Monday, March 31, 2003

Monday 31 March
home of the famous spring water that mixes with lemon to create L&P
world famous all over New Zealand..

I'm now officially a member of the Lindon Puffin fan club.. along with Janet from Dewsbury and Sheila from Hexham..
we all three watched in awe and wonderment at Lindon's Friday night gig in Barbarella's in Rotorua.. and then discovered that he was also playing in Tauranga at Krazy Jacks on Saturday night..
so Janet and I turned up again.. and bought the CD, and Lindon signed it..
a singer songwriter and guitarist of exceptional note.. and about to break through into the highest level of Kiwi fame.

Sunday, I biked over to Waihi Beach.. pitched camp down by the pacific ocean - the Bay of Plenty - and dived into the surf.. fantastic.. and they say that Skegness is bracing..

drank a couple of cheap beers at the Fire Station and fell into conversation with Barry who used to work for the Ordnance Survey and therefore knows every pub in England - so it seems, including the Trip to Jerusalem, and the Salutation in Nottingham.

Today a fairly gentle ride through the Karangahake Gorge where old gold mine workings are being eaten up by the natural bush vegetation..
and someone kindly gave me a fejoa to eat.. a dark green fruit.. taste report to come.

thanks for all the messages from home - especially those that have encouraged me to throw myself out of a plane again..

Friday, March 28, 2003

Saturday 29 March

some further thoughts on free falling sky diving...


From here the fillings in the teeth vibrate,
Or maybe it's fear that makes them chatter,
Certainly nothing else seems to matter,
Save the lack of common sense, once innate,
But now left standing, transfixed, on the floor,
Wond'ring why its erstwhile owner, absent
Without leave at fifteen thousand hell-bent
Feet, now sits at the aircraft open door.
Also looking up, self-preservation
Asks, poignantly, why he's been left behind,
As tumbling into space, two bodies twinned
In a single earthbound destination,
Fall... two miles in a screaming minute, then,
In silence drifting back to earth again.

that's about what it felt like...
just received a couple of extra photos from Karen and Simon in Wellington..

Simon and me and the bike and a NESTA t-shirt..

setting out from Wellington

Friday 28 March

catching up on a few more photos...

washing day in Golden Bay about three weeks ago..

Marlborough Sound on a long walk to a high place..

another tree...

early morning on the Beach at Napier.

thermal pool near Rotorua.

a green pool...

a wry smile yesterday in the rain..
there have been a few more wry smiles today.. not least because the person booking me a bus ticket this morning automatically gave me a 'golden' discount.. I'll leave you to work out how you qualify for a golden discount..
and also saw a t-shirt with Woodford's brewery Norfolk on it.. and as with the ride across the States, I suddenly became very nostalgic for a pint of 'Wherry'

hey ho..

Thursday, March 27, 2003

and the view from the backpackers hostel in Collingwood in Golden Bay

and the beach at Abel Tasman national Park

and this was the whale at Kaikoura...

Friday 28 March

and these are some horses in Golden Bay.. about three weeks ago

Friday 28 March
still experimenting

this feels better... this is a tree
Friday 28 March
and it is tipping it down with rain..
and there is little movement on the horizon
so a day for looking at Museums and trying yet again to load photographs onto the site..
here goes nothing, as we said as we dropped out of the aeroplane on Monday.. (did I mention that I had skydived? from 15,000 feet?)


this should be a tree... but it may appear as html code..

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Wednesady 26 March
90 kms tofday folks and it rained for the first time in five weeks..
I'm going top try and load up a photo of me in Welleington - courtesy of Karen and Simon..

nope.. no good..

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Tuesday 25 March

cowabunga dudes... I don't know how this really happened but at 4pm yesterday 24 March I threw or rather fell myself out of a plane at 15000 feet.. yes folks.. I went sky diving.

