Showing posts from November, 2017

Snow On and Snow Forth

Is there anyone who doesn't feel a tiny tinge of excitement with the first snowfall of winter? I confess I never checked the forecast before I went out this morning and whilst I was conscious that it was a very chilly 0.5 degrees (necessitating a last minute hunt for my gloves), I didn't give it much more thought other than to drive slowly down the frozen lane out of the village. Emerging from my fitness classes, rumours had already spread that it was snowing outside and whilst, at that stage, it was hardly sufficient to call it a Winter Wonderland the white stuff was certainly falling from the sky. Of course snow on top of ice did make for a trickier drive home, especially when both a horse and rider plus a 4x4 converged on me at the same point. However, I got home safely and entered the house to the wonderful smell of a stew being cooked by Mister E. It immediately crossed my mind as to whether we had sufficent provisions in the event of a heavy and prolonged st

Just Chilling

We have been home for just over two weeks now and there is definitely something vaguely comforting about the short days and long dark nights that have enveloped us since our return. Too cold to do much outside I have been backwards and forwards to the gym and various appointments but for the most part have enjoyed just snuggling down in the warmth of home, getting on top of all the neglected paperwork that seems to have accumulated in readiness for the winter months. Since defeating the jetlag, it has been a luxury to sleep through the dull grey dawns emerging from upstairs only after those in the parallel universe in which I once lived have departed for work. When we travel, Mister E sets an alarm clock; back at home we have no need for that torment.  Perhaps it's the after effect of the long and busy trip rather than the weather but the last couple of weeks has seen a lull in activity levels and, dare I say it, a lack of ambition as we revel in the here and now of cros

The Grand Finale: Wellington and Auckland

  Wellington with a population of just over 400,000 people is the capital of New Zealand, neatly placed at the bottom end of the North Island across the Cook Straits from the South Island. Auckland with a population of over 1.5 million is the country's largest city but was its capital for a brief period of 24 years only, commencing in 1841. Although now both modern, outward looking cities, they are very different. We were privileged to stay two nights in Wellington in  a harbourside hotel, within walking distance of all the main sights. The city has a reputation for being "edgy." That's a state that is hard to define but you do come away feeling that it lives up to the concept, regardless. Coffee shops and craft beers; sculptures and a redeveloped waterfront; the cable car/railway and botanical gardens; the wind that whistles through and makes you bend double; the historic buildings especially around the Parliamentary quarter.  We visited the National M

South Island in a Week

So many organised tours of New Zealand are conducted at whistle-stop pace. We were lucky to be able to take our trip around North Island at a much slower gait even if it did involve, for the most part, a different resting place every night. South Island, however, is renowned for its scenery and to appreciate that within a limited timescale of 8 days it was important that we avoided, so far as possible, mist and rain. Unfortunately most of our week was subject to a weather warning for the west coast with storms and heavy rain or snow depending on the altitude. When we planned our trip we had envisaged visiting the glaciers;  we adapted our route, however, to follow the sun and in so doing probably drove much further than we had initially intended. Whilst New Zealand's public transport system outside of the main cities is nothing like we are accustomed to in Europe, internal flights to and from Auckland are plentiful and, if booked sufficently in advance, re

Volcanoes, Geysers, and Gardens

We organised the Labour Day holiday weekend to spend it with the eldest on the Coromandel Peninsula. Unfortunately the beauty of the scenery was marred by heavy rain impeding the view, but not our enjoyment. We stayed in a little wooden cabin for 2 nights, above a stream with a resident long fin eel directly beneath us. During our travels we came across a number of eccentric New Zealanders, and Stu on Highway 309 in the Coromandel has to rank amongst them. He has over 100 wild pigs which roam amidst his collection of rusting vehicles as well as onto the road. Stu wanders amongst them, talking to the multitude of tourists who stop to fondle the pigs and take photographs.  The Coromandel was also our introduction to the amazing geological phenomena that permeate New Zealand when we were able to soak our feet in the hot underground spring on the appropriately named Hot Water Beach . When the eldest returned to Auckland, we headed southwards to Rotorua