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Ben & Cloud's Big Trip

A little bit of what we're up to...

Diary Entries

Monday, 23 March 2009

Location: New Zealand

Hi,

New Zealand continues to be outstandingly beautiful, I think I may almost stop taking photos of views! We are now in Dunedin, a town at the bottom of the south island, which is not that nice, and bloomin freezing, but is sitting next to a beautiful peninsula where we saw some albatross so I think it may have just redeemed itself!

So, to write a brief outline of what we have been doing....

We stayed in Golden Bay a few days, to do a spot of climbing, which was nice, although full of smelly hippie-type travellers, (who of course we have risen far above by making sure we shower every day!). We then started to head down the West coast of NZ. The west coast of the south island is known for 3 things; amazing scenery, lots of rain, and sandflies (which bite), of which we had all three in abundance. We were doing quite well on the rain front until we stepped out of the van for a brief stroll along some rocks called pancake rocks (can you guess what they look like?) and got caught out, resulting in a very wet Benji and Cloudy stripping off in the car park as we were too wet to go in the van! Not so great when you have no where to dry your shoes off!

We continued driving down to the Franz Josef and the Fox glaciers. Amazing huge glaciers which you can go on (only with a guide). We had always wanted to try ice climbing, so this was the perfect spot, and we had an amazing day on the ice, and were apparently very lucky with the weather too. Fantastic fun, and very tiring!

Then we continued down to Wanaka (beautiful town) to do a bit more climbing, then through Queenstown to Te Anau, where we were starting our 'great walk' (there are about 10 'great walks' in NZ, all a few days tramping). The Kepler track can take between 3 and 4 days, and we got well stocked up with our rehydrated food and powdered milk and set off on an amazing walk. We did find, however, that the estimated walk times were somewhat generous, so did manage to walk two of the days walking in one, to the amazement of the other trampers on the track! A super walk though, with a nice rainy Alpine section on an exposed ridge for around 4 hours..... scary!!

Then we made our way over to the famous Milford Sound, another place with terrible views, and then took the 'Southern Scenic Route' around the bottom of the island. A lot flatter, and colder down the bottom, but awesome wildlife; we have seen yellowed eyed penguins (after a cold hour wait on a beach!), seals and sea lions. Absolutely bloomin brilliant to see all of this in the wild!

So, we are now going to work our way up to Christchurch, and are still undecided as to our plans from here.... watch this space!

B and C xx

Friday, 06 March 2009

Location: New Zealand

Hello,

Well, NZ is beautiful! We are loving it, the most friendliest nicest place with some awesome cafes with good carrot cake. Rockit (name for the little camper) has been behaving herself beautifully so far touch wood, so we have had a great time pootling about the north island. First we went to the Coramandel region, very nice beaches, did a great long day walk. Then we went over to Wharapapa soth for a spot of climbing, staying in an unusual camp ground which was the local school field, just had to make sure we were out by 7am before the kids got there (?) a bargain though, I think you will agree at $2/night each (about 80p ish). Then the rain came, so we went as far east as we cold go to chase the sun, and found a nice sunny spot over in Gisbourne (known affectionatly as Gizzy to the locals) to have a couple more surfing lessons in near perfect conditions... hey we were standing up and everything. Big fun!

We then headed over to lake Toupo, NZ biggest lake, very nice, (and with the tourists toprove it!) and saw some brilliant steaming sulphur geo thermal activity, (steam coming out of the ground and stuff).

After this, we headed over to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is meant to be the busiest walk in NZ... and by heck it was busy!! We thought an early 7am start would get us ahead of the crowds, but I think they all had the same idea as well... Awesome walk though, with some amazing views, and we went up Mount Doom!!! (from Lord of the Rings) (well, not actually called Mount Doom, I forget the proper name). It was a proper volcano, and very steep too, a big scree run on the way down, meant that getting down was a lot quicker than going up, and boots full of volcano!

We then headed down to Windy Wellington. A great place with a very cool cafe called midnight espresso if anyone is passing! Liked Welly a lot, especially as we found a wicked swimming pool with 3 water slides, a wave machine AND a rapid river feature! Oh yes, we know how to have fun!

We then headed to the South Island, a great ferry crossing which takes you through some amazing sounds with great views. We have just been to the Abel Tasman national park, and were blessed with some top weather, as we kayaked for 2 days in (with some surprisingly big big waves!) camped a couple of nights then walked out of the park. Fab and very picturesque.

