15/08/2018…

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My blog these past few weeks has been a little quiet. There have been shifts in my life, both place and state of mind, that have dominated my time. But I’m back at it and feeling a little reflective. My favourite posts have been the Mount Moments series for a while now, a very raw and honest look at life and travel. Now I’m back “Home” in Newcastle, England, and I want to keep that same uncut, artistic, feel to this space. Of course there will be more journeys and certainly more coffee’s but I want to embrace every element as a means to create.

In saying that, here are some very standard, amateur, shots of some pretty wildflowers found on a hike in the Cumbrian countryside.

Light and Love. N x

Pieces of: Lake Tekapo…

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Lake Tekapo was always just a stopover place when I was planning the South Island, a moment to gather myself between the lively scene of Queenstown and the end of the route in Christchurch. In fact, it ended up being, like many of the smaller stops on the way, one of the most memorable. I suppose it has to do with limiting your expectations. As a daydreamer and a romanticist I tend to put too much hype in the way of future plans. Lake Tekapo didn’t strike me as spectacular so all it could really do was surpass that and surpass it indeed it did.

I make friends with another solo female traveller on the bus between Queenstown and Tekapo. An intimidating look sets on her face and I’m apprehensive to start up conversation on the drive. She speaks first though and she’s bloody hilarious, a girl from Finland roaming around a couple countries before she devotes herself to the army back home. We clamber up Mount John, a small forty five minute hike, and chat like we’ve known each other for years. We even scout out vegan food in the village together and are reluctant in our farewells in Christchurch, just the next day.

The scene of it all is something magical all on its own and you’d think that by this stage I’d be over the remarkable natural treasures of the South but nope, each stop has something that sets it apart from the others. Here it’s the sprays of Russell Lupine’s, a wildflower that has quick become my favourite and one I’ve only spotted here in New Zealand, blooming around the still glassy surface of the Lake. Up on Mount John’s peak we take in the full view of Tekapo, tones of purple, pink and turquoise, accented in that lush evergreen that trademarks these lands for me. There’s an observatory up top which we both skipped out on. As with most activities here, it’s pretty pricey and we fancy a free, mellow, star show by the lake later anyways.

On the drive in, our tour guide gets us all stoked for clear skies filled with constellations. For most of the night we aren’t at all fortunate and everything is instead blotted out by thick clouds. Luckily after a restless couple hours trying to sleep on a squeaky bunk, I get up and go for a walk in the early morning hours, I’ve never been so grateful for a sleepless night. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me and it’s not like it would have captured the site all to well anyways. But the sky was filled with stars. I grew up in a city and other than a couple camping trips where the light pollution was left behind, I’ve not had such an opportunity to really see them. It frustrates me some, that such a simple sight, should be so rare but simultaneously renders me speechless that such a small moment could leave such an imprint on me.

Light and love, N x

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Blue Mountains: A Subtle Spiritual journey…

