Wednesday, 23 October 2013

11 days away...

All has been rather quiet on the blog front as we took a brief holiday to Kaikoura. Stopping in Wanaka and Christchurch on the way, I've been enjoying the life of a holiday maker.  Going fishing, long bus journeys, eating seafood and swimming with wild seals (my new favourite animal) has been my life these past eleven days.  Lots to tell but for now I'll leave you with this lazy seal and Kaikoura's amazing mountain range.

 My silence has also been a little longer than planned after my laptop decided to break.  The WiFi doesn't work anymore so I'm back to internet cafes and less frequent posts.

Now we're back in Queenstown for a few days, preparing all the bits and bobs before we head to the Milford track to start work.  I'm currently trying to shift my brain out of holiday mode and into working, but still my head is filled with seal pups and overland travel. Wish me luck!!!!

Friday, 4 October 2013

7 bloggers that are awesome

        *Picture from here

I love blogs and reading about the lives of strangers.  I'm kind of weird like that.  Although I read a variety of blogs, there is a pattern forming from the ones I really love. It seems I like blogs that are a personal journey, following the blogger's life and passions. Most are travel blogs but I just can't connect with ones that solely concentrate on tips and country counting. For me, I want to relate to the posts and be able to see how people are going about their adventures.  I'm a sucker for chronology  and how people's lives are evolving as they go about their business.

So without further a do, here are seven bloggers who have inspired me and been a bloody good read:

Rika at Cubicle Throwdown ditched the office cubicle in Canada for life on the Honduras island of Roatan.  There she lives the uber-cool life of a dive instructor, enjoying meet ups with  dolphins, hammer head sharks and the occasional whale shark  Rika does a great job on highlighting the realities of expat life on a small island, showing the good, the bad and the ugly.   Plus, she comes across as pretty great person.

Jill at Battered Suitcases has shared her experiences teaching in the middle east, traveling Australia for a year and now her current move to Morrocco.  Her posts are not only insightful but some really brilliant photography.  I especially love her 'From the hip' segments, which include some great spontaneous photos from around the world.

Scarlett at scarlet in wonderland. If there is any blog that was put on the world wide web to get people out of a bad mood, this would be it.  A life style blog for those who don't take themselves too seriously, Scarlett's narrative can make the most mundane activities hilarious.  The Liverpool lady is planning on heading to Oz next year and I cannot wait to read what happens...

Alli from Illustrated adventures spent last year travelling from Shanghai to Edinburgh by land. A gifted photographer, her posts through Eurasia are incredible.  Many of the locations and sights she documents I had never heard of but makes me want to go. Badly.

Jaime at Memoirs of a Pilgrim When I was in Australia, I came across Jaime's blog. At the time I was looking for other foreigners living in Oz, but even with her move back to the states I am addicted to her exceptional photography and glimpses of her adventures. I was especially envious of her job with a kayaking company.

Taru at the World Tour Stories is on one hell of a journey. Sailing the world with her partner Alex, the photographer/model captures her lifestyle, travels and passions.  After reading some posts I've had a google-fueled search binge on deckhand positions in the Caribbean that has lasted hours. This blog is probably the most 'professional' blog I follow, however don't let  the glossy photos fool you.  This blog often lets slip how living the dream also has is set backs - costly refits being just one.

Charlie at the Couch Potato Chronicles, is a very good friend of mine.  One of the best people you'll ever find.  She is one of the most well traveled people I've ever met and yet, her beautifully written posts haven't even got to the independent traveler extraordinaire yet, she is still chronicling the family holidays that scarred her for life and made her the sexy beast she is today.

So there you have it, seven blogger I want to thank.  Thank you for inspiring me not only to travel, write and take photos, but also to celebrate my life and adventures.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Changing the world; one cup at a time....

It's nothing new that as human beings, we are directly shaping the earth's landscape.  Our civilizations are built on it. In my home country, from the Salisbury plains to the mega city of London, mankind has constructed on, manipulated and taken from the land to benefit our lives and expand.

