Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back In The Saddle Again

You may have been wondering where the hell I've been the past few weeks...but part of returning to Holland and starting up our 'normal' life again has included me going back to work. In an office. Behind a desk. With a computer that isn't beside a pool. What fun.

Actually it has been fun, I've really missed having colleagues to talk to and swapping jokes around the coffee machine. It's almost worth taking up smoking just to hang out with the group of regulars who huddle outside a few times a day and seem to be having a whale of a time. I've got my plant on my desk, my Cambodian silk hanging on the wall, and get to hang out with my bookclub all day, since almost all of them work here too! And would you believe it, I'm even going to get paid.

Also I've now got my own baby oops I mean magazine, which I haven't had since my brief stint as editor of Meat International a few years ago. I'm seriously considering putting Madam Editor on my business cards just to watch people's faces when they read it. For those who care, the magazine is Focus On Nuclear Power Generation, and isn't it kind of ironic that the new editor is the only person in the company who comes from New Zealand, the world's only official Nuclear Free Zone? Let's just say that I'm not expecting much fan mail from down that way. And no that's not my photo in the editorial section, that's my lovely boss.

Anyway, settling into the job, decorating my office, and figuring out which flavour of coffee contains the highest level of caffeine has all been extremely time consuming which is why I've neglected my blog. I will be more attentive in future, I promise. In the mean time if you're someone who does have time to kill, try clicking on the following link for a chuckle courtesy of YouTube. I've never had a flight attendent do for me what this guy does...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten

So here we are, all back in the same country at the same time, getting on with our ordinary lives again. New Zealand is already fading into the distant past, and it seems strange to think I was there just last week. As I was flying from Tauranga to Auckland, in a plane so small it was more like a flying taxi than a grown-up Jet Stream, I gazed out the window at the green ground rushing past below and wondered when I would be back again. The tidy suburbs of Tauranga, liberally sprinkled with swimming pools glistening like opals in the sun-drenched backyards, crowded around the bays and estuaries that make up the city boundaries before we swooped away over farmland and orchards. Orderly rows of kiwifruit - large commercial properties that export their furry brown vitamin bombs around the world and even as far as Lochem - bristled like a giants stubble, the orderly lines belying the tangle of vines at ground level.

It wasn't long before we left even those behind and the land became hilly then abruptly transformed into dense bush. It's never far away in New Zealand, where it's rare to be able to lift your eyes to the horizon without seeing a bush clad hill crouching in the distance. Kiwis have grown to love the abundance of wild country in the land but it wasn't always so. Settlers struggled with suffocatingly dense growth so different from the stately forests of their home lands that they must have felt they'd landed on the shores of another planet. Early farmers hacked and burned and tore the bush from the soil to plant their farms, while burgeoning towns slashed at the crowding natives trees and shrubs to build their houses and roads. One of our great artists, Colin McCahon, once described the New Zealand landscape as "a land with too few lovers".
Yet now, fortunately, the forests are preserved and vast tracts of national park ensure that the bush remains undisturbed today apart from hikers and hunters wanting to flex their muscles. As kids our Mum and Dad took us on day trips, hiking up mountains, to waterfalls, and through hilly ranges. Ask any New Zealander what the bush is like and they will be able to close their eyes and instantly be transported to a world of deep green light filtering through the dense canopy, cool damp undergrowth pressly lushly against the moss covered trunks of tree ferns, palms and massive podacarps rising to the light above, and hear the whistle and call of native birds.

No matter how far I travel, all it takes is a moment's reflection to be taken back there again, and that was a comforting thought as I sped away chased by the shadow of the plane far below.

Monday, March 02, 2009

What Time Zone Am I In...

One of the advantages of travel these days is that (some) airports are so much more convenient. I mean here I am, at Singapore's lovely Changi ariport, checking my emails and updating my blog for free, having just enjoyed an hour long massage followed by a hot shower. Mmmm, that hits the spot after a 12 hour flight from New Zealand, I can tell you.
And as I'm flying Singapore Airlines (who else?) I'm also benefitting from the new Terminal 3 which opened in October last year, if memory serves me correctly. It's all very flash and state of the art, and one of the best parts is that despite being enormous you don't have to walk for miles to reach your gate. Although the buiding is a couple of kms long the architects cleverly built an internal shuttle to transport passengers from one end to the other. Essentially it's an un-manned electric train which stops at each end (and perhaps half way along), and basically shoots through a glass tube which runs the length of the terminal, delivering you in fine shape to catch your flight. Very handy if you tend to get stuck in the shops, like me, necessitating a mad dash to the gate before your luggage gets evicted from the plane.
Also, the toilets have to be seen to be believed and would put many a posh hotel to shame; in fact I've even discreetly snapped a cuople of pics on my phone to prove my point, but I'll have to upload them later.
For now I need to find a quiet corner somewhere to catch a few zzzzz's; it's the equivalent of 4 am for me and I seriously need to sleep. Back soon!