Saturday, 23 February 2008

Saturday 23rd Feb

Awakened by heavy rain outside, my body clock and eating patters are somewhat confused after spending 28 hours in transit what with the sun seeming to go up and down almost as many times as the stewards brought us meals (seven meals I think - I lost count and just ate whatever was put in front of me regardless of what time my body thought it was, so at tea-time Adam Tummy Time we were being served cereal and so on). Tina, Lani and Peter were on a weekend excursion to Christchurch so I had both their houses to myself in exchange for feeding the cat once a day, whose name is Gary but is a female, hmm, maybe he/she is from Bangkok? This seems quite a good deal as L&P have Sky Sports and an even better view of the city.

Drove into Lyall Bay to buy some camping provisions in Tina's loaded Toyota van. This van has massive character and I love driving it, it's a white estate car but with no seats in the back. It's no spring chicken but it reminded me of my first car which was a bit battered about and so you didn't mind bombing about in it as if it didn't matter if you pranged it on every available obstacle in the road. Lunch was served up at the Lyall Bay surf shack, the food was top and the banana smoothie felt like it was some sort of elixir of youth.

Local Planet
Whilst browsing maps at the Lyall Bay surf shack (as is my custom) a very friendly lady asked if I was alright, I asked her where I could go mountain biking in Wellers and she proceeded to give me a blow by blow account of all the places I should visit on the West Coast of the south island proclaiming that the Lonely Planet guides are quite an eye opener for locals as those who *really* know where to go can offer much better advice. 'Just ask a local honey' she said, 'you'll have a great time'. So after jotting down her top tips in my diary she then scribbled her name (Sandy) and number if I wanted a tour of Wellers when I return in early March. I have to say the Kiwi's so far have been nothing but very very friendly. I do have a slight problem communicating with the locals thought because I have become so conditioned of not expecting strangers to talk to me that I'm like a mute when someone pipes up and says 'hello'. Even the shop keepers ask how you are before selling you anything! It's so different to England, the locals seem to want visitors to get the most out of their time here rather than resenting every single one of us.

More shopping in the centre of Wellers and then saw a mountain bike guide book for $30NZ. I couldn't resist and subsequently have read up on the dazzling array of rides available on both islands. I called in at a bike shop in town and enquired about getting a decent spec'd hire bike. Nowt doing, looks like I'll be better buying one and flogging it at the en of my trip.

A Mountain Bikers Epiphany
Having partially completed the camping shopping mission I headed home but got a little distracted and made for the Wind Turbine which stands as a solitary sop to the under resourced NZ power industry. I followed the signs up a windy single tracked mettled road before parking up and havng a nosy. From here I could not only see the whole of Wellers but I began to realise the vast potential of the mountain biking around here. There was a fair old network of single and double tracks, marked and unmarked. I consulted my newly acquired '340 Rides in NZ' book and sure enought there looked to be some good 'uns eminating from here. For the first time I began to get my bearings in this awkwardly shaped city - the coastline juts in and out and Wellington kinda has a hammerhead looking extension to it that really screws up your bearings. Anyhow, by now I'd got a taste for the biking and cranked up the Toyota and rallied her down the windy track only to be met by a lonely figure trudging up the road looking like he's just survived an H-Bomb attack. The tall gangly youth had his arm in a blue sling and was covered in bike crash marks. 'Ouch' I thought as I sped past in the opposite direction, then I considered how far he would have to walk up to get to the top so I backed up and he turned around looking hopeful. I asked if he wanted a lift, without hesitation he jumped in. Turns out he was on a practise run for the Kiwi national downhill MTB championships and had took a stack. He'd had to walk all the way to Wellers Hospital (miles!) get his broken collarbone patch up then trudge right back up the hill. Now I've broken a collarbone or two in my time on the bike and believe me it hurts, so to see this kid walk five mile plus there and back bust up resonated with me and I had to give him a lift even if it was just for the last mile or so. We chatted about the local riding and he enthused so much I was itching to get on a bike. I dropped him off just shy of the radar 'golf ball' overlooking the city and he hopped over a fence to his campsite. Good lad, the world needs more of him. This episode mae me instantly change direction on this trip. having taken advice from all quarters it seems like tramping is the thing to do in NZ, however, I'm not *really* a hiker, not yet. I prefer biking, I love the speed, the challenge of a lung busting climb, thigh cooking ascents, the endorphin rush and ofcourse the views. Coupled with the fact that I can hardly walk two yards in my hiking boots thanks a ridiculously innocuous footballing incident last week my mind was made up: this is going to be *my* holiday, I like riding, so that's what I'm gonna do. Thanks for the advice guys but this is The Shandyman's time. Ever since I came to this conclusion I've had a spring in my step and eager anticipation about my tour de sud. Come on!

There's something about a bashed up car
Headed out to Island Bay in Totoyta Corolla 1.3 estate, by now the car was feeling like a long term girlfriend, a bit temperamental at times, mind of her own, you know all her faults and quirks but if you're gentle enough with her she's eager to please filly and despite a few rough edges will always put a smile on your face.
Island Bay
Fancied a cold beer after a long day on my damaged feet so pulled over at 'the bach' (pronouned 'batch', Kiwi for batchelor. Quite appropriate as I ordered a beer por uno. The place (run by a wisened looking Maori woman who looked as hard as nails) didn't have an alcohol license so ordered a meal and got a complimentary glass of wine. The meal (Scottish fillet') was delicious with properly coookd veggies ( bit pak choi like) and the wine quaffable, I ate ad ruminated on the past couple of days as the sun set over to the wests casting a warm yellow light on the glass-like Cook Strait. Bowled into New Town to catch a bit of ODI cricket o the way home and got talking to a Scottish bloke called Ian who'd lived in Wellers for 20 years. He discussed the peculiar driving habits of Kiwis who apparently always drive in the middle of the road and are hell bent on catching up the car infront and then sitting behind them interminably. He was a nicec chap with a proper Kiwi tan and neat white beard, he informed that New Town was busiest on a Friday and that if I was headed out on the town to go striaght into the city. He seemed pretty happy living in New Town, we parted as he went out for a roly. I dorve back to Vogel Town and crashed out infront of the remnants of the ODI game at Lani and Pieters.


The_rear said...

The elixir of your youth, what the fred funk does that mean?!

Surprised and vaguely disappointed (from an entertaining story point of view) you got there safely, though impressed that you've deliberately sabbotaged your own feet in order to not to cheat.

As the New Zealanders are so friendly, can you ask one of them why they are named after a fruit?

Went out with Clegg last night, and it only cost me what it should have done. Unbelievable. Guess he's still using up that 50 euro note.

Everton 6 - 1 SK Brann. Feeed the Yak and he will score. Blatant plagiarism rules. Bring on the Blue camp.



Me Shandy said...

Yer, sorry no major dramas JP but my feet are in a state so I've done the sensible thing and splashed out on a Yeti 575 - a beaut, even Lawro will be jealous. Racks in at $3750NZ which is 3x cheaper than in the UK, get in!

I will make it my mission tonight to enquire as to why such a fine country is named after a slightly tart tasing and indeed somewhat furry naturally occurring foodstuff. If I draw a blank can you ask Powers for me?

Clegg no doubt has framed that 50 and put it on his wall along with all his other 'winnings'.

Big up the Yak. Drink his milk that what I say. Tis good for you and good for all monks.

From 'Shalom' backpackers in sun kissed Christchurch (that's not blasphemy, its the name of the city JP), so long and be dangerous.