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Long term home on a camp site, Westport

We were thinking about what marks the difference between a holiday and traveling.  Needing a haircut would be one for sure. The Tour de France, because of its 3 week duration, is one of the few sporting events where competitors need a haircut. I would imagine that Bradley Wiggins, with his attention to grooming, has at least a couple and maybe more. Esther was starting to look like a strange cross between a Highland cow and Andy Warhole and needed grooming attention. Blenheim was a good place for that and she went for a more copper tone to cope with the sun bleaching, rather than her more usual squirrel colour.

coastal views, near Punakaiki

a new sign for my collection

We have crossed the South Island and are now on the West coast with the sea to our right as we pedal South and the Paparoa Range of hills to our left. Travelling on coastal routes is often hard and some times frustrating. Up followed by down, and in followed by out. Back in 1982 I did the Pembroke coast path long distance walk and hated almost every minute of it. You could shake hands with people a mile ahead as it went in and out and it did my head in so much I packed it in. A big DNF against my name and I have not returned.

Here the ups require the zip of the Rapha Sportwool top to be pulled down to the naval and then the cool of the descent, up it goes to the chin. To quote John Shuttleworth “It’s up and down like a brides nightie”; even though it is cooler now, at only 24’C. It has a quality zip and for that I am grateful as it is getting a lot of use as the grades on the ups are challenging.

near Charlston

We have had a couple of meetings at high-speed with idiot drivers, one requiring us to dive onto the grass and me to swear and gesture. Never mind though as the kindness of the Kiwis picks up the spirits. The coast has semi jungle with Flax plants and palms, with clearings made for what are often rough shacks.

pig-dog at Jade gallery, Charlston

These people have a great spirit and are often excentric. Having a pig as an alternative to a dog looks normal enough. In pull-ins along the road, we are greeted by grey haired bus travelers and served tea, followed by warm balm for our legs. How nice is that?

tea for two

We were wondering if world events had ever been such a part of our travels. At the moment news of the Earthquake is  all around us, as are the people effected by it.  It is a tense time at any cafe stop we make. One of our first big tours took us across France, with cols in the Pyrenees and Alps. We got to a point very near the end and were in a bar celebrating that we were going to make it. Then on the TV came images of the twin towers falling and the mood obviously changed.
Following our encounter with sandflies and subsequent maddening itches we have taken “the nuclear option” as far as repellent goes, with the full 80% deet. It is horrible, and took off the dye in a plastic bag I was carrying. We have twice now been told to use “baby oil mixed with Dettol”, but I want some science from people with degrees rather than folklore.

Pancake rocks, Paparoa National Park

Pancake Rocks II

We loved Pancake Rocks and the National Park HQ and as we approached Greymouth the road leveled at last. The river mouth certainly has rocks that are grey but it looks a nice enough town to have a rest day in.

Looking for Jade

Esther has just found out that the Jade pendent that she was given as a gift “to bring you good luck and a safe journey” is worth quite a lot of money. It comes from this area of the coast and has a rare white crystal fault in it. All that kindness of spirit from strangers now a long way North of us.

arriving at Greymouth