From the edi­tor


On the ( long) walk from the car park in the pad­dock ad­ja­cent to the Mere­mere drag strip I fol­lowed a cou­ple and their young fella.

Mum ( as all Mums do) had the lit tl’un ( who I would have put at three-and-a-bit) togged up from his red plas­tic gum­mies to wee woolly gloves and jaunty beanie ‘n pom-pom hat so he wasn’t go­ing to be get­ting cold.

Noth­ing Mum or Dad could do was go­ing to stop the lit tle tyke get­ting muddy though. All credit to his young Mum and Dad too... they were laugh­ing as much as their son as he zigzagged from muddy pud­dle to muddy pud­dle, his Mum’s only con­cern that he trip and hurt him­self.

Be­cause I was try­ing to bal­ance a heavy cam­era bag with a back­pack stuffed fill of mag­a­zines, the trio’s pace was about the same as mine. And I re­mem­ber dis­tinctly think­ing how, in life, many of us have for­got­ten about sim­ple plea­sures, like wan­der­ing along a farm track seek­ing out the best, mud­di­est, splashiest pud­dle. Then, once you have found a doozie, mov­ing on to the next one be­cause, there will al­ways be a bet­ter one ahead.

Con­trast this happy, care­free lit tle scene with an­other I hap­pened on at a su­per­mar­ket car park later in the day, and like me, you might have cause to pon­der the way – if you have any of your own – you are bring­ing up your own kids.

Sit­ting zom­bie-like in the back seat of an other­wise unat­tended late model Euro SUV, par­ents or other guardians nowhere to be seen, a pair of un­der sev­ens played away in­de­pen­dently and com­pletely ab­sorbed on their elec­tronic de­vices...

Of course, it’s not just kids who love get­ting dirty. The sec­ond an­nual Mount Shop Mud­fest event was proof of that.

When I fi­nally ar­rived at the venue on a dry but very damp Sun­day morn­ing ( May

27) the place was ab­so­lutely pump­ing and it was just af­ter 9.00am. Ev­ery­one and ev­ery type of ve­hi­cle from – let’s see – a cut-down Honda Ac­cord 4WD to a pukka 4x4 Tri­als truck was there.

Like last year the venue is a wa­ter­logged set of pad­docks be­tween the hill be­hind the drag strip and the lan­guid, brown Waikato River. Over the years the gen­eral area around it has been home to the fear­some Mere­mere ‘ high-bank’ speed­way oval, and a Jet Sprint wa­ter course.

It has re­ally come into its own as a home for Mud­Fest though, with a se­ries of in­nocu­ous-look­ing but re­ally quite chal­leng­ing cour­ses which this year in­cluded one specif­i­cally for what you might call daily- driv­ers.

The free form na­ture of the venue and event means, how­ever, that as long as you have paid your money, had your ve­hi­cle checked for ba­sic safety times, and you and your pas­sen­gers have the re­quired arm­bands to prove it, you can go – or at least at­tempt to go – any­where you want to.

You are, of course, go­ing to get stuck at some point. Which is why lo­cal con­trac­tors Cam Ver­non and Brown and Shan­ley were there in force.

Watch­ing Cam tow hap­less pun­ters out of seem­ingly bot­tom­less bogs with a strap at­tached to the arm of one of his dig­gers was worth the price of ad­mis­sion alone. The skill with which their driv­ers ma­noeu­vred the short, stubby Chevron tyre-equipped Brown and Shan­ley 4x4 bulk spread­ing trucks was also deeply im­pres­sive.

Bot­tom line?

I had a ball, and all I was do­ing was tak­ing pho­tos.

Project 12K has been off the road too long. Next year I might just have to drag it out of the shed and have ago my­self.

Get­ting down and dirty at Mud­Fest

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