Thursday 30 August 2012

Moss Lichen!




New Zealand.

The only place in the world where glaciers and rain forest exist side by side.

How is that possible? Fascinating isn't it?

Dad, of all the 5,000 varieties of moss and lichen you told me about, I reckon many of them thrive prolifically and abundantly here.

Only in the most healthy of environments can lichen and moss survive. They are doing more than that here. This is a flourishing and joyful display of life in it's purest and most unspoilt.

Here, we embraced tree ferns 20ft tall, vibrant carpets of moss lining the forest floor, tree trunks adorning green, velvet jackets and lichen creating fabulous works of art wherever it found a canvas.

Here, we felt humbled and very blessed indeed.


Monday 27 August 2012

Mount Roy

"So how do you fancy that then?" Hubster said pointing yonder.

In my reverie, I fancied that he was showing me some cosy coffee shop down the road. However, in reality I knew he was pointing at the highest peak of the mountain in the picture below.

Mount Roy.

The Summit of Mount Roy

Eyeing up the snow capped summit, I winced and squirmed and gave him my biggest pleading, puppy dog eyes.

He ignored all of my overt body language and set about cajoling me instead. I knew my protestations were futile. I resigned myself.

The initial ascent was tough, sharp, steep zig zagging tracks left our calves burning and stinging and 20 minutes in the only thought in my head was, Why?  Lactic acid seeped into my muscles and felt like hell, even though I knew it would pass.

The first 1.5 hours of the climb were an assault, we had to stop frequently, not so much to catch our breath but to release the stiffness in our calves which were as tight as cat gut on an acoustic guitar.

It gave me some hope that Hubster was suffering as much as me.

Only when I stopped and looked back at the gift of the view did I rationalise why I was doing this.

The town of Wanaka barely visible in the distance

Houses just mere dots and the road has below has long disappeared.
As we passed herds of cows high up on the slopes, I was encouraged. If a half ton heffer can heave it's body up here then I certainly can.

It wasn't long though before we left the cows behind.

2 hours in and the track is not as steep but long, long arduous and relentless traverses across the face of the mountain.

The summit looked no closer.

"This is a slog" Hubster declared much to my relief. Thank God it's not just me.

Pretty high up now!
There always comes a point in a climb like this, when you both fall silent.

Digging deep.

Dogged determination.

With wobbly legs crossing the narrow ridge at the end required total concentration.

We are now higher than many other peaks around us. That felt good.

"Nearly there babe" he said with his eye on the prize.

I managed a nod but my heart now was just as hungry and I felt a surge of energy to get the job done.

We made it. I cried at the view.

Well I always knew Hubster would make it.

I wasn't so sure I would, but he was.

"Never doubted it babe" and gave me that smile and wink that captured my heart some 20 years ago.

I did a quick scan looking for Gandalf, this is where they filmed Lord of the Rings after all but he clearly had no time for another numpty tourist.

The climb down was no easier, thank god I remembered to cut my toe nails short. I would have lost a few for sure.

Post climb, exertion clear. Don't worry, it's not lack of oxgen, the lips are "sunblock" blue!
Sod the coffee now, a warm fire and vino aplenty, a spent body but a heart full.

We then read the guide book.

I dared not do so beforehand.

"Category: Hard" I concur.

"Time: 4.5 hours to summit, 7 hours total"

What? We only did the whole bloody lot in 4.5 hours!

Got to start having more self belief. There's plenty of life in us yet.

What's next?

Mount Kinabalu, the highest in Malaysia. 43 days and counting till the challenge and we need to but will step up a gear.


Saturday 25 August 2012

Lactic loaded, leaden legs!

One day of skiing on compacted snow followed by a blistering hike up a mountain and my quads and calves were protesting in the extreme.

I was incapable of walking down the stairs to breakfast unaided!

Mrs T-J, 20 years ago you would have easily got away with that, damn you middle age, damn you!

Only one thing for it, a Linky Lonky day and admit it, don't we all love those?

We drove to the coast at Haast to eat Blue Cod and chips and walk along the beach a deux. Not another living soul.

Beginning to really enjoy this sense of space.

Go away...... this is my beach, ... this is my get to feel like that.......when you start to love the freedom...................

We played skimmers across the water, Hubster was superb, years of practise but I found the better tree to hide a country mile!

I have never seen lichen,moss or fungi like it ever. This is a tree trunk carpeted in velvety moss.

