August 2021 Newsletter

Update from Graham Sampson

Hello everyone,

Sheila and I made it back to the UK safely and have settled in Dickens Heath, it’s about halfway between Stratford on Avon and Birmingham. We are close to family which is great.

I have been running on the towpath where the horses pulled the barges before they had engines. The canals were dug in the 1700 by man power a lot of Irish navies and also the Railways. Birmingham has more canals than Venice.

At the moment its summer time and lots of people hire barges. The main canal is the Grand Union Canal. It goes from London in the south to Manchester in the North, going through Birmingham. The UK has canals all over the country.

Keep safe my New Zealand friends,

Graham

Happy Camper Or Dopey Tramper?

From Peter Firth:

Do you remember the Southerly rain storm of Sunday 8 August? The one that brought a torrential downpour? Those who were caught out in it will probably never forget it.

The forecast for the day looked quite reasonable, the morning partly cloudy with a gentle Northerly breeze. Sure, the weather was to change at midday with the wind turning to the South bringing with it rain, sometimes heavy, in the afternoon. Choice! as we Kiwis say. The running groups and certainly not the walkers, would not still be still out on the road by lunch time.

A little after 8.00 then, two groups of runners and two of walkers set out to do our thing. The runners set off in a slight haze of blue smoke and a faint whiff of burnt running shoe rubber while the walkers launched at a slightly slower pace. As medium-slow walkers Janet and I split from the medium walkers who were aiming for Pukeatu, the War memorial. We had the same goal in mind but at a less rubber- burning pace.

All went fine for the first 45 minutes as we chatted away in normal conversational tones, which is what walkers do, unlike the puffing and panting of the running groups. Or is that an injustice? Perhaps the runners glide along, feet scarcely touching the ground as their lean and fit bodies carry them over the ground with such effortless grace that they can think lofty thoughts without their bodies ever troubling their minds. Maybe. What would a humble plodder know?

At around about 9.00, limbs loosened and bodies warmed, nearly at our goal and by definition almost as far from base as we could be for that walk, an ominous few drops of rain fell. By golly, the sky had darkened and suddenly we noticed the lack of wind which should have been in our faces. That was because it was now at our backs. Oh no! The dreaded Wellington Southerly had arrived. The rain became heavier, and heavier. Yah Boo Sucks! Chizz, Chizz Met. Office! A bum forecast! A Southerly change three hours early!

We turned for home, walking somewhat faster than before. The rain became even heavier gradually turning into a drenching downpour. “Which way should we go?” asked Janet. “Well, not on any wet and muddy grass”, I replied. It was only when we were nearing the stadium that I realised that this had meant mostly plodding through two or three centimetres of running water. The sound of the rain thundering down meant that I could not hear my shoes squelching. Actually, there was a clap of real thunder but fortunately we were out in the Hospital car park being buffeted by high velocity rain from all four directions so we avoided being hit by lightning.

Hope there was nobody sheltering under a tree.

The main walking group had reached Pukeatu when the sky released its cargo of water and, with water pouring from up out of the tops of their shoes, and thinking collectively, said “Blow this for a game of soldiers”, and headed for the nearest East- bound bus. A subsequent deep search of the Medium Walking Group archives has

failed to reveal any previous instance of the Group ever having used a local bus before to get back. A new record!

Having squelched all the way back to the ASB stadium, the water had clearly got into our heads because instead of waiting for the others, Janet and I went off (by car) to our usual coffee cafe in Miramar. I was wearing a small back pack on the walk and thought as I took it off that it now weighed about as much as a bucket of water. Not far off – it was sodden from front to back. While we waited for the others to come, not that they did, having sensibly gone home to dry off, (except for Bruce who came to collect Janet), I received a call on my mobile phone which, despite much frantic swiping, I could not open. Nor could I open the text which followed. Bummer! It was only then that it dawned that I carry my phone in a little mesh pocket on the front of my pack. The pack now sodden from front to back. Oops! Sure enough, when Bruce prised off the cover, it was clear that water had got into the works. Oo er, as the English would say or “shoot”, as the Americans would say.

Well, that was bad enough, but the chime for the incoming text kept sounding. Every few minutes, over and over, and since I was not able to enter a command to stop it, or any command at all, not even to turn the phone off, it kept chiming for the next two days.

The call and the text, I found out later, were from Judith who was leading the group that day saying “Don’t sit there like a drowned rat dripping water from off your nose into your coffee, go home! We have!”

I had to shut the phone in the car in my downstairs garage for the next two nights so that my wife and I could get some relief from the steady chiming. At the repair shop they were able to say that it was just the LCD screen that had been damaged and that all of my data should still be there. That was a relief, not having to renew my contacts slowly pecking them out character by character with one finger, my tongue sticking out of my mouth in concentration.

Well, having soaked my phone into a fit of robotic dementia, not to mention my entire body (soaked, not demented) really put the tin lid on the day, so to speak. Will I walk again on the strength of a Met. Office forecast again? Probably, but I’ll be watching the sky like a hawk from now on!

Peter Firth


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