Wednesday 16 January 2013

Not going "mush!" in the Maniototo

You couldn't bear the cuteness, so I'm not posting a photo of the 10 week-old Alaskan Malamute pups at Real Dog Adventures just outside Ranfurly. Just think fat, fluffy bodies and big, floppy-tongue grins. Instead, here's the other end of the grown-ups, pulling me and Nigel in the bicycle-wheeled rig through Naseby Forest: it was a bumpy and hands-on ride, setting off fast and furious but soon settling to a more sedate trot. I was lucky they were pulling me at all, as the morning was unseasonally cool. Anything above 17 degrees and they stay in their kennels, panting inside their thick fluff (which can be spun and woven or knitted: it's beautifully soft). Nigel and Rose were full of enthusiasm and information about their dog-centred life, and it was really lovely to see their passion, and share it for a couple of hours. By the way, only amateurs say "Mush".
There was another sort of passion on display at Glenshee Park outside Naseby: off a dirt road, in an unassuming building are 220 evening gowns from the 1970s carefully hung in glass cases. It's the collection of Eden Hore, now deceased: an unusual hobby for a deer farmer, I ventured, as we stood in front of the photo of him in his leopard-print shirt, and his nephew's wife Margaret agreed; but the question hung between us unasked and unanswered. No business of mine, anyway. The frocks are both gorgeous and ghastly, but always fascinating, as was the Madonna costume with the Don't Touch notice - no prizes for guessing which bit most would be tempted to poke. And what else would you expect in the entrance but a display of stuffed animals off his farm, from a huge black Tibetan yak, down to a piglet in a Western saddle?
And then I went back into Naseby for a spot of curling, as you do. Maniototo Curling International has a very smart indoor rink there, and I watched a family having excellent fun scooting the stones along the ice from one end to the other. They're made of Scottish granite, you know, and weigh 22kg: I could scarcely lift one, so it was fortunate that indoors all you do is slide them - though when it's cold enough to play outside, you do have to swing them from waist height to give them enough oomph. It's a fun game, sort of a combination bowls and billiards, with a bit of snooker thrown in; and you can take part from age 8 to 80. I didn't play a proper game, but out of the 7 that I sent up, and then back down again, I did get one into the in-play area. So I counted that a triumph.

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