Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Hyde Park Barracks Museum: Here come the girls...

Imagine this.

You are a girl of seventeen and both your parents are dead, as are all of your brothers and sisters.

Since their deaths you have been living in a crowded orphanage and have seen, heard and felt first hand the devastating effects of a national famine, which has killed and hurt many of those around you.

You have your faith, your health (God-willing) and a small number of material possessions, all of which you are required to pack up to accompany you on a long, rocky, uncertain journey to the other side of the world.

Such was the plight, fate and lives of thousands of Irish orphaned girls who from 1848 for many years were transported to Australia to effectively serve as "baby-makers" for the new Australian population, which was predominantly male convicts, though many gained employment as servants or worked in shops or wealthier households. Because these young girls were Catholic they were considered moral compasses for the convicts who were showing worrying disruptive behaviour as drinking, brawls and gambling became popular activities in a very young Sydney, Convict Sydney.

I found out about these brave young women, an element of Australia's transportation history I was completely unaware of, in Hyde Park Barracks Museum.

Originally built in 1819 with the intention of housing convict men, the impressive looking building has served many other purposes including more recently as courtrooms and government offices.

However, it is its history the first Australian "home" for the convict men and then the orphaned immigrant women that gives Hyde Park Barracks its weightily important role in Sydney's and Australia's history and a real poignancy as a visitor with only a shameful little knowledge about this era.

As I walked through the building, I was incredibly impressed by how artistically well the museum had recreated, restored and re-captured history; at times it felt like a gallery, at other times it was very audiovisual and interactive and then down some corridors and in some rooms it felt almost like time had frozen back in the 1850s but everyone had left without a trace.

As well as being lovingly restored (over many years in 1980s once it was decided to make the building a museum) I marvelled at more imaginative displays intended to capture the noises, activity and overwhelming presence of rats that convicts would have lived with in Hyde Park Barracks.

It was the story of those poor Irish girls that stayed with me when I left the museum, especially because there was a special exhibit about current Sydney citizens who are descendants of those brave women. It's remarkable to think about where we all come from and the journeys of those who went before us.

There were other very real personal stories to read about like how the building itself was actually designed by a convict, albeit one who had trained as an architect back in UK. Once he arrived in Australia he managed to work his way into the grace and favour of the very famous Governor Macquarie, who was committed to making the growing population of convicts a civilised and respectable one and it was symbolic of course that he was chosen as Hyde Park Barracks' architect. There is also a perverse charm to be found in the fact that thanks to the thousands of rats who lived in, behind and above the walls, floors and ceilings with the convicts and immigrant women of Hyde Park Barracks numerous artefacts now on display in the museum (books, clothing, combs, scissors, coins) were preserved by their rotting corpses.

Hyde Park Barracks is one of twelve New South Wales museums housed in historic buildings and looked after by the Historic Houses Trust. I sadly stumbled upon them a little too late in my visit so Hyde Park Barracks was the only one I spent far too long looking around. It costs $10.00 (AUD) for an Adult to visit, though a $30.00 ticket with Historic Houses Trust will gain you entry into all the Sydney museums over three months. This is well worth doing if you plan to fly to Sydney and stay for longer than a week or two.

Monday, 27 February 2012

I'm getting old and I need something to rely on...

So today's #MusicMonday is all about how I feel today; the day I am 30 years and one day old. The song I have chosen is also one of many musical guilty pleasures I keep very secret when I'm on the hunt for cool points.

Yesterday was all about being spoilt, drinking bubbles at breakfast, being covered in the sun's kisses on a beach, swimming in the warmest sea and being swept away on a surprise sunset cruise. (Yep, NewMan did really good!)

Today is now all about feeling a little shell-shocked (and hungover!) and taking stock of what the last 30 years looked and felt like for me and what I want to do next.

I am lucky that I can think about these things in the comfort of the Thai sun and with little other distractions crowding my conscience.

