Biological Warfare meets Lord Of The Rings

Beer doesn’t agree with everyone. Some it makes merry. Some it makes horny. Some it makes sleepy. Some it makes miserable. Some it makes angry. And some end up producing the kind of smells that would make a tub of margarine run for the hills screaming for medical assistance while it’s eyeballs melted. Now, can you guess which kind of person Russell is?

Half past six this morning and he’d managed to produce an aroma that peeled off most of the wallpaper in the bathroom. We barricaded the door and sealed it off with duct tape, but still the foetid stench of rotting badgers oozed through to curl the carpet.

So we abandoned all hope, and the motel apartment, and sought refuge in the car instead. When the shrubs and trees surrounding said apartment started to go black and all shrivelly we high-tailed it out of there. For we are manly men! And manly men don’t hang about waiting to be suffocated.

Instead we set out on a jet-boat wilderness safari thing, figuring that the six hours trip would give Russell’s contribution to the world of biological warfare time to dissipate.

The trip started with a bus tour along Lake Wakatipu, pausing for a brief photo shoot as the rising sun painted the Humboldt Mountains with diluted Ribina. Huge grey and brown and white peaks, jagged like an Irish folk singer’s teeth, catching the first glints of the morning sun – absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately it was also cold enough to freeze the nipples off a walrus, but it’s a small price to pay to be out there in all that outdoorsy-wonder.

We tootled along for about an hour to the tiny town of Glenorchy, and then clambered off our bus and onto another one, for a diesel-grumbly judder into some of the most lovely mountains and valleys I’ve ever seen. Crisp white frost. More photo opportunities. More frozen nipples. All narrated by Ian our tour guide, who did almost as good a job of explaining stuff as Russell. Which is high praise indeed. He may be short, and he may produce the most unbelievably foul smells after a night on the beer, but he really knows his schist*.

And then it was time to disembark from the rumbly diesel bus and go on a brief nature hike. Dear Hairy Jesus and his Sainted Immersion Heater, it was cold! By the time we’d gone a hundred yards all the men were talking two octaves higher, because their testicles had retreated to somewhere around their armpits. It was like being kicked in the nadgers by Nature’s frozen flip-flop.

By the time none of us could feel our faces we were shepherd on board a wee jet-boat for a breakneck wheech down the Dart River back to Glenorchy. Turquoise water, gravel beds, shallow channels, all bordered by sodding huge jaggedy mountain ranges, dusted with snow and glowing against the clear blue sky. Not just stunning** but numinous. No wonder this bit of New Zealand gets used for every film going.

Then, following a brief but nasty lunch in a wee cafe, we got back on the bus for the trip back to Queenstown. It’s supposed to be the Geneva of the south, but it’s really more like Aviemore. An unbelievably ugly town surrounded by unbelievably beautiful scenery. The place is an armpit. And not the good kind of armpit either: it’s the kind of armpit that follows you down a darkened street, then mugs you and urinates in your hat.

By the time we got back to the motel the smell had moved on to decimate the wildlife elsewhere, so Russell and I celebrated with New-Zealand-style fish and chips.

I’m not buying him any more beer though...

* As the geologist said to the cartographer.
** OK, so I know I’m using that word a lot, but fucking hell this is seriously jaw-dropping stuff here.

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