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Day 2: Xmas in the Sun (Part 1)

Waking up on Christmas morning away from home for the first time in my life didn’t actually feel as awkward as you might have thought. As you get older Christmas starts to loose a little of its shine and growing up takes some of the childish excitement out of the day. Many reasons, including my Grandma passing away on Christmas day, have made me not the biggest fan of the holiday. I enjoy seeing family and watching everyone open their gifts but for me the worst part for the last few years has been those first few hours of the day when I wake up early as always yet there is no one about. Partners spending time with their parents, house mates returning home for a while and me alone in the house with nothing really to do. I don’t say this to try and get sympathy from anyone at all as I don’t wallow around the house and cry or anything, to me it is just another morning except I can’t do anything as the country has shut down.

For the last few years I have always tried to take the edge of this by doing a big challenge on Christmas day that is just for me. A few years ago I challenged myself to complete at 10km trail run on Christmas day by myself around some fields and rivers near where I used to live. Last year I upped my game to “20k Xmas day”, this time taking an easier option and opting to complete the distance as a 15km bike ride and only a smaller 5km run. The point of it was though that it took my mind away from the mundane and let me do something I wanted to do just for me. No one else really new or cared what I was up to on those early Christmas mornings and that’s the way I liked it. To be honest if I had told most people they would have looked at my like I was a fool for even thinking such a thing but this was the way I liked it. The best bit was that last year on my ride at 8am I was heading down a steep hill by the lakeside and as I looked out onto the water I spotted another adventurer after my own heart. Out on the water was a woman on a stand-up paddle board wearing a wetsuit and a Santa hat. We spotted each other and waved and I knew that I had made the right choice in the way I was spending my Christmas morning.

I don’t know why I have just rambled on so much and none of it is really relevant to the story of my road trip but I think it at least sets the scene and gives a little bit of understanding about what makes me tick early in the morning on days when most people want to be in bed. Anyway back to what actually happened this year on Christmas day.

Xmas HatWaking up in a dorm room is something that I am used to now. I crept out of bed, got dressed and headed out towards lake Wanaka, all while trying not to wake any of my room-mates. With my first mission successful it was time to call home and rub it in that I live in the future and was spending the day in the sun and having a BBQ while everyone at home froze and pigged out on Turkey. My calls home were well received with most people still awake and having a cheeky Christmas Eve drink. I even managed to catch my brother out with some of my cousins so got to have a chat to all of them and take part in the merriment. Many positive comments were made about my newly shaved head that I was still getting to grips with myself so they were all appreciated.

DSC_2111 (1280x720)After a hearty English breakfast cooked up by the tag team of Craig and Dan we got our gear together for our Christmas morning hike. This year I had managed to rope in willing recruits to my usual days stupidity, however out here it seemed like the right thing to do anyway. While on the calls home I had already seen dozens of people walking, running or biking about, enjoying their Christmas morning in the best of ways. The attitude over here is a much more active one with everyone taking the idea of “lets get a head start on this Christmas fat I’m going to put on!” and so everyone is active. Our challenge for the day was to climb up Mount Iron to sit there and take in the view. We grabbed our stuff and headed out for the short walk to the hill. From afar it doesn’t look too big but as you get closer it does start to look like a much bigger challenge than people who were drinking tequila shots a few hours before really needed to be engaging in. It is by no means a mountain as the name might suggest but is a steep hill that takes about 30 mins to walk to the top. As we started to ascend we all had a mix of regret and relief. Regret that we had decided to hike up the hill that morning but relief that we hadn’t decided that we should take on the 6 hour round trip of Roy’s peak!

DSC_2112 (1280x720)Thirty agonising minutes later we sat at the top and looked out over the town below. The view made us quickly forget about our aches, pains and hangovers as we stared out over the lake below softly lapping against the snow capped mountains in the distance. Just when everyone thought the moment could get any better Craig and I surprised Merle with our pièce de résistance, 3 bottles of chilled fruit cider that I had hauled up the hill in my backpack. With bottles in hand we sat there in silence, drinking our drinks and taking in the amazing view of our surroundings. Sometimes nothing needs to be said between friends enjoying a moment and this was one of those times.

..Initially I was going to write all about Christmas day in a single post, however it seems like it might be a better idea to split things up a bit and save some for later. I know my writing can end up rather long winded and drawn out at times but you know what, I don’t care. It’s not my profession and I’m not paid to get it perfect (hence not spell checking enough or proofreading ever!). I write to have a record to look back on for the friends who shared the time with me and those who wished they could, so hopefully everyone just appreciates that for what it is.

I hope everyone has a magical Christmas such as that in their lives. Simple yet spectacular.

