Find Me Where The Hobbits Are

If you ever find yourself in the Shire aka Matamata you have to pay a visit to Hobbiton. I have to say as a disclaimer – I am not the biggest lord of the rings/hobbit fan, however after a day at this magical place, I am a convert. It is a vision, a complete immersion into the world of Tolkien and a pleasure to behold. A beautiful story of family and opportunity combined with one of the most popular stories that spans generations.

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Take the tour, they are available in lots of languages so make sure you check out the website for the best option for you! It gives you all the inside information and lets you wonder around Bilbo’s stomping ground with knowledge of whose hairy footsteps you’re walking in. You can even stop off at the Green Dragon for a cheeky cider or spot of grub before heading through to the wonderful gift shop – which has one a guest book, I love these!

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When you are back at the starting point (the place where you buy your tickets) have an ice cream, genuinely the best ice cream I have ever had in my entire life! We went in October right at the start of the season and it was the perfect time to go, beautiful weather and the crowds weren’t to overwhelming!

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I would definitely recommend this place for your New Zealand bucket list. Its an awesome day out and like nothing I have ever experienced.

Enjoy Hobbits!

https://www.hobbitontours.com/en/ 

 

Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove

After heading out of Auckland our next stop was Hot Water Beach, we drove along the Coromandel and stopped to do some walking on the way. This stretch of driving is really beautiful definitely not one to miss if your road tripping around NZ.

Hot Water Beach is a pretty awesome place, a gorgeous beach in its own right with a sprinkle of geothermal magic. Take a spade (there’s a place to pick them up right near the entrance sign) and dig a hole when the tide is out and right before your eyes you have created your own unique bathing experience even the Romans would be jealous of!

We visited this part of NZ in the middle of October 2017 just as spring was kicking in. The beach was pretty much empty, looking at the pictures at the time of posting in mid Jan the beach is booming so consider this when planning your trip. We had much more space and freedom rather than being crowded by fellow bath seekers. Do be careful though as the water in some places can get very hot so keep your wits about you – there are also strong under currents and rips in the ocean here so probably not the best place to go for a swim.

After bath time we decided to go on a kayaking adventure around Cathedral Cove. We went with Cathedral Cove Kayaking and would highly recommend them, the guides were great fun and so knowledgeable of the areas cultural and geographical history. However, if your looking for a way to test a 4 month old relationship at the start of travelling, duo kayaking with a broken left pedal is the way to do it! However, we battled through and had an incredible afternoon seeing the sites of Cathedral Cove and the surrounding marine reserve. We even stopped for coffee and biscuits on the secluded beach, pure bliss!

We stayed at the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday park in a 6-bed dorm. The dorms were clean and comfortable with good showers in each block. There is an awesome little food shed that served up a mean fish and chips with salad for $10 a meal. We drank wine and got to know are fellow dorm mates.

After a few too many glasses of Wine most campers headed to bed, this was when my ever adventurous boyfriend decided it would be romantic to go down to the beach and look at the starts whilst in the hot water. I wasn’t a fan of this idea as it was a little rainy and windy, but he persisted, so on we went. The walk which seemed to only take about 10 minutes earlier that day felt like it took years. Luckily, for Phil, we did catch a glimpse of the elusive Kiwi bird in the wild – I jumped out of my skin thinking it was a rat! I begged Phil to turn around and eventually convinced him we were going to end up on the cover of a newspaper, headline reading “In Hot Water: The Tipsy Tourists Tragedy”. However, as we headed back a group of fellow Kiwi Experiencers had the same idea, so we joined torches and headed to the beach. The result was two guys getting their kit off and digging with their hands resulting in them mildly warm and the girls huddled together trying to hurry the process up!

I’m sure in the summer with the right tide this place is awesome at night. The stars where amazing even with the slight rain. While Phil was showering the sand off I managed to chill on top of a picnic table and take it all in!

Overall definitely one to add to the bucket list!

New Zealand Travel Guide: Auckland

It’s a miracle! I have finally got around to putting my thoughts into words, and words into sentences to make them into blog posts on the places we visited whilst travelling around New Zealand! hoorah! I have decided to do my version of a Travel Guide on each place, letting you know what I got up to and any must dos and must avoids (in my humble wayfaring rambles opinion).

