Two girls one van.

So with my recent injury and boredom setting in I decided it was time for a break! I knew Joes friend from home – Charlie – was about on the north island and decided I’d invite her down south for a bit of an impromptu road trip! And boy did we have some fun! There aren’t too many photos but I’ll just fill you in a bit of what we got up to!

Firstly Joe and I picked Charlie up from the airport and headed back to the lodge we enjoyed a few beers! Or a few to many in Joes case but I had a relatively early night! The next morning Charlie and I made a plan and started cleaning and packing the van which has been pretty much left since mine and Joes last little road trip! It didn’t take us long to get sorted and we decided on Tekapo as our first destination!

We arrived in one piece driving the van is an art but Charlie took to it like a duck to water and my navigation skills got us there on time! On time for pizza and bed that is all in all a good first day!

we finished the day with a little drive around and found a weird military camp place down a track road all pretty creepy!!! After a solid first night in the van which was surprisingly not too cold we decided on our next destination! We looked around to Otago area! Originally we thought Otago was a city! If you look on maps me you’ll see why it’s very confusing but we promptly corrected ourselves and headed to Alexandra. As always, if you’re a regular reader you will know that in my opinion the best thing about traveling NZ is the drive!!! So we took our time and took in the views! We stopped and had a delicious breakfast.

When we arrived we checked out a local museum and some shops! We even treated ourselves to a few cheeky purchases! We drove all around Clyde and checked out a local dam and reservoir aswell! All in all a very successful trip to Otago. We checked out the famous shakey bridge and the clock on the hill. We found a campsite and settled in for the evening with a box wine and game of cards.

The next day we were headed for Queenstown. We had planned this well we’d get there and spend the day mooching around shops and then head to Arrowtown to meet Janik in the evening. We stopped in Cromwell on the way because I wanted to find some internet to get mine and Joes visas sent off now that the police checks from the UK had eventually arrived! Turns out they havn’t invented internet in Cromewell yet to Queenstown MC Donald’s it is!!! Visas sent so now to celebrate with shopping!! We stopped at the bridge Bungee and watched people throw themselves off there for a good hour before heading into town. Charlie did very well with the driving Queenstown is a nightmare to navigate and I wasn’t jealous of her in the driving seat, we made it to parking and hit the shops. We watched a street performer and wondered around the place, then moved on to arrowtown. We had a few problems with the car park… but turned out we’d just put the ticket in upside down and eventually managed to escape!

This was my first time properly in Arrowtown and it’s safe to say I’m in love! We had the best few days drinking in pubs playing cards and driving around. The town is so sweet and if anyone is heading to Queenstown please take time to grab some lunch in Arrowtown away from the tourist trap that is Queenstown! Our first night got pretty messy we ended up playing pool with a load of random old men! Charlie helped some 70 year old solve his WiFi problems and over all a very goodnight! The next day we went for a drive around and spent about 8 hours in one pub putting the world to rights!I have forgotten one very important event of our second day in Arrowtown and I feel like no words can articulate the hilarity that unfolded! First we headed to a Holistic Fayre it was A very strange experience and we escaped as quickly as possible all a little confused by what we had just experienced. The second hilarious thing happened whilst we were in the pub!! Janik was at the bar ordering drinks and I happened to turn around to see how he was getting on, upon doing this I noticed a man with the most hilarious haircut I have ever encountered. Immediately I couldn’t contain my laughter and it didn’t take long for Charlie to work out what I was laughing at!! This guys hair was receded to the middle of his head and then just stuck up … ah to hell with it I’ll never be able to explain how hilarious it was but Charlie will back me up it was funny! Janik came back with the drinks to find us both crying with laughter! We said our good byes the next day and after checking the oil in the car left for wanaka! To go to puzzling world! I’ve wanted to go here for ages and joe always says no so this might me my only chance and I was taking it! On the way we stopped to see the bras!

We arrived at puzzling world after a few u-turns thanks to my navigation and dived on in! Safe to say I enjoyed every minute and can’t wait to go back.