We are now in Takaka, hoping to do some climbing in Golden bay, although I think we have finally lost our race with the weather!! They have had only 3 days of rain since Jan here apparently.... and now?!! agh! We did find an amazing pub last night though, called the Mussell Inn, recommended by a Kiwi in Oz, and it was awesome, Ben was very pleased he could have some real ale at last, guess who was driving....?!!

So, we will wait for some more nice weather, and get off for some more walking and stuff......

Benji and Cloudy xx

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Location: New Zealand

Heat, hills, hunger, and happy days...

Well, after a lot of hills, 30 degree heat, 500 km's and a lot of fun, we have decided to hang up our padded cycling shorts for a bit and see some more of NZ in slightly more comfortable style.... back to a van!! Cycle touring is fab and means you can eat as many Tim Tams as you like, although we were not too keen on the logging trucks, the super hot sun and carrying 3 days worth of food and all your kit!

We saw some awesome sights on our trip, including some amazing kauri forests, and staying in a little camp site with some thermal sulphur springs, very good for tired out legs, but I am afraid that sulphur smell will never go away; bad eggs all round....

Now, after spending several long days trawling the streets of Auckland, we have bought a van, and have just finished 'camping it up'(!!) A week of power tools, sanding, lots of varnish, over 200 screws, 5 metres of curtain fabric, some foam, lots of wood glue......and we are there!! We were luckily enough to be staying with the Fryers again (sorry we are leaving soon!!) and so had access to lots of tools and wood. So, travels in our little camper are around the corner.. beep beep!!

Almost forgot to say, the other day we met up with an old school friend of Bens, who now happens to be a big big name DJ, (currently on tour) and when we met with him, he mentioned would we like to go out on a fancy boat on Auckland harbour for the afternoon.... of course we acted cool, like that is the kind of thing we do all the time (!!) and had a wicked afternoon frolicking about in the sun and jumping fully clothed into the sea! Oh, this is the life!!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Whoop whoop!! We are now in New Zealand! Exciting stuff. We arrived at the start of Jan, and have been in Auckland for the past 2 weeks, staying with the Fryers, family friends of Bens, who have very kindly put us up (put up with us?!) whilst we waited for our bikes to be shipped over from Oz, so we can start our cycle touring trip. Note to self, and anyone thinking of shipping stuff to NZ, it is a far more complicated, expensive and faffy process than the shipping people would have you believe!

We have seen a little of New Zealand over the past 2 weeks, and are loving it so far. We tramped (NZ for hiking) along a river (actually, it was more in the river), have been climbing at amazing desserted crags, had a surfing lesson (warning; the west coast of NZ is far more harsh than the gentler waters of the East coast of Oz!) and been to some beautiful beaches, as well as exploring the city of Auckland.

Our plan is to take a shorter trip north with our bikes (test run) fully laden with panniers, then have a few days back in Auckland sitting on sofas, watching TV, eating non-dehydrated food and using a flush toilet, before we head off on another cycling trip South. How far South we will get depends on the state of our bottoms and legs I would imagine. No promises here. We will report after leg 1 how we get on... and if there are any legs (boom boom!) left.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Location: Australia

Hi,

Apologies for the lack of updates on the blog; we are still living and working in Sydney, and not as many exciting things happen as when you are on the road! We have been working hard, saving our pennies for our next trip, cycling across New Zealand.

We have being doing lots of research into this, and have finally bought bikes, panniers and a number of other accessories to get us on the road. All very exciting stuff! We have also been trying to do some training, although work is rater getting in the way as usual. I am sure we can train as we go round.....

We also got a very generous invitation from Cloud's uncle to attend a very posh table at the most famous races in all of Australia; the Melbourne Cup! Lots of excitement about this one, and making all our friends jealous! We stayed in an amazing hotel, with a beautiful pool and had our own spa bath and everything!! Amazing. The races were great fun too, we have developed a taste for champagne now, which will be tricky fitting that into panniers. We had the odd flutter, but unfortunately didn't win anything. Dammit!

The weather has been heating up quite nicely the last few months, and we've been taking every opportunity to get off up into the Blue Mountains just outside Sydney for as much walking, camping, climbing, and general gallivanting as possible before the Big Off. Although hot as it's been, it was nice to get a real grounding and back to our Lake District roots this weekend when we ended up out walking in full waterproofs in sleet and hail, only to camp later in a balmy 1degrees! Lovely!

