Ooh! Ahh! ... And the art of buying socks

Determined not to be out done by Russell, this morning I was the one making the unwholesome aromas. Yes. mine weren’t in the same league as his, but I tried, and that’s what’s important. Personally I’m blaming the fish and chips we had last night. I have a love/hate relationship with fish and chips, where I love them and they do horrible things to my insides. But like a fool I always go back for more. And this morning, Russell was the one suffering the collateral-damage-related consequences.

Revenge is a dish best served smelly.

After we’d done the door-barricading and duct taping, Russell and I headed out to Queenstown airport for our 08:20 flight over the mountains to Milford Sound. Which was delayed till 11:00 instead. So bleary of eye we went for a wander to take some photographs. Not a difficult task in New Zealand, you can’t hurl a Pentax SLR without braining at least half a dozen photo opportunities.

-- Just a quick aside here, in the pause between paragraphs I thought I’d break out my iPod Nano and listen to something epic (you might think this a little rude when I’m travelling in company, but Russell’s in the shower right now making mammal soap), but it’s buggered. Broken. Pish all use. Bloody thing. It’s been a loyal and faithful companion to me for two and a bit years, and now it’s decided to curl up its metaphorical toes and join the ranks of the undead* --

Where was I? Yes, right, so eventually we get on board a tiny Cesna, six-seater, single engine plane – piloted by Dan from Essex – and into the wild blue yonder we doth climb.** And from the moment our wheels left the tarmac it was ‘Ooh!’ and ‘Ahh!’ all the way to Milford Sound.

Actually that makes it sound as if we were in a low-budget porn film. But trust me, if you ever get the chance to visit the Armpit of Queenstown, hop on a little plane to Milford Sound. Don't take the bus. Don't drive. Fly. It’s wonderful, stunning, and a whole bag of other superlatives. I had a big cheesy grin on for the whole flight.***

And then we came in to land. It was straight out of Jurassic Park: flying down the Sound, blue water sparkling in the sunlight below us, massive mountains to either side, rain forest, palm trees... Ooh, ahh...

Then we got on the boat for a two hour cruise out to the Tasmin Sea and back again. Tell you what, Russell may be capable of producing nature’s own mustard gas, but he’s one hell of a tour guide. Having a degree in geography probably helps. Yesterday he explained the whole glacial thing (yes, we did it in school, but there’s a big difference between reading about glaciers in a book, and hearing about it from a fantasy author in a comedy woolly hat**** while looking out at a vast valley and lake formed by one of them), and today he narrated most of Milford Sound. Very clever chap is our Mr Kirkpatrick, for someone of restricted height.*****

The Sound was every bit as groovy as I’d been told -- only more so -- and on the way back we flew over loads more mountains, hidden lakes, and valleys. My cheesy grin was still intact by the time we touched down back in Queenstown, which isn’t bad going for me. Normally I can be relied upon for a good grump at least twice a day.

Of course, when we got back to the walk-in fridge/motel my iPod was suffering from hypothermic death, but other than that it’s been one of the best days off I’ve ever had. And as if flying over one of the most beautiful parts of the world wasn’t enough, I had cold feet this morning, so splashed out on a pair of uber-expensive merino socks from an eager sales lady at the airport. I wouldn’t normally do something like that, but I had cold feet, she had lots of socks, one thing led to another...

Just don’t tell She Who Must, OK? She doesn’t like me accepting hosiery from strange women.

* Why the undead have curly toes, I have no idea. Actually, I have the nasty suspicion that the poor wee thing’s frozen. The motel apartment we’ve got in Arrowtown is colder than a witches knicker drawer, every time we come back from a day out it’s like walking into a very big fridge. Assuming that the fridge was being used to store furniture, rather than chunks of greening cheese and mouldering ready meals.
** That’s the trouble with travelling around with best-selling fantasy authors, you end up speaking in ‘thee’s and ‘thou’s.
*** It was under my seat along with the life jacket.
**** Russell thinks it makes him look sexy.
***** Don’t want him getting ideas above his station... Which is about 4’3”, though he claims it’s 5’6”. Never trust a man in a comedy woolly hat.

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