07.12.2007 - 16.12.2007 27 °C
'I am just a dreamer and you are just a dream' 'Like A Hurricane' by Neil Young
A beautiful lyric from an amazing song.
Well it's been over a week since my last blog update so I'd better get cracking on updating you on what we have been up to. Hopefully I'll start getting back into the routine of updating it twice a week, although that nay have to wait until New Year as I'm not sure how many internet cafes there will be in Fiji!
Saturday 8th December
Well the John Lennon tribute night wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I think I'll have one in Glasgow next year but make it on John's birthday (October 9th) rather than the date of his death. The band that were orginally booked cancelled so we had a one man band, a guy singing and playing guitar to backing tracks. I don't think he knew many Beatles/Lennon songs as the first 3 songs showcased tunes by Crowded House and others I didn;t know. There was eventually a cheer when he played 'Love Me Do', before playing more non-Beatle songs. People were getting restless and the barman had a word, prompting another Beatles song, but we left after he murdered 'Oh Darling' - a McCartney song, not a Lennon song.
Sunday 9th December
Lynn and I mazed ourselves by getting up early and going for a run around some playing fields near our caravan park. Lynn lasted for 20 minutes while I gave up around 15 minutes. We're both a little out of shape from no running exercise, so we hope to try and go for a run 2 or 3 times a week if we can.
After a shower and breakfast we drove out to the Otago Peninsula to New Zealand's only castle - Larnoch Castle. It's actually more of a country house, but hey, who are we to argue? The castle was lovely, restored to it's former glory after year's of neglect. After the castle we headed back into town and climbed the world's steepest street, according to the Guiness Book Of Records - Baldwin Street. I'm sure a few streets in Glasgow must come close.
After that we had some lunch in the Octagon and then went on the Cadbury World tour and got some free chocolate, well it was part of the admission fee of $17NZ. The highlight was when we climbed inside a disused chocolate tower and watched in amazement as our guide let 5 tonnes of chocolate pour from a huge vault right before our eyes. Mmmmmm.
We went back to the campervan and sat outside reading in the sun before cooking our own dinner for a change, a lovely fish curry. We then watched a great film 'The Last King Of Scotland'. Well worth checking out if you haven't already.
Monday 10th December
We got up, packed the van, had breakfast and made some sandwiches for lunch before setting off on the road to Christchurch. Lynn phoned our friend Lyndsey before we left and enjoyed chatting to her for the first time in ages. E-mail is great for keeping in touch but you can't beat a good phone call.
We headed north to Christchurch and it rained lightly most of the way, so we picked a good day to travel. We stopped in St Andrews for lunch. We arrived in Christchurch and booked into the camp site where our South Island adventure had begun. We then headed into town and went to an internet cafe to book our transport for the north island and to check out Fiji prices. We then went to the supermarket and made Chicken Fajita's for dinner and watched the Spy Game on dvd. Not a bad film, one for the girls as it stars Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.
Tuesday 11th December
We got up at 9am but we had been awake for a while as it was quite hot. We phoned a place called the Adrenaline Forest and booked in on a 12.45pm slot. We killed time by walking round a shopping centre and Lynn bought a pair of insoles for her new trainers.
The Adrenaline Forest consisted of Flying Foxes, rope bridges, rope swings and more. There were 4 routes - discovery, adventure, thrill and adrenaline. We booked on all 4 for $33NZ. It was great fun, the routes got tougher as you went on and we were swinging 17 metres above the ground at one stage - all harnessed on and extremely safe though.
The 4 route took us 2.5 hours all in and our legs and arms were aching a bit by the end. The flying foxes, or death slides as I know them, were brilliant and there were some fantastic swings and obstacles to climb over, under and through - all suspended from trees. All in all it was a bargain.
We treated ourselves to fizzy juice and ice cream in a nearby park afterwards before heading back to the camp site. We went for a dip in the pool and had a good laugh on the kids slide, which was surprisingly fast! You can't beat acting like a kid. We are both very young at heart!
We used the rest of our food to have chicken fajita's again and played draughts on a $2.99NZ magnetic travel board I bought at Franz Josef. Another bargain.
Wednesday 12th December
We left Christchurch and the beautiful South Island behind and flew up to Auckland. We said goodbye to our campervan and home of the last 3 weeks. The flight was on time and took a little over an hour, so we arrived in Auckland just after 3pm. We got our bags and picked up our new car/home called a Juicy Crib. Juicy is the rental company and this time we have rented a car the size of a people carrier that has a bed in the back, a fridge, gas stove and sink. It's a lot faster than our South Island campervan!
