My silence on Social Media about political issues is slowly coming to an end and I’m cranking up the volume. For some months now I’ve been getting tired of the barrage of topics that people are taking  issue with and then re-posting or adding their un educational response.

I say un educational as I mean a lot of people jump on the headline and don’t bother to read into the story. Take fox-hunting – the bill was to bring the English law in line with the Scottish while I’m not for fox-hunting the act that was to be discussed wasn’t not to start allowing dogs to tear foxes apart as many FB campaigners would have you believe with their cute fox picture. I have many foxes in my back garden and they are anything but cute looking.  Take the constant campaigns  with the NHS and education and other topics. Yes the NHS need saving but at what cost… Should it continue to pay for everything, it never use to and was never designed for that purpose (It was a right to free health care) hence why we now have different trusts offering different care and drugs. I personally see no harm in having GPs like Dentists where we contribute, our society is all about those who can afford should pay well why don’t we.

Anyway those are different debates for different days. The main topic is the BBC. There has been talk about the Government and the BBC. I’m not sure of the In’s and Outs and here I am jumping on the band wagon without all the facts, but if the BBC was to go or have to change to just educate then that would be wrong. What is even worse is the objection by people on the fact they have to pay the BBC £160 a year for services they claim they don’t use. Meanwhile they will pay Virgin or SKY £40 a month for half the content. I don’t mean  what is broadcast I mean the value of the quality.

People know I am a big Radio 4 fan and love the comedy, I also love BBC4 and its educational shows, BBC with the news, and BBC2 with it comedy and social look on life, Radio 2 for Music, Radio 3 for.. whatever Radio 3 does. Now all that for £160 a year, that’s a bargain but wait you can watch it again, listen to it again get a great News website which also acts as a good source to gather information and research and then their twitter pages that keeps you up to date well now this is getting even better value. But wait there is more… You mean they contribute to Chanel 4; but C4 is commercial it funds itself doesn’t it like ITV, but ITV receives money from the BBC and what is that for… Oh for regional news and so does region radio stations. So let’s get this correct. Apart from region BBC stations the BBC also contributes to the cost of commercial region radio station and news programs on TV.

Yes that £160 goes a long way, but in no way does it fund the entire BBC – in fact the BBC does have a commercial arm – So why don’t they use that to run it and not send people to court for failure to pay the licence fee.Well they use that £160 to make shows like Eastenders, Faulty Towers, Dr Who which they then sell and pump the money back in to make the News, Question Time. Lets not forget the BBC is our national Broadcaster. They have a responsibility to broadcast the subjects that the Nation should have a right to view. Like Politics, opening of Parliament, Horse Guard Parade. Which Commercial operation is going to show that – The BBC should own the rights to Nation interests like World Cup, Olympics, The Ashes, Queens Birthday, Remembrance Sunday – and with the many they do but thanks to the money stealing prick of an Australian who out bids the BBC the national Broadcaster looses the rights to broadcast events that as a nation we should have the right to watch.

I will admit. The BBC needs to tighten their belts, I wouldn’t say they need to stop with the glamour shows and leave those to Commercial Telly as after all the founding Father of the Beeb said it was to Educate, Inform and Entertain. Anyone who thinks the BBC is a rip off or should change then I challenge you to not watch it or use the website or Iplayer or not listen to the radio or watch Chanel 4 or even use super fast broadband as the BBC funds that as well, as well as Freeview.

Yes the BBC needs to change but let them decide how. For now the BBC is the best Broadcaster there is and I know when I went to New Zealand I missed it a lot. But thanks to the Internet I was able to catch up with the Radio and the news and most of NZ TV was basically the BBC. The BBC world wide over is known for it quality and the institution it is. How many other Broadcasters have that much weight behind them… Other famous networks are famous for other reason like Fox, CNN.  Yes there should be an argument that people don’t watch it Live so don’t pay but use the catch up services but again different argument. The point remains, the BBC is a national treasure and without it the UK media would be a very different kettle of fish and its a world I don’t want to live in or even contemplate. So next time you complain about the Beeb just take a look at the work it does and where the funding goes and you tell me you could live without or you’d be happy to say goodbye to much of its entertainment.

