Skiing in Summer

My Hutt 2013

View from my Hotel in Methven

Day One

Arrived in Methven after taking the red eye to Christchurch from Perth.  Eyes definitely red.  Stood in rain, waiting for bus.  Arrived Methven at 4pm.  Went to bed at 6pm!

Day Two

Beautiful day for skiing – blue skies, lots of snow.  First day of NZ school hols.  Bummer.  Met Nigel, Andrew and Mark at the bus.  Nigel, Andrew and Mark are all married and in their late 50’s.  Interesting characters.

When I went to pick up my ski gear, I had to firstly go to a computer terminal and enter in my shoe size, age, weight, ski preference and ability etc and all this information was transferred to my ski pass card.  I thought to myself that this is going to save a lot of mucking around.  Wrong!   I then had to go and pick up my boots where the girl scanned my card and then asked me all those questions again.  I asked her why she needed that information as I had just entered it in the card and she told me that it doesn’t come up on her screen.  I had to be asked all the questions again at the second counter to pick up my skis.  It is much easier to enter your weight into a computer than to say it out loud to a good-looking, 25 year old ski bum.

Met Nigel again on the slopes and skied with him for most of the morning.  Ran into him again just before I left for the bus back to the hotel.

After a hot shower, went to the bar and saw Andrew and Nigel.  At least I thought it was Andrew and Nigel.  Got drink and boldly sat beside the two men, asking them how their day went. After a few minutes of conversation, realised I didn’t know either of them.  Damn those skiing goggles!

Falls = 2.

My Hutt 2013

View from the summit of Mt Hutt

Day Three

Magic day again.  Had first ski lesson.  Was second best skier in group. Two other people in group and one was useless.

Discovered Mark is only 41.  Now wondering about Andrew and Nigel.

Falls = 0

Day Four

Good weather in morning but windy and cold in afternoon.  Have developed head cold.  Soldiering on with drugs and trying to kill the bug with mulled wine.  Not successful yet but will keep trying.

Today’s ski instructor was also the bus driver.  Should stick to buses.

Falls = 2 (second fall whilst standing still in lesson but managed to keep number two ranking regardless – third guy still useless.)

My Hutt 2013

Cloudy in town but magic on the mountain

Day Five

Another beautiful day on the slopes!

New people in lesson.  Group of three again and I’m still the second best in the group.  Made a capital expenditure and invested in my own boots.  No discount for cash.

Head cold still persisting.  Have increased dosage of mulled wine to kill bug.

Falls = 1 ( whilst in line for the lift.)

Day Six

Last day skiing and yet another cloudless, beautiful day.  New boots caused my ankles to burn so have to get used to them.  No lesson today as it was really busy on the slopes.

Head cold is almost gone.  Will knock it on the head tonight at the sake bar in town with Sarah and Tim.

Falls = 0 (must be the new boots.)

Day Seven

Spent the day reading Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy before getting the shuttle back to Christchurch.  My next book to read will be of a slightly different nature – World War Z by Max Brooks and yes, Z stands for zombie!

Bye New Zealand!

My Hutt 2013

Brilliant camera work by me. Phone case just visible at the top of the pic!

Konnichiwa Japan!

Cycling to Kamakura

The first week of my two month paid holiday (so sorry for all you non-teachers out there) has gone by. I spent most of it catching up on work for my COETAIL course that was supposed to be finished on June 6th! Woops! Anyway, I am almost finished so I decided to do something touristy this week.

Now my other focus lately has been battling my massive weight gain since I got back from Ghana. I had a look around for a tape worm but Japan seems to be out of them.  Hence, I am back with Weight Watchers. This means I am eating a lot of fruit and vegetables at the moment and that is fine when they come with a coconut curry sauce and a huge serving of white rice. Not so fine when they are raw in a bowl with a teaspoon of soy sauce and a quarter of a lemon squirted on them.

