New Zealand Cruise in 1000 Words or Less

Setting out to cruise around beautiful New Zealand for the third time, this time on the Sea Princess.  Previous trips were on the Sun Princess and the Dawn Princess.  Looking forward to the exceptional service and relaxing atmosphere of the cruise ship.  This is holidaying – no cooking, no packing and unpacking, no driving, no work, no worries!

Day One – Heading out to sea:  28, sunny, zero rain, fairly humid.

  • Platinum loyalty circle thing worth it’s weight in gold, no lines, no waiting, no bullshit.
  • Dammit, my bags were held for ‘suspicious products’ again!  Thought i had taken all my pocket knives out of my luggage.  Turns out it was held for suspicious grog.
  • As per usual, had a lot of fun watching people getting lost all over the ship.  Sea Princess is a sister ship to the Dawn Princess and the Sun Princess, so for us feels all very familiar.
  • Met our Room Steward, Rene, asked him about warming up my heat pack in the mornings, he immediately tried to fob it off to the Room Service staff… not a great first impression, Rene.  Odds of good tip… fifty/fifty.
  • Meet our dinning companions, ‘Chris the Plumber’ from Narangba, who tells us stories about his mates getting drunk and passing out all over the place. Chris has never travelled before.  And by ‘never travelled’, I mean NEVER travelled.  Anywhere.  Ever. Has never been on a plane or been further than Brisbane. And I quote: “I’ve ‘never had no where to go.”  End quote. Chris TP’s girlfriend, Tamara, is rather quiet and maintains a perpetually semi-embarrassed composure while Chris is talking.
  • Other diners at our table, ‘Brian FuckKnows What He Does Couldln’t Be Arsed Enquiring’, is completely unable to order dinner, because he couldn’t identify what half the items on the menu were… ‘Sirvitchee? Vul air vent? What’s that shit?’  (cerviche and vol au vents).  *cringe*  Also tells stories of drunk mates passing out and pissing in inappropriate places – what’s with that.  Brian FuckKnows’ girlfriend, Lemona/Temona/Femona? is the quintessential non speaking part… kill me now.
  • Recognise that I really am a most dreadful (but accomplished!) snob, and think, ‘We are in for a very long cruise with this lot for dining companions.’
  • Overheard from an older gentlemen at the next table at dinner: ‘When we were kids we used to play cowboys and Indians with .22s’, which garnered the reply, ‘And these days they give kids guns that shoot foam (scoffing tone)’.  Slightly less drunken bogan and marginally more interesting ‘get off my lawn’ culture happening over there, maybe we need to sit with them…  How much does one have to slip the Maitre d’hotel to shift tables?  :S
  • Back in the stateroom. Note to Princess Cruises: eucalyptus soaps, shampoos, body washes etc are pretty exotic if you’re in Alaska. But on a ship with over 1900 Aussies, most of us are just going to end up feeling like we’re bathing in Soothers… that or koala piss.
  • Also, there was no guacamole to be found for love or money in the buffet this afternoon. Tres disappointed.
sea princess riviera deck chairs
Day Two – Glorious day at sea: 22, sunny, light swell.
  • First things first.  Engage in very important task… harass the maitre d’hotel to move our table for dinner.  It seemed highly likely that was going to slit my throat (or theirs… preferably theirs) if seated beside Chris the Plumber and/or Epicurean Brian for the next two weeks.
  • Heard more ‘back in my day the young people had more respect’ conversations from no less than eight people on three different occasions.  Either this ship is full of complaining senior citizens or Princess is starting to attract the P&O crowd, which is pissing off the frequent flyers.
  • The ship’s onboard entertainment schedule for the day, saw me pulling out a long neglected embroidery projected… not a good start Mr Cruise Director.
  • At some point, went looking for peace and quiet in the library… only to discover people treat the area as a thoroughfare and don’t quite understand the ‘libraries are quiet’ spaces concept.
  • After being assured by Mr K that the ship’s entertainment is usually fabulous, we went to see a comedian… and I lasted for about five minutes after a strange little guy emerged in a sombrero and mexican rug, bad mo and started to sing.  What crap!  No laughs were had, no shits were given. Had to surreptitiously sneak out once the house lights were out, kicking the shins of every granny in our row  STRIKE ONE.
  • NB:  Fair weather, but no guacamole sightings today either.
Day Three – Floating on the ocean: 22, sunny, no swell.
  • Disturbed by the movie channel on the TV in our stateroom.  The Hobbit was on.  On repeat.  All day.  Seems portentous somehow.
  • Damn… why is there no guacamole on this ship?!
  • Went for a wander round the Promenade before dinner.  The ocean is such an appealing shade of blue.  So gorgeous.  Had strong urge to jump into the ocean from seven floors up, but instead engaged in an interesting discussion about how English has no word for this particular feeling rather than, you know, actually jumping in.
