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Posts tagged ‘weather’

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.

Totally ignoring any double entendre

When Jed and I left the house this morning it wasn’t raining.

That changed.

At times I could barely see the trees at the verge of the road, although that may have been because my glasses were streaming. I was soaked through. Although sectors of me were humidly warm, my extremities were swollen and numb. My hair was plastered to my skull, apart from the occasional strand whipping me across the face. I was experiencing rising anxiety about how permeable my mobile phone was.

Halfway to Hakahaka Bay, Sheriff and The Bunqueen pulled up beside me. Sheriff wound down the window. Their car was warm; they looked dry and toasty and strikingly sane.

“You going to Picton?” I mumbled through blue lips.

“Hell, yeah; it’s Sunday! We’re going to get the papers and read them over coffee.”

Then they were gone in a puff of damp exhaust fumes.

I was just reflecting upon whether my cotton pants could feasibly retain any more water, allied with how much my life completely sucked, when I got a text from Husband: ‘Fancy a pickup?’

At that moment, I viscerally understood the meaning of true love.

Although it was another ten minutes before my life stopped sucking.

Destiny’s grand design

We woke up to blazing sunshine yesterday, so decided to venture out to Riverhead with the mountain bikes.

“It’s going to rain, though,” predicted Andrew gloomily.

I ignored him, because:

a) Husband is a pessimist who often asserts things with no basis in reality or the NZ Met service; and
b) we’ve been together nearly 12 years (look, it would be virtually IMPOSSIBLE to pay attention to EVERYTHING that comes out of the man’s mouth) (although barf always gets my attention)

While I organised coffee to go, snacks, finances and dog balls, Andrew loaded the bikes on the back of the car.

As we trundled down the drive, tiny pricks of rain settled almost imperceptibly on the windscreen. Along Mountain Road it started drizzling in earnest, intensifying to rain with a definite spatter effect up Candia Road. By the time we reached Swanson, it looked like a blizzard outside.

We pulled up outside The Station Café and made a dash for it across the carpark; me with a couple of old magazines clamped to my head, Andrew using the dog to shield himself from the driving rain. Sitting miserably moist and lightly steaming over a couple of coffees, we agreed there was no point biking.

Driving home, the rain eased up, the sun sullenly emerged from behind the bank of clouds and, by the time we pulled into our drive, the elements were entirely agreeable. So we could have gone biking after all.

Evidently, the cosmos had other plans for Husband and me.

These plans being investigating the leaking differential on the Hilux, and lying on the sofa reading respectively.

Depressing that destiny’s plans for us are so pedestrian.

Hopalong

Today I wore shorts.

Far from being a grand gesture to welcome summer with open arms and double helpings of cellulite, I was thinking more along the lines of saving a pair of trousers getting drenched and slathered in mud. But hey, at least it was warm enough to wear shorts. In fact, doing jumping jacks while sprinting up the road, it was almost TOO warm.

So I set out to terrify woodland creatures and inflict psychological damage on my dog. Jed was so traumatised by the spectacle that he occasionally mistook my leg for a stick. Evidently a particularly large, squashy stick that emitted nuclear quantities of fluorescent energy.

For the last two days, dog-walking duty has fallen on me, since Husband sprained his ankle. Nothing exciting like commando-rolling through a plate glass window, or trying to execute a complex move in a sexually charged tango with a fat French double agent. No, I’m afraid it was all rather mundane. He was out walking. I like to think he’s talking it down. E.g. maybe he was attacked by a crazed squirrel, or fell down a pit lined with wooden stakes?

One way or another, that’s his Olympic dream in tatters.

He couldn’t have timed it better. Not only has the weather been savage, but the height of his recuperation coincided with rubbish relocation. Even I didn’t have the heart to send an injured man off down the drive with the rubbish, when every second step elicited a raw scream of pain compressed into an anguished grunt.

Husband is still lurching around the house and his trousers keep falling down around his knees. I’m not sure how this is related to spraining his ankle, but it must be. Unless you believe in coincidence. Which I don’t.

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:-

Nocturnal habits of North Otago

Mother-In-Law has no clothes dryer and only one set of bed linen. Therefore, laundering the sheets is conditional on the weather.

She is specific about her requirements: light south westerly, bright sunshine, little to no cloud cover, 32+degrees, and a cast-iron guarantee that the given conditions will persist to late afternoon. She has to make her decision before 7am, because her washing machine takes about five hours for a cycle due to low water pressure.

I suppose she must wash her sheets about once a year.

In Oamaru yesterday, I passed a shop with a bargain bin full of bedlinen. Standing out amidst a truly startling selection of blood-quickening bedwear, was a set of royal-blue satin queen-sized bedsheets.

Did I mention they were satin?

They were.

Satin.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised with a certainty and conviction atypical for me, that royal-blue satin queen-sized bedsheets were the only possible way to express my keen appreciation and gratitude to the Outlaws for putting me up for the last x months weeks.

I took the sheets – secured with a matching satin ribbon – inside to pay.