Now the great thing about Weight Watchers, is that the more I exercise, the more I can eat, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I wanted to go somewhere with tourist value and when I arrived, I wanted to eat Thai green prawn curry and drink a couple of glasses of a crisp, fruity white wine and not feel guilty.

So, I decided to ride my bike to Kamakura.

Kamakura is a small fishing village 25 km south of Yokers. It was once a feudal capital and because of this, there are lots of pretty temples and a big Buddah. I had taken mum to see the big Buddah when she was here and I’m not that keen on seeing more temples but I fancied going to the beach, enjoying a lovely bike ride through the countryside and having a delicious dinner with one of my colleagues who lives there.

Now I didn’t just rush into this idea. I first came up with the thought after speaking to another colleague who has ridden his bike to Kamakura on a number of occasions. He said it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes and it is fairly flat so it isn’t too taxing. Sounds perfect right?

Just to let you know, I’m currently writing this after arriving in Kamakura. And in hindsight, I probably should have taken his advice with a grain of salt. He is a PE teacher and therefore one can probably assume, quite a lot fitter than me. He also has one of those fancy road bikes with 125 gears to make cycling up hills a breeze. The only special feature on my bike is an extendable back basket so I can pick up a 12 pack of toilet paper when I do my grocery shopping.

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Rear basket unextended

I’m not completely stupid, so I knew it would take me longer than him but I estimated that it would take no more than two hours. I left at 9am. I arrived three hours later at the Starbucks outside of Kamakura Station. Fairly flat? My arse! I also fell off once and that’s not easy when you’re sober! As for the pretty ride in the countryside, I never saw the end of Yokahama. It was built up all the way until I finally reached Kita-kamakura station which began the 1.5 km of partial green before reaching the town centre.

The journey didn’t start off well either. I ensured that my phone was fully charged as I needed to rely on my Google Map app for directions. My bike does have one snazzy feature I forgot to mention and that is an iPhone holder on the handle bars. I got that about three weeks into living here after falling off and cleaning up a bunch of pedestrians whilst holding my phone in one hand and trying to navigate at speed through some very busy and very narrow streets in Yokers. The pedestrians were very polite about it but I could tell they weren’t happy!

Anyway, Google Maps has a couple of design problems. First of all, you only have three options for mode of travel; public transport, car or walking. No bike option. This means, if you take the car option, the route always involves the express way which I can’t ride on and the walking option always involves stairs for some reason.  I can work around the stair problem but I had only been going about 20 minutes when I came across the second design problem.

Cycling to Kamakura

Yes, that’s right. The road continues through the US base.

Google wants me to continue along this road, however the US military does not. Google loses this contest. I try to cycle around a bit and then get the map to recalculate the route from my new location. I follow the new route for a while until I run into yet another sign. Turns out the base is like Switzerland – too large to cycle around but there is no way to cycle through it either!  Getting around the US base, added on an extra hour to my cycle easy.

The way home proved just as fraught with the same obstacles as the way down.  Google kept sending me up huge staircases just like this.

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Come on Google – get the bike option!

One staircase got suspiciously overgrown from underuse as I carried my bike further up it, until the path eventually disappeared altogether as it ended in … you guessed it… the same US base I couldn’t avoid on the way down!

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This is the path according to google maps!

However, the time I spent in Kamakura was all good and this was despite not achieving any of my original objectives.  I didn’t go swimming – forgot to pack my bathers and disastrously, my deodorant.  I didn’t have a Thai green prawn curry as the Thai restaurant wasn’t open.  I didn’t have a crisp, fruity glass of wine either as my dinner companion was having a “dry summer”.  (Apparently he only drinks when he’s working!)  I did however, enjoy a pleasant afternoon and evening in Kamakura and a very delicious dinner all the same and I didn’t count a single Weight Watchers point for two glorious days!

So for those people who insist that it is all about the journey and not the destination, I have one word for you – bullocks!