Monday, December 12, 2005

Guest Blog: Highways and Byways

Country Bumpkin, who is a New Zealand cousin and will be a frequent guest at Kiko's House, has been penning a series of delightful essays entitled "Country Life" for several years. Herewith is one of his favorites:
A couple of kilometres south of Woodville on Highway 2 a sign at the entrance to a side road says "Tararua Breeding Centre - Trucks Only".

New Zealand readers will no doubt agree how spectacularly successful this programme has been. The progeny may be seen in phenomenal numbers everywhere, notably the species called the Toyota Hi-Lux van. There are lesser numbers of other breeds, with names like Mitsubishi, Nissan and the occasional Mercedes-Benz panel van, but Toyota dominate beyond doubt. The breeding programme has also had spectacular size and weight gain achievements. It takes courage and a long time to pass a long-distance truck and trailer these days (you wouldn't want to try it on your 90cc Piaggio), a fact which nearly killed us when I made a misjudgment on a northern highway back in April, when we were driving to Auckland for an operation on my wife's eye.

But more to the point, why would any normal married couple even be on godforsaken Highway 2 at all, just south of Woodville and trying to pass dozens of the aforementioned bloody great trucks on that narrow and breezy strip of road?

The answer is garden furniture. Sonia saw an outdoor table, umbrella and chairs she liked in Palmerston North. The Masterton branch of The Warehouse didn't stock them, so we went to PN to check it out and duly bought them.

Now, back in the 60s when I was sent there by Shell for 13 miserable months, we lived in Palmerston North, and it was not, how shall I put it, very enlivening. Forty years later it didn't seem to have improved much when we travelled there from Wellington. But this time we travelled there from Masterton, which put a whole new perspective on things. We saw, for the first time in a month or so, men wearing business suits! Women dressed in designer clothes. Cafes filled with people taking latte. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!!! Palmerston North suddenly seemed like a city.

Excuse me . . . I'll be OK in a moment.

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