Category Archives: Uncategorised

Fraser Island

From Noosa, we embarked on a very uninformed trip to Fraser Island. Uninformed, in that we had no idea what we were doing really. The previous evening, we watched a briefing video, which explained how to drive a 4×4  in sand, what to do if your stuck in sand, how to adjust the tire pressure for sand, etc. etc. This all went completely over my head, and I hadn’t realised we were meant to be driving, so I had a bit of a sense of foreboding.Anyway. We had a two hour bus journey to Rainbow Beach, where we were split into four groups and given a 4×4 each. Wow. There were six of us in our car; me, Tom, Luke, a Swiss French girl called Naila and two French sisters, Nadia and Dulia. We all got on really well, which was nice! Luke drove first, onto the ferry to the island and then for about forty minutes along the beach. We drove pretty fast, communicating with the tour guide who was in the front car via walky talky, which was really fun and reminded me of the 90s. (Walky talkies are equally exciting now, if you’re wondering.) It then began to piss it down.

 

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A running theme on our trip so far has been that it violently rains every time we spend money on an activity, and Fraser Island was no exception! Our first destination on the island was Eli Creek, a river of really pure drinkable water that you can float down into the sea. We were drenched to the bone from the moment we left the car, so it was quite fun jumping in the river, although it was freezing! The river was shallow, so we swam a little and walked too. There was one moment where I was walking along the sandy riverbed when I stepped into a hidden hole and disappeared, Dawn French style.

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We then headed back to the cars. It was so wet that there was no point even getting dressed so we were all in our swimmers getting stuck to the leather seats, which was a bizarre but hilarious experience. We then drove to a huge wrecked ship sat on the beach, which we ran to, took a photo of and then ran back. It was a tropical storm so wet that it’s almost hard to breathe because so much water was going up my nose!

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After that, we headed for a walk through the bush, down a gigantic sand dune and then chilled out by a big lake. The rain picked up again on the way to the hostel. We had a Chilean room mate who didn’t seem to own a shirt.

The hostel was nice, in that only people from our group were there. What followed was a very messy night, involving trying to “phone” eachother across the dance floor using the biggest item we could find. (We got shouted at for holding barstools to our ears) and some ridiculous dancing.
We were a bit worse for wear in the morning, but thankfully, Naila offered to drive first, taking us through the lush rainforest to Lake McKenzie. The lake is on a huge sand dune and is famous for its white sand. It was nice to chill out and sober up. The boys clowned about and did lots of belly flops, Luke did a good seal impression in the water, and I was just using the sand to exfoliate which I’ve been DYING to do since we left home. Clean skin at last! Then it came to my turn to drive…

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I’ve never driven a 4X4, on sand, or abroad before. So it was all a new experience. To be honest, it wasn’t too different to driving normally, other than the car felt huge. The difficult bit was being in the second car, and the leader would slow right down with no warning, so i’d have to try hard not to stall/rear end him, and when we drove on the squishy bits of sand, sometimes it would slip a little bit. We then headed back along the beach to the ferry. Luke drove and we had some songs on and had a sing. All in all it was a really fun trip and my favourite thing we’ve done in Australia so far.

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The Camping Chronicles: Part II

Here’s to tents flapping in the wind. To swimming in the sea because there’s no shower and watching baby ducks instead of facebook. To learning to speak German by playing cards by candle light. To airbeds and sleeping bags. To not looking in a mirror for three days and sleeping in all of your clothes. To sticking your head out of the tent to see the stars. Here’s to pasta and pesto, to kindles, and to spending thirty minutes boiling water for coffee before realising the gas canister is empty. Let’s hear it for eye masks, more sheep than people, finding forgotten chocolate santas, and cold beer. Here’s to laughter and hugs, shit weather in the summer, and drinking wine from a mug. Here’s to long walks. Here’s to jumping out of the ocean because you’ve seen a sting ray the same size as your tent. Here’s to pulling over at the side of the road to say hello to the seals. Here’s to good friends. Here’s to the bitter sweetness of homesickness. Here’s to a few days left before the plane journey. Here’s to joy.

