Monday, 30 December 2013

Is there any felicity in the world superior to this?

Tea and books...I require nothing more for a day of holidaying. I'm very simple, aren't I? 
I spent my morning browsing through a bookshop and boutique shops as well as a teapot museum (yes, you read correctly, a museum of teapots and tea sets!). I had to restrain myself from buying up the entire bookshop as taking up residence in the teapot museum!! Instead I bought a few books (only 4!), came home and made myself a cup of tea and commenced reading. Yes, this is what school holidays were made for! Don't remind me that I have to start lesson planning and preparing for school anytime soon. I will hold on to my blissful ignorance of the date for now! In the meantime, any recommendations of books to read? If you recommend one to me, I will return the favour!!

(Aren't these teapots adorable?!)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

New Zealand 6 - ...of cabbages and kings...

Upon leaving Queenstown, we headed up towards Mt Cook and wended our way (don't you just love that phrase? I do) through some of the most beautiful scenery. Vividly blue glacial lakes, fields of vibrant purple, white, pink and blue lupins, sheep grazing peacefully in their paddocks and the occasional paddock of cows or deer. All this with the backdrop of snow capped mountains made for a very pleasant drive. 

We arrived at the hostel at Mt Cook and went for a walk to a good lookout point. Standing and looking up at the towering peaks sealed with snow I could not help but recall 'I lift mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help...' 

This brings us to the end as we spent one night at Rangitata-a little rafting lodge where we went for a walk and (of course) got lost and took the wrong track, but we retraced our steps, took another path, got lost again so went back to the lodge comforting ourselves with the fact that we had had some very beneficial exercise! 

And now, we are back at an airport ready to fly back to a place where the temperatures are at least ten degrees warmer than they are here!! It's been fun, made even more so by my travelling buddy, a 'certain little sister'- where will we go next? 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

New Zealand 5...of shoes and ships and sealing wax...

So much in so little time-I'm having trouble remembering everything we've seen!! Queenstown is beautiful with vast lakes, truly Remarkable mountains (they are called the Remarkables) and good walks. We did an hour long trek up to the Skyline which was a pretty heavy going walk for people who've been sittin on a bus for a week but the panoramic views were breathtaking and definitely worth it (however we did not walk down-we took the gondola!). 
We did a day trip out to Milford Sound today and did a short boat trip out on the Sound. It was very cold and it was overcast and quite rainy but luckily for us that means there are hundreds (no exaggeration!) of waterfalls coming off the mountains. We saw seals sunning themselves and went right out to the mouth of the Sound at the Tasman Sea. The sun finally came out for the long drive back to Queenstown and the rolling hills reflected the afternoon light. The long days are good value for travellers as you can pack so much more into a day when the sun doesn't set until almost 10pm! 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

New Zealand 4- talk of many things...

We went on a two hour horse treck yesterday afternoon in the Franz Joseph Glacier region and even though it was overcast, rainy and cold, we had a terrific time. You should have seen the grin on 'a certain little sister's face'!! We are a little sore today, but have no regrets!! It was a great way to experience the scenery and do something different. We are off to new destinations today with more adventures to come! 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

New Zealand 3- ...The time has come, the walrus said...

A tick on the bucket list was achieved with the TransAlpine train trip across the New Zealand Alps-the scenery truly was spectacularly breathtaking with plunging gorges, snow capped mountains and sparkling blue rivers with sweeping green plains to either side. For our stopover in Greymouth we stayed in a lovely little B&B owned by a lady named Mary who is a lovely grandmotherly sort who offers you tea and sits and chats. The house is full of interesting bits and pieces from her travels and she has plenty of stories to tell. Greymouth itself is quite small but there is some interesting history of coal and gold mining and shipping. you feel an earthquake when you are flying? Can you tell that one is happening? 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

New Zealand 2

Our first full day here was a day of sightseeing, mostly ducks, gardens and hills, but sightseeing nonetheless. We started off with a gondola ride just outside the city. The views were spectacular from the top and there were plenty of walking trails around to see things from a different vantage point. We then did a tourist tram through the city and then wandered around the botanic gardens. The amount of widespread destruction from the earthquakes is astonishing, this city is still a long way from being rebuilt and many of the beautiful old buildings like the cathedral are almost beyond repair. Our tour officially starts tomorrow so we will be off to new places in the morning. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

