january - march 2006
april - january 2007

Downunder & over the ditch - Part II

09 Jul 2006 Uncle Travelling g.

Hi all, yes I know it's been a while and you miss my witty little stories so here I am again to entertain you.

I'd firstly like to take the opportunity to say congratualations to my eldest brother Bruce and his wife Catherine on their first child Isabel. After a nice short 22 hour labour she finally graced us with her presence.

Welcome to the world Isabel, there's much you can learn from your Uncle Travelling g.

I forgot to ask do they come with the little white hat or are they extra?

Ok that's it for now, it took me long enough just to get this new page working. NEXT - Katherine discovers snowboarding.

11 Jul 2006 New Zealand - Mt Ruapehu - Snowboarding

On the 7th July (which was a Friday) Kath and I set off from Wellington at 7.20pm on our way back to The National Park and Mt Ruapehu. It was the start of a nice long weekend and a chance for Kath to discover snowboarding.

I think Mt Ruapehu is the largest of the volcanoes in the north island and still active. It’s last eruption was 1995. It is also the main ski resort and being pretty much central it’s only 4 – 5 hours away from anywhere. Gets a little busy in other words.

We arrived in National Park around 11.30pm at the same hostel that we’d stayed in previously in the year. To our surprise there wasn’t any snow to be seen anywhere, I know it was dark but it’s supposed to be peak season, you would expect some snow.

Up at the crack of dawn the next day (keep the filth to your self’s please) we headed for the mountain. The snow does eventually start once you get up the mountain a little way. On arrival at the main area there was plenty of cloud, it was raining and only the lowest part of the mountain was open due to high winds. No matter though as this particular trip was about getting Kath up on her feet.

After trying one of there lessons Kath decided that the teacher was an arrogant prick and that she didn’t want anymore lessons in “look at my new boots” and “isn’t great what I can do”, which I thought was fair enough. From then on in it was down to me to teach Kath the finer points of snowboarding.

Over the next couple of days the weather cleared up beautifully and Kath’s confidence and ability gradually got better. I must admit I’m very proud of how well she did. By the second day she could quite happily make her way down the mountain. I also discovered that The Prodigy is the best music to listen to while terrorising Skiers (little tip for you snowboarders out there).

22 Jul 2006 New Zealand - All Blacks Vs. Springboks

Obviously living in New Zealand it's a must to go to an All Blacks Rugby match. The Kiwi's love their rugby just as much as the English like football, and why not when they've got possibly the best team on the planet!

The match starts off with some pre-game entertainment. This consisted of a variety of costumes like people dressed as trees, maori warriors and african warriors all with spears.

After the dancers comes the national anthems. South Africa goes first with a bit of singing followed by New Zealand completely blowing them out of the water with the whole staduim singing and fireworks.

The game was really good although Kath and weren't over shore what was going on half the time.

I think my favorite part of NZ rugby is you can get Beer in the staduim. The also have a strange idea about hotdogs, it's a battered sausage on a stick!!!

03 Aug 2006 Back in blighty - Oh my it's a nother one!

Congratulations to Stewart & Kate this time for there little bundle of joy Dylan! That's right everybody, I have a niece and a nephew!

Welcome Dylan. It's a joy to have a summer birthday dude!

From what I hear he's got a set of lungs on him.

04 Aug 2006 New Zealand - Queenstown

Out of all the places that Kath and I have visited in New Zealand I think Queenstown is one of our favourites. That’s why we decided to go back there for a 9 day holiday, plus the fact it’s winter and I can go snowboarding.

We were both really excited about this holiday as we’d decided to fly out from windy Wellington. The airport’s only down the road from us next to the beach and many a time we’ve watched the planes landing. You’d be surprised some of the angles those planes come in at when the winds up.

Luckily it wasn’t too windy when we flew but nearing Queenstown there seemed to be a little bit of fog and the pilot decided that we needed to divert to Invercargill. For those of you that don’t know, Invercargill is a 2 ½ half coach ride away and just in case we weren’t a little agitated at that, on landing they told us that Queenstown was now clear.

