I is well back innit

I’ve returned from my lovely 3 week holiday in Australia and New Zealand, with about 50 hours flying now out the way.

I’ve flown to Sydney via Singapore (12 hours then 7.5 after Singapore), I stayed in Coogee at the Crowne Plaza hotel for about 4 days, it was a fantastic place to stay. Coogee is really nice, the bay is beautiful and it’s only a 2 hour sunburn inducing walk to Bondi Beach!

The best bit of the hotel stay was the buffet breakfast each day though… I know it sounds sad but we all enjoyed it, there was unlimited food, fry ups, pan cakes, toast, fruit, many juices and some very weak but passable coffee. I stuffed myself every day on all of that and then there were many other foods as well, including sushi.

What was most brilliant was we could all sit down, eat at a leisurely pace with a sea view and let Issy run around and go nuts, as it was quite a child friendly place.

We had Holly’s birthday while we were out there, and we went out to a sushi bar for dinner. It was my first time at a sushi bar, and I didn’t really push my boundaries whilst eating… I had tuna, salmon… and rice and greens to go with it. I properly chickened out of all the scary looking food.

Each day we got a bus into central Sydney (encountering a few crazy people on the way), right into the city. We did a harbour tour and went to the aquarium, I didn’t get a chance to walk over the bridge but I would have liked to.

Sydney was ok, it was a nice trip and the harbour is very nice, but it just felt like any other big city to me.

It’s a bit too much like all the other big cities in the world, and like them all it has it’s own unique story of how it came to be a big city full of Subways, subways and Coca Cola.

After our few days there we took a 2 hour flight across to Adelaide and spent a few days with Nigel’s (Holly’s dad) uncle and aunt, Norman and Clare. Issy called Norman “Nornor”, which was fun.

Me, Holly and Issy stayed with them, and everyone else stayed in a fairly awful motel down the road. We had temperatures of 30 – 35 degrees while we were there, it was insane. I spent most of my time hiding in the shade and in buildings.

We did go to a wildlife park on one day, and took lots of photos of kangaroos, koalas and other Australian animals. You walk freely with the kangaroos so I enjoyed that the most, I had one ‘roo with his entire head buried inside the bag of feed I had, he was my favorite.

We did Christmas in Adelaide, Norman and Claire were very good hosts and we ate a large amount of barbecue cooked traditional Australian turkey roll.

After Adelaide, we took the same 2 hour flight back to Sydney, waited 5 hours in the airport, and then took a 2:45 flight to Christchurch.

We got collected from the airport about 1am on Wednesday 28th December, by a white limo with a trailer and taken to the Airport Gateway Motel. I don’t know why the use a limo as their hotel shuttle but they do and they’re very proud if it.

We stayed there overnight, apparently me, Holly and Issy slept through a very small earthquake, then we got up and picked up a camper van.

I shared the driving in our week in the camper with Nigel. I’ve driven around NZ in a camper before… I did it in a little Mazda van… this time we were in a Mitsubishi Canter. It’s actually a lorry, it’s not particularly fun to drive, and the NZ roads are very small and twisty. Still, it is better to drive it than sit in the back.

It was a little bit rushed our tour of the south island. We had the camper Wednesday – Wednesday, so 7 nights. We visited

  • Christchurch… we left it too late in the day to leave after we’d visited Trudy’s (Holly’s mum) sister (Holly’s aunt) to drive up to…
  • Hamner Springs, thermal pools. There were a few sets of closed eyes as we drove the campervan across a very narrow bridge going up the hill to Hamner.
  • Punakiki, pancake rocks
  • Hokitika, via Greymouth for shopping – I’ve never seen a Warehouse store before, they’re enourmous. Once stocked up we had a BBQ and then watched the new year’s eve sunset on a west coast beach and toasted the new year
  • Nelson Lakes, Lake Rotoiti. We free camped behind a gravel car park, an approved space by the Department of Conservation. We couldn’t stay at the lake side campsite because it was the one place that was too busy to just turn up and camp. But we went back the next day and went for a walk from Kerr Bay to West Bay.
  • Picton, we stayed there for about half an hour, then realised we were running out of time so we left and went to…
  • Kaikoura. We went whale watching, and saw 3 sperm whales, a hump back, a seal and a few albatrosses… albatrii? Holly was fairly terrified of the waves, I think we had about 2 metre waves under the boat, but she stilled enjoyed spotting the whales.

After Kaikoura, we went back to Christchurch (since we’d left there’d been a entire day of earthquakes of scale 4 – 6) dropped off the van and went to another Motel, run by a slightly annoying man. There were a few more little quakes in the night, again me and Holly slept through them, we visited the International Antarctic Center and terrified Issy whilst riding a hagglund, then going in a -18 storm room, and finally watching a “4d” (I hate it when companies say the 4th dimension is a wet face) movie that spat water at you.

It was all a bit much for her, but she enjoyed her meal at at the Lonestar restaurant, a sort of up market TGI Friday’s.

The next day, we took the 2h 45 minute flight back to Sydney, then the 7 and a half hour flight back to Singapore, then a 13h 40 minute flight back to the UK… I guess we were flying into the wind that time?

We got to Heathrow, got a lift back to Reading to Holly’s parents, then a lift back to Bristol from there from my parents who luckily were passing by.

On arrival at the bungalow in Bristol, we realized we’d lost our front door key. After a few phone calls from my landlord I managed to get into the key safe to get the spare key… or I would have done if it wasn’t missing.

So we went to my brothers house, my, Holly and Issy fell asleep on their sofas, and my parents drove from Bristol to Reading and back again… again, as Trudy had found the front door key in the living room in Reading.

We finally got back inside our house by about 8pm, put Issy straight to bed, and me and Holly followed shortly, and slept through till 8am this morning!

Since then, Holly has had some more birthday presents, Issy has opened about 5 more christmas presents that got lost in all the chaos till we unpacked today, and I’ve eaten a fry up and a handful of Ferrero Rocher.

We have much unpacking to do, and I’ve still got to go and get the Rat’s from the pet sitter, but things are almost back to normal.

Holly will be putting lots of photos up on Facebook, or at least some one will and we’ll be tagged in them, and I’ll probably remember some of the better bits of the trip and write about them separately.

Oh and Quantas is a very good Airline, the brand new A380 we flew on was pretty awesome, touch screen entertainment system with about 60 films to watch, and loads of TV stuff, although the games were all completely naff, DTI software suck – I might go and work for them and sort them out, they’re rubbish. But the films were good.

Also the best thing about the plane… it’s so quiet and smooth. I guess because it’s all state of the art and brand new, but you don’t get annoying background engine noise, plus it’s very comfy and gentle on take off and landing.

It’s nice to be back in England, I’m very sick of filling out landing cards, I missed my keyboard and I missed my bungalow.

But most of all, I missed Nescafe.

One last thing, thanks to Trudy, Nigel and Gemma for having me along on their trip, and for helping out with Issy while we were there.

Thanks Mum and Dad for giving us a lift, and Dave, Amy and Becca for giving us a place to crash and some entertainment while the keys were retrieved for us.

Thanks in advance to Jess and/or Pav for helping collect the rats.

And thanks to the anonymous stranger on the bus in Australia who told the crazy lady off and sat between as and the crazy to protect us! I will find you and repay you!

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