Happy Valentines’ Day! And what a great day it is – for years and years I have dreaded this day like the plague. Even at school, the girls used to make a mad dash to see what the first post and the second post (remember the days of second post?!) had brought for them, whether it be cards, flowers or chocolates (inevitably sent by parents but passed off to peers as gifts from ‘Rupert’, ‘Jonty’ or ‘Farquar’). In working life, especially in London, you’d see the PAs desks, dripping in floral arrangements, and have to fight for a spot on the tube with about 500 red roses. I’m glad those days are over (admittedly it would have been nice if I’d got one surprise card, or one solitary flower in all these years), however I can say today that this is the best Valentine’s day I’ve had. Why? Because it doesn’t feel like February 14th
– it feels like any other day in Paradise.
Today I’m moving on from Nelson, just down the road to Anakiwa, but not without a quick stop in town to see if I can replace the laptop cable that is in pieces after last night’s dropped laptop disaster. I headed over to Dick Smith’s (local for ‘Dixons’), where I was told that the cable I required was an unusual voltage, and as a result, would cost me $149 to replace. Ouch. I’d banked on $99 so a 50% hike on top of that hurt. I decided to argue the toss – ‘this broken adapter isn’t actually mine, it’s for my parents’ laptop (this in itself is true, due to a mix up when packing) – I’m sure mine is the more standard voltage’. The response – ‘try it – if it blows up, you’ll have no laptop at all’. Hmm. I decide to trawl HP online to find out what adapter I need (seeing as I’ve removed the computer model sticker at some stage, it was misguided from the outset). Shop assistant still staring at me, wanting me to make a decision. ‘Maybe you should just phone your parents to see what voltage your actual adapter is’, he slyly comments. Ah, clever Trevor – I’ll do just that. Cue phone call to Mum to find out that my adapter is 0.5v higher than the one I’ve broken here but in the grand scheme of things, this makes no difference. I still need the expensive charger. ‘Your call’, says Mr Assistant, ‘you either want to use your laptop while you’re away or you don’t’. Half an hour of faffing around and that was the decision made – I had to part with $149. Except I didn’t. Because at the point of running the barcode through the till, turns out high-tech adapter is on sale for…you guessed it…$99. Mr Assistant could have saved himself a whole load of heartache if he’d bothered to check the price from the outset eh… ;-)
On the road, and I decided to head to Picton, to do the ferry-recky for tomorrow, and then stop by at a couple of vineyards in the Marlborough region. I love a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but as I’m driving, it’s a no brainer that I can’t get merry today. However, I do have a couple of presents to buy – thank you gifts for those who so bravely have, or are about to, put me up/put up with me on my travels. I also found a chocolate factory that I felt compelled to visit – at least I can sample the wares there! Macademia brittle – delish!
I stopped off at Cloudy Bay, a well-known and beautiful vineyard in the heart of the district. It’s very English country garden – croquet, cream deckchairs etc. I must admit I did have a cheeky couple of sips in here, just to make sure what I was buying was of suitable quality for gifts…
I then headed off to Anakiwa, along the Queen Charlotte track. I’ve got a real sense of sandflies already – Anakiwa is similar to Milford Sound, where I was first attacked by the evil things. It’s a lovely winding road, overlooking the Marlborough Sound, with little fishing boats bobbing around in the drink, where the owners of the few and far between houses have a quirky sense of humour/style, as they’ve all customised their roadside postboxes to be anything from fish shaped to postvan shaped. When I get to my hostel, it couldn’t be more remote – but blissful. Quite possibly the best hostel I’ve stayed in. The owners made me feel instantly at home – you get free towels here, you don’t have to make up your own bed, as it’s been done for you, you get the run of the kitchen as there are only 10 beds at the hostel, and there’s a hot tub – yes, a hot tub – for you to relax and use. Free tea and coffee, matching crockery, a clean fridge, and surround sound for the kitchen stereo, with a choice of CDs (spent the evening cooking while dancing and singing to The Corrs..I didn’t say they were good CDs did I, but somehow I got into the spirit (no alcohol involved, I’ll have you know)). Heaters in the shower, a proper china toilet and posh loo roll. This place is the heaven of hostels. I’m rooming with 3 friends – well, they were friends before they started this adventure, and now they look close to tearing each other’s hair out. Still, it’s only one night and the place is too lovely for me to get worried about their squabbles.
A quick wee before bedtime provided the day’s real entertainment. I’d ask you to picture the scene but you might not want to. There I am, mid-wee, when I feel something land on my back. I jump up, to see the world’s biggest – the size of the palm of my hand – horsefly, all wings and crusty body, land on the floor. I hate flying things, and now I’m in a toilet cubicle, with little floor space, while this thing decides to fly at me repeatedly. I’m jumping around, pants round my ankles, still needing to finish weeing, while having heart failure at the flying thing. It finally settles down enough for me to flee, barely with enough time to pull up said pants, to the sanctuary of the shower room. It may have escaped my memory to tell the other roomies, as one of the girls, next in after me, let out the most almighty scream and came running back in as this ‘giant moth beetle (?)’ had attacked her…
I said nothing, chuckled to myself, and rolled over to go to sleep…
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