Follow Amanda & Rob around the world for a year. From 30 September 2005!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Zorb Limey

From the age of seven, ever since I saw my first hamster, Smeg, blindly trundling around our house in a little plastic ball and crashing into all doors,tables and walls, I have always wondered what it was like to be a hamster.

A couple of days ago, I got that opportunity when I zorbed for the first time. Admittedly, when we put Smeg in his ball, we didn’t half fill it with water and throw him down a 200m zig-zag course on a hill. That would have been considered cruel. But that is exactly what I did.

After performing a superman dive to get through the hole of the big clear bouncy plastic ball, I landed with a splash in a pool of warm water and was then pushed down the hill. The ball wasn’t really very clear plastic, so I spent the duration of the 40 second journey having no clue where I was and just being thrown around. It was, I can imagine, like being a pair of pants in the rinse cycle of a washing machine. It was great fun though and I got out of the ball at the end a little dizzy, but with a broad grin on my face.

Next week, I plan to sit in a cage with a sawdust floor and run in a big wheel at 3am for a few hours in my quest to get closer to a hamster’s way of living.

We are now in smelly Rotorua and have been to a couple of hot springs. Off to tackle the Tongariro Crossing on Tuesday and then on to Taupo, Napier and Wellington. Just had a huge lunch buffet which was truly excellent, although I ate a little too much and feel a bit like a Zorb ball myself right now.

Over and out.

Robert M Speake

Sunday, January 08, 2006

NZ - Vans, Trees and many, many Pies

Seems that we haven’t written much for a while. And now we are already a week into 2006. So happy new year one and all. Our new year’s eve was spent drinking (surprise, surprise). We had a BBQ in the courtyard of our hostel, before heading down the road to an Irish Pub with a live band playing Rambling Boys cover versions to the wee small hours. We snuck out at midnight to watch the fireworks going off the top of the sky tower, and I woke up the next morning to find a stolen pint glass and a half eaten burger next to my bed. So just like any other New Year’s Eve really, just a little bit warmer. Of course, the first task of 2006 was to bung the half eaten burger in the microwave and tuck in – the greatest hangover cure.

We actually spent a week in Auckland as we had a lot of faffing with camper vans. In a nutshell, we spotted one, bought it, then spotted a better one, so bought that too. So we started the new year as a two van family. In the end, it all worked out as the positive market conditions after New Year meant that we sold the first one at a small profit (our two business degrees didn’t go to waste), and now we have the one we wanted - a 20 year old Toyota Hiace with blue go-not-quite-so-slow stripes down the side and a pop up roof. We have been cruising around the Northland for the past few days. Lovely scenery, although it was a lot of driving (we actually took our van past the 300,000km mark this morning). Highlights were driving on 90 mile beach (not too far as the van is already pretty rusty), seeing the biggest and 2nd biggest trees in NZ (Kauri trees – we didn’t then bother following the track to the 7th biggest, what is the fun in seeing the 7th biggest when you have already seen the 1st and 2nd biggest??) and a couple of really nice and peaceful campsites. So far, to our surprise, we have seen more cows than sheep, but eaten more sheep than cows. We have also seen and heard a lot of birds whose bird song sounds very much like R2-D2. Now we are back in Auckland and will head off tonight towards the Coromandel peninsula.

In other news, both Mr and Mrs Hares and Mr and Mrs Speake have arrived safely on NZ soil. We’ll be meeting up with them in a couple of weeks. I await news of the URL for their blogs and will publish them shortly J. We are very excited about seeing them and will endeavour to shower before then.

We have discovered shops again in Auckland, and I have had to control Amanda who at one point, was buying shoes at the rate of one pair a day. I, on the other hand, am delighted to discover that the Kiwis are huge fans of pies. Amanda has had to control me as, at one point, I was buying pies at the rate of one pie per hour. But they are mighty tasty. Currently the Ponsonby Tandoori Chicken Pie is at the top of the pie league.

Gotta go. There are more pies to be eaten.

Pie pie.

Rob and Amanda