Back in time for tea

Travelling the world, hopefully with a cuppa in hand

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Some pics from the last couple of days…

Trying out the high wire

It’s been a fun couple of days touring around in our little campervan and so I thought I’d just try and post a few photos from the last couple of days so you can see some of the things we’ve been up to.  Don and Lou loved Queenstown which was full of boutique shops as well as a host of trekking/skiing shops and coffee places.  It’s sited on the edge of a lake and as we walked around there were lots of people just chilling out in the sun on the grass or on the beach, playing guitars and trying out circus skills.  Some guys let us have a go on their not so high high-wire which was good although given how far we managed to walk, I don’t think we’ll be running off to the circus any time soon.  We left quite late, around 5.30pm and so only drove a couple of hours before finding somewhere to free camp for the night out in the hills with an amazing view of the stars.  Our campervan extends both upwards, with the pod, and out back by lifting up the boot lid and attaching an awning, which means that Lou and I could gaze up through the rear window at the stars while going to sleep. This morning, we stopped off for pancakes by the roadside, followed by a trip to the clay cliffs which were these massive mud/stone peaks coming out of a cliff.  We walked around them and took pics in the sun. Then we drove past the roadhead that leads to New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook and saw it in the distance.  Lou and I might head back there to do some trekking or tramping as they call it here.

Tomorrow morning we’re going to try and get up early to visit Christchurch before dropping Donna off at the airport. Tonight the girls are cooking a farewell meal for Donna with some fresh salmon that we picked up from a fish farm earlier in the day, and we’re going to make up a pavlova (using some mini pavlova bases we picked up in the supermarket) all with a glass of wine. It should be ready soon.

A distant view of Mount Cook

Drying our clothes

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Sweet as

Posing with Chuck

Translation: I confirm that what you are proposing is good by me. This slogan in on Donna’s new NZ hoodie top and sums up our NZ experience so far. We are having a wonderful fun-filled time on our tour of the South Island. We alternate between free/wild camping – pulling up the van and just making do with what we find and posh camping – staying at sites with showers, hot water and use of kitchen….it feels like a luxury to have hot water and a cup of tea! Last night was a paid-for stopover so we’re all nice and clean this morning. We’ve settled into campervan life very happily,  the scenery adds so much interest to the driving that the miles whizz by. We’re also all very partial to a cup of tea and stop off for regular comfort breaks. Since our visit to the cheese factory, these breaks are usually supplemented with cheese and crackers.

The scenery when we free camp is an amazing highlight – we have seen sunrises, an abundance of beautiful stars in the night sky that are new to us and fallen asleep to the sound of waves on the shore. We’re enjoying coming face to face with New Zealand’s wildlife; rare yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals, sea lions, birds of prey and the once-thought-to-be-extinct Takahe bird.

One of our waterfall walks

In the past few days we’ve driven from Dunedin on the south east coast, around the bottom of the island, out to Milford Sound and then to Queenstown, or Elizabethtown as Jon has renamed it! We have had lots of opportunities to stop off on the way, following recommendations from people we’ve met and following signposts to areas of interest. We’ve had lovely walks through lush tropical forests to waterfalls, a chasm, explored an ancient jurassic petrified forest, taken a breakfast cruise on Milford Sound (a fjord), popped into picturesque art gallery by Brighton Beach (after a paddle on the beach) and had a gourmet van picnic of Bluff oysters washed down with a chilled New Zealand white wine. We’re hoping for more wine and the time to fit in a vineyard tour on our way back to Christchurch where we have to wave goodbye to Donna. Our time has gone too quickly so no-one is looking forward to it very much. Still, two whole days of new and fun things to fit in before we have to worry about that.

Post guest-authored by Donna, plus Lou

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Campervan travels in New Zealand

Perfectly round boulders (Septarian concretions) on the beach in Moureaki

It’s day four of our campervan adventure in New Zealand and we’ve been travelling down from Christchurch to Dunedin which is supposed to be the Scottish part of NZ. We’re really enjoying ourselves with Donna, and so far we’ve managed to fit in seal and penguin spotting, beach walks, a visit to a cheese factory, whisky tasting, fish and chips and fringe festival comedy. Everyone’s really friendly in a way we haven’t really experienced so far in our travels, going out of their way to tell us things that we might like and passing on local knowledge. The scenery so far is incredibly beautiful, reminiscent of Dorset or Cornwall without so many tourists. Our spaceship campervan is a bit smaller than we envisaged but it has everything we need, and after four days we’ve settled in nicely. Donna gets to sleep in an expandable pod on the roof, while we’re tucked up inside with a little awning attached to the open boot lid to give us some more room. We’ve also tried wild camping and hope to do it every other day or so to save a little over the month we’re here, stopping at proper campsites when we start to smell too bad. We’re really looking forward to heading over to the more rugged south-west side of the island via the more scenic coastal road over the next few days with waterfalls, fjords and mountains to look forward to.