Having the Memory

Six months I’ve been back in the country and thats not to say I haven’t enjoyed the time. I’ve got myself a new shiny road bike, caught up with old friends but the truth is it’s just the same as when I left these shores for the ones of New Zealand. Nothing has really changed. I returned to my parents and I’ve tried to settle back in and get a job, boy have I tried to get a job… Its not that there isn’t any out there, its just whats the point of getting bar or supermarket work, when thats not what I want to do?

Anyway once again I wander of the path. The one subject that has been on my lips since the plane touched back on British soil, was how great New Zealand was and how it was right for me. In truth I think I have turned down or selected certain decisions on the fact that I want to return back to Wellington… Why move out of the parents and sign up for house when another visa could be in the post. At least at the folks house I can pack up and go straight away.

Yes everything has been about getting back. Well before Christmas that opportunity came in the the form of a Bunac IEP visa. Did I grab it with both hands? No, I said I would think about it. Why? Why indeed. I think in my hearts of hearts I know maybe its not to be, I always said I wanted to live and move over full time and if I had got sponsorship first time round that would be true, however I didn’t and now many of my friends have moved on, whether back to their own countries or else where in NZ.

So maybe my love and thoughts of returning is trying to hold on to a dream, a bygone era, if I go back its going to be different and maybe not the way I remember it, am I prolonging the prospect of growing up in the UK, settling down with pension, house, car, the white picket fence life? Is New Zealand somehow me running away from my responsibilities and life in the UK. Sure I was happy over there, maybe the happiest I have been, but are my memories clouded. There were times I felt low, I had no job for three months, no money to my name for one of those but yet the memories are always off Burger Fuel, nights out at the Embassy, craft beer, the beach, the friends, the pals, the fellow travellers, the one who have now moved on. Was it the city, the country I remember or the people I shared it with… Why do I feel so strong about the place.

The place is really quite different. Sure I have NZ mates, who were born and bred in the city, but most of my network were fellow travellers who’s relationships were built in the hostel we all sheltered in before we made our lives in the capital city. Sure I could go else where and be a traveller make new friends a new life in a new town, but whats the point if in a year I have to pack it all up again, knowing that I will only ever return for holidays if and when my wallet will allow.

So now I have the opportunity I find myself again, worrying and becoming scared if taking the visa is the right idea, but unlike last time, I won’t be stepping into the unknown, and some how that terrifies me more than not knowing what is to be expected.

A Bag of Nerves To…

This time last year I was trying to see and spend as much time with family, friends and Manchester. My thoughts were ‘what happens if I hate it, I’ve sold everything to fund this trip and I’ll look a fool if I’m back in two weeks’ as nervous as I felt even with the reassurance from my mate in the back of my mind something was telling me that I’d be home sick and would not enjoy the year.

I had plans, everyone has plans. Those plans however have not turned out. The biggest plan has failed, I know this as in a week I’m returning from NZ to the UK, but unlike a year ago my mind isn’t nervous or scared it’s just, just unenthusiastic about the prospect. Sure I get to
see people but I’m back in the UK.

The truth is while I didn’t work for DOC or live in the hills partly as I allowed Wellington to trap me in its ‘Coolest little capital hub’. The truth is this is home, this is my city, and I think I was also suppose to stay here. Before I left it was on the list of possible place I’d lay down my bag and sleep. I feel that when I return to Manchester I will feel like a stranger, as I walk round my home country I will feel like a traveller.

Someone one said that you change once you travel, and only travellers know this, you have a different look on life, and to be honest the kiwi one rules. I always said, even thou nervous about the adventure that I’d like to live and stay in NZ and as I browse the shops for those gifts and pack my bag I know that I was right.

