Travel dreams

Prompt: Where in the world would you like to visit the most? Assume you are not worried about money in any way.

Ooh, fun. Travel with no money restrictions, yes please! Living in New Zealand, it’s so expensive to go anywhere. And some of the flights are so freaking long. It takes about 30-odd hours to get from Auckland to London. In cattle class, that sucks. You arrive so exhausted that you have to spend two days recovering before you can start exploring. So money-is-no-object travelling? I’m in.

I haven’t been to many places, although I’ve been lucky with where I have been. I’ve done most of the North Island of New Zealand. I’ve been to Melbourne, Australia and the Australian Outback. I’ve explored London, England, and Inverness, Scotland pretty well. I’ve been to Edinburgh and Aberdeen in Scotland as well, and Northampton and Keswick in England, but not explored, so only seen one or two specific places and a whole bunch of English and Scottish roadside.

When it comes to travel, I have some priorities I guess. Like everyone. Some people want to immerse themselves in a different culture. Some people want to get a sense of history. I’m a country girl at heart, and a photography enthusiast, so I tend to go for natural scenery.

I know, it’s insane that I can say that and yet I haven’t been to the South Island. People come from all over the world to see the scenery of the South Island, and I’m a Kiwi and I haven’t seen any of it!  My friend Charlie on Writing.com was talking about Norway’s fjords, but New Zealand’s South Island has fjords too. And glaciers. And mountains.

Why do we spell it fiords? That seems very American of us. *Wink*

So yeah, the South Island is high on my list. I also really want to explore the Lake District of England. I’ve been there twice, once as a child and once as an adult, but only briefly. I want to explore it.

Where else? I want to drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria. Again, amazing scenery. And I love road trips. My mother and older sister rave about cruises, because you do all your travelling at night while you sleep and just wake up in the morning at your next destination, but I actually like road trips, and so does my husband. You get a feel for the country, and it’s interesting and relaxing. Plus, you can pull over anywhere you like and explore. That’s how we ended up in Gretna Green. *Laugh* Oh, and Stoke-on-Trent. That was a heck of a detour for what ended up being a walk around a pottery museum. *Smirk*

I’m sure no one will be surprised to know that I have a travel bucket list. No, I thought not. Me, the queen of lists, having a travel bucket list? Kind of a given, I know. So here you go:
*Boxcheck* Fly business class
*Box* Fly first class
*Box* Apply for a UK passport
*Boxcheck* Go inside St Matthews in the City, Auckland, New Zealand
*Box* Go to New Zealand’s South Island
*Box* Go to Larnach Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand
*Boxcheck* Go to England as an adult
*Boxcheck* See Buckingham Palace in England as an adult
*Boxcheck* Go inside Westminster Abbey in England
*Boxcheck* See the Tower of London in England
*Boxcheck* Go to Hyde Park in England
*Boxcheck* Go to Scotland
*Boxcheck* Go to Gretna Green in Scotland
*Box* Go to Dunfermline Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland
*Box* Go to the Isle of Skye in Scotland
*Box* Go to the Orkney Islands in Scotland
*Box* Go to Ireland
*Box* Go to Wales as an adult
*Box* Go to ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli
*Box* See the Northern or Southern Lights
*Box* Go to Antarctica

See? IrelandWalesthe islands of Scotland and Antarctica. That’d be fucking awesome. I’m so jealous of my friend Jody from Writing.com who is going to Antarctica. Again, so close to New Zealand (ironically, that one we’re actually close to whereas you’re all so far away from it) and yet it might as well be on the other side of the world. No, I’ve been to the other side of the world, but still haven’t been to the South Island or Antarctica. *Facepalm*

Where would you love to travel to if money was no object?

Thoughts of Grace

I walked down Queen Street, in central Auckland, today and heard a busker singing this song as I walked past people lighting candles to go with the tributes left for Grace Millane.

I don’t often blog about current events.  In the 18 years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve probably blogged about national or global events ten or so times where the news has not directly impacted me.  It’s not something that I do.  I’m not interested in current affairs or politics.  But every now and then, I am touched, saddened, heartened or angered by such things.  I am emotionally affected, and therefore it seems appropriate to share that.

What makes Grace’s story so different from others?  Others have died.  Others have been murdered.  People as young or younger.  People with as much potential or more.  The truth is, I don’t know what makes Grace’s story different.  Only that it is.

My colleagues at work have discussed Grace.  Perhaps that’s because we work literally next door to the hotel in which she was murdered.  Perhaps it is because she is being discussed in offices around the country.  I have overheard people talking about her on the train.  And she has been discussed at home.

Every day as I walk past the hotel on my way to work, I see the tributes that people have left for Grace.  Flowers, gifts, etc.  From people who didn’t know Grace.  From people who never met Grace and never will.  People are grieving for someone they have never met.