And expand we have.  At 7 billion strong the human race are a success story, living in a range of climates and terrains.  Where city populations were once kept in check by ruthless viruses and diseases, medical advances have enabled people to live long, happy lives.  But as our lives take us away from nature and rural lives, we think very little about where the clothes in our wardrobe, the water from our tap and the food on our plate comes from.  We think very little (if nothing at all) about the rubbish we put in the trash and where it goes. As the supermarket aisles are full of tuna, we don't question that over fishing is a problem.  In our modern lives, we don't necessarily think about the consequences of our actions.  We blame governments, multi-national companies and even entire countries.  Its easy to look at China and give them a 'tut,' but is anyone (at least those from a western society) free to judge?  

When I think of my own carbon foot print, I feel guilt.  During my travels, I have seen some of the world's most beautiful places; the great barrier reef and the coral gardens were amazing ecosystems that showed the frailty of nature in the hands of man.  I was so blessed to see wild dingoes mingle, koala's hangout, whales breech and sharks swim.  It hurts to know my lifestyle choices could mean that the ecosystems that support them could one day collapse.  

Like a lot of people out there, I want to start making baby steps to creating a more sustainable lifestyle.  However, when you are in the middle of 'travel' (although I have been based in Queenstown for seven months now!)  its difficult to find ways of not feeling like your killing the rain forest. My life is riddled with mass consumption and wastage.  I love to drink coffee/tea  thousands of miles from where it was grown.  Everything from the supermarket is packaged and the normal produce is so expensive, I don't dare look at the organic section.  It's obvious to say I love the internet too, I dread to think have much energy my internet searches burns.

I thought about shunning society and joining a commune. But my hair is not long enough and I'm scared the other hippies would laugh at me.  

I decided on a keep cup.  What a lot of people don't know is that the 'paper' cups you get in your local Barista are in fact coated with plastic and are quite difficult to recycle.  And the world gets through a lot.  If you have at least a few cappuccinos a week, think how many cups you've used  this year.  And that's just you, what about the billions of other caffeine addicts.  I've been trying to be strict with myself, only getting a take away if my keep cup is at hand.

So yeah, it feels a little naive to say 'I'm doing my bit.' because I'm not, but it's a start to better habits.

If there is anyone out there with any helpful tips on being a little more conscious of the environment while you travel, I'd really like to here.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The End of my Ski Season

Yesterday I worked my last shift up at Coronet Ski Field. Unfortunately, as I want to work the whole summer season on the Milford track, I must finish at the ski field a little early. Two weeks prior to the scheduled close. This is to do with my working holiday visa requirements, which I might bore you with one day.  And so, its farewell to a routine and lifestyle I've got used to.

For me, working a ski season has been a positive and eye opening experience.

Growing up in southern England, where you only get snow about twice a year,  local ski fields weren't setting up shop but hey, maybe in the next ice age.  Ski trips to Europe weren't exactly economically viable. I'm not dissing this, it was my parent's decision to have more than two children and as the youngest of four, my existence depended on this.  Bad luck older siblings, you could have been spending the spring holidays making tracks in the Alps, instead you got rainy days playing cards in Bued. Ha! Don't feel too sorry for them readers,  they once ganged up and mugged me but more on my repressed memories later. The point I’m trying to make is that growing up, I was never exposed to this sub culture and never thought it was something I'd come across.  But on hearing the stories and adventures of friends, working a ski season has been on my list of goals.

I came to Queenstown for this purpose and if my application for a ski field was unsuccessful, I'd just work in town and buy a lift pass.  From when I put in my job application in to when I got a call for an interview was a space of three months. I was so nervous about the interview, I knew how much I wanted this job.

Being part of the ski season, not only was it a great incentive to learn to snowboard (more on this later), it allowed me to work in a fantastic environment.  I will never go as far as saying I was happy to wake up in the morning and go to work.  I'm not a morning person and I'm never happy when the alarm goes off.  But as soon as I got on the bus to the mountain everything was good.  I enjoyed  the view as the sun transformed the landscape.  I enjoyed being surrounded by enthusiastic, cheerful people and a department I really loved.

