My river canyoning badge

Yesterday brought more great weather in Queenstown, so we decided to go river canyoning. That’s where you take a perfectly good – if slightly wild from the melt from ski fields – river and scramble, climb, swim, zip-line, abseil, jump, and slide your way down it. We were equipped with thick (5mm) wetsuits and climbing harnesses and instructed by a great (though probably insane) team.

I limited myself to the 6m jump, Cas went for the 8m of course.

Though we didn’t get any photos, I did get the purple river canyoning merit badge!

ow!

Posted in New Zealand | Leave a comment

1…2…3…!

Warning: This is what happens if you leave Cas alone with a trampoline…

Posted in New Zealand | 2 Comments

To expand on the previous post…

I cannot believe just how gorgeous this country is. Our very lovely friend Julia picked us up from Christchurch airport on Friday, and since then we’ve been enjoying the Scott family’s fabulous hospitality on their farm near Palmerston on South Island, about 45 minutes north of Dunedin. Weather has been obliging sunny and fresh, NZ red is going down a treat, and it’s going to be hard to drag ourselves away today to continue on our tour of South Island.

So we’re heading off today in the direction of Queenstown (no bungy jumping happening no way not never), and then on to Fiordland, then up the west coast, round the top and back down the other side via plenty of vineyards. Throw in some whale watching, sea kayaking and hiking and it should be a fabulous trip. We’re then heading back to the Scotts’ to join them for Melbourne Cup day (might be a bit boozy…), and then flying up to Auckland the next day for 10 days on North Island.

So that’s us for the next few weeks, pics on the way (promise!). Will now go and pack and see if I can get Alex to download some…

PS negative on the Uggs (but apparently they are VERY chavvy in NZ so good call…)

Posted in New Zealand | 1 Comment

I love New Zealand.

Fin.

(will post more later plus pics 🙂 )

Posted in New Zealand | Leave a comment

My new travel rules and other random thoughts.

1. It shall not rain in Sydney. If I wanted an arched bridge in the rain I’d go to Newcastle.

2. Backpackers hostels are not suitable accommodation for more than two nights max, particularly when random Europeans insist on talking really loudly outside the door in the middle of the night. (It’s ok, no limbs were parted from their owners but only because Alex restrained me in his sleep. Clever man.)

3. Colds definitely not allowed.

But we did have a lot of beer with our lovely friend Chris on Monday  night and we walked past Natalie Imbruglia in the Botanical Gardens this morning, so all is not lost 🙂

The whether-to-buy-some-Ugg-boots debate is still raging – they are all on sale, so about half price from ridiculous UK prices, but I’m still dithering. I’ll get back to you.

Finally, it’s the second episode of the new series of Glee tonight hurray – you didn’t think being on the other side of the world would interfere with my weekly catch up with MacInley High did you?

Pics as requested to be posted in NZ (ie Friday)…

Posted in Australia | 2 Comments

Feeding time

Yesterday we sat in the bar of a restaurant by the marina, waiting the couple of hours to watch a large fish being fed.

Across the bay the sun sank, tropical mountains faded to blue clouds and yachts swapped places – exhausted, sun-reddened, madly-waving day-trippers exchanged for elegantly dressed, sun-reddened, madly-waving evening-trippers.

The larger boats were greeted by the clang of a bell from behind the bar (and much mad waving from both shore and sea sides) as they carried their catches of scuba-divers and snorkelers back home. A day ago (two days now) we’d been a part of all that. Out snorkeling on the outer reef.

Over an hour out, just before the ocean shelf takes a long, cold plunge into the blue-black waters of the coral sea, we took a long, but not so cold plunge of our own into the glowing turquoise waters of the reef to be instantly surrounded by fish.

Snorkeling is an odd experience. The instant you are in you forget about the above-water side of things – other than for a quick glance at the ship to get your bearings and get a feel for where your fellow mer-people were – this turns out to be a less than smart move later on when you realise that the sun occupied that forgotten part of the world, and your back is now a photographic negative of whatever you were wearing. (‘Trunks – a study in pink and white.’)

Fish are, on the whole, pretty fearless of humans, with whole shoals seeming to form around you as you swim (by swim, I mean of course: flail elegantly whilst trying not to crash into the oblivious snorkeler who has just appeared next to you and is affording you a close up view of their flippers in action). A reef-shark moves effortlessly below you on an errand of its own. The water filled with clicks and pops as parrot fish gnaw away at the reef.

The reef itself is incredible. You float a matter of feet above it, suddenly to find it plunging away in blues, greens and browns, tables, horns and boulders surrounded by fish and shrimp. In a crevice at the bottom the sand moves in slow breaths as something large rests, hidden.

