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Florence's Travel Page

Welcome to my Travel Page. Here is where I will be keeping a record of my travels for all of you to read. Please feel free to leave a comment for me and when I get the opportunity I will be sure to reply to them!

Diary Entries

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Location: North Island, New Zealand

Hello!

So we arrived safely in New Zealand, and met our first obstacle – getting through customs. New Zealand has a ridiculously strict biosecurity system, and we spent about an hour having to wait in line just to get our shoes cleaned before we could enter the country! I even had to declare a box of PG Tips that Jon had kindly given us to take with us from Oz (how very British of us I know)!

Anyway, we were finally cleared to go through, and went on our way to pick up our campervan. It is pretty much the same as the van we hired for our month of travelling Australia, only a bit older, and a few more km’s on the clock! It has been far easier for us to settle in to this one though – we’re practically experts on campervans now!

We stayed for our first night in Manukau as it was just a short drive from the airport, and just outside of Auckland. We had been told that there is not much to do in Auckland, and as we only have a short time to see as much of New Zealand as possible, we decided to skip it, and drive straight down to Rotorua. However, a couple of hours into our journey, I gave Alex quite a fright by suddenly shouting “STOP! WE’RE IN HOBBITON!” He was very pleased I did however, as otherwise we would have driven down to Rotorua and completely missed seeing the incredible setting of ‘Hobbiton’ the famous little village where Bilbo and Frodo Baggins live in The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit. So we found a campsite nearby, boked our tour for the next day, and off we went to visit Bilbo and friends! It was a great day, the set is incredible, the tour guides were really informative, and we even got to have a drink in The Green Dragon pub which is featured in the films.

From Matamata (the actual name of Hobbiton) we went on to Rotorua. It is an amazing place, full of geysers and mud pools due to the geothermal activity. Whilst here me and Alex explored Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal park, where we saw some amazing sites, and afterwards, we went on to have a mud bath and Sulphur Spa, which was quite an experience! By the end of our stay here, ourselves, and all of our clothes, absolutely stank of Sulphur/rotten eggs. The whole town smells awful, but after a while you do get used to the smell… Well sort of anyway!

From Rotorua, we went on to Lake Taupo, an impossibly large lake with a beautiful backdrop of snow-topped mountains. We didn’t stop for long here though, as we needed to make up a bit of time, so went straight on to Waitomo, the home of the glow worms!

Waitomo is a tiny little town, and has a population of just 41 people. We booked our trip through a company called Spellbound, and we were really glad we did, as our tour guide was excellent, really experienced, and very funny too. We got to the caves, put on our hard hats, and went for a short walk through the cave until we came to a river running through the cave. Here we got into a small boat, where we were told to turn our head torches off. It was pitch black, you couldn’t even see your hand if you held it right up to your face! After a while though, our eyes began to get used to the darkness, and there were millions of glow worms above our heads! It was a really beautiful sight as we floated down the river, listening to the waterfall that was thundering down further in to the cave. It was a really lovely experience.

From Waitomo, we stopped in Whanganui, a town with not much to do, but a really beautiful place none the less. It was a clear night when arrived, and we sat for hours just staring up at the sky. You can actually see the Milky Way from here, it’s a stunning sight. Our trip to Whanganui was really just an overnight stop to break up the drive to Wellington, so the next morning this is where we headed.

Wellington is a great place, full of culture and coffee! We spent our first day here just exploring the city, which is really more like a town – It’s very small in comparison to other cities! We decided to get a coffee (something it seems you have to do in Wellington, coffee is taken very seriously here) and ended up in a very cool little café, before making our way to Cuba Street where we had arranged to meet up with my second cousins (at least I think they are!) Bernadette and Melinda. Their Mum and My Dad are cousins, so not exactly sure what relation that makes us, but it was very lovely to meet them! We met up in a cool bar called The Matterhorn, and afterwards made our way to a really nice restaurant where we stuffed our faces with pizza! I’m really glad that my Dad had suggested I get in touch with them, as they were really lovely and we had a great evening. Plus they gave us some good tips on where to go in the South Island too!

And the next day this is where we headed. We took the Interislander ferry across to Picton, which is where I will leave it for now. I will post again soon with more news of our adventures in the South Island!