Day 1: Christmas Eve

Yes, I am aware that this is a month late. No, I dont care because whoever wants to read it will read it anyway. Enjoy 🙂



Wow. That is all I can start this post with. When we were planning this road trip and thinking about what we could get up to we knew it was going to be something pretty special but that didn’t really prepare me for the amazing trip we have ended up on and the awesome things that I have seen on this trip.

I know all of these posts have been a long time in the making, however I got straight back from the trip and got busy with life again and so it got put on the back burner. I am now on a whole new adventure having not yet published the one before so now is the time for me to get caught up and say what I wanted to say. Even if no one reads any of this I still need to get it all down as these are my memories and times to look back on that I otherwise might not remember to the best of my ability. If I was a smarter writer then I would have written a bit each day and chipped away at it but then again I am not a smart writer (or a smart man at times) so instead I have left it and am now trying to do it all at once.

To at least make a start on it I am currently sat in a bar in Kaiteriteri at near the Abel Tasman national park, drinking a cider and looking out at the ocean. Craig is taking a dip in the sea while I use this rare time that I have brainpower and no hay-fever (YEY!) to at least get something down on “paper”.

I suppose the best place to start is the beginning. At this point it is hard to even remember when that was. It has only been a week since we left home yet it seems like forever since I was last in Dunedin. The run up to Christmas was a pretty hectic one with lots of little extra jobs that needed attention at work, always with the worst possible timing. Luckily (or rather unluckily depending how you look at it) I was still in the area and able to deal with lots of the customer issues that happened. Craig had to work all the way up to Christmas Eve so even if I had wanted to run away sooner I would have just had to come back for him anyway so there wasn’t much point. Another friend, Merle, who I met in Thailand back in April has also come to New Zealand and didn’t have any plans so was joining us on our Christmas adventure, just for a little while but at least for a few days. She came and stayed with me the weekend before Christmas but then left to have a mini adventure in Queenstown and Milford Sound before we picked her up to get to Wanaka for Christmas.

DSC_2100 (1280x720)As soon as I got the message that Craig had finished work I hopped in the car, picked him up and day one of our Christmas adventure began. For once in our life we were actually prepared and Craig had all his stuff ready to throw in the car and start our long drive to Wanaka via Queenstown. To be perfectly honest the first part of the drive was a little underwhelming. We had finally broken free from work and were on our road trip… but it just didn’t feel like anything special yet. This was the same road we had driven down multiple times before and scenery we had already seen. Added to that was the fact that the radio stopped working and we didn’t have any CD’s. I probably should have mentioned before now that we were not actually in my usual car. My boss had let us take one of the other vehicles, a 4WD Mitsubishi Outlander, to go on our road trip. This made it much easier to fit everything into the back and proved later to be really useful when on the gravel tracks that New Zealand often calls “roads” so thanks for that Kevin if you’re reading this!

Anyway, back to the adventure… About 2 hours into the drive we did start getting excited as it was at that point that we knew we were actually on our mission and not going home any time soon. To detour to Queenstown on our trip instead of going straight to Wanaka added about an hour to journey and Merle had said she was happy to get their herself but it was also kind of an excuse for us to go there and take in the view for a moment. An added bonus to this little impromptu trip was seeing another old friend from Thailand, the infamous Red.

I met Red in Pai, the same place I met Merle, yet somehow they had

The one and only Red.

never met each other. Normally that wouldn’t seem like a big thing but anyone that has been to Pai knows that it is a pretty small place. I still cant get my head around them not knowing each other even though it seems like most of my time there I saw them all constantly. It was really good to see Red anyway even if we only had enough time to take a photo for posterity before continuing our mission for Christmas in Wanaka. Knowing Red like I do I expect that will have been one of his last memories before the rest of his Christmas turned into a blur of drinking and partying. The phrase “party like a rock star” was coined after this man.

Wanaka was just how I remembered it except a hell of a lot warmer. Having spent 2 months there on and off over the last year it is a town I have a special place in my heart for as I know many other travellers do. Getting back there didn’t feel new or daunting, it just felt right which is all I could ever ask for, especially at Christmas.

Step one after checking into our hostel was to go and find CB. He knew that I would be coming but I was pretty sure he would be at work so what better way to say hi than to go and get dinner and grab a beer, all while he worked. As predicted he was there propping up the bar when I arrived and his face lit up as only a happy CB can. It was awesome to see him after so long, even if we could only chat briefly while IMG-20151225-WA0001 (1280x960)he served other customers around him. Craig and I grabbed food alone as Merle was still back at the hostel getting ready, which seemed to take an age. After a while we eventually got a message from her that her and another girl had set off to us but found a band playing at another bar and so wanted us all to go there.

After a little persuasion we all headed to the local Irish bar to watch a cover band play and see many people get increasingly drunk as the night went on. In New Zealand all pubs have to close at midnight on Christmas Eve so there was a strict cut-off time as to when everyone had to go home. We all played it right down to the wire, drinking and enjoying the merriment before wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and heading back to our hostel to sleep, the start of my first every Christmas away from home.