It was all a bit of a blur.. I arrived at Taupo at 2pm and enquired in a gentle uncertain and relaxed way about skydiving.. one of the things to do in Taupo..
an hour later I had signed my life away.. and was on my way to the air field..
there I met my new very best friend Adrian.. who was my tandem partner..
we got kitted out with an appropriately named jump suit.. a quick change iof underwear and we crammed ourselves into a small plane..heading for the stratosphere..
the flight was a bit short on comforts and the hospitaslity trolley did not appear.. instead I buckled even closer to Adrian who explained that when we reached 15000 feet the door of the plane would open.. we shuffled forward .. I was to look back at the camera, rest my head back on his shoulder and away we would go..
all went according to plan... once Adrian had prised my grip of the edge of the door, I leaned back as he tipped us both forward and out into oblivion..
I was momentarily disorneintated
and seemed to be upside down..
it wasn't much better the right way up... the ground seemed an alarming distance away.

we travelled two miles in free fall - in the space of a minute or so... then we resumed a vertical position as the canopy opened..
deep joy.. but still a wierd sensation dangling so high above the ground.. the descent from 4000 feet took a further four minutes..

we landed and I started breathing normally again..

the most exhilarating and bizzare experience.. but look dudes - I'm only going to do this once in my life.. and it may as well be now and in NZ.

I'll tell you what I think about it all again later.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Monday 24 March
Taupo after Napier

for those of you still wondering - I am taking buses from time to time.. I was advised that the Napie Taupo road was not one to cycle on... and I've long decided to do NZ by bike in sections.. skipping the hard or boring bits... I have to say there are not many boring bits.. but there are some hard bits.

The sun continues to bake.
Monday 24 March
Napier then Taupo

of course the wine tasting around Hawkes Bay - was not to ignore the events happening elsewhere..
it's just that NZ sleeps when the world turns..

I just wonder if George and Tony know what victory will look like - how will they define it when they have created more enemies as a result of their illegal unmandated actions than they had before?

Come on George, do you really think that the Arab and moslem world will thank you?
and do you really think that you can protect US self interest with a wall around your country and its citizens?

and now we hear of casualties in the media and the allies under 'friendly fire'

Sunday 23 March
Napier, Hawkes Bay..

How was your Sunday? Have a good day, relaxed, taking it easy?

me? I cycled 75 kms arounf Hawkes Bay wineries... an almost perfect day.. the weather topped 23c again with a fair wind in the morning..
and Rick's top wine tip for the bon viveur and vinophile? Get as much NZ wine down yer neck as you can..

Now I don't want to give the impression that I was in any way irresponsible tasting the 20 or so wines from the seven wineries I was able to take in in the day...
another tip.. the NZ reds are fantastic.. and usually get snaffled by wine merchants as soon as they are released.. The Merlots and Shiraz/Sirahs are woundrous.. in the warmth of the autumn sunshine out here.

Napier is art deco all over.. every sign advertising Joe's tyres or Sam's Haridressers are all in fancy deco script..
as a result of the earthquake that destrroyed the town in 1930..

and thanks again to Karen and Simon in Wellington for their warm hospitality.. especially the fluffy towel - luxury..
Grimsby drew away to Burnley but dropped back into the relagation zone because Stoke won..
ity's a dog fight down there.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Friday 21 March

yes this is Wellington - and I've had a fantastic couple of days thanks to the warm and generous hospitality of Simon and Karen.. who live in Wadestown - which like most places in Wellington is - UP THE HILL..

Wellington is a gentle cafe based capital city with a wonderful museum of NZ life - Te Papa.. down on the waterfront.

the buses are run by StageCoach which is depressingly familiar..

Simon and Karen have only just moved into their new home.. the sofa's arrived on Thursday morning.. the container from England hasn't arrived yet.. the visitors from Dunedin arrived Thursday evening to sit on the new sofas.. life in Wellington is that close to the japanese theory of just in time delivery.

The war seems to have started - but NZ is firmly anti.. and there is a vigil and concert tonight in the civic centre square.. another sign of the respoinsible neutrality adopted by a small country feeling a bit out of it all... and very much to their credit.

Tomorrow - Saturday - I'll leave the cosmopolitan life behind.. and head off to Napier - art deco capital of the world.

Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 - hence the rebuilding in art deco style..
Wellington houses have to have emergency supplies in a secure place.. so far Simon has placed a bucket of water in the garden shed... their house is built almost on the vertical plane... one good earth tremor and the house would shake itself free of the hillside and head off down towards the harbour.

still warm - and dry... the nights are getting chillier... and I've an annoying head cold... but NOT the life threatening respitory disease that has paralysed parts of asia and the antipodes... has the news permeated to the UK?

the good news for Mariners fans - obviously growing by the dozen following this website - is that Grimsby are out of the bottom three after a stunning late victory over Rotherham.. pah where is your Magma Centre now?

and hello and thanks to Ann and David who live across the bay in Eastbourne and were from Lincolnshire and are closely related to my godmother..
slightly complicated I know... but hello anyway - and sorry not to get over to the other side of the harbour...
dragon boat racing championships start tomorrow...
should demand a mention in the national press - should feature just below the Croquet results..

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Tuesday 18 March
named after a general who fell at the battle of Waterloo... as far as I know there are no odd statues of Sir Thomas..

yes - Grimsby 1 - Watford 0
so the Mariners move off the bottom of the division.. sadly I think it is only a matter of time before the trapdoor opens.

Marlborough Sound - what an amazing coastline, all isthmuses and peninsulars and bays and inlets.. caused by the 'drowning' by the sea of the valleys and estuaries as the land dropped. Slarty Bardfast, designer of coastlines for the planet builders of Magarothea, would have been proud of this one (following his award for the fiords)..

yesterday I climbed up to 1400' on the Queen Charlotte Track (named after Queen of George 111) - it was a steep and hard climb and I'm glad to have made the decision not to try it on the bike.. even tho I have some suspension on the front forks it would have been beyond my capacity.. but the views from the top of the bays and inlets with the mountains guarding them were amazing.
I'm planning to cross over to Wellington tomorrow, Wednesday, and I'll try Simon's computer to see if we can do anything with these here photographs..
all this deathless prose is meaningless without the images..

stayed at Anakiwa last night.. the dutch backpacker in the bunk above me snorkled even louder than I do, hurrah..
and Helen, the owner, bakes her own bread and two slices of toast with blackberry jam this morning were delightful.
ahh the joys of domesticity when you are travelling and tenting..

actually having stayed at the Rutherford School in Havelock, on the yacht in Portage, at the backpackers last and this night and then with thanks at Simon and Karen's in Wellington.. I'll have forgotten what the tent is like as a shelter..

new topical sonnet in the thought for the day section..

more from Wellington, (and hoopefully some photos)..

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Sunday 16 March
Portage in the Marlborough Sounds

having cycled 40 Kms today from Havelock.. named incidentally after Sir Henry Havelock (Bart) who is one of the three odd statues in trafalgar Square..

Portage is on an inlet.. the ride today illustrated in several places why I do this.. turn a corner rise over the crest of a hill and there is a vista of wonderment in front of you..
Arrived in Prtage with time on my hands - early start because of the end of daylight saving - the clocks went back - we are now just 12 hours ahead of UK time..
so decided to try sea kayaking around the inlets of the Marlborough Sound.. what a delight.. the silence of the kayak and viewing the scenery from water level.
Some hundreds of whitebait sparng from the sea in front of me.. though i didn't see what was chasing them just as well.

more anon - just need to check the Grimsby watford result.. fish fingers crossed..

Friday, March 14, 2003

Saturday 15 March
Takaka - just before setting off to Havelock in the Marlborough Sound..

So the librarian I hugged then said - it's nice when someone can express their feelings..
so thanks Nancy, and my apologies again for making some disturbance in the library.

Another fine day in the micro-climate that is Golden Bay..
the astonishing thing last night - after an excellent meal at the wholemeal cafe - was finding Mark Helyer at the backpackers.. Mark is Artisitic Director of Proteus Theatre Company Basingstoke, where I was a Board member for a while...
after the 'you are Lobby Ludd, and I claim my five pounds' moment, we enjoyed a good old catch up in the world of touring theatre.

Wierd or what?

The North Island has been experiencing continuous rain for days running into weeks apparently, and Wellington was closed for fog some days ago... hopefully I'll be that little ray of sunshine it needs.

Golden Bay is a brilliant laid back almost horizontally hippy area.. where few people wander in from the outside, the barrier of Takaka Hill being too much for most casual travellers. and the hills around protect the Bay and the area from the excesses of stormy weather.