Throughout my work and travel, I've experienced a lot of  employers, all with their own ideas on how to treat their workers and what they expect from them.  Coronet Peak has been one of the best.

Sometimes I don't think you know how you feel about a place until you leave.  On my last day, I wasn't itching to go but felt sad and reluctant to say any goodbyes.

What's the saying again? 'when one door closes another opens.'  By definition season work must end, but change is not always bad.

Thank you Coronet Peak and its staff for giving me a pretty amazing experience.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A job in the wilderness

With the seasons changing and our time in Queenstown coming to a close, I'm looking forward to our next adventure.  A couple of days ago, me and the man were offered jobs working in one of New Zealand's most remote and beautiful locations.  

For the summer season it looks like we'll be working as lodge attendants on the Milford Track. Only accessible via land on a 53.5 km walking track, it will mean weeks of living in the wilderness.  Back to a life of , generator power, rationed chocolate, thinking time and no internet or tv. This will have its challenges but also be an experience of a life time. It may also lead to me becoming a certified nerd and getting into bird watching. I am genuinely excited about this. That's the kind of person I've grown up to be. I've also been wanting some time away from it all, where I can work, save some money, focus on some hobbies and start thinking about my next move.  And dare I say it, I actually want to get some writing done.  Some dreadful 'creative writing;' that thing I've been blocking out since finishing uni. Perhaps I'll inflict it on the world again.

Working in the Australian outback and sailing on the Soren Larsen, I have an idea of how such isolating spots can affect you, but still I want to do it all again. 

 It will mean we'll only have a few weeks between leaving our apartment in Queenstown and then starting our training, so a  mega road trip will have to wait a while. However, two weeks will be enough to fit a few things in and have a proper 'holiday.' I feel all we've done since getting to New Zealand is work (except for out recent trip to Dunedin) and so a break would do us good.

Still, with a few weeks left on the ski fields and a couple more weeks after that in Queenstown.  I'll keep you posted on developments. x

* Picture via Pinterest here.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A trip to Dunedin

After 6 months in New Zealand, we finally spent a night out of Queenstown. After getting word that some friends would be in Dunedin, we booked two days off work, got a room in the city and bought bus tickets.
The adventure started with a morning panic to get ready but as soon as we sat down on the coach, everything was smooth sailing. In our four and a half hour journey, I was blown away by the countryside. From the orchards and the little farm houses, to the never ending fields of sheep, every thing  was so god damn cute. I've never seen grass so lush and vivacious in colour.
When we got to our destination, we were given the best time.  I put this down to three factors.

1. Friends.  Meeting up with great people wherever you are is always good. Unless its some where war torn, or sStoke-on-Trent. Catching up and then receiving some excellent kiwi hospitality was the icing on the cake. I especially appreciated the bacon and eggs cooked for us.

2. Our hotel. After searching  for a bargain deal, I was expecting Southern Cross to be a let down. It ended up exceeding them. For someone used to 5 star hotels this place wouldn't get them excited, but to me it was pure luxury. A proper bath, free hot beverages, flat screen TV and a bed so comfy I didn't want to leave.  And did I mention the bath robes. They had proper ones so you know this place was classy. 

3. The weather. I'm pretty sure Dunedin is not always so sunny. But for our two days in town the sun kept on shining. It made drinks in the sunshine all the more appealing.

We didn't spend our time rushing around Dunedin trying to see as much as possible. There was no hurry. We looked up at the fantastic architecture, visited the Chinese gardens and the settlers museum, which being a history geek I love that shit.  We were having such a great time, I hardly got my camera out.

When we took our bus back to Queenstown, I tried taking some blurry bus pictures of the countryside, but it just can't show how beautiful it is. Come visit and you'll see.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Spring is here. Oh no wait....