On the Move

I love Wanaka, I really do. Even when you seem to sink into a little routine and seemingly day to day normality you walk around a corner and WOW! Look at that view! Even today on my walk back from the shop I crossed the road and half way across just had to stop and stare at the sight at the end of the street. The 2 rows of seemingly normal shops coming to an end giving way to trees and snow capped mountains. The sun shining on the peaks and the view is just breathtaking, the only issue that is now it has come to a (hopefully temporary) end.

As amazing as Wanaka is, it is a terrible place to find a job and after 3 weeks being here I still haven’t found anything in the area at all. The issue is that Wanaka and Queenstown are the 2 biggest ski resort areas in New Zealand with people coming from all over the road to be here and stay for the winter season. Wanaka therefore has loads of people all in holiday mode and not many jobs to support the ones that need to make money. Since the majority of the population here are either on holiday or just hear for a season then there are not many jobs about and the ones that are around tend to be in the hospitality industries, working in bars or hotels etc. Having spent the last 11 years working in IT I seem to fall a bit flat when it comes to this as a have zero experience which has made finding a job in Wanaka near impossible. Whenever a job in a bar comes up 50 people have already applied and have experience to hit the ground running so it looks like maybe Wanaka isn’t going to be the place for me.DSC01502

It isn’t all doom and gloom though as things are looking up a little. To get around the issue of not having somewhere to work properly I rented some office space at a local collaborative work centre to get some stuff done and it worked out really well for it. It ended up costing less than I was paying for coffee each day and had 24/7 access and unlimited internet so exactly what you need when looking for a job. From there I have managed to apply for a boatload of jobs in Dunedin and Christchurch and even used the meeting rooms onsite to speak have some Skype interviews with some recruitment agencies so it cant be all that bad.

And so now it is time that I look at making a move. Nothing more is going to happen with a job in Wanaka so I need to suck it up and move on. I have a much better chance of getting a job in Dunedin or Christchurch and in both cases they also have really decent pay too which would give me the money to get out and see some of the country on the weekends too so I cant really complain about that.

Tomorrow I catch a coach to Dunedin where I will be based from for about another week and the I think I will head up to Christchuch and make it up from there. Not sure what my plan is or where I will end up living but I am sure that the adventure will be worth while.

Goodbye Wanaka
Goodbye Wanaka

On the hunt

I have been in New Zealand for over a week and a half now and I am on the hunt for a job! Travelling around the world has proven to be lots of fun, but the issue I have is that apparently money doesn’t grow on trees and the figures that my bank account now show as a balance look a little unhealthy to say the least. I haven’t quite gotten to the stage where I need to get a little dog and find myself a quite spot to sit on the street with a cup and funny sign… but we’re not too far off.

Wanaka is a beautiful town to live in, however the issue with Wanaka is that it isn’t cheap and for all the people here it doesn’t have many jobs. Wanaka is kind of a holiday resort due to its amazing surroundings so there are a lot of people here who are tourists and just on the move through the place rather than stopping. This means that most of the jobs here are hospitality based in bars or restaurants and at the moment seem to be very rare. Most bars are getting 10 CV’s handed in a day from various people travelling or passing through wanting to stay here during the winter season to ski and snowboard as much as possible which means that my little application will fall by the wayside. Even if there are any open jobs I don’t currently have the experience doing them when there are plenty of other people who do so I am a bit out of look on that front. The only positive that I do have is that I have a pretty impressive CV for when it comes to other jobs that an 18 year old that only ever worked in a bar wont have a chance at. Only issue is that there are not any of those jobs going at the moment and the ones that are about have a while before the closing date so I cant even yet see if I get an interview never mind a job.

It is kind of annoying when you know that you are a hard working and can adapt to any job going but I suppose plenty of people have problems like this all the time so I shouldn’t really complain. After all I am still living in a beautiful place and that it something I almost started to forget. In my self loathing state I somehow forgot to look out of the window at the amazing things that were around me. With this in mind I have thrown myself back into gear and hopefully made some changes that will have positive repercussions down the line.

Yesterday I kicked off the fitness plan by running (or trying to run) up Mount Iron that is just behind CB’s house. A few days ago me and CB tried it and got about half way before we started to think better of it. It wasnt that it was too big, it was that as soon as we stepped out of the car we realised our mistake and that we were in no state to be doing it. A few days before we had done sprint intervals and our legs were still jelly from over training our out of shape bodies, so climbing a massive hill didn’t seem appealing. Yesterday though I was feeling fresh and went for it, getting to the top in 32 mins which was a lot quicker than I expected. To top it off I managed to get back down it in 20 mins, absolutely flying down like a crazy person. I think it is going to be my new little route that I will do every few days to try and keep building my fitness up and getting to where I need to be. Today I didn’t quite think it was time to take it on again but I still went out in the freezing cold and did some skipping for 20 mins to just keep into the flow. To top if off I am going to a local martial arts gym tonight for a Juijitsu session so hopefully that doesn’t kill me.