The journey back is a blur. We ddin’t hear the bell or take part in the burst of mad waving – we didn’t even register that solid ground was on its way to meet us.

On reconsideration, sat at the bar, there’s something a little brutal about snacking on prawns, oysters, fish and chips while waiting to see a fish fed (a little like setting up a barbeque in a petting zoo). The clock hits five and large tv screens flicker to life as the fish-feeder drags a fish carcass out onto the decking and slices it – the smaller bits flung into the water as an appetiser – tying the head to a thick length of rope and plunging it into the bay. All this is repeated across the screens dotting the place.

We crane and wait, the audience getting as close to a rapt silence as Aussies ever get (a rapt hubub or rapt clamour just doesn’t sound right). Fifteen minutes later it’s clear that ths fish isn’t going to make an entrance today. A couple of smaller, palm-sized fish nibble apologetically at the floating food before looking embarassed and dashing off quickly.

It’s hard to feel let down though. We’ve seen more fish in the last day or two than we have in the last year (or two). And, besides, I’m keen to get home and write up my petting zoo barbeque business plan.

Posted in Australia | 4 Comments

Crocodiles and stubbies

Well, today was a day of new experiences. We actually tore ourselves away from the delicious palm edged pool that our apartment looks over to head to the beach to swim, bravely joining the dozens of people already in the water and ignoring the big stinger and crocodile warnings that are plastered up along the beach. A debate raged about how safe it actually was to get into the clear warm (25 degree c) water of the Coral Sea, and Alex had me finally convinced that no, it wasn’t stinger season, and seriously, crocodiles??

So the siren that started wailing, in proper Jaws stylee about 30 seconds after we arrived at the beach was a bit of a worry, and the Aussie life guards shouting at people to get out of the water didn’t help to ease my concerns, especially as the beach was subsequently closed for 24hrs as, you guessed it, a saltwater croc was swimming up and down the shore.

It must be the great flying spaghetti monster being all Alanis Morrisette on us – one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, and you can’t even put a toe in the water…

So back to the pool and a chilled beer – Jenni, I’ll have one for you xx

Posted in Australia | 5 Comments

I’m melting…

Been here over a week now and still haven’t got used to the roughly 29 degree heat and pretty high humidity. Fortunately there is a lot of a/c and cold Asahi beer to help chill things down a little.

We’ve moved now to our second ryokan (Japanese style hotel), and my very favourite thing about our new place has to be the Japanese baths. You get washed under the shower (or by pouring buckets of luke warm water over your head – fabulous when you get in from a hectic day`s sightseeing), and then get into your very own infinity bath overlooking the zen garden – not kidding.

The bath is lovely and hot, soothes away all your aches and pains from walking everywhere (curse of hanging out with Alex, this walking everywhere thing, even in London), and then you cool down again by pouring cooler water over yourself once you`re out.

Not sure the Japanese go for that last bit, all a little Finnish, but hey let`s call it fusion bathing. Am going to go now and have a cold one, and maybe start doing some origami.

Seriously.

🙂

Posted in Japan | 2 Comments

Tokyo baby!!

Well we arrived a couple of days ago now, and I’m happy to report Tokyo is amaaaazing 🙂 currently updating this from the Apple store opposite all the very posh department stores in Ginza. Jet lag is sadly still with me, though I did manage to sleep until ooh 4.30 this morning – for those with small children, I feel your pain.

We’ve not been sat around you’ll be pleased to hear, so for me, for now, this is my top things I’ve learned in Toky0 – in no particular order (all written down in your book Rae 🙂 )

1. That I appear to be travelling with Tom Cruise according to a very nice but clearly visually challenged lady sat next to us at dinner last night.

2. That lamposts play music to you – it was an orchestral version of ‘Memories’ from Cats on our first night.

3. If you ask the fortune telling sticks at Senso-ji temple what the fates hold in store for you, don’t expect a jolly answer (!!). I’m comforted by the fact that Alex’s was just as bad as mine.

4. People are wonderfully friendly and the TOTAL language barrier just isn’t even an issue.

5. That dodgy looking restaurants serve fabulous noodles.

6. That there’s a statue of Edward Jenner in the grounds of the Tokyo National Museum (that one’s for you James, they’re pretty happy here with the whole smallpox vaccine thing).

7. That it is possible to sleep well on a 5cm thick futon on tatami mats with a rice filled pillow, and that the futons are long enough, hurray!!

Love it love it love it…

Cxx

Posted in Japan | 8 Comments

Good omens

On the (fully laden) way to Kent, yesterday:

Posted in UK | 3 Comments