More New Zealand photos

I’ve been playing around with the theme and layout again. I’m a little happier with this however I couldn’t find one I liked that could fit my preferred header image in… I will ponder some more and maybe change it again in the next week or so.

I guess if I really wanted I could go all the way into custom themes but I don’t really want to at this point.

Anyhow, I decided to post another New Zealand photo

I swear there's a beautiful view from here.

I swear there’s a beautiful view from here.

I picked this one for a couple of reasons.

First, because the weather in NZ was a huge mix – plenty of beautiful weather (like the day we went to Edoras), gale force winds that brought down trees and powerlines around us (driving from Greymouth to Fox Glacier), and storms that dumped a few metres of snow on Tekapo while we were in the rain on the coast.

Second, because rain never stops us from enjoying our holidays.

This was the first day we had our hire car. We had spent a few days in Christchurch, and then took the Tranz Alpine train across to Greymouth. On the advice of the lady in the fish and chip shop who cooked wonderful veggie burgers for us, we drove up the coast to Pancake Rocks. The road was great – one of those windy coast roads through dramatic scenery where you have to keep stopping to take photos because everything is amazing.
It was dramatic and grey and raining and all meloncholy and it was awesome. I love rain. It makes me either energised, or all snug and content. Either way rain never makes me sad because I don’t let it stop me doing things. We walked all over Christchurch in the rain. In fact it made our city tour so much more personalised because nobody else ventured out into it. Same went for the coast. We booked a river tubing tour which took us down the river, into a cave filled with glow worms, and then tubing back out of the cave in the darkness again. We were the only people there and it was so much fun, AND it included a spa and a beer at the end so that was great.

Anyway we made it to Pancake rocks. They are odd columns of what looks like flat rocks stacked all together, and there’s a few blowholes there as well.
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It was pretty impressive. We were undecided if we wanted to go, especially because we were running out of sunlight, but we figured we were on holidays and we might as well go for the drive to check things out. My photos didn’t all turn out great because it was getting towards dark and it was already overcast, but the rock formations were fascinating.

So yes, it was raining, and yes it was kind of cold, but I’m so glad we did. Scenery often changes with the weather, and I’m glad we got to see the West Coast all wild and stormy.

Besides, how could I not enjoy it with Gary by my side?

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if you want more information about the pancake rocks and Punakaiki (where the rocks are), click here

Some photos, part 1.

There has been a pretty big delay, I know. However, here’s some of our holiday snaps. It’s hard to pick out my favorites, but I guess here’s some highlights. I’ve gone through my photos while in Kathmandu and the first couple of days trekking and picked out a few to share.

colourful dyes at market stalls, Kathmandu

steps through abandoned shrines at Pashupatinath,which is a holy site with a river running through it. This photo was taken behind the main area, with the shrines that are no longer used. The main area has much more going on, including cremations and funeral celebrations, and was crowded due to the day falling on a festival day in which people honoured their ancestors.

holy man, outside a small shrine. There’s a prayer wheel there with him, and people were inside playing music and singing.

Bodhnath Stupa, one of the largest buddhist shrines in the world. It’s pretty impressive, but it was also pretty crowded with tourists!

Another temple! This one was the monkey temple. We caught a taxi there and arrived just on dusk. It has a great view over the city, and plenty of monkeys running around. There was also a rather healthy and friendly looking dog who joined our party at the base of the steps and accompanied us most of the way up to the top.

family of water buffalo in a pool in the middle of the road. This was our first day of trekking.

houses along the way, on our first day of walking

We climbed a rock!
This was at our first lodge, at Syuali Bazar. The lodge was by the river, and so was this rock.

I loved this sign. Who counted the steps?

having the first tea for the day in Gandruk. this was the second lodge we stayed in, and the first realisation that we really were up in the mountains of Nepal.

after this warning at a teahouse (i.e. “buy our stuff because it’s the last you’ll get for 2 hours”), I was so amused I regularly referred to getting “sneckers for trekkers”.
as a side note, snickers when you’re trekking are amazing.

this is when we started to get into the harder stuff, above Tadapani (fourth day of walking). It was steep, with narrow paths, and I had a tendancy to get a bit dizzy if I looked around without stopping, just because of how much you have to concentrate on where you are walking.

So that’s some of my photos, which makes a good start. I’ll try and post some more tonight. There are way too many to post all of them, and about 50 million of the same mountain from different angles and light, but I’ll pick them out and see how I go!

We have returned.

We have returned from the heights of the Himalayas.

I loved our trip. We have many stories… I got quite sick (common cold) in a rather inconvenient place (camping 4,200 metres up and sleeping in -6 degrees C.) and our group changed its plans (I was not the only one who got sick).

