Month in Review: May 2017

On the last day of May we finally got internet in our new house! (Only been two months.) I’m hoping that this excellent turn of events will do wonders for my productivity, and not just for the amount of time I fritter on Instagram and Facebook. Jury’s out so far.

Here’s what else was new in May…

Life

Arsenal won the FA cup! I’m told. Arthur is very pleased. He wore his football shirt for several days afterwards. A, you’re adorable.

Christchurch is really beginning to feel like home now, which is lovely. We have a few cafes we like to hang out in, and are finding more and more interesting things to fill our days and weeks with. It’s really great living in a city again, after spending most of the five years before our travels either in small towns or tiny villages. Being able to bike pretty much everywhere is brilliant, as is having a climbing gym to go to. Also, culture!!

I went to a really cool exhibition on traditional Japanese tattoos at the Canterbury Museum. Highly recommend if you’re in town. I also checked out the museum’s bird room, which I haven’t explored before. It had been trailed as being FULL of birds, so I was a bit disappointed when they were neatly arranged in glass cases round the walls. I was expecting something more overwhelming. But I aspire to having some clue as to what different birds look like, so stuck around to have a look.

I was happily examining the penguins (who knew there were so many types in New Zealand waters?), when a posse of six-year-olds and their minders romped in. I think it’s fair to say they were loving the penguins. But I was concerned that they might at some point realise that said penguins were dead, and then who knew what might ensue. Mutiny? I made a swift exit.

Though winter is slowly creeping in here, the sun is still pretty warm, so I enjoyed a coffee and cake in the sun at a cafe across the road, rather than completing my survey of stuffed birds. Maybe next time.

Arthur and I also managed to get out for a bit of rock climbing and a sneaky post-expedition beer in Lyttleton a couple of weeks ago. Realistically it’s getting a bit cold to be holding cliff faces with your bare hands, but we had fun. Might be the last time outside for a while, we’ll see. Better buy another pass for the climbing gym!

Plus we did a couple more short walks on the port hills. Can’t get enough of these (blurry) views.

Travel

Just the one trip in May: that hike I sneaked into the last update. I got the weekend off last minute, so cooked up a quick plan with our friend Tasha to make the most of it. We just did a short overnighter because we were both a bit shattered, but I enjoy even a short hike in New Zealand. Mostly because it’s very easy to feel really away from it all here. We only walked for four or five hours each day, but still got some great views, utter peace and quiet, and a nice bit of adventure crossing the river back and forth the 33 aforementioned times.

The start of the route we chose, in Lake Sumner Forest Park, is a two hour drive from Christchurch, so nice and accessible, but not as popular as some areas. We only met one other small group all weekend, three guys who were walking the loop in the other direction, and sharing the hut with us on Saturday night.

We had a good old yarn over our bottles of wine, then a bit of star gazing before an early night. Luckily the wine’s effect on my bladder woke me up in the night, and I got to see the day-bright full moon lighting up the ice encrusted clearing.

Reading

Favourite book: Wulf, Hamish Clayton

Set on a trading ship in 1830s New Zealand, this book is utterly unlike anything I’ve read before. It has this kind of brooding, moody quality to it. A sort of unspoken menace that doesn’t reveal itself until the end, and even then not entirely. It’s beautifully written, and I found the perspective, of a mostly ship-bound outsider, fascinating.

The description of New Zealand landscapes is also dead on, and made my heart swell, in just the way these landscapes do in real life. If you’re heading to New Zealand soon, or just fancy something different, this is a great read.

Favourite thing I read on the internet: Sam’s Pennine Way infographic.

My friend Sam fastpacked the Pennine Way in April: 260 miles of running and walking in 9.5 days. Very impressed. But I’m even more impressed with the infographic he made of his trip. I don’t know about you, but I love a good infographic. If you’re a fan too you can find more on Sam’s site, along with his beautiful landscape photography.

(P.S. I nearly went for sharing this story, but it’s been popping up everywhere, so I reckon you’ve probably already read it. If not, you definitely should.)