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The Dolphin and Sick Encounter

After Christchurch, we headed to Kaikura for our much-anticipated dolphin swim. Kaikura, on the East coast of the South Island, is famous for its sealife and seafood.

For some reason, (I’m not sure who is responsible,) we had booked the 5.30am slot. Well actually, we booked it because this is the time when you’ll see the most dusky dolphins, as they’re heading out for their breakfast. This meant waking up at 4.15am, and packing up the tent. This was just as much fun as you can imagine it would be, and was made more enjoyable by trying to put a bikini on in the tent, in the dark. Breakfast was suggested, and I wasn’t at all hungry, but in hindsight, I’m very relived that I poked down a piece of toast….

We jumped in Simson the van, and headed to the Kaikura Dolphin Encounter Headquarters. (The venue also offers the more humorous sounding “Albatross Encounter” and intriguing “Cafe Encounter.”)
After filling out some health forms, me lying and saying I was competent at snorkelling, ho ho ho, we were ushered into the changing rooms and handed items of wetsuit, snorkels and flippers to wear.
Philine and I are both ridiculously tall so we found it absolutely hysterical trying to limber into a wetsuit designed for a much shorter person, ouch. We then sauntered sexily into the little cinema area where we all gathered and watched a briefing video. All seemed well, until at the end of the film when a staff member came through and uttered the fateful words:
“Okay! Great. We’ve been experiencing moderate swell and have had a few people suffering from sea sickness over the past few days, so I do hope you’ve all taken the appropriate medication. If not, we do have some ginger tablets for sale which might help.”
Tom and I looked at each other. We’re both hopeless when it comes to sea sickness, so I sent him off to get some ginger tablets with a great sense of foreboding.

We were all then ushered onto the bus that took us out to the water, where we boarded the boat. The boat took us out into the ocean, where we were scanning the waters for signs of the dusky dolphins. The sun was just coming up, and the boat was bopping all over the place in the waves. We saw lots of albatrosses, which were amazing. I’ve never seen them before; gigantic seagulls, about the size of a dog with a six foot wingspan. They were huge and fascinating. I loved watching them dive into the sea for their breakfasts, and how they just bobbed about on the waves, clearly completely unfazed by the “moderate swell.” We were then advised that once we’d swam, the blankets provided wouldn’t keep us warm if we didn’t get our wetsuits off first. I was like “well durrrrr” but little did I know…

The boat then let out a huge horn blast, signalling dolphins had been spotted and it was time to get in the water. I crammed my snorkel on, and whilst the lady was checking I’d fitted it properly, I saw dolphins doing backflips out of the water, it was so exciting! We made our way to the back of the boat and flopped into the water. It. Was. So. Fucking. Cold.

I stayed close to Tom. Everyone looks exactly the same with their wetsuit hat and snorkel on, but luckily Tom’s beard made him easier to identify. He had to put some vaseline in his moustache before we hit the water. I thought this was so his little face didn’t get cold, but it was actually to create a better seal with the snorkel. Haha.

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Anyway. We hit the water and there were dolphins everywhere. Hundreds and hundreds of them swimming around us, circling and leaping out of the water. It was at the same time completely amazing and completely overwhelming. I was shocked from the cold of the water and also panicked by the waves and the snorkel so I had a little hyperventilating episode and then sorted myself out. Once I had recovered, I put my head under the water and there were beautiful dolphins everywhere. I started to sing through my snorkel to them (don’t worry reader, I hadn’t gone completely insane, we had been advised that this would get their attention.)

As I sang, the dolphins came right up to me, looked me right in the eye, circled me a few times and then headed off. It was too awesome to put into words. As I raised my head I could see the little guys jumping around. They don’t just leap out of the water, they do full on summersaults and backflips, slapping down into the waves. It was absolutely incredible!! After a while, the dolphin pod lost interest in us mere humans and headed off for some more breakfast.
The horn on the boat went, signalling us to come back onboard. I made my way back to the boat, tried to pull myself up and then abruptly fell back off again which made Kerry laugh. There seems to be a running theme on this trip of humiliation every time I go near a snorkel! I had a bright red float with me, which made me look even more silly. Anyway, I finally got on and we headed off to find the next group of dolphins. I was feeling pretty panicked by the waves and the snorkel, but managed to calm myself a bit. All the while a creeping feeling of nausea came over me…

