Another droplet glistened on my
eyebrow, hanging there irritatingly, then with a tiny splash
fell and trickled down my sunglasses distorting my vision.
"Dad, I'm hot in here, I'm really sweating," said Matthew
from his buggy. Summer had definitely arrived and we were
overheating on the hills around Nelson and Marlborough.
I wiped my brow and smeared my sunglasses. "What is sweat
Dad?" asked Matthew, keen as ever to expand his knowledge
despite the blistering heat. I was too hot and bothered
to reply, "I'll tell you later."
Right the way up the
South Island, Kiwi's have apologised personally for their
terrible summer and promised us it will get better. And
now it's changed, they're ever so happy but we're finding
it tough going. It's not that we don't like a little sun
nor that we love to battle masochistically with wind and
rain but right now the sun is too much and too strong to
enjoy the cycling.
The Kiwi sun is a killer.
Down here the rays come in at unfiltered strength thanks
to the hole in the ozone layer; the poor Kiwi's pay the
price for the world's carelessness with CFC's. So, if the
sun is out, even when it's not that hot, it's fierce and
skin burns quickly, especially on us fair skinned Poms.
The press print a daily UV warning and right now it's 'extremely
dangerous' to be out in the sun. You are advised to seek
shade between 11.00am and 4.00pm, reschedule outdoor activities
for early morning or late evening, cover up and wear plenty
of UV protection on exposed skin.
We struggle to create a sun shelter
Good advice no doubt
but we're struggling to follow it. Believe me, we've tried
to get away early but as it takes us up to two hours to
get up, get the kids dressed, make breakfast, feed everyone,
clean up, pack up and load the bikes, the chances of getting
on a bike before 11.00 are as good as winning the lottery.
We've tried leaving late too but that leaves us with the
problem of whiling away the day before we go, often in the
middle of nowhere, in the burning sun with little shade.
Oh, and with kids that refuse to wear shoes, would prefer
to run naked and have a violent dislike of suncream. So,
we live up to our reputation and like 'mad dogs and English
men' we 'go out in the midday sun,' clothed from head to
toe, with all exposed parts greased. And while we grind
pedals up hills, tyres stickily clinging to the softening
tarmac, the boys enjoy a snooze in the warm shade of their
Grinding up a hill in the meltering
heat of the morning
"Why are we sleeping
with no clothes on tonight?" asked Matthew, "Is this another
naked camp site?" "No," said Kirstie, "It's a wild camp
and it's just too hot for pyjamas. Now lie down and go to
sleep." We lay exhausted in the dark wearing only silk lining
bags. The boys played feverishly with their abandoned sleeping
bags, still fresh from their long afternoon nap. "Dad, why
is your face all wet? Is that sweat?" said Matthew. "You're
wet Dad, yuk, yuk" said Cameron. Kirstie and I sweated in
silence hoping to quash the boys' high spirits, waiting
for them to go to sleep and the cool of the evening to relieve
our discomfort. Round and round and round they went, playing,
pestering, laughing. Darkness was no match for their commitment
to merriment. There was no relief from the heat or the action.
Cameron decided to
transform himself into a snake charmer, playing with himself
as little boys do, with a sleeping bag turban on his head.
"Look, we're a pair," laughed Matthew as he copied Cameron's
impersonation. "We a pair. We a pair," said Cameron pulling
harder on the snake. I couldn't hold back any more. "Will
you just stop it and go to sleep," I shouted. There was
a moment of shocked silence from the boys. I continued my
rant, "If you don't shut up and go to sleep I'll ….." My
turn for silence as I racked my brain to think of a suitable
threat. The trouble is, smacks aside, there are few threats
you can carry through when camping wild with toddlers. A
laugh began to stir inside as I recognised the futility
and absurdity of the situation. I couldn't hold it in, a
smile broke on my face, tears of fury rolled down my cheek
and beads of sweat dripped off my forehead, "I'll put your
pyjamas on both of you, and put you in your sleeping bags
and you can sweat yourselves to sleep or to death. All the
water in your body will ooze out of your skin until your
sleeping bag is soaking wet so it feels like you've wee'd
in it." Matthew finally got his explanation of sweat and
his curiosity was silenced while Cameron settled down to
sleep. I lay in my own bag, water oozing furiously out of
my body, longing for a child free night. The heat and three
months of twenty four seven childcare was taking its toll.
Matt and Cam hang out happily
in the sunshine after their afternoon naps