March 25th 1983

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
Andy’s Holden (christened, apparently, Oliver)

At an early hour we crawled out of our nylon paddling pool that we sleep in – it had been a wild wet + windy night, + our tent had done its usual inept job at keeping the rain out.  Such is life.  It was useless waiting for the tents to dry off, so we just pulled ‘em down, packed ‘em up, + got in the car.  Drove to Greymouth, the next big town, the main task being to stock up on our stores.  We planned to go to Arthur’s Pass + spend a few days there, going on a hike or 2.  At least the others did.  Not only did I no longer have any footwear other than a pair of sandals, but during yesterday’s exertions I’d also managed to aggravate my knee so that it was worse than before.  So, I reckoned to find myself a cosy nook while the others plodded up mountains.  God, Greymouth was cold.  Andy + Steve are good companions tho’, quick, funny, + constantly getting at each other, without getting ratty.  Andy managed to cop Steve with a huge cream bun in the kisser.

Moved on to Arthur’s Pass in the afternoon, stopping off to look at the scenery, the flowering rata bushes, + the birds.  Visited yet another Visitor’s Centre – after a while, most of these places blur into one.  Topographical maps, profiles, stuffed birds… tho’ this one did have a stagecoach as well.  We then went to one of the park’s camping areas.  This was  no more than a patch of grass, plus a shelter.  The shelter was very new, a glassed polygon building, only without a door.  Its big asset was a woodstove, which we soon had blazing.  We needed it too – the weather was freezing.  We dragged a picnic table inside from the picnic area, + so were able to sit in relative comfort, eat a meal, + while away the evening with laughter + cards,  before braving the temperature  + going to bed.  It was our sleeping bags’ sternest test yet – we were true mummies, with just a face peering out… tho’ I was also wearing socks, long johns, + a shirt.

This diary, as well as being a record of almost every meal, is also a log of my various ailments – feet, stomach, knees, and (largely by implication) mind. Apologies for the litany of woe, but do bear in mind, it is me that is writing the thing,and it is more a record of what was going on in my head at the time, too often with brutal and destructive effect, at least so far as I am exposed to the world. All right, the limited world who read this, now or in the future. And inevitably my physical well-being, or lack or it, predominates.

But it really was pretty cold and miserable, we were moving south, and the antipodean winter was on its way. So it was as well that, from a social point of view, we had good companions.

  1. Pamela Blair

    It sounds miserable–your physical ailments, the rain and cold. I remember, traveling in Iran and Turkey, and even though I was inside my van and dry, the cold was such that I decided not to go to Afghanistan. I wish I had now, but reading your story, I remember why I didn’t–I couldn’t bear those freezing nights. I think you and Val were far heartier than I was!

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