Tempus fugit

It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I’ve got a new phone in the interim and never bothered to install WordPress on it. Maybe I’ll do that later but for now I’m just writing using the browser on my phone.

I was going to write something long, and then I remembered, shit, people are actually subscribed to this and might actually read this. Only ten, but still, I have the feeling that I know and am related to at least some of you. Something I’d need to check if I actually install WordPress.

That’s precisely why I don’t post on Facebook. Since I inadvertently pressed the wrong button and published before I was ready, I really do think installing the app is necessary to write posts.

So what, in the end, is this post about? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m half inclined to delete it to be honest.

I might as well give an update about essentials then. In as far as I can remember, I got up to recording the South Island trip Leslie and I took in November 2013. My weight is somewhere in the early nineties, Leslie and I broke up in January 2014 but remain friends (we’ll be catching up for coffee next week), and I lived in Wanganui from February-November. Since then I’ve been back in Wellington and back at Sprott, although I’ve finally gotten around to looking for other jobs.

There’s a possibility I’ll get fired, actually. I didn’t ring an emergency bell when I should have. The resident in question is fine but I didn’t follow protocol and they’d be in their rights to chuck me out. I’d be up the proverbial creek without a paddle if they did, though. Didn’t leave work until almost midnight, writing out detailed progress notes and the incident report.

So that’s it. I think the trouble is that I don’t like writing in a diary solely to myself, but I don’t really like writing very personal reflections on life etc unless it’s to strangers who will never enter my life, or perhaps to almost strangers who have chosen to shut that door. In which case wishing that they’d open it a crack is pointless.

And that’s as personal as I’m getting on this account.










From Queenstown to Wellington

I left off in Queenstown. We stayed two nights there and enjoyed our stay quite a lot. On the second day we went on the TSS Earnslaw to the Walter Peak Homestead, went for a horseride, and then enjoyed the BBQ lunch followed by the farm show. There were three Highland cattle there too – I’ve never seen them in real life before. Or at least, I don’t remember seeing them.

We left early in the morning after the second night and set off for Franz Josef, stopping off to have breakfast in Wanaka. Very nice cafe there, I forget the name, but the breakfast and coffee was great. We got to Franz Josef about 1.30pm if I remember rightly, and checked in to our Glacier Valley Walk at 2pm. Very interesting, that. I don’t have a lot of time right now though, so I’m not going to go into any real detail of any of our adventures. The walk lasted about three hours, and in the evening we enjoyed the hot pools. I wouldn’t bother with the hot pools, though, if I were you. They were fine and all, but I’m glad we got in for only $10. Normally the admission for an adult is $24. It’s not worth that.

The next day we started early and drove and drove and drove and drove. If you’re ever in the area, you must stop off at the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. They are simply amazing. We’ve lots of photos and videos and I’ll sort through them soon. Maybe not too soon though, because most of them are on L’s phone, and we’re on opposite shifts at the moment and he’ll be going away for a few days as well. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to do it on the 15th, if I wake up early enough.

We managed to get to Motueka. That’s 496km, by the way, because we stopped off at Westport. It’s a fair distance. Anyway, we stayed Saturday night there, and then had a look at the Motueka Sunday market, where I shocked a German vendor by talking to her in German. You should have seen her face. We carried on to Golden Bay, which was lovely – we found lots of nice shells there and brought a few back. And then on to Pupu Springs, which are cool, but they’re under construction, so I don’t know that we got the best view of them. And Anatoki Salmon. We caught 5 salmon (5.5kg total) with the help of a local (i.e. he caught three, Leslie caught two, and I caught the rod onto a rock and had to ask someone to rescue it). One of them we had as sashimi – yum! Yummy yummy yummy! One we had fresh from the smoker. And three we vacuum packed and took home on ice. All in all, including an iceblock each, it cost us $120, because the local had kindly given us a voucher for a 25% discount. We slightly regretted eating so much salmon in one go, but still, it was nice.

We stayed in Motueka Sunday night as well, and the next day we went freedom kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park. That was fun, but we didn’t see a lot of wildlife – just a few gulls and a dead little blue penguin. We were told that it probably died of heat exhaustion due to having both the summer and winter feathers on.