Saying that, how can you complain when you’re the other side of the world in a beautiful country about to go snowboarding. Once we’d settled in Queenstown and sunk a few beverages we’d worked out that it was actually cheaper to hirer a car than get a bus to the different mountains. Unlike some European resorts the bus fare’s not included with the ski pass. It’s so much easier having a car as your not restricted to the bus times and queue’s.

As Kath was new to snowboarding and there are lots of other attractions near by we decided to space our holiday out with 2 days boarding, 1 day off, leaving us the grand total of… 6 days snowboarding. Our first 2 days at Cardrona were great, the sun was shinning, Kath was getting the hang of her snowboard, there was a noodle bar. The only thing that is really missing is trees, I like boarding through trees.

In all truth Cardrona is a really nice ski field. I think they’ve got one of the best parks I’ve ever been to. (When I say park I mean an area full of big jumps, rails, halfpipes, etc…) It took a couple of attempts but I finally threw myself of a massive kicker with a nice mute grab. It feels like your falling for ages…

Ok sorry I got carried away with ME! Katherine was doing superb by her second day, just about had her on her front edge (which means facing up the mountain on her toes).

On our first day of rest we met up with an old friend of mine, Matt Hawkins, who’s mother is a godmother to… me or Stewart… or Bruce. Anyway I hadn’t seen him for about 17 years so it was good to catch up. Matt’s managed to make a really good life for himself there as you can imagine, it’s a beautiful place and he really likes his sailing. I’d be there like a shot if it wasn’t for the lack of sea! But yeah… thanks Matt for showing us round, without him we would have never gone to the Dear Park but that comes later in the story.

We spent the next couple of days at Cardrona again but this time it was snowing!!! It’s so much nicer boarding on lovely fresh snow. This did however pose a new situation for me… Putting chains on the car! My first attempt was feeble so I gave up and drove a bit further up the mountain until, what a surprise, I could drive no more as the wheels couldn’t get a grip. Second attempt… unbelievably easier. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the roads up the mountains are just dirt tracks. So it’s muddy all the way up to the snow which means putting chains on is a messy affair.

I’ll stop boring you with chains now… So yeah, another couple of great days on the snow with a certain somebody getting on to her front edge. Katherine was loving it now, she could make her way down the mountain turning from back edge to front edge like a pro!!! Very proud I was.

The second day off and our visit to the Dear Park!!! Exciting isn’t it! I tell you what for 20 bucks you can’t get better entertainment that this. The Dear Park is a little nature reserve/small mountain reserve with lots of different animals. They also filmed quite a few scenes from Lord of the Rings up there, remember Aragorn going over the cliff with the big beasty in Two Towers, been there we have.

Back to the animals… There are byson, dear, stag, mini horses, bores, lamas and goats loads and loads of goats. For $1 you get a big tin of feed which should come with a warning: Beware the goats & lamas, they love this stuff. One of the cheeky buggers rammed his horns in my arse!!!

After the Dear Park we went up the Queenstown Gondala which takes you to the top of somewhere and they’ve got a ludge track. It’s like a… sit down bike/trolley I spose. Definitely worth a go if you get the chance. The rest of day was filled with a lovely scenic drive to Glenorchy.

The next ski field we were off to was The Remarkables which is only 25 minutes from Queenstown. It was nice here but there hadn’t been much snow fall so it was a little icy. So for our last day we decided to take the hour drive back to Cardrona rather than risking going to one of the other ski fields.

And that’s pretty much it apart from our good friend Matt taking us round a few bars on our last night which was a good laugh. Another fantastic thing about Queenstown is it’s array of Apres Ski bars and restaurants. I never like to fly home without a hangover it’s just not right.

22 Oct 2006 Fiji - BULA!

Hi and welcome to another exciting instalment from Uncle travelling g. & Kath. In this episode Grant and Katherine take on an epic journey across the pacific and come face to face with flesh eating cannibals!!! (I know!!! I’m on the edge of my seat too!!!)

After a couple months of working solidly Kath and I were really excited about the holiday we had booked to Fiji. For those of you that don’t know, Katherine gets really bad withdrawal symptoms in she doesn’t have a holiday every couple of months (or at least a holiday booked) These symptoms include her growing fangs & claws with steam blowing out her ears!!!

