|Next morning we start in earnest cleaning the bike, we have heard that the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture inspection will be strict and the bike must be spotless before we enter, no mean feat considering the mud and mire its been dragged through. I run some water into Maki’s bath and turn on the parafin blast heater so I can scoop a bucketful at a time out to clean the bike with. I give it an initial clean to get the worst off as it is absolutely filthy before stripping it down to clean everything thoroughly. I fully expect it to take 5 – 7 days, Karen helps as much as she can but she is just as busy cleaning all the camping equipment and panniers etc. While the panniers, seat and tank are all off I manage to squeeze a bit of repair and maintence in. I change the broken oil pressure sender and fit all the new dash lights which my friends sent from home, it’s the first chance I have had to do it and it smartens the bike up no end. We also order a front tyre with Maki’s help which will be delivered to the house on Monday. The cleaning process seems to go on forever as fast as you think you have got it all you find another bit you have missed. Our bike holds an amazing amount of kit and its not until I see it all removed and piled up that I realise quite how much stuff there is on there. One problem with having so many racks and boxes and hidey holes is that it makes it an absolute cow to clean, there are so many nooks and crannies and facets that its hard to get to them all.
On Saturday night Maki has to go out, its her cousins wedding but she has already pre warned us that a load of people will be turning up to have a party while she is not there. How many people would do that ? Most are bikers a couple are ex overlanders and they are all very friendly and invite us to join their party. They have a onepot meal called Nabe which is a fantastic way to feed a lot of people cheaply. The Nabe pot is a big heatproof ceramic pot with a lid which is placed on a portable gas stove in the middle of the table. Everyone brings a few different things along and it is all cooked in the Nabe in water or soup base. All sorts of things go in the pot: sausages, tofu, horseradish, cabbage, chicken and all kinds of other vegetables, you fish it out of the pot and on to your plate and put more ingredients in as you go along. It makes a meal last all evening and is very sociable and a real occasion. Everyone stays over and we all squeeze in the big room at Maki’s. Next day we have a day off, there is a festival at Shu and Isao’s village which we will visit. Last time we were here Shu was very keen to try Steak and Ale pie and I rashly volunteered to try to make one when we got back. Now it’s crunch time we have 12 people to feed tonight at Shu’s place so on the way we go to the supermarket to buy some ingredients. We also enlist the help of Satomi and Taka a Japanese couple who were at the party last night. They come to the supermarket with us to help decypher and buy some more Japanese style food which they will cook leaving Karen and I free to concentrate on the pie and pudding phew. When we get up to Shu’s place it’s deserted as everybody is out in the village, having the place to ourselves we do some prep work for later and make some pastry and the cheesecake base and put it in the fridge. We then go for a wander around the town, everyone has stalls outside their houses selling produce etc. It’s a big village and it takes us quite a while to wander around it eventually we find Shu and Maki who has ridden here on her horse. Shu is selling tea made with goats milk and fresh ginger. It sounds a bit strange but it is absolutely delicious the ginger gives it a nice sweetness. Later we head back to Shu’s to start making dinner, we substitute steak for venison which Shu has marinaded in Guinness for a couple of days. We pre cooked the meat with some vegetables and herbs and the pastry turns out fairly ok considering only finding half the right ingredients. I make some letters out of leftover pastry and write Shu and Isao on the top of the pie and brush it over with beaten egg. We have to bake it in a combo microwave oven which is interesting but it turns out well and most people seem to like it.
Karen’s cheesecake goes down very well and as a bonus she makes an apple crumble which is similarly well received. There is one slice of apple crumble left over and I have my eye on it so we have an inpromptu arm wrestling contest to see who gets it. Most of the opposition is a pushover which is when they go and get the big guns out and drag the biggest guy there into the chair. The second slice of apple crumble and ice cream is twice as sweet. It’s another great evening and definitely worth all the effort. We all sleep around the fire that night, I tell Maki there is a saying in England for this which is “we are packed in like sardines” this makes her laugh it turns out there is a Japanese saying for it to which is “we are like cheap fish”