I have also attached the e mails that I have sent to date and listed them below.
If you want a synopsis because either:
a) you are far too busy to read the details of my life. Lets face it that is a valid reason - would use that one myself
b) Your boss is lurking and may see you on a "not applicable to work web site"
c) You read very s...........l...............o...........w........................ly
So here we are - left work with a knapsack of cash and headed off. First to France and Spain for a little climatisation of not working and getting used to the heat.
Then the big one. Canada, US, NZ, Oz and a fleeting (and fleeing) visit to South Africa. Great fun, lots of adventure , came back. Did you manage to get all that.
For everyone else the extended, unabridged, special edition version (with free poster and sticker collectables.)
The Land of the Elves 23 November 2003
Well it is that time again when Inky gets her fingers tapping with the latest from Inky and Hubs adventures! The first time live from the Southern Hemisphere!
Now at this point I was going to insert a little bit of Elvish in order to keep the mail topical with The Return of The King and being in New Zealand and all. Unfortunately when I searched on the web for some Elvish what I discovered actually scared me! There are people who belong to The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship who can teach you Elvish Writing and Pronunciation and can give you one to one tutorials!!!!Anyway as the eye of the dark lord may indeed have been watching I had to leave those web pages quickly!
7 weeks here in NZ and what a fabulous place. Honestly we have loved every minute of it, so much that we infact stole a couple of weeks from Oz (sorry Oz ) and added them to NZ.!
It is beautiful, laidback and with lots of activities to do there is no opportunity to get bored....and we have been activities a plenty!
Me, Townie of the year for the last five years, only known to be outdoors when waiting for a taxi has suddenly found myself in the land of Outdoor living!
I mean before you know it I will be wearing those zip off at the knee trousers and socks with my sandals!!
So here is what we have been doing.......
A few days in Auckland getting over the Jet Lag and Los Angeles we headed for Waiheke Isalnd for a spot of exploring . We travelled the island in jeep and kayak ..not at the same time.
First time Kayaking for us and great fun with our knowledgeable guide! He talked to us for hours about the history,the flora and fauna,the climate all really interesting stuff. In return we gave him a couple of good costume ideas for holloween party that evening so that was a fair exchange!
I know that people always grimace when the observation of " really friendly people" is made as it sounds so glib BUT it is true here in NZ. Some more friendly.... on Waiheke we were staying in a lodge which was run by Nurse Gladys Emmanuelle! She looked very disappointed that it was me who answered the door when brought us coffee one morning and she mentioned the communal spa bath a few times to Hubs! Had to keep an eye on them both!
Next stop was the Bay of Island for a spot of sailing! Decided that we would take a lesson and we had the inscrutable Sean! as our instructor! He must have been 20 at the most and had been living on a house boat for the last 2 years..not sure it had a bath!
He was fun in a quite unassuming way and peppered each sentence with 'Sweet', 'Sweet As'! Great lesson and an inspiration to us to take up some more sailing. Well so far we managed to buy the Ellen McArthur auto biography so thats a start! By the way if anyone wants to read and amazing and inspirational story you should read this book... never again will you complain that you have to stand in the drizzle waiting for number 10 bus!
Cape Reigna, the ninety Miles beach and the huge Sand Dunes in the far north of the Island are impressive and make for stunning photographs. Moreover sledging down those Sand dunes on a plastic sledge makes for hilarious photographs especially when one person (namely me!) has complete wipe out..twice! Hubs's style was more akin to Lawrence of Arabia..great fun!
The Waipo forest with its immense kauri trees was a perfect recovery spot from the Sand dune activities, although we were a bit like Hansel and Gretel leaving grains of sand as our trail where ever we walked!
Now the Lonely Planet is THE guide in NZ, every decent Backpacker has it and proudly displays it in each bar and restuarant that they visit (as listed in the Guide!) We already had a guide but felt pressurised to get the LP and it is excellent. However always one to get a bargain some how and I dont know how we ended up in a slightly seedy book shop ( I am being euphemistic) and haggling with a slightly seedy proprietor ( again I am being euphemistic) for a discounted LP that surely had not fallen far from the rear of a vehicle!!
I digress and Hubs keeps saying that people will not read it if I make this too long..so look sharp as there will be a test at the end!