It’s not that I’m scared of my return, sure I’m worried or refusing to think about my job prospects, living arrangements and money its more the fact I don’t want to go back so I’m not allowing myself to think about it. Don’t get me wrong I’m excited about having that English pint next to a fire in a wood panelled pub in the heart of an English village with my best mate, seeing my nephew and my mum, but I’m not looking forward to reverting back to the British lifestyle, nipping to the corner shop rather than the dairy, ordering a pint rather than a handle, replacing pound for dollar and having to do the conversion the other way, going to a supermarket to buy everything instead of the liquor store for my drink and having to drive to the coast or mountains rather than taking a walk down the road. Wellies not gumboots, flip flops not jandles, mate not bro the list of culture change goes on.

Yes a year ago to day I was nervous as I was going into the unknown, now I’m scared and upset.

If someone at five thirty came on that plane to tell me I could stay then in all honesty I think I’d get off.

It’s funny how a year changes your view.

The Final Countdown

It was around this time last year I wrote something similar, except the countdown was to my adventure and after almost a year what an adventure it’s been.

Now with just 27 days left (as I write this) I look back at my time in New Zealand and think back to how scared and nervous I was. Any regrets? Only that I hadn’t done it earlier in my life and applied for a two year visa with visas to other countries along the way.

It’s no secret that I’m happy here, my Kiwi mates and traveller friends all know this is where I belong and while I won’t go into those reasons you can rest assured that NZ like snowdonia is a spiritual home of mine, one in which I will return and one that people who know me know it’s where I belong.

After months of trying to find a way to stay or extend my visa it seems that fate is telling me to go home, and maybe with good reason. I’ll be able to sip a nice pint of warm ale with my bestie and see my family again but at the moment that is all that England has to offer.

If I was to describe the sensation or my feelings at the thought of leaving in 27 days it would be to compare it to a warm bed. Imagine the alarm going off on a cold wet dark winter Monday morning, with the thought of a hard depressing day stuck in your office cubical. How much nicer is it to just roll over and hit the snooze button and bury yourself beneath the warm sheets and have a sick day. Well the bed is NZ and the journey and work is going back to the UK.

Sure I miss elements of the UK, off course I do it’s my country, but I’ve gotten use to NZ, the shops, money, food, lifestyle, brands, shops, adverts you name it I’m living it. The thought of adjusting back into English life does not excite or thrill me. I’ve seen what the world has to offer, I’ve seen what other opportunities there are, I’ve experienced a new way if life, and you know what I rather like it.

The countdown however has begun and while the nerves tingle and the thoughts of not wanting to say goodbye along with the fear of forgetting the experience and returning to the life I had. I know that it is I and I alone who needs to hold on to this experience and forge a new life. I never wanted to leave Manchester or change my job for the fear of the unknown, but now after a year away living from a bag meeting new people living in several communities that fear I once held onto as an excuse for living the old life seems pretty lame.

Oh well we will see what happens UK.

The countdown has started.

A View of NZ Two Months On.

When you think of New Zealand your mind jumps to the scenic backdrops that Peter Jackson has used for many of his films and not just the ones that star little people with large hairy feet. You think off clean, panoramic views with houses stood in isolation. A country that is 100% focused to the environment and keeping the green hilly land in tact by trying to restore the short damage that history of not just the Europeans but also the first settlers caused.

Yes, while the white man might have shaped NZ by mining, chopping, reclaiming the currently landscape that kiwis are struggling to adapt to, the tribes of the Maori hunted several birds to extinction and wiped large areas of natural forest even before Cook was born. All be it that they accomplished this over hundreds of years where the settlers after James Cook were on some kind of speed trip to write forests and animals into the history books of this young country.

I’ve been here now for over two months and have seen a good amount of New Zealand and enough time for my opinion to change. Sure I still love it. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve all seen the photographs I’ve taken…. Just look at it… It’s gorgeous. The thing is, it isn’t all middle earth. I’m coming closer to the idea that this is England with a bigger backdrop.