After the kayaking we carried on to Nelson, where we went swimming in the local pool. It wasn’t a great pool, but it was nice to go swimming again. We stayed there Monday night, and on Tuesday morning we bought some frozen peas for the salmon to rest on in our thermal bags – everywhere we went, they were out of ice. The peas worked all right though, and the weather was foggy and rainy and cold that day anyway. It wasn’t bad driving weather for our last stretch to Picton though.

After lunch in Picton and killing time at the Picton aquarium (where we saw two LIVE little blue penguins) we boarded the ferry and were on our way about five minutes after getting onto the boat. It’s just as well they started early, though, because the weather got worse and worse. The wind got to 40km/hr and the waves up to 3m. The ferry kept on juddering, and at one point the announcement noise came on and we wondered if we needed to get lifejackets on – it turned out to be just a sale at the canteen. The crossing lasted from about 2.15pm to about 6.15pm – much longer than the originally scheduled 2.30-5.30pm crossing. If it had been any worse, I think both L. and I would have been purging our stomachs of our lunch.

And then we were back in Wellington. Terra firma. Back to real life.

What to do with my BA?

I haven’t forgotten about detailing the rest of our trip. I might do that in an hour. I’m going to go through my studies instead right now.

What can I do with my BA? I get asked that question a lot. In terms of jobs, probably not a lot, except academia. In terms of life – I think it’s a fairly useful degree. I majored in three subjects – Spanish, German, and History. Languages are useful if I want to go travelling, which I do, and I think a knowledge and understanding of history is good for life in general.

My marks were good enough in German that they offered me the opportunity to do Honours. I’ve decided not to do that in 2014, because I will need to work full time this year coming up, and I don’t fancy working full time and studying part time. Far too exhausting. I may do that in 2015 though. I might do Honours in History then as well – I meet the criteria, and they did offer me the opportunity a few years ago – I just hadn’t finished my BA at that point.

In my first year, I took law, history, and philosophy. Taking law was good for three reasons: I found out I didn’t really enjoy it, and it therefore ruled out law as a career. A basic knowledge of legal history doesn’t hurt any more than history of anything else, and I did pass two of the three law papers (the only paper I ever failed was that third law paper). That means if I choose to do a BCA in the future, majoring in accounting, I’ve already met some of the criteria. As for history and philosophy: philosophy, like history, is good for a more well-rounded approach to life – or at least, that’s how I choose to see it.

In my second year, I took history, philosophy, Ancient Greek, and Italian. I didn’t go any further with those two languages, but it was absolutely fascinating and a lot of fun to study a language which had had so much impact on so many other languages (i.e. Ancient Greek). I don’t remember a lot of Italian, but I did well at the time. I still have the books, though, and it was interesting studying yet another Romance language and identifying the differences and similarities between that and French or Spanish. So heigh-ho – not really a loss of a year. I’d always wanted to study both languages and now I have, a bit.

My third year I studied Spanish, German, and History. At the end of this year, I was offered the opportunity to do Honours in History, which I turned down on account of the fact that I hadn’t finished my BA. I studied Spanish and German because they are relatively widely-spoken languages, and because I’d studied them in school and done all right. Since there had been a three year gap in between school and this year, though, I chose to study them from scratch. That probably added another year onto my studies, but what’s done is done.

In my fourth year, I studied Spanish and German in the first term. At this point, the place where I had worked permanent part time shifts until then refused to give me shifts like that again – it was full time, casual, or nothing. I resigned. I then stressed out the rest of the term trying to find another compatible job. By June 2011, I was down to my last $1000. I withdrew from my second semester courses and went back to the same place I had worked before to work full time. My glasses broke a few months later, so it was just as well I’d decided to work full time again. I bought a car and attempted to learn to drive. I did have a few lessons, but not really enough, and then suddenly summer was over and the days were shorter again and there was no more time to learn to drive. I sold the car and went back to study in July 2012. I continued studying Spanish and German and also added an Accountancy course, for which I got an A-. I know now that if I choose to, Accounting is something that I could successfully study.