At least the view from Mount Iron is amazing!
At least the view from Mount Iron is amazing!

To keep the positive vibe I have also hired myself some office space in the town centre so that I have a place to do my work and research from. That may seem like a bit of a weird thing to do but at the moment I have been spending hours in coffee shops paying way too much for vanilla latte’s all day. It works out that the office space is costing me £6.42 per day and I get 24/7 access so doesn’t seem too bad. I will probably save that much just from what I was spending on coffee so it all makes sense. With a dedicated office space I also now have a desk and fast internet to work on while being surrounded by other creative people in from the local area working on their own projects. It makes it a great place to work and just this afternoon alone I have got through more job applications than I would have in a couple of days sat in comfy surroundings.

Hopefully this is the shape of things to do and if I can convince someone to give me a job shortly then everything will hopefully start taking the path it should 🙂

Round 2: New Zealand Adventure

It seems like only yesterday that I snuck back to the UK to surprise everyone but it is now time to head back on my travels and leave the UK again. It was great to see loads of friends while I was back but also a shame that I didn’t get to see everyone that I wanted. It didn’t really help that I returned home smack bang in the middle of what is to me, Hayfever central! Struggling to breath and wheezing all of the time is not exactly what I would call an attractive quality and certainly didn’t help when it was time to socialise or go anywhere. Next time I am back I will be sure to avoid June like the plague as I am completely allergic to June in the UK. Its not for me so I’m not going to do it any more.

On Monday night I started my epic set of flights back to the New Zealand to bring me back here in the heart of winter (which seemed a good idea at the time!). Safe to say I knew mentally that it was going to be cold, however DSC_1690 (1280x720)physically my body was not quite prepared for the chills when I first landed in Queenstown. Dont worry though (mother) I am now wrapped up warm in my new winter clothes and with the sun shining on your face it isn’t actually that bad, a cool -2 today but feels comfortable.

The flights back to NZ were straight forwards enough on paper but proved to be slightly more problematic than usual which isn’t too much fun when you have only just done the same trip a few weeks before. It all started with issues in getting to Manchester Airport in the UK before I even managed to leave. My dad was able to give me a lift to the Airport which was great, however we had to leave at about 5pm in order to get there in time for the flight which put us bang in line for rush hour traffic. At first it wasnt too bad with us managing to get past the roadworks on the blocked up St. Georges Bridge to carry on our merry little way towards the M62… this is where it all started going a little wrong. There had been a “police incident” on the M62 westbound (the way we were going) causing the motorway to be completely closed for at least 2 hours. Luckily we had the radio on as we were setting off and heard the announcement before we got too stuck in the inevitable traffic jam and managed to divert across snakes pass and take the back way into Manchester. The trip took longer than expected but I still managed to get to the Airport in time so that was the first panic averted.

When I was booking all of my flights my travel agent said that she was able to get me some really good transfer times which on paper seemed great. In reality though it wasn’t quite as fun. When I arrived at Dubai Airport I found that I had about 1 hour until my next flight. “What is your issue then?” I hear you all mumble to yourselves while reading my first world complaints. Well the issue is that I was not flying from the same terminal as I have done on all my other flights or that I had just landed at. Instead I had to transfer to terminal C. Now for anyone who has not been to Dubai Airport please note: It is massive! Like super massive. Each terminal is huge in its own right, then there are all the gates that come with them. When I checked the board I was correct in thinking I had about 50 mins to get to my gate, but the question was…. “where is my gate?!”. After a 15 min walk and a 5 min shuttle train ride I made it to terminal C to discover that I was on gate number 53, another 10+ mins walk away. Now I know how to do maths and I know this amount of time is much less than the 50 mins that I had but remember these are airport times. Your flight time is not your boarding time as boarding closes 20 mins before takeoff meaning I started to panic and then rushed my way there, making it in time but feeling flustered. Down the ramp to the plane I went… only it wasn’t a plane… It was a bus. A big bus mind, but not quite big enough to take me the 8000km that I still needed to go. It turns out that for terminal C they have all the gates but the planes get parked in what seems like a massive, well, plane park. Scores of jets all stuck together like they have been abandoned there, yet all ready to go at a moments notice. The bus ride here took us about another 20 mins as we got stuck behind traffic (slow moving baggage car) and then it seemed for a while that the driver had misplaced our plane the same way you would do at a big shopping mall car park. Eventually we found it and manage to board it and finally I was able to relax… until I woke up.