Tuesday, 05 May 2015

Location: The Gold Coast, Australia

Hello!

Alex and I have now finished working, and although we were expecting it to be a relief, we were actually both gutted to be leaving. My time at The Groove Train was better than I could have ever expected. I went there simply looking to earn enough money to get us to New Zealand, and ended up making friends for life. It was very sad to leave them all! Fortunately, a few of them have plans to come to England over the next few months, so I will be seeing them again, this time on my side of the world!

Alex and I were not quite so sad to be leaving 645 Lake Orr Drive though… Although the place served its purpose for three months, it wasn’t the most comfortable place to live, and we were very excited to be going back to Jon’s lovely home for our last week in Oz. It was really great to be able to spend our last week with Uncle Jon, and saying goodbye was horrible, but we will be seeing him again very soon back home! We were so grateful for everything that he did for us too… Our trip would have involved many more obstacles and difficulties had he not been there to help us out. So thank you Jon!

Australia, you have been great, but we must love you and leave you, to continue our adventures to New Zealand… We will be back though, I’m sure of it!

Thursday, 05 February 2015

Hello!

Hope you are all well, and enjoying the snow that I hear has been falling in Wokingham?!

So, I think the last post that I wrote I finished up at the point where we had just returned to Jons.

It was really lovely being able to spend time with Jon, being on the other side of the world to each other for the majority of the time makes it really special when we do get to spend time together, and we managed to pack in quite a few fun things in the couple of weeks that we were staying - It's great having someone around who knows the area so well!

Jon lives very close to Springbrook national park (Google it, it's stunning!) and so the three of us went for a walk there, which was a real highlight for me. The views were stunning, and we got to see a lovely waterfall too. Unfortunately part of the walk was shut off as there was work being done there, so we didn't get as close to the waterfall as we would have liked, but we are around for another few months yet, so I'm sure we will get to go again! Not only did we do the lovely walk through the national park, but we even had a barbecue afterwards - We're proper Aussies now!

One of the other highlights of our stay with Jon was going to a drive-in movie theatre. Jon, Julianne, Alex and I all drove down, parked up, and set up our little camping chairs to watch "Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day". It was a really good experience, I didn't know they even still had drive-in movie theatres, but they're great, especially in Australia with warm summer evenings. Not sure how well they would work in England though, I can't imagine people being too keen to watch a film in the outdoors whilst it's pouring down with rain!

On another lovely summers day, the four of us headed over the boarder into NSW to go to the Margaret Olley Art Centre. It was really lovely, and again, if you haven't heard of her work before you should google her work, she's incredible! They had even recreated Olley's room in one section of the centre, so you were able to look through the windows into how she used to live. Whilst we were there we went for lunch in the cafe, which looks out on to gorgeous scenery, which actually reminded me of our English countryside.

For Christmas, Alex and I had booked two nights in a hotel in Surfer's paradise, so on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we stayed in the very nice hotel "Mantra Legends". It was a really nice hotel, and we spent most of our Christmas Eve reading our books beside the pool!

Christmas Day was quite surreal, waking up with the sun streaming in through our window, and trotting off down for a quick dip in the pool and a laze in the sun! I think I could definitely get used to it though! Early afternoon on Christmas Day Jon came to pick us up and the three of us went to Julianne's, who had kindly taken on the task of making us, her Brother-in-law, and Nephew Paxton Christmas lunch! It was a lovely day, and a delicious lunch! Luckily Julianne is vegetarian too so I was in my element with a gorgeous veggie roast!

Later on the evening, Alex and I went back to the hotel, where we skyped the family. It was strange not being at home this Christmas, but technology is amazing, and so for a while it was like I was there in the room with them all!

In between all of these lovely experiences, Alex and I were desperately applying for jobs, as well as looking for a place to live for three months while we work.
We were both very lucky and managed to get jobs very quickly, both working in restaurants. Now a lot of you may know that I have always said the one job I would never do is wait on tables. Carrying hot plates and dealing with difficult customers is not something I ever thought I would be doing, but here I am! I actually applied for the job by taking my CV into the restaurant, and thought that I was applying for a job behind the bar, and when I was given a trial shift instantly I was very excited. It wasn't until I turned up for my trial shift that I realised I was going to be a waitress, not a bartender. Luckily though, it's a very relaxed restaurant/bar called The Groove Train, and all the staff are really lovely, as are the majority of the customers that come in to the restaurant. And hey, work's work, if it means I can earn enough to get to New Zealand then I'll do anything!