Highs of 24 degrees still, and this morning is another clear sky.. could stay longer, but I have other rides to do.

the tally is over 500 miles so far.. albeit in sections.

legs good, constitution still fine, bum recovered... generally feeling fit as a butcher's dog, and as cheery as it is possible to be without being obnoxious.
Friday 14 March
the news has come through and it is GOOD...
and I'm sitting in a public library speechless with delight..
actually I'm embarrassed to declare that I have just hugged the librarian.

It has been such a good day.. I followed my intuition and a sign that said Pupu Springs.. just because it sounded a bit different.
the springs are pure clear water filtered tyhrough marble aquifers, bubbling up in clear pools and surrounded by recovering semi tropical forest.
the sand in the pools bubbles and dances.
it was woundrous, magical..

things bubble up, eh?

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Thursday 13 March
Cape Farewell

I'm anticpating bad news about the job I applied for and wanted.. but anticipation is alweays worse than the reality..
I'm sitting ion a rock looking out to sea in the most solitary place in NZ.. there is a strand of five miles in either direction and there is me and a seagull contemplating the universe.
the seagull probably has a better view of it than me.

this is solitude - delicious, sensuous, palpable solitude..
and how much do I care about the decisions taken in London or New York?
well a bit when I remember..
but in the sun with only the sound of the sea surging up the sand - well there is a unique and distant perspective to all things... sometimes created by history, sometimes by distance.. and the feeling of remoteness.

Cape Farewelll is the end of the south island.. tomorrow I head back along ythe Golden Bay coast to the Marlborough Sound area.

but for today - the memory of blissful solace in isolation is all sustaining.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Tuesday 11 March
I don't know how to pronounce it either..

Forest 2 - Grimsby 2

and again Mariners throw away a lead in a crucial match..
The game was on Sky apparently - though notover this side of the world.. there was some rugby super 12 challenge game instead.. can't think why, there must be oooh at least a couple of Mariner or Forest fans over here..

so we are still firmly rooted to the bottom of the table..

must get out more...

Tuesday 11 March
just time to say that I'm in an idyllic spot on the northern end of south island.. near the Abel Tasman Park.. which has a coastal path that takes you to even more secluded beaches..
and I'm feeling strangely low today.. it hits me after about a fortnight.. not sure why..

maybe it's because I've whimped out of a long hill climb over 2000' to get to the other bay - Golden Bay.. and opted for the bus instead?
maybe it's a mixture of general anxiety and nostalgia.. either way it will pass.

heading off for a walk over to the next inlet.. Stillwell Bay..


Sunday, March 09, 2003

Sunday 9 March

today I celebrate my 53 birthday... I've opened some cards that I brought out from home overlooking the Tasman Bay
it's brilliantly hot out here today.. and I'm heading into the Abel Tasman Park tomorrow...

the ride from Nelson, was surprisingly hilly.. I wish the landscape could be a bit more forgiving.. I'm beginning to ache in the knees and as we say in Sheffield..
thirty years in the saddle by Major Bumsore..
sure does.

I'm plannng to stay around the Tasman area and the Marlborough Sound for about a week or so.. and then investigate the ferry over to Wellington..
but enough for now.. I'm about to open a bottle of sparkling NZ wine that is chilling in the fridge.

cheers everyone

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Saturday 8 March
the coast road to Blenheim is ok but not worth cycling - I'm pleased to confirm... and the next bus from Blenheim to Nelson even more confirmed the good idea not to take up time cycling all the way..
so far at the end of the second week - I'ce cycled 8 out of 14 days and copvered over 300 miles so I'm building up gradually... the road to Nelson contained two of the worst inclines I have ever dreamed of... long hauls over 10 kms... and I'm sure as ever not gpoing to bike them back the other way either.

Tomorrow - ride on to Motueka - and start to look for a place to mark the turning of another year.
Saturday 8 March
this has turned out to be a very pleasant day..
not too much sleep due to the earth tremors.. or Sam waking me up because I was snorkling again..

let me go backj to the whale watching for a moment.. it was such an exceptional expoerience yesterday..
we all collect at the Whaeway station for check in and the safety video.. and then embus to south bay fopr the catamaran out to sea... it promisies to be choppy.. the sick bags are on display.