“Aren’t they LOVELY?” enquired the saleswoman.

“Um,” I mumbled, humbled by her sincerity. “What, the sheets? Er, yes! Yes, indeed.”

“Was it the colour that caught your eye?”

“Oh yes, it really stood out,” I said, grabbing my purchase and making a run for it.

I called into a newsagents a few doors down to see if I could buy some matching wrapping paper. There was nothing bright enough – but I got something else.

“Is there any chance I could wrap this here?” I asked, reluctantly setting the sheets on the counter.

“Oh, my! Aren’t those GORGEOUS?” breathed the saleswoman.

I can only conclude the good denizens of Oamaru all sleep on bright blue satin sheets – or at least aspire to it

A life of privilege

Mum: Will you ever stop scratching your arse against that heater?

Me: N-n-no. This house is f-f-freezing. It’s bordering on ch-child abuse.

Mum: Will you ever go and put some more feckin jumpers on ya.

Me: I’m w-w-wearing them all. D-don’t have any m-more.

Mum: I could lend you a vest.

Me: <look of slowly dawning horror>

Me: I would rather die of hypothermia.

Mum: For fecks’ sake! Will you ever toughen up! And stop wrecking my head! When I was a girl, we were so cold we were practically crippled with chilblains. We didn’t have ‘radiators’, just baked potatoes. We used to walk four miles to school, barefoot through the snow-

Me: Well, you’re lucky you’re hardy. I, on the other hand, was born into a life of privilege-

Mum: GAH!

Freezing point: higher than you might think

This country is f-f-f-free-hee-heezing.

There has been no circulation in my nose for two weeks now.

At present, I am stretched out on the floor of the living room, trying to press as much of my body length as possible against the heater. I hope nobody comes in, because it looks suspiciously like I’m attempting to shag the radiator. Except that I’m fully, in fact possibly over-clothed; and instead of counting the cracks in the ceiling, I’m typing on my laptop.

Every morning, I wake up lightly chilled. I pull the bedclothes higher, tucking them around my neck to create a vacuum against the outside world. Then I wrap my arms around my torso and tuck my feet into my armpits. I’m more flexible than I thought.

After half an hour of fruitless, soulless, yearning for warmth, I can’t delay getting up any longer. Mentally bracing myself, I fight off the duvet and three blankets, scramble over the cold hot-water-bottle, and make a desperate dash for the bathroom – specifically, the wall-mounted fan heater.

[Wait a minute – Radiator and I are shifting position. Mmm baby you’re so hot.]

Since leaving the UK ten years ago I have spent little time in Ireland. Husband and I were here for Christmas 2002, but I didn’t notice the temperature because I was fuelled with mulled wine.

As for my formative years in Limerick, I tend to view my upbringing with anti-rose-tinted glasses. I seemed to spend an awful lot of time trying to locate the ‘nuclear’ setting on my electric blanket, or huddled miserably in front of a fan heater, or wondering whether purple was my natural lip colour.

Now I can confirm: it really was that cold

My country

Of all the countries I’ve lived or visited, I love Ireland best. Perhaps I always will.

Of course, I am shamelessly biased. Partly I find comfort in the familiar; or it may have something to do with the smell. That is what first hit me fresh off the plane at Kerry Airport; specifically, the bucolic bouquet of sheep shit.

I have always likened New Zealand to Ireland (or the other way round, according to your allegiance), but the Kiwi landscape, although similar to Ireland, has more style and glamour. It has a better frame: the mountains are higher; the valleys are lower; the lakes are deeper; the sea a keener blue.

Yet Ireland has a shabby charm that will always endear me. There are still roads the Ordnance Survey classifies as B-grade, which are barely tarmacadamed tracks fortified with grass. You expect to round a corner and find a pipe-smoking countrywoman churning butter. Farms are commonly delineated by hedgerows.

But it is the interplay of weather and light that casts a unique spell. The good days are beautiful, but the changeable days are magic. If you don’t believe in leprechauns, banshees and fairies, you can understand the origins of the mythology. When the elements can’t decide what to do, they just throw the whole lot at you.

Apparently, the Irish summer has been terrible. The weather brings out a touch of the obsessive compulsive in the Irish, so every time they’ve spoken to me over the last few months, my parents have bemoaned it at length.

“The weather is pure bitter,” my mother would say in grief-stricken tones. “Feckin rain. We had a day there – Tuesday – or, it could have been Sunday – and the sun came out for three hours in the morning. No, now that I think about it – wait – it was the afternoon. And I think it was Monday. That was it; that was our summer. Three feckin hours long.”

When I arrived in Ireland last week, I refused to believe them.

“You brought the sunshine with you,” said my mother, darkly. “It won’t last, mark my words.”

Well, given the country’s reputation, her prediction was safe enough. After three days of stuttering sunshine, it has been inclement.

Shortly after I arrived, Danny and I walked up to Curraghmore Lake from the Black Valley. The Black Valley lakes were still underneath a moody sky. It remained grim until we reached the lake, when the sun illuminated great tracts of surrounding landscape. We watched the scudding clouds buffet the sun, but it never quite managed to reach us.