Our guide was wonderful, as were our Sherpas and porters. Our change of itinerary only meant that we spent more time in rainforest and hotsprings, and a little less time freezing our butts off in the altitude. Having said that, we made it to our highest camping spot, and walked a little higher than that. We ate so much delicious food, including a celebration chicken curry for one of the festivals in the mountains (apart from that the trekking menu was all vegetarian as it is forbidden to kill animals in the mountians, apparently. Except for on festival days.)

We met many people. We saw amazing mountians and forests and landscapes. We gazed upon the deepest gorge in the world (allegedly) and the highest peaks. We walked paths known only to locals (and our tour group). We danced – even Gary. I gathered bruises as a television set gathers dust. We learnt the wisdom of merry taxi drivers. We rode ancient yaks through the mystical breath of the cloud, high above the realms of ordinary men… ok that part was a tad fanciful. And completely made up. We didn’t ride any Yaks. We did, however, watch them come home out of the fog, seeking shelter from the frosty night.

A (much more accurate) detailed account is in order, however I am much too tired for that now. I also need to go through my ridiculous amount of photos.

For the moment, here’s one of my favorites:

Yak and the mountains from Khopra ridge (3660 metres)

A trip to Bright…

It’s been a while since I last posted. Lately I haven’t had the energy for it – Work has been hectic and by the time I come home and try and tackle some housework I have neither the energy or the time.

But on the weekend just gone, I asked Gary if we could go away for the day. We settled on a drive up to Bright for lunch. Bright is about an hour, hour and a half from us and it is up towards the hills. I remember trips there with Dad when we were young to head up Mount Buffalo, as well as school trips to the area.

It was a beautiful day for a drive – crisp and clear and sunny.

We got a few glimpses of the snowfields in the distance along the way.

Snow! It’s far off but it’s there.

We caught the dregs of the market. Apparently it finishes up at lunchtime. But the plant stall we saw at the June Long weekend markets in Rutherglen were there, and Gary took the opportunity to update them on the berry plants we brought last time and he also brought some Lebanese Cress. I eyed off the Cardamom plant again, however I again wavered as I’m not sure where I’d put it. We keep running into these guys and they are a local business so once I work out where to put the Cardamom I can chase them up again.

Let me explain something important: I love eating fresh trout. It is delicious, and I take delight in the process of carefully getting the pieces of flesh off the bones. I savour every mouthful. So when I saw “fresh baked trout with Horseradish and dill cream” on the menu of a cafe, I knew where we were having lunch and what I was ordering.

Gary ordered it too. It was as delicious as I hoped. And the skin was super crispy, the salad was light and a perfect complement. The dill cream and the horseradish gave it the extra burst of flavour, and I loved it.

delicious, crispy skinned, perfectly cooked trout.

Gary wanted some juice with his meal, but couldn’t decide what combination of fruit to have. So he ordered “everything juice”, which was literally a bit of everything. It was quite nice.

this is what “everything” juice looks like

After Lunch we had a wander about and looked in a few shops. I brought a lovely little Owl tealight holder, which I may take a photo of later (if I remember). It was a really nice day and it was pleasant to wander about the town. Bright is a place for tourists, in all seasons, due to the access it has to the mountains. In the spring and summer there is a lot of bushwalking around, in Autumn it’s beautiful as there are many deciduous trees and Bright turns a beautiful burst of gold, orange, and red. In winter it’s a lovely place to be a base for the snowfields.

the centre of town

On the way back we swung by the walnut farm. There was nobody in the shop, but there was an Honesty Box, so we grabbed a mixed bag (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts), a bag of walnuts, and a bag of hazelnuts. We’ve been making our way through them slowly with a nutcracker and a bit of excitement. For me, food that takes a bit of process is always good. I think I get enjoyment out of the process of preparing food, whether it’s cracking nuts or peeling prawns or slow-roasting tomatoes.

We stopped by some cows…

they were confused as to why we were interrupting their grazing

…to take a photo of what we called “Titan’s Hill” because we imagined the rocks as a giant’s hand reaching up out of the hill. We decided a giant was buried under there and is forever trapped, reaching up towards freedom but never getting enough of a grip to free himself.

see the fingers reaching up?

All in all, it was a good day out with my wonderful boyfriend, driving through some beautiful scenery and eating some delicious trout. A lovely saturday indeed.

Hobart, Less Briefly.

So we got back Sunday from our hobart trip. Little Brother did well. Arrived thursday, had a house by friday, and a hockey team by saturday. As for me, I was a tad stuffed by the time we actually made it home.

Our trip started with a drive to Wallan Wednesday Night, to stay with a family friend. A wakeup at 5am and a drive into the airport parking place (thanks, GPS!) and checking in for our flights at 6:30am.

