Again I have been remiss in writing my blog. I don’t have any good excuses to impart so I will just accept that I am becoming tardy as the weeks roll on and perhaps becoming complacent with my lifestyle here.
New Zealand offers a fantastic lifestyle in that the scenery is breathtaking no matter where you visit. The people are, for the most part. Friendly, jovial and laid back. There doesn’t appear to be any airs and graces with most of them. They just accept life is what it is and if you get a knock they just accept that and get up and get on with it. I quite like that ethos.
There is a downside though. The food is…… fattening. Nearly all of it is fast food and in every town there will be McDonalds, Burger King, Domino’s. Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy’s et al. Every other shop is either a coffee shop or pie shop. They have food halls that will have Robert Harris Café, Muffin Break, Coffee Worx, Yellow Rocket Bagel and the list just goes on and on. Food is almost a god to the Kiwi’s but……. It is all fast food. Very little home cooking goes on from what I’ve seen. There is quite a lot in the newspapers about obesity and it certainly shows in the size of the kids. I’ve explained the foregoing as I need an excuse for why I’ve put on weight………….. Just thought I would get that in early.
Well most of my friends and colleagues have returned to their respective countries and my buddy Robert has gone off to Tauranga in my place until I take over on 5th December for my last 2 months and I am left with only 2 colleagues about my age with whom to socialise.
As most of you know I only have Sunday as a day off. I had been pretty busy during the past weeks and had fallen behind with some reports I had to write so I decided to stay in on Sunday 9th to catch up. I am pleased to say that I did. Note did. I need to try and catch up again now. That Sunday the Prime Minister John Key was here in Christchurch at Hagley Park enjoying watching the the rugby with Cantabrians on the giant TV screens. Just as the match was about to start we were hit with a 5.5 earthquake that rolled on. Most people were worried thinking that something more was on its way. During the Saturday afternoon for a period of about 20 minutes we had experienced over 10 shakes culminating in a couple of 4.8’s. I was in the supermarket during that Saturday and the racks were swaying backwards and forwards. It was quite surreal really. Anyway John Key hadn’t experienced an earthquake and now understood why Cantabrians were leaving in such droves. He found the earthquake quite interesting.
Last Sunday (16th October) 3 of us – me, Chris and Sue - decided it was time to try out the Tranz Alp Railway and travel from Christchurch through the Southern Alps to Greymouth. The train journey was long – 6 hours but the scenery was glorious. We travelled through Arthurs Pass and onto Otira both high in the mountains and thence to Greymouth. There is an open sided carriage that allows the passenger to take natural photos as the train hurtles across the tracks. The only trouble was the Japanese hogged that carriage all the way so we had to barge our way through to get even a smattering of au natural photos. The train, as I said earlier, is travelling the Southern Alps and every time I had framed a good photo we entered a tunnel. I gave up eventually and just took in the surroundings. We had a real laugh and my acerbic wit was met with much enthusiasm as well as encouragement I might add. My cohorts who had participated in the mirth accused me of calling a spade a spade and that they needed to be careful in my presence for fear of what I might say to and about them. It was of course said with much love. For my part I say it as I see it – with a modicum of humour thrown in so I will just carry on doing what I do in my own sweet way – no offense meant and none taken. The first part of the journey ended at Greymouth a non-descript place and we spent a short interlude having a hot drink and a sandwich before returning to the train and enjoying the return to Christchurch. It was a really relaxing day. Only pictures can give a flavour of the scenery and these are in the album ‘Tranz Alp’ attached to my blog. If you are interested have a look. The photos are mainly scenery based.
I’ve had a varied caseload to deal with and its all been very interesting. I have had squash clubs, tennis clubs, cricket clubs, abbatoirs, manufacturing plants and all sorts to deal with. When I get back to the UK it’s going to be very different.
This weekend I decided to fly down to Queenstown to enjoy the andrenalin rush that is Queenstown. The place is about white knuckle activities, music, people and beautiful scenery. I left Christchurch and flew into Queenstown arriving at 8:25am. My accommodation was at the Hilton Kawarau Hotel right on the banks of Lake Wakatipu. I had pre-booked to have a ride on the Shotover River Jet Boat Saturday morning so took a quick taxi to the hotel to get changed before returning to Queenstown to make my connection. We travelled by bus down to the Shotover River where we were given our briefing and wet protective jackets. The boat called ‘Big Red’ holds 16, travels at upto 85km/h in 10cms of water. The boat turns on a sixpence. Its powered by 2 V8 jet impeller engines that shoots out water at 760 litres a second and that gives its power and speed. Lesson over – the ride was fast, bumpy and furious and highly enjoyable. For those of you on FaceBook and part of my friends circle you can watch me in the boat enjoying the ride. That over I returned to Queenstown where I was due to go on a Lord of the Rings tour. I had an hour or so to kill and down on the marina they were hosting a jazz fest so I ventured to it. The weather was beautiful, hot and sunny so I sat on the grass and listened to the music (if you can call jazz music).
There were only 2 of us on the Lord of the Rings Tour and our guide basically said we could do what we wanted. The tour is about scenery and where certain of the action took place. It was actually quite revealing and shows the imagination of Peter Jackson in getting the scene he wants for that part of the movie. The tour was most interesting and we stumbled on the next chapter in the making of the Lord of the Rings – The Hobbit. We couldn’t get close to where they were building the sets but there was a lot of action going on for a Sunday. As I said the scenery was stunning and probably can only be truly appreciated by doing the route in real life. I have put my photos on the blog site under album LOTR. Enjoy and be envious.
I returned to the hotel by 7.30pm. Had a few minutes to repose and revive myself and then went down to the lake restaurant for an evening of indulgent eating and drinking which is what I did – and without any regrets. It was gone 11 pm by the time I fell into my room and got myself ready for bed. Sunday arrived and I went in search of the massage clinic where I had booked for a sports massage treatment. It was good and I felt rejuvenated after it.
My flight back to Christchurch was at 14:30 so I had an hour or so to enjoy the Hotel surroundings and the Lake. What a cool place. The grounds and vista are truly spectacular. Photos are in the album Kawarau Hotel. The weekend was all too short and over far too quickly. It wasn’t long before I was back in my motel room and back in the swing of it.
Next weekend I am going on another jet boat ride along the Waimakariri River over by Springfield.
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