Stacey is on Whale watch duty.. the engines engage and we are away.. bouncing and surging acrossd the troughs and crests..
soon the dusky dolphins are catchiung up with us and putting on a circus performance, criss- crossing in front of the boat, doing back flip[s..l as if they were the premiershipos leading scorers..
further out - seeking sperm whales.. young(ish) males.. a longer process, not least because their feeding habits take them down for 40 minutes minimum on a deep dive..
Some time spent scouring the horizon for spouts.
One is spotted, a mile or so away and we off on the modern equivalent of the Nantucket Sleighride in rapid puirsuit.

but we arrive just as the flukes up end go vertical and disappear.. the camera is just not quick enough.

They dive down over 1km into the Kaikpura canyon.. one fo the significant deeps of the Pacuific caused by the creasing of the tectonic plates at this point..

Another is spotted, feeding on the surface and collecting oxygen... we race to get there and approqach from the rear and side... Up on deck, shutters clicking furiously... the blowhole rhythm reveals his intentions... He's ready to dive, ready, here he goes, there go flukes and there he goes...
Exhilarating.. one of the great natural spectacles - the vertical tail slap of a diving whale..

another is sighted.. again the boat race - but agin we just catch the tail end of the dive..

We're almost exhausted with adrenalin and excitement..
Heading back.. albatross float or sopar on or just above the surface... stormy petrels and Molly mawks..
then just after the dolphins have put on another circus performance we encounter 5 killer whales on patrol.. five orcas just 1 km from the shore among the cray fish pots and the fur seals..
They rsie and scythe the surface in gently arching undulating rhythms.

We arrive back - 25 or so happy people completely satisfied with our encounter with nature in its rich size and majesty.

Who cares how routine, how easy it is for the crew and company to take our L30 and know where to take us... we were entralled.. the sea and its creatures - our land masses, and our very occasional intrusions are tiny interruptions in their much grander world.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Saturday 8 March
getting the days and dates mixed up..
hard to contemplate that I've been here a fortnight already.. considering the variety I've seen so far..

heading north today.. just as well as it's raining this morning as the cloud has dropped to sea level.

As if the riding isn't hard enough, New Zealand South Island is rising at the rate of about 10cms per year.. as the tectonic plates grind up against each other.. the resulting tensions in the earth surface produce tremors and earthquakes as well as the volcanic activity that creates the hot springs and typical cones of the mountains..

and there was a tremor last night...
Thursday 7 March
on the coast.. Kaikoura is the bit that sticks out above ChCh.. and it is a world famous whale watching centre.. so what did I do today? went out to watch whales... and there they were.. three sperm whales, a large pod of Dusky Dolphins.. putting on a show it has to be said.. and five Orcas on the way back..
of and guess what.. the centre is called the Whaleway Station.. soz but true.

And the photo of the month award goes to me just catching the flukes of a sperm whale as it hit the big dive...
Now sadly, of course I've still not found a way of getting these blessed and fantastic photies on to the web yet.. I am working at it, but first I have to get a computer to recognise that it has a camera attached to it.

And I'm in Kaikoura public library doing this update, and libraries do not like you to plug anything in...

I've just received the terrible news that Grimsby have gone bottom.. Stafford's email was just entitled 'bottom' and I knew he was not enquiring after my health.
fine by the way..
and just as I brought up the email, a Coventry supporter at the next terminal looked across and gloomily noted that Coventry had lost to Wednesday....

eeeh, I don't know, you go half way round the world and sit next to a footy fan from the midlands.. (if that is a fair way of describing a Coventry supporter.. feels like a contradiction in terms to me.)
however, I feel that Mariners are doomed.

I never ceased to be amazed at the amount of gear carried around by backpackers.. have I mentioned this.. there was one guy I met.. he could only have been 5' nothing in his bare feet... and he was carrying a sack two thirds his height.. if he fell over he would never get up again... like a far welted sheep.

Other news - Singapore Airlines have confirmed a flight home on 12 April... for a while it looked uncertain if I would get a flight in April at all.. they reported that they were fully booked in April.. all those NZers and Aussies getting to Europe for the summer... and it was possible that I would get home till May.. the waiting list came through..
so with seven weeks (and five weeks to go) this is definitley turning into a cycling holiday and not a ride of achievement..

