Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Grasshopper turned Ant

So I've had all the fun - in the last 6 months I've been to Australia, Thailand, China, Ecuador, the UK and Ireland, India and some of the nicer bits of New Zealand - and now that it's summer and everyone else is at the beach, it's time for me to do the work and plough through all my notebooks of densely-written abbreviations that at the time I was convinced were so obvious, and which are now so impossibly obscure, and trawl through hundreds of photos, and churn out a mass of 1000-word stories some of which are already spoken for but most of which will be poor orphaned mites to be sent out into the harsh world to make their own living.

The current story is about the Hillary Trail, a newly-linked series of tracks through the Waitakere Ranges, where I went last week to speak to one of the Park Rangers - an outing which itself linked several of my own recent experiences.

The view above is a disappointingly poor photo of Whatipu Beach, from a track I last walked years ago with WOPs, the women's outdoor pursuits group I was a member of that taught me many useful things about the bush, most memorably never to trust the weather and always to be prepared for cold and rain. So when, shortly after this photo was taken, it started to rain huge, fat, soaking drops and the ranger got wet, I was able to put on my coat and keep dry.

Also, the next beach along from this one is Karekare - moody, black sand, isolated - where The Piano was filmed, which helped pass some of the time on the Milford Track when the Australians and I vainly racked our brains to remember the name of the actor playing the woman [sorry, Holly Hunter]. Not that the scenery down there wasn't magnificent, but it did go on a bit, and it was helpful to distract ourselves from the toil of one foot after the other for hours and hours by some mental activity, like converting miles to kilometres and trying to work out speeds and ETAs. It was to my great advantage in this to be so hampered by the innumeracy that scraped me 61% in School Certificate maths, since when it's gone downhill.

My memory and computation skills also suffered something of a set-back when I fell down a flight of 8 stone steps at the Red Fort in New Delhi and whacked my head at the bottom. It was dark, we were running late because of the horrendous traffic, the lighting was inadequate and the top step was, inconceivably, raised above the level of the path. So I plunged down the steps, scoring huge bruises on my elbow and hip on the way to hitting my head, which I knew was going to happen as I fell, and which hurt when it did. And all to buy tickets for a stupid Son et Lumiere show that was hopelessly low-tech and dull: don't ever waste your time on it next time you're in Delhi.

Since when there's been dizziness, headaches, nausea and impaired metal acuity - but at least I can blame it on India, and not age.

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