It's a Miracle
I have no idea what is going on with my knee! Last night it felt as if it was royaly buggered and any movement of the knee joint brought tears to my eyes. This morning it was more or less right as rain – still a bit sore but perfectly use-able. This necessitated a quick re-setting of my brain as I was mentally adjusted to a nice lazy day sitting in the bus. Instead I got on my bike and did the ride to Lumsden. The ride was typically NZ – apparently flat according to the elevation profile but actually up and down like a whore's drawers. Once I cleared the bottom of Lake Wakatipu (I don't mean that I dredged the lake, just that the first part of the ride followed the edge of the lake) things settled down and the road was through a very broad flat valley and pretty manageable.
Thanks to my 6:30 start I was all done by 2:30.
I've Got Ewe Babe
It's OK, I have found the sheep. They are all huddling down in the bottom few miles of South Island; every field is full of them. I saw on the news last night that the drought is so bad here that farmers may soon have to sell sheep because the grazing is now too poor to sustain the entire flocks. So, by my reckoning this might mean some tasty cut-price NZ lamb in the shops in a few weeks….you heard it here first!
By the way, I am perfectly aware that there is a song simply called Sheep but the obvious ones are not always the best.
In The Middle of The Night
My hostel last night was sub-divided into 2-bedroom 'apartments'. I had a room to myself and my neighbour was a very dodgy Swiss guy called Fritz (no, REALLY). After his shower, Fritz insisted on wandering around the lounge in a towel a little smaller than a pocket handkerchief. It was SO small that it didn't actually meet at the side when wrapped round his waist. I am not sure whether this was meant to be some sort of 'come on' or whether that is just how things are done in the land of triangular chocolate but it wasn't very nice…..I went to bed.
However, this is not the last of my tale of old men in small towels. At about 12:00 I got up for a pee and, since this required crossing the shared hallway, I did a Fritz. It is a pity that I didn't tuck my room key into the waist of the towel.
So, it is midnight, I am locked out of my room, the hostel office is closed and I am wearing a towel. Bugger. I tried all the obvious things: picking the lock, forcing a window, putting my shoulder to the door but, sadly, they know how to build a door in NZ.
Eventually, on a very small sign on the outside of the front door to the hostel I found an emergency contact number.
This was great but:
1/ my phone is in my room
2/ I am now not just locked out of my room but of the hostel too. Access is by numerical code and the code is………on the key fob.
To cut a long story slightly shorter, I was rescued by two Germans returning from a night of drinking (and probably plotting the 4th Reich). They let me back into the hostel and lent me a phone to call the hostel warden who was really pleased that I had called but grudgingly turned up and let me back into my room.
Never have I been so glad to be a leaving somewhere before dawn under cover of darkness.
The Final Countdown
Assuming I don't loose the use of any more limbs and am not arrested for public indecency, I have an easy 50 miles of slightly downhill to do tomorrow. This will deliver me to Invercargill, one of the southern most cities in the world, with 2 days to spare. On one of these I need to ride to Bluff which is the most southerly habitation on NZ, so qualifies as the end-point in the same way that John O'Groats qualifies in the UK (technically Dunnet Head is the 'top' of Scotland but everyone cycles to John O'Groats). Somewhere, either in Invercargill or Bluff, I hope to meet Frank and let him tease me about skipping half an island.