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Live porn (and other scenery) February 9, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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It’s the only way to describe it. Or live catwalk, I suppose, but it was so much more hormonal than a catwalk. So much less sexless. And to think I had been half-prepared to spend my whole two weeks in Auckland.

My vague travels took me up and down the North Island. The wedding – I need to do a separate thank you speech to my speech assistants; you helped more than you know – was bang in the middle of my trip so time was of the essence. A quick jaunt down to Rotorua to snort in the earth’s smells and see it bubbling and making odd colours and to experience a geyser spurt – aber how could they know it would be 10.15am every day, my brother-in-law and I puzzled. Sister accused us of cynicism, and said it was a marvellous coincidence. Bar of soap bunged in at 10.14am – that’s how they know. I felt so butch, almost heterosexual, to be on the side of science – was truncated by an urge for the sea. The Lurch-like hotel-gent with black teeth (and who, between you and me, looked a bit like a kiddy-fiddler, or what a kiddy-fiddler should look like) informed us of the whale before parliament and recommended we dash due north (or thereabouts) till we came to the coast near Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand’s North Island’s very own Gibraltar, but without the monkeys (but with sheep). We were told when we got back to Auckland that we were in the most horribly built-up bit of coast there was, but it was still gorgeous to us. And that was without the live porn…

Oh, the live porn. I see video cameras do have a purpose after all. If only I could have captured that moment of beauty. As we fiddled with car-seats – yes, two youngsters on board – and braced ourselves for the drive home – gorgeous, incidentally, through some lovely gorge or other – a vision appeared from one of the hotels. At first, I thought it was just going to be one, random, drop-your-Calvins gorgeous gent in rather excellent shape drifting beachwards wearing nothing but a towel. But then more and more of them appeared. Hundreds. Thousands. Millions of them. OK, well, a couple of dozen, say. And I think they must have been a sports team. Those not wearing the uniform towel were in black shorts with the fern leaf and New Zealand written on them. Was it the All Blacks? Size-wise they were about right, I reckoned, but would rugby players have such ludicrously good bodies? I mean not just big and beefy, with huge lallies, but perfectly sculpted, gay-porn, gay-fantasy, gay-scene-magazine, super-gym-fit vision-bodies. Which later got me thinking that perhaps it really was porn, or porn in the making. Perhaps one of them had been declared an ounce overweight and they had to go down to the beach for a bit of a frolic to get an errant muscle in order and get them in the mood for the shoot later. Not that I let my mind run away with me, you understand. But it was a vision. A vision. (Double vision.) (Or perhaps another Cockney-Maori-style hallucination.)

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, this is a travel post. Dunno if I’ve got the energy to go on. Well, having splashed in the sea and seen the earth’s crust at its thinnest, I was already pretty chuffed to bollocks with what NZ had to offer, all the while remembering the mantra chanted at me when I dared declare I wasn’t going to make it to the South Island. “North Island good. South Island better.” And woe is me for that. But I was perfectly happy with drives through rolling, or rather, bumpy, landscape with the odd gorge here and a lake there. I couldn’t have been happier.

But jaunt two did up the beauty ante, it has to be said. This was the dash to Wellington for some lucky other tourists to get the ferry to the fabled South. Lake Taupo is a fuck-off huge lake smack bang in the middle of the North Island with the cleanest water I’ve ever seen. And the drive skirted the lake for a lovely long stretch of wonderful, pristine views. And from there southwards, it just got better and better, with three massive, snow-capped volcanoes and the so-called Desert Road leading you through a heathery, heathy, moor-like bleakscape. Lovely. And so empty. And all the time we thought, “We’re on the M1. We’re on the M1.” And here is where you feel NZers are at their luckiest. A country roughly the size of the UK of stunning variety and beauty with a decent(ish) climate – there were some pretty freezing days for the height of summer, it has to be said – and only 4 million souls (and that was only 3 million till not that long ago but immigration has accelerated).

And then even though what you go to New Zealand for is not really that which has been shaped by man’s own hand, the towns do have their interest too. Lots of the little towns you drive through seem much of a muchness – a single-storey main street with a few other streets running off them. Some of these are fairly charmless – such as the one that became Hobbiton, Matamata – but others have something that appeals. Taihape, for example, NZ’s welly-throwing capital and major farming country, grabbed my imagination. The single-storeyness means that however cloying (or not) a town is, you never feel majorly hemmed in by it. So on Taihape’s main street, which felt just like a one-horse town in an American Western, with shops with nice, old stencilled letters and a minorly grand town hall, you could still see the hills around the town. And even here, where you felt vaguely in the middle of nowhere – not by NZ standards, presumably, as this town was on the M1 (or SH1), but by our crowded standards – it all still felt nice and prosperous and calm and happy. (It also happened to be a gorgeous day.) And then, boring old city-boy that I am, I was in for one last pleasant man-made surprise: Wellington. What a lovely, lovely city. Again, a fantastic, stunning location and the city prettily stretches out into the hills around the harbour. Lovely atmosphere, lovely views from on high, lovely botanical gardens, lovely museums, lovely places to be at the harbour (as in Auckland), lovely everything. A real little gem, the world’s most southerly capital…

Which reminds me. A gazillion times I’ve wanted to get a raging, heated debate going here on which city is nicer – London or Berlin. Well, all my many millions of readers with a knowledge of both have already answered so that’s nipped that in the bud. (Berlin won a resounding victory, by the way.) So, Berlin Bear, let’s do an NZ version instead, rather than an Anglo-German one. What’s it to be? Auckland or Wellington? Wellington wins hands down for me.

