London is a multicultural city. Over thirty percent of the population is of an ethnic minority and it’s people speak more than 300 languages; you might say it’s the melting pot of Europe. Anyone who speaks an ounce of English could easily fit in here. Aside from the Euro invasion it’s also chock-a-block with Antipodeans (London lingo for Kiwis, Aussies and Safas). With all these different nationalities comes loads of different accents but for some reason mine is always the topic of conversation.
Posts from the ‘New Zealand’ Category
Holidays; we never seem to have enough of them and as soon as they’re over we’re always thinking about the next one. Someone recently asked me if New Zealand had more or less public holidays than England and I proudly stated (with a tone of resentment) that we have less. Ha! Turns out I was wrong…we actually have MORE!
No this is isn’t a post about the ten kgs I gained whilst living in South Korea for a year, nor is it a post relating to the amount of beer Neil consumed in the 6 weeks we were back in NZ. It’s about luggage; overweight luggage.
When we immigrated from New Zealand to South Korea we were overweight, when we moved back to New Zealand we were overweight, so it comes as no surprise that when we checked in for the first leg of our trip to London we were overweight. After packing and repacking several times we were anxious to hear what Air New Zealand would have to say when we checked in for our Gold Coast flight. ”This bag is too heavy,” then those words we always dread, “you’re overweight; by 2kgs.” A measly two kilograms, really, come on, we’re immigrating, can’t you let that slide?
Before I launched into my please-feel-sorry-for-us-we’re-moving-to-London speech I realised there wasn’t anyway I could spin this so as not to pay excess baggage fees. Yes we were immigrating and my suitcase was bursting at the seams with a years worth of wardrobe essentials but… we were disembarking at Coolangatta. Which mean we hadn’t booked a connecting flight, we hadn’t even booked our next set of flights with the same carrier which meant no checked through luggage and no overweight exceptions. Our 60 plus kgs of luggage and us were hanging out in Aussie for a few weeks before going through this process all over again in 18 days time.
Sighing, we started another repack, stuffing our already overstuffed hand luggage in order to avoid the inevitable fees. Fortunately Air New Zealand advised us we could pay a flat $50 and push the weight of one bag up to 32kgs as opposed to the usual per kg fee. So we emptied my handbag contents back into our check in luggage, and took our bags to another counter so we could continue the check in process. Ordinarily this would have been completed all at once but Air New Zealand and their self check in kiosks added another step to our already multi-step process.
After advising another check in counter lady (let’s call her Mrs Grumpy Pants) we needed to pay an excess baggage fee she announces that she wants to weigh everything again so she can decide if we’re overweight. Neil and I both share a wtf look and load our checked luggage onto the scale. Mrs Grumpy Pants advises us that we’re overweight (duh!) and then demands she weigh our hand luggage as well. Off come the backpacks and again she mutters that word that starts with o.
I bite my tongue and Neil shrugs it off, smiles politely at Mrs Grumpy Pants, takes our excess baggage ticket and walks off. Whilst I’m calculating how many items I can stuff in my pockets and if people will stare if I wear four hats, Neil says; “That’s ladies on crack! Don’t panic about the hand luggage, we’ll be fine.”
Sure enough we make our way through customs, no-one uses the o word and we’re on our merry way. Ha ha to you Mrs Grumpy Pants! One check in counter down, two more to go!
What do fart jokes and Vegas have in common? Quite a lot if you’re talking about RotoVegas.
Rotorua’s main street pulses with nightclubs, casinos, tourists, entertainment, motels and neons. NOT! There are motels and neons, but aside from the odd pokie machine and a couple of late night fast food joints it’s nothing like Vegas at all. Somewhere along the line someone decided stinky old Rotorua resembled the famous Las Vegas strip, townsfolk started naming their businesses after it, someone printed t-shirts and the name stuck. Unfortunately the Vegas part isn’t really justified, the fart jokes however, certainly are.
Yes, Rotorua smells like farts. Stinky, sulphuric, rotten egg farts and so it should, it’s the most geothermally active part of the country. All that gas has to go somewhere and it does, often choosing to envelop the city like a giant dutch oven. Luckily we picked a weekend with a bit of wind and we hardly noticed the smell, but that didn’t stop Neil from busting out a few fart jokes.
N: What’s the best thing about Rotorua? G: …. N: You can fart all you like and no-one suspects a thing!
N: Why do farts stink? G: …. N: So that deaf people can enjoy them as well!
We’d traveled to Rotorua so Neil and some of our friends could compete in the Flyer; a 100km cycle race from Rotorua to Taupo. Whilst he was pedaling his heart out I’d be driving the pick-up vehicle to Taupo, so they didn’t have to cycle 200km to get home. On Saturday morning we woke to rain and a distinctly Autumn chill in the air. Eeeek, good thing I packed my new boots and an extra jumper. The riders set off for their 9:30 start and I packed the car ready for the drive to Taupo.
