Penguins, sex, and Pirates

I have important pearls of wisdom to impart to you. 1: Never get Tabasco sauce in your intimate masculine areas. 2: Never trust anyone who says ‘this won’t hurt a bit’*. And 3: Never, EVER eat at any restaurant with a crudely-drawn pirate on the sign.

Actually, I’m going to expand Pearl Of Wisdom Number The Third to include any form of nautical doodle, theme, motif, or smell. But mostly pirates. If you see a pirate on the sign, RUN FOR THE HILLS!!! There, all you have to do is run around the hill one way, then tun around and go in the opposite direction. The pirate chasing you will be unable to handle the sudden change of direction, owing to only having one leg – the other being wooden – and will promptly fall over. Then you can rip the aforementioned artificial limb from his lower appendage and hit him over the head with it till he passes out, or away. Depending on how energetic you feel.

But I digress.

After his game of golf – which he lost – Russell and I set off for Oamaru, about three hours of flat motorway southwest of Christchurch. And when I say flat, I mean flat. This stretch of New Zealand makes Holland look lumpy. We tootled into Oamaru just in time to see the tiny blue penguins come in from the sea. Which was pretty damn cool. OK, so when they clamber up the steep stone incline from the crashing waves to the relative safety of their little penguin condominiums they move a little bit like rats wearing tuxedos, but other than that they’re very sweet.

Well, I say sweet... There was a lot of high-pitched rattly snoring going on**, and at one point a pair of the randy little buggers put on a live penguin sex show. And I’m not just talking about a discreet cut away to waves breaking and choo-choo trains going into tunnels, this was a full-on Bom-Chicka-Wa-Wa ‘Give it to me you vast 30cm-high flightless waterfowl of love you!’ kind of thing. But other than that, they’re just what you expect little penguins to be like.

Then I made the terrible mistake of letting Russell pick where we were going to eat that evening. As the All Blacks were playing France that evening, Russell wanted to find somewhere near the motel we were staying at. There was a place right next-door. Why don’t we try that?

And this brings us back to Pearl Of Wisdom Number The Third. It was truly, truly, fucking awful. Now I want you to bear in mind that I’ve eaten barbecued pig testicles, OK? My bar for what’s a bloody horrible meal has been set pretty damn high. And this place came close to clearing it without so much as a running jump. It was a buffet***. A buffet of the kind only ever spoken of in terrified whispers wherever chefs gather to tell their tales of woe. A buffet of the damned.

Seriously, if they serve food in hell, the bloke who committed this buffet is in charge of the catering arrangements. Russell opted for roast beef – which looked as if someone had burnt a couch and then sliced it thinly – and I had the gammon. Now, the gammon itself didn’t look too bad, and when I was up being served, the chef**** dolloped a little ladle of plumb sauce on the side. OK, thinks I, plumb sauce and gammon: that could work.

Ha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...

If you want to replicate the taste try this: take a handful of gritty mud, vigorously rub it into the arsehole of a scabby dog, then dissolve the resultant sludge in a small jar of mouldy jam. Even then, that would probably be less offensive on the palate than what I ended up with.

But even this weapon of mass revulsion paled into insignificance when faced with the criminal negligence of the dessert section. After disappearing for five minutes, Russell came scampering back to the table, all excited and revolted at the same time. ‘You’ve got to go see the custard!’ he says, eyes glittering like a mental patient. ‘Go! Go see the custard!’

And he was right. It was a sight to be seen. Lumpy, pustular, revolting. As if a very large spot had been squeezed into the bain marie, then mixed with half a packet of wallpaper paste. Badly. I have no idea how anyone could possibly do that to a poor innocent custard, but somehow the grinning fiend in the poufy hat managed it.

The next morning – which contrary to common sense didn’t see us waking up in hospital with death-defying doses of food poisoning – we headed off before the crack of dawn. Just in case someone came and offered us breakfast, we travelled under assumed names: me dressed as a pilgrim father, Russell dressed as Widow Twanky. No idea why, but for some reason he had the costume with him*****. We didn’t stop running until we got to the Moeraki boulders.

From there on it was a rainy, foggy, cold and windy poop-fest of crappy weather, all the way from Moeraki to Alexandra, and then the sky turned blue, the clouds turned wispy, and the rain buggered off. After that we were in ‘Dear Jesus, that’s pretty...’ territory again. Huge mountains, gorgeous light, frost, things, stuff, and woo-hoo.

Tomorrow we go see if we can drown ourselves at 60mph.

* See Pearl Of Wisdom Number The First.
** Apparently that’s how they tell each other that everything is fine and no one has to worry about being eaten by a visiting crocodile.
*** ‘Buffet’ a word I’ll be giving the same kind of welcome as I would ‘Rectal Polyps’ from now on.
**** I use the word ‘Chef’ but I really mean ‘Sadistic Culinary Fuck-Weasel’
***** Even though he doesn’t really have the legs to carry it off.

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