  • First formal night.  Plenty of over coiffed, over tanned, over made up scary ladies getting around.. one woman in turquoise wearing way too much paste jewellery and looking like an orange leather neck turtle, made high pitched small talk with us as we went in to dinner. Left a lasting impression – avoid her next time we see her around the decks.
  • Score in the dining room!!  Managed to con the Maitre d’ into seating us at a table for four with some of Mr K’s old work mates who happen to be on the ship… supposed to be only for the night but fingers crossed.
  • ‘Bye Polar’ afterdinner mints handed around after a fabulous meal… bwahahaha.
Sea Princess 1 Promenade deck
Day Four – Still at sea: 22, partly cloudy but fine. very light swell
  • Breakfast in the Horizon court… oddly there is no smoked salmon (a cruise ship staple) out for breakfast, but plenty of rollmops and herrings.  I think they’ve misjudged their audience. Go figure.  Head for the fruit salad instead.
  • Found quiet spot in the Wheelhouse Bar to watch the ocean go by.  Was having a lovely relaxing time until we were disturbed by the Sea Princess Pop Choir rehearsals doing ‘Hit the Road Jack’ and ‘Teach the World To Sing’. On repeat … sigh.
  • Later in the day enjoying an aperitif in the same Wheelhouse Bar (favourite bar on the ship) listening to the American entertainers doing ‘Down Under’… what’s wrong with this picture?  😀
  • Evil plans come to fruition!  Scored the table for four in a quiet corner of the dining room with the amusing waiter, Gilmer, for the remainder of the cruise.  Let the beaujolais flow and the good times and roll.  Au revoir, Chris the Plumber and menu-challenged Brian… we will miss you not a jot.
  • Another day at sea – still no sign of guacamole anywhere…very odd indeed!
Sea Princess Wheelhouse Bar
Day Five – Auckland: 22 showers but clearing in the afternoon.
  • Fourth or fifth trip to Auckland… losing count.  Third trip at Christmas time.
  • Managed to pick up a SIM card – $20 for something like 3GB and ta-da internets ahoy!
  • Mistakenly had a horrid burger for lunch at somewhere completely forgettable… should have held out for some good ol’ Kiwi fush and chups.
  • Decided to avoid the foul weather by heading to the cinema to see Delivery Man – that’s right, travel the world and go see the inside of a movie threatre folks, it’s what all the jaded and travel weary are doing this summer.
  • After the movie I thought I’d go get a massage… FROM HELL.  Masseuse doesn’t have much English and I end up feeling like I’ve been keelhauled and know I will regret this decision for at least the next two days.
  • Find attempts to escape Christmas have been thoroughly thwarted – came back from being ashore to find ship covered in Christmas decorations… again.  Please no carolling!
  • Over dinner, I discovered that ‘archeology’ is not just for history nerds but also for 55 year old men who leave hickeys all over their 75 year old girlfriends!  Long story, don’t ask.
  • Note to self,  get Small Child to write a ‘Bucket List’ of sorts.
  • Corn chips were acquired ashore, in readiness for what I am sure will be imminent guacamole sightings.
auckland building
auckland memorial flame
Day Six – Tauranga:  Supposed to be raining, instead 22 and sunny.  🙂
  • Hazard the Horizon Court for breakfast instead of civilized stateroom breakfast in bed, busy as expected and oddly hot… air con not coping?
  • Get a heat pack warmed up in our stateroom in an attempt to soothe my complaining back… Waited patiently for the sports news to finish only to find out I was watching a stupid sports channel.  It didn’t end… why didn’t it end?
  • Fun fact: Kiwi fruit were bred from Chinese gooseberries. Way to go GMO.  (and before you ask, no, I wasn’t participating in trivia competitions)
  • Picked up a hire car and spent the day chasing hobbitses.  Learned that hobbit holes are even smaller than they look – barely 5′ tall, 4′ deep and dirt floors… they go nowhere.  How can the hobbitses live like this?
  • Hint for beginners, wear disposable shoes to Hobbiton, take an umbrella, and share a meal at the Shire’s Rest (they’re huge!)
  • tweeted @peterjackson ‘Hobbity holes rock. Letterboxes need some work – they don’t open! How can the hobbitses get their royalty cheques?’
  • London Pub Night, Adults Only entertainment in the Vista Lounge… thought we were going to get some comedians (potentially crude and/or distasteful ones) instead got the Cruise Director and his crew making fools of themselves.  Swing and a miss for the onboard comedy team.  STRIKE TWO!
  • Finally cave and attempt to order guacamole from room service, only to discover they require six hours notice… WTF?  It’s just guacamole!
hobbiton tour matamata
hobbiton hobbit hole
Day Seven – Napier:  22 and overcast, but very pleasant.
  • Lucky number 42 got us off the ship fast as, bro.
