Across Continents

Ken's Blog

The Good Guys

August 7th, 2011

There’d been a potentially fatal incident with a truck back in northern New South Wales. The offender dealt with appropriately. But this was the exception. Vanishingly rare. Nevertheless, I’d not so much as blinked in my resolve to bring such a grave matter to a satisfactory conclusion. Not a jot of hesitation.

But, by the same token, I do believe in applauding those who do well. Steve, the jovial InterCity bus driver, back in New Zealand. And on the roads in Australia? Been doing a bit of a survey on the highway south. Keeping myself occupied in the saddle. Most considerate haulage company. Not exactly intellectually rigorous I’d admit. But good enough.

And there was a clear winner. Lindsay Transport. Their truckies consistently giving me lots of road room. A wide berth. So I’d dropped them a line. Asking their Transport Manager to pass on my gratitude to their drivers.

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Travelling around New Zealand

July 24th, 2011

Today’s Kiwese word or phrase: "Pissed aside". Kills insects

And finally….

For my travels around New Zealand I used a Flexipass ticket on the InterCity bus network. And stayed in either Youth Hostel Association hostels, or those affiliated to the network. Excellent value for money. And the accommodation amongst the best I’ve ever seen. Consistently so. Often better equipped kitchens than most homes…

[With especial thanks to Roger from Birmingham, with whom I’d shared a campsite back in Australia, for his invaluable advice on travels around New Zealand]

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Jockeying along

July 21st, 2011

Today’s Kiwese word or phrase: "cuds". Young people

Still bouncing about. Steve. Greymouth bus station. Would he be our driver to Nelson? No, he explained. Heading south to the Fox Glacier. I was disappointed. Told him so. Would miss his commentary I said. With a grin. He’d worked on radio. Talk radio, I asked. But too slow. He’d bounded off. Passengers to shepherd. Bags to load.

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A little lattitude

July 14th, 2011

Today’s Kiwese word or phrase: "Nin tin dough". Computer games console

If the weather had declined, our driver had improved. Perhaps we’d all been spoilt a bit by the others. By the time we’d reached Hokitika, the last decent sized town before Franz Josef, the air felt damp. Forty five minute stop. Encouraged by our chap, most of us headed for the local supermarket. Last chance to stock up, he’d said. Helpfully.

I’d met the bus as it’d pulled into Punakaiki. Sought to stow my bag onboard. But no. Told the baggage trailer was locked. I’d have to wait until we came to board in half an hour or so. I wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t so much the lack of joviality. He just seemed plain miserable. Perhaps he didn’t like the northern lattitudes. For, as we headed south, his commentaries did warm. Bit by bit.

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Rolling along

July 8th, 2011

Today’s Kiwese word or phrase: "dome onion". Bit more tricky this one. How the Kiwis describe their nation state

We were making good time our driver explained. Pale white faces around the bus suggested few were surprised by this. His joviality the only constant as we plunged down the steep, windy mountain roads. Safe hands. White knuckles.

We’d made good time to our first cafe stop a little earlier. Murchison. Might also have been the name of the small town on whose edge we sat. I’d missed the sign as we’d sped in. Short break. Enough time for tea, toilets and a few photographs. Felt a little guilty using their facilities as I’d no intention of buying anything. I’d my flask and sandwiches.

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Sound bites

July 7th, 2011

Today’s Kiwese word or phrase: "Willington". Capital of New Zealand

"Makes a McDonalds Big Mac taste like a biscuit" explained Steve, our driver. With enthusiasm undiminished by the comatose state of most of his passengers. Seven twenty three am. Sunrise. Good-humoured descriptions of cafe stops ahead. Home-cooked snacks on offer. That sort of thing. Commentary fresh. Chunky, snappy sound bites. Buoyant. As if he’d only made the journey the day before. Anxious to share the experience. Felt you were travelling together. Or at least I did. Most people by now asleep.

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Cafe stop

July 6th, 2011

Cafe stop from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Early morning stop as Ken explores New Zealand’s South Island by bus

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Onward

July 6th, 2011

Today’s Kiwese word or phrase: "fear". What you pay when you get on a bus

6.45 am. Remarkably jovial. Baseball cap. Bomber jacket. Navy blue. Chill morning. Shorts. Rummaging around for his shades. Our driver. Early bus to Punakaiki. Still dark. Now checking off names. Where was I staying? At the hostel. Which one, he asked? YHA I replied. She’d come and pick me up, he explained. Couple of miles outside the village. Apologetic he couldn’t drop me off at the door.

Nelbus

Friendly reminder to a young man at the front of the bus to keep his food stowed away. We’d be stopping for tea about nine fifteen. And there’d be pies. And then "Onward" announced our driver. His name Steve.

Fellow passengers, mostly young travellers. Backpackers. A few Japanese. Save for our man at the wheel, I’d have been the eldest. Portly chap in his fifties. Bounded about whenever we stopped. Shepherding his young flock from luggage trailer to the small bus. Too few of us for a full sized coach.

And a Canadian woman. Sure I’d seen her the previous evening in the hostel. On the face of it late forties, but the eyes said differently. She’d smiled at me when I’d arrived at the bus station. Early.

[Author’s note: Steve makes several very welcome appearances as the story unfolds. For which, following feedback to his employer InterCity buses, he’s been awarded a particularly well deserved Certificate of Merit!]

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