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Vee and KJ’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 29 Oct 2006

Location: Rangiora, New Zealand

MapVee's final chapter of her first BIG o.e.

Words cannot describe ...

They say that travel broadens the mind - blooming heck ... why did I wait so long! I yearn for (and will hold forever in my heart and head) the rolling hills, luxuriant in greenery; trees and green, green grass as far as the eye can see. Hand made stone (mostly ancient) walls, post and rail fencing, castles on every village hill, historic buildings, mostly stone homes: old and new, thatched rooves, narrow cobbled roads (which I originally thought were mad and scary - but weren't at all) passing within inches sometimes of someones front door. Even the blue of the sky and colour of the clouds was evocative: why can't everywhere be like this; I will keep forever listening to the church bells ringing on Sunday morning only 100 metres or so away; everything seemed so peaceful - every memory and experience a vignette or snapshot to keep until we come back.

Other than this, my highlights would be mostly the people - who I miss terribly. Not just people; our friends and family - the connections seem closer now somehow though we are so far away. Another reason (not that I need one) to go back for further exploration. The English people; pretty special in all their diversity: Jamaican, African, Anglo - most of them obliging, not too many miserable gits! The Anti Terrorist team members and copper at Gatwick airport - scary but reassuring at the same time. The Welsh; joyful, lyrical and melodic "alright then", pragmatic. The Italian opera set in Paris performed by the Welsh National Opera Company in Swansea, conducted by a Pole and attended by a pommie and a kiwi!!! PRICELESS; and the melting pot of both Singapore and (tourist) Portugese residents. Chinatown in Singapore was special; the Portugese natives so friendly and helpful - language barriers aside. And most people were INTERESTED in you and listened to you; no condescension or very little. Everyone was so helpful -and it was not threatening at all walking down through the "slum" area of Lagos; I felt more threatened by the Singapore pariahs trying to hook you into their shop (but that's another story).

Sights and things I want to see again/experience again:

I want to see more of England and Wales and spend more time with the lovely people of the North. I especially would like to spend more time in Oxford; do a walking tour of the universities. London requires more than the 5hrs we could spend there: (note to Vee - take much more sight seeing money for the sights of London). I would like to spend more time in Bath and the surrounding area, amazing Georgian terrace housing stacked up on the hillsides, so much history to explore. And I want to go back to soak up the atmosphere of Lambourn and Cheltenham.

Portugal was great for lots of other reasons: the weather (though we had beautiful weather in England), being so warm ALL the time. It would be great to see more of the Portugese countryside - I've been told there are castles everywhere, but I didn't see one. Six days was nowhere near enough time.

I want to swim in the South China sea again (as at Sentosa Island).

We had the most wonderful time. 5-6 weeks was great, but I would happily go for much longer. Keith and I had a ball together mostly; only a few minor mishaps and disagreements - the driving and navigating worked out well, I only pointed us in the wrong direction a couple of times and KJ only went (of his own volition!) the wrong way once (in Wales - on a roundabout). We both loved the same things and appreciated the little things. I think that it is only I though, who would move there for a short time for the experience. We have sussed the places we want to go back to, the places we still want to go to; and even though we came back to some not so stress free things, it has not dampened my enthusiasm for our 10th wedding anniversary trip. What a blast - 10 and 12 hour plane trips, 7 and 9 hour bus trips, driving on the right (wrong) hand side of the road, currency rate aside :-))

So I don't care that we may be paying for this (and the water pump!) for a year (groan) - we will always have this wonderful time tucked away to go back to every now and then, like a well loved book. Thanks Keith for having all these wonderful memories and places for us to go back to; through these we have made our own, and thanks for the last 10 years - it's been an amazing time. Bring on the rest!!!