Kaikoura is a favourite region. I’ve had numerous escape long weekends there in recent years:  it’s pretty much perfect because there are plenty of walks.

And I love that Coast Road.


The coast road.

If you have a writerly urge is part of the way you cope with life and that includes events like this one.

It can seem a bit self-indulgent, but what the hey. If you can’t be  a bit self-indulgent on a blog, where the hell can you be a bit self-indulgent?

(Genuine question.  As a slightly uptight,  culturally Presbyterian, Kiwi farmboy,  this is an area I probably do need some tips about).

…..Yes, *slightly* uptight. Don’t want to get too carried away about this or anything).

It’s included, in younger and fitter days, some great tramping trips, including climbing the magnificent Mt Tapaonuku back in the late ’90s, and several trips over the Kowhai Saddle, up Hapuku Valley and down through the other side.

Second time on that saddle was a landmark in a different way – going down towards the hut in the dry riverbed, I had one of those ‘hmm..will that collection of rocks hold my foot…yeah should be all right’ moments of hesitation.

And, seconds later a more dramatic moment involving turning a 180 degree turn as the rocks gave way and I struggled to hold my balance. One of the blokes in the group, who was ahead and below me, rekkined afterwards I’d hovered for several seconds and he thought I was going to be ok, before tumbling down the rock slope.

Looked magnificent, he said. Poetry in motion, or something.

Perhaps one of Ezra Pounds more deranged Cantos’, maybe.

The left knee has never been the same since.

Much more sedate visits since, including an immensely productive writing week in an old farm cottage last January.

But it’s a great part of the country: a mix of relatively sedate dairy land, the dramatic Mt Fyffe and the Seaward Kaikouras generally, and that magnificent, and now closed, road.

When I looked onto my digital photo file, I found nearly 200 photos of the region, about half from that road.

First visit was 1990, hitching through from Christchurch with a German marine biology student who had come out to see the whales. I hadn’t heard of Whale Watch at that point – it had been going a couple of years, if that – but word had spread and it was going to be the high point of her trip.

I’ve since done the Whale Watch thing myself: it’s great, though I found the dolphins we encountered more spectacular. About 500 of them, on the port side of the boat, and with the ones furthest away jumping higher, in great spirals, as if to say ‘Wee!! Look at us!!’

The same trip, we did the ultimate Kaikoura meal – crays from Nins Bin, and fried chips. Washed down with some Marlborough Chardonnay (Grove Mill, from memory).

The Kekerengu Store, ideally situated as it is between Kaikoura and Blenheim, is a compulsory stop-off point – the staff and owners are great hosts, the coffee packs the requisite punch and I’ve sat there, written up a journal or edited stuff I’ve been working on.

The shingle beaches – too dangerous to swim off, but wonderfully rugged and desolate. You look out, east, and feel you are on the edge of the world. Somewhere out there, half a hemisphere away, is South America.

It’s a great place to go, to gather your thoughts, and in that isolation locate and settle yourself.

Here’s hoping the geology can also settle itself.


Horrible Thing

For some reason, Nero and the Velvet Underground were connected. My brother and his partner were renting a house in Sandringham from RBNZ governor Graeme Wheeler, who arrived to fixed the roof just as they were starting to have a party.  

That was just when I was asleep. Dreams get more vivid when I have migraines. I haven’t had one for years but on Friday went down with a beaut.

They also lead to forgetfulness – took the daughter walking at Makara, not only failed to lock the car but left one of the doors wide open.

There were also blotchy little elves on the edge of my vision, who frolic and dance and are happy and I hate the little bastards.

Every noise jars, I can taste colours and noises have a colour and is like a bayonet in the right side of the brain.

I can read books and the paper word. In fact, it helps take my mind off the aforementioned metaphorical bayonet which seems to be protruding from my right temple.


Trying on clothes..

Maria Von Trapp has a post which concludes with the question:

Oh yeah. This isn’t controversial, but the guy at dinner was telling us how he never tries on pants, instead he wraps the waist around his neck and the legs around his wrists to check for size.

I really don’t get that. There is so much more to check in a pair of trousers than just the waist measurements. Any guys care to elaborate? I believe Psycho Milt and Paul are the oldest male commentators on this blog, so off you go boys – what’s the story?

Well its quite simple, and while I haven’t tried that particular technique I can well understand it.

the thing about shopping for clothes and us blokes – well, most of us blokes anyway – is there is one over-riding rule: LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO WASTE TIME TRYING ON SHORTS (or T-shirts or whatever…)

An ideal shop goes through these stages:

  1. Enter shop
  2. Find type and size and hopefully colour (although that’s purely optional) of clothing item bought last time
  3. Buy it.
  4. Piss off out of it and do something interesting.

this is why most of us don’t like shopping with wives/partners/girlfriends and will try to avoid doing so.

Unfortunately many women have different ideas which is why so many insist on accompanying their menfolk. This at least triples the amount of time spent hanging around in clothing stores for the aforesaid males, slowly losing the will to live.

personal declaration here: My other half does not insist, although she reserves the right to have Views, and to Express those Views.

The four step process outlined above falls down if the previously bought item is no longer being made and/or is now in some different form.

this happens often and is a deliberate tactic by the clothing industry (which, let us put it frankly, is run by women and gay men) against blokey men.

The four step process also falls down if there has been, how shall we put this, a change in the size requirements of aforesaid bloke.

And yes, there probably is another personal declaration due on that front as well, over the past two years, but I shall leave readers to draw the obvious conclusions.