Twitching On

By icebreaker to New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands

Adam Walleyn leans against the gunwale of the Russian icebreaker and scans the horizon. Lesser twitchers surround him, most about twice his age, binoculars glued to eye-sockets. They point out specks on the horizon. Is that a Wanderer? they say. No, that’s a Southern Royal, Adam replies, briefly raising his binoculars to confirm what he already knows. He is the Justin Beiber of twitching.

A Rural Uniform

The legend of the bushshirt

Pure practicality, the bushshirt’s only concession to style is a daggy checked pattern stamped from hem to collar as if an afterthought. Constructed from dense sandpapery wool impervious to campfire sparks, its two patch pockets are big enough for a book, a compass or a tobacco pouch. And as if that were not enough, the whole thing is also water resistant.

Whisky

A pleasant sort of fatigue

It might be the last thing packed but it will be one of the most appreciated – a small flask of whisky. You may not be able to use ‘medicinal purposes’ as an excuse, it remains though, the best thing after a long day outdoors. It’s deep dull warmth intensely satisfying while the air cools beyond the walls of the tent, the hut.

The Uses of the Cabbage Tree

A brief history

I hope one day they’ll plant me in
The kind of hole they dig for horses
Under a hilltop cabbage tree.

James K. Baxter, 1950

From Attic to Ocean

Building a vintage kayak

Discovery
It was there at the end of my attic, all but hidden behind a stack of dusty books and 1940’s photography magazines, a long skeletal wooden shape. I was only there to fix the hot water tank, my first time in the attic, and had no idea it contained this treasure trove of old stuff. Immediately I forgot about the water and began to rummage.

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