I looked out my window and thought 'This must be spring.'  The blossom trees were out, the birds were a singing and the sun was out in force.
To celebrate, I walked the Frankton trail. An easy walking trail next to the lake, this is the perfect lazy paced walk (no hills!).   With the help of my trusty headphones I got lost in imagining this place in summer and how awesome it would be. There is so much room next to the lake, everyone can have a space.

Daffodils? I mean come on - this is definitely spring right?   Apparently not. The next day it snowed. Although it didn't lay in town, the snowline came down pretty low.  My day dreams of swimming in the sun came to an abrupt halt, but I did head where Snow is not a problem.

So now you'll find me in limbo, wanting a warmer season and yet still begging for the white stuff.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Bluebird days

When a night's snowfall is followed by a sunny, bright day, the phrase 'bluebird day' is used.  It is the perfect conditions for skiing/riding. You get to enjoy the fresh powder without a lack of visibility or frostbite. For the last few days Coronet Peak Ski Field has been enjoying some great weather conditions.

  The day after the snowfall, my morning commute up the mountain was one of the most beautiful I've had so far.  With the sun coming up over the mountains, I couldn't help but feel this was going to be a good day.

    On my lunch break I even got to have a quick ride, taking in the view from the very top.

But  it wasn't until the following day I was free from work and able to make the most of a sunny riding day.

It has been a good week to be in Queenstown.

Monday, 19 August 2013

What I wish I wore Snowboarding...and the reality

Snowboarding Heaven

Snowboarding Heaven by dustysoles featuring a gray knit sweater

Hello I am still alive.  Thought I was dead? For a couple of days while I dealt with a nasty strain of man-flu, I thought that maybe this could happen.  Slightly over dramatic? True, but this is what happens when a mean head cold leads to loss of balance and vertigo.  It was a very strange time in my life that I hope never to repeat.

But sickness can only take a small portion of the blame as to why I've been posting a little less lately.  A while a go my other half bought a technological advance home called a DVD player.  This combined with $2 rentals down the road had led to me falling off the face of the planet. And although I kid myself that re-watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit is a cultural activity, my lazy bones  feel the shame.

I think it all came to a head this morning, when I began talking myself out of going up the mountain for a ride.  I then took a long hard look at myself; in my pajamas, watching day time TV and my laptop perched on the couch.  I left the house and hit the slopes. It was  a great day, where I finally over came my fear of the intermediate trails.

But now I'm back what have I got to say? As I spend more and more time on the ski fields of Queenstown what am I finding?  I am finding I am jealous, not just of peoples amazing riding skills but also their gear.  There is a variety of snow sports gear that is not only functional but looks pretty darn cool.  As the collage above indicates, I've been window shopping all the great things you could have when boarding; Boots so comfy they're like slippers, a board so multi-coloured you could see it a mile away and a jacket with so many pockets (not those stupid fake pockets on cheap coat but real pockets!) you don't know what you'll put in them.  If I did another season, this would be what I'd want.

Unfortunately, being a beginner and not having a lot of money, I had to be a little bit more open and forgiving to my snow sports gear. I also didn't have a lot of time to search for online deals. So here's a brief run down of my fantasy gear next to my reality.

1. The Boots.  I would of loved to have bought a new pair of comfy, water proof boots, but for a good pair you'll talking around $200nz.  My alternative option was to head to the salvation army and pick up some boots for the bargain price of $35. Already a little on the tatty side, I'm dubious whether they will get me to October. My verdict is; Great bargain but next time I won't be such a cheap scape.

2. The Board and bindings.  In lala land my board would be an artistic masterpiece easy to spot on a board rack. The bindings would keep my feet firmly attached and yet be easy to adjust. The price of a beautiful board starts in the hundreds and leads up and up.  Looking through the second hand options at a shop in town I had to settle for something that met the basics. I found a board that was the correct length for me and included the bindings.  For the bargain price of $200, I got my first board (plus bindings) and he is still serving me well.

3. The Jacket. This is the one thing that I didn't skimp on because I knew, even if I didn't take to snowboarding, it would make a great rain coat.  And so I bought my Roxy jacket, which is doing everything it said on the label.  At $300 its one of the most expensive pieces of clothing I've ever bought and totally worth it.

