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.
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