Month in Review: March/April 2017

Is there anybody out there? (You should imagine this said as by the man rowing the rescue lifeboat in Titanic. You know?)

So I’ve been a bit absent. Currently having no internet at home is my best excuse. Also busy, so busy. Read on!

Life

I don’t know what’s going on with my life (our lives). It feels like it’s been a pretty mad couple of months and everything’s just now settling down into another new normal.

Since my last update we’ve moved house, I started a new job, and Arthur fell badly on his ankle playing floorball, rendering him immobile for several weeks. And all of these things happened within ten days of each other, so I guess it’s no wonder life has felt kind of busy and out of control.

One thing about uprooting your settled life, shaking it all about for a year or two, then resuming it, is it takes time to get things back in order. And I don’t mean it takes a few months for things to settle down, though that’s true too. What I mean is that during those few months it takes hours out of your day, most days.

This probably sounds obvious. And I guess it is. But when I was thinking about how great it would be to settle back down to stationary life for a while, I definitely wasn’t thinking of all the tedium involved in remaking your life in a new place. Getting a bank account, getting a tax identity, applying for jobs, getting a library card, finding a house, going to job interviews, working out which brand of cheese you buy, choosing pillows, buying a bicycle…

Speaking of libraries, this is my new favourite office. Nice eh?

It turns out setting up a new l ife is just as tedious and time consuming as shutting down an old one. A few weeks ago I read an article on the reality of quitting your job to travel, by Alex of Lost With Purpose. She talks about how chucking it all in to travel sounds carefree, but in practice it involves SO MUCH PAPERWORK. Totally true.

Anyway.

I guess I hoped we’d sorted all this annoying stuff back in February, but no.

This is partly (entirely?) our own doing, and I’m sure ultimately worth it. Except for Arthur’s injury, which obviously just sucks. The outcome is that now we’re in a lovely warm, much more convenient house, And there are two nice pubs we can cycle to. (One of them features on the header image.) Win. Plus I’m enjoying my new job, in a new cafe/restaurant, much more. And the hours are better, so I’m getting more out of my free time too.

So all that was a very long way of saying, things are good.

Travel

Hmm. Except for travel.

We’ve not left Christchurch since Waitangi weekend. Literally.

I’ve just checked, that means we have stayed within a 15 km radius of home for three entire months. I’m appalled.

This is the most adventurous place we got to in the last two months. (Yes, that is Christchurch right there.)

I don’t know what to say. Weather-money-time-not-owning-a-car-yet.

Weather ended up putting us off that Dunedin trip I trailed in my last update, and since then work has been a bit erratic and exhausting. The curse of there’s always next week.

This weekend we are getting out of here, somehow!

P.S. In the lengthy delay between writing this post and polishing it up to publish, I went hiking for the weekend. Hurray! More next month, but in short it was beautiful. And wet…

If you’re not familiar with hiking in New Zealand, it often involves river crossings. In this case 33 of them.

Reading

Favourite book: March, Geraldine Brooks

This was a recommendation from the tutor of a creative writing evening class I did in March and April, and it was easily the most transporting thing I’ve read in ages. I devoured it in a few sittings, and then wished I’d strung it out for longer.

The book is an American Civil war novel, sort of, which is something I wouldn’t usually go for. What drew me in was that it’s written from the perspective of Robert March, the (mostly?) absent father in Lousia May Alcott’s Little Women.

One thing I particularly enjoyed was all the historical details she managed to weave into the book, like the fact that Henry David Thoreau came from a family of pencil makers.  Thoreau re-discovered in old texts the method for making graphite pencils, and consequently was responsible for making the first graphite pencils America. This detail made it into the story because Little Women was written (like Thoreau’s Walden) in Concord, Massachusetts, which I hadn’t know before reading March.

I enjoyed inhabiting the world of March so much that it’s got me queuing Little Women and Walden on my already overburdened to-read list.

Favourite thing I read on the internet: The Magic Wand of Generosity

I almost didn’t share this, because it’s sort of about how best to promote your creative work. Red flag for emperor’s new clothes content. You know, like there are tonnes of travel bloggers who seem to make all of their money telling other people how to make money travel blogging. I always feel like I’m at the bum end of a ponzi scheme when I read these things.

But then…

Well, the whole idea of this article is that when you try to be generous, rather than trying to influence people, good things happen. So it’s not just another how to make people like you on instagram in the vain hope they might end up giving you money article.

And on some level I feel like sharing this is a bit icky, because the author has written this article about his experience trying to promote his book, but he’s stating that he’s not trying to promote his book by writing the article. And I believe him, but at the end of the day, the article is kind of promoting the book.

What I’m saying is that, all of this considered, I decided to share it anyway because parts of this article struck home for me in a much broader way. Like, the idea that we could all be much nicer to each other if we weren’t so afraid that reaching out to somebody else might make us look silly. I know I’m guilty of that.

Also, my facebook is full of my wonderful friends and family sharing their creative work with the world, so maybe one of you will actually find this useful. Never know.