So for us LP is a trustworthy relaible source apart from once when we drove for 5 hours and arrived, 8.00pm exhausted in Hamilton.
The LP says " Hamilton is not on the backpacker route and therefore finding accommodation is never a problem"
they should extend this sentence to say " Except for when there is a Jehovah Witness Convention in Town" An annual event and the whole town completely booked out...even the dorm beds at the YHA !! So another 2 hour drive to Waitomo was endured and finally a YHA bed for the night.
Next activity on the Outdoor agenda was Black Water Rafting... for the uninitiated (and sensible) among you this basically entails dressing up in a wet suit complete with hard hat and head torch, going down 200ft into a cave, wading through water, clambering over rocks and then with the aid of a rubber tube raft through the water!! Oh yes and its DARK!! At one point we had to jump off a rock over a waterfall clinging to your tube backwards and ITS DARK!! En route through this mini adventure apart from asking yourself why am I doing this for the umpteenth time you do get to see the glow worms ( oh so thats why we are doing this Hubs!)
A few days in the sulphur smelling volcanic town of Roturua! Lots of mud baths, hot springs and an all pervasive smell! Watching the Rugby in the local bar and noticing that the Aussie kit is exactly the same as my high school PE kit..bottle green shorts and yellow top ( I think my thighs looked like theirs as well!)
During the game met a couple who had just moved from the UK . I cannot remember their real names but their character fantasy names (once a year they actually role play, Dungeons&Dragons, in a forest near Hemel Hempstead) were Ebony Blackwood and Paris Dequillier and he spoke Elvish!
Wellington for a few days to catch up on the city life. Also had to get haircut as Wurzel impersonations were becoming my forte (For those too young or too intelligent to have seen this tv programme it is basically a Scarecrow that becomes human and starts dating a wooden doll. Their courtship consists of drinking tea and eating lots of cake ..mmm better than some courtships I ve experienced!)
So well groomed (!!) head to the South Island Ferry. Now what are the odds of this happening. The taxi driver taking us to the ferry ( have to say the only grumpy person I have come across in NZ)
was English, lived 2 miles from us in London and if this was not bad enouigh was an Arsenal supporter! So Hubs immediately starts talking in Football Langauge, whcih has its own accent and words unintelligable to me but Taxi driver understood. Well it made Hubs happy and made the driver smile so perhaps that is something positive !
After that Townie experience we were obliged to delve into another activity. The Abel Tasman is a stunning national park with golden beaches and emerald green seas. Many of it is only accessible by water..so thats what we did. Two days Kayaking trip with AN OVERNIGHT CAMP!!
We kayaked for about 5 hours with snack stops and lunch along the way and then it was time to "set up base camp" near the ocean sheltered by the trees with our kayaks pulled up from the ocean edge - It felt like Swallows amd Amazons! That was until we had to put the tent up !
Thank you Walter the Dutchman who took pity on our pathetic attempts and came to the rescue!
I was waiting for the person who puts a chocolate on your pillow and thought I saw him arrive but apparently he was the park ranger checking that everyone had paid their fees(You have to PAY for this ??)
It was amazing and when the sun rose and the dawn chorus wlecomed the next day it was incredible despite the fact that I did not sleep a wink and once I was in that tent there was no way I was leaving it until daylight!!
Shame really, especially when you have Walter the Dutchman who was in fact an Action Man, his wife was five months preganant and was getting in out or the tent with more agility (and grace I have to say) than me and then there was Tenko Kate the Aussie who probably ate baby kanagaroos for breakfast!!
Survived it and it was great fun and there has even been talk about tent buying, billy cans, guy ropes but hopefully that is just talk!
The South Island is just full of things to do and each town you get to a new challenge awaits.
Our next one was Franz Josef Glacier. You trek up and down the glacier for about 6 hours with a guide, ropes and a very useful ice axe!
The weather was so grey and misty that you could not see the glacier until you were on it and by that time it was too late!!
The guide, Barry, was a liitle assertive in his direction.." Come on you can do it, stand up straight, attack the ice, attack, use your axe ( Oh I will be using it in a minute Barry just you wait!)