 

 

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(Looking a wee bit worse for wear…)

The horn blew again and off we went. More amazing dolphins, we must have seen at least 800 dolphins all together. I kept taking deep breaths and daring myself to put my head under the water. Every time I did, there were dolphins everywhere. Beautiful. Unfortunately my body began fighting the waves and I felt sicker until I was just clinging to my float, staring into the water telling myself “don’t be sick, don’t be sick, don’t be sick.”
Finally the horn blew, and I made my way back. Back on the ship I identified Philine sitting opposite me (not easy with those masks on) I slapped my way across to her in my flippers, clinging to anything to keep me upright. The boat was bopping and lurching so much. I heaved myself next to her saying “oh my god I feel soooooo sick.” to which Philine replied “I’ve just been sick three times in the sea.”

Hilarious.

Somehow Philine went out again, as did all the rest of the group except me and another English girl who was feeling ill. Then it happened.
I was very sick into a bucket. After a while, the crew member said “we’ve got one coming home!” I replied, “Does he have a beard? If he does it’s my one.” She said no.
Then everyone started coming back and the girl goes “Oh look, there’s the beard!” I saw Tom on the other side of the boat looking very sick and with a huge bogey hanging out of his nose. I said “yep! That one’s mine!” Anyway, to cut a long story short, the rest of the trip was spent violently being ill into a bucket. Tom was doing it. Philine was doing it. People were being sick everywhere. Luckily they had enough buckets for everyone.

Kerry, however, was absolutely fine, sat around, smiling at everyone and drinking chicken soup. To do him credit, he did manage to take some photos and videos, which is really lucky, as the rest of us were in no state to manage it. I felt so sick that I couldn’t get my wetsuit off, to get my clothes on and warmed up, and I couldn’t get back inside. Philine was in the same state so we just sat there shaking with the cold, head in buckets, rubbing eachothers backs and waiting for it to be over. I’ve never been so cold, or felt so ill in my entire life.

I was delighted to be on dry land. We decided to rename the morning from the “Dolphin Encounter” to the “Dolphin and Sick Encounter.” And a “moderate swell”?! I don’t even want to imagine what a “major swell” would have been like!
Travelling is a funny old thing. One moment you’re nearly crying in awe of these beautiful intelligent animals, and the next your body is up shit creek without a paddle. But I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

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Christmas in the sunshine!!

Hello dear reader,

At the time of writing, I’m hiding from one of the biggest rainstorms I’ve ever seen in the TV room of our darling campsite. Unfortunately wifi only works on one device, and all my photos are on my iPhone, and I’m writing this on the iPad, so there will be no pictures to illustrate today’s episode. So instead I shall jazz it up with some interesting

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And also some emogees

On Christmas Eve we rose early in Wellington to catch the 7.20am shuttle bus to the ferry terminal. After nearly two months we were leaving the North Island!

We were efficiently shoved onto the ferry and then off we jolly well headed across the Cook Straight. The trip was fairly uneventful, with some beautiful Norwegian style fjord scenery.

We were both still pretty sleep-deprived so did a bit of napping and treated ourselves to some chips and a beer/cider… it was nearly Christmas after all!

Before arriving at Picton, I’d mentally prepared myself for the worst. Everyone told us that all the shops would be closed, and spending Christmas on a campsite sounded pretty grim. In my head I was picturing our cabin to be a bed with walls, and imagined surviving on supernoodles due to the shops being shut.

Anyway. It was great! The area Picton sits in is called Marlborough Sounds, and it was absolutely stunning. Huge hills covered in gigantic greenery falling into the turquoise ocean.

We found our campsite, and settled into our little cabin. It was bigger than expected and it had a little decking area that caught the sun all afternoon and evening. Perfect for festive drinking!

Once we’d settled in, we went into Picton, which was a small but pleasant town. We decided to do our Christmas shopping, setting ourselves a ten quid limit. How refreshing! I know it’s terrible, but I took great pleasure in not needing to stress about Christmas presents this year!

