Sunday 4 July 2021

Bed, boat, barbecue, bow-wow, burger, bliss...

 With thanks to Destination Queenstown for this famil

Kamana Lakehouse's beds are so soft that they are very hard to get out of, if you see what I mean. But the view we opened our curtains to was great compensation. This morning I walked about 20 minutes into town - almost enjoying the novelty of frosty, icy, slippery surfaces - to go on a cruise on the 106 year-old TSS Earnslaw, the Lady of the Lake. Sadly, she wasn't up to it today - plumbing is frequently a problem with old ladies - so we went instead on a perfectly serviceable boat with much less (ie no) personality. Never mind - I've sailed on the Earnslaw at least three times before.

Filling in some time beforehand by wandering along the waterfront, I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly everyone was - much more so than in summer. Maybe it's because we were all battling with the cold? Anyway, nice - except for this busker, belting out Neil Diamond songs with his big hairy dog howling along. The dog was called Happy but, going by my brief encounter with him, the guy's name should have been Crabby.

So, we sailed off across the lake, hearing some history about the goldrush days, and marvelling at the crisp, clear and magnificent scenery all around us. We were welcomed at Walter Peak Station and shown inside the lovely heritage homestead for a really yummy and beautifully-presented BBQ lunch. It was all good, but the Silere merino lamb leg was amazing. The individual sticky date pudding went down pretty well, too.

Then we went outside for the sheepdog demonstration by Al, from Wales, and his eyedog Kim, who was fully focused on him and her job. She spent the whole time he was doing his introduction in the little amphitheatre, hurtling up the hillside, leaping over a fence to eye up the sheep, and run back again, over and over. Of course the sheep, though bolshy, did as they were told, coming down into a little pen.

We wandered round the farm then (the original farmhouse roofed with 9 tons of tiles from France) and got friendly with various animals, like Highland cattle, goats and pigs, and then filed back onto the boat for the return trip. Lovely outing.

Graham, aka Twinny (from twin-screw), retiring skipper of the Earnslaw after 30 years, showed me over her when we got back - she sure does have character, and will be back in action again tomorrow. I liked that he said the best stokers (one tonne of coal per trip) were the old guys "bent over like a half-open pocket knife" - because they'd learned the hard way how to be efficient.

Another Queenstown icon, though rather younger, is Fergburger - a burger bar with a permanent queue outside for the last 20 years. Though, as it happened, mid-afternoon we found we could walk straight in. So we did, and I was able to inspect and taste a standard cheeseburger, and testify that it was indeed exceptionally juicy, tasty and well-presented by friendly staff. Tick. (Photo doesn't do it justice.)

My final job for the day - oh, such a hard life I lead - was to head out of town again at 8.30pm for my session at Onsen Hot Pools. These are Japanese-style, down the hillside overlooking the Shotover River in its canyon, and very nicely done. There's all the usual spa stuff there, of course, but I just had an hour-long wallow (with Whittakers chocolate, and wine) in the wooden tub under a partial roof, wondering how it would be in daylight but fully compensated by the Southern Cross and Milky Way overhead, and the snow below lit by candles. Gorgeous. And then it was back to Kamana's lovely bed...

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