If you can imagine….

  1. A blotchy swimming thing over your right eye which seems to get in the way of everything
  2. Celine Dion screeching in one of your ears
  3. Phil Collins screeching in the other
  4. They are both howling out ‘Macarthur Park’ on endless loop
  5. A bandsaw cutting through your brain
  6. Vague nausea
  7. Very bad forgetfulness
…then you can imagine a migraine, or at least, what mine was like last week. 
It’s gone now.  
I don’t miss it. 

What I Done In My Holidays

Back from Holiday.

Arthurs Pass.

Lots of Photos, starting on the way in on the train.

Including this awesome photo of a scenic rail tunnel.

Slogged up to Carroll Hut above Otira.

Now, this was bloody fantastic even if the walk up, straight up 700 metres with a fully laden pack (3 days’ food on board) did remind me I’m now well into the middle aged bracket and seriously need to lose about 25kg from around the midriff. The old fuselage is not as streamlined as it once was.

Got woken around midnight the second night by the kiwis. Nice.

As the guy at Arthurs Pass DOC centre commented when I told him on my return: “Isn’t it bloody typical? We go to all that trouble to get the kiwi numbers back up and the little sods keep you awake at night.”

Walked up to Kelly Hill – just over 1400 metres above sea level. There’s a wrecked TVNZ repeater up there – last winter’s storms stuffed it and TVNZ isn’t replacing it: instead they’re telling the 55 residents in Arthurs Pass to sign up to Freeview.

The site – which along with the TVNZ repeater has Telecom and Vodafone masts – looks like something out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Not, unfortunately, the Castle Anthrax scene.

Feat Don’t Fail Me Now…

I have a self-compiled CD called ‘The Real Seventies (and none of that disco crap) and this track leads off:

It’s a CD I often put on when I’m packing for a tramping trip, as I have been this arvo.

Very relevant to my own current preoccupations, Cactus Kate has a piece on why she won’t be going tramping.

I don’t mind the walking part, what I do mind is staying in shitty accommodation, having to carry things on your back, eating bad food, not being able to shower, blisters on feet, smelly and wet clothes and sleeping bags.

And the problem is?

Tramping is supposed to hurt, dammit. But in a good way.

Oswald Bastable has joined in the debate here

And he’s right, in a way: any fool can rough it. It’s just a lot of them shouldn’t.

I admit I got into tramping for all the usual idealistic reasons: the great outdoors, New Zealand’s magnificent wide open spaces, and the chance to walk in those great wide open spaces with sturdy, fit young women in shorts.

But now I’m more settled there is something grounding about the whole thing and I like it even more than I used to, although the trips are very different these days. A cynic would say I’m trying to recapture my youth, but this isn’t the case for a number of reasons, one being I have no desire to recapture my youth.

I let that bugger go into the wild a long time ago and I think natural predators have done their bit by now. And a good thing too.

The other being I’m not attempting anything like the trips I did back in the good-in-parts old days. This trip is going up to Arthurs Pass and doing day-walks, not the seven and eight day trips of the past. Leisurely, rather than frantic, something-to-prove trips are now more my style.

Mind you, I did some of those leisurely ones at Uni too. Married someone I met on one of them.

Anyway, this trip: some nice photos, some books to read if the weather turns foul, as is appears is fairly likely.

Message to China: Glenfiddich is the best whisky ever…

...so buy a lot.

Right now.

Forget that silly Lagavulin stuff.

In fact, you can drop all the Lagavulin you’ve been buying up of late onto the NZ market.

We’ll take it off your hands, no worries.

The reason for this message to the emerging world economic super-power and general saviour of our dairy price, as well as probable future funder of current account deficits for the Y Generation….is something I learned this morning.

I’ve been trying to get hold of a bottle of Lagavulin. It is single malt heaven: I find a burst of it about an inch high (that’s 2.5cms to you youngsters) in a tumbler produces the right mix of aroma and flavour and general pleasing effect.

Haven’t found any anywhere, until today: Rumbles in Waring Taylor St.

Bloke there reckoned the only reason he had any was he’d bought up some from the estate of a deceased person.

Apparently the emerging Chinese middle class, as well as developing a taste for NZ protein products, are also pretty keen on Lagavulin. It’s why the stuff is increasingly hard to come by here, and a hell of a lot more expensive when you can get it.

Every silver lining has its cloud, doesn’t it?

Fashion, snow, and tramping

What a great break.

Snow bloody well everywhere. Spent a few days in the Matukituki Valley.

Got into Wanaka and went to the New World for supplies for the trip. It was full of young types in up-to-date ski gear, plus what seemed to be a few dodgy older blokes.

Then the thought occurred to me that I probably looked like a dodgy older bloke.

However the saving grace was I looked like a tramper, not an old bloke trying to look like a cool young skiier. Easy to pick out: the trampers mostly wear older and decidedly unfashionable gear.

Best example? The Kiwi Tramper is about the only character in the world who will wear shorts with long, and usually multi-coloured, polypro underneath. An English bloke I met trekking in Nepal reckoned it was the only way he could tell the Kiwis and the Aussies apart (to far too many people, the accents are the same).

It wasn’t a foolproof method. Another English guy we ran into was on a long cycling and trekking holiday which had started in NZ. He’d seen the NZ shorts and long polypro look; decided ‘that looks cool’ and adopted it for his travels.

Weekend jobs…

Spent the best part of the day shifting firewood. It’s a bit of a job: a truckload of gum gets dumped on the car pad and I spend the day shifting it down our path – (a classic Wellington path, zigzagging down the hill with six switchbacks; then down some steps). Just me and my little wheelbarrow. It’s a good substitute for a workout at the gym.

Arguably, it’s a bit less boring. You can play those amateur quantity surveying games in your head “now lets, see, that looks like about another 30-35 barrow loads, its taking me five minutes a barrow load when I time myself, so I should be finished by…”

Then of course you have to factor in how long each barrow load takes when you’re not timing yourself.

Or you do the war gaming …”Achtung! Ve vill invade this patch here where zey are veak, sweep up that side and take out that outcrop of bark over there, unt on to that pile there vich ist our ultimate objevtive. Ha harr! For you ze varr ist over!”*

Or, you can just think of silly things to write on your blog.

End of the day, a couple of Kingfisher Lagers washed down home made Rogan Josh and chased with a glass of Lagavulin. Bliss.

This morning: doing the accounts.

Not bliss.

*Sorry. We signed up to the History Channel recently. They owe Mr A Hitler big time. Without him they’d be reduced to computer-generated re-enactments of the Battle of Agincourt.