Alex and I also managed to find a cheap little studio apartment in a building that is actually meant for student accommodation, although there are a lot of permanent residents there. It is perfect for us as it is cheap and only has a contract up until the end of April, so we haven't had to sign up to be in Aus for next year as a lot of places want you to do!

So that's where we are now, just working and trying to save as much money as possible to continue on our travels.

Oh and Alex and I bought a car too, to make it easy to get to and from work each day. It is a Hyundai Ascent, and it is gold. Well, it's supposed to be gold, the sun and sea salt has melted the entire bonnet of the car though so now it's just some weird colour that doesn't really have a name. Oh and the air conditioning doesn't work either, which is really great in Australian summer. It runs though, and only cost us 800 bucks, which is about 400 pounds.... So really can't complain!

Apologies if the grammar/spelling is awful, I have written this in a bit of a rush before work!

Love to you all

Florence xx


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Recent Messages

From Ella
Hello Florence and Alex,

Happy New year again to the both of you! Hope it was amazing.

I cant quite get over how fantastic everything you have been doing sounds! I am beyond jealous. Currently avoiding writing an essay to read through them all again!

And how fantastic was it seeing the giraffes!!! They look beautiful in that photo.

Would love to skype soon, if you can fit me in! I know youre so busy with everything.

Miss you lots and lots, sending big hugs. Take care both of you, love you lots. xxxxx
Response: Hello!
Happy New Year to you too, although I apologise for being extremely late with that, I have been really rubbish with Planet Ranger recently!
I think since you wrote this post, we have skyped :) But we will again soon, possibly at a time when Conor is there too?
Lots of love to you and your family xxxx
From Gillian, Celia & The
Uncle David sent me the link to your blog - and I'm glad he did! What a great read! Sounds like you are having a wonderful time and we all love the photos of Taronga Zoo! We hope you continue to have amazing adventures and watch out for the 'critters'!
Have a magical Christmas!!
Response: Thank you! I'm glad you are enjoying the blog, and I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Ours was very different this year, but still had a great day!
From Bryony
Skype soon?? Miss you! Just let me know when you have wifi! Lots of love, Bry xxxx
Response: I'll skype you as soon as you are back from your hols? I want to hear all about it! xxxx
From Mark & Jacqui
Flo

Have you met any luvvies in Oz yet - bound to be some in Cairns hanging out on the Barrier Reef!! Don't forget to practice your luvvie greeting!

Enjoy the sunshine. Days cold and very short in UK now. We have the wood burner going most evenings. Put up Xmas tree/decorations today so that's cheered us up.

Hope you don't mind but thought it would be 'hip' to send Joel a message via Oz about the choc' digest'.

JOEL - I dropped the biscuit in Flo's room about 3 years ago - thought Brinkley had eaten it - I know he licked some of the chocolate off. Anyway, hope it went down OK - or should I say stayed down OK!!

Flo/Alex - enjoy Cairns and safe journey back to Jon's.

