Chilling, thrilling and spectacular view

Errol Chave sent this stunning image of mammatus clouds above Mt Cargill taken from Opoho in...
Errol Chave sent this stunning image of mammatus clouds above Mt Cargill taken from Opoho in February 2008. Mammatus is one of the few cloud forms associated with sinking, rather than rising, air and is often seen after a thunderstorm or during northerly or northwesterly conditions across the east of the South Island. PHOTO: ERROL CHAVE
The low, vibrato moan whips into a furious, blood-curdling shriek, the gusts try to whisk your feet away from the ground, the warmth freezes out of your face.

I've finally made it to the summit of Dunedin's Mt Cargill, on Sunday afternoon before work, thanks to friend and ODT colleague Andrew Morrison. It's the first time up here since we undertook a similar traipse to the top in snow flurries some 16 years ago.

The sou'wester gale hammering the mountain is truly scary. It's about 2deg. Standing on the crown and admiring the stupefying views all around is enough to give a touch of vertigo; looking up at the enormous radio mast, through which the wind is howling, and trying to stand steady in the wind makes me feel quite sick.

The road to the top is rough in places. There's plenty of room for cars to pass, except for the section where the driver of the pink Land Rover coming down the hill steadfastly refuses to deviate from the middle and just about forces us off the left-hand side. What's that old joke about the difference between a hedgehog and a Range Rover?

Once on the ridge, you feel incredibly tall. It's like Dunedin city is sitting in a crucible and, rather than looking across it, you're looking down on it.

The communications tower is awesome. The waving vegetation is stunted out of respect to the elements. It's a shame about the graffiti on the building.

Looking down on central Dunedin from about 680m on top of Mt Cargill during Sunday's...
Looking down on central Dunedin from about 680m on top of Mt Cargill during Sunday's southwesterly gale. PHOTOS: PAUL GORMAN
We can see Shag Point and Puketapu to the northeast, and squint through the showers down towards Nugget Point in the other direction. I quickly take photos, worried the wind is going to blow my phone away.

The clouds curl like smoke just above your head and flirt with the flat top of Swampy Summit to the west. The car rocks in the wind. The warmth slowly returns to your cheeks. We eat our sandwiches.

It's not a place for the faint-hearted. I feel incredibly in awe of those who spent months up here, building their tower up towards the sky.

Andrew Morrison makes for the car while either the wind or the magnetic field from the Mt Cargill...
Andrew Morrison makes for the car while either the wind or the magnetic field from the Mt Cargill transmission tower provide me with a hair-raising experience.
Evocative smells

Keep those smells coming, please.

Trevor Norton, from Temuka, is nostalgic for the aromas of old, empty ``picture theatres''.

``I started working in the 700-seater Prince Edward in Woburn (Lower Hutt) in the mid-1950s, then gave that career a miss to take up other roles.

``In the early 1980s, I called in frequently on the manager of the Regent in Whakatane. The memory hit me with a nasal `whoompf' on each visit.

``How do you describe it?

Perhaps a conglomeration of popcorn, ice cream, Swarfega (used for getting chewing-gum from carpets and seats), disinfectant, liquorice, cleaning chemicals.

``Not unpleasant, but very nostalgic.

``In later years I went back to cinema (as one is now called - `picture theatre' is passe) work. But the modern cosy cinema of 40, 50 or 60 seats just doesn't fire up the same memory.

``Maybe some of the main ingredients are missing - the laughter, tears, fear, pathos, slapstick, suspense, melodrama, excitement, tenterhooks.''

And the smell too, Trevor. Thanks for sending that in.

Shopping for singles

An anonymous Dunedin gentleman wants to canvass an idea for economic eating.

``There are thousands of people who live alone and, like me, find shopping for meat a bit frustrating,'' he says.

``The supermarkets cater for families. As a result, those that only want say one chop, or one bit of steak or schnitzel, or just a couple of sausages etc, are made to buy a larger quantity.

``Sure, the extra can be frozen, but often these people don't want, or are unable, to buy $12 of steak when they only want say $6 worth. It's very seldom you see, say, one chicken breast.

``So a small section that catered for `singles' would be welcome and could be the point of difference for a supermarket. And, being a separate small section, the shop's staff would notice what stocks were available and ensure smaller quantities were not just lost among the other stock in the main cabinet.

``Who knows, singles may bump into other singles and then guess what?''

My anonymous contributor hopes a supermarket manager somewhere will be prepared to take the initiative.

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