In other news. This time next week we will be back in UK, albeit only temporarily (more on that in the next week or so). After seeing some of my nearest and dearest's faces on Skype yesterday I am very ready to get my hug on and be reminded that as wonderful as all these places I travel to are, they're not as important as the people I come home to.

And now for some very indulgent Instagrams from yesterday. Normal service will resume next week with a kick-ass cool-as tune and some gorgeous Instagrams from Thailand...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Street life: Newtown, Sydney

The advantages of seeing a city with someone who lives there are many; instant familiarisation, a license to cut out a lot of the crap and the unique insight of a local.

The advantages of seeing a city with someone who used to live there are very different but are also many. One advantage in particular is that the person who used to live there will want to go to specific places to see if they have changed and that in itself leads the one who is new to the city on a very different journey; one of rediscovery as well as discovery.

Such was the case with NewMan and Newtown. (I really couldn't make this up!)

Newtown is an area located in the central south-western suburbs of Sydney and was described to me by NewMan as "like Camden, but cooler and less punks", or at least it had been when NewMan left over six years ago. We headed there to see if this was still the case.

The main vein which pumps life into Newtown is Kings Street, a very busy, very long (nearly 9km in total) road lined with turn of the century and Victorian style "prairie" style shop fronts hosting restaurants, bars, shops, boutiques, backpacker hostels, tattoo studios, vintage and charity shops (or "op shops" as they Aussies call them), antiques stores, cafes, theatres, workshops, offices and all other manner of retail outlets. Inside and out of these shops people flowed like a busy relentless human river and I got so swept up in it I failed to take any decent photos (I will also blame a dead battery the cause of which will soon be explained). It was an impressive bustle for a weekday during the Christmas and school holidays.

And yes, just like in Camden there were people to look at too; there were the tattoo-ed, the long haired heavy-metal heads, the hippie-fied, the mod-ish, the vintage-loving and the ice, ice cool but NewMan was absolutely right, no punks. I can therefore see why NewMan made the comparison to Camden even if there was a gaping lack of canals and markets. And goths too, didn't see a single goth in Newtown.

So back to my drained camera battery, well it was for a good cause. We aimed to park at the bottom of Kings Street near Princes Highway but before we'd even found a space I found myself jumping out of the car at traffic lights and being led down a side street by my camera as a sniffer dog would it's trainer on the tail of a massive stash. I had spotted a few side roads covered in colourful street art. It was unexpected and yet on second thoughts totally expected of near Newtown (as the area is actually more St Peters than Newtown). I started snapping away ignoring my battery light flashing red.

I loved how old and original graffiti style art - the tags and swollen letter style signatures - blended in with the more random, incredibly creative and thought-provoking work.

A little bit of research at a later date revealed that the street art we stumbled on is part of May Lane Street Art Project known as May's. There's quite a lot of information about the initiative on the website, however I'm still undecided if the organisation element of the project took away some of the magic. Though I suppose in this day and age it's required and I'm certainly not about to condone illegal graffiti.

All this perving at street art left us with a great hunger so not far down Kings Street we ducked into an appealing looking burger joint called Moo (excellent burgers with optional wholemeal buns - a big plus point in my book).

And what do you know - more street art albeit by slightly younger artists and with a definite theme.

It was here however that my mind-altering hunger meant my camera stayed switched on and the battery died before the sleep mode kicked in so I couldn't take photos of the lively Kings Street. Lesson learnt.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Day and Night: Sydney

Remember when I told you that the place we stayed in on the northern shore of Sydney afforded us a great view over the city. Well, this was what I was talking about. I took these photos standing just outside the front door of the maisonette we rented in Waverton. Sadly there wasn't a beautiful big bay window from which to admire the view, but it made going out all the more special, to wander down this hill looking up and out at arguably one of the best city skylines in the world.

You can see more of my Day and Night photos taken in the places I've stayed here.

