7 December 2008

New Maps of Bayswater

Here on Auckland's North Shore, we're enjoying some much-anticipated summery weather. Yesterday when Rex kitesurfed for six hours in the blazing heat, he suffered some pretty nasty sunburn. He's feeling pretty remorseful about not wearing sunscreen, and spent the day indoors today playing Streetfighter vs. X-Men, on the video game console he built himself. It's been a while since I saw someone as burnt as Rex is, and there's not much running around with the harness on today, trust me. He's not a happy guy.

Sam went to Muriwai beach today for a surf and some kai with a friend, armed with a huge bottle of SPF30+. When I finally ventured outside after spending the morning poring over Adobe Illustrator, I made sure I did so after applying tonnes of the good stuff, and putting my rash-shirt on. 2/70 has suddenly became very sun-conscious. I left Rex inside with his bottle of aloe vera, and took off on the Jamis for a swim in Ngataringa Bay.

I guess this body of water is better known around here as the Bayswater harbour. It's the calm stretch of water that separates our suburb from Stanley Bay, and it is - if today was anything to go by - mostly unused. I looked like a bit of a dick venturing down the boat ramp in bare feet, a rash shirt and a pair of togs, and even more so when I put my cap and goggles on, and began swimming to the other side of the harbour. It's not the world's shortest swim - almost a mile, and I didn't see another soul while I was out there. When I got to Stanley Bay, I sat on the wooden ramp there until some sort of marine slug/barnacle attached itself to me. It became clear to me that I'd been there too long. I swam along to the next beach, where some Stanley Bay residents in boardshorts, watching me from the stairs down to the beach gave me some peculiar looks. I also saw a kayaker, and waved, but he didn't acknowledge me as he paddled on.

Ngataringa Bay: How I'm spending my summer vacation

I decided I preferred my side of the harbour better and swam back, careful to use a different boat ramp so I didn't get hooked by the fishermen who had now set up camp on the wharf. I chilled out in the sun for a while, then, thinking of Rex, went to collect my bag which I had left under a tree. That's what I love about Bayswater. You can leave a bag with your cellphone and Nikes in it, unattended while you splash about in the water and it will be there when you get back.

I biked home to realise the house was empty and I didn't have a key. At my house in Hamilton, this is never a problem because my slightly pedantic father hides keys in unexpected places around our section. If you know where to look, you can always get in. (For that reason, I better keep the address of my old house quiet from now on.) Unfortunately for me, this is not the case at my new place, so I was a little perplexed as to what I should do.

I decided to head down to Narrow Neck.

Narrow Neck is one of my favourite North Shore beaches because of its amazing views of Rangitoto Island. It's so close it looks swim-able (and just 5km offshore, it probably is), and just being there truly makes me happy. The water at Narrow Neck is freakishly warm, and it's a popular beach, which makes for great people-watching. The best way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I swam for a little while longer here, then got a bit sick of the wind, so set up camp on the reserve across the road. Unfortunately for me, so did a massive Polynesian crew, complete with stereo blasting obnoxious R & B music, and about ten guys intent on throwing a rugby ball around within inches of my head. I didn't stick around for much longer, instead riding home via Devonport (which is actually more of a detour, but a scenic one so well worth it).

This time when I got home, an even redder Rex opened the door for me and I did have fleeting suspicions that he'd been out in the sun again. He'd actually been at work (on a Sunday?!), and was still slathering on the aloe. We watched Fraggle Rock and he further lamented over his regret at not wearing any sunscreen the previous day. "I'm too scared to even take a shower!"

Next weekend, I intend to throw my net further and take in some more North Shore beaches, starting at Browns Bay. Top two items to take along? SPF30 and my keys!

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