I will do a blog on this subject alone, I remember my Dad always told me there were about 5000 varieties. At the age of 14, I was interested enough to retain this little nugget of information but do recall thinking, ok, moss is moss isn't?

Thank you Dad, I am now on your page and avidly learning and fully appreciating.

The blue glacial waters are so clear that you can see 10 metres to the floor. To the right of this photo a girl jumped naked into the water.....apparently it is the thing to do! So brave, it is icy, freezing cold.

I didn't take a picture, regret it now. Was a bit in awe and thinking OMG, how bonkers but now I want to do it!

Hubster walked away and shook his head he knew exactly what I was thinking. Well, I probably will ..... one day, but not with an audience!

At the end of a tremendous day and a few days into our love affair with New Zealand we went to the flics.

Not any old flics.

We watched the whole film sat in a vintage 1950's bug car, with homemade ice-cream and cookies.

At Wanaka Cinema, you can choose any seat you like, maybe a dentist chair, a leather sofa or a motorbike but don't expect the norm.

I think that's a great mantra for life.

We came on a skiing holiday but we really didn't in the end.

Friday 24 August 2012

Wanaka if you please!

We arrived in Wanaka and checked into the fabulous Wanaka Homestead Lodge. We were greeted by one half of the hubby and wife team, Carol, running this gem of a place. Always a good sign when a host greets you as if you are the first person to ever step in the place.

On our first morning, with the wood burner radiating a soothing warmth, we sat around the lovely farmhouse table and tucked into a sumptuous breakfast.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the beckoning sofas and just languorously lounge in front of the fire.

However, we hadn't worn our ski legs in over 18 months and it was time.

Day 1 on the slopes at Treble Cone, Wanaka, New Zealand and we were in awe.

The snow was rubbish but we were besotted anyway.

Speechless views, so beautiful, almost impossible to describe.

Over a couple of apres ski drinks, we changed our plans entirely.

We ditched the ski boots and donned the walking ones instead.

After downing the above alcoholic beverages, we decided that the following morning we would climb up to the base of the Rob Roy Glacier.

A challenging but utterly stunning ascent. Crossing the swing bridge we cut a path up through the gully of the mountain where glacial waters were gushing beneath us, vibrant blue and pure, through the mossy rain forest to the top.

We were the only ones there. The whole mountain to ourselves.


Eventually, with quads and calves screaming we got our prize. The blue diamond glacier sparkling bright even on a dull day.

The legs were on empty but my heart held more than a full tank. I hadn't done a climb like this in years..................................

little did I know that it would prove to be baby steps compared to what I eventually achieved later this week.

I share my Hubster's passion for the mountains. They are humbling, their mere presence removes ego, they are and always will be mightier, more powerful and eminently beautiful.

Monday 13 August 2012


"Mama Silvania!"

Everyday we stand on the precipice, facing a future we may have planned but in no way can be certain of.

The only thing we can be certain of is the past. So it's amazing we get up everyday not feeling absolutely petrified. Thank goodness we don't.

But it really is a precipice that we look into.

Wise decisions are needed, empathy and a good dose of luck to get through each day.

Last Thursday I was given a huge chunk of luck.

After the accident, I took the car into the garage. They took the keys off me, told me I wouldn't be driving it home, it's a death trap and not roadworthy.

My car has one of the highest safety records on the road. Had it been smaller or older they told me, we may well be having a very different conversation.

I only have whiplash. I get to stand on the precipice once more, blessed and thankful.

After a tough week, there was only one thing for it, a cycle ride to St Kilda to our very favourite place, Pizza e Birra.

A wonderful welcome.

A bottle of rose.


Seafood linguine en papillote (nicking that way of serving it!)

.... and a hug and a shared Limoncello with Silvania, the chef proprietor and we are good to go.

Thursday 9 August 2012

Turning the corner!

Spring is just around the corner and the whispers of her arrival are everywhere to be seen.

The midday sun occasionally hints at the power she will be unleashing in just a little while.

The bathing boxes will fling open their brightly painted doors and buckets and spades will carpet the golden sand.

Mother nature is unfurling flora and fauna of which I can give no name and I feel the excitement of new beginnings.

A timely phone call from someone dear, gives perspective, enforcing that forgiveness is the only way ever to heal.

I am savouring these last days of Winter, where the beach belongs to me and Radders.

In the quiet stillness of these days, hearts can mend and minds can rest and it's time.

Thank you M.D.