After leaving Wanaka we enjoyed the drive and the chat! I’ll take this opportunity to say that I didn’t realise until this trip just how much I’ve missed proper girl company! I don’t think either of us shut up the whole week but it felt good! We enjoyed the view and the chat on the way to our next destination. We were aiming for Franz Joseff but decided to just take it steady and see how we do! We ended up in Haast. Safe to say there is nothing in Haast but we had a chilled dinner and left early the next morning for franz!here we had the most amazing Asian inspired lunch in a pub called Snakebite we also enjoyed the shops and treated oursleves to some soap and more silver bling.

After our delicious lunch we moved on and arrived in Hokitika! Officially our last destination! Guess what…. we shopped some more! Had a few pints and picked up a takeaway pizza for dinner and more wine! I love Hokitika such a cute little seaside town filled with the nicest shops! If anyone’s headed that way make sure you visit the stone painter it’s the cutest little shop!

The next morning we wondered around the beach and paid a visit to the gorge! Even with the slightly murky water due to all the recent rain still a very beautiful destination worth a visit even on the gloomiest of days!

While in Hokitika we stayed at a campsite I’d been to before it has the cutest pig ever and everyone should stay there just to visit the pig!

With great sadness we started our route home! Taking in the stunning Arthur’s pass! We did have a road rage incident with a very stupid man who kept slamming on the breaks in front of us and then asked to get petrol before us because he was running out. But other than that our route home was chilled!

It want until wrote it all down that I realised how much we’ve done and I’m sure there are things I missed out. Thankyou so much Charlie I’ve had the best week and would have gone crazy without this break your company has been much appreciated! Thanks Joe for paying and that’s Janik for your hospitality! We shall be back to visit soon!

Paris X

Sorry if there are spelling mistakes or if this is formatted weird did it on my phone with one hand and will proof read it properly later when I have more time! Love you all thanks for reading 🍭

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Theres no place like home…

So this week Joe and I have been talking a lot about home and where it is and what it means blah blah blah. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to write a little post about what we came up with! Sit tight and enjoy and I’d love to know all your thoughts, wheres home for you?

So I’ll start with me and I guess home really is Wallingford! It a place I can leave for so long and will always be home. I know I can walk down the street and bump into people I know there. Most importantly its the home to my family and a lot of my friends. There are so many special memories in wallingford from running around castle gardens as a child to hanging down by the river in my teenage years! Not forgetting more recent memories of drinks in the OPO and boathouse. Its a town that I’ve grown up with and I think its grown up with me and the people around me. Everytime I leave, I go back and the details has changed while I guess some people see that as sad for me I just see it as normal after all I’ve changed too overtime. No one broke the deal I think Wallingford and I have different agendas now!

Essex is where I went to university, Writtle to be specific if you’re still not sure lets call it Chelmsford. Your university days are mean to be the “best days” of your life while I slightly disagree about that! Essex will always have a little bit of home unlike wallingford thats grown with me as I drive back through the winding countryside onto campus I’m over whelmed by a sense of nostalgia and reminded of all the great and crazy memories I had there! For the 3 years I spent at Uni I lived with my best friend the one and only Shabba! We often look back at these times and now in a world of buying houses and important jobs (on her part not on mine), I think its a place we both look back at fond of memories we shared there. I think if you’d ask her she’d agree Essex has a little bit of home and to be honest with you it probably always will!

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Next on… to my beautiful WALES! On a camping trip when I was probably about 16 with my wonderful Shabba! I told her that I’d marry a welsh man and move to Wales. And I kind of got my wish although I am still waiting for that ring. When Joe and I met 4 years ago we spent the first 4 months of our relationship in America which I’ll get to shortly. We managed about 3 months of long distance before Joe asked me to move up to Wales. I’m not sure even he was expecting me to turn up on Christmas Day declaring “here I am” with all my belongings packed into my little Clio and a job interview looming. But thats how my Wales adventure started. Over the 2 and a bit (I think :/) years we lived there we shared two beautiful houses, one in Beddgelert and one in Betws yn Rhos. I spent days walking around finding hidden corners and falling more and more in love with Joe and Snowdonia! Aww now ain’t that sweet. While more recently Joes mum and dad were visiting New Zealand, Joes mum asked me if I felt a connection with Wales and where we’d consider home if we went back. My answer is definitely, Wales is more than home to me and I’m sorry Wallingford people but if we do come home I think ultimately it will be to Wales we return!