Love - M & J
Response: Thanks Mark and Jacqui! Most of the Aussie's seem to cool to want to join in with the 'luvvie' greeting unfortunately, I think I'll have to save it for when I'm back home! Jon and I were telling Alex all about your lovely house and the amazing area that it is in, so we would love to come and visit when we are back if that's alright with you?!
Haha Joel, I do hope you see this message!
Lots of love Florence and Alex xx
From Gill Ben Sophie
Hi Florence and Alex
Great catching up on your blogs. Sounds like so much fun. We didn't make it to Fraser Island when we were in Oz but will definitely go on our next visit. You really sold it to me. Went to see Lee Mack on tour yesterday and my jaw aches from laughing so much! Two weeks left at work till Christmas hols - yay!!! Sophie is home for the weekend and has gone out for Christmas dinner with her old friends from Phase 8. Ben has handed in his resignation and joins you with the travel bug in March 2015. Good luck with the fruit picking. Lots of love Gill Ben and Sophie xxx
Response: Yes I would definitely recommend it to anyone, it's incredible!
Sounds like you've all had a lovely Christmas, and looking forward to hearing all about Ben's plans soon! Any chance he's starting in Oz? We'll be here until end of April and then we are off to NZ. Lots of love xxx
From Jane
Hi both, wow this has just brought back heaps of amazing memories reading about your time on Fraser Island. It is an incredible place.I spent 3 days there when I was backpacking - It's definately worth every penny hey, Flo when you're up in Cairns you have to do at least a day trip out on the Reef.If possible organise a dive. I went on the boat "Falla" a great crew lunch on board and then a dive you can also just do snorkeling if you prefer. It's only money Flo well worth the memories that you will have forever. Look after each other.Happy December to you - Smiles Jane xx
Response: Thanks Jane, yes Fraser Island was just incredible!
We did do the reef, I didn't dive though unfortunately. Snorkelling was lots of fun though and we still got to see lots of fish and the gorgeous reef. It was a really lovely day.
Absolutely right Jane, I'd rather have the memories than the money any day!
Lots of love xxx
From David
Wow! What fantastic experiences Flo!
So glad you are enjoying your adventures.
I am really enjoying the blogs you and Alex are posting - keep them coming whenever you are able.
All fine here - your photos and tales are keeping me very warm even though the days here are short and getting colder!
Lots of love
David x x x
Response: Yes, loving every minute of it!
I must say though, it does make me jealous hearing about all the cold days - you know how I love the winter!
Lots of love xxxxxxx
From Joel
Flo, it sounds amazing! Nice to hear you're having a great time. Was mental seeing the kangaroos on Skype. Doesn't get much more Australian than that.

I found a stray chocloate digestive in your room and ate it, any idea how old it is?