They all drive on the left for starters and road rage is high, traffic accidents and drink driving along with speeding is all high. The prospects for the young are low as employment is lacking and the notion of buying a house is even more far fetched than having that idea in the UK. People are fat and the government spins. The post is sacking staff, and banks offer loans. They love the pie. I would even go as far as saying that Wigan doesn’t know the meaning of pie eating. NZ has taken the art of pie and made it a national past time. Every petrol station, corner shop, cafe, pub all have pie. Everyone eats pie. The fashion is the same, the drinking culture is high, people sit in classy bars. Rural communities are being cut off and the prospect of libraries hang in the balance. Public transport is a mix bag and there is a nationwide buzz over X factor.

A recent survey saw over 50% thought that the picture postcard of a nation that bent double to look after its culture and environment was rubbish. Recycling is big, but like the UK there is large packaging issues and plastic bags given when none are needed. Sure the national parks protect the land, but farming is still big business and swallows up the land. The mere fact that the farmland is going to produce milk which is exported to the growing dairy loving countries in the east causes for milk and cheese in NZ to be purchased with a mortgage which at the moment means a 20% deposit. Kiwis feel that the idea they promote to the world is not entirely accurate. While steps are in place to help the conservation and to stop the spread of pests many locals feel it is no where near what it should or could be.

The idea of buying your own bit of land and building your house has gone, as like the UK, NZ has given birth to the property developer. Towns are still in abundance, but in the north and those cities in the south that have an ever growing population that takes over small quiet neighbouring settlements are slowly moving to the large American town model. Shopping malls are springing up with out of town entertainment complexes. Supermarkets are fighting for your money with weekly deals and money off the price of petrol, which since I arrived as risen by ten cents.

New Zealand is young and is still growing and as such faces a contradiction. It needs to grow and compete in the world. It needs to prove itself and not be shadowed by it larger neighbour. Since the 1950s when they finally let go of the reins that Britain had been holding, NZ has become its own country and is making a name for itself in its own right. But at what cost, can you carry on protecting the already changed habitat and remain to grow without changing the landscape for the worse.

It’s obvious that their efforts are being rewarded as several birds on the critical list are now back in abundance, native trees are replacing the Birch and the bush is being restored, but at what cost to progress and growth of communities. The road network will need a vast upgrade, some areas like Auckland are facing some of the worse traffic jams seen. One accident or rock slide can cause communities and day to day operations to come to a halt. Plans for more motorways are faced with large opposition for those protecting the land, but the need to move goods and commerce is growing with importance.

There is sense that they don’t want to conserve what they have but to try and turn the clock back before any mammal had set foot on the islands. Traps to kill stoats, hedgehogs, hunting of wild deer and pigs which thanks to evolution flourish while the indigenous species failed to adapt and as such were sitting ducks to their new predators.

I’m not sure which camp I’m in, but if their beloved kiwi can’t be bothered to adapt and survive then maybe god has its cards marked. The UK has had a number of foreign animals change the landscape and has Britain been any worse for this. But at the same time to see native birds that only reside in NZ disappear when we can be reasonable for their survival should not be ignored. But surly it’s too late to turn the clock back. Even for the young history of NZ. Even without mans help species have left this world and maybe we have only sped up what Mother Nature had planned. There is a cruel irony that while the induction of Europeans dealt the death penalty to many of the native wide life, they also helped others grow and survive.

You could be forgiven that you were in England sometimes, as some of the views and endless backdrops of hills, trees, mountains don’t look to dissimilar than our green pleasant land. However it’s bigger and grander. You feel more isolated and amazed. The lifestyle is more chilled and laid back. Even in busy cities the clock signals home time at 6pm, which people respect. In the rush of business people will wait for the green man and allow the humble pedestrian to cross even when they have a green light.

There are several parallels you can draw between the UK and NZ, the people who dream of flying to the other side of the word, the cost of food, the future, the love of one sport like its a religion, all be it different ones, the spilt thinking about the queen, a love of their country, walking, the weather and political system.

There is more to this country than the picture postcards we have installed in our minds. So after two months it’s not that they just drive on the left.

The North South divide and Auckland

Now as the title suggests this not the growing divide we have in the UK, but it’s pretty close. As I return back to the north island and get ever closer to the ferry the atmosphere is changing. There is a real love hate relationship between the two islands and not just with the residents. I’ve met some fellow travellers who for reasons unknown to me preferred the north.

