Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Monday, January 29, 2007


The German twosome left early and when I awoke (late) Yuko had already moved from her bunk to one of their vacant single beds. I took the cue and moved to the other.

The morning was spent by the lake, the gorgeous turquoise lake, reading and lazing. This place is far less developed than Queenstown, but, I would contend, just as beautiful. Certainly the view from the hostel, from my bedroom window, is incredible.

I got some chicken thighs and spinach (to accompany the perpetual noodles) for dinner then met up with the girls for walking. They had been horse-riding that morning. We spent an enjoyable afternoon walking up to St John's Lookout, the location of several telescopes (due to the clear skies hereabouts) and a cafe. En route I found out about Anne's checkered past. A sports centre receptionist, she has seen more than her fair share of family ups and downs. Now, in her early fifties, she is seeing the world. Already she's been on safari in Africa seven times. Anyhow right then she was suffering from a bruised rib (as diagnosed by Dr Jam in the pizzeria the night before) and the walk was not always kind. Nevertheless we made it to the top for our lemon, lime and bitters.

I had a fine appetite for my chicken thighs and spinach. Heating up the pan too much, however, I lethally undercooked the chicken, and, though the veg and noodles were lovely, I had to throw those delicious chargrilled drumsticks away. To compensate I got a burger in the nearby 'township'. Interesting (beetroot featured heavily), though not entirely successful.

With a bottle of wine and a big pack of crisps, I went to the girls' hostel to see if we could see the comet. They were already polishing off a bottle when I arrived. Beside us in the common room and apcked house was watching 'Mars Attacks'. Not to the girls' taste, but I, being a kid a heart, relish the nasty jokes. Sarah Jessica Parker grabbing hold of Michael J. Fox's unincinerated hand is a joy.

Soon though it was dark enough to go comet watching and sure enough there it was, Comet McNaught. A small group had gathered and a pair of binoculars was being passed around, but they weren't needed, the comet was wonderfully distinct. The tail in particular was huge. We even got instructions on seeing the Southern Cross from an amateur astronomer in the group.

By then the girls were ready for bed, so grabbing my wine I headed back along the lakeshore. Try and picture a drunk idiot wandering along a beautiful, moonlit lake, comet blazing overhead, with a bottle of very fine shiraz in hand and a headful of Chtulhu nonsense (the story I was reading concerned a lake and forest beastie that lurked around at night). I was a very happy camper.

Not such a happy sleeper though.

When I did get back I tried to answer some trivial pursuit questions for some Germans (they didn't know 'The Breakfast Club' or who Chrissie Hynde was), but I knew my time had passed. Thankful for my single bed I fell asleep easy, only to awake suddenly with burning nasal passages. No puke just nastiness. Anyhow, enough!!!!!

Next morning we went to Christchurch. Left in Cathedral Square, I had contacted the niece of my uncle (he is married to my mother's sister) who lived near Christchurch and was to stay the last few days of my trip. Grant, her husband, picked me up, but it turned out they were having lunch with friends, so first it was out to a lovely country restaurant for a BLT. Sandra and Grant are a wonderful couple with two lovely kids, Jonathan and Samantha. The afternoon was spent very pleasantly. Once back at their amazing house, designed by themselves, I fell asleep for over three hours. The others had arranged to meet up for 9, so Grant kindly drove me in to the rendevous. Rebecca had already sussed out the bars (Kristina and Rebecca had arrived the day before), so it was on to one Irish bar after another. The Limerick lass turned up, but had to leave early as she was leaving Christchurch the next day. Dr Jam turned up too, this time swapping the lovely Claire and Charlie, for Chloe, a lovely little English girl I had tried to flirt with on the Killer Pool night. As it happened she had just left school. Sorry folks, she did look older.

After drinks and manic dancing, 'Yellow Brick Road' singing and resorting to G and T's, I headed home by taxi.

This morning, awaking late (at 9), I kep an eye out the window for the girls, who were skydiving today. Apparently skydivers are often visible from the house. I didn't see them though. Then Sandra, the kids and I went to the Museum - very impressive - and then for lunch. I left them at that point and went inquiring about my China visa. Apparently it would take 4 working days to get, so I am leaving that obstacle until Thailand. Being in Christchurch, I felt obliged to go into the cathedral whereupon I met Martin from DCU again. He had just arrived. Anyhow hello Martin, I know you're reading and good luck with Melbourne!

There is a Giacometti exhibition on at the nicely designed gallery, but with not too much time I decided to look at the other exhibits and come back for that tomorrow or Wednesday. The gallery itself is fairly small and for those of you who know my gallery habits you might be surprised to learn I saw most of it in the hour I had. There are some impressive pices, mostly contemporary, but there's also a lot of less than imposing works. They make a big deal of a Dutch artist, Van Der Velder, who came to New Zealand, but though he can paint, and he can, I don't see much in his work. Dutch peasants are far more interesting in the hands of Van Gogh.

Anyhow I write now before heading to meet the girls for dinner. I feel very ungrateful not being with Sandra and Grant more, but we all split up now, so this will be most probably be the last time I'll see any of them for a while. And Rebecca was very threatening about my turning up!


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