Saturday, July 18, 2009


No work on Sam's trike for a week because we have been on hols in a town called Wanaka, 1,000 kms to get there and 1,000 kms to get home which added 400 kilograms of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and which I'm 'fraid is one of the reasons why every climate scientist on the planet (other than the half-dozen retained by Exxon) is in a tizz with the world's politicians. The latter seem mesmerised by the world's economists who despite the year's revelations earnestly continue to tell us all that you can have Economic Growth forever. Or that the economy is a perpetual motion machine. Or something.

Everything you need to know about Wanaka is contained in the two words 'no bookshop'. There are four ski shops and five tourist shops and a million holiday homes and a supermarket that is empty until the ski fields close whereafter it is jammed with approximately equal numbers of young adults and security staff.

We have been skiing. My wife, that is, and the children. I have yet to grasp the attraction of standing on two planks of wood at the top of a slippery mountain and accelerating at up to 16.08 feet per second per second (depending on slope) with no brakes whatever. The latest fashion is snow-boarding, Sam the Scotchman assures me, which is to stand on a single plank about the size of a wardrobe door, which must even further limit one's prospect of a controlled stop. One cannot apply excess toe-in, balanced on a door.

I did not ski, but rather cycled and on Monday a Spitfire pilot put on an aerial display for me and on Wednesday there was a rather agreeable earthquake which for a minute made the cottage sway as if it were a small dinghy splashing around in the surf, and on Friday I found a Historic Site on the Cardrona road. There are brown road signs in New Zealand that say Historic Site on them and when you're on a bike you stop and have a look, and on this occasion I found that Robert Studholme tended a tree nursery opposite here. It was established in 1879 and the last trees were felled about 1960. (I like history. I was so excited I copied it down.)

Now because you happen to know that I am a persistent liar you are going to say that I am fibbing on all three counts but the first two are on Ye Olde Internette so they must be true

and the last one isn't so you'll just have to cycle up the Cardrona road yourself and see.

The kettle in the cottage, if this is of interest, was a Breville Model SK60B and it leaked so badly that the base stood on a folded towel. The base bore the printed message Please note that some condensed moisture may gather on the base after the kettle has boiled. This is part of the normal workings of the kettle and does not indicate a fault with the product. As the children, weeping with laughter said, 'Yeah, right.'

On the way there we stayed with Mr Knight and he took us to a secret place he has researched where 14 steam engines were tipped into a river bank to stop the water undermining the railway and I'm not going to tell you where it is because I'm cruel, and on the way back we also stopped with Mr Knight where my children asked his children to say 'Ni' whereupon they told them that they were the Knights who say Ni which caused much delight among the cognoscenti and total bafflement to everyone else.

Mr Knight guided us through the mysteries of the Tour because he has a television and knows what's going on and we don't, and I admired his latest Italian racer, a fully-Campag equipped Coppi, and I am forbidden to broadcast how many bicycles he now owns for fear of alerting his wife. All his bicycles are pristine concours specimens and all of them are red, so he occasionally smuggles new ones in when she isn't paying attention. Mrs Knight told us of the struggles she has learning Maori, where one Maori teacher instructs exact pronunciation and a later Maori teacher disputes the pronunciation telling her there's no point learning it if you get the pronunciation wrong which I fear had us all saying 'Yeah, right' again. One might start by inviting the two Maori teachers to travel to England and ask natives of, say, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Huddersfield, King's Lynn and Brixton to pronounce - well, anything at all actually - and then discuss which is 'correct' English. Funnily enough I have found several copies of Simeon Potter's Our Language in New Zealand bookshops where I never found a single copy in England.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home