  • Art Deco this, Art Deco that.  Gorgeous altogether!
  • Cool shopping, Irish pubs, wine, wine, wine and more wine.
  • Classic cars tootling around the bay are way way cool.
  • I-site biddies directing people onto buses are really really not.
  • Great Gatsby on the big screen tonight which surprises no one… except Mr K who didn’t make the Art Deco/Jazz era connection.
  • Beautiful red pōhutukawa Christmas flowers are everywhere… supposed to indicate a long hot summer ahead.  Apparently.  Well, by NZ standards anyway.
  • Getting back on the ship: old guy in front of us, ‘No one told me i needed picture ID to get back on the ship’… Third port.  ID required every time, hammered into you over PA system and in daily newsletters.  Sigh.
  • The guacamole vigil in the Horizon Court continues.  Think I might have to slip a little something to the staff up here to keep their eyes peeled.
napier art deco town
Day Eight – Wellington: 23 sunny and blue skies.  No wind!  Glorious.
  • Good Morning Rene, and what a delight it is to see your surly disposition this fine morning… yet again.  Odds of good tip:  diminishing.
  • Spent the day hanging out with a guy who lives next door to a guy who writes for Dr Who (3 episodes of last season apparently).
  • Went to Gelatissimo on the docks to try some award winning gelato (who knew they had awards for such things?!) The local Dawsum Plum and Pomegranate flavours were awesome.
  • Checked out the Victoria Mt lookout… saw the twisty forests that Peter Jackson had his hobbitses hide in when the dementors… err, sorry… wraiths, came looking for them.
  • Popped by the airport to see a truck sized Gollum sticking out of a wall and Gandalf flying on a huge eagle above the departure lounges… very cool.
  • Went down to the Weta Cave Workshop Tour and didn’t climb the trolls as per instructions.
  • Learned how all the movie props were made.  Was amused to see all their plastic chain maille is made by hand – they have large stitch and bitch groups being paid to sit around and knit the maille.
  • Same employees might get commissioned to make 2000 itty bitty miniature palm trees for a Thunderbirds cartoon?!?  Can you say ‘tedious way to be part of the movie industry’?
  • Very cool replica Stings in the gift shop, ranging from $6,500 for a regular one to $14,000 for one with scabbard, belt, mirror polish and sharpened.  Up to twelves months to get your custom Sting atm.  Bit ‘spensive in my humble opinion, but then again that’s NZDollars.  😀
  • Noticed that there is something odd about hearing the sales assistant call through to the back of shop asking for ‘five or six more Keys of Erebore, please’.
  • No sign of Peter Jackson anywhere.  How rood!  We came all this way to visit.
  • More beautiful red Christmas flower trees everywhere!  I love them.
  • Mr K discovers that leaving your ID/wallet on the ship is a bad idea… just saying.
  • Finally!  Guacamole…  And all is well with the world.
Wellington New Zealand
weta cave workshop wellington
weta workshop troll wellington
weta cave workshop sign wellington
Day Nine – Akaroa: 19 and raining, clearing in the afternoon
  • A cruise ship anchors in Akaroa Harbour and immediately the population of the town quadruples.
  • The ship’s shopping hostess tells all pax that there are two ‘must see’ shops in town – the Blue Pearl by the dock, and Fire & Ice gemstones… ‘other than that there is nothing to do in Akaroa’.  Nice sell sweetheart.
  • Lots of people head to CHCH for the day at $75 each, and discover it ain’t want it used to be … big surprise, huge earthquakes will do that to a place.  🙁
  • Got driven out of the Wheelhouse Bar twice today, once by a pianist, a saxophonist and a drum machine practicing Christmas Carols… by the fourth rendition of ‘Have Yourself Merry Little Christmas’ we were out of there!
  • Had a light healthy lunch today… that somehow ended with Mr K having three desserts in the buffet?  :S
  • Wilson (Lotus Spa) soap pile is ever increasing.  Have a mild but, containable, urge to send it to little old washer women in Romania.
  • Over dinner I learn that I am apparently going to have to learn to wax Mr K’s ears one day… ewww.   Thankfully the duck that was on the menu for the evening made up for this alarming inevitability outlined for the future.
  • Comedian Al Brown in the Princess Theatre tonight.  This is Mr K’s final chance to convince me that the shows on the ships are actually funny.  Guy comes out in a shiny black lounge jacket, tells one joke, that might be described as ‘an oldie but a goodie’ and then starts singing… Mr K leans over and says ‘I am so sorry.’  STRIKE THREE!!!
  • Back to a dearth of guacamole in the Horizon Court.  Short lived victory, now forgotten.
Sea Princess Riviera Deck
Sea Princess Traviata Dining Duck
Day Ten –  Dunedin: 19 overcast and cloudy, intermittent showers.
  • Done and dusted several times before. We’ve seen your chocolate factory. We have seen your brewery.  We’ve seen your Lanarch ‘castle’. We’ve seen your Olveston House.  We’ve seen your Otago peninsula.  We’ve even seen your fairy penguins 90mins north…