On the plane from Dubai to Sydney I managed to fall asleep for a while, only waking up for the announcement that we were now coming in to land… In Bangkok! I have been to Thailand before. I enjoyed my time in Thailand… but i did not book a ticket to Thailand. *Insert Panic* At first I was worried that I had gotten on the wrong plane but realistically in this day and age with security checks and the like who could possibly do that. It would have to have been a monumental mistake on my part and the airlines so I calmed down a little and stayed quiet as I didn’t really want to be “that guy that got on the wrong plane” anyway. It turns out that I was on the correct plane, however there was a stop off in Bangkok that for some reason was not mentioned anywhere on any of my tickets. This then lead to what can only be described as bureaucratic airport fuckery as I then had to leave the plane, walk through the airport, queue for a while, go through security, walk back through the airport, go through more security, have my bag checked, go through boarding pass check and then sit in the gate room next to the plane I just got off for 20 mins before getting back onto the same plane…. In the same seat. I understand that they need everyone off to make sure someone does stow away or something and they also need to clean it for the new passengers that will be getting on, but why couldnt they have just looked at my boarding pass then and stuck me in the room to the side? How was a secretly going to get some sort of smuggled item onto the plane? Surely if I was an international criminal I would just have left my criminal stuff on the plane I was about to get back onto! Madness. Anyway onto the plane I got and the trip continued.

australia-v-europe (340x379)Not many people seem to understand how vast Australia is. For most of us it is at the other side of the world and we know it is big but since it doesn’t have anything near it on the map for reference we don’t really understand. Australia is bigger than Europe and takes hours to fly across. This meant that we were flying across Australia as the sun started to rise and got a beautiful view of the red sky stretching across the horizon to the East of us. This was the first time I have landed in Sydney in the day and I must say that our decent into Sydney was quite impressive, even though the weather was pretty poor at the time. It is possible to see many of the famous landmarks such as the harbour bridge and opera house as you come in to land which I suppose saves on getting a helicopter ride over the city. Unfortunately I didn’t have a window seat so couldn’t really get any photos so hopefully my memories last me for a while yet.

Sydney Airport transfer times were similar to all the others meaning I had to rush to get where I needed to be and didn’t have time to wonder around at all or get something to eat. Normally this would be a good thing but after you have been on the move for about 30 hours with minimal air plane food sometimes you just want to grab something to fill you up. Unfortunately this wasn’t to be on this little trip so I had to make do with what was available while dreaming of food on arrival in New Zealand. For some reason the flight from Sydney to Queenstown was actually pretty cold. Normally the flight has a little chill from the air conditioning but is still suitable for T-shirt and shorts. This one needed me to reach for my hoodie and zip on the bottom of my trousers to my shorts (because I am a prepared traveller now a days) just for me to keep warm.

DSC_1694 (1280x720)Arriving in Queenstown was when I got my first blast of the weather that was to come. In QT there are no big gates or fancy loading bridges, just a set of steps and a quick walk across the runway, the icy blast of air hitting you as you step out of the door of the plane. Safe to say I wrapped up tight and rushed into the terminal. Passport control wasn’t too bad even if they did want to ask me plenty of questions about why I was back and how I had managed to travel for 4 months without working (and I don’t think “because I’m awesome” was what they wanted to hear). After that was all done with luck was back on my side sending the daily bus from the Airport to Wanaka to the stop 10 mins after I got their so I could head straight across to Wanaka without having to mess about in QT for the night first. Just over an hour later I was sitting in Speights Bar in Wanaka, sipping a cup of coffee in the warmth and feeling happy with myself for my little life achievement.

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As I am sure none of you want to know, Wanaka is still beautiful and looks even better now with a nice dusting of snow on top of the mountains. Now is when the real works starts as I look for a job, then somewhere to live and possibly some transport as well.

As they say though one step at a time 🙂


Sticky forest – Wanaka

Over the last few days I have not been up to much which explains the lack in updates to the blog. I appologise to all my adoring fans (mum) and will start to get things updated more often. Today however has been a bit of a different beast. This morning I decided to hire a mountain bike and go for a little ride by myself in the surrounding area to check out what was going on and what else Wanaka has to offer and I was seriously impressed.

When I got to the bike shop I had no idea where to go or what to do but talking to the guy behind the counter really helped and I was soon convinced to go and take a look at a place called sticky forest which is one of the local bike trails here. Originally I just wanted to rent a hardtail bike, however after talking to him about the forest I was quickly advised to get a DSC_0802 (1024x576)full suspension bike and I am really glad that I took them up on that offer.

With bike in hand (or on foot?) I headed out on my ride to the tracks that start the forest. This is where I make my first little mistake. In my eagerness to get where I needed to be on the main roads I peddled away like a pro, zooming down the road…. straight past the turn off that I needed. I road down that same road for another 2km quite happy with myself before thinking “I’m sure I should have turned off by now” and consulting a map. On a positive note though at least that was my only major mistake for the day and it isn’t really too bad in the big scheme of thing. A mins later I was back on track and headed into the forest.