After that, we did the Christmas food shop – mainly barbecue supplies, rum, and bacon and eggs for breakfast. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without stuffing yourself silly, would it?! When we reached the checkout, we encountered what Tom now refers to as “The Fat Lady Who Ruined Christmas” – – a woman of the larger disposition who refused to take our driving licences as a form of ID despite it being Christmas Eve and my asking if Tom really looked like he was under 18 with the beard that he is currently sporting. Anyway. We stormed off back to the campsite and returned with the passports and all was well.

After our shopping extravaganza, we sat and played cards on the decking for a while and had some pasta for tea.

We woke up and it was Christmas!! There was a layer of snow all over the campsite, and I could see the footprints and tracks from Father Christmas’s entourage. ❄️❄️Only joking. It was about 25 degrees and I had factor 50 on all day. What a first! I opened my presents from Tom (a papau shell necklace and matching earrings and a puzzle book) and he opened mine (a bottle opener keyring shaped like a kiwi bird, and a bag of jelly “kiwi worm” sweets.)

The rest of the day was a blur of burgers with stuffing, chicken, salad, sweets, chocolate, mince pies, cider, beer and rum. Perfect. We put on our lovely santa hats too. It was so surreal to be chilling by the pool! A British family joined us and they were blasting some Christmas tunes by the poolside so that was really nice. (Given up on emojis now. Sorry.)

All in all, it was a lovely Christmas. I’m really pleased that we booked a cabin to have some time to ourselves. It was a Christmas that I’ll never forget, but at the same time it’s been one of the hardest days since we’ve been away because we both missed our lovely families like mad. That’s a good thing though. Imagine if we were like “well thank god we’ve got away from them at last!” Ha!

Stay tuned for the next episode, where we encounter the weka bird, watch TV in a vintage bus, and I try my hand at camping in the wilderness. ❤️❤️❤️

 

Windy Wellington

 

DISCLAIMER: this post was meant to have a lot more photos but the wifi is shocking and I’ve given up trying to upload them.

And so we hit the road once more.

Windy Wellington welcomed us with open arms after a five hour bus journey. As the bus trundled away from Hastings, I felt a bit like James Mcavoy in the final scene from “The Last King of Scotland” when he shrinks into his plane seat as he leaves Uganda. Anyway, there was no “STOP THE BUS!” that my overactive imagination had dreamt up, and we weren’t dragged back to the orchards. Phew.

We are still waking up fairly early, and also still achy and bruised, but we’re free!!! What an amazing feeling! We arrived into New Zealand’s capital and checked into our box room in the YHA. After dumping our bags, we had a wander round the city, and treated ourselves to a roast dinner. We felt that it wouldn’t quite be Christmas without one! After that, we went to bed and I was unconscious about thirty seconds before my head hit the pillow.

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(Very happy with his roast NZ lamb)

The next day, we decided to check out the city’s cable car. The pedants among you may wish to know that it’s not a cable car, it’s a funicular railway, but oh well, you can’t win them all!

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The cable car was actually pretty cool because they had installed a load of fancy lights in one of the tunnels and I got all excited thinking it was going to be like Space Mountain and we were going to fly up the hill at 100mph.

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Must stop getting so carried away.

It was a lovely sunny day, but we could feel that it was cooler and windier than Hawkes Bay, so better for sight-seeing really! The cable car takes you to the top of the botanic gardens, which have loads of themed areas, which we got thoroughly lost in, but we were so happy to be back to having no schedule and it not mattering! We wandered aimlessly down to almost the bottom of the hill, but then realising we’d paid for a return ticket on the cable car, we walked back up again to ride it back down the hill. We found a Henry Moore sculpture on the way so it wasn’t all bad.

After that, we went for a guided tour around the NZ equivalent of the House of Commons. Luckily it was only a 30minute tour which was perfect for my attention span. It was interesting to learn that any kiwi residents can go to parliament with a query. How funny is that?! I’d love to go to Westminster and strive to have macaroni cheese outlawed. Anyway, I digress. There was a really cool Maori room covered in hand wood carvings. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos as it wasn’t permitted, but here’s a photo from outside. It’s called “the Beehive,” or as Tom preferred: “one fuck ugly building!”