(As you may be able to tell from the photo above, I'm still really struggling with night time photography and I will openly admit my photographs of Sydney's New Year fireworks were pitiful, so any tips would be very welcome.)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Sydney and I feels like a long time ago.

We lasted over two weeks but thanks to New Year, a long list of long lost friends (of NewMan's) to visit and my best tourist impression yet the time flew by because yes, I was having fun. Over the next few weeks I'll happily share some of this fun with you and today I start this with some photos of a place that I was not actually allowed to be a tourist in.

NewMan and I stayed in a small village-esque suburb called Waverton on the North Shore of Sydney. It was quiet, homely and old enough to have the character I always crave and enjoy in a city. It was also strategically positioned to allow us some of the best views of the instantly recognisable and loved Sydney Harbour. 

Seeing as most days the sun shone over this new and attractive city I had in front of me to explore, many of my adventures as a tourist began with a healthy and hearty walk towards Milsons Point, where the Harbour Bridge sets out from the north via Lavender Bay and along through Luna Park.

For those not in the know Luna Park is an amusement park, which sits along the northern banks of Sydney Harbour immediately before Milsons Point. The park was originally opened in the mid-1930s and remained popular for decades until sadly in the 1970s a horrific fire on the Ghost Train ride claimed the lives of six children and an adult and the park closed down. After reopening a few years later under a new name, there were subsequent closures in the 1980s and the 1990s (due to urgently required engineering repairs and noise pollution complaints respectively) but since it's reopening in 2004 it has remained a popular place for locals and tourists alike. It is also now famous for it's original design and artwork by Arthur Barton, the style of which remains in today's park, in particular "The Face", which greets visitors with as much grimace as smile.

Sydney-sider born and bred NewMan made it clear from the outset that I would gain little from actually paying for a ticket to experience a ride or two at Luna Park. I suppose in some ways it's like me taking a complete foreigner straight to Chessington World of Adventures on the first day of their very first visit in London. And in some ways he was absolutely right but in others I don't think a ride or two or a look around the old-school style Coney Island "Funny Land".

Either way I enjoyed soaking up the joviality which flowed through Luna Park and I hope my pictures capture this. 

It lightened my mood and my slightly aching feet seeing as I was very unused to Sydney's hills.
P.S. I recently wrote an article for the fabulous Travelettes about my love for the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and when I say love, I really do mean LOVE. It's a bit weird, I know. But please do have a read and/or a butchers at the photos I took because it is a bridge worthy of my love.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Don't have a cow, man

Once upon a time in New Zealand there were 22 sheep for every person who lived there.

Nowadays that number is more like 8 sheep for every Kiwi who lives on home soil rather than in Shepherd's Bush.

What you don't hear about as often are the cows.

There are a LOT of cows in New Zealand, where agriculture is a visibly dominant industry across much of the country. There are so many that apparently the government regularly debates a "fart tax" thanks to the mooooo-hoosive (sorry) amount of methane, which is emitted every year from, well, you know where from.

We acknowledged this in the way that only two girls can.

As my bestest friend Betty and I drove through deepest but brightest and greenest farming land of South Island we discussed how remote it was after not seeing a car pass us for miles and more worryingly not seeing a garage, shop or civilisation for some time. Just the occasional farm house dotted in the numerous fields of cows, which silently but consistently kept us company.

"It's just so remote," I said. "I mean it's not like they can just pop out for a pint of milk or something,"

In her uniquely wise way, Betty nodded at a field full of Jersey cows and responded with the cutest hint of sarcasm. "Yeah... something tells me they don't need to worry about a shortage of milk around these parts."

Whilst on the road I dabbled with the idea of photographing a cow up close but if you'll pardon the farmyard pun I chickened out. I'm not ashamed to say that cows scare the cowpat out of me.

Betty on the other hand is a fearless pro, not that she had a choice when she came nearly face to face with this one as it crossed her path, literally. (She has stayed on in NZ to visit family friends). Thank you Betty for these photos and for all the laughs we shared during our most epic road trip.

