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 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

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.

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…

The Lonely Trumpeter

I walked to New World to get my usual fix of Cookie Time cookies that I’ve slowly become addicted to. As I walked the short distance to the metro supermarket the street was filled with a sorrow sound of trumpet. As I walked past I looked into his case and saw a tiny sum totalling no more than $4. As I entered the store he began ‘Its A Wonderful Life.’

This got me thinking about the singer I saw in Auckland the other week. Like the trumpet player the daily traffic of commuters rushed past to get there buses or trains not giving a single moment of their time to stop and listen. With this opera singer I along with another did pause. He a little closer. I stayed in the shadows so I wouldn’t feel pressured into contributing to the change pot that lay before her feet and made sure that eye contact was avoidable. She was really rather good. I along with the other guy stopped and listened for several minutes. He applauded at the end but failed to contribute to her livelihood and like me went on his merry way feeling just a little better for hearing a rather beautiful poetic voice radiating from such a talent.

Today along with the trumpeter and the memory of the opera singer, I noticed a guitar player. Again people rushed on by without stopping or giving a second look. Maybe it’s just part of the general ambience of Wellington. These sounds are part of the daily mix that go into the cacophony of Wellingtons sound track. Lets be honest the blind guy on Market Street in Manchester gets no attention from me, nor does the countless other musicians that plague Manchester’s city centre. To me it’s the daily background noise and like me, maybe Wellingtonians just drown out the music with their own thoughts or are able to just ignore and think nothing of it. The strange things about cities is you only notice the silence.

Normally I would dismiss these music beggars as well and just let the music form part of the symphony of my daily life along with car horns, sirens, alarms, engines and chatter. After all in the UK I will happily bypass and not even give a knowing glance. But after the report a couple of months ago, maybe even longer I now stop and listen.

The news article was about a violinist in a New York subway. Only one child stopped to listen who was promptly pulled away by his mother, several people discarded small change from their pockets in his general direction but no one stopped to listen. The player happened to be headlining at the theatre that night, as he was a world famous violinist and tickets for the performance were being sold for $400 plus. The point I suppose I’m making is that people pay small fortunes to listen to music being played live, but yet when it’s in the street and with no sign informing us of the musicians ability we happily walk on by. How many famous musicians or singers have we walked by and ignored only to think they were a busker. One of my favourite solo artists at te moment, regularly busks in cities that he has concerts in, and again people walk on by. Some, who knows may be attending the gig that night.

I’m just hoping that one day I’d be able to say I heard her on the corner of Queen street, or say see him, he was performing on Willis Street outside New Word the other week for free and you’ve just paid $400 to see him in a theatre.

Or maybe I will discard a bit if my lose change to say thank you.

A Manchester Away from Home

Many people will know that Manchester has a special place in my heart. I love the city, the people, culture, bars and the location. It is truly the city of the Northwest and of the North. Despite what people in the Midlands and Whitehall feel, Manchester is the UKs second city not Glasgow or Birmingham.

Manchester has that town feel, nestled in a city environment. It’s big enough not to get dull but yet small enough to feel safe. I moved to Manchester as many do to become a student and fell in love with the place. Manchester has held me back over the years. I’ve turned down jobs and work because it would mean leaving the city, I almost called of the NZ trip as I didn’t want to wave goodbye to the city that I’ve called home for thirteen years. A city that is a kaleidoscope of activity.

While I’m not official one of her sons, I feel that I have a bond with the city. So why am I telling you this. Well it’s simple I have found the New Zealand version on Manchester. I’ve travelled around the two islands and fell in love with many places. Not so many in the north, but plenty in the south. I could see myself settling in Nelson, or living in Fox, Christchurch with its post earthquake decor has its appeal and as for Dunedin then I would have stayed if it hadn’t been for the job of returning the camper back to Auckland.

The trouble is I find myself in Wellington, and from the moment I drove into the city I knew I loved it. It has the look of a city but the feel of a community. There is a vibe. So as I look for work which is turning into a wild goose chase my mind tells me that I’m not pinned to a particular place. Unlike Manchester which saw me with a flat, friends, a life, thus making it more of a challenge to leave, in Wellington I am a Nomad, I have no ties and could seek employment anywhere in the country.

