Tuesday, 4 July 2017

"The Antipodean Excursion" 1: Bangkok, Auckland, Devonport

My brother Simon and I have been planning to go to New Zealand for quite some time, possibly ever since The Lord of the Rings first seized our imagination some time around 2003/4. Peter Jackson's 6 Middle Earth films are notorious for boasting the spectacular New Zealand scenery as the backdrop to mythical creations and battles, and a whole industry has sprung up around Middle Earth 'tours', especially now Hobbiton, where Bilbo and Frodo Baggins live, is a permanent feature of the landscape near Matamata.

But in recent years we have had another motive: our uncle Steven lives near Palmerston North, towards the south of North Island, and while he's been over to Britain a few times in recent years neither Simon nor I had yet done the reverse trip, despite planning it or daydreaming of it on several occasions. And so it was that we decided to visit for definite in summer 2017: I've just finished my degree, and Simon is on his gap year between finishing school and starting at uni, so it's pretty perfect timing. The fact that it's winter over there rather than summer doesn't really perturb me (I'm a Nordic-Slavic soul at heart anyway, so I like winter; their winters have better weather than ours; it means things are cheaper because it's the tourism off-season). Anyway, here we are, it's July the 3rd, and what I'm calling our 'Antipodean Excursion' (because it sounds like a crap pulp thriller you'd find in an airport, and this amuses me. Most of my jokes amuse me and no one else, so this shouldn't be any different) has just begun. To all family, friends, and random strangers: you're very welcome to follow blog updates over the coming weeks - I'm envisaging about six such posts - if you want to know what we're getting up to (photos will be Google Image-y ones, not our own, because our own will be up on Facebook for those who want to see them).