Our NZ adventure began and ended in Auckland. We opted to travel around on the Kiwi Experience bus and I’ll be doing a separate post about the pros and cons of this method of travel.

Time frame: Its not the kind of place I would go for holiday but I would definitely allow at least 3 days (if you have the time) to explore all it has to offer.  It is the largest urban area in the country so if your looking for your picture postcard NZ pics you’re probably not going to find them here, but, what you will find is a cool city with a diverse population, awesome coffee shops, cafes and restaurants and a sprinkling of some pretty beautiful city scape views.

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Geography: So, Auckland is a major city in the North Island. It has a sailing obsessed population mostly due to its location set amongst two large harbours. One to the Pacific ocean and one to the Tasmanian Sea. New Zealand is known for being full of tectonic activity and Auckland isn’t an exception being on the site of a dormant volcanic field. We were there in October and December, so we straddled the start of the summer. NZ weather is definitely ever changing so prepare for everything.

What to do: It has a bustling main high street full of every kind of shop you could imagine from Chanel to those souvenir menageries that have I ❤ Auckland emblazoned on everything imaginable. Take half a day to mooch around get your caffeine fix, I am in love with the ‘Remedy Coffee’ it sits opposite a cross roads and is a great place for people watching, with exceptional coffee and bacon sandwiches.

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Grab some food from the awesome Elliot Stables just around the corner with every restaurant type you could imagine you will be sure to find something you fancy. Then wander down the side alley across the road and find the perfect place for after dinner desert and drinks.  Take a wander round and chill out on some bean bags or deck chairs, soaking up the atmosphere in the culture and art hub of the city around Aotea Square.

The Sky Tower, amazing panoramic views of the city, plus free wifi! I facetimed my family from the top and the reaction was priceless. Its $29.00 for an adult ticket and I would definitely say it’s worth the money.

Take a walk along the harbour, there is plenty of bars and cafes to keep you occupied. There are over 45 volcano cones you can walk around in Auckland, so if this is up your street take a look at some tours. There are also ferry’s to the nearby Waiheke Island for wine tasting and lazing galore, we didn’t have time to do this but it came highly recommended from an Auckland local.

Where did we stay:

Waldorf St Martins Hotel – Beautiful apartment suite, a little walk out of the main city but views out to sea. Everything you could need and one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in!

Queen Street Backpackers – Perfect hostel for saving money when backpacking. We stayed in an 8-bed dorm, it was light and airy, there was free wifi through out and a complimentary breakfast. Amazing location and cheap Beer, everyones a Winner!.

Columbia Apartments – Not an ideal location. Bad reception for both customer service and efficiency and expensive wifi that didn’t really work properly. Tiny rooms and we just didn’t feel overly comfortable in the dilapidated building. It was a little walk from the main city as well, I wouldn’t recommend it here. However, it was the cheapest way to get a double room.

It was the graduation ceremonies for lots of University of Auckland students and there was a real feel of community spirit watching them parade through Queen Street. I think it would be a great place to live and study, it’s difficult to find the magic of a city like Auckland in a short amount of time. Overall we enjoyed Auckland, it was more of a functional stop than a must see destination but I am glad we went.

Definitely go to Remedy though and sit in the window, coffee heaven! Did I mention the menus were inside old National Geographic *happy place*.

Half a World Away

I could never imagine I would be in the position I am in right now. I mean the literal position is extremely predictable, laptop, coffee shop, headphones in, intently checking my fantasy premier league team score. However, geographically I am on the other side of the world, 5 weeks into my newest adventure. It’s brilliant, terrifying, inspiring, romantic, ridiculous and exciting all at the same time. Its a risk, two fingers up to conformity, a hat tip to wanderlust and just beautifully unconventional.

I have always wanted to travel the world, I want to see everything, know everything, experience everything, its like the worst case of FOMO. Anyone who knows me will testify, no matter how big or small, I want to know whats going on and be included, like an excitable yet slightly irritating puppy.