That brings us to 2013. I did the last papers required to get a BA in Spanish, German, and History. I can now graduate in May coming up. What am I going to do with this degree? I don’t know. Maybe nothing. At present, I only have a student loan of about $12k, although this will be increased by half again if I choose to do Honours in German in 2015, or doubled if I do Honours in both German and History in 2015 and ’16.

So here are my short term goals:

1) Pay off what I owe to L. It’s not that much anymore (I took all bar $20 from the bonus bonds Mum gave me – that still enters me into any prize draws, but my debt was halved), and I should be able to do it by the end of January.
2) Get fit. I’ve entered into the Around the Bays again, and I have the gym access card, valid for 15 entries. I haven’t used any yet, but still. I’ve been eating less and more healthily, and work is exercise in a way as well. I need to get new scales though, there’s something wrong with the ones we have, and it’s not a battery thing.
4) Get my driving license.
5) Update my CV.
6) Look at the best options for 2014 in terms of jobs and where to live.
7) Start saving again.
8) Get my First Aid Certificate.
9) Get all my cross-stitches framed.
10) Practice writing.

Six nights down, six more left

I believe I left off my account of this journey heading to Dunedin.

The first night was spent in a cabin on the ferry, cost forty dollars, and was perfectly comfortable except for the fact that it was on a moving vessel, hence the interrupted sleep.

The second night was at a top ten in Christchurch, cost $39, and was acceptable for the price. The tent site was big enough, but the kitchen facilities could have been better.

The third night was at the top ten in Dunedin. An unpowered tent site there cost $46. It was lucky we were sleeping in the car, because there wouldn’t have been any room for a tent. The facilities weren’t very good there either, particularly the toilets. Not recommended.

After Dunedin we drove down to Bluff via the Southern Scenic route. The Cathedral Caves are well worth a visit. They are absolutely amazing. L. took lots of photos and a video which I’ll post when we get home. If anybody reading this ever goes through the Catlins, you have to stop and have a look. Make sure you’re going by at the right time, because the gates open and close two hours before and two hours after low tide respectively. Photos cannot really do them justice.

We also attempted to see Niagara Falls. Don’t bother. L. reckons the wheels of the car are slightly unaligned due to the very rough road we went down to try to get to them. They weren’t there anyway. Apparently the falls are right at the beginning, and someone was having a laugh when they named it Niagara Falls because it’s a nothing.

We skipped all the other tourist spots after that and carried on to Bluff. There’s a nice lookout, and Stirling Point is pretty cool, but otherwise it felt like a ghost town.We can recommend the banoffee pie at the Drunken Sailor though.

After that we tidied the car and then waited for the five pm ferry to Stewart Island. The journey takes an hour and was a little choppy. It reminded me of Eustace complaining about the stormy weather when first in the Dawn Treader, and Drinian laughing and telling him it was calm as anything. I doubt the locals would have considered it very choppy.

Oban on Stewart Island is a nice little town. We stayed at Bunkers Backpackers, which we can recommend, but not if you don’t like steep stairs. I could touch upper stairs without bending over – it was practically like a ladder!

No reception for either L. or me, but we’re on Vodafone and 2 degrees respectively, so maybe Telecom users would have better luck. At any rate, it didn’t bother us much. After dinner at the South Sea Hotel, where we had Foveaux Straight blue cod and Stewart Island oysters followed by a very yummy raspberry and kiwifruit cheesecake (basically fresh raspberry mousse with fresh kiwifruit chunks in it on a biscuit base), which is all highly recommended by the both of us, we went for a walk down to the beautiful bather’s bay. We’ve got some nice photos of that – it was just before twilight and the moon was rising. A full, big, and bright moon, not a new moon.

The next morning we walked up to the wharf to Ulva Island, where we took a photo of the much closer Iona Island. Then we had crepes (L. had chocolate and banana and I had apple and cinnamon) and coffee for breakfast at the Kiwi/French crêperie opposite the hotel. Yum. The weather being reasonable, we booked the 12-2.30 marine nature tour, and to kill time we wandered down to Butterfield Beach. I think that was the name, I might be wrong. It was the next one over from Bather’s Bay, if anyone wants to check with google maps.

