Apologies to anyone that is in the throws of late Autumn grey, but if you could see our photo library from New Zealand you would see just how many amazing variations of blue (and green) you can see every day. Beautiful vibrant turquoise through to rich dark blues.
We love wine. Not just for the obvious reason...it's nice to drink something that has such a nuanced development. Everything about it's creation - from grape, soil and weather to treatment, ageing and barrel. It's real artisan stuff.
Wine tours in Marlborough are pretty easy and great fun. New Zealand doesn't have a long viticultural past - but my god, it will have a long future! Marlborough is regarded as the worlds greatest grower of Sauvignon Blanc and we tasted plenty of great stuff today (fortunately typing doesn't slur....).
Today was very exciting. We came back from few days in the Sounds (region in the top of the South Island that looks like fjords). I was invited to Abbie's (my 7 year old niece from NZ) school to talk about what I do as a job!
I tried to explain to the whole class that I draw, cut paper and play on the computer all day. 'Wow I want to be an artist!'.
I showed them my ink sketches and did a paper cut demonstration. I was put to the test to draw on the board everyone's requests " a pirate, Dinosaur, car...."
I was very impressed by their very colourful classroom with the kids self portrait and painting of the Kiwi birds. Thanks to Ms Phillips and Abbie for inviting me along!
A few days since our last post - for reasons I'll explain in a sec.
We arrived in Kaikoura last Saturday for the final leg of our campervan trip. You'd have thought we might have scenery exhaustion - never! Kaikoura I think was my favourite, with stunning turquoise ocean surrounded by snow-topped mountains. Seals, dolphins and migrating whales are all on show in local waters.
Leaving our campervan behind - thanks again to Sunshine Holidays for their beautiful van - we have just spent the week in and around Blenheim with our family (Martin, Heather, Abbie , Morghan and Coco the dog).
After a few days in their home town Blenheim, we headed to the Marlborough Sounds for some relaxing time on the shores of Kenepuru Sound in a beautiful big house with a private beach and stunning views.
It's very hard to understand (for us Europeans). This holiday home is the stuff of millionaires dreams, but for New Zealanders this kind of holiday is perfectly within reach and in fact quite the norm. It's so easy for us to be spoilt here!
There's nothing much to do here, except sit look at the view, take a boat out onto the Sound or eat and drink all the fine food we took with us. Oh, and there's no internet access so this has been the first time on our trip we've been out of range. Tough life, I know.
My brother and I went fishing (that's us in the boat in the image above). Every day for many hours every day. We caught two fish (his 2cm bigger than mine). We were pleased, but acknowledge that there is room for improvement....
I know everyone bangs on about Apple, and that some day soon they'll probably turn into the bad guys, but this trip owes a big thank you to Apple...
We're both big unashamed fans of pretty much everything that they make, but on this occasion the real star is our little faithful MacBook which has taken a fair bruising on this trip and has to live in the shadow of Julie's absolute adoration of our iMac which waits for us back in the UK!
We use this computer everyday on our trip, taking orders for Famille Summerbelle, writing blog posts, keeping in touch with family (and reality). Perhaps the most amazing thing for which we must give thanks is Apple's incredible screen share on iChat capability.
Every week of this trip we have accessed our computer back in the UK using the screen share on iChat facility. Just this week we were asked by the Australian edition of Vogue for a hi-res product image (which we didn't have) otherwise they couldn't feature our products...only by accessing our computer at home did we manage to get them a picture. We don't have Photoshop on this little MacBook, but were able to use the version on our iMac (and talk to family at the same time!). Amazing.
It is isn't it? We haven't been everywhere yet, and perhaps we haven't even been to enough places to be so bold, but I find it difficult to believe that there may be a more beautiful place than New Zealand.
Don't get me wrong, everywhere you go you'll find something or some place beautiful - and many places perhaps benefit more diversity (we'd say France for one!). But it is the endless awe inspiring beauty of New Zealand that makes it so distinctly special. Every hill or bend (in our beautiful Sunrise Holidays Motorhome) shows you something as spectacular as you have just left. We're getting complacent with the photography - it is difficult to justify to Ophelia the 'every 5 minute' stopping.
Here's a selection - believe me, there are a hundred for every one of these!
These includes shots from Wanaka, Cardrona, Queenstown and the truly unbelievable Milford Sound (thanks especially to Mitre Peak whose boat tour was fantastic).
When we sat down for dinner this evening, we talked about how lucky we have been with our journey. It seems as though each country offers us a new perspective, something very different and it seems always at the right moment.
Truth is we scarcely planned this trip. What with house moving, making sure all was fine with Famille Summerbelle whilst away and general family chaos, we just started with Japan, looked at where the plane went afterwards and made a few quick yes/no choices and here we are. I think sometimes things work best when you just turn up.
New Zealand is drop jaw beautiful. Perhaps the most striking thing for me is that it is so beautiful and so marvelously untouched. You travel for hours and hours through perfectly inhabitable countryside, yet see no one. As we sat eating dinner - atop a mountain overlooking Queenstown - we could see vast luscious green mountains without a single hut or man made object. It's like a big secret.
Well, it is my brother - and the artwork is the talent of the younger members of the family, Abbie and Morghan. Thanks girls!
Not just that but we were given some lovely cookies and some warm clothes (!) for our journey around the fresher parts of the South Island.
Occasionally, we get to use our blog for a shameless plug - so this one's for the family. Any time you are in New Zealand you've got to come stay in this place: the Blenheim Palms Motel. Best hospitality, finest weather and wine in New Zealand. I'm sure you'll get a very small discount if you mention Famille Summerbelle ;-)
We've arrived in Melbourne after 8 days of camping, beaches, barbeques, whales, kangaroos and roadkill wombats (still haven't seen a live one sadly...).
We have our own private loo. Heaven!
Melbourne has a distinctly different air about it. Perhaps a little more cosmopolitan and certainly it feels a little more 'used' than the rest of Australia. Which we find all really rather nice.
The weather is not so grand but unlike Sydney, it feels that there is still plenty to enjoy when the sun doesn't shine.
Our Australian odyssey ends on Wednesday as we move on to New Zealand. I'll be honest, Australia was supposed to be my least favourite destination of our trip and I can say safely that my head has been turned, it is a wondrous country with so much energy and so much beauty.