Have fun, loving the blog xxx
Response: Yeah pretty crazy! Haha, I would imagine a good few months? How did you feel after eating it, that will give us some indication. I'll skype you soon, lots of love xxx
From Mum
Hi Florence and Alex
Sounds like you are managing to pack loads of exciting experiences in to your travels so far!!
Good to hear that Alex has now recovered from his nasty insect bite.
Can't wait to hear about your trip to Fraser Island. I googled it, and then felt very jealous. Hope you took lots of pics. I heard from Jon that you showed him how to use his fridge during your stay there!!!!
Miss you lots and lots x x x x x x x x x
Response: Yeah Fraser Island was just amazing. I will upload pictures tomorrow, am just about to run out of Wifi for now though! We opened the advent calender this morning, thank you so much!! It is stuck up on the wall to remind us that it is actually December and not August! It's VERY hot here. Love you lots xxx
From Mark & Jacqui
Flo/Alex
Your Aussie stories are bringing back happy memories for J & me so keep them coming. We flew everywhere (having just a month) so you're doing Oz the 'proper way. We loved the Gold Coast as well, particularly the hinterland. Jon had booked us an apartment almost on the beach so it was great getting up every morning seeing the sea.
Enjoy your journey up to Cairns - we had a great time there not least of which spending a day on the Barrier Reef which I'm sure you'll do.
Love M & J
Response: Thanks Mark and Jacqui! We are having an amazing time, Fraser Island has been the highlight so far but I'm sure the Great Barrier Reef will provide some strong competition!
Hope you are both well, and will see you when we are back I'm sure. Love to you both xx
From Jon
Hello Florence and Alex,
Been a pleasure having you stay at mine for the 2 nights. Was really weird having all that stuff in the big white box in my kitchen though. (So that's what a fridge is for!!). Have a great trip up the East Coast. Dyolf is really going to miss you both, will be well bored now it's just me to throw his ball, etc. Well impressed with your accuracy in getting the ball to hit the right spot and go down the side of the house Alex. Look forward to seeing you both in a few weeks. Been checking on-line re work options and if other work a bit slow when you want to work looks like there is a bit of fruit picking, peaches/plums relatively close to Gold Coast, circa 2.5 hours away from Nov - March. You can google it. Will be nice to spend more time with you after your trip North but Forever seems a mighty long time Florence!! Look forward to showing you the Gold Coast sights when you get back. Hope the trip to Hervey and the stop in Brisse went well. Take care of each other, Cheers Love Jon XX
Response: Thanks so much for having us Jon - Was really nice to see you and looking forward to spending a bit more time catching up when we are back that way... I promise we won't stay forever though! That sounds good, we are thinking that fruit picking will probably be the best option for us, the pay is good and we can just do it for a few weeks at a time! Thanks for checking it all out for us :) Speak soon, lots of love, Florence and Alex xx
From Bryony
Hey Flo and Alex! Great to read your posts. Well done for coping (sort of!) with the bugs. You won't even notice them by the end of your trip.... promise :) Look forward to reading the next blog. Have fun! Lots of love xxxxxx
Response: Hey! We are beginning to tolerate them now, I think it's just the fact that no mater where you are there is no getting away from them so we may as well get used to them!
Will try and skype you soon
Lots of love
Florence and Alex xxxxxx
From Jeanette & Pete
Hi Florence & Alex
Writing this from Amy's house in sunny Overseal (well there is a patch of blue sky) whilst we wait for the Xmas cake to cook. It has become a tradition that Amy makes the cake, so we transported all the necessary down here. Thought of grandma as we added in the port - may have a port and lemon later in her honour.
Pete & I spent all yesterday 'doing jobs' whilst Amy was at work, helping to get the house ready to go on the market in the new year. So we're all having a more relaxing day today - and heading to the cinema early evening to see 'The Imitation Game'.
Anyway, it was great to read your travelogue - brought back many happy memories of our time in Sydney and our trip to the Opera House to see some opera extracts. Pete had needed persuading to buy the tickets before we left England, but it was amazing and he absolutely loved it. We also had drinks at the Opera Bar and watched everywhere lighting up.
Can imagine your horror at all the insect life: Alex will just have to 'man up' - it's definitely a man job to deal with wildlife!! Mind, I seem to remember Tom pushing Jo out of the tent to fend off the baby roos who were attacking the biscuits they'd left under their fly sheet!
Jo is now 15+ weeks and keeping well, but understandably tired. Jess and Si are with them this weekend, before heading up to Sarah & Lee's on Sunday to meet their new nephew.
Anyway, we trust that your adventure continues to be awe-inspiring and exciting. Give Jon a big Xmas hug from us when you get there - and have fun messing about in his poo!!!
Love from Jeanette & Pete xx
Response: Hi Jeanette and Pete, hope you are both well.
I'm very jealous of the Christmas cake! It's very strange seeing christmas decorations here in Oz, when the weather is so hot! It just doesn't feel quite right. Hope the cinema was good, I've heard it's a very good film.
Glad you're enjoying the blog - we've had access to Wifi far more often than we thought we would so have been able to do a fair few blogs already!
Really happy to hear Jo is doing so well, and that everyone else seems good too.
Jon told us about his poo...! it is a lovely pool though, even Dyolf loves it!
Lots of love
Florence and Alex xx
From Ella
Hello beautiful people,

Wow this just sounds absolutely amazing! Couldn't be more jealous. Conor keeps telling me how jealous he is you are actually in a 'real-life campervan'!! Wish i could say the same about the weather but as you've guessed its nasty here.
Your blog about the creepy crawlies really made me giggle can just see the both of you!
Hopefully the jet lag is passing now and 5.30 am isnt a regular occurence.
Looking forward to a skype whenever you are free and have wifi again. Fingers crossed it will be soon.
Sending massive hugs to you both..Miss you very much. Take care both of you and hope you continue to have an amazing time.
Love you lots chica xxxxx
Response: Hello!
Yeah the campervan is very cool, it can get a bit crowded even with just the two of us, but it's so handy to be able to go anywhere we like! Yes I will be sure to skype you soon, It's just so hard with such a big time difference.
Miss you more, and love you lots and lots xxxxxx
From Mum

Hello Florence and Alex
It was lovely to Skype with you, Alex AND some kangaroos this morning!!! How fantastic to have kangaroos mooching around your campsite!
We are really enjoying both of your blogs and look forward to each instalment of your adventures.
Have a fab time at Jon's.
Lots and lots and lots of love x x x x x x
Response: I know, it was crazy! We have had a lovely time at Jon's. We're leaving this morning to head on up, but really don't want to! It will be hard making the transition from a nice comfy bed back to the back of the camper! Speak to you soon, Lots of love, Florence and Alex x x x x x x
From Mikee
Hi Flo and Alex!

