Thursday, May 15, 2008

Campervan: Day 4

In keeping with the Camper! theme, every time I've gone to use the showers in whatever halting site we've found ourselves, my thoughtful wife prepares a little bag with shampoo, conditioner etc. A petite pink bag. Not unlike a handbag. I've had to make the walk of shame from the camper to the showers, pink bag swinging in my hand, greeting anyone I meet in deeply compensatory tones. At this point, Nina and Sara are taking the piss out of my 'borsa rosa' and saying what a girly-girl I am.

We left Nelson City for the middle of nowhere, also known as Saint Arnaud. This was to be Duncan's fault, or Duncan's kudos, depending on how badly or well things went. We had no idea if the place was even equiped with a powered site for the camper, or indeed if there was any reason to be there in the first place, other than the fact that it was approximately half way between where we were and where we next needed to be. Duncan had told us that there was nothing there but it was a beautiful nothing (Bel Niente). Sitting on the edge of Lake Rotoiti, Saint Arnaud has one hotel and a camping site. What the hell - we were up for it.

Before we left civilization, we stopped off in another of Duncan's recommendations: WOW. The World of WearableArt. About 20 years ago in Nelson, a show that combined art and fashion was born. The only requirement of the work presented was that every piece had to be wearable. The idea took off, and after another few years it grew so popular that it had to move to Wellington in order to cater for the ever increasing audiences. It's improbable, odd and if I'm honest not entirely enticing at first. But it's really worth visiting. The shows themselves, which can be viewed in the mini-cinema at the end of the gallery, look like a fantastic evening out.

An unexpected side-effect of our visit to WOW was the aquisition of a work by a local artist. Che Vincent's workshop is very close to Nelson, just off the road to Abel Tasman we had taken the previous day. One wall of the gallery's foyer was covered with these little creatures. We had to have one - we're already working on the next parcel to send home (number 5!).

We stopped off on the way for another Irene Safari, which in the camper now includes hot coffee!We made our picnic on a little bench at the top of a hill in the middle of logging country, where the scenery was dominated by planned and orderly conifer forests, and some closely shaved peaks that didn't look like they were going to produce again any time soon. How odd it was then, from this height that didn't offer much beauty, to come across the following work of philosophy carved into our picnic table:

I can subscribe to that. First talk, then trousers.

The Bel Niente turned out to be accurate on both counts. Other than the fabulous Lake Rotoiti, a takeaway/shop and a small motel, there was only the campsite and its resident sandflies. The lady running the DoC campsite told me that the sites were indeed powered, but due to the cold weather, the hot water was switched off.

How's that now?

Yes, I had heard correctly. If it's very cold, then the pipes might burst, so there are no hot showers in Winter. I did the spoken equivalent of a double-take (think of Porky Pig, but without the keen intellect) and - fair dues to the woman - she kept a straight face while running this logic past me a second time.

After a small walk around to check for kiwis (nope, no kiwis here), and a brief tour of the main road (nope, no Kiwis here), we settled in for the night. The kids watched Ghostbusters II, we ate some dreadful pizza, and then all fell asleep listening to the wind, and the noise of the branches overhead scratching the top of the campervan. At least I think thats what it was...(who ya gonna call?)


dathai said...

While Shocks Last -
A Camper Life

Brendan Lawlor said...


It gets worse, believe me.

Duncan said...

I can't yet tell if it's kudos or komplaints ... but I'm suspecting the latter !

Brendan Lawlor said...

You're safe mate. It was a good stop. Couple of sandflies fewer would have been nice, but hey!

Andrew said...

Don't mind the pink bag....Hair conditioner - what a wuss!

Brendan Lawlor said...

Now now - you are leaving yourself open to attack on a certain front. I'm far too gentlemanly (or is it ladylike?) to go that route.