We have also sold the van on to a German couple and bought ourselves a true slice of the Aussie Dream - a Holden Commodore Estate, 3.8l fuel guzzler, known simply (and very appropriately) as 'The Beast' (pictures to follow). This mean machine has become the new trusty stead, and seen us through many a dusty kilometer with ample boot for accumulated camping crap,fluffy fake sheep-skin driver seat cover, dodgy dad-esque perspex window wind-cover and best of all - hi-tech in car entertainment system with Auto-reverse AND radio! Now we're living!

So, all in all, things are going rather swimmingly, only 4 weeks left of work, then off down under - under, although by maxing out our 1 yr visa here, we've managed to get flights leaving on the 2nd Jan, which, what with Harbour Bridge fireworks, the inevitable (too many) cold beers and goodbyes to say, could leave us not exactly compis-mentis for the final dash to the airport... Ouch...!

More coming soon.... Cloud and Benji x x

Tuesday, 05 August 2008

Location: Darwin, Australia

ohhh, 33 degrees every day! Nice! (although I do prefer it a little cooler..) Ben's folks have come over from the UK to spend their summer holidays in Oz, so we took a trip up to Darwin (where Helena, Ben's sister was living) to have a Northern Territory adventure!

Australia is an amazing place; we flew for around 6 hours up to Darwin from Sydney, and we were still in the same country! (quite obvious, but still amazing!) Roughly the distance of flying from the UK to Cairo, madness. It really is like visiting another country though; we left behind a cold Sydney winter (and I thought Oz was meant to be hot all the time!) to visit the tropical Northern Territories. The temp here varies from 30 degrees on a bad day in Darwin, and gets up to around 40 in Kakadu national park, (near Darwin).

After spending a couple of days in Darwin (nice, but even more backwards than the rest of Australia?!) visiting the cool Mindle beach market and the Crocadilus croc farm, we hired a 4wd to visit Litchfield National Park, Katherine gorge and Kakadu National Park. We had a fantastic time, spending the days mostly driving to various beautiful spots, taking short (you can't walk far in that heat!) walks and swimming in beautiful natural water holes. We also took a beautiful dawn boat trip on the Yellow water to see some amazing wildlife, including sea eagles, birds that look like they walk on water, and of course more crocs!

So, we are now back in the chilly Sydney, Ben has quit his job and is now a fully fledged freelancer, and we have booked a flight to NZ for the 2nd Jan. It is amazing how much better work goes when you know you only have 5 months to go before more fun! We have also found a lovely flat which has a swimming pool and gym! Amazing! It is usually empty as well, so it is like having your own private pool and sauna, nice!

Well, TTFN! Cloud and Benji x

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Sorry for anyone who has been checking the blog, we have been very bad, and not updated for a while!
Tasmania seems like a long time ago now! We are back to a more ‘civilised’ life, living and working in Sydney. Back to the 9 to 5 (although those hard working Aussies prefer 9 to 6 for some reason?) to raise some more funds for more fun and travelling, and just to try living somewhere a bit different to Yorkshire for a while.

We were very fortunate to be set up with a friend of a friend to rent a room for a while while we found our feet, and more importantly a job in a new city. The house is in an area of Sydney called Balmain, which is a beautiful suburb by the waters edge, full of lovley cafes and shops, and also it has become apparent, yummy mummmies 'doing' coffee, as there appears to be a baby boom here. (mum don’t get too excited!)

We were both fortunate enough (or some may say talented enough...?!) to be offered full time design jobs almost straight away. Wages over here are also a great improvement on Leeds, which helps with the saving no end. It is tiring working full time I have to say when you have had almost 6 months off, (hard life eh?) but we are both getting into the swing of it. We are also generally realising that Australia seems to be lagging behind the UK in design. (Don’t mention this to Australian designers, they don’t seem to like the observation for some reason!) It is nice though, to see some money go into your account rather than out for a change!

