I'm back again, this time with an update from The Bug, a wonderful little hostel in Nelson (R.I.P.), with fast free internet and some time spent sheltering from the rain in which to write this nonsense (actually it stopped raining as soon as I had finished writing this sentence, and it is now a couple of days later, but I will leave it in there for the sake of completeness).
I have also uploaded all my photos, so, for a gander at those, go to www.picasaweb.google.com/sidmouth5, www.picasaweb.google.com/sidmouth6 and www.picasaweb.google.com/sidmouth7. And now here goes with the blog part...
Tuesday 6th February 2006
We moved up the road to a different hostel, as there were various irritating things about the previous one (such as pushy-down taps which soaked your crotch every time you washed your hands or cleaned your teeth, and a severe lack of good pans/knives in the kitchen). And the new one had a swimming pool, which was a major plus.
In light of the swimming pool (heated!) and good weather, we spent most of the day lounging around it and swimming in it, which made a nice change after the unseasonable weather and prevalence of cold water around these islands. It's lovely to be able to swim for more than 10 minutes without losing all feeling in your extremities.
A good deal of the day was also spent cooking. My goodness how we've eaten/cooked whilst we've been travelling together. I think I have put on at least half a stone. They really like their meat and cheese, those Swedes! And potatoes. I'll mention no names, but this brought to mind a certain individual not too far from home. Although, to give them their dues, they were adventurous (desperate/hungry) enough to consume anything I offered up.
Mathias finds it hard to go for more than a day without meat of some description (even eggs and dairy aren't good enough substitutes for him!) so if my cooking failed to deliver on that front, it was ham for breakfast instead. I think I'll go back to a meat-free diet for while after I say goodbye to them... Still, it has been nice to profit from the good quality (and cheap) meat that New Zealand has to offer.
It had become progressively more humid during the day and by evening there were some torrential thundery downpours.
Wednesday 7th February 2007
In the morning we set off early to walk around the Kaikoura Peninsula. It was a misty murky start and had clearly rained more overnight. There was that nice post-thunderstorm freshness in the air (without being cold, though, which made a nice change). And luckily the cloud began to burn off as soon as we started walking. It just left some beautiful strands of vapour hanging around the mountainsides. Which meant that the views were gorgeous.
And the walk continued in that vein. It was absolutely beautiful. The white limestone reminded me of the Greek Islands, but there were loads of seals on the rocks and sheep in the fields (not very Greek, that). I especially liked the southern side of the peninsula and the little village/harbour over there. All with the Kaikoura Range as a backdrop. Lovely stuff.
We walked quite briskly (the Swedes and I have that in common) and so were able to get back in time for lunch. This was followed by an afternoon around the pool (more swimming in the warm water - looking forward to more of that in Oz). The weather was again kind as it stayed sunny until about 5pm, and then it clouded over and there were more thundery showers.
Thursday 8th February 2007
Last day with the Swedes today, so enjoyed their company before heading off on my lonesome...
We spent the day in a fairly relaxed manner, wandering around town, cooking lunch (stuffed jacket potatoes - a minor triumph, against the odds) and messing around in the pool. It was a funny day weatherwise, starting off wet, clearing up around lunchtime (hot and humid) and then raining again from late afternoon onwards. Still we have been quite lucky of late and have been glad of a heated pool that you can use in all weathers (I quite nice swimming in the rain)
I ended the day with a sauna, although it was a bit too hot, even for me (the thermometer said 80 degrees - can that be right?). Too long in there and I would have come out a spit-roast.
Friday 9th February 2007
Said goodbye to the Swedes (hopefully I'll be able to go and visit them in Sweden, or they can come and experience the delights of Sidmouth, parents willing[?!]) and got the bus up to Blenheim. The weather had cleared up again and was really warm. It was a beautiful bus ride, with the road sandwiched for the most part between the ocean and the mountains. Saw plenty of seals frolicking in the sea (there were hundreds of the blighters), various surfers enjoying the large swell (but probably not enjoying the freezing cold water) and vast fields of kelp swishing in the waves.
The mountains softened towards Blenheim, with vineyards starting to appear on the plains and the dried grass giving the unusual pointy hills a golden glow. There were also some bright pink salt lakes, which I was annoyed not to be able to get a photo of, as they looked stunning set against the gold grass and bright blue sky.
It was really warm on arrival in Blenheim (a Fohn wind, I reckon - excuse the lack of umlauts) and quite a sweaty trek to the hostel. "The Grapvine" seemed quite nice (I had a good spot for my tent in the garden). There was hardly anyone around so I was able to make lunch and do my washing in peace. I was very impressed with the presence of a grape vine, from which I was able to help myself to some lovely grapes (Gewurztraminer? They were almost spicy!), and lemon trees. More highlights of the free-food variety.
The hostel was beside the river and there was a nice walk alongside it from there into the town. It was market day (and the build-up to the Wine Marlborough Festival) so there was a nice bustle and generally pleasant atmosphere in the warm afternoon/evening sunshine.
Spent the evening chatting to various people from the hostel (most of whom are working on the vineyards), so was able to re-assure myself that even after spending a month travelling with the same people, it is always easy to meet new people in hostels...
Damn, someone else is waiting to use the computer, so I will have to leave it there for now. Hopefully I can come back later and finish this off before I need to get the bus over to Picton this afternoon. Otherwise, it may be a few days before I get back up-to-date.