New Zealand 1

Can't think of a creative title for this series of blog posts, so this will have to do. Mostly a day of flying and airports today. I'd forgotten how organised I was, resulting in pleasant surprises of entertainment and meals on the plane already paid for! I'd completely forgotten that I had sorted that out when we had booked the flights earlier in the year! As always, I must look suspicious as I got pulled aside an my bags were swabbed-something like that always happens to me when I travel!! We arrived in Christchurch at 6pm to broad daylight and so went for a walk through the park and botanic gardens. It's still very light out at 8:30 which means we get extra time to explore...bargain! 

Friday, 13 December 2013

The final bell

There is nothing quite like driving out of the school gate on the last day of the school year. The teachers are running out of the gates faster than the students!
At this point, you know that you've done all you can, and anything you didn't manage to get done can wait. You can metaphorically shake the dust off your feet and as you drive through those gates, a weight slips off your shoulders and a sigh comes from somewhere deep inside you. The goodbyes are always sad, but you know people are going off on new adventures and your paths will cross again. And so ticks the wheel of time...

After my mere 2 years in the job, I'm feeling like a bit of an old hand at all this now...and as tired as I am now, I'm already excited for what next year holds and the new challenges it will bring. But, before all that, I need a holiday!

And on that note, the blog is turning back into a travel blog as the bags are packed and I'm off on a plane tomorrow morning (this time, taking 'a certain little sister' with me!) So watch this space for some travel posts!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Wending 'round the bends

I'm reading a childhood favourite of mine, 'Anne of Green Gables' at the moment. This is a series of novels that I've grown up different stages of life, I identify with Anne in different ways. As a little girl, I was captivated by her imagination, ironically, she became a teacher and so did I. She achieved a Bachelor of Arts in English, which just so happens to be my Bachelor of Arts major...The similarities don't stop there and I find that sometimes the characters in novels put into words exactly what I am struggling to articulate. This quote stood out to me in my reading today and perfectly expresses some of my current sentiments:

“When I left Queen's my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don't know what lies around the bend, but I am going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes - what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows - what new landscapes - what new beauties - what curves and hills and valleys farther on.”

Bends in the road are funny things. Life is not all that straightforward, as adulthood is teaching me. You never can be quite sure what lies around the bend...

Life and Monopoly

Do you ever feel that life is a bit like the game of Monopoly? You think you know where you are going and then all of a sudden, the dice rolls and you land somewhere you didn't intend to be. Maybe I'm to given to creating similes and metaphors for things instead of thinking them out practically, but what can I say, I'm an English teacher on the outside and a hopeless old-fashioned romantic on the inside.

When I play Monopoly I'm always the thimble piece: so the thimble is skipping along the board at a reasonable pace. Sometimes too quickly; other times not quickly enough. A few ups and downs, but these are minor and all is well, until, suddenly you land on Mayfair, Park Lane and pick up the 'Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200' all in the one round. Hold on. This wasn't part of the plan! My 'Go to jail' moment was a minor car accident I had, which resulted in writing off my car...and as you know, it can take a few rounds of being stuck in jail before you get out. But then, as suddenly as that happens, you get out of jail and the next thing you know, you've landed on the Community Chest square and picked up the card that says 'Bank Error in your favour'-the same week I wrote off my car, I received a letter from the Tax Office which surprisingly contained a error had been made with my tax return! Now I had to find a car to replace my old one. Now I'm on a good streak with the Monopoly Board, my cheque arrives from the insurance company and the payout, combined with my bonus tax return covers the cost of a new car. But good streaks don't last forever, and the very next week, the new car has a problem with the oil filter. So, onto the back of a trailer it goes for repairs (thankfully under warranty), but still...highly inconvenient. And then, as suddenly as it all happened, you go back to rolling the dice and moving around the board. And suddenly you realise how futile it all is, and that you really are just going around in circles and that it's all going too fast and you just want to I'm getting philosophical so I think I'd better stop before I get too carried away by the metaphor!

My last question is this though...what if I don't want to play anymore? How do I get out of the game? And what if I do get out of it and don't know what to do or how to do it? (Alright, I know, that was more than just one question-maths never was my strong suit!)