Tomorrow I'm heading north to the Marlborough Sound..

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Wednesday 6 March
Cheviot to Kaikoura
75 kms and not so hard today although there were three steep and long climbs over the coastal range..
but now I'm overlooking the Pacific Ocean and setting off tomorrow to watch some Whales
I'm pretty tired after two and a half days long riding.. yesterday I did over 100 Kms into a strong head wind... cycled for nine hours and only managed an average of 12 KPS.. which is under 8 mph in ready money.

the ocean is brilliant.. add albatross, penguins and porpoise to the list of wild life..
and the albatross reminds me that Grimsby continue in the gloom.. and as we all know the team are called the Mariners... and the goalie is called the Ancient Mariner (because he stoppeth one in three).

taking a rest day tomorrow and then the bus.. yes another bus, but NZ is too varied and hilly to cycle everywhere.. so I'm heading up to Nelson for the birthday weekend.. looks like Singapore airlines may have a flight back on 12 April.. tho it's looking touch and go if I will get back before May if this one doesn't confirm.. suddenly all europe want to see where Lord of the Rings was filmed... and all NZers want to get to europe and leave the tourists to it.

there seems to be little news to report from this end of the world.. the boat havoc has died down.. the cricket world cup causes some merriment that the Black Caps got thru but England didn't..

oh well.. let's go and watch whales.. (and that is not a rugby pun)

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Monday 3 March
Lake Tekapo

the news is that NZ lost to the Swiss in the fifth race of the America's Cup and is deep mourning.. the post mortems dominate the news and media
And grimsby crash at home 2-0 to Coventry.. fortunately all the other teams in the bottom four lost as well.. but it is now a three from four situation fr the drop..

OK Lake Tekapo is right in the geographical centre of south islandf.. it is a clear blue lake.. there is rock dust suspended in the water and it refracts a clear tourquoise blue.. but wow, it has been howling a gale all night.. in fact the ride up here yesterday was ok until I got over Burkes Pass (2,200 feet) legs going well to that point... then a gentle decline on the other side.... and then the headwind. terrible, the last 10 kms took me two hours buffeting into the headwind.
I'm pitched sideways into the wind off the lake and the tent performed magnificently as ever.
So I'm now looking at some options before heading.. today is a rest day until the weather subsides. then I may take a bus back to ChCh to start heading up the east coast...
I've also the little matter of where to be on Sunday - where and when I celebrate the birthday.. ifeally I'd like to overlooking a secluded bay with a bottle of something light white and possibly sparkling.

I'm going to try posting a couple of phots.. so please bear with me for a while.. we may not have technoilogy here at the cyber cafe..
Oh, and a big hello and good luck to Melissa from Massachussetts as she sets off to Mount Cook. well someone has to do it.

I'm starting to form a clear impression of the south island and the people.. it is a fabtastic country and the land is everything.. that annd the wind. There is a clear sense though that the isolation from the rest of the world brings benefits and disadvantages. there is an odd felling that the rest of the world is making decisions while NZ sleeps. which is kind of true... so although NZ is ahead in terms of time of most of the rest of the world.. they wake up to decisions having been taken elsewhere.

more anon.. let's try these photies.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Saturday 1 March 2003

I'm actually in the cafe called the Old Library..
and lo and behold it is another Carnegie Library.. endowed around 1911..
So from Mansfield to the Midwest of Nebraska to the south island of NZ I've come across the fruits of the endowment of Andrew Carnegie... what a great legacy arounf the world
Now what will you leave as your legacy Uncle Bill, Dear old Elton, Sir Paul?

It's been a hot hard day today, toiling up the hills from Geraldine to Fairlie on route to Lake Tekapo.. which I should reach tomorrow.. the temperature has been in the high 80s.. and the heart has been blasting away.. and the lungs.. so I guess the recovery rate will improve .. and I'm not in danger of peffing out from exertion just yet..

The highlight of the day - meeting four guys from Montana in a lunchtime bar/cafe.. so the story of meeting the pres of Bud at the top of the Rockies in Montana and the subsequent meeting again at the Chubby Checker convcert in Missoula.. well it had to be told.

Fairlie is fairly dead of a saturday night and I've decided that because I've been here a week.. I'm eating out tonighht.