So anyway… Fiji is absolutely lovely, just like all the pictures in the brochures. There’s such a nice feeling about landing in countries with a warmer climate. As you wait with anticipation in the plane for the doors to open, your patience slightly feathered as you wait for the other passengers to vacate their seats. Then there it is as you break through the planes air conditioned atmosphere in to a strange warmth and a familiar smell that all hot countries have and you sigh with relief Ahhhhhhhhhh sun, sand, cold beer whatever time of the day you like and no work.

The resort we had decided to stay at is called Crusoe’s Retreat on the coral (south) coast of the main island Viti Levu. We arrived at Crusoe’s just before 10pm on a Sunday and the place was dead! Which to start with was a little worrying but as we discovered you get up early (around 7-8) and go to bed early (around 11 when the bar closes).

I guess Crusoe’s got it’s name for obvious reasons, looking back at the resort from the beach it almost looks like a tree house complex. The bure’s (bungalows) that you stay in are built on a steep hill that’s overgrown with greenery and palm tree’s. If you want to get away from the rest of the world then Crusoe’s is the one. It’s isolated from everything except for the 10 minute dirt track road in.

You need not worry about being bored either as the resort has an activities board packed with things to do everyday. Let me give you and average day run down:

7:00am – Breakfast – Continental Buffet & cooked (yes that’s an ‘& cooked’ not ‘or’)
8:00am – Mangrove Jungle Tour (This is a boat ride through a Mangrove forest)
9:00am – Glass bottom boat reef safari
10:00am – Snorkelling Reef Safari
11:00am – Lawn Bowls
12:00pm – Luncheon
2:00pm – Traditional Karva Pounding
3:00pm – Neighbouring Village Tour (I forgot to mention there’s a native village next door. I’ll explain that in a minute)
4:00pm – Tea and cake
4:30pm – Volley Ball
6:00pm – Happy Hour
7:00pm – Dinner
9:00pm – Traditional Karva Ceremony (I’ll also explain Karva in a minute)

The list would change everyday apart from the fixed activities lunch, afternoon tea, volleyball, happy hour, dinner. All activities are optional of course except for the food based ones unless you want to go hungry or your not in the resort. Now I don’t know about you but a fully organised holiday might be a little off putting but it’s actually really nice. You don’t have to think or even look at your watch as most things just happen or there announced like happy hour for example. At 6pm a Fijian man put a grass skirt on and runs round the resort lighting gas lamps and shouting BULA BULA BULA… Bula is the main greeting in Fiji and must be said with enthusiasm BULA!

Our week cruised by in a very relaxed fashion which is the way of the Fijians. Everything is in Fiji time which is whenever. The relaxed state of the Fijians comes from a drink called Karva which looks and tastes like muddy water. Karva is made from the pounding root of the Karva tree. After drinking it your tongue goes slightly numb and everything gets a lot more relaxed. I managed 4 halves of a coconut shell, the local Fijians drink on average 40 a day.

The good thing about Crusoe’s is that it’s right next to native village and all the employees are from the village(except for upper management). This means you get to interact with the real Fiji and give something back to the island and there way of life. Which isn't canabalism by the way. The last canabal of Fiji died in the late 1800s(litle bit of history for you).

18 Nov 2006 New Zealand - Toast Martinborough

Some of you may or may not know that it was Katherine’s birthday on 18.11.06 making her a respectable 28.

It just so happened that an event called Toast Martinborough was also on that weekend. Martinborough is a small village over the hill (Mountain range) in the middle of quite a few vineyards that are host to a one day Wine, food and music festival.

So with this in mind we decided to make a weekend of it. On the Saturday I surprised Kath with a spot of horse riding, which is very brave of me I thought as I haven't even been near a horse for about 20 years.

Kath’s horse was called Spud, a nice horse that did what he was told. My horse... The General, liked to do... well not a great deal, other than eat grass! Kath enjoyed her self and that was the main thing!

On the Sunday we woke early in anticipation of the festival and we weren't disappointed. The whole day was fantastic.

