New Zealand Travel Research – Traditional & More

New Zealand Travel Guides

For all of you who included New Zealand as a destination in our upcoming extended holiday … you were right!

Even though we have Round the World tickets, most of our time will be spent touring New Zealand. While I usually book flights myself, this was one instance where I saw the benefit in working with an agency to book the many flights we will be on while we are away for eight weeks.

John has handled all the arrangements, bless him for that … for most of my travel life, I have been the one to take charge of the big and small details and it is so different to relax and let someone else do it. Having been to New Zealand in 1996 for six weeks, John knows exactly what he is doing and how to get the best experience for the money.

I would never have known that buying Round the World tickets were the way to go since I associated the RTW expression with the mega wealthy who might go for six months at a time and stop in more countries than the four that our toes will touch down in while we are away. Remember when I said we would be in four countries, well … one was to throw you off a bit as we will only be refueling there during the 22 hour first leg of our journey.

We can hardly count Thailand as it will only be a quick stop, but we will spend a few days in Sydney, Australia before moving on to New Zealand. If you live in Sydney and want to meet for a cup of coffee or a bite of lunch let me know. We are staying near the Botanic Gardens while we are there, but plan to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing after we recover from our long flight. If you have any suggestions for places around Sydney that we should put on our ” Must See list ” please leave them in a comment below.

Some of you guessed correctly that America would be on our list as well. After about seven weeks in New Zealand, we will fly to Atlanta to spend Christmas week with my family. I am really looking forward to showing John what Christmas with my family is all about and it feels like the perfect way to end our trip.

Getting back to travel research, we have gone through guide books both old (from John’s 1996 trip) and new, The Rough Guide To New Zealand, but none of these have photographs that do proper justice to the beauty of the country we are going to see.

The slightly unorthodox ” travel guide ” below has done more to get me excited about what we will experience than all the words in the books above.

Billy Connolly’s World Tour Of New Zealand

Billy Connolly is a comedian who I find screamingly funny at times, but has such a potty mouth that some of you may find him offensive. I know a lot of comedians can get pretty tacky on stage and he tends to put me off a bit with his bad language and constant references to sex, but when he talks about New Zealand (off stage) and shows us places he visits during his ” Too Old To Die Young ” comedy tour he shows us his softer side which is my favorite. (Off topic: I also think he is a fine actor and I loved him in the role of John Brown in the movie, Mrs. Brown with Dame Judi Dench)

John ordered the New Zealand World Tour DVD set above and we have been watching it for the last few days. It is broken into series of eight shows that mix New Zealand travel with segments of his shows performed in towns on both North and South Island. The country looks as magnificent as I have heard and I cannot wait to get there.

I will as you might expect be blogging from the road so don’t be a stranger as I won’t be completely away.

If you are a reader who lives in New Zealand and would like to meet for coffee, just give me a shout through email (found on my “About Me” page at the top) and I will get in touch. Suggestions from readers about what not to miss are always welcome so feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below.

We still have a few days before we go, but the house is such a wreck in places that I feel a little overwhelmed. I don’t know if I feel more obliged to leave it spotless as our housesitters will be family or if strangers would make me feel the same need.

What about you … would you worry more about order and neatness with family or with folks you did not know well?


Doing Battle With A Demon

In a world where people are starving, I feel bad saying that I hate waking up feeling full. While I cannot say that I have a food addiction, I do reach for sugars and starches in much the way I imagine people with more deadly addictions begin.

I wonder sometimes if not being able to say no to another slice of cake or reaching for another scoop of ice cream when you promised yourself only a taste … I wonder if that is how it begins.

One moment it’s five extra pounds that make your clothes feel a bit tight and the next time you look up from the table you are carrying enough weight to feel it on your bones in a way that makes your joints hurt. You get out a breath faster when climbing a hill and you begin to understand why people call a developing tummy a spare tire.

