Methven. 7.45 pm
Somewhat to my surprise I’m on the road again. The weather forecast seems favourable as an Arctic blast is apparently going to sweep over the South Island in the next few days bringing snow and clear skies. Night temperatures are going to around minus 6 so there should be some good morning frosts and mist. I took the decision to head off this morning and packed up fairly quickly.
Paradoxically, I’m always slightly depressed at the start of a road trip like this on my own. The more trips I do the more difficult it gets to get original material and I feel somewhat apprehensive. This time is worse as Gill has only been home a week or so and I don’t really want to leave her. Also, our last trip was with our oldest friend, Ian and we spent whole days in the car gabbling about everything from Benin wood carvings to Nigel Farage. Now I’m on my own and today was an eight hour drive – the last two hours in darkness. While I am happy with my own company, today was a bit of a trial as there is little to photograph on the way down here. It’s just hard driving, albeit through beautiful landscape. Once I get some good images in the camera I cheer up but it’s rather how I imagine a runner must feel before a marathon.
I did get some good evening images after the sun went down. I love the atmosphere when it is blisteringly cold and fire smoke from farms hangs in the air and the sheep stand disconsolately in fields among wisps of near freezing air. Behind, the mountains rise dark and brooding. Tomorrow it will all look mundane in the bright sunlight. But for a few moments it is achingly mournful as the light fades. Of course it might just be my mood.
I’m writing this sitting by a roaring fire in the pub after eating a very unhealthy, but satisfying, fresh ground beef burger and chips. At a table near by are an Australian family over for a skiing holiday at Mount Hutt. Somehow, Australians always seem to take up a disproportionately large amount of space which I suspect is a result of their slightly loud, confident voices and their deeply unattractive accents.
I am unsurprised that one of the children is called Tyson. It seems to fit the stereotypical Aussie macho culture. I spend some time inventing names for the other two boys, desperately hoping their mother will call them so I can find out their real names. The youngest boy is wearing a hoodie with the logo ‘Avalon Bulldogs’ on the back. Say no more. All it needs is for his brother to have “Waroondronga Rotweilers” on his hoodie and I would go to bed happy. As i am mulling this over the father tells the mother that one of the macho boys was clocked in the slope at 72.5 kph. The mother is suitable impressed but the father just can’t leave it alone.
“ya, but you know the thing.. I passed him on that slope and left him standing..”
Dear God, did he have to be so predictable?
Tomorrow I am going to see what the snow is like at Hakatere Winderness Reserve. If I’m lucky the road will be passable. If not I will have to turn back from my favourite place in New Zealand.
I have managed to fit a mattress in the back of the car so I should have a comfortable night’s sleep. I have lefty of covers so will be warm. Temp is currently 3 degrees so should go past freezing in the night.