Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Mail from home

What a pleasant surprise awaited me after a long and boring day at work! Thank you mom for the most delicious and practical birthday present. Too bad I already brushed my teeth, will have to wait till tomorrow to sink my teeth into one of those crunchy snacks.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Thou shalt not bringeth a Spoon for Thy lunch. Thou shalt bringeth a Carrot

When you're old and sclerotic like me and your best friend's name is Alzheimer, you will often need to improvise. For example when you're in the middle of nowhere, it's lunchtime, you have a nice box full of rice and very small bits of vegetables, and you realize you didn't bring a spoon... In this post I'll show you how it's done.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Dehydration is a bitch

All this dehydration talk deserves a nice picture, don't it?
Robin Hood Bay.
I always knew it, but never got to experience it myself, until now. Dehydration sucks, so never stop drinking beer.

This week's weather has been exceptionally warm and after the recent freeze wave, I underestimated my water supplies, bringing only three small bottles (1,8 litres in total) to work. They were gone before lunchtime, which is when the sun really starts hitting. I also had no sunscreen. Bummer.

Plenty of water in here.
When we finally got home and I gulped a tank of water before even saying "water", it was too late; dehydration hit me with headache, dizziness and that dry-hot feeling on the face and ears you sometimes get in very hot and dry places (e.g. if you stick your head inside an oven). The unpleasantness eventually subsided, but it didn't go completely away until three days and a paracetamol pill later. It felt like getting the flu (lump in the throat, dizziness from high temperature and a headache creeping in the back of my head, threatening to come forward).

This was on Monday. On Tuesday I brought 3,8 litres of water to work and drank them to the last drop. Then I had several jugs of beer at the pub and a big mug of tea before bedtime. You don't wanna get dehydrated, never stop drinking beer (didn't I say that already?).

Sunday, 21 August 2011

I'm 30 and I'm flying!!! (updated)

Since Monday 8/8/11 my age no longer starts with number two. I have forever left the world of 20-something, and I'm officially in my thirties. That means no more round birthdays for the next ten years, hurray!

UPDATE: I've also uploaded some photos of the below event and a few extras from that day. Simply click on the pictures at the bottom.

Since this one's a bit special, I decided not to celebrate the usual "simply alcohol" way. Don't get me wrong - we did kill two bottles of tequila and half a keg of beer on Saturday, not to mention the winery tour involving wine tastings, but that was just for starters. Here's what I did on August 8th, 2011:

It was an absolutely amazing experience and if you asked me whether I would do it again, the answer would be a loud YES! As a matter of fact, I committed myself to doing it again before I leave New Zealand. Maybe for my next birthday...

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Linguistic concerns

It's been four months since I left the UK and it was one of the best decisions of my life. However, one thing worries me - my English. In London I was always exposed to good English through my job, which involved writing emails, translating stuff and being surrounded by colleagues with a feeling for language.

Friday, 19 August 2011

At the golf course

As I mentioned previously, we finished working and we're waiting till Monday to start wwoofing. There's actually been a slight change of plans (another fortnight of well paid work), but that doesn't change the fact that we're enjoying an amazingly lazy week. At least I am. The weather's not too bad, practically ideal to stay in bed from sunrise to sundown with my laptop. That said, this week's highlight was playing golf.

Click for more pictures.
Hitting the balls
Matt and Peter seem to have become keen on swinging golf clubs and Dominik and I joined them to try. While Dominik has picked it up quite well, I just confirmed what I already knew - I'm not a golf person. After several futile attempts to send the ball flying (let alone in the desired direction), resulting only in flying chunks of grass and soil (in every direction), I gave up and went for a walk.

The Noise of the Lambs
As the guys were trying to complete the 18-hole Wairau golf course with an astronomical handicap, I was busy taking about a million pictures of the surroundings - mountains and sheep. It's breeding season and the little lambs are so cute... and definitely not silent as in Silence of The Lambs. Their high-pitched baaing and the mothers' low-pitched one can be heard from a mile away.

