A Letter to New Zealand

Hometown 

The  UK

 

To New Zealand

Hello there, just a quick to note to say I landed and arrived back in one piece, oh who am I trying to fool I desperately miss you and long to see and spend time together once again. I hope Mt Taranaki is doing well and is still behaving I did see him on the way back to Auckland and waved but I doubt he saw me as he had his blanket of snow on him. I hear that his cousins Mt Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu are all behaving themselves and have yet to let off any steam unlike old White Island that is getting his temper back. Well I hope they are missing me as much as I am them. 

That reminds me how is Aoraki doing? Has he got any smaller since I left? I suppose he will never shrink down to his brother height Mt Tasman any time soon but if he keep shaking then more than snow and ice are going to fall. Are people still using his nickname of Mt Cook I always felt strange using it around him. He truly a wonderful sight to spend time with and I feel I may miss him the most out of all the mountains, his home was so peaceful and still. I only meant to see him for the afternoon but we just hit off and a week later I had to wave goodbye.

I hear that Northland is having a spot of bother with a little bit of wind, I really hope it isn’t too serious, while I spent little time with her up there I did love the beaches and coves which reminds me I never got to pay a visit to Abel Tasman before I left I hear that she was pretty shaken up over the recent storm that hit her and Nelson Lakes quite hard. Now he was a character and gent, never a dull moment walking the track in his company and while the views might not have  been as impressive as old grandfather Routeburn or Milford the vistas were reward enough if not then the weather certainly was. 

Have you heard anything from Wellington, I feel that she should have been in contact either by Skype or email. Even the odd ‘like’ from her on Facebook would be nice but I’ve heard nothing and lets face it, I did spend most of my time with her so feel quite abandoned. She had such a wonderful personality so vivid and wild a real sense of humour but she’s probably busy. I always liked that about her, she would never stop always had something going on. I hope ChristChurch is still on the mend when I saw him he was still down in the dumps and as for Queenstown the less said about him and Auckland the better, sometimes you just know you aren’t going to get on and take an instant dislike. I tried with Auckland I really did, but QT I knew from the off. 

Anyway I hope you’re keeping well I promise I will be back. There was so many of your family I never visited or spent enough time with. Next time when I’m over I promise I’ll spend more time with little Wanaka and pray he doesn’t go the same way of his older brother QT, and hopefully Nelson will still be up for partying hard. You really were such a kind and generous host. You had such a fresh way of doing stuff, sometimes a little old and outdated but somehow it felt right and it seemed to work. Nothing was ever a hassle and there was never a rush and for that I have to say thank you.

Oh well I will leave you to carry on being awesome but thank you once again New Zealand for being a really great wonderful host. To say I enjoyed and will be treasuring my time I spent with you and your family does not even begin to cover it. 

Chur’s Bro

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If You Take a Walk Through Mt Vic Tunnel.

“Show us your tits love”
Cried an oversized bricky perched aloft his scaffold tower.
“Look at the arse on that” Echoed another cry from the crowded platform, each builder bending their neck to spy at the view. One nudged Paul “if she was a car I’d love to drive here hard and fast”.
“Aye and it’s got the air bags for you to crash” Gary snickered.
“Come on love… You’re not shy are ya?”

Sandra continued walking, ignoring all cries that came from the now drooling pack and no sooner had she turned the corner than the wolf whistles had died down and she returned to a slower more relaxed pace. ‘I need a new route to work’ she mumbled beneath her breath as she sighed and turned into Dickson Street.

For many a walker, cyclist and even a runner taking the path through Mt Victoria Tunnel in Wellington face a similar experience, maybe a little amusing and enjoyable on the couple of occasions that you may experience it, but come the 5th, 6th and definitely the 20th the joke has grown old. Like Sandra it’s not a nice experience. For walkers it must be worse, as a runner I speed my pace up to get the hell out of there, but yet I’m not sure if all the attention is aimed at us mere pedestrians or if it’s some other kind of game.

We’ll take a pause here, as comparing the mere objectifying of woman to a simple annoyance through a tunnel is by no means the same… But I’m sure is equally annoying as it is not needed, but like the builders, the drivers feel it is justified.

I’m talking about the honking of car horns. A barrage of ‘beep beep’ and it only takes one to begin the chorus. It has roots and reminds one of the running of the ‘ Great North’ with ‘Ogie ogie ogie’ ‘Oi Oi Oi’ as the cars and their owners try to create a tune.