Driving someone else’s car is stressful enough without wet weather and 2,000 cyclists added to the mix. In retrospect I should have taken SH1 to avoid a section of the race where the riders and traffic share the road but the photographer inside of me wanted to catch some pictures of Neil mid cycle so I opted for SH30 instead. Mega fail on my part as a) there wasn’t really anywhere to pull over to take photos and b) by the time I’d left Rotorua Neil had already completed that section of the race. So I endured 30 mins of painfully slow, cyclist verses car traffic for nothing really.
By the time I’d found the events centre and a car park it was coming up 3 hours (Neil’s estimated arrival time) so I made my way to the finish line. After mucking around with the settings on my camera and taking a few practice shots I was ready to capture Neil flying across the finish time. What I hadn’t anticipated was Neil’s friend Hank coming across the line before him and in my eagerness to snap Hank I missed Neil. Doh! They were so close to together I focused on one and not the other.
Exhausted and with a busted chain, Neil finished the race in just under 3 hours – 2:58:54 to be exact. An excellent effort considering he’d only done 4 training rides in the last 12 months. Back in Rotorua the rain continued to hamper our sightseeing efforts so we opted for a few beers and a BBQ to finish the day.
Last night we opted for some fish and chips at my favourite beach in Auckland; Orewa Beach. Aside from the sometimes blustery onshore wind it was the perfect way to soak up some salty air and re-acquaint myself with one of the best things about Auckland; the beaches.
What do alpacas, axemen, amusement rides and Aucklanders’ have in common? You would have found them all at the Kumeu Show this past weekend.
Established in 1922, the Kumeu Show is one of the largest shows in the Southern Hemisphere. Held on 34 hectares (80 acres) of land, the show attracts exhibitors from across the nation, showcasing a variety of animals, delicious food products and all manner of farm equipment. The very first Auckland Agricultural and Pastoral (A&P) show was held in 1843 to demonstrate excellence in agriculture and animal husbandry. 168 years later these shows are still regular features in the event calendar of communities throughout New Zealand. They’re an institution of sorts, that until yesterday I’d never taken the time to experience.
To be honest I was surprised by the sheer size of the show; the aisles of fresh produce, vehicles, artwork, animals, clothing and garden supplies went on and on and there were plenty of people to keep the exhibitors happy. True to form, the food options drew the biggest crowds. Aside from your usual fairground fancies there were tonnes of tasty local offerings; avocado oil, venison salami, smoked salmon, crusty bread, olives and my favourite; cheese, so much good cheese.
After wandering amongst the giant pumpkins and petting a couple of donkeys we headed towards the main event area. On show were the best in sheep shearing, wood chopping, equestrian and dog trialing. Whilst the sheep racing was a good laugh, the axemen were the most impressive and thus proving why New Zealand is a world leader in the sport.
A few hours later, sunburnt and with bellies (and bags) full of food we headed home to sample our collection of cheese and salami. Thanks Kumeu Show, you were pretty choice!
Whilst we were overseas many people remarked to us about New Zealand’s beauty and how lucky we were to be able to call it our home. Most of the time we shrugged this off, not really appreciating what it means to live in a country that has so much space and so fewer people. After a year living in South Korea the shoe is now on the other foot and we can’t stop gushing about New Zealand and constantly pointing out all of the things that are so dramatically different to SoKo.
A simple trip around the local supermarket is enough to get me started… blue cheese, brown bread, olives, salami, Speights; I missed you! It’s nice to amble along with your trolley and enjoy the relative anonymity, no staring , elbowing or promo girls pestering you makes for quite the relaxing supermarket adventure. I won’t lie, asking for things in English is awesome. Being given an answer in English is equally awesome especially since it comes with an accent I’d forgotten we even had and usually includes ‘sweet’ or ‘fo sure’ tagged on the end.
Something about the familiar just makes things so much easier. Granted it’s not as fast paced and flashy as the bright lights of Seoul but somethings are new and it’s still pretty comfortable. Like an old couch you’ve just had recovered. It’s hard to explain all the sights and sounds so here’s a collection of words that sum up our first week back in NZ.
Speights. BrownBread. Cheese. Driving. Green. SweetAs. SourCream. RedBull. Spacious. Grass. Pets. Beautiful. Ocean. Family. Produce. BBQs. Malls. RubbishBins. Dollars. Diversity. FlipFlops. NoRice. Salad. Trees. Avocado. Sunshine. BlueCheese. Lamb. MeatPies. ClearSky. Burritos. Expensive. Salmon. Beaches.