There and back again

November 9, 2010

Hola!  Did you miss me?  I’ve been to New Zealand and come back again.  I didn’t intend to be so silent for the last couple of weeks, but my parents don’t have internet access at home and this cramped my online style.  It was quite restful, though. 

I am so pleased that I went home, albeit for a very short trip.  My grandmother was delighted to see me and I visited her three times during the week or so that I was there.  She’s absolutely fantastic and I am lucky to have had her in my life thus far.

Speaking of fantastic: my family rocks.  It was SO nice to spend some time with them.  I stayed with my parents for most of the trip and although we didn’t get to have a vast amount of time together (Dad was travelling around the country with three Brazilians and Mum was pretty busy with work), the time that we did spend was good.  I also got to hang out with my sisters and my nieces, which was lovely.  We played a bit of Singstar and also a fantastic game called ‘Buzz’.  Does anybody know it?  It’s a TV/playstation music quiz and it’s great fun.  I got beaten at the last moment a couple of times by my sister, the dastardly Vickie.  Damn her and her fast reflexes.

We also visited my Auntie Jen and her lovely partner, Denise, on their cool lifestyle block and witnessed a calf being born!  It was the miracle of life in action, people.  Money can’t buy that kind of excitement.  I also got to hang out with my mother’s first cousin (which makes her my second cousin, I think), Janet – such a nice woman.  I had crashed her holiday somewhat, as she’d organised her trip out to visit Mum and Dad a while ago and I then turned up at the last minute, but it was cool to spend some time with her and it meant that Mum was able to crack on with some work, safe in the knowledge that Janet and I were pottering around.  Mum, Dad and Janet are off to Fiji later this week, the lucky sods.

Although my trip was so short and I spent most of it in my home town, I did manage to see quite a few friends.  My friends are awesome.  They’re the most low-maintenance people I know, never inclined to cause drama and always happy to see me.  My sister Pip and I went to Davey and Carla’s house for a BBQ and some rugby-watching on the first Saturday that I was in the country and it was great to chill out and shoot the breeze.  Davey is a legend and I’d consider him to be one of my best mates.  His friends are cool, too.

Towards the end of my trip (last Thursday, in fact), I headed down to Wellington and had dinner with Matty, who had moved back to NZ from London last year.  And I had a coffee and a catch-up with Amy, a friend of mine from way back.  And I had a cup of tea and another catch-up with Melissa, another old school friend.  And I sat in the sun with Davey and co, drinking beer and shooting the breeze.  And I watched a great fireworks display over Wellington Harbour on Guy Fawkes night. 

My last day in NZ was spent in Auckland, where the sun was shining and the world was looking good (I’ve discovered that I quite like Auckland, much to my surprise: all non-Aucklanders are raised to think that Auckland is pretty sucky, but it’s actually a nice city).  I spent the morning with Anthea, who used to range around the Manawatu countryside with me on horseback, causing mayhem.  We sat in the sun in her garden and watched her husband, the lovely Greg, assemble a new barbeque.  The afternoon was spent catching up with Anna, one of my dearest friends and the person that I would love to live next-door to!  She took me to the airport and we spent some time planning a brilliant long weekend in Melbourne – a trip that we will take whenever Tristan and I move back to NZ for good.

I also loved being at home, in general.  I just love that country.  The people are super-chilled, everybody is easy-going and friendly, the food is great, life moves at a nice pace – it’s great.  I am very happy to be living in the UK, but every time I travel home it reminds me that, in the long term, NZ is where I’m going to want to settle down.

I’ve got to rave about the service I received from Air New Zealand on this trip.  I’d decided to mention the circumstances of my trip when I checked it, which paid good dividends.  On the way out, they made sure that I got the window seat I’d requested and marked all my luggage as ‘priority’, which helped me to get my connecting flight from Auckland to Wellington without a hassle.  On the way back, the lovely check-in lady heard my tale of flying home for a very short trip and having to go straight back to work the day after getting back to the UK and did the best thing ever: she gave me my window seat and blocked off the two neighbouring seats, ensuring that I had three seats to myself for the first leg of my flight home.  This meant that I got around seven hours of sleep while flying from Auckland to Hong Kong, which is, I’m sure, the reason why I haven’t suffered from any jet lag.

I slept really well on the flight to NZ as well, come to think of it.  This is a first for me: at my height, a long period in an economy class seat usually means that I get no sleep at all.  The magic formula was: lots of high pressure work for a week before the trip, wearing me out; two double vodka and tonics at the airport; a glass of sparkling wine with dinner, on the plane; two Night Nurse capsules (a fantastic cold remedy that makes me super-drowsy); an inflatable neck support thing; an eye mask; and my own pillow on the flight.  In each of the two flights (London to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Auckland) I slept for at least five hours.  It really helped me to get to NZ without feeling like a zombie and meant that I didn’t waste any time there, being knackered.

By this stage of the day you may have realised that I’m in a fine, chipper mood.  As past blog entries have suggested, I have had a fairly hard, long, stressful year – and I was feeling sorry for myself and downtrodden for the first part of my trip home.  However, for various reasons (and after some good conversations with lovely family members and a telephone call with Tristan), I decided that enough was enough.  Sod being stressed out and miserable!  I’m over it.  Although I know that I have valid reasons for feeling that way at times, I’m afraid that it has become a bit of a lifestyle choice recently.  I refuse to accept that I don’t have any control over the way that I view the world, so I’m choosing to be positive and optimistic from now on.  I recognise that I may still have hard days, but I am DETERMINED to keep things in perspective and just get on with it.  Life’s too short, etc.  Yay!

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