Runners get it all the time, as you run along, Gary in his mates Ford Fiesta learns out of the window to shout instructions, just incase you had managed to get this far somehow running in an incorrect fashion but thanks to Gary you now know to lift those knees up. And like Sandra your mind straight away sends a curse to these people. Why do they feel the need to shout at you or in the case of the cars, beep their horns.

No one yet can explain this phenomenon from Wellington, no one seems to know when, how or why it started, but like the woman walking past a building site being objectified with wolf whistles, you can gaunatee that if you were to cut through the tunnel on state highway 1 then a cacophony of car horns will be accompanying you on your journey and while I’m informed it’s not aimed at those using the raised walkway, one but can’t help that maybe just maybe it is in some way and if not then why not…

Home Sick

Well my dream of staying is slowly fading and in a surprising way I’m kind of glad. It was after all a dream to stay and work but now if I’m honest I’m a little homesick. Sure I miss my family and my best mate and there are a few others who I wouldn’t mind having a pint with not that we’ve really kept in touch.

But the true home sickness and this will be a surprise to many and a few may gasp and exclaim and argue that I’m daft especially with the landscape and scenery but my heart belongs in the hills and mountains of Britain.

Yes I’m homesick for walking Snowdon and Tryfan or taking a cold winter hike across the moors or a drive to a remote part of the peak district and rambling down country lanes and through English woods. Off course the views and landscape in the land of the hobbits is amazing and I know as I look down from Snowdon or view the Cheshire plain from Kinder Scout my brain will flash back to those pictures and images of the southern alps and the quite one horse towns and question which one is better. People said NZ is Wales on a larger scale and they weren’t wrong.

I still have some months left and with my time I’m going to see this country again to make sure I have a full memory of sights, sounds and stories stored in the old memory bank. Sometimes you have to be without something to realise how much it actually means and while I could happily make the move I need to go back to see if my true loves once more and put the world to rights with a good old fashioned drinking session with my bestie.

A friend once posted a song to my wall which I think I have shared with you all before called ‘The Manchester Rambler’ which sums up my affair and passion for the outdoors. While I have now found a way to come back and work over here in the future  I find myself missing the peaks and Snowdonia ever more.

I’ve made some good friends and have had partook in many an adventure and while there have been high and lows how will always treasure my time in NZ and hold it close but the time has come to return to the UK and who knows I may realise that NZ was for me after all. But at the moment Im longing to walk down Market Street and go into Greg’s for a steak bake or chin wag and complain over a warm flat beer with Matt, or redeem my nector points and watch the BBC and take a walk in the British rain and wrap up warm not put on sun screen in Janaury. But at the same time I’m loving my time away and the experiences I’m living.

See you soon UK.

Before I Go!

There are a lot of things. A long list if you will. I have compiled this list to help me get my affairs in order before I arrive at terminal one and board my plane. There are the simple things like selling DVD’s and CD’s, which now has a big tick by it. Move stuff back to my parents, sell some clothes, pack, transfer money, pay tax bill, cancel phone, cancel internet and so the list goes on.

However the one item on the list that I really want to see ticked off, is the Welsh 3000. For those not in the know, and even some avid walkers don’t know then the 3000’s are 14 or 15 (if you count the extra one) peaks in Snowdonia that are over 3000 feet hence the name.

Now I have done the Snowdon Massif, and only have two more to bag for the Glyders, which I am hoping to do this week and then I just have the Carnedadu to complete. Forget bagging Wainwrights and completing the Southern West Fells, my dream and ambition before I depart the UK is to complete the 3000 mainly due to that fact that it gives me an excuse to go to Snowdonia.

So hopefully as my time draws ever closer to 25th June, I will be able to give a tick to finishing the Welsh 3000.

The Langdale Express – Part One of my weekend in the Lakes

The weekend was not going to be a rest day by any means. I had walking, camping and racing planned and that is exactly what I did.

Come Sunday morning I was waking at 6am ready to drive to Ulverston to meet a friend who would be participating in these activities. But first we had to get there and as my friend volunteered to navigate along the stereotypical roads that crisscross and meander through the valleys and around the foot of the mountains that stand tall and survey the landscape we found ourselves in Langdale.