Monday, 20 February 2012

A Different Corner

So call me a pre-planner and all  but I normally know what song I'm going to pick as my #MusicMonday before Monday comes around but yesterday I was really struggling to think of a good song and this left me feeling strangely unprepared. Then NewMan took over the all-singing and all-dancing entertainment system in the hotel room house we're staying in and this morning he woke me up by playing this song and it seemed a good enough choice to me as I am once again in a different corner of the world. P.S. He really does love an 80s ballad does NewMan - please don't judge.

Oh and please forgive me the awful video and slightly tinny quality.

Today's Instagrams are from my second week in a campervan on the road in both the North and South Island of New Zealand. Again they don't quite capture the true beauty of this epic country.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn: Campsites of New Zealand

Well. When I decided to embark on travelling and travel blogging and wanted to document some of the more special places we stayed I had little idea that this would include campsites. Yet, I feel quick and honest reviews of the places we rocked up in our campervan, Lucky, would possibly be helpful to someone who is planning a road trip in a campervan around New Zealand as you may well need to pitch up at one of the following places and if you're like me you will agree that knowing where to get a decent hot, shower is worth a lot of Kiwi dollars.

South Island

Night One: Aspiring Campervan Park, Wanaka - A glam website accompanies this very cheerful campsite with cosy pitches and free internet, spa and sauna thrown in with the $42 you pay to rock up there for a night. You may be assured upon registration that you'll get a lake view but you won't unless you are 8 feet tall and standing on tip toes. There wasn't the best water pressure in the showers but it was clean and in a good spot for walking into town; a solid start.

Night Two: Kinloch Conservation Campsite, Kinloch nr. Glenorchy - A government owned conservation site with absolutely no frills but total thrills thanks to a enchanting view that should it come with an ensuite bathroom you'd pay $100s for. Instead you're asked to pay $7.00. There's no running water and the toilet is a drop hole but you can pay $5.00 to have a shower at nearby Kinloch Lodge, a cute and cosy hotel and restaurant where you can also indulge in a three course evening meal or bar snakcs should you choose to do so. Worth the long trek along a winding road, which turns into a bumpy beaten track for the views along the way and at the final destination, however be warned that an army of seemingly deet-immune sand flies will get through any window or door open long enough and they bite, a lot.
Sleeping alongside Lake Wakatipu at Kinloch

Night Three: Te Anau Lakeview Holiday Park, Te Anau - Part of the Kiwi Holiday Parks chain, this friendly and unassuming campsite offered us the best shower we'd had since hitting the road as well as generous sized pitches, excellent communal facilities and views of the lake, albeit through the trees and over the road. We were introduced to IAC Wireless Cards here, which were also usable at many of the campsites we stayed; it's a pay as you go system for numerous country wide internet hot spots with $10.00 buying you 24 hours access and/or 500MB (whichever expires first). Our stay at Te Anau cost us $19.00 per person.

Nights Four and Five: Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park Queenstown - The most centrally located campervan park in Queenstown was conveniently close to the action but the sites were small and crowded and it did quickly feel like we were staying in a car park. Showers were also an additional cost of $2 for 8 minutes of hot water, and the shower heads themselves were mounted so frustratingly low on the walls I had to nearly limbo under the water flow to wash my hair. $20.00 per person per night seemed fair when everything was on our doorstep including IAC access.