  • So, we decided to continue on with the hobbity theme of our tour of NZ and went to see the second hobbit movie: The Hobbit, the Desolation of Smaug in 3D at the very beautifully restored Art Deco, Rialto theatre in Dunedin.  Movie was pretty good – way cool dragony scenes.  In fact, probably the best CGI dragon since the Never Ending Story.  😉
  • Had lunch in a cool pub, Mac-something’s,  with some nice boutique beers and ciders on tap and kitchy decor.
  • Had some obligatory fush and chups – blue cod and fabulous home made tartare.
  • Went shopping for possums… and success!  Found a lovely charcoal poncho/serape thing that I’m going to take to Festival  😀
  • Also popped into The Scottish shop and picked up a 100% wool Lindsay tartan scarf.  Nice finds Dunedin, ta.
  • Skyped with The Small Child and there was some tears… I miss the little guy and can’t wait for cuddles.  He misses home and wants his high speed broadband back.
  • Italian dinner in the dining room (Yes, I will have your veal scallopini.  No, I don’t want you limoncello in the souvenir shot glass.)  Waitstaff in stripey things and a Fillipino named Jesus singing O Sole Mio in quite an accomplished tenor.  Beautiful… Wonder fleetingly what Brian FuckKnows made of a spot of opera over dinner.
  • On decks, about 10-12 degrees, decided to rug up for the Movies Under the Stars and saw ‘The Way Way Back’.  Excellent movie, am totally going to watch that again when we get back home.
  • Found some more guacamole!  But I’m way too stuffed to actually eat any of it… 😀
Dunedin Cathedral
Dunedin Fish and Chips
Day Eleven – Milford Sound: 19 and overcast, 2m swell and rising.
  • 2m swell means the sick bags are back in the stairwells.  So glad I have never gotten motion sick myself.  The bags are out but I don’t hear any one talking about people being sick or about others heading down to the ship’s doctor for shots… so it can’t be too bad.
  • Laze about in bed morning.  With poor weather forecast, there is little impetus to rush about the ship to check out the scenery as we cruise through the fjordlands … especially seeing that we have cruised through them twice before.
  • Miss the Dusky Sound portion, but got some lovely views of Doubtful and Milford Sounds… once we removed the ‘Do No Enter’ signs from the exits to the Level 10 observation decks  😀
  • Been learning all about The Profit – he’s a dude.  Need to find more of that for when we get home.
  • Been inadvertently catching American advertising – totally grossed out by the ear WaxVac (Google it if you dare… or click that there).
  • Dinner was an adventure, both Mr K and Mrs Hobbit couldn’t decide what to have for dinner so our waiter – Gilmer (very persuasive little guy whose name is pronounced like, Happy Gilmore) just bought them two dinners each!  And then the others had two desserts each… so much food!
  • Tried to order some Baileys on ice… ended up with Galliano instead.  Don’t ask.
Sea Princess Fjordland cruising
Day Twelve – All At Sea Again: 19, sunny and gorgeous, 1.5-2m swell.
  • Smoother sailing today which seemed to make the old biddies happier and decreased the risk of broke hips and rolled ankles.
  • Conned the room service people into bring some hot chocolate from the dining room with our breakfast in bed… best plan ever!  Why didn’t we think of this sooner?
  • There was Trivia in the Razzamatazz, Ice Sculpting on the Riviera Deck, Carpet Bowls on the Plaza Deck, an Art Auction in the Wheelhouse, Lectures in the Princess Theatre, Souvenir Sales in the Rigaletto Dining Room, Table Tennis on the Sports Deck… and we did exactly none of it.
  • Watched Red 2 and pottered around from quiet spot to quiet spot all day.
  • Accidentally found ourselves having lunch with the ‘comedian’ Al Brown, today.  Wanted to ask him how come he was using thirty year old jokes when he had the internet at his disposal… but he was busy telling the rest of the table how shit hot he was and I thought ‘let sleeping dogs, and comedians who don’t know they’re not funny, lie’.
  • Said ‘hi’ to Wilson in the shower… have no idea how many I’ve stashed to bring home – 10 maybe?
  • Been asking myself the following question all day – if you’ve been coveting something for the last four years and are now in a position to get it … should you splash out and just do it?  (Ed: answer is ‘no’. Apparently you stay sane and sensible).
  • Discovered that a bit of tasty, a bit of camembert, and a ball of cream cheese with two crackers, two dried apricots and some dried fig, do NOT a ‘cheese platter’ make.
  • The question ‘Should we check out the comedienne that is on tonight?’, was met with a resounding ‘FUCK. OFF.’  And… then we find out tomorrow that she was actually rather good.  Sigh.
sea princess sunset lido deck
Day Thirteen – Still at sea:  Calm as bro!  Only 1-1.2m swell. Flat like pancake.