The main object of the weekend was the Langdale 10K race, an undulating little number of there and back. Last year it was held over two days and had reached its 500 capacity on both days very quickly. This year had a capacity of 750, but for reasons unknown failed to get more than 100 on each of the days. As the rain lashed down and thoughts that I would finally get to wear my rain jacket which was a direct result of being left out in the rain for too long at Manchester Marathon, and the knowledge that Snowdon Marathon was notorious for its wetness I decided that a decent running waterproof was in order. Apart from the odd training run I had never really got to use it. But as the wind buffered the side of the car and the rain carried on falling I thought I would finally be fulfilling it’s purpose.

I joked that once we started the rain would ease off, and sure enough seconds after the gun the rain ceased to be. This must have been the strangest of races I have lined up for. I think in total there were 39 other people positioned ready to start and as I ran and ran fast it felt very much like a training run. The pack broke up quickly and within the first 30 seconds the distance between the runners were spread out along the valley road.

After a strong race, where I kept my position and managed to over take a guy in the last two miles my legs didn’t quite have the energy to pass the woman 500 meters in front of me but I still crossed the line in just over 43 minutes, that considering the course was a good time.

After the race we set up camp in the National Trust campsite which was empty apart from some rabbits and several flooded pitches. We found an area that we thought would remain dry and set up camp. After the comical chasing of tent bags due to a large gust of wind in which the blog takes its title we were set up. Now it was time for a walk.

The weather was still unsettled and a little apprehensive in what it wanted to do, but we began the climb to Pavey Ark. The river that runs down from the tarn was in full flow as it rushed down the valley, leaping off rocks kicking spray into the air. The usual route across seemed a little dangerous as the stepping-stones across the river were covered with white foaming water rushing along. After seeking an alternative we made it to the snow topped tarn and looked for a way to climb Pavey Ark. Again the river and streams were full to bursting and current was faster than a penderlino from London. We concluded no safe way and as the cloud cover and storm clouds began to circle we thought it wise to turn back for food and ales.

After a good many drinks and a very typical English tradition of paying Draughts, which I lost, we turned in for the night. This was when the fun began.

As I tossed and turned to get to sleep, I heard the rumble and howling of the wind coming off the mountains as she sped up running toward the valley and the campsite I heard it rush past the tent. Then there was silence, and like the after shock of a quake the full effect of the wind took hold. With no noise the tent blew, and shook trying to be lifted from its moorings, and then nothing. Then five minutes later the same effect. The noise of the wind followed by silence followed by the effect. This went off throughout the night and into the morning which made the packing of tents a very enjoyable experience as we battled with the gales to un-pin our shelters from the ground while still trying to keep said tents firmly in our grasp.

I later find out they call this the Langdale Express and sometimes the wind come from both directions and crashes in the centre of the valley.

After packing away and checking the forecast we moved on to climb Wetherlam. But that is a different story all together. As I when I say climb, I mean climb.

The first part of this weekend break was a fantastic adventure with good company. I had ran a good race, walked in one of the few places that I hold dear to my heart next to Snowdon and had a lot of good ale and fantastic food.

Leaving Party

I have already touched on this briefly, but as I look at pictures on Pinterest I find myself thinking that I need to go to Wales again.

We all know I love the place. But how cool would a weekend away in a cottage with just the couple of best mates that I have. Drinking, walking and talking. Exploring all the North West Castles for one last time.

At the moment it is a dream and will stay as such as they will all have excuses as to why they couldn’t possibly attend. Some with good reason others because they can’t take time out.

While I’m missing people now (not seen some for months)… I think it is good practice for when I do leave. After all I won’t be seeing these people for a year and who knows I might not even chat or talk to them again. For me this trip is a big deal… bigger than getting married, having a child. I want my friends to be there for me. This is only going to happen the once and while I am doing this for myself, I still need the comfort of my mates.

But it would be nice to have one last good bye…just in case I didn’t see them again. But maybe that’s just me… Maybe I know I won’t be seeing these people again. They may well be under the impression that in a years time we will be drinking again in the local (not that we have local). However anything can happen in a year.

It would be good to do a proper leaving party… and maybe my friends have it under control but I do fear that I may end up exiting quietly only to log on to Facebook in NZ to find messages of ‘Have you gone? We didn’t get to say goodbye’

The real question is should I bother to organise my own party. I suggested this to a friend, who said ‘You can’t do that!’ a couple of weeks later he sent a text asking what I wanted to do? To me that was as good as organising it…

If I am honest, then I don’t want a fuss. I want those who are close to me, and spend as much time as possible with them… Doing the things we have done together like drinking, walking, camping, cycling all just for one last time. If we really get to it, then there is only a handful of people I would like to attend, and I can count them off on one hand.