America is a different kind of home, its not a place I particularly miss pr long to return to but… and heres the bit. I do really miss the time I spent there. Ask anyone who’s ever worked at camp and let me tell you everyone around you becomes your family and in a way I guess that does make it home! Joe and I will def return, its where we met and holds some very fond memories check it out for yourself in this vid… (video credit to Nansi :))

Cat Ba is the first place we stayed rooted after 6 months on the move… if anyone reading this is traveling to Vietnam Cat Ba is the first place I would recommend! We had a fab time there but it was also a place of highs and lows. Job drama, and the place for real friends! We met some totally awesome people there! Some of whom we are still in regular touch with I’ll show you what we did in Vietnam if you’ve not already seen it… and if you have skip past!

I’ll also leave a little link here about some of our fave memories here it still all feels like yesterday and I’m a sucker for looking through old pictures. If you are headed that way check out my Top 10 things to do in Cat Ba

Last but not least! New Zealand. We arrived here with no money and no plan. The tiny little town of Hororata has opened its arms to us and this is a view that feels like home every day. Over the last year we’ve made a little Robindale family which has spread wider over New Zealand and when we leave Robindale at the end of this season I know its a family that will continue to grow and grow as our adventure continues. While this family is dysfunctional its filled with characters and people we’ve lived with and grown to love, people that have shown us kindness while we’re thousands of miles away from home. We’ve celebrated Christmas and birthdays with these peoples as well as some of the smaller day to day achievements and goals that come with work. We have a local pub that after frequent visits is now filled with friendly faces every time we enter. Where ever we end up this place will always be a little piece of home right here! We’ve loved having Joes parents to visit and hope this year will bring us more visitors from overseas!

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Now I’m aware that all this rambling doesn’t answer the question so where is home? Joe says that he only wanted to come to NZ because he thought it might be the only place in the world better than North Wales. I think Wales is still in the frontline where as Joes opinion varies depending on how much he’s had to drink. I think my conclusion is that for me home is more of a person than a place. And works pretty well for me right now. I’d love to hear what everyones thoughts are? Where is home for you?

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“you must go on adventures to find out where you truly belong” – Sue Fitzmaurice

Paris X

Not my best week!

So basically most of you probably know by now this week I broke my hand! Yey! Not really not at all. I guess a good place to start would be telling you all about how this happened. To cut a long story short I reached through an automatic backing gate to send it down and managed to reverse the whole thing over my hand. YES it hurt and YES I felt like a tit. I then had a frustrating conversation with Sanka trying to explain to him that he needed to get Matt (the boss). Eventually I rang Matt myself and he came fast with ice water and painkillers. #lifesaver. Please look away now if you don’t want to see grim photos of my mangled hand.

We arrived at the hospital after the longest 45minutes ever and I was poked, prodded, washed and eventually x-rayed. They were pretty certain before they’d even x-rayed it that is was broken due to the fact that it was massively swollen. Safe to say the X-ray proved my thumb is very well and truely broken. GREAT!

All this looked at and the Dr decided its time for me to go to another hospital due to the fact that the fractures really displaced and they need to try and pull it into place. This is turning into a long day…  Joe is now calling me trying to work out whats going on as he’s still stuck at work. I had to wait and get a transport cast put on! that was traumatic due to a guy getting a splinter removed, lets just say there was a lot of screaming. Transport cast on and off to the bone shop. NO JOKE thats what they call orthopaedics over here. At this point Matt went home as there was like a 3 hour wait and Joe was on his way. So I waited and waited and waited and Joe came! I got more pain relief and my jumper cut off me because I was about to pass out and Joe brought clean clothes! We waited some more.

Eventually we got called through and the Doctor explained I get local and they yank my thumb and fingers crossed it stays there. I had alot of gas and air which made me go crazy then all the injecting bit was over pretty cool just a wait now for it all to go numb.