Night Six: Rapahoe Beach Motorcamp, Rapahoe - Arguably the strangest place we stayed in on this trip and the website does little to convey this. Essentially it is someone's garden and house, albeit picturesquely perched overlooking the sea. Toilets, showers and lounge area had a homely if half-finished feel to them, but they were clean enough. Two of the  showers were actually located in the same room as the lounge and kitchen area and with no ceiling to separate you it did feel as if someone could pop their head over to say hello while cooking their super noodle supper. Surprisingly there was decent internet available though had to pay by the hour ($3.00). This cheap and cheerfully strange experience cost $15.00 per person for a powered site. Being surprised by stunning views of the sun setting? Priceless.
Lucky van, lucky sunset, lucky us at Rapahoe

Night Eight: Tahuna Beach Holiday Park, Tahunanui - We chose this one as it was the right side of Nelson for getting up early and heading off to get our ferry at Picton, but this actually turned out to be one of the better places we stayed at and was a relative bargain at $34.00 for two of us as the showers were brilliant and the facilities extensive around which the campervan pitches were conveniently circled. Aside from its close proximity to Nelson airport and the little noisy air traffic it generated (Heathrow it aint!) this was overall a great place to stay and had IAC Wireless internet too.

North Island

Night Nine: Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park, Martinborough - Possibly our favourite campsite of the trip and part of the Kiwi Top 10 chain of campsites. The park still maintained a personal touch with family pets wondering the site and plenty of local information made available. Facilities were small but very clean and very modern and just, well, very nice. Slightly out of town but a lovely location looking across the flats of farmland and vineyards, we wished we could have stayed longer. Well worth the $20.00 per person.
The sky goes all impressive over Martinborough as we try the local wine

Night Ten: Kennedy Park Top 10 Resort, Napier - Well organised large site with big open pitches located around 2km from the centre of this famous art deco town. There was a bar and restaurant on site and the kitchens were huge though the sinks were very low; presumably because they assume everyone has kids to do the washing up!? Showers were nice and clean but had terrible water pressure and their position on the wall again assumes that the average height of a camper is 5'4" or smaller. A pricier site due to it being the closest park to Napier, $24.00 per person.

Night Eleven - All Seasons Holiday Park, Taupo -We were lucky enough to stay in this friendly park at the same time as New Zealand's Jack Daniels Club. When I say lucky I obviously mean extremely unlucky as this meant a slightly disturbed night's sleep thanks to their JD fuelled late night. However, very nice open plan facilities and outdoor area including a small thermal springs pool. Nice enough bathroom and kitchen facilities too and IAC Wireless internet access was available. It cost $20.00 per person again.

Night Twelve - Cosy Cottage International Holiday Park, Rotorua - Dotted in and around the pitches are numerous geysers as well as a couple of thermal spring pools and a geothermal steam oven, which extends your Rotorua geothermal experience. We were lucky enough to have an end pitch by the river which made for nice views and no passing traffic though a slightly longer walk to the showers and toilets, which were sadly probably the worst we used during our trip. Busy campsite and expensive internet ($10.00 for 100MB and no IAC access) and of course a lingering smell of rotten egg (aka sulphur) all for $24.00 per person. Our night here was also literally dampened by torrential rain, which leads us to discover (thankfully for the first time as it was our last night in the van) that there was a leak: cue sleeping awkwardly in the front seat and suffering from slightly soggy senses of humour the following morning.
A pitch with a view in Rotorua

Having written this I think it worth pointing out that New Zealand is the perfect place to roam free in a campervan or with a tent in the boot of your car and not pre-plan where you are going to stay, which is essentially what we did. But if you did want to plan I wanted to at least give a little insight to some of the places you could stay. There really are so many options for camping; you can stick to holiday parks like we mostly did (call me boring but I love a hot shower at least once a day) or you can find the many places where camping is permitted in beautiful nature reserves and conservation sites. However, also be aware that there are equally as many restrictions in national parks and areas of natural beauty so make sure that you're welcome and of course please camp responsibly (i.e. taking your rubbish away with you and don't light campfires). All international airports and the brilliant tourist information I-Sites will have a collection of directories and maps of where you can find campsites.

Happy camping!

Thursday, 16 February 2012


When The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama was published it was a best seller and a discussion catalyst thrusting the matter of Tibet's independence and struggle on to the dinner tables of many an educated household. It's also a well written and candidly insightful story about a fascinating peace-loving man, the fourteenth Dalai Lama.

