Last weekend we went to Leigh for three days to break in the new stove and cooking pots. We hired a car to get there and to battle Auckland’s nasty 16 lane highway monstrosities that lie between us and the countryside.  This was a rare and fraught mission as our usual stomping ground is the relatively simple 6 lane traffic sewers that dominate the central city, which we navigate daily by bicycle. I always find that visibility is terrible in a car compared to a bicycle and this adds to the complexity of the maneuvers required.

Somewhere along the way we realised that we hadn’t got any means of making fire to light the stove so we dropped in to a big box adventure store at Albany. We marvelled at the soulless landscape and the effort required to simply navigate the enormous carparks and find your destination. On a side note: I think it would be very interesting to calculate how many hours of people’s lives are swallowed up in these alien places. Has anyone ever gone missing? Are there any tourists lost, not in the New Zealand bush, but in New Zealand’s suburban mega-carparks? Anyway, back to the point, we came out of the store with matches and a ‘survival-style’ fire lighter. The firefighter was for fun and the matches were for actually lighting the stove. However, the fire lighter turned out to be an amazing buy and was really effective. It also had the side effect of producing strange caveman grunting noises of excitement from the Husband. It took me a couple of goes to make fire  and the Husband put this down to me being a ‘girl’ (apparently, making fire is a ‘man thing’) but once I had the knack, it was easy.

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We camped at Goat Island camp ground, an old haunt from the days before the vomit event. We got a great pitch with a lovely view overlooking the bay and established our HQ for a long weekend of snorkelling and other fun stuff.

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Snorkeling

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Other fun stuff

The pitch was also successful in being a long way from the facilities. This was good in that it was easier to shun the well equipped kitchen in favour of our new stove and pots, but bad at 3am when nature called. The distance to the facilities prompted the familiar and inevitable weighing up of whether you would be irrevocably awake after navigating the several hundred metres and multiple guy ropes to the toilet or weather trying to relax (although not too much!) and ignore the urge would resolve the situation.

The stove was amazing and boiled the kettle quicker than our electric kettle at home. It also managed some very nice pancakes, which requires quite delicate temperature control. The only downside is the incredibly loud noise it makes – it sounds like a space rocket or jet engine. It is so loud that it brought the neighbours over to see what was happening and I am seriously considering ear plugs to avoid permanent hearing damage! The pots performed admirably and the drainer feature is very useful with pasta.

During the trip we have uncovered a few necessary equipment tweaks. After about the 4th time of attaching and unattaching the cutlery onto the little carabiner (x2) and placing it in and out of the individual cutlery pouch (x2), we gave up. A single utensil bag is required. I can’t quite work out the purpose of the small carabinas. You obviously can’t use them for climbing … it is clearly stated on the shaft – NOT FOR CLIMBING. Not even with really tiny ropes on a really tiny cliff face? Shame, they would be perfect for that!

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I presume the carabina is to keep your cutlery together so that you don’t lose just the knife for instance, although there is nothing stopping you from losing the whole set. It all seems a bit overboard to me, I have never heard of cutlery loss being a major traveling problem. Passport loss? Credit card loss? Yes. Cutlery loss? Not so much.

I am also a bit concerned that I was quite cold in the night. I had a cold head and very nippy ears even in my sleeping bag. Given that in Auckland we are dropping to bitter temperatures of around 18C during the night, I am somewhat concerned that Europe is hovering around zero at the moment. The Husband is keen to launch the Trip at the end of February (not this year) but I am keeping a careful eye on the temperatures and dates to see when a temperature that I could survive, let alone feel comfortable in, is achieved in Southern Europe. I really can’t see this happening until at least April … but I keep you informed. I have found a great iPad app that shows the weather and forecasts for any city you choose. It allows you to create a weather ‘menu’ from around the world – probably very useful if you have your own jet, for instance … or are planning a trip to lots of nice places. I have therefore decided that a sleeping beanie is going to be a ‘must have’ item. Daughter No.1 suggested knitting an angora number with ear flaps like the one she has made for herself. Apparently, “it’s like having several bunnies sitting on your head” so definitely an experience not to be missed! I am presuming the bunnies are house trained. I am also thinking that some sort of puffer jacket (or full body suit) will be necessary for evening wear around camp. I will add this to the research list.

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Seeing as though we were in a car, we did cheat a bit and take two camp chairs. The more I think about it, the more I think that at our great age we will need this luxury on the Trip. The Husband in particular is not very bendy and several hours in the lotus position is unlikely to be very restful, to say the least. At worst, it could have a significant impact on our ability cycle … or stand up ever again! Perhaps we should schedule some yoga classes into our Trip preparation?

We took a very cheap LED lantern from the $2 shop and it performed brilliantly. It is not very compact or robust but the concept is definitely something we need. It had a volume control for the light level and it lit our little alfresco camp in the evenings and then hung from a hook inside the tent providing just the right level of illumination in both cases. The trick is going to be finding something that doesn’t require a million batteries for a years use.

knife

The last item on my ‘needs attention’ list is my penknife. While it has provided great service for many many years, it is deficient in one very important tool. I bought the Husband the same knife for Christmas (among other things) but they have obviously improved it over the intervening years and it now comes with a strange hook thing (next to the cork screw in the picture above). I don’t know what this is actually for but it works brilliantly to pull out tent pegs when decamping. Currently, we take turns with the wonderful hook but this slows things up a bit so I have decided to retire my old penknife and purchase the updated model. The penknife was in fact the only piece of equipment that was transitioning from our BC traveling to the post children gap year (every other item has already been replaced) so it is a very poignant moment. We had discussions about whether it would be the same penknife if we replaced the shiny coloured side pieces of the new one with the old scuffed ones off my original penknife (apparently you can do this), the same way you can replace the head of a hammer or broom, and then later replace the handle … but it still remains the same hammer. Alternatively, I could just keep the new one in my handbag for a few weeks – this would definitely rough it up a bit so it doesn’t look too ‘fresh out the box’.

One has one’s ‘street cred’ to think about, after all!

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