Wednesday, July 18, 2007

On Holiday In New Zealand

Well here we are, in New Zealand at last. It's been a bit of an adjustment getting used to winter temperatures again. At night there has been the occasional frost with temperatures dropping to around 7 C, while during the day we are mostly expereincing about 18 C or sometimes higher.

We had the bad luck to arrive just before the worst storm the country has had for 150 years hit, but because we are in the centre of the North Island we didn't notice too mcuh of it apart from the fierce winds and torrential rain. In the North and further south towards Taranaki there was heavy flooding, roofs blown off houses, land slides etc. And of the coast of New Plymouth (the city where I was born) they were hit by a 'cluster' of seven tornados! Massive damage to about 60 homes, although again we experienced none of this. On the bright side in theory it won't happen again for another 150 years - every cloud has a silver lining they say.

Apologies for any typos as my fingers don't work well when cold! Today the weather is gorgeous, so I rushed out and took some photos. The first is of me brushing my teeth this morning. In future when people ask me if I miss living in New Zealand I'm going to show them this photo and ask "do you know anywhere else in the world where brushing your teeth while enjoying a view like this is seen as commonplace?"

We are staying in a house on the farm of my sister Christine and her husband Lance. They have a spare house on the property so that's where we have holed up, snug and warm with our wood fire. Their house is a short walk away so it's ideal. At night the Milky Way stretching overhead is just breath taking in the pure clean air, endless galaxies spiralling off into the creamy infinity of space. I'd almost forgotten how many stars there are when all around is darkness - no street lights or large buildings for miles, just the sound of owls screeching in the forest nearby and the gentle munch munch munch of cows chewing their cuds in the paddock next to the house. We woke to find large cloven hoofprints in the front lawn - a curious cow had managed to open the garden gate and wandered around the lawn, no doubt unimpressed by the closely clipped grass which Christine had mown before we arrived.

Niels has been out with his Auntie, riding in a trailer behind their quad bike to collect the calves born overnight and bring them into the warm calf sheds. He's loving it, getting fabulously filthy and christening his new gumboots (that's Wellingtons or laarzen to you non-kiwis out there) by stomping in fresh cow pats.

A new update will arrive next time I have the time at an interent cafe. This is coming to you from the Hobbit Hole, a little place in Matamata (my home town) famous for being the location of the Hobbit villiage in the Lord Of The Rings triology. Many of the locals starred in the movie as extras and the town proudly displays an alternative nameboard as you enter: 'Welcome to Hobbitville'. Don't ya love it?