We went to the modern art gallery that was free entry (Wellington is great for free tourist attractions!) Tom got thoroughly pissed off by the contemporary art saying “it makes me furious! What’s the point in it!?” I told him it was there to cause a reaction and he replied “well I never want to go to an art gallery ever again!” Which made me howl! We also saw a Grayson Perry tapestry…. In the Deane Gallery. Spelt correctly and everything! Unfortunately I couldn’t take a photo because it was privately owned.

That evening came what we’d been waiting for……

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SO GOOD

The the next day we did a bit of shopping – my clothes are all a bit knackered so I treated myself to two new dresses. Tom really made me laugh because I asked him to get me the dress I was wearing, but in a different size, and he came back with a completely different dress. Love him.

It started to rain so we headed to the Te Papa museum, which is the biggest museum in the city and was bloody rammed with everyone’s kids. I came to New Zealand to escape everyone’s bloody kids but oh well it’s the summer holidays and all that. We spent a lot of time peering at this “collosal squid” which freaked me out a bit because I used to have a reoccurring nightmare about a huge octopus when I was a kid.

Thoroughly fed up with the ankle grabbers, we headed into the Gallipoli exhibition which was fantastic despite the amount of people in there. I didn’t know anything about New Zealand’s involvement in WW1, so found the exhibit really informative. It was titled “the scale of our war” and featured gigantic models of six of the people who died at Gallipoli. The statues were made by the studios who did Lord of the Rings and the hobbit, and were incredibly powerful and lifelike.

The rest of the day was spent in and out of the tourist office and department of conservation offices trying to book what we will be doing on the South Island. Yawns.

Today, we woke up in a fit of panic because we had a very important appointment to attend at 11am. After a catch up on FaceTime with Jacob and Charlie we headed to Sinatras Tattoo Studio. EEEEEE.

We had decided a few weeks ago what we wanted doing “don’t worry” and “be happy” in each other’s hand writing… Something to tick off the bucket list and a reminder to stop stressing would do me some good. All in all it took about ten minutes each and hurt about as much as I’d expected. I love the result!

 

The rest of the day was spent buying camping gear, a laptop bag and a replacement lens cap. Exciting stuff! Tomorrow we’re up early to get the 9am ferry over to the South Island for Christmas!

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Some proper photos from New York

Well hello,

We’re off to Wellington today!

On the cheapest/worst laptop ever, we’ve managed to get the photos off our big camera, and Tom has started putting them in online albums.

Here’s the first one from New York!

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Weirdly, New York feels like flipping ages ago, like reminiscing on an old holiday. Today I’m feeling like we’re going travelling all over again! Yippee!!

 

 

 

 

“Another day, another dollar.”

Well hello there,

You find us entering our eighth and final week of fruit thinning. There’s a lot of people muttering “another day, another dollar” around here. Catchy.  I’m just amazed that we’ve A) come this far and I haven’t yet fallen off the ladder and died (there’s still time…) B) I haven’t lost my temper and been sacked.

Nothing new to report over here. On a sunny day last week, our Kiwi friend Rochelle took us to the river, and we took some “flagoons” (takeaway beer) with us, so that was a nice change of scenery. We discussed how the supervisors are always yelling “check your tree before you leave!!” And how this might be, in fact some kind of philosophical life motto. Check your tree before you leave. Check your tree before you leave… Mind blowing!

We cycled to the supermarket and discovered that Whitakers chocolate was on offer!

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I also found this banana that was so big that I couldn’t leave it there.

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(I’ve added my passport for scale.) We later discovered that it was a plantain, not a banana. A bit disappointed, but eating plantain was one of my new tasks to try before my birthday, so it’s good to tick one off!!

I’m so delighted that next time I post on here we won’t be in Hastings!!!!!!!!!! Yes!!! It’s been a long week. So long, that Tom invented the “biscuit salad” in order to get us through.