Sticky forest is made up of 2 parts, both completely different rides and features yet they compliment each other really well. The first section is made up of more of a cross country style of single track, weaving through the trees and branches with very low visibility due to the dense forest around you. It is quite a technical track with lots of twists and turns but no jumps or big air to scare you senseless. Since it is sort of an Mountain bike jump New  Zealand styleunofficial track (even though it should be!) there are no signposts explaining where to go. At other places I have been too the routes are clearly signposted to help people navigate and, more importantly, stop people crashing. The issue with no clear signs is that you cannot be sure that as you climb up a steep hill section there is not someone coming the other way on a sweet downhill run. For this reason the music had to be put on low and sunglasses taken off to help me try and see a little better. Luckily I made it up (and back down) without incident and really enjoyed the run as it threw me out onto one of the paths going around the perimeter of the forest.

As I was catching my breath I came across another rider heading further down the same path who enquired if I had seen the other part of the forest yet. Once I was finally able to breath again I headed further down the path and up the steep climb to find out what she was referring to. The second part of the forest is downhill paradise. The moment I got in there the first thing I said to myself was “Phil would love this!”. This section of the forest was made up of different types of trees that were much taller forcing the canopy higher into the air. This meant that the visibility in this part of the forest was huge and from the centre you were able to see everything that was going on. I quickly came across a pure BMX / Dirt jump section that looked far too scary for my to get close too ...not for mebefore heading further up to the top of the hill. When I got there and looked down I could see that some serious effort had been put into building the runs there. the first thing I noticed when standing at the top was a big jump that looked to be constructed out of old road signs. At first glance it looked a little unstable, however on further investigation I could see that it had been well put together with screws, bolts and metal reinforcement to ensure it wasn’t going anywhere. From the top there looked to be about 4 different start points with tracks that crossed each other and then merged and split again leaving many options for for the skilled and experienced rider elite (of which I am certainly not a member).

I spent a good few hours messing about and going down all the runs while avoiding the massive jumps and drops as much as possible, all the while thinking about how jealous I know some friends at home would be if they could see it.

Here in Wanaka days seem to always take on very random twists that usually work out quite well. Most of the town seems to be people who have been travelling with working visa’s that are working in the DSC_0815 (1024x576)hospitality industry meaning that they get strange days off. This means that you end up with the scenario that weekends both don’t exist, yet exist every day at the same time. On my way back from dropping the bike off and chilling with Chris, Audrey and Cindy for a bit I bumped into a group of people that I met my first day here playing volleyball. They said to come and join them for a drink and suddenly that was the rest of my night gone!

I really love that fact about being here. It doesn’t matter if you know a few DSC_0816 (576x1024)people or a lot of people, even if you have only said Hi to someone in passing on the street before you can still get invited to sit down with a group of people you don’t know and are welcomed in like you have been with them for months. I guess it is because everyone is in the same boat and know what it is like not to know people. Some of these guys have been friends for months or years, yet others are just passing through for a few weeks yet everyone is treated the same and just like an old friend. It is a brilliant way to live and I think the world would be a little bit of a better place if more people took on that idea and lived life like that.

Who knows, maybe the world we live in will improve, maybe it wont. For now though I am going to enjoy my little life here as much as possible 🙂

Music – The instant mood changer

At the start of today I wasn’t in as good a mood as I have been up until now. I don’t feel ill but by the same token I don’t feel great, which isn’t good when the weather is a bit poor. It is about 16 degrees here today which doesn’t sound too bad but is is also really overcast and windy which are not a great combination. It means that sitting by the lake to look at the view is a pretty chilly experience even with a jacket on and so I have been resined to coffee shop for a little while (quite a step down from my tree office!). That being said I would still much rather be cold and windy here than sat in an office looking at the same 4 walls for hours so I guess I am kind of winning.

At the moment I am trying to take some time to figure out what I am going to do moving forwards and where I am going to go. The lack of time I had to organise in the UK before leaving meant that I was going to do all my planning for NZ while I was still in Thailand. This didn’t go exactly to plan as I met some amazing people in Thailand and ended up spending time with them being social instead of planning (something I will never regret as they are all amazing people). That being said it has left me with a bit of a gap in a plan and now I need to do some thinking to decide what I need to do next and where to go. I am thinking that I will head down to Dunedin and then come up the east cost of the south island and plan my route from there but now I need to decide on some specifics on when to go and where to visit. The funds are holding up quite well due in part to the amazing hospitality of CB and Audrey as an air bed on their living room floor is much cheaper than even the cheapest hostel.

While trying to rack my brains about what to do I was starting to stress myself out a little bit about getting a plan and figuring things out when I turned on my laptop to start getting online. As I sat here in silence staring out of the window I remembered that I had lots of music and mixes saved on my laptop that I could play as I started working away.