So there we are 3000ft up on a sheet of ice, hanging on to a guide rope and I casually ask Barry what did he do before he took up glacier guiding (and taking my fragilel life in his hands.) " I was a despatch rider in Holloway North london" he replied. Oh good at least he will know how to use the radio to call emergency servcies when I plunge " was the thought that flashed through my mind..about 50 times!!
A few days respite in Akaroa which is a peaceful town set in a bay with a french influence. Sipping the local riesling waiting for the sun to set certainly beats waiting for the Northern line on a Friday night!
During our time here in the South Island we have been introduced to Tramping. Now I thought Tramping entailed wearing your skirt just a tad too short and slapping on the red lipnick! But no here it means you pull on the ugly shoes and head off into the hills for a day (or more)
We have been doing lots of this Tramping and it is great fun although some of the hills take it out of you. Walks up Mount John, Akoroa and the Rob Roy Track were challenging but we managed to get to the top ( well not Rob Roy - we had to admit defeat after climbing 2.5 hours 5000 feet we were exhausted quite embarrassing really when the oldies were skippng passed us - show offs!)
Have also discovered Scroggin. This is a high energy snack (mixed fruit,nuts and chocolate) that is consumed by climbers and trekkers when they are out there battling the elements walking for days and living in the bush! We eat it when we are walking to the coffee shop in town! (we are like those people who have a four wheel drive range rover to drive to Sainsburys!)
You would have thought that we had done enough by now, but no, we had to go and tame-the-Rangitata ( river name has to be pronounced in an outrageous kiwi accent for full effect!)
White water rafting down a grade 5 river ( goes from 1 - 6 apparently, 6 being commercially un raftable!!)
There was a group of burly blokes so I siddled up to them and made sure that Hubs and I were in their raft and away we went!!
I had a great strategy, paddles with precision and style when we were in the grade 2 and hold on for dear life when we hit the rapids!! It worked, well I didnt fall out but I did get a few bruises!.At one stage we all had the chance to jump off a 30ft rock into the river and then swim the rapids! I mean what kind of idiot would do that voluntarily...... Hubs!
So amidst all this activitiy there have been plenty of tanquil spots, with stunning views and spectacular scenery. Visiting places such as Doubtful Sound which are completely undeveloped and are the same today as they would have been when Cook sailed into the sound is quite incredible. Wanarka, Glenorchy, Pancake rocks, Trans Alpine train journey, Napier..the list is endless..like this e mail you may be thinking !
So I will finish goodbye for now, happy holidays and a wonderful 2004!!
ps Just one quick thought..... why is it that when all other radio sations fail you can always get COUNTRY and WESTERN and is that the cause of Road Rage!!!
Hello All... Inkyhere for her first update on the Bogus adventure... not sure where all the time goes But here on a sunny Sunday morning I have managed eventually to get fingers to key board!!
First stop was Vancouver...which infact should be renamed Starbuckouver as that Green logo is everywhere, on every corner and as a concession in any store! You cannot escape it!
After a couple nights of bland hotel we moved in to the YHA down town and down graded. Well we have the YHA cards and therefore felt obliged to use them...it is in a great location and there were a couple of Twirlies in the building so we did not feel tooo ancient! ( would have liked to seen them climbing in to the bunk beds!)
Great fun in Vancouver walking and cycling, fall was just starting so the weather and views were spectacular!
Next stop Whistler..on the Greyhound! Another first for us and I had to stop myself from burtsting into the Simon and Garfunkle sonng...okay I know it ws Pittsburgh but keep with me in the spirit of things!
Cliched I know this may sound but the people in British Columbia are so friendly. Walk down the street and you get 20 hellos, mornings,hi there before your reach your first traffic light!
Incidentally for those wondering Ned Flanders has left Springfield and his alive and well driving the greyhound to Whistler!
Whistler a little bit like a disney resort but with amazing views and backdrops. Cycling again here around the lakes which are incredible and on the valley trail. A little bit more taxing than riding around Stanley Park in Vancouver with big hills and such likes! I only fell off once and have to say that I was not impressed with Hubs response time to the incident. I am trapped under bike hollering and he turns around SLOWLY and I have to say there was a look of embarrassment rather than concern. The Milk Tray man has no worries his job is safe!