Been there, done that, played golf
Despite throwing away twenty dollars for a few minutes of wannabe golf, I'm glad I tried. It's funny what sorts of things people do on their travels that wouldn't even remotely cross their minds back home. Golf is another activity I can put on my New Zealand been-there-done-that list, and I sure as hell know I needn't try this one again.

Speaking about activities, my sister reacted to my stunt plane piloting with this totally awesome and crazy video. Maybe I'll do that for my 40th birthday!

Wingsuit Basejumping - The Need 4 Speed: The Art of Flight from Phoenix Fly on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Vineyard work has ended. In great(ly wet) style

Hell's bells and frozen puddles,
those hills haven't seen snow for fifteen years.
The pruning season is coming to an end, our employer has ran out of work and today was our last day in the field. We actually stopped pruning a while ago and spent the last two weeks tidying up, lifting wires and nailing thousands of plastic clips (wire holders) on the posts. I still have both my thumbs, yeah!

We also did a bit of trimming and wrapping, but today was the end of it. Of course it wouldn't feel right to close this episode without finishing in great style, so I jumped into a tank fitted with a big flamethrower and went wild on the vineyard... in my dreams.

Cold, wet, frozen
No, really, after two months of mostly warm and sunny weather we got soaked to the bone today. Fingers went numb for the cold, puddles of water were actually inside the shoes, and when we finally got back to the hostel, driven only by the vision of a steaming hot shower, we found out that the boiler went bust and there's no warm water. Apparently the cold wave (snow even in Auckland, after 70 years!) made the evening news back home, but I bet nobody noticed a bunch of frozen backpackers unable to take a shower. Like I said, the pruning season ended in great style...

Anyway, we're glad it's over, after almost three months we're quite fed up with pruning. It's still a bit too early to start travelling around the country, so we've arranged some wwoofing (working for food and accommodation) with Mike (our supervisor) and are moving to his farm next week. I'd be lying if I said I don't look forward to the change of scenery. Hopefully his water boiler works properly.

Monday, 15 August 2011

All hell (a.k.a. Real Winter) breaks loose in New Zealand

Hailstorm. That's a no-go for bbqing in the garden...
Have I ever mentioned how awesome the weather is in Marlborough during winter? I'm sure I did. Many times. Sunshine, warmth, hardly any rain... at least until this week. This week we're finally experiencing real winter conditions, with snow and everything. It's kind of satisfying to see real winter in the middle of winter, but believe me when I say we'd gladly save ourselves this particular satisfaction... Fellow travellers in Auckland, Christchurch, Kaikoura and basically the rest of the country seem to feel the same.

Yesterday we went to our supervisor's place for a bbq and were greeted by a violent hailstorm. He was just showing us something in the garage when all hell broke loose and thousands of icy balls started crashing on the corrugated iron on the roof. This is what it must have been like in London during Nazi air raids in WW2.

Quite a moony morning this morning... Scary.
Today we woke up to into a Blenheim surrounded by completely white hills and swept by a freezing wind continuously picking up. By lunchtime it drove us out of the vineyard and straight into a safe haven (fast food) serving hot coffee. In the afternoon it subsided a bit, only to be replaced by a huge white cloud covering everything and everyone and dumping wet snow onto our miserable heads. That was too much even for the sturdiest snowmen among us and we called it a day.

According to the locals, it hadn't snowed in Blenheim for fifteen years. Aren't we lucky to be here just for the comeback!?

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Skiing (snowboarding, actually) for the first time!

Da crew. Click for more pictures.
That's right; up until yesterday I was a skiing virgin. I've actually seen a real snowboard for the first time in my life. What does it matter that I'm almost thirty years old - better late than never, right? Now that I'm back at the hostel, in my usual "computing" position (in bed, burrowed under two blankets with electric laptop heating), I can resume the events. The following text has been in fact written last night, but I was too tired and sore to finish it up.