Oh my, was my last post really on the 25th March?? How time flies.
I’d like to add ‘when you’re having fun’ to the end of that sentence but that wouldn’t be the whole story. It’s oh so easy to write breezy updates on social media, and to post endless smiling photos. I’m certainly guilty of that, but the truth of the matter is that I have been a little down in the dumps down under. Unfortunately for you, dear reader, I am one of those who really feel better after getting things off their chest. Consider yourself my agony aunts for the next few paragraphs (and then I will get on to what we have been doing, I promise!)
If I were to explain this to poor old New Zealand, I’d certainly be rolling out that old classic ‘it’s not you, it’s me’. We have both had a hard time adjusting after 5 wonderful months in Asia, so that is a factor. But, for me, this runs deeper. I’ve mentioned feeling homesick before…well let’s add a few more bits to that. Communal living arrangements and fairly tight budget aren’t helping, but can’t really be blamed. I miss my life! Friends, family and cats go without saying. But I now realise I miss my routine and my goals. I’m feeling without purpose, and a year long holiday adventure doesn’t actually help that one bit (although obvs I’m well aware of how bloody fortunate we are to be doing this!). So there you go. I have been a reet ol’ misery guts – not all of the time, it comes and goes, real peaks and troughs. I’d prefer a bit more balance! But how on earth do I drag myself out of this, given that I’m a) on holiday, b) in one of the most desirable destinations in the world and c) utterly carefree???
Given how prone I am to tying myself in knots about these things, I am attempting to quit the over-analysis and to take some positive action. And for this, I am turning to one of the many versions of the ‘5 steps to well-being’ – I remember looking at this type of thing when feeling absolutely fine, and thinking that it all sounded very sensible. The scientist in me is keen to see if it works in practice (although obviously I am a very unscientific sample of one!)
I’m going with the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand’s version, as that comes up first when I google at the moment!
- Be active. You’d think this was a done deal, but now that we’re not cycling, our activity is pretty sporadic. For me, with a long history of sport and training for events, I interpret this as ‘needing to do more running’. I’m totally out of running shape. So, I pledge to get back into the running part, and also to do some strength work on the side so I build a really good base for getting back into competitive running when we’re back in Devon (and hopefully will prevent me from getting injured)
- Keep learning. Well, I went paddleboarding the other day, and it was BRILLIANT! I felt a ton better afterwards. I might find a couple more opportunities to have a go, but really I need something a bit more regular, so I’ve decided to learn Spanish. I’ve been saying I’m going to do it for forever, so why not now. I’ve downloaded 6 podcast episodes so just need to start listening to them! Ed (who is fine) is learning about knots.
- Connect. While we were in Asia, I really missed having people to talk to (other than Ed). Now we’re back in the English speaking world, and largely staying in hostels, this should be easy. But actually, it’s also quite easy to hide in your cosy couple, and not chat with anyone. However, at our lovely hostel in Wanaka, people just kept talking to me! It was great. So now I am going to make an effort to chat with people, even if briefly. This paid off last night when I discovered that one of our room mates was from Taiwan! I love Taiwan, and she was very lovely too.
- Take notice. I remember chatting with someone a while ago about the concept of getting ‘sceneried out’ when you’ve been to a string of amazing places. I am sorry to say that I am kind of at this point. I can still SEE that the surroundings are beautiful, but I feel slightly numb to it. It’s very strange! More effort needed to properly take notice and appreciate where we are – Wanaka was just SO beautiful that it almost shook me out of this apathy. Being there for a good few days also gave plenty of time to absorb and take in – a good lesson, I think.
- Give. Haven’t figure this out yet – I’d like to volunteer at a parkrun, but we haven’t really been around anywhere long enough for me to organise this. I might manage when we’re in Blenheim. Other ideas welcome. Do I have any skills that lend themselves to remote volunteering!?
We then hopped back on a bus for another very scenic (read windy!) journey to the adventure capital of Queenstown. We liked Queenstown for its spectacular setting, but wouldn’t rush back. It’s a bit like a cross between Bowness on Windermere and a ski resort, with an awful lot of bungy jumping, jet boating, and _insert_adrenalin_fuelled_activity_here.
Then it was time to cram our tiny rucksacks full of dehydrated food and waterproof clothing, and to head into the hills. The Greenstone-Caples loop gave us 61km / 4 days of splendid views, some sun, some rain, a lot of mud, and a really wonderful time.
We then made good use of YHA Queenstown’s facilities for an evening, including stuffing our faces with all the items we could take tramping (chips and dip, wine and chocolate!)
I’d like to say we awoke well rested, but actually we felt pretty dreaful the next day! Not the wine of course…. Fortunately, we had just a short bus journey to whisk us to wonderful Wanaka, where we stayed for 5 nights. Lovely hostel with huge picture windows for ample lake-gazing. Our room was right under the creaky stairs which nearly drove me to actual madness, but fortunately the other benefits just about prevented my demise!
It was hard to leave Wanaka, but with no real improvement in the weather forecast, there seemed little chance of us tramping on any reasonable timeframe.
We are now in Fox Glacier, and it is raining. Fortunately we nipped up to see the (slightly sad) glacier last night, so don’t need to go anywhere today unless we really want to. Tomorrow, we hop back on the awesome ‘Great Sights’ bus (think cafe stops and photo opportunities – well I am 41 now!) to Punakaiki for a couple of days, then we’re full steam ahead