You notice it mostly when you sit, but you know if this demon keeps gaining strength you will begin to feel it affecting other parts of your body. Your heart will suffer in physical ways that you have only read about and cannot imagine because until now heart pain has been about sadness and regret, not clogged arteries and heart disease.

It feels both extravagant and weak to say that I ate so much before bed that I know I will not be hungry until just before lunch. I also know that people who have bigger issues with weight than my little bit will likely think, ” What is she talking about? “

What am I talking about?

I know that late night snacking is a demon for me that has begun to spill over into my daytime eating so that any occasion can seem like a reason to indulge.

Some people will say just stop.

Stop eating they will say, but I know that I need to do more than just push back from the table or add more exercise to my day. I need to face down my enemy and call it out from where it lurks … waiting as it does to offer comfort in my weak moments in the form of a sweet flavored treat or a salty bag of chips.

Worse than a simple lack of self-control it feels like something bigger gnawing at me from the inside creating a deeper hunger that food cannot satisfy. It is a demon with no name yet … this hunger that has grown larger than my stomach can accommodate.


Taking To The Open Road With Jersey Girl

When the rain of the last few days eased up yesterday we finally had a chance to do some bike riding and scooting around the village before our visit with Jersey Girl was over. Our little houseguest went home early this morning and John and I will be taking the next few days to pack and get the house in top order for the folks that will be here while we are away.

Before I begin tossing the contents of the frig and emptying dresser drawers for our housesitters, I wanted to share a few pictures from our last day with JG and her mom.

Jersey Girl gave me a brief tutorial before we headed out with our scooters. The most important thing I learned was how to use the brake. I had not even realized these things had brakes, (I think I had the Fred Flintstone foot-dragging approach to stopping in mind) but once we were shooting down a hill I was glad I had mastered slowing down and stopping in the proper way.

Here you see us demonstrating how braking works. See our back feet pressing down on those metal flaps … it’s easy-peasy.

John caught us pausing on the path across the village green.

Earlier in the day we took a ride on the Camel Trail. We all got pretty muddy, but we were determined to have a bike ride together before JG and her mom had to go home.

This is the bridge that leads to the buttercup field and even though the buttercups are long gone for now it is still one of our favorite places to walk. John took this photograph of his daughter Rachel and his granddaughter, JG today. It is difficult to catch her when she’s not pulling a face as they say here.

While reading a book together last night, JG and I were discussing rather sadly how long it may be before we see each other again and together we came up with the bones of a story that may turn into something sweet.

Since it falls to me to write it, I may work on it during the first leg of our journey next week as we will be in the air for 22 hours with one short stop for refueling. (That’s a big hint for those of you still guessing about the trip we begin next month)

Reading A Kindle Book Without A Kindle

Today I made my first Kindle book purchase from Amazon. I always thought one needed a Kindle to buy books in this way, but after doing a bit of research this morning, I was able to download a book straight to my MacBook.

Intrigued by a post written by Suzanne Anderson who comments at GOTJ from time to time, I went in search of her book, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure which she talked about over at her place today.  She recently decided that self-publishing by way of Kindle was the quickest way to get her book in front of readers. It is an interesting possibility for many writers and one I had not considered until today.


Photo Courtesy Of Suzanne Anderson

I plan on doing some more of my own research, but I may be a bit slow in getting back to it as I will be busy reading Suzanne’s new book.

Big congrats to Suzanne and good luck on this new adventure. She will be talking more about self-publishing in the days to come and you can follow her discovery and progress here.


Becoming Part Of The History Of A Place

Jubilee Rock 200th Anniversary Celebration 2010

Yesterday we gathered with a group of seventy or so people to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Jubilee Rock.  A quote from an article written by Peter Davies in 2007 for a local paper talked a bit about why all the carvings were done on the massive stone and by whom.