Sounds like a good start to the trip!

But I must say guys... Wokingham is so much better than Oz... Rain, traffic, Clarkes, Subway...overpriced beer..boring same face day in day out... Can't understand why you left??? ;-) x
Response: Haha, you think it's overpriced beer there, try $12 for a beer here! I'd take £4.85 for a pint any day! I'll give you everything else though - It was 45c yesterday! Good to hear from you, take care x
From Gill
Hello Florence and Alex
I am well jel here back in rainy Essex . It all sounds amazing there in Oz. Enjoy every minute of it as it all goes so quickly. Your hotel accommodation sounds fab and how wonderful to have a little possum up close and personal! Went to see Beverly Knight in a show called Memphis up in London on Saturday - incredible. Also moved Sophie into her new pad in London yesterday - end of an era as I now have the house to myself!!!
Well make sure you both enjoy this very special time together - make memories every day
Love Gill xxx
Response: Yes I must admit it is nice to have some sun! Ooh sounds amazing, and very jealous of Sophie moving to London. I saw pictures on facebook of her new room, looks lush! Speak to you soon, take care, Florence xxx
From Jon
G'day Florence and Alex,
Welcome to Australia. The flight over here isn't too unbearable if you just resign yourself to it is it. Find yourself really looking forward to the air line food though. Guessing it's starting to feel a lot like Xmas with all the shops selling Xmas stuff. Wait till you hear 'I'm dreaming of a white Xmas' when you are walking through the mall in 30 degree + heat!!! Looking forward to seeing you when you get to Gold Coast. Was 38 degrees here over the weekend so spent a lot of the time with Dyolf in the poo!! Sorry the pool. Have a brilliant time and see you soon. Cheers Love Jon
Response: Thanks Jon! No it really wasn't as bad as we were expecting it to be, the time flew by and before we knew it, we were on the other side of the world! It was very surreal walking out o the airport to 30c heat but seeing a huge Christmas tree in front of us! Can't wait to see you, we're in the campervan now so making our way up to you and Dyolf! love Florence and Alex xxx
From Charlotte (Seaford r
Good luck to you both... Exciting adventures await you. Have a wonderful time... Take care of each other and enjoy making your memories! Much love Charlotte, H and M xxxxx
Response: Thanks Charlotte, I'm sure we will! Take care, Florence and Alex xxx
From Mum
Hi Florence.
Lovely to keep in touch and hear all about your travels on here. How amazing that you saw a possum just outside your room!!
Hope you are both beginning to recover from the jet lag and look forward to reading more about your experiences soon (and maybe see some pics)!!
Lots of love x x x x
Response: We have taken quite a few pictures already, just need to work out how to upload them! Speak to you soon, lots of love x x x
From Bryony
Hey Flo and Alex! So glad to hear you arrived safely. It's amazing being on this website from the other side...! Think I might leave you messages a lot... :) Hope the jet lag eases soon. Enjoy Sydders! xxx
Response: Yes please do! It's nice to hear from everyone :) I am still very much feeling the jet lag, as you could tell from our Skype sesh just now! However hopefully after a good nights sleep tonight I will be feeling better. Lots of love xxx
From David
Loved this blog Florence.
So glad you've arrived safely and that all is working out so well.
I was sooo sad when I left you at Heathrow but your first Skype has been a real tonic - I can't believe the quality - it's as if you're in the next room!! Poppy was pleased to see and hear you!
Much love to you and Alex - have a great adventure - make the most of it! Time goes all so quickly!! xxx
Response: Thanks Dave. Yeah I was a bit of a mess when it was time to say goodbye! But I will be back before you know it, with lots of stories to tell! Make sure you keep me up to date with everything that's going on in little old Wokingham, love you lots xxx
From Joel
Can I have your room please?
Response: I haven't even left yet! I'll miss you too...