One hour and 10 minutes or so and we were off the plane in an airport that was TINY! Not sure why, but I kinda expected Hobart Airport to be bigger than Albury’s airport. Anyhow, we were met by a friend of Mum’s (whom we had never met before) Jenny and Mark offered to drive us around and show us the city layout, which we greatly accepted. After a short drive, with a few words of wisdom on getting around and a bit of orientation, Mark dropped us at the backpackers.

My initial thoughts: “It’s kind of dodgy, but the homely dodgy where it’s more funny than depressing”
My thoughts after meeting the Lady running the place: “This place rocks!”
Managed to check in early on account of it being winter and apparently nobody visits Hobart in winter so the hostel was pretty quiet.

Then the walking began.
And it did not stop until I sat on the couch back home sunday night.

All the walking!

There’s plenty to see in hobart, if you’re like me and despite knowing nothing about architecture, you like looking at old buildings and interesting things like that.

Also, I like churches

On Thursday we wandered over to Sandy Bay to look at a house for Dave. Sandy Bay is a half hour walk from the CBD, if you dont get distracted by giant blue slides.

Appeasing the child in me

Also distracting me was the beautiful autum leaves in the park:

makes me want to make a whole pile of leaves and just jump in it.

The house was beautiful, and complete with a Harry Potter Cupboard you can accidently get locked in, and a Creepy Room/half of the Attic which wasn’t turned into a room but is instead just walled off from the half that was made into a room and apparently it makes wierd noises and has spiders.

Still, the girl showing us through was really friendly and funny and nice so I think it will be a good place for the little bro man.

more wandering and a bit of shopping ensued. Dinner was fish down by the docks. Gary and I have a habit of devouring heaps of seafood when anywhere near the ocean. Sorry Wodonga, but your seafood just isn’t the same.

Friday was even more walking around. We planned to do the Hobart Sculpture walk (About an hour along the edge of the water, looking at a few numbers-based sculptures which are significant to Hobart.) We intended to begin it at 11.

We made it to the start at 3, having become distracted by a variety of shops along the way to where it starts in Salamanca.

Gary was distracted by the Faerie Bower.

By this time it was raining pretty solidly, so Gary brought a waterproof jacket and we continued on (Rain won’t stop us!!)

It’s fuzzy beacause of rain, not Ghosts.

After that we wandered about the village at Battery Point, planning to head back to the CBD and source Dinner. Instead, in the growing dark and the rain, we spotted a very inviting and warm looking cafe, and so we stopped for impromptu hot chocolates and cake. (and pies and savoury tarts for the boys)

Then back in, dinner, bed.

Saturday was market day, otherwise known as “Nicole Spends too Much Money But Doesn’t Care” day. Salamanca markets are pretty good. Like any market, there’s good stuff and rubbish, but the overall atmosphere was pretty awesome. Plus, there was a magician making balloon animals, and when he explained he was making a rare pink monkey to the crowd, some kid shouted out “Pink monkies dont exist! Thats a Balloon!”

apparently Dave likes Penguin hats

My haul: Blackberry port wine, Tomato and herb mustard, Beautiful merino yarn for a lace project I’m going to start shortly, A handcrafted metal Broch/Shawl pin, Tiny wooden teapot earrings, A convertible wrap/skirt/shawl/shrug/top…. thing, delicious custard donuts, and I’m sure there’s something else I can’t think of right now.

We spent pretty much all day there. Wandering back through the park we discovered a wall of gravestones. The park used to be the cemetary, and when it was changed to a park the gravestones were placed into a memorial wall sort of thing.

No ghosts here, either. Kinda disappointing.

After dinner we went off to the pub to have a drink with Dave. He’d left us at the markets while he went to play hockey with his new team, UTAS Div 5. Apparently the game was good, and they asked him back next week. Probably cos we breed ’em tough up here in the Hockey Albury Wodonga league, and he copped a shot to the guts and kept playing.

This was also random and odd. A wall that was erected… then re-erected later… in front of public toilets which have razor wire around the top. Not sure what the go was, but it was near our hostel and was kind of a landmark.

Gary is happy about the Toilet prison.

Our trip ended sunday morning, with Gary and I getting up and heading to the airport at 7am. A flight back to Melbourne, then into the city for a visit to the Queen Vic Markets. I brought a wonderful red scarf made of Hemp, and we wandered down Victoria street to Minotaur, where I purchased Book 7 of The Walking Dead and a Serenity comic. A quick trip across to the royal Mall and a visit to the delicious chocolate shop within. Then we walked all the way down to the South Melbourne Markets, where I had a “moment” because my feet were sore, I was tired, and cranky and we had to walk all the way back up to the Queen Vic markets.

I got over it though.

Long drive home, then sleeping!

Also, we saw this