We are now looking for a flat of our own, which shouldn’t be too hard, although it seems they is an alleged ‘rental crisis’ in Sydney at present, and the system you have to go through just to find somewhere to live seems astounding. Flats/ houses are opened up for a whole 15 minutes once, usually on a Saturday morning, for viewing, and if you like it, you have to fill out a lengthy application form, which includes details of former lovers, your favourite animal, and your mothers dental history, (ok, I may be exaggerating there) and then provide a thick wadge of photocopied information of a similar unnecessary extent. Then, you give all this information in as soon as possible, and then the agents will sift through the 20 or so applications for 1 property. You may then get a phone call 'congratulating' you on getting the flat, and could you come and pay a hefty bond straight away please, at which point you tell them you are not so keen on the flat any more, as you prefered the 6th one you saw that day instead. Which you then don't get offered of course, so have to repeat the process every Saturday until you strike it lucky. Crazy system, but I guess that how they like it over here!

We have been making several day trips from Sydney, there are lots of beaches and national parks on our doorstep, including the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley, famous for its wine, so we thought it rude to be so close and not have a weekend wine tasting, which we did in great fashion, although believe us when we say chocolate dessert wine is not as nice as it sounds!

We have also been going on some great weekend walks, as we are missing the Lakes, but nice beaches do us fine instead! The winter here is also considerably warmer than the UK, although the Aussiestralians like to wrap up nice and warm anyhow, as if 18 degrees really is that cold!

Ben's parents are visiting in July, and we are planning a trip to Darwin (North Australiia, 33 degrees C every day!!) to visit Helena, Ben's sister who is working there at the moment. This should be a very exciting trip, so we will update the blog after this, as working life in the winter in the city does not leave much that exciting to report!

Oh, and I nearly forgot the most important news of all! Cloud got her ears pierced on her 28th Birthday!! Not really that painful at all!

Thanks for reading, cloud and Benji xxxx


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Recent Messages

From May
Great to hear your news you two! Glad you're loving NZ so much and very glad you're camping it up in that VERY impressive van for the next leg! Enjoy and keep up the news blogging! xxxx
From Ian Rossin
Hi Guys, Glad to see you've made it to NZ. Good luck with the bike trip, wish I was coming with you (perhaps next year). Although can't complain off skiing next week!

Keep us posted
From May Goodliffe
Sounds great Cloud! Glad you've had a chance to get out of Sydney and explore for a while...was worried you were gonna stay forever! You've booked your tix to NZ ?...waaaaheeey! I'm so jealous it almost makes me cry! Spend as long as you can there and DEFO get a campervan...best way to see it! I know you're going to love it. Miss ya! May xxxx
From May
Hey guys! Just checking in! How's things? Found yourselves a pad in Sydney and enjoyed living like a local for a while I bet?! Give us a blog update soon, it's been a while!!!! Can't believe you've been gone for 6 months now...hope you're savouring every moment!!!! May xxx
From Dan M
Liffey falls eh? More like Aysgarth Falls, you 2 are actually only on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales! ;-)

Looks like you are both having one h*ll of a marvelous time! Keep up the good work. All the best Dan
From mum
Dear He-Man and Mrs Beeton,
Love the new entry and all the photos and just knew that you two were 21st century hippies waiting to burst out with your veggie patch, dog walking and wood chopping. Not much of that going on in Sydney though! Hurry up and find that flat for when dad and I visit - just 4 months now and counting.
Love mum xx
From Barney
tHANKS for the card,yes it is on the mantlepiece.We are all ok ,glad you are going along ok too.Looking forward to your next update.Be in touch soon.Love from us all.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From Emma T
Hey you guys!
Not read ur blog for a while but just caught up...very amusing! Sounds like u having a fab time. Apart from the odd 1000 scary ants and ferry ride! Cloud, i can't believe u got on a camel after our horse riding traumas...good skills lady!
Keep having fun and making us all jealous. Ur not missing anything here apart from more baby developments - no not mine!
Take care, Em x
From nanny
hullo both
many thanks for the card and sympathies re susie.what a wonderful time you`re having despite the mishaps.it is truly turning into a real life adventure! look after each 0ther.lots of love ,nanny+tadad
From Phil
HAHA! That naked picture is soo funny. I do hope that you had your camera on self-time and didn't make some poor climber take it for you...
Lots of love from Phil xxxx
From Amber Rigby
Hey you two -
Looks like you're having a fab time! Ferry journey sounds a bit like that Easter at St Davids where I didn't see you and Mikey for dust!! Just two little kayaks in the distance.
Love the pics, keep 'em coming...
From ste
Oooh, you're in australia are you? If you get a chance could you drop into Ramsey Street and pick up some of Harold Bishop's nasal hair for my collection? Cheers.