As some of you know one of my favourite types of music is Liquid Drum and Bass. Although there are specific tracks that I like the things that I really love are the hour long mixes made by various artists using their own tracks and other peoples. There are maybe 6 or 7 mixes that I really love and listen to over and over again. It may seem quite repetitive but this is the music that helps me focus and concentrate. Unlike listing to a CD of your favourite band etc. where you would get distracted by the lyrics and start singing along liquid Drum and Bass has a more melodic and beat based rhythm to it. It is something that I can listen to for hours without actually thinking about it too much. The music just drowns out the world but at a tempo that picks me up and gets me into the right mood that I need to be at. I have listened so some of these mixes maybe 50 times each over the last few years which, when I say it out loud, seems crazy but it is something I love. The predictability of knowing what is going to happen means that my brain can focus on the task it is doing while still getting driven forwards by the music. Knowing the flow of the tracks also helps me to get an idea for the passage of time as I know how far along I should be by the time I hear a certain track or change in the tempo. For me this is the best thing to listen to when trying to achieve any sort of thinking work on a computer. I don’t expect a lot of you to really get what I mean by that but I also know that some people will be reading this nodding along in agreement (Cunni and Padd especially) who know that the only way to produce some quality work in a short space of time is to stick on the headphones and crank up the music.

The moment the music started I felt my mood instantly shift. The hairs on my arms stood on end and it was if my brain clicked back into alignment. I am now ready to start taking on some challenges and get back on track, whatever those tracks may be.

Fourteen years

Fourteen years have now past yet it never gets any easier. The birthday wishes to one of by best friends serves as a reminder of a day that changed my life dramatically in such a surreal and shocking way.

Fourteen years ago today my older cousin, Marcus, was ripped from our lives in a senseless act of gang violence. I don’t want to go into all of the specifics details as it was and still is quite painful to think about but what I will say is that it was brutal and horrific and something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. As much as I feel affected by all of this it doesn’t even compare to how my other cousins (his younger brothers and sister) or my auntie must be feeling today. Loosing a cousin is awful but I don’t think that I could ever understand the pain of loosing a brother. My love goes out to them today and to all my friends and family who have lost someone.

When I look at my life now I always try to remain positive and appreciative of all of the experiences and opportunities that I have had in my life. I am now 11 years older than Marcus was when he was killed and in that time I have been able to experience life and see some beautiful things. I have been able to see my family grow and watch my baby cousins turn into young adults. I have watched the world change around me and see first hand how technology and innovation has changed the world. I have had the opportunity to travel and make new friends around the world and for that I will be forever grateful.

Life can be vicious and cruel at times, however if we stay focused and positive then we can somehow manage to pull something good out of the situation.

Tonight I intend to spend the night looking at the stars and taking some time to be thankful for who I am and what I have been able to accomplish so far in my life.Tomorrow may just be another day for some people but for me it is the continuation of an amazing adventure that I don’t intend to let go of any time soon!

P.S. I jotted this all down on a notepad sat in a cafe with the intention of going to a bar in order to write it up and get some wifi to upload it. Instead of heading straight there I decided to head to the beach to practice trying to balance on the rocks with my hands. I know that sounds random but it is something I have always wanted to do so now each day I am going to try it and see if I get any better at it. In the spirit of living life I then decided to climb up a willow tree growing on the beach because “why not?“. It turns out I get WiFi from the top of the tree so right now I am sat at the top of a tree on my laptop looking like a weirdo. The best thing about this place is that no one really seems to care as if this is just an average thing they see from people who just want to live life. I shall continue to look for weird and wonderful places to work from now on 🙂

I Climbed a Mountain!

Since CB and Audrey had booked a few days off work for me coming to visit we decided to do as much as possible while they were off to try and see all of the sites. Even though we only got back to Wanaka at about 10.30pm yesterday we were still all up bring an early to meet up with some of their friends and take on the local mountain knows as Roy’s Peak. This mountain is 1258m high and is a round trip of about 15km which doesn’t sounds like crazy high numbers until you get up there and actually start walking it. I think we were only about 10 mins into the walk before most of us were feeling damaged and starting to regret the fact that we had decided to take on a 6 hour hike. CB still had damaged ribs from the mountain bike accident that he had a few days before and we struggling from the start but like a true boyo kept on powering through. Magic Mike and Cindy were off like shot and leading the way all the way up like hiking wasn’t even a think. The higher we got the better the views started to get and the more appreciation you had for the climb. After around 2 hours of tiring work the idea started to set in that this was going take us a long time and that there would be plenty more pain before we actually to the summit and back down again but still we powered through.