Down in plenty of time for the cruise. We got to go in the submersible and see the fish and seaweed under water. We also got to see a seal swimming underwater, which was cool. Shortly after that we went back up and transferred to the ferry again to go in and look at all the fur seals above water. Lots of them were babies and very cute.

We got to see lots of shags and two solitary yellow eyed penguins, but one of the coolest bits of the trip was the catch and release fishing. All of us got a go, and all of us caught a blue cod literally within seconds. Photos will be uploaded when I get back home.

After the marine nature cruise finished, we had a late lunch of a blue cod baguette each at the place where we had breakfast, the hotel being closed at the time. There’s also a cool little restaurant on the island, but we didn’t actually go in there this trip.

At 3.20 we boarded the ferry, and at 4.30 we were back in Bluff. With a quick stop for petrol and drinks at Invercargill we were on our way to Milford Sound, and didn’t stop till Te Anau, where we topped up the petrol again and bought two regrettable pies. It turned out that I hadn’t booked properly and that the tent sites had no room for a car, so we stayed in a dorm room. Very helpful staff at Milford Sound Lodge.

Next morning – that is, yesterday morning – we went on a cruise around Milford Sound. It was pretty disappointing, to be honest, but L. says that it’s much cooler when it’s been raining. After a panini at the nearby café, we carried on back down to Te Anau. The chasm was much more interesting than the sound. Look up photos – we were too terrified of losing our phones to take any. Pretty incredible though – it puts Huka Falls to shame. The falls on the path to Lake Marian are also pretty impressive, though not quite as much. I’d like to have gone to Lake Marian but I’m not really fit enough at the moment. I will be though. I’ve signed up for next year’s Around the Bays, and when I get home I’ll start taking my food again with weight watchers.

We went on to the Humboldt Falls. It’s pretty but not really spectacular. I don’t think the 16 km drive and further 15 min walk – one way – is worth it.

Stopped off at a couple if other places on the way, including Mirror Lakes. The water is unbelievably clear, but sadly it looks like didymo is taking over.

We stayed at the Top Ten in Re Anau last night. Forty dollars, nice tent area, flowers everywhere, nice wooden chairs provided, good facilities, and right on the lake front. All in all, highly recommended. We did a much needed load of laundry for seven dollars, washed and dried.

This morning we headed to Queenstown, and that’s where we are now. L. has just woken up from his siesta now, so I’ll update again later – maybe tomorrow, maybe later than that.

Tschuss for now.

Heading south

I didn’t post last night because my battery was ridiculously low. It’s now safely charging in the car. Thank you Mum for the car charger. Very useful.

Yesterday we drove from Picton down to Christchurch. At some point along the way to Kaikoura we stopped to admire the beach, and picked up lots of lovely smooth white stones and a couple of stones with a crystal vein inside.
We went for a short walk to the lookout in Kaikoura. The water is incredibly clear there. We also had lunch there, although we’ve both decided we won’t bother with crayfish in the future. The views are amazing there though.

From Kaikoura we carried on down to Christchurch, although Leslie had to sleep on the way. We had a cabin on the ferry, but neither of us slept particularly well. The ferry itself was nice though, and there was nothing wrong with the cabin. I’d sail with Bluebridge again.

Once in Christchurch we bought some groceries and settled in at the campsite. We bought some snaplock bags, which has been proclaimed as a genius move on my part. We put a whole bag of ice in several little bags, which means that when the ice melts, we won’t have messy thermal bags – and we now effectively have a small fridge, which is currently holding food for our breakfast and lunch for today.

We didn’t set up a tent. Instead, all the back seats have been made flat and we have put every single quilt and blanket that we own on top save one. We’ve also used pillows to even it out a bit. The result is something like the pictures for the story about the princess and the pea. We don’t have room to sit up, but otherwise it’s very comfortable. We’ve also managed to make some makeshift curtains from sheets. All our gear is either in the little cave formed by the seats or else on top of our bed during the day and in the front at night.

This morning we managed to set off at the planned time to the very minute, so we’ve been on the road since seven heading down to Dunedin.

If I have time I might try to post some photos tonight, otherwise later or when I get home.

I know this is a fairly stilted account, but I’m trying to record events while I remember them rather than tell a gripping story. I’ll try to post again tomorrow night.