Tramping the Abel Tasman

Packing for tramping feedback, what worked?

Well, everything worked, really.

The Abel Tasman is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and one thing we do well in New Zealand is walking. The National Park was nearly at full capacity, and while there are day trippers you’re not exactly tripping over them. There is plenty of space to breathe, a 60 kilometre trail winding through the bush. I tramp in a bit of a trance usually,  wandering along in my subconscious. Continue reading “Tramping the Abel Tasman”

Packing for tramping

What to pack for a 5 day hike

Packing for a multi-day tramp is all about balance. Mainly so you don’t fall over. We’re walking the Abel Tasman National Park, staying in tents, 6 days, 5 nights and it’s going to rain. I tried to get the pack under 10kg which I like for tramping, but with the tent and mattress this comes in at 12kg. I could leave out one bag of muesli and the mattress? Yeah, nah. Continue reading “Packing for tramping”

In the Captain’s bathroom

On board the Polly Woodside

It’s rare to walk around a museum in a ship. The Polly Woodside is just that; it is a wee historical treasure berthed on the South Bank at Melbourne. At first glance she looks uninspiring, locked in with boardwalks and surrounded by restaurants and bars, a big iron hulk of a thing with shabby paintwork and painted gun ports. It’s hard to get a sense of her scale and grace when you’re peering over the fence and the music’s blaring. We walked past her a couple of times before deciding to go back. Continue reading “In the Captain’s bathroom”

The rafting fallout (yes, we did)

White water rafting truths

  • Wear a helmet. You will fall in. There will be rocks.
  • Not all dry bags are equal. Pay for quality.
  • When a water-tight barrel explodes open in a rapid, dry things get wet.
  • Securely tied items can do a Houdini and wave goodbye as you’re clinging to the upside-down raft.
  • If you lose your heavy camp stove at the bottom of a river and a waif dives for it, it will miraculously light first click.
  • Chilly bins need to be tied shut.
  • Waterlogged bagels are inedible.
  • Sunnies should be tied on. What did I tell them?
  • A cairn piled on a rock on the side of the river may indicate a ledge wide enough to pitch camp. Stop!
  • Memories of past trips are rose tinted. Add an extra few hours and serious amounts of fear to any memory. I would argue (and did) that a rafting trip is nothing at all like giving birth, but it is true you soon forget the pain and turn around and do it all over again.

Continue reading “The rafting fallout (yes, we did)”

Packing list for rafting

Summer camping on the river

Here’s my packing list for an overnight rafting trip. (There’s no rain forecast and someone else is looking after the raft!) Off down the Ngaruroro river tomorrow.

Newbies often asked what to pack for a multi-day rafting trip. You need to be fairly tight, to fit in on the raft, but weight is not as issue like it is for a tramp. Continue reading “Packing list for rafting”

Mr Peacock’s Possessions – book review

Mr Peacock’s possessions, by Lydia Syson

Lydia Syson’s Mr Peacock’s Possessions sets the characters and the scene slowly – you need to understand the background before you can follow the story. So don’t be impatient, sit quietly as the curious and impulsive Kalala introduces you to his life in the Pacific, his brother, the pastor Solomona, and their small group of god fearing men who are shipped to an island where a white man and his family are struggling to settle.

Lizzie’s story comes next, she tells of family life on an isolated island, the difficulties faced by her mother and many children as they live castaway style, and the struggles of her delicate older brother, who is a disappointment to their very physical and driven father. Lizzie is her father’s favourite and she loves him unreservedly. Until she has to confront a truth that questions all she believes of him.

The family are swindled by a ship’s captain, they suffer rats and weevils and have some small successes, but there is an undercurrent of suspense growing. There are bones on the island, pigs’ bones, says Mr Peacock, as he hastily buries them.  Kalala and the Islanders arrive, Lizzie’s brother goes missing and they all spread out over the island to search for him.

Mr Peacock is a possessive man. Lydia Syson makes his frustrations seem understandable in the rough and rugged man’s world scattered around the very edges of Victoria’s imperial petticoats. Peacock had struggled for years, as many did, slowly realising through constant failures that the dream of owning colonial land was not a promise for everyone. He owned his wife and his children and when the opportunity came to buy and island he owned that, too.  Our main story begins when he brings in his “Kanaka boys,” to work his land and gradually young Lizzie and the rest of the family begin to question her father’s possessive attitudes.

Kalala and the Islanders’ story merges with Lizzie’s and a story that has gone before them on the island, and the mystery of the missing brother hangs over them all.

The reading just gets better and better and the story becomes utterly compelling.  My advice is to set aside a good chunk of time when you get near the end, there are some things that need to be finished.

Mr Peacock’s Possessions is a terrific book for a book club read, there are lots of questions around possessiveness and ownership, success and failure, compassion. You can discuss colonial attitudes to women, race, land, the power of religion. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying Monday Island, where the Peacock’s live, is in fact Raoul Island in the Kermadecs, and now a marine reserve and a place of extraordinary biodiversity. It featured on the migration route for early Pacific voyagers and for those of us who love islands it has a fascinating history all of its own.

Head’s up for my book club – this one is my next choice.

 

Pocket sexism

How to wear a mobile phone

So much for unisex clothing. Discrimination is rampant, and it is apparent in the pocket.

And I’m not talking about the price of women’s clothing compared to men’s. I’m really talking about pockets.

I’ve gone out in the evening and discovered my husband has seven pockets and I have none. Summer dresses with a pocket? Nope. Work skirts? Nope. Fashionable leggings? No pocket.  Those jackets with the little lapel thing that looks like a pocket but is stitched over so you can’t put your hand in, who’s that for?  I have the odd shirt with a silly little flip of a pocket right over the breast bulge, I’m not sure what is designed to go there, but not wallet or keys.

Jeans? Don’t get me started. A phone in your pocket is asking for trouble.  Pick me! it says. Let me fall out when you sit down. Please, let me slide from that precarious little flap of fabric and dive with a splash into the toilet bowl.

Women’s clothing designers, if you’re reading this, do us a favour!  Women no longer want to carry a wee handbag where ever we go. Like the blokes, we like to be hands free. Design us clothes that look good, feel comfortable and have pockets.  And make them big enough for a phone, keys and cards.

In the meantime, ladies, here’s a work around for the jeans:

Voila! You have a bit of swank in your back pocket and your phone’s not going anywhere.