4. Ski pants.  Couldn't afford the $300+ ski pants in the shops here and went for the cheapest option i could find.  They try and fall down a lot but other then that they work fine.  Note to self; always wear a belt.

5. Goggles.  Got some secondhand for $40 but would love a fresh pair, just for me!!!

6.  Gloves.  Getting a pair with in built wrist guards would be helpful, but expensive. I went for cheap $30 gloves that were two sizes too big and wearing my wrist guards underneath.

7. The thermal and jumper. That sale at Kathmandu at the beginning of the season really came in handy.  Never under estimate the effectiveness of a good thermal. Never.

8. Head gear.  I didn't buy a helmet at the start of the season. This was due to the fact I was never going fast enough to do any damage.  Now this has changed and a helmet seems a good idea.  I'd also need to ditch my bobbled hat for a slim line beanie.

So there you have it. In summary there is a lot of gear out there that makes you look way cool and feel comfortable while out in the snow.  But even when your budget a little more constrictive you can still have the time of your life.  If I'd known I was going to commit to snowboarding for a winter, I would have bought some better boots but the rest would have been just fine.

Friday, 9 August 2013

An intermediate slope

Last week I spent one of my days off up at the Remarkables Ski Field in an attempt to practice my snowboarding and improve on linking turns.   When watching the crazy kids in the 'park,' an area put aside for kamikaze style jumps, backflips and tricks, I couldn't help but feel I needed to keep pushing myself.  I found myself sticking to what was safe and secure.

And then, enter a proposition.  An experienced snowboarder friend suggested going up one of the chair lifts, taking a ten minute hike and going to a beautiful look out point. My only concern was the blue 'intermediate' trail we would have to take on the way down.  I would be leaving a beginner friendly slope for the first time.

No question, the view was amazing, even with the cloud coverage, it still took my breathe away.

After enjoying the stunning view, it was time to ride down.  I prayed I wouldn't break anything.  Taking it nice and slow worked for the majority of the trail. However, unfortunately on one part you had to be going pretty fast down one hill to be able to get up the next.  I just wasn't going fast enough and had to un-clip and walk a little bit up the hill.  Other than that and a couple of tumbles, I made it. I had survived my first intermediate slope. I still have a long way to go before I can stop calling myself a beginner, but it feels good to be trying.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Doing the couples thing in Queenstown

Between the work, the snowboarding and watching Game of thrones, me and my lovely other half have been doing the couples thing in Queenstown.  As a backpacker town, Queenstown is definitely single’s friendly.  If you’re open to partying and living life to the full then this town is for you.  But what if you don’t fit into that category? What if you’re in a different place wanting to use your time on one person.  That’s not to mean that suddenly JUST because you’re in a couple you become boring and unsociable, unable to function without each other.  We both do things without the other. However, it has meant that I have someone else to think about and when we do get days off together (which is rare) I want to spend it with him. 

What if you are in a couple, wanting to spend more time together but also want to experience this town? When we lived in Sydney, our home was always working, so we had to leave. This would mean vacating to beaches and the botanical gardens in summer. But here there are no beaches and its winter.  As we aren’t exactly rolling in dosh, many of the extreme (and expensive) activities have been out of reach.  So far, Zim hasn’t been able to come out on the ski fields with me, which I hope to change in the next few weeks!  Here are some of my best couple memories since coming to Queenstown.

Miniature Golf:  I hadn’t played miniature golf in a very long time, like since childhood holidays and I’m in no way a golf enthusiast (sorry but it’s really not a sport).  But having a game with my Mr was the most fun I’d had in a long time. It didn’t even matter that I lost and had to get the next round of mulled cider. Being silly and totally pointless was just what I needed. On this day he also took me to a book fair. If that’s not love I don’t know what is.