It’s hard for me to say as I am a northerner thick and thin back in the green green lands of England but being upside down with the southern cross illuminating the night sky’s I have to say I’m a southerner and deep south as well, and a little to the west. I thought I would never say those words.

Talking to kiwis who were born in the south but now live on the north, can’t stop singing the souths praises, and those born on the north have just not bothered to travel to the south and see it as a cold hostile mountainous land. thats not true as I’m sure many have visited the better island. The thing is, like the north south divide in the UK, the way of life and people are different, the social demographic, average wage, job opportunities, employment, trade, is all the reverse of our divide. It’s like England flipped even with the hatred of on city.

The south is he better island as it has everything the north as plus a lot more. It also has some of the best weather as well as the worse but at least they have a winter and summer you can separate not like the north where the temperatures don’t really get below 10. Now I realise for some, that may be a dream, but how dull would it be. I like seeing the strong contrast between seasons and not just have them all merge into on messy northern pulp.

Yes if the divide between the two islands and the disagreements with who gets more money spent on them, then there is an even uglier divide. Auckland seems to be hated by everyone. But unlike London, those people who have left the city can see how repulsive it is. Like the hatred with London and the belief that it sucks up every bit of spare money the UK has, Auckland s the same. Both islands hate the way Auckland has money thrown at it.

There was even a show called “is Auckland sucking the life out of NZ” off course Aucklanders don’t see it, like Londoners they just think the rest of the country are jealous and think that there dirty over crowded, expensive, over populated, filthy streets is god gift and the best place in the world where every thing works like it should.

So it seems no matter where you are there were always be hatred for the big city, and a divide between the north and south.

The only true democracy

So while in Wellington the capital of the fine nation I was informed I could scoot along to the Houses of Parliament and receive a free tour. For some one who is like me, I could not let this pass and so headed fourth to the rather grand Victorian modelled building. Now I have been luckily enough to tour our wonderful Palace of Westminster which you can only normally do with prearranged visits through your MP or as a school or some other organised body.

Anyway after passing through a rather relaxed security, and I can tell you that the Scottish parliament was more of rigorous procedure, I was through to the house. To the left was the debating chamber, to the right a stair case leading to the beehive, the seat of politics. Think of it as Whitehall. In this building the cabinet would meet, the PM has his office and the head of departments have there, well departments. The striking impact of this building is the design. It was built in the 60s to finish the original building off and even to this date, they don’t know the true cost as no paperwork or accounts were recorded. But it’s 7 storeys of marble and granite so I’m guessing it was cheap.

The parliament sits right on the main fault line of Wellington and because of this has in recent years its undergone work to make it with stand an earthquake of 7.8.

Now the NZ political system works much the same as ours, after all we started it and gave them the rules. There are some differences. There is no upper house, well there is but it is empty as 3 years in they voted themselves out and said the lower house should hold meetings among themselves to discuss laws and the like. Think of these like select committees. The parliament has been opened by the Queen, but rather than every year it’s every three years which coincides with the result of the general election.

Many years ago the government sat in the then capital of Auckland until the southern island MPs refused to travel and it was moved to the centre of the country. Can you imagine that, a government in the centre of the country it governs.

The main camber is the same size as the House of Commons, and every member as there own seat and like in the UK the government are on the right. (No pun intended)

While looking around this building with the pictures of the PMs on the wall all in date order apart from Helen Key. I think they’ll run out of room soon. There was a section where every 183 cultures were represented that lived in NZ, showing that it is a house for everyone in the land. But that is not what makes it a true democracy, oh no.

Anyone in NZ, be it a three year old to someone who is on holiday can write to the government and ask to have an audience with them to discuss a new bill, or law. That could be free ice cream to the under 5s or anyone who’s English can live and work here without a permit. And so what I hear you say! Well they have to listen and they have to debate it.

The only place in the world that allows the people who they represent a true voice, hence a true democracy.