Next stop was VAncouver Island with a couple of days in Victoria. The highlight of which was Whale watching. Kitted out in Orange space suits we looked like that seen from Armageddon when Bruce Ben and Co walk out to their rocket... okay okay so we looked more like Lolipop traffic controllers but one can dream cant one? Anyway we were in this RIB (which I ascertained actually stands for really incredible bouncy!) Saw seals sea lions and a Mummy with baby humpback whale - magical!
Heading north we dicovered the Pacific Rim Rainforest up in Ucluelet anbd Torfino. Found these cabins to stay in built on stillts! This is an amzing area with great trails through the rainf forest and at the end a secluded beach awaits, with the pacific ocean and its incredible surf.
The only slightly disturbing thing is that as you go into the rainforest..all alone .. with nothing to protect you except your banana, cereal bar and bottle of water..there are signs everywhere alerting you to the fact that bears, cougars and wolves live in the forest and belive you me there was not going to be teddy bears picnic if they found you! We walked fast in the dark bits!
Continuing north we ended up at Capell River.. and another Cabin,. Now I guess I should confess here that if the word cabin is conjuring up images of rough hewn logs, dry land and Laura Ingalls flinging her bonnet and swearing revenge on Nellie Olsen .. not quite... this one was over looking a lake and had its own hot tub! We are trying to master this backpacking thing but we are not doing so well at the moment!
Long walks up to Elk falls - another great Photo opportunity. Although Hubs and I are like Jack Spratt and his missus when it comes to hiking. Hubs hates heights with sheer drops and I am okay going up but seem to get an uncontrollable run on when on the way down which can get messy....so I think that the next hoilday will have to be in Holland or East Anglia!
We caught the 24 hour ferry along the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert... this was superb you go through these really narrow waterways, the Granville passage and see fantastic scenery. AT one stage there were a school of porpoises or dolphins or something dancing along the boat next to us... move over David Attenborough!
A short flight to Seattle from Prince Rupert was uneventful, apart from when the air stewardess asked Hubs and I as we started pushing back.... "Oh we are leaving early is that normal?? Why are they doing that??" CAll me old fashioned but MY role on the flight (especially in a tiny plane) is to grip the arm rest and try and remember the hail mary NOT to confim the Flight path with the Stewardess!
After a few days getting more caffeine in Seattle and looking for Frasier we caught the Amtrak train to Sa Fran. Another 24 hour journey ..we are getting good at bedding down in chairs, floors and where ever we can. I think that the advertisers of the train should be investigated by Trade Descriptions. The brochure shows the train zooming in to the sun set with the passengers siipping a glass of fizz in the observation car... the reality is much more brutal. The Obs car is full of red necks chugging cans of bud and populating the air with colourful language..a woman strikes up a converstion with me which is going fine until she tells me that her Daughter was named after the girl in Doctor Who and the Guy.. Awsome Wells... sat next to us for 24 hours... everything was AWESOME .. from the reclining seat to the first train stop.... this was going to be long night!
San Fran to Los angeles was a great drive, stopping off at all those places that I thought were created for American Soap operas, Santa Barbera, Santa Cruz! Reading East of Eden ( fab book) as we drive through Salinas - getting my fix of culture!
Monterey Bay, Pebble Beach - which is beautiful coast line dotted with exclsuive golf clubs. You have to pay to drive along it... seems strange to pay for the privilege of seeing the privelged!
The Big Sur is just incredible.. we had a mixture of sun and mist so it was very dramatic. Lots of arty photos taken....so make sure you avoid us when we get back otherwise you may be subjcted to them!
Eventually arrived in Los Angeles, the land of the rich the famous and the lunatics!
Drove around Beverly Hills trying to star spot and I think that I saw Paltrow, Spears and Madonna.. but why they would be stood waiting for a bus all together I have no idea!
Saw the sign, walked the walk of shame and did all those wonderfully tacky touristy things! Our last bit of full on American culture before we head to the Southern Hemisphere.
Hola it is Inky fingers here with a brief update of life in the not so fast lane!
Existence here in Southern Spain is certainly challenging, like where to go for lunch today and what time to have the first Gin and Tonica!!
We had great plans of learning to windsurf and dive and cycle (well not actually learn to cycle but to learn not to fall off when a fast driving Spaniard ( for that read ALL Spanish drivers) whips past you! We thought lets go to Morocco and see the world!