  • We’ve slowed right the fuck down… must have high tailed it out of the fjords too quickly were chuffing along at approximately 21 knots, now feels like about 15 knots or less.
  • Still not so much as a smile (or any punctuality) out of Rene our room steward… Odds of good tip:  you’re looking a guy heading for an empty envelope.  :/
  • Special treat for the passengers of the Sea Princess, Sunday Morning Brunch in the formal dining room.  NEVER seen such a huge buffet in my entire life, being absolutely destroyed by a locust plague of old age pensioners.  Mountains of food (will have to copy the brunch menu in here somewhere).  They usually reserve the Sunday Morning Brunch thing for the World Cruise trips, but for some reason threw it out there or us lot.
  • Sat with one of THE most annoying women I have ever met in my life (and yes, that even includes Cheryl who I worked with in DEVET&IR for three years)… First time on a cruise ship and was very outgoing – way too outgoing for a Sunday morning.  Kept telling everyone how wonderful the cruise was, and how everything was the same, but different, but fun everyday!  Oddly enough she didn’t let up upon learning that the two couples constituting her brunch companions, had taken this same cruise three and four times respectively.  Just kept telling us how wonderful the cruise was – for about an hour.
  • Actually met one of the chefs on board, was nice to get an opportunity to thank him for all his hard work personally, usually all the kudos go via the wait staff etc.
  • Can’t get enough of seeing the people in their work out spandex and trainers taking the lifts DOWN to go out for a run on the Promenade… you’re going for some exercise, why on earth aren’t you taking the stairs!?
  • Smuggled my Wheelhouse peanuts and a Quay West Cooler cocktail into the Princess Theatre to see Man of Steel, promptly fell asleep – what a shit film.
  • Formal night again.  Get all tizzied up and teeter around on high heels in the rolling ship, though I’d rather be in sneakers.  Lobster on the menu in the dining room – yay!  Also Baked Alaska night in the dining room – meh!  There is only so many times you can wave your napkin around like a crazy person for half an hour and really mean it.
  • Get introduced to the Princess equivalent of their highest Frequent Flyers – Mr and Mrs Bryne who have spent 2066 days at sea.  Jebus.  And I thought, I was over Baked Alaska night!
Day Fourteen – Love the sea: Gorgeous sunny, 23 degrees.  What swell?
  • We have slowed to 14knots… obviously limping into Brisbane to make sure we don’t get there too early.
  • Breakfast outside on the Lido deck, lovely, lovely.  Going to miss this tomorrow.
  • Watched some energetic people getting into some Zumba with the Cruise Director’s floozy from London Pub night…
  • Saw a culinary demonstration in the Visa lounge. The executive head chef, Remy from Italy, made a salmon and seafood salad sandwich thing (which looked much better than my description implies), a lobster and seafood pasta dish and a Black Forrest cake with enough alcohol to drown my Uncle Dave in.
  • After that it was a tour of the galley and I was surprised to see how small the kitchens are seeing they have 183 chefs and cooks preparing over 12,000 meals a day for the two dining rooms, the buffet, the steakhouse, the grill, the pizzeria and other places where the food is at.
  • Had a lovely last dinner in the dining room… Gilmer and Defino (drinks waiter) were in fine spirits.  Made the mistake of ordering the New York prime rib fillet steak for dinner… HUGE chunk of very tender steak.  Such a large meal.  Should have stuck with the fish like I usually do.
  • Time to pack and get most of our stuff out in the hallways before retiring, so it can all be hustled off the ship before we are even out of bed in the morning.
  • Mr K wanted to watch ‘The Internship’ while we were ‘turning in on the ship’ (I know. It’s been a long two weeks 😉 ) but neither of us could be stuffed staying up late to watch it.
sea princess ship
Disembarkation Day – Brisbane: 28 – sunny, humid.
  • Everyone is elbows out and bashing the grannies out of the way to get at the bagels for breakfast.  Seems civility lasts about as long as one can sleep in on the ship… last day people are a bit frantic over breakfast, though why is beyond me – they’re not going to let us off for a few hours yet.
  • Have a light breakfast of fruit, scrambled eggs, ham, cream cheese and bagel before heading down to vacate our cabin.
  • Platinum priority in the Disembarkation Lounge (previously known as the Wheelhouse Bar) where we wait in comfort with the newspapers, tea and coffee, danish if you want one and a well presented blonde woman calls out the disembarking tickets.  Very civilized indeed!
And that at little over 4000 words (hey, brevity has never been my strong suit!), is the Readers’ Digest version of our third cruise around New Zealand.  Looking forward to our fourth cruise around New Zealand… possibly same time next year (give or take).  Who wants to come with us?  🙂