I think my biggest fear in life is to not have lived it properly, I want to, for the good and the bad, have lived a life that is worth writing about. I want to have a real story. World changing brilliance and adventure isn’t too much to ask for… is it? Therefore when the opportunity to follow my heart to the other side of the world came knocking I jumped at the chance.

So, what happened to prompt this change of hemispheres? I met a boy. Classic, girl meets boys falls head over heels in love kinda tale. 6 weeks of dreamy Worcester dating later I decided to quit my job, booked a plane ticket and 2 days after my 24th Birthday travelled for 48 hours via 3 countries to meet him in Sydney Airport. Causal Tuesday right?

The boy. Without wanting to sound like the soppiest human alive, is the kind of person you dream about meeting. Someone who matches your competitive spirit, can make you feel special and that definitely isn’t horrible to look at. When the biggest downside they have is supporting Manchester United and can sometimes be too tidy you know your doing okay!

Thats where I have been. Exploring Australia and New Zealand and falling a little more in love everyday. Long may the days of chasing the sun continue!

My Words

I thought I would ease myself back in with a little explanation as to why I have been rather quiet recently…

Consistency has never been my strong point. I mean the last time I actually pressed the publish icon on one of my posts was the 4th February. Five months have been an gone, I have let myself get wrapped up in the day to day… eat, work, sleep, eat a little bit more, contemplate going to the gym, nap, drink, sleep, repeat (sound familiar?). There is magic in the mundane sometimes; I know that there have been times in my recent history that I have thrived on my relatively new found routine and structure. I have become more accepting of being settled and less resistant to the life I never thought I wanted. That meant that while I was getting caught up in the world of line marking paint (my job), and being mildly swept of my feet by a tall, handsome stranger my writing took a back seat.

I have still been noting things down, typing away when things get a little too much, squirrelling away ideas for a day when I felt it was important to let other people read them. I wish I could just write, edit and post but unfortunately I am very protective over the words I string together. My writing is a truer version of my thoughts, more than what I share in my average day to day conversation, it has more intention and focus. When I have a topic and I dedicate time to formulating sentences and paragraphs my feelings get wrapped up in the placement of an adjective or an attempt at being funny with a well-timed metaphor. It makes be vulnerable, it holds a mirror up to how i’m actually feeling in a way that effects me much more than anything else. It has become the easy option to hide it away just incase I get a bad reaction or someone I know reads it and sees me differently.

However, recently I have become less concerned about my protectionist stance regarding my words. 1. Life is too short to not strive for the things you love and pursue your passions. 2. I am lucky to be in a position to be able to outwardly express my thoughts on things, a right that isn’t freely available around the world. 3. I want to create worthwhile content that means something to someone and means something to me. 4. This is my corner of the internet, my space that gives me a voice in a millennial minefield, it doesn’t have to be perfect or cool or polished, it just has to be mine and something I am proud of.

So I will be writing, to you, for me, about nothing and about everything. Its my words explaining and telling my story, or the stories of a place, person or people. I think thats what I want the essence of wayfaring rambles to be.

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Late one Friday night, a 23 year old girl lay in her messy childhood bedroom, hair in a top knot, pyjamas on, typing away on a Mac book which due to its temperature should be condemned,  listening to True by Spandau Ballet partially fuelled by white wine. Painted the picture? I know it sounds like something out of a rarely watched, but cult teen rom-com. But this, at present, is me.

Why do I find it hard to write the next line… well Tony Hadley I will tell you why. No one ever really knows whats going to happen or why or how. So many things have happened this week to make me feel all different kinds of things and I need to get them out of my head. I’m not going to pretend this was an extensively planned piece of writing, but sometimes things can’t be ordered or justified they just need to be noted. Documented that on that day and at that time I felt that way. Or whatever tense that last sentence needed to be in to make sense.

I feel angry at the world and how cruel and unfair it can be, how where you are born even in 2017 can be a life or death sentence. How some people can be so blinded by greed and fear that they start to lose their humanity. How they can fundamentally lose sight of what it is that makes us different from them, we should care, we should help those in need, we should stand up in presence and in policy. We can not, and I will not, be crushed by people that have already lost their humanity, have lost what it is to value a human life. I am not going to fear living my life or doing what I feel is right or standing up for what I believe in. I want to be thoughtful, kind and make a difference to other people’s lives both now and in the future when the next generations inherit this planet.