Favourite blog I found this month: 750words.com

Ok, not actually a blog, but the biggest new thing in my online life in May. 750words.com is a site designed to make morning pages into a habit. Basically that means nudging you to do 750 words of free-writing, i.e. writing with no end or audience in mind, every day. For me this is fun, and I’ve found it really useful for getting ideas to flow and develop.

Here’s an article by one of the site’s creators on why free-writing is better than meditation.

Instagram

Views from our Lake Sumner weekend hike topped the (admittedly sparse) offering this month.

Icy morning on the Jollie Brook circuit yesterday. We had an easy walk in on Saturday, but were prepared for getting our feet wet on Sunday, with 20+ river crossings to do. There turned out to be 33… It was cold enough that the first few crossings hurt like heck, but worth suffering for the beautiful frosty landscape and clear skies. It’s a really nice little 9-10 hour weekend hike with just enough adventure, and a cute old hut with a logburner to keep you warm on a chilly autumn night. A weekend well spent – hiking soothes my soul. #tramping #hiking #weekendhike #frost #jolliebrookcircuit #jolliebrook #lakesumnerforestpark #northcanterbury #aotearoa #newzealand

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

Blog

Upholding the brave and venerable tradition of only one post again this month. Maybe that can be my niche. I’ve invented the slow-blog movement. Actually I think Wait but Why has dibs on that, to be fair.

Funnily enough, in the gap between writing this and publishing it (these gaps can be loong), I got Mike from Fevered Mutterings‘ newsletter, in which he talks about the virtues of posting infrequently, giving Wait but Why as his example. Basically, using WBW as a case study gives you the rule that to be popular a popular blog should post once every six months, but each post should be 36,000 words long. And awesome, obviously.

It’s kind of orthodoxy that if you want to blog ‘successfully’ you need to post frequently. Fair enough, I thought, when I first read of this notion. Turns out that by frequently, these people mean three or four times a WEEK. Jeez. Who has time for that? Who even has time to read that?

I’m not sure what I think about this, but I’m beginning to lean towards the idea that it doesn’t matter all that much. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have any.

Anyway, this month’s lone post (don’t worry, it’s not 36,000 words long) was about visiting the terracotta warriors. Medium-length story short: they live up to the hype, but the bus journeys there and back provided better entertainment value.

The next post in the works is about the other weird and wonderful heritage of Xi’an — mostly strange religious buildings, which are a legacy of the city’s past as a silk road trade hub. I find it fascinating that all these people and things, and ideas, were moving around the world on routes like this so long ago. I think seeing what this looked like in the flesh (well, masonry) was what made visiting Xi’an particularly interesting for me.

Coming up in June

The season at our local ski field opens on Friday! And we have season passes!! I’m so excited. It’s been a couple of years since we were on the snow, so we can’t wait to get up there. This the first time I’ve had a season pass and haven’t also been working six days a week — I’ve spent a couple of winters living and working in French resorts, which is a brilliant but exhausting way to spend a ski season.

Perks of living on the mountain: late season sunny days are worth skiing on just for the morning, and you can spend the afternoon sunbathing.

So this year I’m looking forward to getting plenty of full days on the snow, rather than the bits and pieces you get as a season worker. Hutt is a couple of hours drive from Christchurch, not too painful as a day trip, so we should be able to get up there quite a bit. Hopefully the snow holds!

We’ve also been very kindly lent a car by a friend who’s off travelling for a couple of months, so going on some trips will be easier for us. Hopefully we can squeeze in that Dunedin trip in the near future, and maybe a bit of hiking in between ski days.

Eeek. Snow!

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2 thoughts on “Month in Review: May 2017

    1. One a week is pretty good going if you ask me! I don’t know about you, but I found it a tricky compromise between actually experiencing travelling and shutting myself up to write about it. Sometimes it was nice to have an excuse for an afternoon off, but often it was hard to squeeze in writing time. Turns out I find it just as hard when I’m stationary though!

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