Fush and Chups and Hobbitses

Well, you can’t go to New Zealand any more without being bombarded with The Lord of the Rings this, and The Lord of the Rings that… but somehow, over our last three trips to the Land of the Long White Cloud, we’ve actually managed to not see ANY of The
Lord of the Rings or The Hobbitty type stuff or places. But seeing this was our third trip to Tauranga and the last two times we hired a car and went to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves (I wish I was a glow worm, a glow worm is never glum, for how can you be unhappy when the sun shines out your bum!), and Rotorua to the Whakarewarewa Thermal reserve with all the boiling mud and delightful fresh sulphurous air.

So, this time we thought we would hire a car and head to Hobbiton to check out where the filthy little hobbitses lived. Had a pleasant drive out there, takes about 40 minutes and only one toll road ($1.50 – you know, rumour has it, that NZ actually takes tolls OFF their bridges and roads etc, once they’re paid for… I know! Unheard of! But I digress). We arrived about fifteen minutes before our tour time and had a potter around the Shire’s Rest tour centre/gift shop/cafe. We then got loaded onto a bus called ‘Gandalf’. Yep, it was going to be a very Disneyesque sort of day.

We went for a short drive over the rolling hills of Waikato and got the run down on how Peter Jackson chose the Alexander’s farm from the air when touring the region via helicopter. It was primarily a working sheep farm and there is still plenty of lamb and mutton walking around and of course, lots of the obligatory electric fencing. We got dropped off at Hobbiton for our walking tour and were give a rather odd little guide, whose name escapes me, but whose lisp will probably be with me forever.

Our guide kinda sounded like he had drunk the Kool-Aid. Everything he pointed out to us was said as factual reference but somehow always within the movie/book narrative – like he believed hobbits were real, and so naturally we all should too…. eg: ‘Hobbits like
to leave things outside their homes that show what their professions are. The bakers will have loaves of bread and wares to sell in a small stall outside their home, and over there you can see the potter’s hole surrounded by pottery and ceramic pots. And they even like to paint symbols of their professions on their letter boxes!’ etc.