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We’ve bought a laptop, so we should be able to start posting some decent photos for your to see soon. It also means that tom has been able to do some sound stuff, and he’s made a post of all the music we heard in Central Park! Takes me right back. Www.samplingtheglobe.wordpress.com

The majority of our evenings this weekhave been taken up with a Star Wars marathon. I have not watched a single of the six films all the way through without falling asleep. So tired. But very excited for the new film, which we plan to see in Wellington next week!

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So yes, as I said, not much to report, so I’ve decided to compile a list of things I’ve learnt over eight weeks of fruit thinning:

1) I can’t eat apples anymore.

2) The apples we are thinning are exported around the world, and sold in the UK in…. Wait for it…. HARRODS. Harrods daaaaarling! Only the best apples for us, oh yeah!

3) I HATE LADDERS.

4) If there is a god, he/she is responsible for creating audiobooks, the Women’s Hour and Serial podcast, Buffs (for holding your speaker and phone to your neck whilst you work, like a poor man’s hands free device) The Beatles, Newton Faulkner, and rubber palmed gloves. Speaking of audiobooks, I have never felt more British than when a weird sex scene happens on the book I’m listening to, and I have to cough loudly and shuffle around on my ladder so my colleagues won’t hear! Ha!

5) The cure for insomnia is a stress-free, physically tiring job.

6) Yoga is the answer to sore backs.

7) Wear Sunscreen. (Thanks Baz Lurmann.)

8) You will develop a comedy tan involving white hands and feet, which is really useful if you want to be some kind of weird mime artist in a bikini.

9) Pesticides are revolting, and make you sneeze constantly. And if you’re pregnant, you can’t work in the orchards – so it must be pretty harmful…. Which makes me even more glad to be leaving soon!

10) I can complain and whinge as much as I want, but in the end, I’m a lucky lucky person to be able to travel, and leave the job when I want. There’s plenty of people working here who have a family to support.

11) Shit jobs give you a drinking/chocolate consumption problem.

As a final note, here is a selfie that I accidentally took on my phone. I think it’s hilarious!!!!! HA

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When people discover that we’ve been working here for seven weeks, they are really surprised that we’ve survived this long. I like to respond with “yeah I used to look like Kate Moss before we started working here.”

Now I’m like this version of Mossy:

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And then there were two.

Hello there from sunny Hastings.

It is actually sunny. Unbearably sunny on some days. We’ve only just discovered that Hawkes Bay is the hottest area in the entire of New Zealand, so well done us! At least we’re finally working through the kilos of suncream we brought with us, so our bags will be lighter. We’re both getting browner despite larding up with factor 50 every break time at work.

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The observant amongst you may be questioning the name of this post. Well, let me explain. Our lovely friends, Philine and Kerry, and Max and Mathilda were sacked from work, and have had to leave our house. So it’s a little quiet over here. We’re abandoned, miles from the supermarket,  with a distinct lack of chicken parties.

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We’ve arranged to meet them in the South Island in January for a dolphin party, so that’s good.

Work has started at 7am each day this week, leaving us all with thousand yard stares at break times. My tiredness results in me repetitively closing the ladder on my head and also thinking I’m on the bottom step when I’m not and having a mini heart attack when I step off into the air… I’m not spacially aware at the best of times.

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(Above is my bastard of a ladder. He has sharp bits on the reverse of the bottom rung that cut the back of my leg every time it swings shut on it. I’ve got a delightful pair of very bruised and cut up calves now! )

Another highlight of the last week was the meeting on Friday, where the health and safety officer came and shouted at us all for standing on the very top step of the ladder and blaming our idiocy for the three people that fell off the ladders. I had to put my head between my legs and do some yoga breathing to prevent myself from commiting GBH… The supervisors had screamed at us when we were terrified and told us we’d be fired if we didn’t stand on top of the ladders!!!!! ARGHHHHH!!!!

Okay! A few happy things to lighten the mood:

1) Only fifteen working days left until we are free again.

2) We’ve booked flights for March: from Australia to Bali, Bali to Malaysia, and Malaysia to Hong Kong. We now only need to book Hong Kong to Tokyo, Tokyo to Bangkok and then our flight home from whichever South East Asian country we find ourselves in! I’m so excited to be on the move again. I’ll be so happy to leave Hastings.

