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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake


Written Off in Wellington

December 16th, 2006 by sunflowers

Wellington mapMe, not the bike. On Friday I met up with some old work colleagues and went out for drinks. It turned into one of those nights you swear you will never repeat and rather than driving north I had to spend and extra day in Wellington recovering.

Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand with a population of 370,000 and located on the bottom of the North Island.

Posted in New Zealand | 1 Comment »


Windy Wellington

December 15th, 2006 by sunflowers

Fire FighterWellington is known as the Windy City (because of the strong winds the city gets) but it should also be known as the Winding City due to the hilly nature of the city and the number of winding roads that would appear to be one way but are in fact two way. The ferry docked in Wellington just after nine and I managed to find the street that my friends lived on quite quickly as they didn’t live too far from the ferry terminal. Unfortunately I had written down the incorrect address and couldn’t find the house. As Wellington is almost built entirely on hills I couldn’t find any place to turn the bike around so went miles up a hill around these hairpin tight corners before I managed to find a bus turning area to turn around. Finally after going way back the other way and having the same problem I stopped at an address similar to my friends where a bike was parked outside and found out that they were their next door neighbours. Riding down a hill with five cars lined up behind me made me realise I am going to have to work on hilly bends and will probably try and do the off road course again this summer.

Quite freaky hearing about the fires in Australia as I used to be a volunteer bush fire fighter when I lived there.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Day One on Daisy

December 14th, 2006 by sunflowers

DriRider OutfitAfter a pleasant evening fitting the throttle cable and an in depth description of the differences between the old Funduros (what I have) and the new GS’s, the workings of the carburettor vs fuel injection I think I will have to upgrade Thumper for a new model for the trip ñ particularly as it would rid me of my common mistakes of riding without the headlights on, leaving the kickstand down and forgetting to close the choke. Plus the newer models have a catilik converter which apparently reduces the emissions by two thirds. On Thursday morning I headed off north to catch the ferry from Picton to Wellington. To begin with it was cool enough to be back on the bike and New Zealand’s speed limit of 100km per hour (60 miles) was fine. In the last few years NZ has put in place strict speed fining. If you are caught doing more than 10kms (6 miles) over the speed limit it is an automatic fine. If you are caught doing more than 40kms (24 miles) over the speed limit you lose your license for a month and they take your keys. Nigel said that one of the bike rental companies frequently has to go and collect foreigners who have rented bikes and been caught speeding along the Canterbury plains as you have long flat stretches and very few cars.

The StoreThe StoreAs I was riding someone elseís bike I was extra cautions and spent my time practising the techniques I had learnt in my advanced riding, following the correct line around corners and spreading my wealth (making sure I was aware of everything around me). For lunch I stopped at ‘The Store’ and had some lovely seafood chowder served in a bread bowl and stared out the window at the view of the ocean. I saw a few seals along the coast and rode through some amazing scenery but as it was slightly drizzly I decided that I would take some photos on my way back. There is this really cool wooden one way bridge on our number one highway at the top of the South Island which they are in the middle of replacing so as it is a bit of a landmark to me I rode over it again and took a little video of it.

Posted in New Zealand | 5 Comments »


Keeness and Christchurch

December 13th, 2006 by sunflowers

Addington Race CourseI woke up at four this morning all excited about flying down to Christchurch and meeting Nigel who is lending me his bike. As I wasnít able to get back to sleep I got up and did my emailing to sort things back at home. Just after ten my sister dropped me off at the airport and after a delayed start we flew down to Christchurch. It was quite cool to feel excited as I have done so much travel for work in the last few years that I have lost the feeling of anticipation of seeing something new. So it was strange to feel that way when I was going to Christchurch where I have actually lived before. Maybe it was because it was tinged with nervousness of meeting someone that I didnít know who was going to lend me a bike. My family canít understand it at all which might have contributed to my anxiety.

The new outfit
Nigel and JasonFilming the dogsBut it was all in vain. Even forty minutes delayed Nigel was at the airport port to meet me. Our first stop was a bike shop as Nigel had ordered a new throttle cable for Daisy (his í01 BMW GS F650 that he was lending me). I had a quick look at the bike gear as I was hoping to get something better fitting than the outfits I had tried on in the UK as I know Leviís cuts their jeans differently for the market down under. They had last seasons Rally Cross DriRider jacket and trousers set on sale for $NZ395 (£140, $US250) down from $NZ560. I tried it on and it fit really well and the trousers have a really wide leg so that you can get them over your boots and I reckon they are totally more flattering than the winter trousers I have back in the UK. It is well vented, has a breathable waterproof liner and you can purchase an accessory kit with a thermal liner and a water bladder.