I haven’t been following anything on social media, but I did notice there were a few people climbing on their soap boxes.  Saying that those who condemned Grace for travelling alone were perpetuating the cycle of violence against women. That any woman should be able to travel alone and be safe.  I agree.  I agree that any woman travelling alone should be safe.  But it is not the way it is.  I am reminded of the John Lennon song, Imagine.  There are so many dreams and wishes we might have for society, that every person should live in peace and never go without food, clean water, shelter and love.  But that’s not the way it is either.  Does that mean we don’t want it?  No, we do want it.  Does that mean we do nothing for those who are suffering?  Turn a blind eye?  No, it does not.  But it also does not mean that we turn a blind eye to the risks that are out there in the world.

I have been saddened by Grace’s death, and she has been much on my thoughts this week.  I don’t think she is a lesson to be learned.  But it is a tragedy.  As a mother of a daughter, I am very saddened by Grace’s death.  And I felt compelled to write something, to commemorate her.

Armageddon New Zealand 2018

I had a good weekend, all things considered.  My husband was meeting up with a bunch of his imaginary friends streamer mates on Saturday night.  One friend came to stay at our house on Friday night and we made vodka lemon lime and bitters (it’s a Kiwi/Aussie thing, Google it) and got to know each other.  Then Saturday they went to Armageddon and I worked on my family recipe book.  Saturday night we went out to meet up with the rest of their imaginary friends streamer mates. It was a bit daunting, because I didn’t know anyone, but everyone was really nice.  I played an atrocious game of pool with my husband, ate some cake that was waaaay too sweet, and met some new people who might become new friends.  We’re going to try and catch up with some for drinks and stuff one weekend.

My daughter was very kindly given two double passes to Armageddon (thanks Aero!), so on Sunday I took her and two of her friends to get their geek on.

Some of the costumes were insane! I did myself proud and asked a bunch of people to let me photograph them. It’s easier than regular street photography, because they’ve put so much effort into their outfits they’re happy to pose for photos, but I still felt proud of myself for going up to strangers and saying ‘Can I take your photo?’

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There was an author selling signed copies of his books and it was a fantasy series, so I bought the first one for my son and had it signed for him. Another Christmas present sorted. *Bigsmile*

My daughter and her friends really wanted to see the cast from RWBY, an anime series she loves. I say ‘cast’, but it’s animated, so really they’re the voice actors. She knew them all by name though. The line was insane, all the way down the corridor. We joined the queue, but it was moving ridiculously slowly. Instead of quickly signing things for each person, they were having full on conversations with each person. I think we moved up the queue at the rate of about one person per five minutes. Seriously. It was beyond ridiculous. About an hour later we were about 20 people from the front of the queue when a staff member came around and said ‘In ten minutes they’re going to take a break and come back at 3:30pm.’ Wait, that’s an hour an a half away! We’ve been waiting in line for ages and we’re so close! The line moved a little bit quicker then, just enough to give us some hope, then with about 10 people in front of us, when we were close enough to see them, the actors went for their break. Gutted. They were replaced by another group, but only one of the second group was from RWYBY and it wasn’t one that my daughter was especially interested in. Some people left and the others just went up and got autographs from the second group. We told the staff that we were waiting for the other RWBY cast to come back, but didn’t want to start all the way back at the end of the line when they came back, so after much humming and haa-ing, they found a spot for us to wait off to the side. For an HOUR and a HALF. Ugh. My back was killing me. There was a lull in the line and my daughter snuck in and got an autograph from the one RWBY guy in that group. We’d been told that autographs and photos cost money, but thankfully they were giving away small 4×6 prints with free autographs. Then, finally, the other lot came back, and we were first in line for them. All three girls got autographs, and I got some for one of their friends who hadn’t been able to come with us, so the girls were all pretty happy. But tired. So we headed home then.

When I got home, and finally sat down and rested, I remembered about the Pokemon event I was supposed to be doing. Ugh. I ended up driving just up the road to a pokestop and putting a lure on. A lure normally lasts 30 minutes but for the event it lasted 3 hours, so that was sweet. Then I put incense on and just caught shitloads of pokemon. lol

Then tonight, we went to the neighbours for a BBQ. We ended up playing a game called ‘Five Second Rule’ where you have to name 3 things in five seconds. It was hilarious. I think the most ridiculous one was when I had to ‘name three words that end in at’ and all I could name was ‘proletariat’. *Laugh* The neighbour was like ‘What about cat, that, hat?’ No, I had to name proletariat. *Rolling* It was so ridiculous, it had us all in hysterics. There were other funny ones too. ‘Name three reasons you’d call in sick.’ One of their boys said ‘You chopped your arm off, you killed someone’ and something else. And there were hilariously rude ones too. And a whole conversation about wanking that was quite illuminating. *Laugh* The conversation always ends up in the gutter when we’re with those neighbours. It’s always hilarious. So much fun. A good night.

18 ways to appreciate New Zealand

I

Far from where Hillary ‘knocked the bastard off’,
rise peaks that conquer the horizon,
beckoning the intrepid, the brave,
the fatally ill-prepared…

 

II

Some sleep, undisturbed by the passing eons,
while others hiss and belch, spewing molten rock
and ash to splatter and scar their slopes.

 

III

Taupo, youngest global supervolcano,
hides simmering tantrums ‘neath waters
stocked with trout, tempting fishermen
and complacency.

 

IV

Glittering black sands,
remnant from Waitakere
(cremated long before records began),
provide vivid contrast to
golden east coast beaches.

