An Oxford Education

NB: Somehow I managed to schedule this to post a day late. Oops.

After a couple of weeks in accommodation that really put the ‘youth’ in ‘youth hostel’, I retreated to the Canterbury plains outside of Christchurch, and a small town called Oxford. (Ha.) Communal sleeping is a necessary and often entertaining part of budget city travelling, but it’s a breath of fresh air every time I step away from the hostel circuit. I spent two nights in Christchurch and found that my capacity for meeting new people had been completely burnt out. My last embers were spent chatting to the guy who picked me up from the side of the road outside Kaikoura and drove me all the way to my destination. Conversation here was critical, as he was smoking an awful lot of marijuana and I needed him to stay awake because I don’t like death.

It’s hard to fashion solitude in a hostel, and the only way I could achieve it in Christchurch was to entirely ignore people unless they spoke to me, and then to close down conversation as quickly and politely as possible. I feel sorry for the German boy who tried desperately to befriend me, but at least I’ve provided him with good ranting material for his own blog. I make no apologies: I’ve always needed time to myself, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time wandering the city on my own.

Out on a community farm on the borders of Oxford, I soon found myself refreshed. There were only two other people living on the farm while I was there, with other members of the community dropping in throughout the week. I had my own room, and rolling fields in which to lose and re-find myself. The two men at the farm were older than most of the people I’ve so far met (one in his 50s and one probably in his 60s), and it was a real pleasure to spend time with a different demographic.

Part of it was simply relief that, for one blessed week, I wasn’t asked the exhausting barrage of travelling questions (whereareyoufrom, howoldareyou, howlonghaveyoubeeninnewzealand, whereareyougoingnext, etc). (On a slight tangent, I’ve also noticed that how much someone cares about how old other people are is pretty much inversely proportional to how old they are.) It also made me realise that I was spending most of my time talking to people for whom English was not a first language. As a result, conversation was necessarily simplistic and I was expending a lot of energy modulating my speech for speed and content. How fantastic then to spend time speaking with articulate hippie Kiwis who had a different and experienced perspective on politics and life in New Zealand.

I learned a lot, like how to use a Skilsaw and how not to build a duck fence. I made bread every day, and I present to you now my newfound knowledge of how to make walnut butter. It’s like peanut butter, but tastier, healthier and tastier. (I like my adjectives to come in threes.)

How to Make Walnut Butter

  1. Get walnuts. Here’s a simple test for knowing if you have enough walnuts: you don’t have enough walnuts. Make sure you have enough walnuts before you proceed to Step 2.
  2. Nope, you still don’t have enough walnuts. Get more.
  3. Find one comically large bowl and one comically tiny one.
  4. Crack open all the walnuts with pliers or a nutcracker or manly hands (I only had a nutcracker). Put the shells into the unnecessarily enormous bowl and the actual nuts into the ludicrously small one. This will serve to hilariously heighten your exasperation at the amount of waste you’re creating compared to the amount of edible produce.
  5. I said crack open all the walnuts. Don’t you listen?
  6. Now that you have enough shells to fill a bathtub, you probably have enough nuts to make a thimble’s worth of walnut butter. Grind the nuts in the biggest grinder you can find (you may have to spend some time in your Grinder Room to find the right one). Crushing the walnuts will make you feel powerful, and you should embrace this healthy sensation. Pretend that you’re a sadistic despot and the nuts are your oppressed citizens. Not only are you pulverising them out of existence, you’re also denying them the right to unionise and refusing to modernise their transport infrastructure.
  7. Oh crap, add some salt first. Good instructions, eh?
  8. Once your walnuts have turned to dust, mourn them by pouring in oil and more salt.
  9. Mix your walnut-oil-salt mixture like DJ Mix mixes his tunes. That is to say: with a wooden spoon. DJ Mix is a bit senile.
  10. Taste your walnut butter. Depending on your conclusions, proceed as follows:
    a) Mixture tastes dry: add more oil
    b) Mixture tastes like it needs more salt: add more salt
    c) Mixture tastes like the sea: you added too much salt (you klutz)
    d) Mixture has been invaded by the USA: you added too much oil (quick, plead democracy!)
    e) Mixture creates in you such ecstasy that you have a deep and inspiring desire to campaign to be allowed to marry your walnut butter: SUCCESS
  11. Okay, before you eat your walnut butter, you have to, y’know… okay, maybe just a spoonful… right, now you should, um… okay, one more spoonful… er, I guess, wash up and stuff? straight after I eat just a tiny bit more… right, maybe I shouldn’t have stuck my head in the bowl… um, I guess I can wash my hair… maybe just keep eating…

P.S. It’s possible I was drinking wine when I wrote this. Hopefully it doesn’t show.

Snapshots of NZ

The historic town of Oxford. Only not that one.

The historic town of Oxford. Only not that one.

A view over the Canterbury Plains.

A view over the Canterbury Plains.

Making walnut butter.

Making walnut butter.

Georgina the pig snoozes on the farm.

Georgina the pig snoozes on the farm.

Until I wake her up.

Until I wake her up.

Mocha the cow, shortly before trying to eat my camera.

Mocha the cow, shortly before trying to eat my camera.

Sunset on the farm.

Sunset on the farm.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “An Oxford Education

  1. Pingback: The End | Fof's Off

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s