Day 827: Keegan’s

Today Laetitia had some time off and met Cousin Elsa for happy hour at Keegan’s, one of Minneapolis’ Irish pubs, before going to Uncle Milt’s party.  Laetitia had two thoughts as she drank Guinness and enjoyed the scene.  One was that an Irish pub gives people who can’t afford the airplane fare to actually go to Ireland, a chance to have a pint of stout and go there in their imaginations. Laetitia put the pub and this thought into a limerick before she and Elsa left for the party.

She hadn’t had time to write more than two sets of lyrics, but she and Cousins Alicia, Bryn, and Luciano performed Canticles, the piece Granny requested, and A Toast to Bailey and Hurst.

If your budget for travel’s gone bust
And your luggage is gathering dust
You need not fly to Ennis
For a Murphy’s or Guinness
At Keegan’s the brew list’s robust.

Day 826: Tranzalpine Train

Homesick European emigrants no doubt chose to call New Zealand’s mountains the “Southern Alps.” This mountain range is just inland from the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island and extends along most of its length from south to north.  At 12,316 feet, Mount Cook is the highest, but several other peaks exceed 10,000 feet.

For today’s tour, Laetitia met her group in Christchurch on the east coast of the South Island for a northwesterly rail journey across the Canterbury plains, over the Southern Alps by way of Arthur’s Pass and the Otira Tunnel, and ending at Greymouth on the west coast.  The trip traverses farmland, mountains and beech forest with stunning views of snow-capped peaks and deep gorges with rushing rivers.

When they boarded the train, Laetitia and her group scattered to find vacant seats.  Laetitia sat next to a native New Zealander.  When she seemed perplexed by a conversation going on in the seat in front of them that contained a number of unfamiliar words. The native whispered translations.  The group was en route to spend a few days at a “batch,” a holiday home that is actually spelled b-a-c-h as in the famous Kapellmeister of Leipzig.  The word, “root,” used several times in the conversation, Laetitia learned was Kiwi slang for “have sex with.”  Unsuspecting Americans who talk about “rooting for a sports team” might find themselves misunderstood in a prurient way.  She decided to use the latter in the day’s limerick.

In New Zealand, Yanks should give a hoot
‘Bout the way that they use the word, “root.”
To root for a sports team
May seem quite extreme
To some Kiwis and kinky to boot.

Day 825: Marlboro

Named for the Duke of Marlboro, England’s well-known soldier and statesman, the northeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island is now a famous wine-growing region.  It is especially noted for its Sauvignon blanc varietal which some critics consider world’s best.  The grape from which the wine is made is green skinned and comes from the Bordeaux region of France.  The Marlboro region’s sandy soil over slate shingles and maritime climate combine to produce this region’s Sauvignon blanc wines of exceptional quality.

Laetitia arranged with a local guide to take her group to several local wineries and talk about wine while they tasted the local offerings.  He said that Sauvignon blancs were best consumed less than three years after bottling.  They’re best when they have a slight green tint.  They are drinkable when they later begin to turn golden but are past their prime.  Laetitia made Sauvignon blanc the subject of her limerick of the day.

A New Zealand wine hard to surpass
Is their Sauvignon Blanc, try a glass
It pleases the tongue
Especially when young
I think you will find it first class.

Day 824: Rotorua

In the northern part of New Zealand’s North Island is a large lake called Rotorua.  It is in a geothermally active area characterized by geysers, boiling mud pools, and hot sulphur springs.  Laetitia arranged with a local guide that included a hike and a visit to a recreated Maori village.  As they approached the village where they were supposed to have lunch they encountered a group of painted Maori warriors brandishing weapons and making threatening gestures and facial expressions that included bulging eyes and extended tongues.  Clued in by the local guide, Laetitia’s group chose a leader to negotiate with the Maori leader so that they could enter the village and have lunch.  During the repast, the local guide told the group that the facial gestures were part of the Haka, the Maori war dance.  After lunch, Laetitia took her group to the Rotorua Museum of Art and History housed in a picturesque building that was once a spa and bathhouse.  In the museum, Laetitia observed that the fully extended tongue is a common feature in Maori art and she chose it as the theme for the limerick of the day.

In the Haka, Maoris old and young
Make wild faces and extend the tongue.
Do you think the tongue’s length
Is an index of strength
Indicating the warrior’s well hung?