17.01.2012 - 19.01.2012
Yesterday I collected my new Red Baron. Silver, shiny and raring to go!
Henry from Experience Motorcycles (BMW) Auckland was chaos personified. He was very kind the day I bought the bike when he drove me across town to Motormail bike shop so I could buy my riding gear cheaper than BMW stuff. After I bought a lid, jacket, gloves, waterproof over-trousers and been given a great motorcycle atlas of the whole of NZ showing great on road and off road routes, Chris the owner told me to call him anytime I needed help or suggestions. Henry drove me back and all this kindness forgave the fact he wrote up my insurance in the wrong book, tried to charge me the wrong amount then spent an hour looking for the service book for the bike!!
Eventually I managed to have both the bike AND the keys but by that time it was raining! Undeterred I set off up the road executing a deft manoeuvre into the traffic... just like me and Herr Baron! About 1/2 a mile later I was lost!! Heading towards the motorway I realised I needed to turn round and with Henry's words ringing in my ears, "50 kph in town, 100 kph in the country" I looked down to discover I was at 55 kph - perfect. So why at that very moment some dickhead in a souped up rust bucket decided to come looming into my mirror and harass me I don't know. He was tailgating me and trying to push me either faster or to move over - I did neither, I'm in the right - sod him. I did spot a turning on the right so indicated and pulled across into a filter lane. He roared past and cut in before swerving back into the left lane. Ho Hum...
I then caused a problem without knowing it (until later!). I was trying to turn right across the road and in the UK that means giving way to the flowing traffic. Well there was a car turning left into the same junction as me and he stopped and looked at me. I waited for him to turn so I could move but he just sat there and stared at me... moments past... some more moments past... in the distance a cock crowed... no really this was getting embarrassing! Finally I realised he wasn't going to shift so I turned across him and he then followed me. A couple of streets later he was still behind me and I started getting paranoid, was he the New Zealand FBI equivalent? Was my visa no good after all? was he an undercover cop who had seen the road rage incident?? or was he just a normal guy obeying the NZ code of the road which makes people turning left give way to people turning right and I just hadn't found out yet?!!! Hmm... turns out I need to acquaint myself with the highway code!!
Finally I found a street I recognised and my way back to the motel where I am staying. Cynthia and Hilton came out to welcome me and the bike and ooo'd and aaarr'd in the appropriate manner! They are real sweeties and he drove me up to Mount Eden last night to take some photos as it, "was the best night this summer for it" and he pointed out all the different sights from the top of this incredible extinct volcano. The crater was perfect - I mean totally perfect! If you had to sit down and design a crater this is what it would look like! Perfectly round but dipped on one side to give interest, grassed with undulations and the higher side even has a small flat area from which you can photograph the city from all points of the compass.
On the drive back we talked about the Prime Minister and Hilton said that he went to a black tie function which the PM attended. He said that after the formalities and photos the PM loosened his bow tie, leaned back in his chair and ordered a beer! In Hilton's opinion this made the PM, "A bloody all right bloke" - high praise indeed.
A couple of days ago I took the ferry over to Devonport on the other side of the harbour and had a wander about. The front is a delight with pretty wooden bungalows looking out across the harbour. After a chai tea I walk back to the ferry port and notice that the railing has been covered in knitting! Had no clue what it was all about but it looked like different people from around the world had knitted a foot of railing cosy and it had all been stitched together... very cute!
New Zealand has sneaky sunshine! I was only out on the ferry for 15 minutes in each direction and a half hour walk around the town and I am now sporting a burnt forehead and nose! NZ has a hole in the ozone layer above it which gives the country the sad honour of having the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. I am now carrying a tub of 1,000 spf cream around with me and trying to shake off the Rudolf look!
The Sky Tower is supposed to be the highest building in the southern hemisphere (although I think there is a big discussion about this 'fact'). I took the lift to the 220 metre (722 feet) sky deck and looked out over this lovely spread out, low rise city. I'd waited until about 7pm as I thought it would be quieter and was rewarded with just a group of teenagers being led by someone with 'James' written on the back of his shirt. I resisted the urge to call out 'James' then, when he turns round say, "Oh sorry, I don't know you" and took some photos instead.
Over a rather nice martini I contemplated the building... is it cheating to build a really high structure then put a REALLY tall mast on the top so it is even taller? Just what constitutes a 'building' over a 'structure' ie is a radio mast counted in the highest building list? Does the water from the toilet reach terminal velocity when flushed from the Sky Bar? It was at this point I decided to stop thinking for the day!