Helen Findlay

My adventures in Middle Europe and The Colonies. This blog contains my own views and opinions and does not represent those of my employers, or any other organisation with which I am involved. Remember, just because it isn't Singletrackworld, doesn't mean it isn't shite !

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Driving in the Third World & New Years Eve

Having driven in the USA, Canada, France, Spain, Italy etc, I can now confirm what I have always suspected, KIWIS ARE THE WORST DRIVERS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD !!!! You take your life into your hands every time you hit the open road. I have had more near-death experiences on the bike around Wellington city in two weeks than I have ever had in Edinburgh in 10 years.

Got the Ferry over to Picton on friday and picked up a rental car and drove to Christchurch. Terrifying. Single carriage way all 400 kms, and lots of very impatient drivers. The rental car was a Nissan Shito, about 1000 ccs with automatic transmission and 171,000 ks on the clock. Go well it did not. The Kiwi answer to that is to drive about 2 feet from the back of the car in front, then overtake on a blind corner, or even better a blind summit. Got stuck behind a couple of camper vans, and when we finally got to one of the 4 (I was counting) overtaking lanes between Picton and ChCh they sped up !! About 3 of the 200 cars stuck behind them got past, while all the other cars passed each other in the queue. No wonder people take such risks. The road toll between Christmas and New Year in New Zealand was 20 deaths.

Arrived in ChCh somewhat traumatised late on friday afternoon, and went to visit my friend Kim's bro Steven who has just bought a house there. Even by Kiwi standards it was huge, could have hidden a whole rugby team in the place.

On saturday Alistair and I went for an excellent mountainbike ride around the Port Hills, was a great day for it, and found some superb tracks around the hills. Long hard technical route on the last descent to Sumner beach, had a bit of an Overconfidence Incident on some rocky steps. Alistair had stopped but I thought "what a big girl, I can ride that" and nearly made it but for the last step and my forks being a bit sha**ed cos they leaked oil on the plane. Straight over the bars and some new scars to match the rest of them on my knees. Oops.

Stopped for coffee and bagels in cafe on the beach then rode back along the road to Shirley. Quick BBQ then out the door and uptown for NYE. Alistair wore his kilt and got plenty of attention from the laydeez which pleased him greatly. Did the rounds of a few bars, many wines and possibly some beers, maybe even dancing, I don't even remember getting home I guess we must have got a taxi. Woke up on the floor in the morning feeling very unperky. Have decided that was the end of drinking now for me until the end of the racing season this year, have drunk my quota !!

Next day went to visit my cousin Donna who has an even huger house up in the Port Hills for a BBQ, and saw nearly all my aunties and cousins and their various children. Had a brilliant time, was great to catch up with everybody, not sure when I will get the chance to again. Stayed the night with my auntie Judy and uncle Don then left at 7.30 to drive back up to Picton and try and avoid the traffic.

A few words on Tuatara. They are very shy. Spent hours trying to find them at the wildlife park in Karori and eventually spotted one sticking it's head out of it's cave. And they are much smaller than you think. I thought Tuatara meant "big lizard" but it means "terrible lizard" so there you go.

Off to see King Kong tonight with my sister (the movie that is) and Te Papa Tongarewa (museum of New Zealand) on thursday. Got some great pics of the Port Hills on saturday, but still toiling with technical problems.

Only 5 days to go in NZ now, as always it has flown by.

Oh, and forgot to mention last time, I had a job interview on the 14th before I left, and was offered the job that day. Sometime in early february I will be the new Records Manager for West Lothian Council. Tres glamorous !! Hell commute to Livingston, so might have to take my bike as much as possible. Can't say I am looking forward to being a wage slave again, but glad I know where my next mortgage payment is coming from. Although it was kinda fun being unemployed when it was summer and I still had plenty of money it was kinda grim over winter and I was getting depressed and fat. Maybe I'll try and save my money and take next summer off !!