Too hot to go to Africa... Judith Chalmers has no fear that I will taking her job just yet! and as for those activities, well the problem is that everyone else seems be so proficient, even down to the six year olds flinging themselves without fear or trepidation in to the frothing Surf (foolish foolish) that the thought of humiliating myself (and dont be polite we all know that it would be entertaining for the onlookers and embarrassing for me... and Hubs, he would be doing his gazing in to the distance as I fell for the 29th time full face full length on the surf board/dive whatchamacallit/bicycle seat) just seems too much effort when I can manage the humiliation thing quite easily without having to put on someones else wetsuit and have my body mercilessly beaten.
Hubs did do the windsurfing thing twice and it was funny to watch (of course I was the supporting Wifey, well done... good effort yak yak yak ) but after he had smashed in to the water for about the millionth time ones marital encouragement does begin to wane just a smidgen!
There was one time when suddenly as I had been reading my novel for about twenty minutes(told him I glanced away for a second) and not watching his antics..sorry prowess, suddenly I saw him smoothly sailing towards the shore zig zagging with the wind like a bird of the ocean and I began waving and yelling enthusiastically when I realised that he (Hubs) does not have blond hair, blue green eyes and no way could he still be standing on that bit of fibreglass...... but it would have been rude to stop waving and the Hubs doppleganger seemed to find it encouraging!
After seeing what fun the watersports could be we decided to try some body boarding. For the unitiated this involves waiting until the biggest wave is crashing towards you, flinging yourself on to something the size of an emery board and waiting to see if miraculously you end up flung on the shore with the words whale and beached on everyones lips. Now I know what I said about activities BUT this is fantastic. I am convinced that I like it so much because it needs no skill, apart form the ability not to drown you are in the hands of the gods so fling yourself and see what happens!
Sightseeing has been limited although we did go to Gibraltar ..TWICE...which is a bit like getting bit by an ugly dog one day and the going back the next and asking him to sink is fangs in to you again!
Now I am not saying that Gib, as the locals call it is sooo bad, but it is kind of a cross between a rough sea side town and blackpool ( with sunshine and without that scarey pant wetting rollercoaster ride!)
The reason for the double jeopardy visit was no other reason than... come on guess....... yup for those who know Hubs there can only be one reason!
Surreal experience one minute we are in the heart of Spanish life with Desayunos at 11.00, a calamares lunch at 4.00pm and then supper at 11.00pm with sangria flowing (apart from at Breakfast - come on we are not complete lushes) suddenly there you are with fish and chips, news of the world and the community shield......felt like I was in the twilight zone.
Have to point out here that while planning InkyandHubs Bogus adventure Hubs said and I quote " You know one of the best parts of this trip will be able to stop this football preoccupation nonsense (okay I may be paraphrasing but you get the spirit)
Now perhaps I missunderstood the essence of what he said BUT I think driving two hours into another country with passports and everything and finding a pub called the The Toon Army bar and sitting there glued for two hours indicates that preoocupation is alive and well!!
So this part of the adventure is coming to an end. Tomorrow we start the drive back along the west side of Spain stopping in Zefra,Salamanaca and Santander along the way. Then we have the 24 hour ferry crossing to look forward to..then two weeks in London sorting out ..you know "things that you need to do before you head off again for 6 months" This 9 week trip has been a great forerunner for the bigger trip, important things like "Inky you really dont need 67 pairs of knickers "and "that frock looks like one of your mothers whether in UK, France and Spain and other such character buliding attributes that I have no doubt gained!
Hubs and I set out again 20th September, first stop Vancouver!
Hola Espagna Monday, August 11, 2003
Well I think that we left you heading down to the Tarn for a week rest following the hike to end all hikes!! Well since then the adventures have continued although certainly less streneous!
Leaving France we headed in to Basque Country in Spain...... we did not realise what Francophiles we had in fact become although this is quickly emphasised when you start speaking your worst french in BASQUE COUNTRY!!! So we managed to chill in San Sebastian, surf in Biarritz (the intenet I meant) run with bulls in Pamplona ( well the bulls were there the week before us but I flashed my red petticoat ala Jenny Agutta and Hubs did his best horns on head and stamping of hooves!