Which also reminds me, and just to put a drop of tar in the tub of honey, as our Russian friends say, towns where I do not want to live: Palmerston North and Levin. I think that’s where all the NZ chavs had been banished all along…

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1. leon - February 9, 2006

I grew up in Wales (not born there, though; didn’t hang around there either once the chance to get out came up) and can appreciate something of that feeling of spaciousness and general cleanliness and open, empty roads.

Problem with Wales is that you’re driving through the middle of some pretty attractive scenery and you suddenly run into something to completely spoil it, like a derelict steelworks, or a large rubbish tip, or Rhyl.

NZ sounds more appealing by the second, actually. Might start saving for that holiday now…

2. BiB - February 9, 2006

Yes, although you can have fun playing Spot the Vowel in Wales as you race past road signs. Whereas as NZ is that much emptier, and there is almost no vowel-phobia detectable, you’re stuck with one vowelful town for hundreds of kilometres at a time. And what game can you play with only Palmerston North for visual entertainment? Whereas with places like Bwlch to rejoice at… well, the miles just fly by.

3. leon - February 10, 2006

Yep, there was always great fun to be had describing to a friend a projected route that took one via places called things like “Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog” and “Eryrys” (inevitably sinister-looking, one-sheep villages in which equally sinister-looking old men leaned on walls and watched you drive past).

4. BiB - February 10, 2006

Now I like to be a stereotype-crusher and not, to form, be a queeny girl’s blouse when it comes to things scary. But on a drive through the Brecon Beacons once – fuck, what was the village we stayed in called? Had a vaguely gay guest-house and vaguely gay bar staffed by the most entertaining Gibb-brother-lookalike barman and his even-more-like-Lurch-than-the-paedo-in-NZ boyfriend who only emerged intermittently through that plastic drape thing to refill his glass and have meaty morsels thrown into his jaws. Wonderful stories of his past and how closets were the “worst offenders” – said in delicious Welsh accent – homophobia-wise, and a tale of an affair with a policemen possessed of a “pair of lovely white trousers” – in an old car that was meant to be nice but had you practically scraping your skin off the road surface and it was freezing and January – some type of MG, I think – I actually got so scared as we drove along a pitch black road to nowhere with only the ghoulish shapes of topography for company, I did ask if we might turn round and head back to the place-that-wasn’t-Bwlch.

NZ is relatively full of that type of girl you fancy. Well, not full, exactly, as NZ isn’t full of anything really, but I’d say there are at least one-and-a-half times as many of that type of lady there, per head of population, natch, as in the UK, say, so it’s worth spending all your spare cash on the flight to not have to have the struggle of chatting to them in a foreign lingo after an Easyjet flight to, say, Berlin, nicht wahr? For some reason, Natalie Imbruglia’s face has emblazoned itself in my mind’s eye. Is she, physically at least, the type you mean? Splattered in a bit of pottery detritus?

5. leon - February 11, 2006

Not far off, though perhaps slightly taller and ganglier. The pottery detritus is helpful, though…

6. BiB - February 11, 2006

I once attended a very groovy party held by an English friend in Berlin (sadly now back in the Kingdom). Your (and his) ideal woman was there. She’s a sculptress, I think, so, am guessing, pretty much perfection (although wasn’t caked in clay at the time). And it was amusing to see how she had men – even us queens – running around tending to her every need and making sure we didn’t smoke near her etc. English pal subsequently went on a non-sexy date with her. “Read English to me,” she said. Friend had nothing on him but the menu of the restaurant was bilingual so he dutifully recounted to her, “Hamburger and Chips. Fish and Chips. Cherry Clafoutis.” (I’m guessing.) “Now I want to go home to bed,” she said, beautifully. But she meant to bed. To lie there and look beautiful. And be admired.

Well, anyway, she’s here. In Berlin. Your perfect woman. But doesn’t speak English. And is a bit of a tricky character. But that would all be part of the fun, I’m guessing.

7. BerlinBear - February 13, 2006

Right, I’m working my way through, can you tell?

Before I start: Berlin also wins hands down on the Berlin-London scale for me too. Would never want to live in London – just within striking distance – can’t wait to get back to Berlin.

Anyway, Wellington or Auckland. Hmmm. First, declarations of interest: I’m from Auckland, lived there until I was 23. I’ve been to Wellington maybe half a dozen times but never for longer than a week. My brother lives there and is married to a Wellington lass. Incidentally, my Mum grew up in Palmerston North. I share your opinion on it, and so, I think, does she.

Anyway, where were we? Well, Wellington and Auckland are the only two places I’d consider living in in New Zealand. I could certainly live in both. Auckland is exponentially more multi-cultural, so gets bonus points there. Wellington, being the capital, is stupidly well equipped both in terms of cultural venues and events and sporting events/venues for its (piddly) size, so gets bonus points there. Both have easy access to nature and beaches and stunning landscapes, so tie on that point. Wellington has a nicer down-town feel to it, where Auckland is a bit too spread out to have developed a proper city centre feel, even in the city centre. But then Wellington does always feel very provincial to me. It’s just a bit too small. Weather-wise Auckland wins hands down. It is always several degrees cooler in Wellington, or more, and then there’s that bloody Southerly. Wellington has the more interesting architecture and I find it fascinating how it’s all perched precariously on the hills. Wellington is better for public transport, though still not great by European standards. Both have good cafes and restaurants, but of course you have more choice in Auckland.

Geez, can you tell I can’t decide? I think I could happily live in both. My concern with Auckland is the traffic and the sprawl, combined with appalling public transport, while my concerns with Wellington would be weather and too darn small and provincial.

Hmm, I’m gonna have to call it a tie.

8. BiB - October 16, 2006

I have to say I was more a Wellington fan, which I didn’t dare tell my Auckland hosts.


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