Off course I wouldn’t object to a big piss up as well, in a bar with everyone who I know.

The lucky Horseshoe

Well let’s get the day-to-day business out-of-the-way. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been cycling to work followed by training runs once I got home. That is a lot of work for my legs and they were starting to give up on me but I carried on forcing them to work long and hard knowing that they needed the practice if they were ever going to carry me over the line on the Snowdon Marathon. It’s with all the training runs I thought I would try something new, a little tool that has been talked about for years that helps with training… Too spilt up your long runs. Half in the morning and the rest of the distance in the evening. What a wonderful idea and how great it allows you to fit in those other wise long boring runs. You’re still getting the miles in the legs but having a little rest in-between and I can fully recommend running to work and from work it fills you with so much energy and thinking time and its a great work out plus it adds a whole new meaning to running late for work.

So you can imagine that over the course of these three weeks, the only rest that my legs got were on Sundays so by the end they were feeling slightly tired. After all they had cycled or ran and many a time completed both of those tasks so when I got an unexpected Thursday off rather than putting my feet up and relaxing I took my legs and headed to the best place on the planet. I had been playing away with the Lakes too much and spent a long time trying to bag myself many of the south and west Wainwrights, I had also been doing the dirty in the Peaks but my beloved Snowdon was once again calling for some attention.

The sun was out and the drive was clear, as I drove closer to the border I could see her dominating the landscape and any questions about my love for this place soon faded. Off course I was still in love with her how could I ever have doubted the bond we had. Sure Langdale Pikes are nice and Bowfell is impressive but not as much as the beauty that is Snowdon and all the towns that sit around her, in her wake.  Driving through Capel Curig I was once again transported back to when I first remember setting my eyes on her range longing to be walking her terrain and within a matter of minutes I was parking up and putting on the boots.

This was going to be a new route, not Pyg or Miners, not even the Llanberis path. No I was going to take in the Horseshoe, over Crib Goch a grade one scramble to the summit followed by a walk along a knife edge for about 2 miles. As I climbed the face of Crib Goch my heart was beating like the clappers. One false move one wrong positioning of the foot and I could fall. I could drop, injury myself. It was more like bouldering than scrambling but the fear fueled the excitement the anticipation to achieve this long-awaited goal and as I placed my hand on the top of the rock to pull myself up the view of the real daunting task lay ahead. What was now laid before me was a ridge, a sheer drop to the right with a mere steep rocky slope to the left. The back of the sleeping dragon seemed to go on for miles with Snowdon waiting at the end. If I thought of turning back now, I would have to carefully navigate myself backwards down the rocks which was no easy task. Onwards it was.

If my heart had pumped with fear on the climb up then the walk across was about to make it pop from the rib cage and beat before my very eyes. Within a couple of minutes I had found my footing and eased into the pattern of balancing along the knife edge. The wind started to blow which added another level of danger that wasn’t needed. I got to the end and looked backed. How could I have ever doubted that Snowdonia offer the best for walkers. Sure the Peaks are good if you have family, it’s fairly flat, the lakes are good if you want to amble from peak to peak without coming down a mountain to climb another but Snowdonia, Snowdon offers the world and does not disappoint. The easy part of the walk was now to climb to the summit that was now wrapped in cloud once agin I decided to give the gang of tourist a miss and head straight for the cafe to get a cuppa. I’ve climbed the summit so many times now I tend to just walk past it. I find the real views are experienced on the walk up and down.

After I had rested and had advised a family on the best way down to the car park I set off. I needed to join the Watkins path for a while and then turn off to climb yet more peaks before heading back to the flat terrain of the Miners route. Watkins turned out not to be Watkins. I somehow think I had turned of the Rangers path a little early but within five minutes I had got back on course with the first section being a lot of scree. Leaving two fellow walkers and their GPS device I was ready to climb my last peak of the day Y Lliwedd while still a slight knife-edge and energetic climb to the ridge walk after the Crib this seemed like a walk in the park but still an exhilarating experience and a far better way to come down from the summit. As I scrambled and played on mother nature’s playground I knew at some point I would have to leave the rock for the dull well-worn and trodden path of the Miners route that escorts you back towards the car park. It was as I was climbing down I saw two fellow walkers. Together we kept company to the car park talking off fell running, climbing and mountains as the day before they had tackled Tryfan for the first time scaling the North face. In my mind I said that the route was good and views were fantastic but Snowdon has, is and will remain my favourite mountain.