Thursday, 13 December 2012

Warm & Windy in Wellington

It's not long now until we will be experiencing a proper upside-down Kiwi Christmas now we have arrived in New Zealand, which will be our home for the next few weeks, before we set off after the new year to visit friends in other parts of this marvellous country.
I did our last post on my little tablet and couldn't get all the Aussie pix I wanted on, so here are a few more.
Pat enjoys a paddle on Nobby's beach on the Gold Coast

Feeding the pelicans on the beach draws big crowds

Pat tries out Stu's pool

It will certainly be different to our traditional Christmas in the northern hemisphere, influenced, of course, by the temperature. It's the beginning of summer here, and although Christmas trees, santa hats and carols are very much in evidence, Santa is as likely to arrive carrying a surfboard with sunglasses on than on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, though I must say I noticed a number of cars with reindeer ears poking out on either side of their front windows while we were on the Gold Coast in Australia and a lot of the TV adverts feature snow falling in the background as they announce the huge savings they can offer, if you buy before Christmas.

And when I say upside down that goes for the Christmas colours too. The traditional green, red and white which we associate with the tree, Santa and snow are transposed here to the green of the grass, the red of the blooms on the  Pohutukawa tree, which Kiwis call their “Christmas Tree” and the white of their sandy beaches.

As we said in our last blog, written in the north of Tasmania, we were a bit underwhelmed with the island. I had spoken to a lot of people who had visited and really raved about its beauty, and there is no denying it is an attractive, lush island. Their annual rainfall and temperate climate see to that. But to call it “A World Apart”, is a bit of an exaggeration. It has some great beaches, but so do a lot of countries, and the terrain around Cradle Mountain, is very picturesque, but so is North Wales. Pat reckons we are now “over travelled”, and destinations we used to embrace have lost their “wow” factor for us. I am not sure that is completely true, but I was not unduly unhappy when we hopped on the plane for Sydney and then on to Auckland.
Our Tassy transport

Our base in Hobart

The only Tasmanian Devil we came across was at the Cascade Brewery

View looking towards The Bay Of Fires

The excellent bottle-conditioned Kentish Ale at "Seven Sheds"

Auckland is a city we have driven through a couple of times, from the airport, but never stopped to investigate so we decided to have a long weekend there, and I am glad we did, though our accommodation was not that great.

Apart from our first day, the weather was warm and sunny, and we took in as much of the city on foot as possible. Erica had recommended some nice beaches and on Sunday we caught a ferry over to Waiheke and had a lovely time exploring on the islands buses.
Auckland's downtown area from the harbour front

Onegeri beach on Waiheke

Now we are at Erica and James place on the outskirts of Wellington. They live in a new town house, that literally backs on to a park. The local professional cricket team, the Wellington Firebirds, have moved in, following a fire at their base in the city, so all week there has been the clatter of leather on willow and cries of “Owzat” reverberating around the park, which lies in a natural bowl, with steep hills on three sides and dense woodland behind us. It’s a very pleasant spot.
It’s early summer here and the weather has been quite hot for Wellington, but today (Friday), the winds that the city is famous far, have returned, and the clouds are scudding across the sky. We are baby sitting our nine-month granddaughter today and she is being as good as gold.
Livi helps her Grandpop to celebrate his birthday this week

Monday, 3 December 2012

Tanned in Tasmania

I am pleased to report that they are "Decking the halls" with Australian holly as I write from Tasmania, and earlier this morning I head Dean Martin pleading over a supermarkrt PA to "Let It Snow, Let it Snow". I think there is about as much chance of that happening round here at the moment as being bitten by one of those pesky Tasmanian Devils.
Anyway, all is well with Pat and yours truly. Our access to wi fi has been problematic over the last week or so. So this will be a short blog. Record summer temperatures have followed us from the Gold Coast in Queensland, down to Melbourne and south to Tasmania, though today has been decidedly cooler.
We had three days in Hobart and we are currently in the north of the island in  Swiss mountain resort. Think Port Merian and "The Prisoner " and youll get the idea.
We both like Australia. Whats not to like, and its been great to catch up with old friends and family as we have travelled south. Everything is so expensive though, thanks to our pound being weak against the Aussie dollar .
We like Tasmania, but think its a bit overrated. They have some stunning coastlines but no better than in New Zealand and their food and wines are good but not great.
In some respects its very much like being at home. They are as paranoid about their weather as we are. there are fears about mass immigration - electricity prices are out of control - unemployment is rising - retail sales are stagnant - and nobody has  good word to say about their prime minister.
Pat gets spiritual in a wat in Chaing Mai

My oldest pal Stu, Nikki, and us on the Gold Coast
New Zealand next week.