 

V

Rolling green hills,
dotted with the white and tan splotches of livestock,
send a soul-deep sense of peace.

 

VI

Small-town hospitality, local bands
playing gigs in community halls,
that brogue that strengthens
as you head south, and the simplicity of rural life.

 

VII

Civilised society with an English veneer
and a quirky sense of spunk and survival
in Christchurch.

 

VIII

Wellington takes no prisoners, with
a brusque wind and a taste for politics.

 

IX

Auckland fancies itself a careful blend of
high society, expensive coffee, smashed
avocado and nightclubs for those who overindulged…
on caffeine.

 

X

Wines, from Waiheke, Waitakere,
Marlborough and beyond… Sumptuous reds,
bold whites, and delicate rosés
to satisfy the reveller,
the amateur and the truly discerning palate,
no’ necessarily in that order.

 

XI

The commuter ferries from Waiheke and Devonport
just a few of the boats on the Hauraki Gulf,
‘city of sails’ no misnomer.

 

XII

Fishermen catch kai moana for dinner,
a staple of New Zealand cuisine
(fine dining meets fush and chups)
and embedded into local culture and lore.

 

XIII

Sampling Maori tradition,
barefoot on a marae,
surrounded by towering wooden sculptures that
speak of ancestors and times long past.

 

XIV

The haka following the national anthem,
an acoustic display of might rattling
the stadium before another All Blacks
Rugby World Cup triumph.

 

XV

Endless black skies that reveal
the astonishing Southern Lights or
the Southern Cross constellation amid
starlit heavens.

 

XVI

Moreporks and kiwi send calls through the night,
until dawn brings the plethora of birds
that dominate the aural landscape.

 

XVII

Imagination abounds in Middle Earth,
where wannabe hobbits sip ale at
the Green Dragon Inn and stumble home
to houses under hills.

 

XVIII

Adrenaline soars as bungee cords snap back,
rafts plunge down waterfalls,
and parachutes float
far above New Zealand.

Auckland Anniversary Day

As promised, photos from the Auckland Anniversary Day celebrations, which was Monday 29 January.

Auckland Anniversary Day is a public holiday in Auckland, New Zealand.  The whole long weekend (because the holiday is Mondayised) is a celebration of Auckland, and that usually means a pretty heavy focus on the harbour.  After all, Auckland is ‘the city of sails’.  The Auckland Anniversary Regatta is the largest single-day boat regatta in the world (according to Wikipedia).

We started at the port, which was partially open to the public.  They had helicopter rides (which were a little beyond our budget), boat rides, etc.  They had water cannons spraying the crowd with water, which was very refreshing.  It was damn hot!  They also had free sunscreen and drinking water available, which was much appreciated and we made liberal use of.  I even ended up tipping water over my head just to cool down. Despite all the sunscreen I did a little burnt, but thankfully not too bad.

There were food stalls everywhere, with everything from seafood to hot dogs, to traditional Maori or Pacific Island food.  The kids got frozen ice treats with the little bit of spending money I gave them.

There were buskers everywhere, playing music, frozen still like statues or performing magic or acrobatic tricks to entertain the public.  My daughter and her friend liked the acrobatic ones best.

There were, of course, plenty of boats out on the harbour, including traditional Maori and Pacific Island canoes and boats.

 

So there you go.  Happy anniversary, Auckland!

Auckland City Walk

I did the Auckland City Walk today, with my mum, my daughter and my daughter’s friend.  It’s on the edge of the Waitakere Ranges, and is part of a bird sanctuary called Ark in the Park.  You don’t see many birds on the walk, as they’re spread out and tend to stay away from the public paths, but there is an abundance of native plants and trees.

It’s not a difficult walk.  The path is well maintained and it takes about an hour to walk the loop (if you don’t keep stopping to take photographs).  We took a detour and went uphill (and upstairs) for a better view, so we took a bit longer.  There are a few tracks that branch off the Auckland City Walk, and I’ve done some of them previously.  The Montana Heritage Trail takes about four hours, and I’ve done that before.  The detour we took was a small portion of that track.

It was so good to be out and about with my camera.  I’ve missed taking photos.  Been too long.

 

 

It was really too hot to be bush walking today (it’s New Zealand’s hottest January on record), but it was nice to be out and about, and good to be taking photographs.  It’s Auckland Anniversary Day tomorrow (yay, no work!) so we’re hoping to head into town to capture some of the festivities.

Cyclone Bola

Prompt: Winter is here and you are now trapped.

The paddocks were sodden,
each hoof print a puddle that
rippled and overflowed with every
driblet of water that fell from stony skies.

The excess swept over the grass,
blades bent beneath the heavy weight,
and slowly the water forged a path
down the hill.

A deluge the colour of clay,
with the unmistakeable fragrance of
cow shit and mud,
poured across the gravel road
just below Prior’s farm
in a rush to reach the swollen creek
which had long breached its banks.

Avid eyes and bright smiles watched
from the safety of the farmhouse windows,
because we knew the school bus
would never get through.

And Mum worried about practical things
as Dad shifted stock to higher grounds,
but at least the water tank was full.