Having some movie time:  When we first got to town, ‘Movie time’ involved watching films hunched over my laptop on a hostel bed. Living. The. Dream.
 As our finances improved we upgraded to the Cinema.  At one point we became quite the regulars, even getting a loyalty card. As we have both been working physical jobs (Zim’s more intense than mine) it felt great to be transported to another world for a few hours.  To make the most of our house and its T.V Zim bought a cheap DVD player and now we can rent movies for a reasonable price. When we have weeks between having a day off together, this has been a great thing to do in the evenings together.

Ice skating:  One of my favourite days with Zim…. and one of my most terrifying.  On a rainy day we took shelter in the ice skating rink.  I thought ‘this could be fun!’ But alas, as soon as my skates touched the ice I was taken over by absolute fear. Memories flooded back of my brother's arm in a cast.  I shuffled along and could only bear staying away from the side if I was being towed. I laughed like a mad woman, almost to hysterics. I’ve done a lot of things in my live and been scared for much of it. And yet, nothing compares to the pure fear I felt on that ice rink. Zim, typically, was gliding about like a natural.

I count this day as a great one for we got to drink great coffee next to an open fire in town and look at road trip brochures. We began discussing our next step in our New Zealand adventure.

Walking. Lots of walking:  From the hills and mountains to beside the lake, there is always somewhere scenic to take a stroll.  Up to Queens hill remains a favourite. It helps that everywhere has a great view in Queenstown.

Eating: We may not be able to eat out every week in fancy restaurants, but food has been an important factor to us spending time together.  Zim is a much better cook than me but we try to take it in turns.  As a treat we have eaten montrous pizzas (R.I.P fat badger pizzeria) and as mentioned before, the Sake Bar on Shotover street has been a great find. 

They may not be the most exciting, thrill seeking activities in Queenstown, but they have definitely been the funniest and exactly what I've needed. x

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Family time

For four days my sister, brother in law and little nephew were in town. Part of their epic road trip around New Zealand, I had been looking forward to their visit for months. This is the first time I'd had family come and visit me overseas and it felt good. Like most people out there, missing my family is a real challenge for me. In the digital era, Skype, emails and mobile phones, things are a lot easier than for those who traveled twenty years ago. But there is nothing like the real thing. I miss drinking tea with my mum, talking crap with my oldest friends and watching action flicks with my dad.  For a brief time I got to have some family time.

 Unfortunately I was working two out of the fours days they were here, but all in all, it worked out well.

Our activities in town had to accommodate a toddler, but I think we did pretty good.  For the first two nights they were in town we hung out playing cards, celebrated somebody's birthday dining on steaks and chatted about life.

Then at the weekend the fun continued.  On the Saturday we took an excursion to Wanaka, driving through the mountain pass.  I cannot tell you how great it felt to be in a car,watching the scenery roll by. Once in Wanaka we had some fun at 'puzzle world,' an attraction committed to illusions and er,  puzzles (bringing a toddler along did bring entertainment here - although the maze proved a bit too much).  After watching out over the lake, we headed to Arrowtown (my third visit!!!) which was covered in icicles.

Our Sunday, was spent at the Kiwi bird life park, which was a bit too expensive for my taste, but I did get to see my first Kiwi Bird which are a lot bigger than I had been led to believe.  Then in the evening, we had the family round for a roast and farewells.

Like all good things, our weekend had to come to an end. Thank you to my family, for spending a few precious days in Queenstown.

Friday, 19 July 2013

First time on a lift

Have finally done it. I've out grown the beginner's carpets and flown the nest.  All the way to the beginners slope.  The first hurdle was the lift; I'd never been on one and had no idea what to do. Enter my friend Bo, who very kindly held my girly hand and got me to the top. As we moved above the slopes and higher up the mountain all I could think was 'will my board fall off???' The fact that only one foot is strapped in and gravity is pulling the board down, I was paranoid it would break off, fall to the slope below and take out half a dozen skiers.

A fellow boarder enjoying the view.

And then getting off the bloody thing! That could have been a disaster. Thankfully I scooted off and at least left falling over when I was out of the chair's way.

Fell a view times on my way down but not as bad as I had imagined.