Favourite blog I found this month: McMansion Hell

Actually I came across this in May, but it’s hilarious, so I feel compelled to share it right now. Shout out to Hyperallergic for drawing my attention to this one.

Kate Wagner rips the piss out of architecturally upsetting, oversized American homes, through the medium of meme speak and coloured arrows of shame.

My favourite post so far is this one.

You’re welcome.

Blogging

One post! On the street food delights of Xi’an, home of the terracotta warriors.

Sneak peak…

Please refer for section one for why there are no more posts.

A post on the terracotta warriors themselves coming… one day.

Instagram

I’ve been sticking up some photos from ridiculously photogenic Japan over the last few months. This is one of my favourites, I think I called it pinterest-worthy when I put it in my Kyoto blog post, but instagram-worthy also works. I really hate that phrase actually, it has connotations of editing your life purely to show other people how pretty it is.

All I really mean is, I took a picture of something beautiful and some other people liked it too.

It’s really starting to feel like autumn here in Christchurch. The mornings have turned misty and chilly, I’m cycling to work over carpets of leaves, and everything is lit up in autumn colours. It’s bringing me back to the last autumn we had, in Japan back in November 2015. November was definitely a great time to visit southern Honshu. The autumn colours were really striking all over, especially in this temple garden in Kyoto. I think autumn is my favourite season, and it’s popular in Japan too. Viewing the colourful maple leaves is nearly as big a deal as the spring cherry blossom season. We saw lots of people taking formal portraits in front of the leaves, or holding fallen leaves up to their faces for selfies. I like this mild obsession with the turning of the seasons, there’s something really joyful about it to me. Nature is pretty awesome. #autumnleaves #fallfoliage #autumn #fall #kyoto #japan #ryoanji #temple #garden #rockgarden #trees #moss #travel

A post shared by Kirstie and Arthur (@saltwithyourcoffee) on

Coming up

I swear we will go some places in May. I think we’ve accepted we’re going to have to buy a car if we want to get into the mountains as much as we’d like. So that will make trips easier. I hate buying things though. I once failed to buy toothpaste because I was too bamboozled by the number of options. I have since got slightly better at just picking more or less at random and hoping for the best. But we probably shouldn’t do that with a car… Another chore for the list!

D’you ever just feel like you want more hours in the day? Or more days in the week… If you’ve got any tips for fitting blogging into daily life I’d love to hear them — don’t think I’ve quite grasped this yet.

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8 thoughts on “Month in Review: March/April 2017

  1. You know I love you, and therefore I feel like I should be honest with you in making the following comments.

    You referenced the film Titanic in the opening paragraph?!? I don’t have a massively strong memory of that film as we were around 11 when it was released but I love that that was your go to film reference for shouting into the internet abyss.

    Secondly I’m concerned that you consider buying cheese, soft furnishings and getting a library card as tedious tasks! Get a grip of yourself woman! Cheese, Cushions, Books!! All amazing things.

    In other news, I’m so pleased that you’re enjoying your job and send all healing thoughts to Arthur with his sports injury.

    1. Haha. I know, I know. It’s just the time when you do it all at once! I want my days off back. Maybe I’ve just forgotten how much life admin staying put involves? Love you. X

      1. And I have a really strong memory of watching Titanic. I think our babysitter let us watch it on video, when we were young enough that it seemed terribly steamy (literally?) and exciting. Also, I’m not complaining about having the items, just the process of obtaining them. I hate shopping for new things, it’s stressful and I feel guilty for the probable environmental impact of their production.

  2. Sometimes I think a couple of months downtime is a good thing but then you look back and think “hang on, what have I even been doing?” lol. I’m kind of feeling like that at the moment!

    I really wish we’d bought a car in Australia, so I definitely think that’s a good choice for NZ! 🙂

    1. Yeah, you’re probably right. I’m just conscious of the fact we don’t know how long we’ll be able to stay in New Zealand, so time spent not exploring feels like time wasted. Also, I know I enjoy trips so much when we actually take the effort to make them happen, it’s just so easy to not get round to it.

      Yeah, fingers crossed having a car will make spontaneous travel, or really any travel, much more possible! The ski season here is starting in three weeks, so hopefully we’ll sort it out by then so we can get up to the slopes. 🙂

      Did you rent cars in Australia? We found there was almost nothing you could do without a car in Australia, outside of the cities. Their public transport is pretty shocking… NZ is pretty much as bad actually.

  3. To be fair, that shot of Christchurch is absolutely gorgeous and fills me with the urge to go to New Zealand, stat. Whenever I think of moving or re-settling after a long period of travel, I always think of that one line from Lord of the Rings: “How do you pick up the threads from an old life?” It certainly takes more work than we’re ever lead to believe!

    1. Yes, what a great quote. And on top of trying to grab the threads you’ve dropped, it’s the mental work of trying to remember what half of them were, and then decide if they’re still your threads, or if you should find some new ones. This process is beginning to be fun now, but there was definitely a period there where it was just purely overwhelming.

      Christchurch can definitely be a beauty on a good day, especially from on high!

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