Now if you have stayed with this post thus far I can imagine your thoughts have strayed to… ‘oh my, it started so light and is she really subtly dissing trump and terrorists whilst listening to an 80’s classic’ yes, yes I am. But in other less politically charged news, I felt happy this week about my progress at work and that me and my family are getting on so well. I felt proud of my friends doing good and making positive changes to their own lives and other peoples. I also felt a pang of heartache when seeing an old couple holding hands walking in a super market aisle and maybe just a little sigh at at the sight of heart shaped paraphernalia.

Human’s are strange things, we have this unavoidable nature to not be alone. It is not just romantically or physically alone but the feeling that comes with wondering if you are the only one to be feeling a certain way. It is at that point the millennials, just like me, take to the internet to highlight their profound thoughts… hola! I suppose that is part of the reason I write some self reflecting brain babble on the internet, it is a search, it is unapologetically outwardly looking for some form of confirmation that your part of something bigger.

Apart from this ‘alone but not alone’ ridiculous non problem promblemness I am actually enjoying being a single person at the moment. I am finding a new level of respect for myself. It isn’t that I didn’t respect myself before, but I was definitely disillusioned as to how someone should be treated and feel about themselves in a relationship. So although sometimes its nice to have the confirmation that your not the only one, sometimes being the only one for a while is beneficial for your heart in the long run.

I know, its like an page long stream of contradictory thoughts. It has been an emotionally odd week.

 

And now bed.

 

The Drive-in Dine in

I work in an office. I love food, it’s intrinsically linked to my mood. Lunch time brings me immeasurable happiness.

However in my current job there isn’t really a comfortable place to zone out for a bit and tuck into some grub, without the fear of disturbing someone else with my chewing or Duolingo practice. I’m not a fan of eating at my desk because then I don’t leave my little computer, post-it, desk bubble all day. I’m also known to be a little bit clumsy, and would probably end up spilling something on company property if I remained seated.

So my plan, I hop in my car, crank the tunes like it was 2001, and drive to the Morrison’s car park – adventurous. This is then the part where I sit in my car listen to the radio and tuck in to the delicacies that frequent my lunch box. Chia seed bar anyone?

Or, more recently, pop into the shop and get some chicken pieces and wedges from the friendly boys behind the counter – I am trying to cut down on my intake of wedges but they are so darn cheery, the boys not the wedges.

It occurred to me as I was singing to JP Cooper September Song marginally too loud in the portable lunch spot my car has become, that I can’t be the only one. That’s when I noticed it. I’m part of a cohort. A band of lonely lunch eaters. I glanced around the car park and spotted 6 other’s just like me. Munching on their lunch in the front seat.

Some common car-luncher themes –

  1. The accidental gaze, this is when you realise you have been staring out of the window at someone without even noticing. They are usually the first to notice. Awkward.
  2. The look of pure irritation when a pioneering piece of food breaks free and lands between the chair and the hand brake. Gahh.
  3. The gentle head bob or mouthing of the words to a song.
  4. The inevitable scrolling of social media to feel like your part of the world.
  5. The satisfied smile when you’ve finished the food then the slight disappointment that lunch is nearly over.

If you think about it, it’s a bit like being in a tank, the windscreen and the other windows. No joke, a woman with her family genuinely stopped and stared at me, like it was a one republic reunion, whilst I was trying to locate the spinach leaf that had fallen down my top. After it had taken me a while they walked away, but still shot a casual glance back a tad too often. The leaf was later found when exciting my vehicle.

Anywho, that was my thought of the day. If you are a car luncher I salute you, maybe park next to me sometime and we could form some sort of lunch club.

 

Wayfaring Rambles

Well what better way to start 2017 than getting back on track with my own little corner of the internet.

I may have epically failed last year when it came to consistency and clumsiness whilst on my biggest adventure, but this time it is different. I am motivated and maybe even slightly more grown up than before, slightly.

