New Zealand – Raglan

By | RL | No Comments

My family booked a bach down at Raglan. It wasn’t a great time to go, there was a cyclone blowing through. Raglan is wild at the best of times, the wind and rain suited it. It was a tough weekend, I think our ramshackle little family unit is weathering a few tense storms of it’s own at the moment.

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New Zealand – Maraetai

By | RL | No Comments

It was one of the very first things I did when I was back in New Zealand. Called Lyth, and went on an adventure. I’m grateful that I have the kind of friendships that persist through absences and distances. <3

The List: #17 – Learn how to ride a horse (and actually have it do as I ask)

By | RL | One Comment

My Dad moved a few months ago, out to a lovely spot on a hill outside the city. It was all kinds of heartbreaking and new and exciting, and I realised that while I was out here I could cross another adventure off The List and I spent a week and a bit with Grove Livery and I learnt to ride a horse. And it actually did as I asked.

I learnt to trot, which was hard. Not the getting the horse to trot bit (which was easy when all the horses were so biddable and attentive) but trying to figure out how and when to stand up, and how to do so without your hands pulling on the reigns! It took some effort. Cantering was relatively easy by comparison and oh jumping! Jumping was quite fun.

It’s always surprising to me how these big, wonderful giants are willing to take instruction and do our bidding. To carry us around on their backs and run (or trot, jump, canter). I wonder what ‘breaking’ them in really means… they’d never do this in the wild, willingly carry us. How far does being humane go? (Especially cause the language we use to get horses to follow instructions are a piece of metal in their mouths and kicks).

In saying that, I spent a week on Ellie and Shadow and they were more than engaged. When I asked them to work a bit harder: cantering or jumping from a trot – they were more than happy. Their ears perked up, they moved a bit faster than asked and they were keen, often jumping further than required. It was an exhilarating experience!

It was a good week of lessons. I’m not an expert or anything by any means, but I did learn a lot about grooming; each lessons came with the extra responsibilities – brushing the horse down, picking out their hooves, tacking, putting the bridle and boots on. At the end of the lesson we’d remove the tack and wash our horses down. If it was cool we’d put on coats before releasing them into the fields.

I’d say I’m a comfortable beginner. But I can get a horse to do as I ask, so I’m calling this one done. Woop!

All Photos by Dan Draper, of DCD Photography

What makes home, home?

By | nubbed | No Comments

I’m in New Zealand, and oh man, is it ever so odd to be back.

I’m torn – have you ever felt like that? Not in a moral dilemma kind of way, but in there isn’t enough of me to do what I want to do kind of way. I can’t both live in London and in New Zealand (or in any of the many other places I’d love to one day live). I can’t both keep up with friends here, and friends on the other side of the world without a whole bunch of them slipping, or drifting (far and few between are the friends that you can just call up a year later and say hey – I’m here now, let’s hang out without there being any weirdness).

It’s almost uncomfortable to be home. I can’t have the same expectations – NZ doesn’t have the same population density to support all the luxuries that London does. Small things, like organic foods as standard in supermarkets, or internet that doesn’t dribble in down the line. Clothes that aren’t ridiculously priced. New Zealand can’t support what I do, with the way I like to do it (and the money I like to earn). London does it better than any city possibly could. Also, awkwardly, NZ has been a bit horrifically racist.

In saying that – London certainly didn’t give me any of those amazing instagram photos. Those my social media life is awesome shots are New Zealand’s everyday.

Oh expectations. It’s that my expectation that London changes frequently, that it has this rhythm and fluidity. You expect change, and aren’t surprised by it when it happens. Shop fronts are rotated in and out. People arrive, and leave, and arrive again. Constant waves of change.

New Zealand, by contrast is like a sloth, gently coming around with slow improvements. I suspect that’s why I feel so uprooted – my idea of home has changed rather drastically. It now belongs to a Chinese lady who is landbanking my childhood house with a thorough dose of neglect. My anchor of what ‘home’ is has gone from a place to people. If it’s people, and I’m making my own idea of what home is and growing my own family… perhaps it’s not New Zealand.

That’s kind of scary thought… isn’t it.

I also read a thing that suggested that I should intentionally seek out things I’m grateful for – it’s much easier to go with the woes, than it is the grace found in thankfulness. Okay, real quick, five things:

  1. That there is skype, that allows me to skype Zee from the otherside of the world. Just as I’ve gotten up and as he’s going to bed. I miss him terribly.
  2. That I can afford to fly over here and be uncomfortable. That I have the time, and the money. That I can even fly half way around the world is pretty cool.
  3. My dog. My gorgeous little Quinn who has kept me company and become a proper sidekick dog. I’ve missed him. I’ll miss him even more when I’m gone.
  4. The downtime. There has been a ridiculous amount of downtime, and enough ‘up time’ to make my life from a social media perspective look awesome.
  5. I’m learning to ride a horse. The prices and effort to do this in London would be astronomical in comparison.

I’m in New Zealand, and it’s feeling less like home than I thought it would. What makes home for you guys?

A Week in France

By | RL | No Comments

Oh France. I love the snow, snowboarding is my kick. Which is why it is almost inconceivable that I haven’t been in two years – my love of snowboarding has definitely lost out to my love of travel and adventure.

So it was a delight to be able to introduce Zee to snowboarding (and proper snowboarding, too. He went once to an indoor park, and when I asked him how he stopped he said ‘you find the wall at the bottom of the slope’ … Uh, no).

I was amping to get up on the slopes, so after a flight and a long transfer, checking in and out to the hire place to get gear (it was a loooong day!) we finally made it to the nursery slope. I walked Zee up and down (teaching heel and toe slides, the PROPER way to control your speed), and once he was going okay by himself, I strapped in and did my first turns in a long time.

It. Was. GLORIOUS!

I can’t even describe it without being overly soppy. It felt like coming home… Like my body instinctively knew what it was doing, and it felt good! I felt all of the joy, bubbling up and taking over my face… I had a massive grin, and I cheered and everything in that moment was perfect. It was a moment of happiness that I remember quite vividly, mostly cause it surprised me.

Isn’t it interesting how somehow so small can knock you over like that? Love it.

It was a great week, we stayed in a chalet with 10 others who ended up being lovely – people from all over England, of varying lifestyles and ages. The deal included breakfast and dinner (with wine!) so we saw each other an fair amount – we all got on splendidly, and we were riding/skiing together by the end of the week.

We even rode across to Italy for lunch one day, as our resort (La Rosiere) was on the border and had lifts down to the other side. How amazing is that? We snowboarded to ITALY for pizza and bombardinos (a funny little alcoholic drink, advocaat and brandy, served warm with wipped cream). Nothing like a freshly made Italian pizza!

It was an epic week, with gorgeous views and fun times. I was stoked with how far Zee came in a week (from not being able to control his speed to making turns on reds and blacks) and overall, was pretty glad to be back on the snow.

Loved it. Now that Zee also has the snow bug, I doubt we’ll wait so long to go.