportunity to leap into sub-zero waters, as illustrated by a fishing trip two days ago where Andrew got wet up to his ARMPITS. (The theory appears to be that the greater the suffering, the better the experience – a bit like Catholicism, although perhaps more sensible). Anyway, discarding shoes and socks, I made a futile attempt to retrieve my lure, giving up when the water lapped playfully at my groin.

It was half an hour before I could feel my toes again – and only a painful tingle now and then at that.

The Goat Mistress and I left the real men to their crotch-dampening experiences, and made our arid way up river through The Bush. I was suffering a confidence crisis, having lost one lure and snagged my replacement several times. In fact, I had not had any luck during our fishing trips in Te Anau – I’d got to the stage where I didn’t even know whether I’d recognise a fish chomping away on the end of my line. Agent of Death liked to say I was their “Jonah” (as in: “You’re our bladdy Jonah, you are”).

Obviously, I came back strongly, accusing him of pawning me off with a substandard fishing reel (it squeaked) and crappy mono-chromatic lures. But internally, I was seriously questioning my whole angling career.

And then along came Trevor.

We were kicking our way through a particularly overgrown section of Bush, when The Goat Mistress said, “Oh, there might be a good fishing pool here,” and inexplicably set off punching her way through a great mass of impenetrable foliage.

“Oh shite not again,” I thought, but figured I’d better humour my Mother-In-Law.

“Look, that might be a good bet,” said The Goat Mistress, teetering on the brink of a short bank above a nondescript pool.

“Try in there,” she said, settling herself comfortably on the bank.

Well, I hadn’t got a lot else on at the time, so I resignedly unhooked my lure and made a couple of half-hearted casts into the pool. Agent of Death says if you’re going to catch a fish it will be within the first six casts. I was on the sixth and more concerned with how to suggest to The Goat Mistress that we find a big rock to sit on and contemplate lunch, when there was a tension on the line and, “Oh bugger,” I thought with a sinking feeling, “I’ve caught the bloody lure in the tree.”

I didn’t fancy wading in to unhook the damn thing – but wait! Was that a tug I felt?

“I think… I think I might have caught something,” I said to The Goat Mistress incredulously. “No… yes… no… yes, yes it might be… it might be… a FISH!”

I was trying to reel in the line and having some problems; the rod was jerking all over the show.

“Where is it?” The Goat Mistress shouted.

And then next thing, this WHALE broke the surface of the water. “Look!” I screamed, and tried to point, but the reel went berserk, so I figured I’d better keep a grip on it.

“Help! Help!” shrieked The Goat Mistress, presumably trying to attract the attention of The Real Men, of whom there was no sign. They were probably balancing on a rock somewhere in the deepest, fastest-flowing section of river.

“What do I do?” I bawled at poor Goat Mistress, whose only advice at that point was: “Keep the tup down! Keep the tup down!”

After further urgent exchanges, The Goat Mistress and I agreed that the best course of action would be to wear Trevor out.

“Give him his head when he struggles, and reel him in when he’s tired,” muttered The Goat Mistress, staring intently with narrowed eyes at the last place Trevor had been spotted.

Well, it was a long hard battle and I had no idea what I was doing. The hook must have been embedded fairly deep in poor Trevor’s mouth, because I gave him every opportunity to wriggle away to snap at minnows another day.

Eventually, after several minutes cursing and hauling, Trevor was within spitting distance of the bank and Goat Mistress’s patience snapped. Disregarding all consideration of dry feet, she splashed into the water, punched Trevor on the nose, grabbed him by the tail and hauled him up on the bank, where she kicked him – really fairly viciously – in the head.

The woman has a lot of latent aggression.

The hook was indeed wedged far down Trevor’s throat. Now, I’ve always baulked at the thought of extracting a lure from a fish’s mouth, but I exceeded all expectations (mine) by using a hunting knife to pick the hook out of Trevor’s gob.

Next thing, with remarkably good timing – for us – the Real Men appeared on the horizon, complete with soggy crotches and buckets of no fish.

“Hold it up by the gills!” hissed The Goat Mistress – which I did, ignoring the blood and general ick factor – “Not over the water!” As if Trevor hadn’t been busy negotiating the turbulent waters of the Pearly Gates for the last five minutes.

“Look what we got!” we sang, and I waved Trevor at The Real Men. Trevor, the great big hairy-arse brown trout, 5lbs of him (according to Agent of Death’s official weighing scales).

The Real Men looked soggily sullen.

Later, I was obliged to gut Trevor, which was a traumatic affair. My lying, cheating, no-good, low-down husband of mine said: “Don’t worry, Agent of Death’ll do most of it.” So we went out to the back of the truck, where Agent of Death stood fingering his hunting knife.

Freddy Kreuger could take lessons in horror from this man.

“Right,” said Agent of Death, when he’d pressed the knife into my trembling hand. “First, hold him upside down. UPSIDE DOWN. Yep, like that. Now, stick the point of the knife in his pie-‘ole.”

“Er, excuse me,” I said uncertainly. “His pie-‘ole?”

“The shitter,” said Agent of Death succinctly. He pointed.

“You’re kidding, aren’t you?” I asked, trying to keep the gag-reflex under control.

Agent of Death just sniggered, evilly.

“Oh, Trevor!” I lamented soundlessly.

And so I gutted poor Trevor, Agent of Death insisting on inspecting his stomach contents – “Ooh look! What’s this? He’s been a hungry boy.”

From the state of his kidneys I’d say Trevor might’ve had a bit of a drink problem, although otherwise, he was apparently in good condition. Light pink flesh – allegedly indicating a healthy diet of crustaceans.

Despite a shower and nail-inspection, I still have most of Trevor’s entrails under my finger-nails

Tag Cloud