The sandwiches are packed, the tea’s in the flask

Reading Nick Hornby over the Christmas break, he wrote of trying to watch a soccer game (or, as the Brits quaintly call it, ‘football’) while his autistic 17-year-old son sat next to him, playing on the iPad.
The son was watching, over and over and over, a particular song from a Postman Pat video.
I glanced over at my 10 year old daughter, who was happily playing the same burst of an ABBA song over and over and over again on her iPad, and felt a bit better about the whole situation.
Not, you understand, that I’m a particular fan of ABBA. Far from it. In fact my siblings, in recalling the intense musical debates of the late 1970s which benighted our household, regard my daughter’s love of the music of the perky, pert Swedes as proof there is a God, and He’s a 1970s disco freak.
This does, you have to admit, throw a new light upon the Almighty and might explain a few hitherto baffling aspects of the Universe.
But it was a nicely laid back Christmas, by and large, and a welcome change for a bit.
Drove to and from the folks’ farm over the break, the daughter in the back. Not ABBA all the way, praise be to the Bell Bottom-wearing Deity in the Sky. She’s quite fond of classical music and we’ve reached a compromise on this. Vivaldi’s Dresden Concerto is four CDs long and it usually gets us to Taupo.
There’s plenty of stops, we pack a thermos of tea, some sandwiches made from Christmas leftovers, and its pleasant trip, mostly.
I should say at this point I love road trips – there’s nothing like getting behind the wheel and just taking off. It’s also a good way to see what is going on outside the Wellington political/media bubble.
And there’s no freaking deadline. So long as we’re back in time for dinner  – and dinnertime can be very flexible at this time of the year – its a casual scoot.
So long as the traffic isn’t too insane.
Now, I haven’t been looking at the news – I’m on holiday and I’m not looking at a newspaper, listening to a radio bulletin, or viewing any Internet news sites for a few weeks.
So I don’t know what the road toll is doing.
But there’s some weird behaviour out there.
The last time I saw New Zealand drivers hit a passing lane on a main road and not speed up was…nope, I’ve never seen it.
Usually that extra lane opens up and it’s like when you break at the start of a billiards game: all the cars speed up and seem to ping off in a great rush.
Not this time.
Not once, not twice, but three times, on the trip back, we reached a passing lane and no one overtook. All vehicles stayed in the left hand lane and hovered at around that 100 km/hr mark.
I saw about three bursts of really daft, homicidally insane behaviour by drivers (two of them in the vicinity of Tokoroa, which is par for the course in my experience)
But mostly people seem to be keeping pretty close to that 100 km/hr limit.
So far, anyway.

In the meantime, here’s the Kinks singing about road trips. 






Burn Baby Burn…

Here’s some tales for the Slip Slap Slop Brigade, now that summer is finally making its tardy appearance.

Rob’s Top Five Worst Cases of Sunburn:

5. First indication I had of a thinning pate was a long cycle ride about 10 years’ ago. It was high summer and I put plenty of block on…but failed to make allowances for the air vent on the top of the cycle helmet. Result: a nasty rectangular blister on the scalp.

4. Burns on the underside of the feet while canoodling on a beach. Everything else covered. Made walking difficult for a day or two.

3. The ears. A real pain if you sleep on your side.

2. Backs of the legs, working in the market gardens one summer as a teenager. A bit tender that night, sure enough: the real kicker was when I got out of bed and straightened my legs. The skin sort of snapped just behind the knees. Nasty.

1. This is the worst – didn’t happen to me, but was a legendary incident in the Auckland University Tramping Club. A tramp which ended up on the top of Ruapehu as part of the post-exam Summit Luncheon Party. Sunny day on the snow. The victim had put on sunblock almost everywhere…BUT he wasn’t wearing underpants under his shorts. The reflected rays off the snow…well, you get the picture. You’d never think of putting 15 Plus on your carrot and beetroot, would you?