Then for the major event more drugs for me as they pulled my hand around. It all went pretty smoothly. I asked how it went not wanting to get my hopes up but the verdict was he felt it moved as we waited around for x-rays. everyone was very impressed with the x-rays so job done for this week. I had to get my fingers added onto the cast as there little finger appeared to be broken too. We made it home at 1am!! I spent the next few days in a drugged up state sleeping a lot!

On a lighter note I got ORANGE hair yey!

I went to my second appointment and the good news is… its all stayed in place!! My hand is so bruised and made me feel a little sick but its great news none the less.

I got a pink cast and there still seems to be a little confusion over whether my finger is broken or not but after much deliberation ui’m allowed them out of the cast. so hopefully thats me well on the way to recovery! Massive thankyou to everyone who’s called in or phoned or messaged to see how I’m doing its massively appreciated and I love you all!!!

Paris X

Fishing and Scuba…

So while we were in Fiji as well as relaxing we wanted to do something.. originally Joes only thing he wanted to do was fishing. So we looked at our options the hotel did a trawling trip and a hand line fishing trip. Joe was very keen on the trawling but after a few discussions we actually decided on the hardline fishing… We decided it was a little more Fijian and that trawling is still on our NZ list so we can get to that at a later date. We had lunch and went out in the afternoon Joe started by telling me that the best way to attract the fish was to wee in the water off the side of the boat. He tried to convince me that if I did the the guide would think I was a expert. Something tells me he’s made this up! We met out guide and headed out… I was a little worried about being/feeling sick on the boat but actually it all went well. Our guide showed us how to bait up the hook and what to do. St the start I was dubious that this was going to work. But soon after casting I wound up my reel to find a small fish! How exciting. I quickly after that caught another and Joe was starting to loose faith! But eventually he caught a small fish too. The fish we caught were just a bit too small to eat but all in all it was a very fun way to spend the morning and we are def looking forward to more fishing in the future.

We had on our list from day one to do some diving out here as we’ve heard good things. We actually put this off until our last day because of bad weather and then sunburn! The loving was beautiful and the resort once again were faultless. Semi our guide was knowledgeable and we felt very looked after and saw some pretty cool stuff including White tipped reef sharks and some pretty big sea snakes! We didn’t realise it had been a year since we last dived in Cambodia but as always its just left us itching to do more and we are going to have a look at what we can do in NZ before it gets too cold!

Paris X

Quick holiday book review

So for those of you that don’t know. I read a lot. Its my greatest strength and greatest weakness and my favourite thing to do like probably in the whole wide world. Last year I did a book a week and if you’re interested you can find details of that here. Please check it out it was a really fun challenge! I wonder how many I’m gunna get through this year?I’ve just come back from 7 days holiday in Fiji and I would usually read between 4-6 books in a week of just relaxing. This time I was a bit slow due to being sleep deprived! But I did make it through 2 and they were both amazing so I thought I’d fill you in.

My first read was by Ken Follet and was called Eye Of The Needle. Now for those of you not familiar with Ken… he’s a babe and you should all give at least one of his a go. My fave would be The Pillars Of The Earth that was the one that got me hooked on him. Eye Of The Needle is his earliest and you can tell by the way its written, but that doesn’t discredit it in the slightest its twists and turns will keep you hooked and its a cracker along with everything else he’s written! Pick it up give it a go and let me know what you think!

My second fave was…. wait for it… Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King.. Stephen got me hooked at the age of 15 when I first read Dreamcatcher, its not his best but its a great book. I’ve read most of his and I think most people agree The Stand is his best and probably my second favourite ever book and I’ve read a lot! Sleeping Beauties is written with his son and its magical and gripping. I totally loved it and will now look into some of Owens own works and see what he has to offer.His characters are real to me and every page makes you feel like you are there in some strange sleeping reality. I think with Stephen King you love him or hate him and love isn’t strong enough for how I feel. I’m infatuated by everything he writes and could read him all day.

Please let me know what are your fave books? /authors? Best book ever written? Its a hard one but I know my choice. I’m always looking for new recommendations so please get in touch! Thank you as always for reading. Feel free to share, like and subscribe!

Paris X

Bula from Fiji!