What's it all about? So, basically the Dalai Lama is a really, really decent guy and Nepal based US journalist chanced upon the opportunity to spend sixty hours in conversation with him over the course of three years. Laird's goal was to learn and tell more about the history of Tibet and he does this predominantly through telling the stories of the lives of previous Dalai Lamas with a deliberate focus on ancient and recent historic events that have ultimately led to Tibet's recent plight. First published in 2006 it sadly captures today's remaining uncertainty about what the eventual solution will be.

What's so good about it? Laird's experience and knowledge of the subject matter shines through, as do his typical journalistic traits as at times he dares to challenge arguably one of the most respected men in the world. What I liked most were the insights to the Dalai Lama as a human being with human vices (he used to love driving old Western cars around his compound prior to his exile in 1959) and a self-deprecating sense of humour.

Who, me? I'll be honest and say I knew relatively little about Tibet and more ashamedly about the Buddhist religion and this book afforded me an education on both. If you have an inkling of an interest in Tibet or the Dalai Lama, this should be one of the first books you turn to.

(Please note any links to Amazon are through my Amazon Associates account which means I make a little money (5%) from any purchases made from clicking through this link. Thank you, please.)

Monday, 13 February 2012

Love on the run...

What with it being Valentine's Day and all, I thought I'd spend a few moments imparting some thoughts about love and travel and what I've learnt so far about how these two work together. I am actually less motivated to do this because of today being a commercialised celebration of love, but more because today is also the day I am reunited with NewMan after three weeks apart.

I'll be honest, I have treasured the break.

After over three months together travelling through Southeast Asia and Australia, with often less than an hour apart on most days, I was craving lengthy periods of time alone and prior to our separation I looked forward to doing all the things I love to do more on my own than when I am with someone; writing, reading, walking, taking photographs, licking out the last remnants of a yoghurt pot's contents, plucking my eyebrows slowly and meticulously. I yearned for a bed to myself; to stretch out in all directions and feel the cool sheets under my skin.

This isn't very romantic is it? Bear with me...

Well, I indulged in most of the above as I spent time on my own in Melbourne and then it was time to head to New Zealand, where I was thrust into the bosom of someone else. Not another man but my best childhood friend Betty who shared my breathing and living space in the back of a campervan for two weeks.

And so I lapped up the girl time. We dipped Anzac biscuits in our tea, we talked about anything and everything until late into the night, we shared silent glasses of wine as we read our Kindles and we sang loudly to awful songs as we explored both the North and South Islands by road.

So not only did I indulge in Birdie time, I was also afforded big dollops of girlfriend time. It's been an excellent unexpected bend in the road that has been my travels so far.

But the whole time I missed him. The whole time I felt like I was missing a sock or I'd not cleaned my teeth that morning. I also started to think about NewMan in a way that I haven't for a while. Instead of thinking about NewMan as the person who gives me directions when driving, or the guy who helps me carry my bags up steep steps or someone I rely on to pass me my towel when I get into the shower without it, I have started to think of him again as the man I want to share a cocktail with, the one I want to watch the sunset with, the man I want to walk across a beach with.

The man I want to be romantic with as well as roam-antic.

Travelling as a couple is special, exciting and precious. But it is also difficult and has been known to make or break the best of them. I have learnt that the "travelling couple" has real potential to forget it is also a couple, and all couples need a little bit of romance every now and again.

Though we were far from broken, the time apart has reminded me of this and has served us well and I can't wait to spend Valentine's Day or what will be left of it, meeting up with NewMan in the hot, probably smelly and humid arrivals hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The perfect way to be both romantic and roam-antic...

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Born to Die?

This is the first time I've chosen a song I don't like for #MusicMonday. At least I'm not sure I like it. Yet.