Two days ago, I stood on top of a hill in a sun shower, looking out on billowing veils of rain to the north and bright sunshine to the west, bound by a full rainbow.

If these photos don’t speak a thousand words, I apologise for the photographer’s incompetence.

Blackberries

24 September – blackberry pickers stalk their prey

Star blackberry eater

25 September – gatepost near Bunane Bridge

Church at Bunane. Composition inspired by The Incredible Di Mackey

B-grade road: the pass between Lackabane and Castle Rock

26 September – as we drove into the Black Valley, Danny said: “Look! What’s that?” And there on top of a ridge, a horse was silhouetted against the sky. We expected it to rear up on its hind legs and let forth a terrible neigh that would spread terror into the hearts of horse and human alike. But it just nibbled on some rock and then wandered off to stand on another

The Black Valley, Lough Cumeenduff from the south road

Danny foraging for doughnuts at Curraghmore

Curraghmore Mountain hogs the sun

1 October – Old Kenmare Road after rainfall; coming out of Torc Forest

Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, from the Old Kenmare Road

On the Kerry Way looking north, to the east of Windy Gap

Aggressive roots

Last Friday morning, we were woken by shafts of sunlight playing with our toes. Inspired by a discussion with MarkJ during dinner the previous night, I suggested we take the mountain bikes out to Woodhill.

We dressed in a high state of excitement (NB: similar effect can also be achieved by the removal of clothes), fixed coffee and packed the bikes in the car. By the time we opened the garage door, it was driving rain.

“Maybe the sun is shining in Woodhill,” I suggested optimistically.

By the time we got to Swanson, the rain had increased in gusto and tempo, with the introduction of a swirling fog effect. Contrary to my parents’ example, I do not give up in the face of adversity. However, I do give up in the face of Husband refusing to drive any further and/or the prospect of wet feet. So we bought coffee and went home.

The following day, we relaunched the expedition. Woodhill is a 40 minute drive west along the #16, then left onto Restall Road. In addition to over 100km of bike trails, there is an obstacle course, motorbike track, horse trails, and orienteering.

We didn’t want to advertise our novice status – the aggressive wobble I employ to propel my bike is sufficient – so we started with a 12km intermediate track. The paths are fully maintained, sand-based woodland trails, with jumps along the way. I dodged these, since I had my work cut out avoiding advancing tree roots.

[Image robbed from someone without their permission]

Each jump is allocated a level of difficulty. Husband tried a few according to a selection process I couldn’t decipher. He acts like it’s all just so ho-hum, but he always waits until I am in the vicinity before embarking on his arial stunts. What cracks me up is that the only time he ever checks to see whether I’m looking is after he flobbles or falls off.

For jumps – or even descending a sharp step – apparently the trick is to dismiss instinct and/or common sense and perform a wheelie just prior to hitting the descent. In theory, this raises the front wheel until the back wheel launches; then both wheels return to the ground simultaneously. Otherwise, if the riser is too sharp, there is a risk that when your front wheel drops the rider flies over the handlebars.

I’m still studying this theory.

Just before the carpark I hit a patch of soft sand negotiating a corner. The front wheel dug in and I involuntarily abandoned my bike and slid into the carpark on my chin. Now I have a fat, lopsided chin; a hole in my lip where I stabbed it with a tooth; and an impressive array of bruises and grazes down my right leg.

But I can’t WAIT to do it all again

Sniffing the highlighter pen

This was the view out the bedroom window this morning. I’m not sure whether the image fully captures just how WET it is. Does it? Odd that the raindrops the size of teabags didn’t come out in the photo.

There’s something wrong with my Internet connection which, by association, means my landline is poked. Internet access is erratic yet manageable, but when Husband called me last night there was a 7 second delay on the line and it sounded like he had been sniffing the highlighter pen. I mean, maybe he had, but it would be a new development.

Husband spent 40 minutes before he got through to Slingshot‘s advancedly useless customer support. I would have called them, because there are times when nothing beats banging your head off a brick wall, but of course my phone doesn’t work and mobile coverage here is non existent at the best of times. It will take Slingshot up to 48 hours to address the issue, presumably because they’re run off their feet ignoring customers

Proof of sun

I wanted to post this earlier, but YouTube took an active dislike to my browser cache and refused to reflect thumbnails. Sorry about the detour into geekland there. Click here or on the link below to access the video.

Small, drowning mammals

Fitz and Belle arrived yesterday for a five day holiday to see a bit of the country. Unfortunately, little of the country has been visible through the mist, fog, cloud and swirling rain.

About the only sensible response was to drink plenty of alcohol, which we duly did. Husband is presently lying in bed moaning, and I’m trying to remain optimistic that Fitz and Belle are still alive. The only noises I can hear are multiple plops and small drowning mammals. And the occasional chilling moan.

We will probably aim for the same effect for the remaining days of Fitz and Belle’s visit – although we will be trying to minimise the moaning

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