Hellooooooo Australia! Yep, we're home. After an easy plane flight to Sydney followed by a dreadful drive to Canberra we we all pretty pleased to see the dog, open the mail and then hit the hay!
Why a dreadful drive? Well, don't hire a car from a company whose logo is mainly yellow and black. They don't know what a wheel balance is. My arms are still shaking from the vibrations.
NZ wasn't bad at all. We were lucky weather wise in that it only really rained for one day (and it poured) and the sun came out every now and then. For our first week we were in Hatepe which is near Taupo. It was pretty relaxed with the kids and their cousins Meg and Finn in the lake on kayaks, a beach house full of old LPs and 10 people living fairly harmoniously together! The four of us Aussies exited stage left for a quick visit and wallet draining exercise at Rotorua which left us pretty tired. Special thanks to the Russians in the next room at the motel who started partying at 1130pm....! We saw hot mud and the thermal pools which the kids thought were pretty cool as well as a village that was buried by a volcano. Somehow my family got me onto a gondola cable car – lucky it wasn't windy. But the two luge rides chasing Angus made it worthwhile. Then the kids flung themselves down a hill in a huge rubber ball. It's a bit hard to describe so have a look at this www.ogo.co.nz . I think that might have been the highlight for both of them. In the evening we took the kids to a Maori Hangi and cultural show. They had Zoë up on stage poi dancing and then Angus and I doing the haka – anyone would think he had been practicing. Here's some classic poi dancing...
After a drive back to Wellington including such cultural stops as the Waiouru Army Museum Cafe (in the middle of nowhere), the Mangaweka airplane cafe (somewhere close to nowhere) we were home. Unfortunately on both the journey up and the journey back the three volcanos on the Desert Road were hiding in the clouds. I'm not sure if Angus believes me that they are actually there. Having seen them in the past it's almost worth the trip just to look at them.
The kids enjoyed spending time with their grandparents, relatives and cousins in Wellington and I'm glad the cable car there stays on the ground. Much more civilised. My bro took Angus and I to the cricket at the Basin Reserve. That was cool and Angus managed to get almost every signature from both teams. I got lost on a mountain bike in the depths of Ranui Heights where every road is a dead end. There are a heap of photos and we did heaps of other stuff too. I must admit that it would be a great thing if we could fly direct from Australia's capital city to NZ's capital but that seems to be a pipe dream. Not sure when I'll be back again. But if you haven't been as a tourist you should visit. There's a lot to do, it's a beautiful place and almost every country in the world has a stronger currency which works nicely in your favour
Today is the anniversary of the death of Glenn - my good friend and mountain biking compadre. There's a bit of a memorial ride in a couple of hours but I'm not really sure that it's for me. I might head out quietly later on. Glenn was a great friend and a quiet, gentle man who loved his bike and his jazz. He died a couple of years ago riding his bike. I miss you my friend.
In NZ I was fortunate that my brother had found a new place doing a roaring trade in second hand LPs and singles. After a good coffee in Brooklyn, Alison and I headed out in search of "Evil Genius" and it was worth the trip. It turned out to be awesome and I picked up two Billy Bragg LPs and two Johnny Cash singles. There was a ton of other stuff there and Alison took a photo of me searching through the section titled "Bogan Rock". Should I play some? Oh I thought you'd never ask!!
AC/DC – High Voltage (live 1975) – this song pretty much sums up everything about loud rock 'n' roll. Turn it up.
Crappy news this week is that Black Sabbath guitarist and all around legend Tony Iommi has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Sigh.
Speaking of rock music though, those New Zealanders have radio stations sorted out. For a small country there's a massive range of options that Australia simply doesn't have. The family might not have been all that pleased but the ROCK station I found was great. I never ever hear Ozzy, Led Zep, Living Color or Iron Maiden on commercial radio here.
Living Color are a band I was turned onto by a lecturer when I was studying Social Geography. It's an area that I wished I'd found out about a lot earlier on as I found it really interesting. Maybe I'll get a chance to teach some one day. The same lecturer allowed me to produce a radio documentary instead of writing an essay. Best mark I ever got! Here's the song that started that idea...
Living Color – Open Letter To A Landlord – extra kudos to anyone who can tell me (without googling) which war movie one of the band was in.
Yep, that's me for another week. I've got some records to listen to, and some CDs that arrived in the mail while we were away – reviews next time. I've also got a swag of songs to learn on the guitar – stay tuned for a big announcement. This is one I better get sorted out – and it's a KILLER!