2016 was a defining year for me, I conquered personal fears, did things I never thought I would and well and truly got my heart broken. More stomped on… but broken will do.

2017 is about taking back my happiness. I want to use all the lessons and experience I learnt last year to make this one even better.

So this space, I want to document my thoughts and adventures, I want it to motivate me to make more memories and keep doing things that challenge me. The content is undefinable and random – rambling if you will.

When everything in my life seems to have become more ordered I want to meander around my ideas and see where it takes me.

I want to have a voice in a world when things can sometimes be overwhelming. I need a creative outlet with freedom and space, thus the rebirth of wayfaring rambles.

Let’s go for a wander…

Week 3: Happy Heart and Rough start

After a very early 4.30 am start I headed to the airport to catch my flight to Singapore for the night. My next major stop is Cambodia but the only flight available had an 18hour lay over in Singapore, this initially was an inconvenience but turned out to be a complete blessing.

My grandparents-friends-son, his wife and their children had moved to Singapore a few years back from London. This was amazing as I got to stay with them for a night and have a little home from home experience.

I had such a good evening, their children are adorable, the little boy Charlie melted my heart as soon as I met him! The girls were amazing too! It was a lovely night spent eating pizza and beans for tea (my idea of heaven) and chatting about life. Caroline and I had such an intelligent, inspiring and entertaining chat that lasted way into the night – It’s amazing how you can meet people for the first time and instantly feel comfortable. It just all made my heart happy! I’m so lucky I got to meet them and wish them so much luck with their big move to Sydney!

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After saying goodbye, it was time to go back to the airport. They sent me on my way with a packed lunch which was lovely, little bits of care like that when your a solo traveller make such a difference! Singapore airport is amazing, definitely the nicest I’ve been in so far. Next stop Phnom Penh.

I arrived into a the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh just after a storm so the heat wasn’t to unbearable. I met my new co-ordinator Hong and we took a tuk tuk ride to the guest house I would be staying in for the night.

Cambodia has such an interesting atmosphere. It feels young and industrial in some ways but then bustling and alive with culture. I had dinner at my hostel and it was incredible – I may even go as far to say the best noodles I’ve ever eaten! At one point I ended up helping the owners family pull a rope attached to a massage chair he had won at the bank, they were pulling it up three stories – it was all very surreal! I met some interns staying in the same place so it was nice to have some people to chat to after the social craziness of Sri Lanka.

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The next day it was time for a whistle stop tour of Phnom Penh, me and Hong went to the market, where I ate a tarantula! Then we went to an awesome view point and drove past the memorial statue for the previous King and the palace on the river. After this it was time to travel for about 45 minutes to my project at the orphanage.

My first impressions were that the place was beautiful, and the kids were really welcoming and friendly. I was shown around and then taken to my room above the office. There was one other girl here for the first night but then she was leaving – this is where some problems began.

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Before starting this project I was told that there would be at least 3 volunteers at the project with me for the duration of my 3 weeks in Cambodia. This is not the case. I would be here by myself. This was quite difficult as I had just come from a volunteer house of around 22 people to just being me in a room from Monday to Friday.

I decided to just take it in my stride and give it my best effort. I began planning some lessons and started teaching properly on the Tuesday. Teaching is so hard!! I have a mixed ability class of children from 4-14 so it proved quite a challenge.

I muddled through for the rest of the week but I did find the nights quite lonely. I am really enjoying travelling but when you get too much time by yourself the distance between you and your loved ones feels a lot more real.

I gave the children a test on Friday and it was awesome to see that they had actually taken in some of what I had taught. On the Friday afternoon I headed back into the city to have some well deserved social time!

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Me, Hebe, Elina and another volunteer who I have only ever called higher but I’m sure his actual name is different, went to an incredible rooftop bar for some cocktails and then into the night market for some more delicious noodles. Hebe and I were heading to Siam Reap for the weekend so we chilled at the guest house before getting our night bus at 11pm.

I can’t wait to write all about the weekend!

Again well done for finishing! if you got this far, I’m sending you an invisible high 5 of appreciation!