About 2 thirds of the way up any moral that we motivatorstill had was completely shattered with the arrival (and quick departure) of Mr Motivator. The guy in question was an old man in his mid sixties who said Hi to us as he jogged passed us and onwards into the distance. At this point Myself, Chris and Audrey were taking one step at a time and hadn’t seen the others in the group for at least 45 mins so getting overtaken by a guy old enough to be our granddad was a truly shattering blow that left us regretting some of our life choices and overall fitness levels. Even with this big hit to moral we still powered on, forever telling ourselves that we only had 30 mins left while knowing full well it would take us at least 4 more hours to get to the peak and back down again.

The higher we got the cooler the temperature started to become. About 1km from the stop the the sun decided to dip behind a big grey cloud and that was the signal that it was I’m to put the hoodies back on and carry on climbing. Luckily the effort of the climb was enough to keep you warm and so we kept plodding on towards our goal, already able to see our comrades at the summit. On the final push myself and CB had an idea born out of laziness and stubbornness. There was a track that lead straight up the last bit of the mountain of a very precarious and steep track that was more of a climb than a walk. We decided to go this way as a “short cut” to avoid having to walk around and hopefully cut a projected 10 mins off of the final part of our assent. It was tough going and as soon as we started we realised that we had made a poor life choice but had come too far to admit our mistake. We powered on up that stupid DSC_0722climb safe in the knowledge that we would at least beat Audrey who had opted for the safer and longer route of the path that looped around the top. Tired and damaged we pushed out way over the final mound to have motivation shattered yet again when we looked forwards and saw that Audrey was in front of us on the trail. Our way may have been “shorter” however that really didn’t help when we kept having to rest all the way up.

When we finally reached the top there was celebration all around, probably because the other guys had already been there for half an hour and it was freezing. When we first started the walk the top of the mountain was actually10994159_10153397526884505_3726316241310127174_n hidden away in a cloud and we couldn’t even see it. Although this has started to clear now the temperature had really dropped to a point that it had even started to snow. It was only a few random flakes every now and again but not the sort of thing you want to hang around for when you know you have a 3 hour decent ahead of you.

Here is where the fun begins. As much difficulty as myself (with my crappy knee) and CB (with his cracked ribs) had had getting up the mountain, it turns out that going back down again was a whole different ball game. due to the way my right knee bends it means that I always keep landing really heavily on my left leg which makes descending anything seriously un-fun, especially when it is seriously steep and uneven. CB was also quick to discover that the shock from taking a step would vibrate through his body and cause him to feel like he was having a mini heart attack as the rib pain shot across his chest. Not really a good thing when you know exactly how far it is to get back down again and know there is nothing that you can do apart form man up and deal DSC_0708with it without complaining too much. Our decent was a slow one full of pain but as the hours went by we slowly got lower and lower and closer to our target. The depressing part was that it seemed that no matter hos long you were walking for or how far you had done down the car never seemed to get any closer as if someone was moving it a little further away each time you turned your back on it.
After we finally got down it was time for a well needed IMG_20150317_115038Coffee so we headed over to a little coffee shop called Kai overlooking the lake to grab some drinks and have a well needed sit down. CB and Audrey were still in the process of moving to a new place and still needed to grab the last of their stuff that night before we finally went for something to eat. While chatting Mike mentioned Frisbee golf and somehow my desire to play with a Frisbee overruled the pain I was feeling from the hike and I agreed to go along and play a few holes with him. It is such a simple concept and so easy to set up a course that I don’t know why we don’t have them back home in all of the big parks. All that you need is a start point and then a little cage to catch the disc and then you can play. I know I certainly would play it all the time if there was actually somewhere to play it near to home but it seems you have to travel really far to find anything simple and free like that back at home.

disc golf couseSomehow after disc golf Mike convinced me that I needed to join him to play volleyball with a group of people who meet up all the time to play. I thought that there would just be a couple of people using a makeshift net and just having a laugh and when we turned up I was right. There was just me, Mike and 3 other people there on time so it seemed like all was lost for a while. All of a sudden though people seemed to come out of the woodwork and soon we had over 20 people on multiple teams playing away on a court that they put up with a proper net and boundaries marked out properly with spray chalk. The music was playing and the drinks were flowing while a group of people I have never even met seamlessly accepted me into their little group and we just played away all day. It seems like that is the mentality over hear though, everyone is friendly and chilled out and you probably have to be a real dick to make any enemies. Unfortunately all of the fun was cut short when CB called me to let me know we needed to get ready for dinner. With all of the fun of the day it had slipped my mind that I had not really eaten all day as my body had kind of gone past the hunger.

We ended up going out for a pub dinner with a few othervolley ball people and having some good conversation and with good company before heading home for an early(ish) night. even though it was St. Patrick’s day and the local Irish bar was in full swing I don’t think any of us could have handled it was we all seem to be broken people.

My plans for New Zealand have now come to an end as I didn’t really plan that much to do here and was going to make it up as I go along. It is now time for me to do some of that making up business and get an idea of what I am going to do. I have no clue but I am kind of looking forwards to it all.

The future is certainly going to be interesting.