You arrive at Martinborough Square to exchange your ticket for a wine glass that you hang round your neck. Then there are buses every 15 minutes that run a circuit through the 11 vineyards. Each vineyard has a selection of wines to choose from (obviously) with food stands and music acts throughout the day.

We were really lucky with weather as well, the day before it was pissing it down. All Sunday was baking hot and there was a real buzz in the air.

Thankfully Kath and I had taken the Monday off which was a good because between you and me Kath wasn't very well!!!

04 Jan 2007 New Zealand - Happy New Year!

It is now time for Katherine and I to leave Wellington and start up travels again! (hurray I hear you all cry for your lives are incomplete without our journal. I know that some of you are fans!)

Before I start with tale’s of travel I’d just like to mention how hard it is to up and sell everything but we got there, we finally sold our 2 piece sofa suite the day before we left. Ooo and not to mention making 70 bucks from Kath’s Garage sale.

04 Jan 2007 New Zealand - Taupo – Re-discovering Summer!

After a very long winter in Wellington Kath and I finally said goodbye to the city and headed north, where they actually have a summer. Within 5 minutes of leaving we already had a tan.

Our first destination was Lake Taupo which is located in the middle of the north island next to the Tongorrio Crossing and Mt Ruapehu (See previous entries). This whole area is like a big playground for the kiwi’s.

We spent 2 very sunny days in Taupo filling our time with sun bathing and the main highlight, Kayaking! (or canoeing which ever you prefer) That’s right I managed to get Kath into a double kayak. It was a half day trip out to some Maori rock face Carvings and we enjoyed every bit of it! The carvings are only 30 years old and were never intended as a tourist attraction but became more and more popular over the years.

06 Jan 2007 New Zealand - Back to the Mount!

For Kath and I this was the main event of our final days in New Zealand. We both really liked Mt Maunganui the first time we visited so we decided to go back. 20 minutes by air off the coast of The Bay of Plenty (where the Mount is!) is a Volcano called ‘White Island’. As a special treat we booked a helicopter tour over to the volcanic island. This included the flights and a 1 and half hour tour of this ACTIVE volcano (we had hard hats and gas masks and everything!). This was the first time either of us had been in a helicopter and on an active volcano so needless to say it was spectacular.

Similar to Taupo the rest of our time in the Mount was spent sun bathing and frolicking about! Kath had been searching for a beach tent since the start of our travels and finally got one from her work (Woolworths). We had it’s test run down on the beach in the mount and she was very happy with it. This may seem a little insignificant but with a tent to take shelter from the sun means Kath can stay on the beach longer and happy. Meaning I can stay in the sea longer surfing and happy!!!

06 Jan 2007 Back in blighty - Happy Birthday Gran!

I’d just like to take this opportunity to say Happy Birthday to my Gran! Who is now a respectable 21 (91). That letter from the Queen is almost in your grasp.

08 Jan 2007 New Zealand - Ragaln – Surf Capital of NZ

Another highlight on our travels up the country. Raglan is said to be the surf capital of New Zealand as Newquay is to the UK. Here we met up with a couple of our friends from Wellington, Chevvy and Jim and all stayed at a really nice backpackers called Solscape. Instead of your conventional building this backpackers is made up of old train carriages which we thought was nicely different.

It also looks over the coast and Manu Bay, which is the main surf break which was convenient. We spent a couple of days here surfing, laying around on the beach and playing shit head (card game) to the early hours with a bottle of 42 below vodka.

Some how Jim and I managed to get up for a 6am surf safari after the vodka night. Driving for 40 minutes down a gravel road we encountered random sheep and cows around blind corners. Eventually ending up at Repuke Beach. Nothing for miles except for sand and lovely 2-3ft offshore pealing waves!!!

It had become clear to me now that the darker clouds of New Zealand had taken a particular liking to Kath. They were ever present in Wellington but now they are following us up the country. As we were leaving Taupo there was the slightest hint of rain but I didn’t think anything of it. As we were leaving The Mount erm… it started raining. You can probably guess what happened when we left Raglan.

09 Jan 2007 Auckland – Farewell land of the long white cloud.

We said our farewells to Chevvy and Jim in Raglan and headed to Auckland the final destination of our New Zealand adventure. The rain had finally caught up with Kath and didn’t stop till the next morning.