” The massive 8 foot high granite boulder was said to have been carved by Lt. John Rogers to celebrate the 1810 golden jubilee of King George III. All is apparently original except for an 1897 addition for Victoria’s golden jubilee.  Detail includes Britannia, the Royal and Cornish coats of arms and those of local families, a plough, and two mason’s marks, a compass and square.”

While the 200th Anniversary is actually today, the celebration was held on Sunday to make it easier for more people to attend. Thanks to some local men, a careful restoration took away the lichen that was seriously obscuring many of the carvings and there was even a descendent of Lt John Rogers on hand to talk about his family ties to the area and to replace the special plaque the side of the rock.

Click To Enlarge (Jubilee Rock Plaque 1810-2010)

I took loads of photographs documenting many people standing and participating (singing) that I recognize from our village nearby and when a photographer for one of the local newspapers gathered everyone around afterward for a group photo and asked loudly, ” Is everyone in who wants to be in the photograph? “

I snapped off a couple of shots before deciding at the last minute that I wanted have a place in the local history of my new home and shouted out, ” Is it too late for me to be in the picture? ” I quickly took my place near my friend Tina on the other side of the flag of Cornwall, the black and white St Piran’s flag.

I don’t have copy of the photograph yet, but somewhere there is a picture with me with my neighbors standing round a special rock on Bodmin Moor in much the way locals from the area might have 200 years ago.


Attaching The Plaque Jubilee Rock 2010



Tina With Daughter Ella and Jersey Girl


Jubilee Rock 200th Anniversary Celebration 1810- 2010

Skating Not Scooting – Our Day At Eden Project

Two days ago I wrote this post where I talked about my plan to ride scooters with John’s granddaughter, Jersey Girl. We met her mom at the ferry last night and encountered so much traffic on the way back due to road construction that we were all late getting to bed.

Jersey Girl slept for a few hours during the drive home and seemed fine this morning, but John and I felt the fatigue of our long drive by mid-afternoon today. You would not have known it though to see us in action during our day out at Eden Project.

John started things off with a little hopscotch.

Sorry the hopscotch photos are a bit blurred. John and JG caught me by surprise and even though the image quality is not the best, they were too cute not to use.

We found the ice rink already in place for the winter and Jersey Girl was keen to have a go at it. John had never done any ice skating so guess who strapped on a pair of blades for a few trips around the rink.

This was only Jersey Girl’s second time on ice skates and she did very well. She fell a lot, but she always got right back up and was very determined that she would master the ice.

Before we hit the ice, we went to one of the Biomes and got friendly with a British Barn Owl named Richmond who was about fifteen according to his handler from The Screech Owl Sanctuary.


A last leap or two and we were done for the day. The house is quiet now and I am headed for bed. Tomorrow is another full day with Jersey Girl and I am hoping to get a bit of scooting in with some pictures to prove it.

Lesson One – Jersey Girl Talks About The Tooth Fairy


Tooth Fairy Talk

While I am always interested in learning new things, I did think that I had worked out all this tooth fairy business long ago until this morning when Jersey Girl gave me a lesson in what happens when one loses one’s teeth. It seems things are a bit different from what I was told many years ago and I am not sure how such misinformation was passed along to me, but let me share another viewpoint that was the topic of conversation over coffee and juice this morning.

According to Jersey Girl, each person has their very own personal tooth fairy who comes for your teeth while you sleep. If you are curious and have questions for them such as the name of your fairy or where they live, you can leave a note under your pillow next to the envelope holding your tooth and they will write the answers for you to read in the morning.

It turns out that Jersey Girl’s tooth fairy is named Tia while her friend Holly’s fairy goes by the name of Jemima. Annie is another friend who while she does not know her fairy’s name yet, she has been told by her fairy that she lives in the garden near Annie’s house. This name bit is all news to me and I was also surprised to find out that your personal fairy takes care of you and only you until you are no longer losing your teeth. After you have no more teeth to exchange they simply move on to someone new who happens to share your name.

