A Quality Snooze

Tips and techniques for a good night's sleep

After a days walking, it’s the simple things that matter: food, shelter and sleep. We arrived at our hut late one afternoon, looking forward to all three, only to find it was already occupied by a group of hunters. There were four of them, three of us and six bunks. One of us was going to have to sleep on the floor. We drew straws. It would be me.

The Swiss

Some thoughts on pocket knife ownership

I was nine when I was given my first pocket knife. It was a dainty penknife, forgotten in a bag of old pencils, pens and other desk junk. Sleek and stainless with Teachers Whiskey engraved along one side. Within minutes of finding it, I carved a nice deep notch out of my thumb. The knife was taken off me.

Visiting an Old Friend

The topo map

I’ve never been to Lake Waikaremoana or Frasertown, but a cartoonish abstraction with its bright reliable colours and reassuring post offices and primary schools is like visiting an old friend. You don’t have to go there to get an idea of the shape of the land, where key items are, how to get in, how to get out. And that is what the topo map strives for, reassurance.

The Surest Winner

Making a list

Things get interesting with a list. The best part of expedition leader John Hunt’s account of the ascent of Everest is the appendix setting out all their equipment and food right down to a list of suppliers (George Romney Ltd provided Kendel’s mint cake. A total of six different firms kept them stocked with tobacco and cigarettes).

Slip, Slop, Slap

In praise of sunscreen

Sunscreen is magic. It's transparent, odourless, texture-less, stays on for hours, resists water and then somehow manages to stop the sun burning your skin. Forget nuclear fission, the computer and Tickle-me-Elmo, sunscreen is the most significant invention of the 20th Century.