Auckland is very nice city but it has double the population of Wellington and it’s very similar to London (Auckland pop: 1 million. New Zealand total pop: 4 million). Here we wandered around the shops, went up Sky Tower and looked over the city (Sky Tower is taller than some other towers like The Eiffel Tower to name one).

After taking in the sights we met up with me boss from Doubleclique, Luke, who had been visiting family in Auckland over the festive period. It was really nice to catch up and have a beer, almost like he was seeing us off on our final day in New Zealand. Thanks again for everything Luke.

We had also arranged to meet up with a couple from Birmingham, Matt and Vicky, that we had met in Fiji. They are now living and working in the city so we had a few drinks and some dinner with them and traded travel stories.

And that’s all I have to say about that…

… apart from, Kath and I will never forget our time in New Zealand. It is a beautiful country full of genuine and friendly people. I urge anyone to go if they ever have the chance, you won’t regret it.

11 Jan 2007 Australia - It doesn’t end there! Over the ditch.

After a long day consisting of 2 flights we finally arrive in Adelaide. Not considered one of the more popular tourist spots, Adelaide only contributes 1% of Australia’s tourism (According to our tour guide/strange taxi driver).

I think anyone coming here though would be pleasantly surprised. Adelaide is actually a lovely city. We are staying at place called Glenelg which is about 20 minutes outside the city and on the beach of course.

Our main reason for visiting Adelaide was to meet up with a couple of friends that Kath met in Perth 10 years ago, Martha & Mizza!

We spent a couple of days here sun bathing and meeting up with Martha & Mizza for a good old fashioned drinking session!

14 Jan 2007 Australia - Sunset Coast

Our next destination was Perth on the Sunset Coast (Western Australia). As mentioned before Kath had already been to Perth 10 years previous but for me it was a whole new adventure.

We decided to stay in Scarborough, the same place that Kath lived as she remembered it as a lovely place. Which it was and it hasn’t changed one bit in ten years. If anything the tourist focus had moved further up the coast to a place called Serrento. There is a lot of development happing in Scarborough, no doubt trying to attract the tourists back.

After a few days in Scarborough, sunbathing and surfing, we hired a car and headed 3 hours down the coast to a place called Margaret River. Now Perth is nice for a city with lovely suburbs but Margaret River is a whole different kettle of fish. It’s one of those beautiful places in the middle of nowhere that you fall in love with, but could only possibly live there after retirement.

Unfortunately our time here was short but we enjoyed every moment. Did I mention that the surf here was massive and a renowned destination for surf championships. Obviously I had to sample these waves for myself and they are good, if a little scary!!!

This area is also host to large number of vineyards as well as various caves. As you might remember from a previous NZ entry Kath and I are quite keen on a cave or two (keep it clean please). So off we went to Lake Cave, not quite as impressive as the NZ caves but still a very nice cave. I must commend our guide to, he was an enthusiastic fellow. Almost like a Steve Irwin of cave guides but you wouldn’t of thought it to look at him. He was a young scruffy surfer dude yeah man! And gave me a good tip on a nice little surf spot near by.

22 Jan 2007 I can’t believe it’s over!

So there we have it folks. I’m afraid like all good things we’ve come to the end! I hope you’ve enjoyed following our travels over the last year we’ve certainly enjoyed sharing them with you!

Say hello to Isabel Jameison

Katherine with Mt Doom in the background

Look at her go!!!

The Haka!

Say hello Dylan Jameison-Nation

Lovely Queenstown Lake

Katherine Boarding

Grant Boarding!

High Above Queenstown!

Welcome to the Dear Park


Hungry Fella's!

Crusoe's Retreat

Ahhh Holiday


Horse Riding

The General


Chin Chin!!!


Some more kayaking

up and away!!!

Treasure Hunt! Go Anneka!

Ooo a volcano

Little carriage

Raglan Beach

Sky Tower by night

Mizza - Martha - Kath

Random Adelaide shot!

Perth from Kings Park

Some roooo's

Lake Cave - Margeret River

Surfers Point!