The long white cloud

Sunday, May 07, 2006


One of the nice things about living in Auckland is the plethora of beautiful regional parks all within a relatively short drive. The gaffer and I have been checking out some of these at the weekends and they are truly wonderful places. You can hike anything from 20 minutes to 8 hours in some of the bigger parks, or you can go camping,mountain biking,fishing etc. In fact, during our visit to the Hunua park, we saw two guys with huge knifes stuffed down their belts and about 5 very tough looking dogs each wearing a tracking collar, these guys were out hunting wild boar and although resembling extras from Southern Comfort, they were most polite in asking if we had seen any pigs.

The gaffer and I have been toying with the idea of learning to ski. Although the bulk of skiing in New Zealand is on the South Island, good skiing is also available at the no-frills central North Island resort of Mt Ruapehu . With this in mind, we decided to give the indoor skiing a try, though we weren't really expecting that much. And so we found ourselves at Snow planet on the North Shore of Auckland, and although the gaffer was much better than me (she was allowed on the adults slope unsupervised after only a couple of hours), we both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Although I have to say if the real thing is anything like the indoor variety, you shouldn't go skiing unless you are prepared to make a fool of yourself. I cannot remember the last time my male ego took such a beating.

Well we are approaching winter now, and it is definitely getting colder. Oddly - I have mentioned this before I know - they are not big on central heating over here. Which takes a bit of getting used to. It's not just that they don't have it in domestic dwellings, they don't tend to have it in municipal buildings or business premises. So schools, gyms etc don't have it either. I know this because my "Chinese for beginners" class on a Monday evening takes place in a perfectly modern classroom, furnished with all of the latest gadgets and gizmos, all of which I would gladly swap for a single radiator !

I have been put in charge of the sheep for the next few weeks (being man of the house n'all). Which sounds like a lofty appointment, but basically means keeping an eye on the amount of grass in the paddock and moving the little blighters if they have cleaned it out. Today was the first time I had to do this, so I enlisted the aid of the gaffer to hold open the gate whilst I rounded them up. A quick head-count revealed that one of my flock was missing, and like any good shepherd I began an immediate search. I must admit that I was slightly concerned and hoped that nothing untoward had happened to it, as you may recall from earlier posts, my reputation as a "real" country man has been sullied by some regrettable incidents. The temporary shepherds job was a means of redeeming myself, so to lose one of the "girls" on my watch would have been disastrous. I found the blighter, it had poked it's head through the bars of the wooden fence and then through a second metal fence, and was stuck fast. After much pulling and tugging and baahing, I realized that this was a predicament that called for more than simple pulling and tugging and baahing. I decided that the only practical solution was to cut the metal fence on either side with my hacksaw , carefully bend the remaining metal avoiding any contact with the sheep's eyes, then simply rotate the sheep through 90 degrees and with a swift push-down and lift up motion raise it's head over the bent metal and secure it's release. The gaffer suggested pushing the metal fence forward so the sheep had more clearance to pull it's head out. Which although admittedly freed the sheep, I feel lacked the panache of the original plan.


  • You would never bl**dy come ski-ing when we asked you would you - oh no...

    Well done on Saturday by your boys - although I thought all three of your goals were a bit flukey ;-)

    By Anonymous Pete, at 1:59 AM  

  • Congrats to you too. Saw Leeds brawled their way to the play-off final. I think they will be received back to the premiership with open arms....

    By Blogger MollyMaguire, at 3:40 AM  

  • Just because we had two men sent off you deduce that we're back to their old ways?

    Waiting to hear if I have tickets - can't wait to spend the day in Wales with a load of chavs from Leeds...

    By Anonymous Pete, at 7:09 AM  

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