After hearing this news, I wondered if perhaps my tooth fairy might have also been fairy to some more famous children named Elizabeth as in those who grew up to be known as Queen Elizabeth I and II. I wonder too if my fairy might have popped by to collect Elizabeth Taylor’s teeth or any of the women named Elizabeth who preceded me in my family.

One thing they do not have on Jersey (according to JG) or at least in her social circle are the small bags or tooth pouches that we have in the US to put teeth in for the overnight tooth collection and exchange. Armed with this bit of information, I suggested we make one during her visit.

I will be back with photos as our project unfolds and any tips you may have for making tooth fairy purses are certainly welcomed along with a link in the comments below.


Jersey Girl Returns To Cornwall With Her Buddy Boris

Jersey Girl With Boris The Bear

We are having a visitor this week with the arrival of John’s granddaughter from Jersey. She is crossing the channel by ferry today with her mother and will be with us for most of next week. You know how much fun we have when we get together and I do have a few things I am planning for her stay. While not as full on as the Pirate Party we had last time, I think we will manage to make a few more memories worth talking about when she goes back to school after the break.

Since she will be coming in a car, she will have her bike with her and I asked her mom to bring her scooter too. Back in 2009 when I was packing my things for the move from Atlanta to Cornwall, I found my daughter’s old Razor scooter stored in the attic and shipped it over thinking I might scoot with Jersey Girl one day. It is something I have looked forward to and should be interesting since I have never really used one before.

Warning: If you live in our village and are reading this now, you might want to give me wide berth if you see me coming down the road or perhaps help me up if you see me sprawled in it.

Round The World – Tickets For Two

We are pretty busy around here sorting out details for an eight week-long trip we have coming up. It involves two Round the World tickets, two backpacks, and two people with a passion for adventure. We will be in four countries during that time, but will spend most of it traveling in one country in particular. I am thrilled to bits to have an opportunity to go on such a lengthy journey with John and will be blogging about it as we go. Can you guess where we are headed … or do you need more clues?

As we will be gone for two months, we have been firming up house sitting details (my biggest worry) and are now just down to packing, cleaning, and prepping the house for the folks who will be watching over our home. It is never easy to have people in when you’re not, but at least our house sitters are family. After reading Donna Freedman’s post about house sitters yesterday, I hope that having family versus a friend of a friend as she has had in the past will make for a better return experience for us.

I am off now to read more of Carolyn Barnabo’s thirteen ‘Passion for Travel’ posts which have just the kind of information one needs when taking a trip like the one we have planned.

There will be loads of great photo opportunities over the next two months and if you feel like joining us on our travel adventure, be sure to stop by from time to time and see some of what we’ll be seeing.

My Experience With A Fearless Fox In London

You hear about urban foxes living in London and sometimes you see shocking news stories about fearless fox attacks like the one last June that went after twin girls who were sleeping in their beds. You may have seen video footage as I have like the one shown here, but despite all that it can be hard to imagine them roaming the London streets.

That changed for me last month when John and I spotted one after leaving my sister Margaret at her London hotel for the evening. We had just dropped her off after my day-long birthday celebration and were walking past a small hotel with cars parked in a partially open garage when I spotted the bold one you see on the roof of a car.

London Fox 2010

I took about 20 photographs while using the flash with little to no response from the fox.

We were standing on the sidewalk about 20 feet away and I was more nervous than the fox seemed to be.

In this shot you can see the fox just before he or she decides to move along.

After standing up and having a slow stretch, the fox walks down the front of the car and goes off through the garage in search of perhaps … a late night snack.

This photo taken the next morning shows the distance from the sidewalk to the car. While doing research for this post, I discovered an article citing a report released a few days ago that said in March of last year, 11 Penguins at the London Zoo had been killed by fox who had managed to get into their enclosure.

Before the attack on the twin girls last June, I would not have thought much about the possible danger of having them around, but I was reminded by the articles I read that they are still wild animals even if some of them like the one we encountered do not seem wild at a glance.