However as I trawl through the job adverts for any vacancies which I slowly begrudgingly widen my search past the Hutt valley and across the Cook Straight I find myself thinking, sure I could work here, but I couldn’t live here. Wellington has grabbed my heart and I think that if I had ignored the city then I would now be in Nelson or Blenheim happily picking fruit and bottling wine to pay my way.

It’s funny how cities or towns grab you. The way they make you form an opinion. I would never live in London, I can’t stand it and the only other cities in the UK I could live in at a push would be Newcastle or Glasgow. With NZ I no longer think I could live in Nelson, or Fox. Why would you, when you could have the atmosphere and community of those places with a backdrop and playground of a city. I have often said I would love to live in north Wales, but I know deep down I’m a city dweller. After three weeks in the West Country the site of Dunedin was very welcomed. I felt like I was home. There is something about a city that makes you feel whole. You can be united without having anything todo with the other residents. Sure I love the isolation of rural settlements, but I’d get bored all to easily. Walking the mountains would become mundane and the norm, popping into the post office or the local bar to catch up on the latest gossip becomes your highlight of the day. No. A city you have a life which you control and can step away from. The backdrops of mountains never tire as you only visit occasionally to take a break and step back from the bust activity of city life.

You can draw so many parallels its almost scary. Wellington is small, thriving, arty, it has a student population, great night life, wonderful buildings, fantastic transport links, lots of suburbs with there own culture and identity and flying rats (pigeons) You would be forgiven if you thought I was talking about Manchester when describing Wellington with the exception of the beach, harbour and sea.

Manchester is a cool place which I miss fondly, but now I have found Wellington and like Manchester I feel this is the place I want to be.

Still got it… But we won’t discuss the next day.

Well after two months of being in a camper I needed to stretch my legs. Regular visitors will know that I love to run and after the marathon and Manchester 10k I gave my legs a little rest and its been that way since I touched NZ soil. As those who are new to the blog and following it from the NZ entries, then the soul purpose of the blog started to document my training for the Manchester 10k some years back. But like my running, the blog as grown to express other areas of my life. However today I returned to running in both the blog and life.

Sure I did one or two 5ks on a beach or a quick run around Auckland when I first arrived but nothing to tell my legs or body to keep their form. Well roll on to Wellington and the sight of lycra clad cyclists makes me want to get back on the bike, but the streams of runners that traffic up and down the shoreline inspired me to delve deep into my rucksack and pull out the trainers and get back on a different saddle all together.

Garmin on, heart rate monitor set and I’m off. Running head on into the wind (which is strong) and following the crowd of other like minded folk who enjoy a good workout. The path was flat and being that I had been out of the game I was in good condition, well better than I thought I’d be. I thought I’d only being able to run 5k, but 7 miles later I was saving my activity on the gamin and going in for a well deserved shower.

Now it’s no lie that I did find the 10k distance a little straining, but nothing I couldn’t cope with. What was a real surprise was that I’d kept my speed. The pace was what I’d built up to in my training runs, and the only considerable factor that had changed from having a break was my heart rate. I had managed to get it down to around 152 b.p.m at the 7:30 pace but this run saw it sky rocket to 187.

So while my body has not lost pace or speed (yes they are different) my form is still good, but the three months out if the game as seen my fitness drop if you judge it by HR and the fact that I was ready to stop. Normally I also want to do another 3 or 4 miles. The other substantial factor I noticed that I was not use to running occurred the following day. My quads were acting like I’d just ran for my life, my calves were harder than the earth core and my hamstrings were, well they were behaving like they’ve always done… Stubborn and short.

However role on a day of rest and another run, this time up Mt Victoria, a cruel 3km of steep constant climbing. And only stopping at the top for the views, it seemed that I had not lost my live of hill running. My pace was also sitting at around 8:30 which was darn good.

It’s good to be out running again, and hopefully I’ll be able to burn some of this campervan fat off as snacking on crisps and chocolate in a confined place does nothing to an already shabby figure. The trouble is after today’s hill session I can already hear my tired sore legs complaining, that could see more than just a day of rest. But hopefully I’ll be back out there finding new running routes to fill my garmins memory up and hopefully when I get a job I’ll complete the dream of joining the lycra clad gang and fulling my desire to be back on another type of saddle.

Oh well, time for another stretch and then a shower.