I am new to blogging and feeling a bit weird about putting my rambling thoughts and musings out there. However, seeing as I’m doing this travel thing on my own, I thought it would be a way of sharing my experiences with others and reassuring mums/sisters/friends with over-active imaginations that, no, I haven’t been eaten by a crocodile/shark, bitten by a venomous snake, minced up by surf and coral etc etc.
So, I’m officially on the other side of the world in New Zealand, after an epic journey involving lots of Ryan Gosling films (nice) and unprecedented sleep deprivation (not so nice). I ended up in the worst seat location possible on a Boeing 747 – that awkward spot in the middle of the central row, furthest from both aisle and window, compounded by neighbours on both sides who took sleeping tablets and could not be roused. I spent most of the journey with a painfully full bladder (I’m a water-drinking maniac on flights) and not even the possibility of any cloud-spotting to take my mind off it. I very nearly clambered over one of them a couple of times, but bottled it at the last moment as I ran the mortifying scenario through my head of her waking up as I was straddling her. I’m clearly far too British. However I got my revenge as, in the inevitable last minute rush before leaving home (despite protracted preparations), I forgot to put on any deodorant. Humming does not cover it – I repulsed myself from around an hour into the flight onwards.
I am breaking myself in gently to my travels by starting in Auckland, staying with my cousin, Will, and his fiance, Juliet, in their beautiful, HUGE flat with a view of the sea and the brooding Rangitoto volcanic island. Will kindly took the day of work and we headed north-west to Piha beach, one of the top surf spots in NZ and adjacent to Karekare beach, where ‘The Piano’ was filmed. The sand is black, due to minerals washed down from volcanic rock, and reacts to magnets due to the high iron content. To me it felt like walking on chocolate brownies, but then my mind does often turn to brownies so there could be some bias there. The weather was fairly bleak, but it suited the wild landscape, creating a monochrome effect of sand and sky. No surfers in the water (waves looked piddly – and that’s coming from a Saunton Sands fan) and a paddle was enough to dislodge my naive dreams of hitting the waves in a bikini. I get the impression that NZ surfing is to GB surfing as granite is to marshmallows.
First impressions of NZ are dangerously good (family are convinced I won’t return). People seem very relaxed and friendly – I have yet to see the grim face of a stressed person walking fast towards an unattainable deadline. Much of the scenery I’ve seen so far reminds me of a hard-core version of Cornwall – it’s lush, with splashes of blue agapantha (sp?) and orange monbretia nestled amongst the green. The muggy mizzle and low cloud that has pervaded the day might also have something to do with the association.
Blimey, it’s easy to ramble on in a blog. I think I’ll edit a draft version for future updates. Anyway, jet-lag is telling me it’s past my bedtime so off I go, after a fantastic start to my adventure, to the sound of that herald of holidays – the indefatigable cicada.