He did seem to break the odd reality he was selling, long enough to tell us things like ‘the mould and moss you see growing over all the ‘old’ fences here was rapidly created by throwing around a lot of yoghurt.’ Go figure. Anyway, we had no idea what to expect when we got there, and I was thinking there’d be half a dozen hobbit hole doors/window and chimneys and Bilbo’s house (which has a name but I’ve forgotten it) and that’d be about it. But it far exceeded my expectations with about 42 fantastic hobbit houses, the field where Bilbo had his 111th birthday party which was set up with a marquee, and loads of hobbit ‘artefacts’ laying around. Everything was in quaint miniature and the tour wound around Hobbiton landing you in the Green Dragon inn for a free ale or cider. There were cute stone bridges, a water mill, a duck/swan pond, quaint thatched roofs, tiny chairs, and loads of other cute hobbity stuff. Though we did spend half the day wondering if Peter Jackson was ripping off the poor hobbitses, because none of their letterboxes worked… and I ask you, how is a hobbit supposed to receive his royalty cheque if he can’t open his


It rained while we were there… and by rained, I mean a small monsoon came through that temporarily turned all the walkways into brooks, drenched our shoes. We all ended up with mud splashing back up to our knees and making all the paths slippery. The rain was okay but it did make it rather difficult to hold an umbrella and take a photo. So hint for new players, take an umbrella, a rain jacket, some shoes you don’t mind trashing and don’t worry, as it seems to pass as quickly as it comes. By the time we got past Bilbo’s house with the big fake tree (which I’m reminded is called Bag End), it was all blue skies and absolutely gorgeous, though a little on the humid side for NZ. All up I loved it, and would highly recommend people go visit the place if they have ever seen and enjoyed any of The Lord of the Rings Movies or the Hobbit movies (second one comes out here this week – a
fortnight before Australia gets it). The attraction itself seems to be going from strength to strength as more permanent structures are put in place and the food at the Shire’s Rest cafe after the tour was fantastic – but be warned, meals are NOT hobbit sized and you
cold easily share the Fush and Chips.  😛



OMG. What have I done?

I may have made a tactical error.

I’ve not been sleeping so great. Being on an unusual bed has a tendency to do that to me… aaaand this information surprises no one. So I wanted to go for a massage. Seeing that costs about $170 real dollars here, I thought I’d get one in Auckland instead. I know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I found a place in a shopping centre, very similar to what they have at home, and though a 45 minute neck, back and shoulder massage might loosen me up a bit. But I kinda overlooked the importance of communication in the massage process having become familiar with the massage therapists that I see at home.

Turns out getting a massage from someone with a limited grasp of English, isn’t the same as getting my nails done from someone with whom I have a similar language barrier. Worst thing that can happen getting my nails done by a little Vietnamese lady who can’t understand me is that I’ll end up with nails that are out too long or too square. Turns out that the worst thing that can happen getting a massage from a little Chinese lady with speaks VERY limited English is that I can spend the next hour in excruciating agony!

The exchange went something like this:

Me: Hi I’ve got a chronic pain condition from a number of car accidents, and I’d like a neck, back and shoulder massage, please.
Massage Lady: You point. You point on picture.
Me: O_o okay *duly points to picture*
ML: Ok. On table.
Me: I’d prefer no oil and 45 min mins thanks
ML: Okay. Okay. No problem. No problem. I do you.


So like a fool, I half strip and get on the table and within less than 30 seconds, I am clenching my hands, eyes wide open in extreme pain and going ‘Hey, easy on, that REALLY hurts.’ She pokes around for a bit, ‘So stiff. So stiff.’… a bit more ‘Very tight. Very tight.’, more prodding, ‘Too hard. Too hard’. I’m squirming and just about in tears, telling her to ease up! Then she says in very broken English, ‘You want me go lighter, I need take longer.’ Ok fair enough. I knew my muscles were in quite a state seeing how she poked my upper thoracic and I got a sharp pain behind my right ear, and then she poke my lower back and I got a horrid ants crawling over my scalp sort of tingly feeling, so that’s fair cop, I think. One hour it is.

She says ‘Muscles no loosen up without Chinese oil’. So, then it was out with the oil. Yeurk… I hate massage oil, it leaves you all slimy for the rest of the day. And she’s rubbing my back down like I’m a big brawny footballer or something, trying to get my muscles to loosen up a bit. And once they did a little bit, it was out with the pointy pointy fingers. Holy fuck. I had forgotten why I always try and see masseurs… larger hands means the heavy pressure is distributed a little less pointedly. Fark. Everywhere she touched me was horrendously tender and painful. I found myself doing breathing exercises like a laboring pregnant woman to try and get through the pain! Unbelievable.