3) Yesterday I saw a possum in the garden. I was really excited by it, and was telling my backpacking friends at work, when I realised some of the Maori guys had overheard and were absolutely pissing themselves at my excitement. They’re a pest here in NZ…. HA

4) The birds nests. Sometimes they have eggs, or little birds with open mouths waiting for the return of mummy bird. I like to shout “Do I look like your mother!?” at them.

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5) Another funny story… At work we have to remove the russet apples that have orange powder on them because they can’t be sold. Margot, a fellow backpacker from France, was dancing away to her reggae music whilst working, when the supervisor came over and said “there’s lots of russet over here Margot!” (implying that she wasn’t doing a very good job) to which Margot replied, “Yeah, I know, do you like it?!” the supervisor said “no!” and stormed off, leaving Margot puzzled. It turns out, Margot misheard and thought she was talking about “rasta” not “russet.” HA

6) Made friends with Maria, the lovely supervisor from Fiji. She’s working to save money to continue her studies. She’s learning to be pilot and flies here every Sunday. So cool to hear about it!

7)  Starting at 7am this week is leaving me completely exhausted and in bed by 9pm (tiny violin please) but it means I get to see the ducks sleeping on the lawn in the morning.

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8) I’ve just found out that The Corrs have got back together!

9) Chocolate is on offer at the supermarket.

And, my farewell gift to you: please enjoy this very hairy apple I found at work last week:

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25 things I know to be true

Well  hey there,

I turned 25 in September which is a bit weird. Weird because I’m officially “mid-twenties” which feels like I should be a more responsible adult than I am. I feel about six years old, not a quarter-century old! Half way to fifty. (I know it’s not old really)

Also, lots of travellers that I’ve met go “really?!” When I tell them how old I am. I’m hoping this is because most backpackers are younger, or that I look younger, but it’s the first time in my life that people have been surprised by how old I am.

Anyway, I thought I’d use the opportunity to compile a list of 25 things that I’ve learnt so far in my 25 years. Here goes!

 

1) No one really has a clue what they’re doing. Everyone is just pretending that they do and acting confidently. Join them, it’s hilarious.
2) Never trust someone who hasn’t brought a book with them. (Thanks Lemony Snicket)
3) If you’re tall you can tell people what to do and pretend to be authoritative and it (usually) works.
4) Every day is better if you wake up and decide you’re in a good mood.
5) Exercise is essential for keeping your body healthy, but more importantly, it keeps your mind healthy too.
6) If you want to wear something outrageous, you must do so with conviction and you’ll get away with it.
7) You are insanely lucky to have spare change, a roof over your head and access to food and water. Never take it for granted.
8) If everything is getting a bit much, take a step outside and look at the sky, contemplate the cosmos. Imagine being a spaceman looking at the planet. You are  so insignificant. Your life is one tiny blip on the timeline of the Earth. Chill the hell out. Also, if the thing you’re worried about wont matter in five years time then forget it!
9) The most important thing to be is kind. It doesn’t matter if you’re thick or you have a horrifically ridiculous laugh, just try really hard to be kind and compassionate.
10) Your gut instinct is about 99% right. If you don’t like somebody when you first meet them, or a place or situation gives you a sinking feeling in your tummy, trust it.
11) Laugh every day.
12) Listen to your body. If you feel shit every morning because you eat chocolate before bed, stop it. Don’t go drinking two nights in a row because you’ll get tonsillitis.
13) Understand that everybody has got their own problems and worries, and most of the time they aren’t thinking about you.
14) Make your passion your job and you’ll never dread going to work. You may feel differently about piano practice following hours of teaching piano however!
15) Ideas become things. Decide what you want and follow your dream. Only you can make it come true. Namaste!
16) If you’re having a migraine you should go to sleep. If you’re at work go to sleep in your car. Don’t try to woman up and power through because you will be sick everywhere.
17) There will be one day each month where you want to stab everyone you come in contact with and then will probably cry over a broken biscuit. It’s normal but you will only realise that in hindsight.
18) Smiling makes people warm to you but it also attracts the nutter on the bus, and makes everyone ask for directions.
19) Blusher has the magical power to make you look human on even the most shittest of mornings.
20) You can figure out which colours suit you by stopping wearing the ones that make people question if you’re ill.
21) The secret of life is chai tea. And good books.
22) Music is magic. Spend your life chasing it.
23) The way people act towards you is a reflection of them, not you. If someone is being an arsehole it’s because they’ve got something else going on that you can’t see. This is true for 99.9% of the population. The remaining 0.01% are psychopaths and should be avoided at all costs!
24) Spend money on experiences not things.
25) Surround yourself with the things that make you happy. 🙂