My introduction to the slopes had begun, but had to go on hold for a while. Because a few days later some very special people came to town. A.K.A my sister, my brother in law and a wee man I call my nephew.  Pictures from an amazing weekend to follow soon.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Turning left

I did it!!!! On my day off me and a friend went to Remarkables Ski area. With the help of a very generous individual, who gave up a few hours of their time, I learnt to turn left.  The Zoolander of snowboarding is dead.  Long live a season of  actually snowboarding.

Now... as the above picture demonstrates (don't you just love my pink pants) , what with the snow attached to my behind, falling over is still playing a large part of my learning.  But something has clicked in my brain and all that talk of heels, toes and upper-body turning has begun to make sense. I've begun to enjoy this icy sport.

Thank you to all those involved in this day - it was AMAZING!!!!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Above the clouds

Photo of the moment.  On the days I work, one of my favourite parts is the morning commute. Not for the ear popping or the alarm call, but because once you make your way up the mountain, the dawn view can be, quite frankly, breath taking.  This picture was taken on a typical morning (although the mornings were a little lighter a month a go) as I reached the mountain.  Strange to see a mist covering Queenstown, whilst up above, we enjoyed clear skies.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Becoming the Zoolander of Snowboarding

Bet none of you mother lovers knew I was an artistic genius?  I know what you're thinking; 'Why has she waited so long to share her drawing talents?'  Well, I've come out of retirement as the best way to show you what's going on with this whole learning to Snowboard escapade.

Pictures would of been more ideal, but as I
a) don't have a reliable little camera
b) have been mostly practicing alone
but above all
c)  am a little embarrassed at how ungraceful I am at this point on my board and therefore, I'm not desperate to get photographic evidence.

And so I took fifteen minutes out of my busy schedule to give you these diagrams.  As discussed in my first attempt at snowboarding,  I know how to do the following:

- Go down Straight
- Go down horizonal using my heels to control (diagram above)
- Go from side to side like so....

But where I'm finding difficulty is using my toes when facing backwards, so I can go down with my lead leg forward. I think I'm 'goofy' (right leg forward) but that could all change with playing about and practicing. This has led to me unable to 'Turn left.' When I explained this to my other half, his reply was 'What? like Zoolander?' Yes. I also have this disability, except on a board, not on the runway.  However, after my last practice I did in fact turn left!!!! But there was very little control and when I start to go too fast, I freak out and turn right as I know I can stop it.

And so the learning continues. Perhaps one day I'll be doing this....

Unfortunately, I need two things to keep learning; practice and someone to instruct, and right now lady luck is not smiling at me. It seems on my days off either the weather takes a nose dive or a willing 'instructor' (at the moment I can't afford to pay for private lessons and so am dependent on friends to come out and give me pointers) is not available.  Its becoming a long process but I'm determined to get there.

P.S: You'll be glad to hear I'm trying to sort out an exhibition at the Tate Modern. I'm pretty hopeful that my 'Stick woman' series will be awarded the $750,000 funding it requires.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Winterfest Fireworks

Queenstown's Winter Festival, a week long celebration kick starting the season, began with a bang.  Or the the plural 'bangs' is probably a better description.  On a Friday night the town was packed with families, locals and travellers a like, all there to eat, drink, watch live acts and above all, see some fireworks out on the water.  I made a lot of 'oooows' and 'arrrhhhhhs.'

There were also some kick-ass fire dancers in town to boot!

After hunting down a hot dog and soaking up the atmosphere (Read here; got a little impatient in the crowds - I didn't know NZ had them!) I ended the night in one of my Bars/Restaurants on town drinking hot sake.

I think the festival has been made a little extra special due to the recent fall of snow...

As one of my items on my Queenstown bucket list, attending the festival's opening was not a disappointment and I'm thrilled I got to see it.   Although due to work and on my days off, STILL attempting to learn to snow board, I may not see much else.  However, its great to see this town come alive at the darkest time of year.

Happy Winterfest everybody!!!!!!!!!

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