At the Races
Photo FinishEditing the racesAfter the bike shops we headed out to the race track where Nigel is a photo finish camera man. It turns out that Nigelís whole family is in the biz and his two sons and daughter have part time jobs operating the race cameras and working the editing suite. The night was a mixed greyhound racing and trots (horses pulling carts) and I got to see all the behind scenes. One race I watched them do a photo finish. The next one it was up to the platform over the roof to watch the filming. I then watched the commentator call a race after listening to him warming up by memorising the racing colours. It was amazing how he was able to call all the horse positions and as it was a tight finish there was a big finally to the race. I then watched the lurer driver who operates the rabbit type device that the dogs chase and can be no more than five metres in front of the dogs and no close than two metres. My last stop was the editing truck where I watched them put it all live onto tv feeding in various cameras and setting up the playbacks at the end of the race. The most impressive thing was the speed that everyone had to be done in order to produce a smooth running show.

RiggerBeer TapsThe pictures are of the Addington Race track, Nigel and his assistant Jason with one set of cameras, Nigelís son Paul on the cameras, the software used to take the photo finish and provide the timing differences between the dogs, and the editing van.

Riggers: a special mention has to be made of the New Zealand concept of two litre plastic, bring and fill your own, bottles of beer. They arenít as common in the North Island where they are called Pub Pets but are very common in the South Island and go by the name of Riggers. The place we stopped in at had about thirty different beers on tap and they filled them for you.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Still Shopping

December 12th, 2006 by sunflowers

My sister could shop for Korea! I am so glad that the Christmas shopping hasn’t started yet and the shops shut at six.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Start Shopping

December 11th, 2006 by sunflowers

My mother is excited that we are all home at the same time for the first time in ten years and had booked a family portrait sitting which has been now moved to be at the same time as the wedding vows ceremony. So now there is a big push to try and find something to wear. Plus as my sister lives in Korea where there is nothing in her size she saves up all her shopping to do when she is home visiting New Zealand.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Starting South

December 10th, 2006 by sunflowers

Auckland SkylineAfter my sister’s graduation I went shopping with my mother, sister and her kids. We are planning to hold a ceremony on Christmas eve for my sister to and her husband to say their wedding vows in New Zealand as they got married in a traditional Korean wedding in Seoul where they live. This is a picture of Auckland from the North Shore.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Hangi

December 9th, 2006 by sunflowers

HangiXmas in the ValleyI have to go down to Christchurch to pick up the bike so we drove south down to Whangarei to stay with my sister and attend her first year graduation on the Sunday and go to Xmas in the valley, a Maori cultural evening in Rumunga Valley. We had hangi which is traditionally cooked Maori food. It is suppose to be boiled in a pit dug in the ground but we think it was done using a steamer so it didn’t have a smoked taste and wasn’t very well cooked.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Bike Bookings

December 8th, 2006 by sunflowers

I have booked my airplane ticket to fly down to Christchurch and pick up the bike I have been kindly lent by Nigel off of Tui CrescentI Before I left the UK I booked the winter Advanced riding classes again (they asked me not to complete them last year as they said it was for advanced riders and I needed to learn how to ride first) and a motorcycle maintenance course in Hackney for Thursday nights. Both will start the week after I get back to the UK. I am not really looking forward to enforced riding throughout the winter but figure I might as well learn how to ride in crap conditions. I booked both advanced riding and motorcycle maintenance classes back in the start of 2006 so it sorta feels like déjá vu. The picture is of my sister’s place in Whangarei which wouldn’t fit into the next post.

Posted in Preparation | No Comments »


Lips, Laptop, Jet Lag and Laziness

December 7th, 2006 by sunflowers

Mom taking Eden to balletI think that jet lag has finally caught up with me and today I was sitting going through my ex-work email collating email addresses to send out my gmail address to and I fell asleep in a lazyboy chair waking up just in time to accompany my mother taking my eldest niece to her ballet lessons. It is a bit strange after almost six years with a company and usually at least keeping on top of my emails and projects while I am on holiday to not be working at all. I am also getting twinges of missing London and my home but the sunny weather is keeping it at bay.

I had to find a wireless connection in Paihia to upload my blog and pictures as my mothers broadband is still slow as molasses as she is running Windows 98 and I don’t have a floppy drive on my laptop and her computer didn’t recognise my ipod as a connected drive. I also spent about half an hour trying to use her router on my laptop even installing the usb modem that she uses but gave up as I was too tired to concentrate. Now that I have uploaded my blog after several laptop crashes (not too impressed with that) I am waiting for the rest of the family as my father is taking us out to dinner tonight to Lips café.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


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