 

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The Tongariro crossing

After another bus extravaganza, we arrived in Taupo. As we checked in, the chap on the hostel reception asked if we wanted to do the Tongariro Crossing, and if we did, we should sign up for the following day, as the weather was good and it’s often closed due to poor weather.

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The Tongariro is a one day alpine crossing involving a 19km hike. I was really eager to do it so we signed up. It turns out that the crossing was closed for the few days after we did it, so we are really fortunate to have made it!

Up we got the following day at 5am to get the 5.45 bus to the start of the trail. We had to set of early to allow us enough time to make the crossing before it got dark. On the bus was the most passive aggressive tour guide I have ever come across. Hilariously agro for 6am in the morning. I couldn’t decide if he was a cool climb dude sick of tourists or just not a morning person, but he made me laugh so much:

-“well all you guys wearing trainers are gonna have lovely warm and dry toes when you are walking though the snow aren’t you?!”

-“oh I can see those of you who don’t have sunglasses clearly are immune to snow blindness.”

– “the bus will collect you at 4pm. The bus will collect you at 4pm. What time? 4pm. 4pm. 4!!! PM!!!!! Am I being clear enough for you?! 4PM!!!!!!!!”

And so on and so forth.

Tom and I had wrapped up in loads of layers and waterproofs, were wearing trousers, hats, sun cream, had our first aid kits and sunglasses and our big walking boots etc. and had also packed enough food and water for about ten people. So we were absolutely fascinated by a pair of Chinese lads sat on the seats next to us.
Both were wearing trainers, one had on his swimming trunks, the other had huge fashion glasses on with no glass in them. And they had a bottle of Gatorade each and a subway sub each in a plastic carrier bag. We were equally amused and concerned that they had no idea what was going on. We were thinking that they’d be like “holy shit why are we walking across mountains in swimming shorts?!” Needless to say, we saw them at the end and they’d survived it so good for them!

The walk started out flat, and there were quite a lot of people. Everyone was fucking power walking for some reason and I was out of breath trying to keep up, thinking “why the hell do we need to be going so fast on the flat bit?!” But I think it was because the man on the bus had terrified us that we wouldn’t make it back by 4pm!

We walked across the base of the volcano used as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings film.

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Then the path started to creep up hill until we reached a section of the walk called “the Devils staircase” – not a very reassuring title!

It was very steep and there were so many steps to climb. It wouldn’t have been too bad had there not been people behind me. If I wasn’t so out of breath I would have loved to turn round and roar “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!” In their faces, but alas, I had to make do with stopping on the edge of a cliff and breathlessly gesturing them past!

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It was amazing to reach the top. We had a banana break. Tom dropped his banana and then jumped up and down on it in anger which made me laugh a lot. I’m a meany. We then entered the snowy part of the walk.

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It was so beautiful!! And warm! Definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. The rest of the walk is hard to put in a timeline because it all blurred a bit into one. The best bits were the views, seeing the volcanic activity, walking across the frozen lakes, and the bright emerald blue lake where we sat for lunch.

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All in all, it took us about 7 hours. We were warned not to stop for long periods because our legs would stiffen and make it hard to keep going. It was one of the hardest walks that I’ve done but definitely the most rewarding. Taking my boots off and lying down on the wooden bench felt amazing once we’d made it!

Try clicking the little link below, it should take you to a 30 second video that summarises our time on the crossing.

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