So Joe and I have been off on our holidays! To Fiji for one week and I thought I’d give you all a little update of what’s been going on! Absolutely nothing…. we’ve chilled to the max and sank plenty of cocktails.

In this post I’m mainly going to speak about where we stayed and the island itself and then I’ll do some smaller posts on the activities we did. We chose to stay on the main island. This was originally because we thought we might rent a car or something and be able to see a bit around the island. In the end we didn’t actually get around the island and spent quite a lot of time on the resort but this was perfect for our relaxing break. The hotel we chose was the wananavu hotel this was after much deliberation but it looked like the best option within our budget to best suit our needs! I think we made a great choice.

When we arrived at the airport we were met straight away and soon met Dan and Ash another couple staying at the same hotel. We got in the taxi and everything was very smooth! The hotel phoned the driver to take our dinner orders so food could be ready for us when we arrived. We enjoyed our drive and chatted loads, it was late and dark so we couldn’t really get much of a feel for Fiji but we were still excited to be somewhere new! When we arrived we were greeted by so many friendly staff they left us to finish check in the next morning so that we could enjoy our dinner and get some drinks down us. We ate with Dan and Ash and the food was good although we were tired and quickly headed to bed! The room was really nice and we enjoyed an early is happy night!

The next morning we awoke to torrential rain! But not worried we headed to breakfast the food on offer was lovely fresh breads every day and a selection of fruits. They also had sausage, bacon, beers and a vegetarian rice. Aswell as fresh fruit just and cereals. Everyone was so helpful and nice asking if we’d slept well and telling us not to rush. I enjoyed toast and scrambled eggs and Joe enjoyed a bit of everything! The food was amazing throughout our whole stay! I’m used to resorts having the same menu every day but here there was a selection of 3/4 meals a night and everything we tried was amazing. Especially the fish you could’ve def spent another week and not got bored of the food. As well as great food the evening entertainment was one man and a guitar. By the end of the week we knew all his songs but he also introduced us to kawa a local traditional drink made from a root and water with rumours of this mysterious drink giving you a high Joe was first inline to have a taste. Turns out it tastes of mud and no high was experienced!

Due to the rain we spent the first 2 days in the room chilling out and reading and down at the pool for short stints when the rain let up. we also walked around the hotel grounds and planned on what activities we’d like to do during the week! As I said before look out for future blog posts about them. The rest of the week was much of the same really good food and drink and lots of r and r! We had heard a lot that the people of Fiji are so friendly and that is so true, everyone at the resort was so lovely we felt very well looked after and had a really lovely time. I couldn’t recommend the resort enough. We do want to head back and explore more of the smaller islands and actually see a little more of the island but for us this time round Figi did exactly what we needed! Now back to work!

Paris X

The river mouth.

So these days off we had a pretty lazy first morning and didn’t leave bed but decided we wanted to do something in the afternoon. For those of you who read often you’ll know that Rakaia gorge is one of our fave places to head but we fancied a little change this week. Joe decided that we should head to the river mouth. So off we went!

I feel like it’s not even really days off if I don’t take at least one photo of us in the car! We have survived the last 2 days of Cyclone Gita! Safe to say you get more severe weather on a summers day in Wales. But I think we got off lightly as it did hit some places pretty bad. We got out the car at the river mouth and wondered down to the sea! sage to say it’s another pretty cool little spot. You can drive right down onto the beach which Joe loves and it’s quiet. There wasn’t one other person there. Not sure what the seas normally like as this is the after effects of the cyclone but the waves were massive!!!! We chilled for a bit watching the birds and waves and then wondered along the beach taking some photos!

we headed back to the van and Joe decided that we should try drive a bit further down the beach. However we were met by a few obstacles and decided that it was probably best to turn around! Next destination being the pub of course!!!

once at the pub we ordered some drink and tried to decide on what to do for dinner? We decided on Chinese and even treated ourselves to a battered mars bar! All in all a very successful afternoon off!

I think my favourite thing about New Zealand is that after living here for nearly a year now we are still finding so many cool places right on our doorstep! And we still have so much of this beautiful country to explore! Joes fave bit of the day was seeing a helicopter collect water from our next door farm.

Paris x