I know that this woman's name has been thrown about all over most social media platforms of late and I always find it sad that you are forced to look up an artist from something you read, rather than a song you heard. Yet, I Googled her, listened and watched on YouTube and came to the conclusion that this song is one of her better offering.

This is based on my liking the video; I'm a sucker for a woman who has tragedy encroaching on her while wearing a white fringed leather jacket. Oh and those beautiful tigers, I just hope they were looked after and not drugged into complicity at all. Anyway. Although her voice isn't "beautiful" in the traditional sense of the word, I like it - it's deep and different and she is slightly delightfully uncomfortable to watch. She also has great hair.

I'm putting this song out there to see what you all think? Have I missed something by not falling head over heels for Lana Del Rey? Or shall I just stick to my tried and tested method of hearing something and liking it and steadfastly ignoring the hype?

Moving on. These Instagrams are of some of the pretty flowers I saw in Australia, which after two weeks on the road in New Zealand feels like a long time ago so I'll enjoy reminiscing. I didn't expect the flowers to be quite so different from the ones back home and during this trip I really wanted to capture these small differences as well as the more obvious ones.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Another kind of green...

After over a month in Australia and driving from Brisbane to Melbourne, with lengthy stays along the way, I thought I'd seen all the different shades of green that the world had to offer.

But then I touched down in New Zealand. 

A week exploring the South Island by campervan, driving and occasionally walking through some of the wildest terrain I've ever seen means I must back track on this statement and acknowledge that the myriad shades of green which NZ offers up is like no other.

Here are some of my photos of the green I've seen and the other colours that pop through here and there.

(Bonus points for those of you who can spot where in beautiful New Zealand these were taken.)

Friday, 10 February 2012

Like a bird without wings...

Travel quotes have been much blogged about and are well known by many. And yet they still inspire. One usually refers to songs when using the following phrase: "It's an oldie but a goodie" but I think this could apply to today's blog post about travel quotes.

Matador Network published this list of famous travel quotes back in 2008 and it was added to by the hundreds of comments that followed. I have created a collage of my favourite quotes from this list, which I hope you enjoy.

These are the quotes that I connected to and felt most inspired by. Although travel is an evergreen tree of inspiration sometimes you lose your focus and perspective as the fatigue of being on the road and without roots sets in. When I read these quotes I feel reassured and rejuvenated a little.

There is one that stands out for me (for obvious reasons) and will almost certainly feature in a new blog banner design that I am working on.

"A traveller without observation is a bird without wings." Moslih Eddin Saadi.

And just look at what birds with wings are capable of...

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The whole of the moon

Yesterday dissolved into a typical evening on another campsite part way through our campervan tour of New Zealand. 

After a day of many miles and even a ferry crossing from South to North Island, I had cooked dinner (bashed potatoes and bacon) on our campfire (well, the built in gas hobs in the boot of our van) and throughout Betty had kept my wine glass full with a local Martinborough wine. Then we sat down on a picnic table helpfully found near our van's pitch and we began to eat. Rather than talk idly we individually inspected our new surroundings, surveying our home for the night. As I glanced out across the backdrop of that night’s campsite I saw something I’d never seen before, at least not consciously.

“Wow. Look at the moon.” I told Betty.

The proudly full moon was rising in a distinctly sun-like manner, as if to say to the solar day shift worker "It's my turn now, let's be having you!"

It was a slow but steady climb in the darkening blue sky. As we both swallowed our mouth fulls and reached for our cameras in silent synchronicity, I wondered why I’d never seen the moon rise before when surely it goes through this motion each and every evening.

Is it just me? Have you ever watched the moon rise before?

I suppose one explanation is our obsession with the sun setting over rides any lunar love we may have. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone with sunsets being my chosen topic for previous blog posts here, here and here. However, after witnessing the moon rise over a horizon of New Zealand mountains I’ll endeavour to look out for the moon’s entrance as much as I will the sun’s departure.