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Dark grey, stormy skies, an overenthusiastic tour guide, a mini bus filled with people and all that at stupid o’clock in the morning before my first coffee. The tour guide is called Ben, he drives us whilst chatting on and on about our days adventure in the Blue Mountains and though its been on my Sydney Bucketlist since the beginning of my planning time, I couldn’t be any less indifferent to be heading there. After all, the only reason it’s even on my list is because the guidebooks tell me I should see it, tell me it’s crucial to completely embracing the Australian experience. But as Ben chats on and moves toward Aboriginal history and connections to the mountains, my spirit lifts, it feels like less of a tourist experience and more of a spiritual one. And boy does he know his stuff, talking about dream time and, respectfully, about how the land is entrenched in their turbulent history. You can tell he has researched this stuff, with book recommendations and personal encounters dropped in to his spiel. The mini bus takes us off the main highway and onto country roads, we stop to spot kangaroos and make our way through gorgeous green fields and quaint villages.
When we arrive we’re engulfed in green, the air reminds me of England in the spring, clean and crisp with the subtle scent of rain tickling your nose. It doesn’t rain at all that day but the promise of it does something to the landscape I can’t quite process. We make our way through the bush, Ben stopping every now and then to impart his wisdom on various plants and their aboriginal uses. He mentions one that wards off mosquitoes and I itch to uproot it there and then, looking embarrassedly at my bitten up legs. We wind down, and down until we come to a viewpoint. Before I can get out my camera and snap it, i inhale dramatically and let out a silent “shit”. Nature has this way with me, with all of us really, where it reminds you of your insignificance. Like looking at the sea and remembering how vast and unexplored it is. It also remind me, though I’m unsure if this is the case for anyone else, about how brutal humans are, how conquering and destructive. I fantasise about a treehouse in these forests with solar panels and a little stream to collect my water from.
As we head down the steepest stairs in the rock face we follow the decent of a waterfall, we see it spill over the ledge and then follow to see the spray of water dance down the rock face. We climb through, take pictures under the waterfall. Everyone is content and humbled by our natural surroundings, bustling with ignited realisation until that realisation lands on the steep staircase we now have to ascend. I’m not the fittest of people, I do not like exercise, I suddenly find myself back in my indifferent state as I sweat and stumble my way up the stone steps.
Next we are taken to a new location, I’m surprised by the expanse of the mountains. I expected a little walk and a couple of viewpoints but its entirety is so large you need a vehicle to get you from place to place. Our next stop is just a viewpoint, again there are trees, again surprised gasps, again I regret ever being disappointed by this experience. It’s just so green, so pure, so magical.
After lunch in a small town (I have chips, the vegan selection is less than impressive) we start off toward another part of the mountains. My favourite, though the most tourist populated, point. This is when I understand the name. The Blue hue doesn’t show up on my camera and it disappoints me hugely but also reminds me how misleading pictures are. I’ve seen the best photography of the Blue Mountains, I’ve been overwhelmed with wanderlust to see them myself, I’ve also been told by doubting work mates that I don’t need to spend the money to see these places if I’ve already seen a gizzilion photos of them. But seeing is not experiencing and I’m lost in that thought as I stare out into this breathtaking scene. It can’t be real, our world is not this beautiful. But it is and I’m hopeful now that I’m standing taking this in. Then a German man with his hundred inch camera lens elbows the side of my head to squeeze his way in, I hate people, I am indifferent to this whole experience.
We trek down a small trail to see the three sisters, three stones that I don’t understand the significance of in comparison to the surrounding wonder. Ben changes that on the way back in the mini van with his story time. Telling us both the kid and adult versions of the aboriginal tale (I prefer the childrens version). This is of three sisters, turned to stone for loving the wrong men (adult) or ticking off the wrong magic man (kids version, better right?). There is much more to it but I couldn’t do it justice. With this and my vision of the three rocks I’m giddy in the mini van, happy to have paid  for this adventure.
Our last stop is the air, cable car, train ride thingy, a couple more trails through the floor of the forest, an old mining set up with a creepy as fuck looking haunted house (Love!) and some ski lift type situation and underwhelming rollercoaster thingy. I’m glad I did it but for $30 extra not that glad. Still I seemed to be the only one who didn’t appreciate it so definitely consider the add on. You can also take in an aboriginal show for a little extra but after my studies on travel writing and the authenticity of experiences such as those I was morally torn by whether to do it or not and I kinda regret deciding not to.
So the Blue Mountains was crucial in reminding me that everyone experiences things differently. That nature can heal and inspire you like no amount of coffee and philosophy can. It’s a feeling that you get when you’re lost (mentally) in amongst trees, no buildings in sight. iId love to go back alone and take on a maybe less well known trial, somewhere quiet where I can really get lost. I’d definitely recommend this excursion though, and even more so recommend it with Ben. I thought he was a bit arrogant in the beginning but honestly? he fits right in sitting in a rock in the middle of the forest, there is so much heart in the way he talks about the mountains and their stories and he makes you feel extra special even though he does these tours every day.