Posts tagged ‘holiday’

I had a really good weekend.

When most people say that they had a great weekend you assume that there was boozing and whoring or maybe fun and adventure. At a pinch, relaxation and serenity.

I think we all know I’m not ‘most people’. Saturday I drove 222 miles. Sunday I drove 210 miles.

You’re now assuming that I drove From Barcelona to Monte Carlo in a 1960s open top sports car, with Matt Monroe in the passenger seat and a beautiful woman on the radio.

Yeah… that’s not what happened.

Saturday I drove the A14 and the M6 to Birmingham and then on Sunday I drove all the way to sunny Gatwick. With a trailer!

I need to explain a little… Some time ago I used to drive a Toyota Carina. It was a horrible thing. Slow and underpowered, but willing to go when poked with a pointy stick. Until it died. An engine comes in two parts – a bit that stays still and another bit that goes back and forth. The Carina died when some of the ‘staying still’ bit started moving and quite a bit of the moving back and forth bit stopped. It wasn’t pretty.

Anyway, at this point I fell unconditionally and helplessly in love with my brother’s car (that’s wasn’t the word you were expecting, was it?). So, I drove four hours from Cambridge to Blackburn to buy an identical one. A wonderful little car that isn’t desperately fast but which doesn’t need to slow down much for the corners.

My little silver car looks just like this but, well, silver...

Then, both my grandparents got ill so I bought a Skoda Octavia. Faster, but the kind of car where you have to slow down for corners. And that made it dull to me. Most upsettingly, my wife stole the little silver car.

So… on Saturday I went to Birmingham and bought a second Little Car – 80k miles, a beautifully tight engine and gearbox, and finished in the metalic green paint that I rather like. Yeah, I know… I’ve heard it before. Two people, three cars. Ah fuckit. I can only drive one at a time and the ‘sensible’ car I drive does 50mpg…

Anyway… Sunday I drove down to Gatwick and stuck GB, her mum, her sister and her sister’s bloke on a plane to Egypt. Which wasn’t actually the reason it was a good day, but it’s a good point to leave this post…

Fairly early on in our plans for New Zealand I decided that I wanted to go to New Plymouth. People I spoke to back here looked at the map and told me that I was a lunatic. People on the internet pointed at the volcanic bits in the middle of the island or the huge expanse of the south island, and told me I was a lunatic. But I was determined – I wanted to go to New Plymouth.

When we got to Auckland we spoke to a couple of people about our plans. Some expressed pleasant surprise that we weren’t blasting from Auckland to Wellington to go do big town stuff. Others told us it was one of the best things we could do.

I’m glad we went. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you ready for the next thrilling instalment of the SodiumLights whirlwind tour of Kiwiland…?

Day three and we’re leaving Auckland for the coastal town of New Plymouth. This news amuses some who tell us that no-one goes to New Plymouth…

For the sake of my sanity (I’m currently fighting a migraine that started while I was in New Zealand 4 weeks ago) we’ll break this into three parts. Each part is more exciting than the last. Well, each part has more photographs than the previous one. Read the rest of this entry »

First up, lets all just say “Woo! Isn’t that impressive!”.


View larger map

If, of course, you don’t think it’s impressive, don’t bother. I’ve already said “Woo!” enough times to make up for you unimpressed types.

Right, moving on…

For reasons most (all) would associate with masochism, we decided to go play in the traffic again. Specifically, since every country claims that its roads grind to a halt, we decided to go play in rush hour traffic. Read the rest of this entry »

So, I’ve largely recovered from the flight, and I have an OU textbook to avoid. What better time to start the holiday memories…?

We flew out from Birmingham International on Saturday night. We landed in Dubai Sunday morning, and took off two hours later for Brisbane. An hour layover and we’re on again, this time to Auckland. It’s nearly 30 hours later, we’ve had about 4 hours sleep and it’s now lunchtime Monday. The brain is no longer working.

Auckland Airport is a marvellous thing. Sure, Dubai terminal 3 is a magnificent structural phenomenon, with walls of glass and two Oases, but Auckland is full of Kiwis. Somehow it’s completely alien and completely at home. I mean, we step off the plane straight into an immigration queue – but it’s efficient. It’s like the twilight zone.

The various officials are happy too. Back in Australia the security staff all looked like they’d had exceptionally bad news and were waiting to take it out on someone (and later on in Birmingham we’d walk into a world full of automatons) but here the immigration guys joked with us about what we were doing. The biosecurity lass was even cooler – we ticked just about all the red boxes we could find on the biosecurity form (food, plant matter, hiking boots, animal contact, living on a farm, smuggling wood, liking Marmite) and she cheerfully worked down the list before telling us that we could go on our way. Read the rest of this entry »

I spent this morning *checks watch* yesterday morning in a Blue John mine.

I knew nothing about Blue John except that it’s only found in one valley in Derbyshire.

Except, that’s not entirely true. It’s like saying that a blue veiny cheese made in a Stilton style by a bloke in a shed in Somerset isn’t Stilton because it wasn’t made in the village of Stilton… Blue John is simply Fluorite that has been mined from one of the 15 recognised seems in the relevant valley of Derbyshire. An almost identical sample from a mine quarter of a mine away wouldn’t be Blue John purely because it was mined from the wrong valley.

A bowl mined from one valley might be worth £1000. The same bowl from a rock a valley over would be a tenth of that.

Somehow I’m not as impressed any more…