Zaragoza was our next stop, vey spanish and plent of Tapas to see us though the day. Have to point out that during all these adventures the temperatures have been averaging around 40 - 48 degrees, did you know that you can sweet from your eyelashes and your earlobes????
We the headed down through Don Quixote country in our trust steed Rocinanate (ford mondeo without air conditioning!) Lost in La Mancha we were quite often as Sancho Panza here was doing the navigating (You know my navigational skills ,remember I was the gal who once said, 'I cannot find all these blue roads.....they were the grid lines of the map!!
So Panza eventually found her way to the windmills, the inn where he was knighted and the plains (miles of them)of La Mancha!!
Then it was time to hit the culture trail with more Cathedrals than Thora Hird under our belt! Cuenca, Toledo, Cordoba all interesting places in their own right and some quite stunning, medieval cities with winding streets( a challenge for the navigator and the Divorceometre!)
Now I have to break off here just to infom all those Folk out there that are wondering how we are doing on the Stars..well we eventually did our first Hostal experience, I would be pitcing it at ohh lets say a no star! We knew that it was going to be interesting when we were seranded by a local empersario and his large bottle of San Miguel!
Anyway I can say that we stayed slept and conquered goodbye Five star Jules welllllll.......
Now we have arrived at our location for the next four weeks here on the coast of Spain in Costa de luth, swimming pool, white sandy empty beaches and the ocean...... glad to see that 5* is back!!
This really is realxing with some local sights, swimmimg and reading on the agenda ......Hubs keeps mentioning those unprintable Obscenities....like windsurf lessons...biking and other such like...I just pretend that I am asleep.
So still 0 on the Divorceometre even with the navigation and the heat and the fact that the car has no cd player so we are listening to old tapes of my uncles (Queen we can cope with but Grandmas Feather bed was almost jettisoned just south of Toledo!)
Finally a disclaimer perhaps some of you dont like the communal mails and if you want to be moved from the circulation list let me know!!!
Inky fingers signing off , hoping all is well and heading back to the pool!!!
Frying in France July 2003
Hi there all......hope this finds you well and ready for the Summer!!
I hate these communal males sorry mails but we struggle to find internet access here in the Midi Pyrenees and wanted to say a quick hello!!
We have just finished a week of walking here in the Lot department of France- it has been an experience and convinced us that we are definitely townies!!
If I had know a week ago what I know now then spilling to cups of Cafe Latte on my new trekking trousers while still in Dover would have been the sign there and then that these legs should stick to walking Bond Street!!!
So we have been travelling from village to village with a back pack, factor 50 sun cream and a sense iof humour, needed when you arrive in what looks like a big village on a map at two in the afternoon with the sun beating down in temps of 30 - 35 degrees and no water.......that big village is infact a shed!!!
So we have befriended natives ( ie knocked on one old gals door begging for EAU EAU EAU) been chased by rabid looking dogs, infact hounded would be a better description!!! Scrambled over MOUNTAINS ( Hubs is trying to type HILL but believe me I know a mountain when I see one and I definitley know a mountain when I have had to haul my ass over it!!)
Then the piece de resistance and if there was any doubt that I was not made to be outdoor was the newly purchased swiss army knife ( THE accesssory every towny needs, mine has scissors for trimming nails and fringe, corkscrew and tweezers!!) fine until on first use I managed to slice my finger while slicing cheese for picnic.... very sharp those knives you know!!!
Despite all of this can say that this is an achingly beautiful part of the world, with wonderful panoramas, villages and the food is superb. After 20 KM walk, hot hot sun and the back packweighing you down the best feeling in the world.....a cold cold biere francçaise!!
Heading off tomorrow for a week of rest in a gyte near Toulouse then off to Spain!!
Monday, June 23, 2003 Au Revoir Paris Almost time, packers have been, sweated, packed,sweated some more and departed!
Have Appartment check out tomorrow ( like being in the Brownies again the amount of spit and shine required!)
Then we start the adventure.......well infact we go to Lilys and then Hillys in Warrington BUT after that we do start the adventure!! I mean why else would I have acquired a bag that sits on my back with chest fastners ( yup that is attractive as it sounds!) and wand pockets and just to convince those doubting Toms have also got my first pair of ugly shoes!!!!
So we will try and keep this up to date wil the trials and tribulations of Inky and Hubs - keep reading.