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Sydney seaside strolls

View of the South Pacific

Yesterday we went our separate ways as Donna and Lou had a girls day out and I decided to head out for a walk. From the pub, I found I could head across three parks and a bit of suburban Sydney and end up at Bronte beach south of its more famous neighbour Bondi. A lot of people had recommended the cliff-top walks to us and I really enjoyed the amazing views of the Pacific and fresh sea air reminding me of home. I headed over to Clovelly where there was a man-made lagoon and had my first dip of the day. I then walked all the way back along the cliffs to Bondi for another cautious dip. Since being in Australia we’ve become hooked on Bondi Rescue, a TV series following the lifeguards. The rips are pretty treacherous here and loads of tourists get into trouble. I saw one of the film crews filming at one end of the beach. After my two swims I felt I’d earned a fish and chip which was duly dispatched while fending off the beady-eyed ibises and seagulls.

I’d agreed to meet Lou and Don at the NSW art gallery for the gallery’s late night ‘Art After Hours’. The girls had enjoyed a morning of swimming, sauna and spa before heading to the Newtown area, known for its quirky shops selling retro and vintage wears. They spent a pleasant afternoon browsing, finding a pair of ornate silver plated cake tongs in a bric-a-brac shop and finishing with a pot of earl grey and the world’s biggest slice of carrot cake. Thus fortified they caught the metro into the city centre to meet up.

The Art After Hours event focused on pieces selected from a state-wide competition involving the equivalent of A-level art students and a Q&A session with the presenter of Australian Big Brother. We ended our evening listening to some live music in the gallery cafe and possum spotting in Hyde Park on the way home.

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Don Down Under

Reunited

Woooohhhoooooo – Donna’s here! We went down to the airport to form a welcoming committee with Aimee, Donna’s auzzie friend and a lovingly hand sown banner to make sure she couldn’t miss us. Cue lots of crying, laughing and hugging all at the same time. We whisked her more or less straight off to the beach for our first experience of the beach Australian style. The surf was huge, but we all ran straight in with Aimee leading the way. Figuring out how to jump or duck through the waves was fun and we all gained a new found respect for Aimee’s aquatic abilities as she seemed completely at home. Unfortunately the waves were too much for Donna’s bikini top meaning that any lucky observers on the beach got an eyeful after one particularly powerful ducking. Only three hours in Australia and the girl flashes the life guards! We ended Donna’s first day by included some English tradition and celebrating Shrove Tuesday with pancakes back at the pub with Laurina.

On the ferry to Watson's Bay

We did a mix of things in the following days; sight seeing around Sydney and enjoying views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, walking over the bridge,learning more about Australian flora at the Botanical Gardens and taking a ferry boat ride out to Watson’s Bay for a view of the harbour, famous Doyle’s fish and chips and a dip in the calmer waters. We’ve also been exploring all things new, Australian and edible, including toasted banana bread, raisin toast, Tim Tam biscuits, jelly sweets known as lollies and kangeroo on a pizza (sorry Skippy), washed down with Bundaberg ginger beer, lemon, lime and bitters and some Australian Carlton Draught.


Picnicing in Paddington

Yesterday we had a picnic at the Paddington Reservoir after browsing the exhibits at the Australian Centre of Photography, followed by a trip to the cinema to see Age of Reason, one of the films shown as part of the french film festival being held at the moment. Today we’re planning to do Sunday lunch Australian-style and have a barbecue in the park with Aimee and Nick as our barbecue consultants to make sure we’re doing it properly. We might even have kanga bangers!

Laurina has use of a pool so we enjoy escaping from the boiling hot heat and going for a dip. There’s also a jacuzzi and sauna. Off for another swim now, sending you all lots of love Lou, Jon and Donna xxxxxx

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