But when I think I’m okay with that, it was out with the pointy, point elbows. Seriously, she was pushing so hard on my shoulder girdle, I swear I heard her put a foot up on the wall opposite to get more leverage! More gritting of teeth and imploring her to ease up a bit, ‘Yes, yes, lady. No problem. No problem.’ Argghh!

By this time I am lying there, face squished down the hole doing the squirrel cheeks thing, wondering how soon the hour will be up and wondering if I’ll make it. Next thing I know, she’s put a towel over my lower back and clambered up onto the table with me and starts getting into the back of my hips with her knees! Shit. As if this woman didn’t have pointy enough hands, and pointy enough elbows, I gotta saying, her damn knees were about as pointy as they come! She kneaded me (pun intended) all up and down my lower spine, rather skillfully getting into every vertebra by swinging her feet left and right to get the right angles. I felt like Tim Curry, in Charlie’s Angels with Lucy Liu walking up and down his back, half expecting some unexpected and swift maneuver that would render me unconscious any second… well I was hoping for unconsciousness, because this shit was fucking killing me!

I managed to get out of there alive, though seriously thought it was going to be a bit touch and go there for a while. I was somewhat dazed for about the next half hour, guzzling as much water as I could and trying to keep a jumper on so I didn’t cool down too quickly.

Not smart Borys, not smart. Tomorrow we will see if my back looks like someone took to it with a bike chain.

Shan’t be doing that again.


To Reddit Secret Santa

I have joined the Reddit Secret Santa gift exchange again this year, even though I never received anything last year because it’s so much fun to send presents to total strangers… If you have never done it, you’ll have to trust me on that – either that or go out there and find a friend of a friend you have never met and send them something you think they would like.  It’s loads of fun.  Anyway, I have been given my match today and he is a young kid in Germany who is into anime, manga, and something weird to do with a banana milkshake disaster (I know, right!).  He’s given me no wish lists, no ideas on what he might like and I’ve had to just… wing it.

So I decided to be a bit kinder to my Secret Santa and try to be a bit more specific.  Because after that a bit of direction would be greatly appreciated from the sender end.  Anyway, here is a letter to my Reddit Secret Santa, who is in Ireland (how cool is that!), to be read and action or ignored as he/she sees fit.  🙂   Have fun!

Greetings to Irish Reddit Secret Santa,
Now, I know you are lurking around, I thought I could send some things that might help you out … only a little bit though, we can’t make it too easy now can we?  🙂  Here is a list of some ‘stuff’ that I would love to receive in the mail –


Movie vouchers from our local eVents cinemas chain.  I am pretty sure you can order vouchers ordered online and sent to a local street address, which would be awesome because I love going to the cinema… and will often go see good movies a few times.  🙂

The Cards Against Humanity Fourth Expansion Pack or the Holiday Expansion Pack.  I have all the others which are hilarious – hideously inappropriate but hilarious nonetheless.  They also won’t ship to Australia (something I discovered a few weeks ago) so it’s a bit tedious to get hold of these.

I’d love a new iPhone 5S, but mostly because the camera in it looks absolutely beautiful… But that is totally expensive and extravagant!  🙂  Or, I’d love a new pink Nano because my favourite little Nano doesn’t seem to want to hold a charge properly anymore 🙁 and I always use my Nano on planes and things, so that I don’t run my phone battery dead.

What else have I been researching lately?  I am going to buy a new washing machine in the New Year… just have to decide whether to get the 8.5kg one or the 10kg one, but that’s not really a Christmas present type thing!

I’d love one of these new wallets – mywallit – as my old one is absolutely trashed – but I can’t seem to find them at any retailers in Australia. Which sucks!  Naturally I like the pinky/purple ones… in fact I like most of the bags and wallets and things in their range in the pink/purples colours  😀

Other than that I have some stuff I’ve been coveting on my Peter’s of Kensington WishList… I have a ‘thing’ for kitchenware and rarely make it out of kitchenware stores with my credit card intact…  But it won’t let me make the Wishlist public, I can only email it to people.  (If you want the Wishlist – leave me a comment with an email address that I can forward it to.)

I think that about covers it in ideas from me – the only other thing I need at the moment is more Qantas Frequent Flyer Points to cover the remaining unbooked sectors of my next big trip!  I have kinda used all mine up.  😀

Have fun in Ireland…