We drove to my Great Aunt Betty's and it was great to see her again, although her hip is playing upa bit, but she's magic for 92! My cousin Peter arrived after work and we went to his Mum Jennifer's for dinner of Salmon, salad and poatoes with some beer and wine. Peter's brother Andrew arrived and we got to see his holiday pictures from Fiji from the previous week. It looks gorgeous and we are starting to look forward to a week on beach. Travelling is amazing, but every now and then you need to veg out and our week in Fiji will be ideal before we head to South America. The biggest decision we'll have to make will be whether to swim in the pool or the sea.
Thursday 13th December
We had a lazy morning checking out accomodation options in Fiji before heading into town to pick up the new prescription sunglasses I had ordered our last time in Auckland. In the morning paper I discovered that the Australian band Architecture In Helsinki (brilliant name) were playing that night at the Kings Arms Tavern, so we went to Real Groovy Records and bought two tickets. We then drove to another area of town where Lynn bought a new pair of Birkenstock sandles as she has worn out her current pair.
We drove back to my Great Aunt Betty's and Jennifer met us for fish 'n' chips. My Aunt Betty had had a busy day, seeing a physio about her hip and finding out if she can get a wheelchair, she had her cleaner round, she got her haircut and also found out about getting her shower sorted so she can get in and out more easily. She was in good form and Lynn, Jennifer and I helped to dress her Christmas tree. As Jennifer works in a Christmas shop, the tree looked fantastic.
After sorting out the Christmas decorations Lynn and I headed into Auckland to the gig. We arrived at 9pm only to find out things were running 'slightly behind schedule'. That was a bit of an understatement! The first band, the unfortunately named 'Moron Say Yeah!', came on at 10pm. They looked around 17 or 18, 4 girls including a super cool Asian girl on drums. They announced that their first song was brand new and proceeded to play a shambolic pop, punk electrto throb before quitting after a few minutes to announce they needed to practice more. Their youthful enthusiasm had an instant appeal and despite the fact they played like they had maybe only practiced together a few times, their ideas and enthusiasm won over the crowd. They were kind of like CSS only nowhere near as polished.
The next band has all sorts of problems with their sound and took ages to set up, eventually coming on around 11.15pm. They had all sorts of keyboards, effects, delay pedals and percussion, despite the fact that there was only 3 of them. They were called The Ruby Suns. They were not very good, but full marks for trying to be different.
On to Architecture In Helsinki, who I first caught 2 years ago with my sister Carla when they played the fantastic Mono in Glasgow. They right infectious and experimental pop songs in a pretty unique way. There were 6 of them on stage, when they eventually went on at 12.05am. They launched into tunes of their recent album and after 20 mintes or so they announced they would also play some old songs, including the fantastic 'I Think Your Mum's In Love With Me' (I think that is the title). 'Do The Whirlwind' was suitably fantastic and an inspired cover version of Mental As Anything's 'Live It Up' brought the house down and had the older people in the audience (including Lynn and I) singing along.
We eventually got home and into bed at 2am!
Friday 14th December
We slept late and I got up before Lynn and phoned our friends Dave and Shona Taylor. It was great to speak to them and catch up on all the news from back home. We left Auckland at 12.15pm and started the drive north to the Bay of Islands. The scenery wasn't as stunning as the South Island and the weather was a little overcast, but it wasn;t a bad drive and we plugged Lynn's i-nano into the stereo and listened to Teenage Fanclub, The Beatles, Hot Chip and more on the journey.
We caught a ferry across to a small town called Russell and checked into a Top Ten caravan site. We walked into town and got a couple of beers in a pub called 'The Pub Round The Corner' and listened to a band playing covers of Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix before heading round the corner for a lovely Thai meal and some good old Chang beer.
Saturday 15th December
We had a bit of a discussion last night about what we were going to do with the rest of our time in New Zealand and decided we really wanted to go to the Waitomo caves, where you can raft, abseil and climb through the caves and Tongariro National Park where you can hike up a volcano. All of this stuff is actually south of Auckland, so we decided that if the weather didn't pick up we would not bother with a cruise round the Bay and we would just head down.
Well it's not raining but it's overcast. We got up and went out for a run to Long Beach. Lynn ran a little further than me, making it up the hill as well as down. My fitness is improving, slowly but surely.
We set off back down the south of the North Island and had a good chat about our travels so far - almost 6 months. We listened to tunes and had a good run right the way down to Waitomo, arriving at 6pm. We booked into the caravan park and then on a caving tour with the Black Water Rafting Company - the tour is called the Black Abyss and features jumps into pools, abseiling into the cave, flying foxes in the dark and a lot of scrambling.
Stay tuned to find out how we got on. We're now further south after the caving and tomorrow we are going to go for a bit of a hike (to say the least) up a volcano!
Murray and Lynn