By the way, you're missing all the fun here, seriously, we are aall having a great time in the british winter! Jealous?
From Phil
Hello both,
Hope everything is good out there; is the van behaving itself now? All things fine here...Valentine's Day looms so it will be yet another year that I spend with my two single pals! We're going to some club or other though, so it's not all bad...! Currently trying to finish an application for a grant for my MA - hopefully they will give me lots of MONEY. Definitely need it...
Take care and speak to you soon, lots of love xxxxx
From Lucy Pond
Hi Cloud and Ben,
I heard on the Crowborough mums grapevine that the van was causing you grief.... sorry to hear that but sounds like you're on your way! All well here, Simon and I booked a trip to canada for Sept which I'm v excited about !
Take care, love Lucy x
From May
Horaay! Been checking this for ages and thought you'd stopped writing already! Sounds like a bit of a nightmare (Cloud, I'd have cried MUCH earlier!!) but glad you're finally on the road! We've just got back (to snow!)...hmmmm nice to see everyone but I'm sure that novelty will wear off soon enough! So enjoy Oz and keep us posted wih pics and news! Sooo jealous! May xxx
From Sarah B
Hey Clouds and Ben!
Great to hear your news - bit sad but it always cheers me up when you update your blog - bit of escape from the miseries of London! Things are same old here. Time is rapidly marching on to the wedding and I am not sure I feel entirely organised yet. Love the photos of you guys in your van. Van problems asisde you look like you are having a ball.
Much love S xxxx
From george
HeY guys,

sitting ere at work it all looks just toooo good! ace photos. Looks like your having an awesome time! the only thing is i can't see any photos with your borat mankini ben that we so lovingly got for you!! lol
keep up the good work. G
From Colin Curwen
Hi,
Excellent blog, Krabi sounds lovely. Sounds like the ferry trip was more like a cross between going kayaking and being on the titanic! You are not missing anything here, somewhat unsurprisingly we are in the midst of another deluge here.

Enjoy the road trip!

Colinx



From Ian
Hi Guys,
Happy New Year, birthday and all that. Glad the adventures unfolding nicely. You are missing out on a great UK winter - its not stopped raining for a month! Glad you liked Railay, we spent a week there very chilled.
Enjoy x
PS I always knew you were hippies and Cloud don't fall over.
From Alex
Hey Kids,
Sounds like you are having fun. Really enjoyed reading your updates.. look forward to hearing the Oz installment... it's been pissing with rain today and it's dark outside and freezing cold in my office - I am soooo jealous... I can't believe you bailed on the idea of the overnight boat and a matress on the floor tho - you missed a real treat - ha ha !!
lots of love
Alex xoxox
From Leanne
Hey you crazy kids!

Happy new year n all that!!

Just been having a little read of your latest entries and a sneaky peak at your pics... looks amazing. I cant believe you spent Christmas day on your own private beach! That just sounds lush!

The 'ginger kiss' pic actually made me laugh out loud here at my desk so everyone now thinks Im a crazy loon :)

All looks great, glad to see you are seeing the sights in style!

Stay safe and I look forward to reading what you've been upto next!

Big love
Leanne xxx
From sophie
Hi cloud and Ben
Enjoying your blog -when is the next update?! Where in oz are you at the moment? Enjoying the return to civilisation?! I am very jealous -wish i was still in oz -sigh!!!!
Have fun and keep us updated xxx
From Phil
Hi both,
I've just been looking through your photos and needless to say, I'm jealous! Especially as I have four essays to hand in on 17th and none of them is going as planned...oops. Anyway, hope you're having lots of fun in Oz. Benj, Dad's given me your Australia mobile number so I'll be giving you a text soon. Pulling an all-nighter tonight and hoping to get at least one of these bloody essays finished! Life is perhaps not the most exciting these days, haha. Roll on 18th when I'll be freeee! Missing you loads, take care. Lots of love xxxxxxxx
From Barney
Hi you two
mary found your latest update
on her new broadband
and im just jealous
Be good and careful
yours
kim
From May
Bloody eck...youre moving at the speed of sound...bloody Quantarse and their flight availability...so hope youre enjoying Oz..knowing you can eat anything and not end up in hospital is a nice feeling eh...well take youre time there guys...dont want you home tooo soon now and have a grrreeeat time. We are heading to Brazil tomorrow, our last country...arrrgggh before home in 22 days...not amusing... May xxx