Sunday, October 09, 2005

Into the wastes

Our first stop was to have been Twizel - with the I as in aisle, rather than twiglet. Before we'd gone as much as an hour, however, Barbara made frantic stopping motions and I was forced to pull over into the town of Ashburton. This is the home of Ashford Spinning Wheels and Looms, and next to the factory they have a museum. Well, to be more accurate, they have a small collection of spinning wheels in a musty-smelling room up above the extensively (and expensively) stocked shop. Barbara's love of sheep (and I'm not talking about the love that dare not speak its name here) comes not from some intellectual curiosity, nor from some altruistic desire to improve the lot of the Welsh Sheep Farmer (if there's one left). No, Barbara's love of sheep comes from an early introduction to the arcane witchcraft that is knitting. Only once I had stepped through the hallowed portals of Ashford's Craft Shop did I realise how subtly I had been manipulated. Here were there not only spinning wheels and looms, but wool of many colours, needles and patterns. Here money needed to be spent, a tribute to the gods of these thing to ensure our safe passage through Middle Earth. We left lighter of wallet, but heavier to the tune of two kilos of colourful doubleknit New Zealand wool, which will soon be transformed into something that will keep me warm through a long Welsh winter.

Twizel (ot twizzle), turned out to be less interesting than its press, so we hurried on, past the tomb of the unknown sheepdog at Lake Tekapo, ending the day in Wanaka. This is serious Lord of the Rings country - Rohan, Lothlorien and Isengard are all within a helicopter pan-shot of each other here. There was definitely something familiar about the skyline - I'm going to have to wade through twelve hours of movies when I get home just to try and identify place. Or I could buy the book.

The lakes around here are either glacier fed or not, the difference being that the glacier fed ones are a vibrant pale blue in colour, as if they were carribean coastlines kissed by sun and not ice-cold New Zealand lakes hammered by wind and rain. I've come across the same phenomenon at Lake Louise in British Columbia - apparently it's something to do with the ice-melt water being full of minerals that refract the light. It's weird when the sun's shining, but positively eerie when the lake's covered with low, misty cloud and it still seems to glow like there's a big fluorescent tube twenty feet underwater.

Anyway, we reached Wanaka without further enchantment, bewitchment, or elves. I had been told that Wanaka was like Queenstown had been before it got all toursity. Since I had never been to Queenstown, this was not the most enlightening of comparisons, but if it meant that Wanaka was basically asleep, then it was spot on. I could happily live in Wanaka, undisturbed, unnoticed and free from the worries of everyday life. If only they didn't need money for beer and food and all those other tiresome little necessities of life. Since no one was offering a socialist utopia, we moved on.

Next: Skiing


Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

"Or I could buy the book."

Yea - buy the book. Jane probably wrote it, so you should, like, totally buy a copy dude.

I must now go and wax my surfboard. Or make a cup of tea, whichever is less effort and results in a nice cup of tea.

And I don't have a surfboard.

October 10, 2005 12:46 pm  

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