Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Day, um, three. Or two. Day... Wednesday.

It is nine thirty in the morning in New Zealand. I am sitting in the kitchen/living room/dining room of a hostel in a place called Hamner Springs, and it is cold. The sun is striking through the French windows onto the large wooden table and the warm yellow walls are friendly. Tom and I have been awake since six, due to the fact that the jet lag has shifted our body clocks to turn us seemingly miraculously into people who rise early and go to bed early. We have eaten breakfast, read the paper, showered and packed. Tom is packing our rucksacks into the car outside and I am blogging. Such is the modern male/female distribution of work in 2006.

Yesterday we drove from Christchurch to Hamner Springs. Christchurch is a city in New Zeland terms, but to us it is a small and beautiful town. The previous night we had gone out for dinner and stayed in one of the posh hotels, so as to sweeten the bitterness of the hangover from thirty-two hours of travel. It was, I was told, not the poshest one in the city, but as Tom said sweetly to me: "Nothing but the very second best for you, baby."

We drove out of the city and into Hamner Springs, which took perhaps three hours. It was a strikingly beautiful day, cold and sparkling, and as we caught our first glimpse of the Southern Alps I just couldn't stop taking photos. I knew that there would be better views, but these were the first and they took my breath away.

Tom is outside and waiting for me.

We wandered into the information centre in Hamner, looking for insights into what to do now we had arrived. I, in my panic-ridden packing frenzy, have left the Lonely Planet Guide at home. I know exactly where it is, beside my bed, just next to my computer. Face down, and not a great deal of help to us now. Luckily for us Hamner is a tiny town, and the hot springs are the central focus, so there was very little wandering around looking gormless trying to speak the language. We found a hostel, called Le Gite (which, as we were kindly informed by the flyer, is French for 'The Resting Place', which is lucky as we might have assumed it was French for 'Lumpy Beds And Watch Out For The Rats' otherwise) which had double rooms for forty-five dollars (fifteen pounds) a night. Leaving our stuff in the room, we made our way back to the Hot Springs.

Upon entering the changing room I looked around incredulously. It was, to understate somewhat, a bit on the chilly side. And yet here were people in their smallest of small lycra get-ups, not seeming to notice that it was the middle of winter. I began to feel a bit spooked out by it. Like it was one of those SEPs (Somebody Else's Problem) in the Douglas Adams books, where nobody acknowledges something because they think it's somebody else's problem, but as soon as somebody points it out mass panic will ensue. Not wanting to be the one responsible for the destruction of a SEP field, I said nothing, and gingerly changed into my own bikini, wondering whether perhaps I could get away with scarf and gloves, as well.

Tom and I got in the water and immediately boiled to within an inch of our lives. We had a private pool for half and hour, and then went out to wander around the other, public pools. Steam rose from the water and there was a smell of sulphur permeating through everything. Lying in the pools we looked up, and the sky was ice blue. Azure and clear, sharply picking out the snow-topped mountains that loomed on the horizon.

It was so beautiful. My silver ring turned a burnished gold. We took photos and relaxed, before coming back to hostel to eat and then sleep.

Tom is waiting for me, I must go, but I am having a wonderful time. We are having a wonderful time.

Today we are driving to Nelson, where we will go tramping I think (New Zealandish for hiking) and then stay at Tom's family friends' house, and then tomorrow we are going to go sea-kayaking, which is one of the first things I read about when thinking about this trip.

It is so beautiful here. So quiet and peaceful and shockingly and agressively beautiful.

I am not even thinking about the Northern Line.


Anonymous Mr Tom said...

If anyone is reading this please call the police. I have been kidnapped by a crazed blogger and forced to go on a blogging holiday. HEEEeeelp.xx

11:10 pm

Anonymous Euan said...

I think it's very sweet that you are thinking of all your blogites on your holiday. But go - have fun! It's your holiday! Blog when you come back, you silly billy, and bring back lots of lovely memories :)

12:42 am

Blogger gilmic said...

i am jealous.

9:39 am

Anonymous Impish little sister said...

mr. léonie head,

don't listen to them- carry on the blogging when you can- cos you'll never remember it all to tell us when you can back otherwise!

sorry mr. tom but you can't have her ALL to yourself, that wouldn't be fair..

love to you both,

impish xxxx

1:52 pm

Blogger Curly said...

Go to Auckland on Saturday - it'll be ultra fun!

3:01 pm

Blogger Dancinfairy said...

Dear Lèonie,

I am green with jealousy.

But please do not stop blogging a little bit because it is dull and raining here in good old Blighty and we need to pretend that we have your life.


Fairy xxx

1:10 pm

Blogger Adz said...

I am so incredibly jealous! New Zealand, is, on account from a Kiwi I work with, an amazing and beautiful place. Take a gazillion photos and have the bestest time ever!

2:36 pm

Blogger Cecilia said...

You are so very close to Tasmania! Can't you take a small detour over here? I can guarantee you it's just as gorgeous as New Zealand but with less opportunities for skiing!

5:49 am

Blogger Cecilia said...

OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!! I have just read down a few posts and seen that LIPBALM is not allowed on planes now!!!! That is ridiculous - how on EARTH did you survive? I don't think I could do it. No, I'm serious, I don't think I could. I apply a thick gloss at least every 30 minutes. When discovering that I have left the house without lipbalm on my way to work I have actually stopped at a shop and been late to work rather than suffer without that life-giving balm. And planes are so drying to one's lips anyway!

I admire your fortitude. I hope NZ is worth such deprivations.

5:54 am

Anonymous galatea said...

Tell Tom to stop moaning. Surely being kidnapped by a blogger is still preferable to watching Chris play Rome: Total War for hours on end?

7:16 pm

Anonymous Impish little sister said...

i virtually miss you mr léonie head but i am hoping you are very busy having a wonderful time!

love the imp

1:31 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

Wow.. I feel like I'm there. What a wonderful post! Dearest Tom.. you can take the girl out of blogland, but you can't take the blogland out of the girl. Do be consoled by our sincerest apologies.. but we miss her when she's away. And note that she does say the nicest things about you. :)

So glad you're having a good time sweets! You're not going to see little Pomgirl are you since you're so nearby? Ok.. I guess you're not that close, but still.. just a thought.


10:55 pm


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