So, it’s been a while. A few reasons for this, but the most exciting one is, drumroll please…
Salt With Your Coffee has a new home! You can now find us at saltwithyourcoffee.com.
As with any new home, the decor isn’t quite how I want it yet, and I haven’t quite figured out where everything lives. But the main thing is there’s plenty of room, and plenty of flexibility to make the changes I’ve got planned over time. I hope you don’t mind sitting on boxes at the house warming party. I’m attempting to hold myself to the mantra that done is better than perfect.
Before I get on to what else we’ve been up to recently, a tiny bit of admin on following the blog now it’s been rehoused.
- If you follow the blog by email you should have got an email telling you about this post. If that didn’t happen we’d be very grateful if you could let us know!
- If you follow using Facebook then nothing’s changed, you’ll still be able to see new posts on our page.
- If you follow with your WordPress account then you’ll still see new posts in your reader, but if you want to get email notifications then you’ll need to sign up for emails manually on the new site. Sorry about that!
Phew! Moving on…
It’s been a busy few weeks for us. Lots of changes. Really the biggest one is arriving in a country where we plan to stay for a while: New Zealand. I’m not sure how long that ‘while’ will be, but let’s just say that I’ve bought myself a coffee mug and a swimming pool membership, and I’m getting a library card.
We ended up flying to Christchurch from Sydney, which we’re obviously not overjoyed about. But it does seem to be mostly our own fault for overestimating the likelihood of a lift on a yacht, so don’t feel too sorry for us.
If you’re new here, we quit flying a few years back for environmental reasons, and we’ve been trying to get round the world without flying for the last fourteen months. You can read more about our trip here, and more about why we don’t fly (ahem… try not to fly) here.
As we progressed through November it began to look very likely that we wouldn’t be able to score a lift on a sailing boat to NZ. Our aspirations collided rather firmly with the reality of our lack of sailing experience, and the drought of people making the crossing at this time of year.
Actually it was mostly the latter really, despite various in the know sailing types telling us we’d have no chance without experience: we did manage to elicit a couple of offers of a potential lift early next year. But Christmas was a deadline for us, so that wasn’t going to work. No space was to be had on cargo ships arriving in New Zealand before Christmas either.
I should explain that we promised we’d be in New Zealand for a big family Christmas with Arthur’s clan, so as far as we were concerned we pretty much had to be there. Apart from not wanting to let people down, we were very much looking forward spending some time all together. It’s been a very long time since we were all in one place, and even longer since a Christmas all together. These things matter.
So it came to the point where family were about to arrive in New Zealand, and we were still floating around Australia somewhat aimlessly. We’d visited all the people we wanted to see there, and we weren’t feeling that into doing any more backpacking. We just wanted to get to New Zealand, and the only thing in our way was the bloody Tasman Sea.
We’d been checking boat crew websites for the last couple of months, tried finding boats on Couchsurfing and Gumtree, and been down to the main cruising yacht marina in Sydney. Everyone was telling us how unlikely it was that anyone was going to New Zealand, let alone wanting a couple of stowaways. The nice lady at the Sydney marina told us she’d only had two boats leave for NZ that year.
It turns out wishful thinking isn’t enough to propel you across the Tasman Sea. You need a boat. Or a plane. So we booked a plane.
And now we’re here. More specifically, we’re happily getting holed up for a long chilled out Christmas in the sun, surrounded by loved ones. I feel very at peace with our decision to fly here, all things considered. I’m also in the process of some long thinking about what a life without flying really looks like for us.
Where have we been?
November was pretty action packed. December (mercifully) has been less so, but more on that in the New Year. Here’s what we got up to in November.
11 days roadtripping from Perth to Melbourne
Heading back east we had a lot more time than on our journey west back in October, so we took a bit of a scenic route, and were rewarded with a succession of beautiful (free!) campsites, cute rural towns, vineyard scenery, and even a 60 metre tall tree to climb. With no ropes. My hands were shaking for the rest of the afternoon. And to round it all off, the last couple of hundred kilometres into Melbourne were along the Great Ocean Road, which is deservedly famous for its spectacular coastal scenery. Consequently it’s pretty overrun with day trippers, but we still managed to nab some viewpoints to ourselves, and even found a quiet bit of woodland full of koalas. Koalas!! Actual KOALAS. Aaah!
3 days on the train
Yeah. It’s a long way between Melbourne and Sydney, and we ended up doing this journey three times, in a bid to try see friends in both cities at a time when they were free. Unfortunately two of these journeys involved rail replacement buses, and took even longer than the billed 11 hours. Fortunately the train’s pretty comfortable, and the buffet car does a mean vegetable lasagne. Win some lose some!
7 days in the Blue Mountains
This was a spur of the moment decision, prompted by plans falling through at the last minute, and it turned out to be a brilliant choice. These mountains are a couple of hours out of Sydney, so they were easy to get to when we needed a plan B. We were only going to stay for three days, but we enjoyed ourselves so much it stretched to seven.
We did a few beautiful hikes — the landscape is pretty spectacular here, and enjoyed camping and river swimming in the late spring sunshine. But what really reeled us in was staying at a lovely hostel, where we could camp in the garden but still make real coffee every morning in the kitchen, and sit round the fire with a glass of wine at night. Also they had jigsaws.
4 days in Melbourne
We did a fair bit of catching up with friends over a beer or four in Melbourne, and I also squeezed in my obligatory monthly swimming pool outing at the Fitzroy Public Baths. A proper old school outdoor swimming baths. Fortunately they’re heated, because while it’s getting hot in New South Wales, Melbourne remained bloody freezing for the duration of our visit. Or at least that’s how it felt after spending most of the last eight months in the tropics…
We also managed a cultured day in the city centre, checking out an excellent exhibition at ACMI (the Australian Centre for the Moving Image), and zoning out with a book in the rather awe inspiring reading room of the State Library of Victoria. And riding trams to our hearts’ content: they’re free in the whole city centre zone. I love Melbourne.
1 day in Canberra
Canberra’s pretty weird. We just wanted to see what it’s like really. And, uh, it’s weird. Huge sweeping roads, nobody on the pavements. The architecture was a pleasant surprise though. Rather than the pastiche Greco-Roman style buildings I was expecting from a dreamt up out of nowhere capital, many of the buildings are actually reflective of the time in which they were built. Revolutionary I know. I quite like the boxy, functional look you get from 50s and 60s buildings, and the slightly industrial utopia meets dystopia vibe of a designed town centre. It felt a bit like Guildford meets Brave New World.
4 days in Sydney
Busy busy Sydney. The State Library was a highlight here too, as was meeting up with a friend I’d not seen in a long long time. Seeing some of the more relaxed waterfront corners of the city made me ‘get’ Sydney in a way I hadn’t before too. I can understand the appeal, though I still think the commercial centre is pretty hellish. I guess it’s a place you want to be if you like a fast pace of life. I’m learning that I don’t.
On the blog in November
Well, a whole new blog!
Very different experiences: the exotic versus the relaxing. I want to write more about the former really, I guess it’s what interests me most. But the words flow quicker and easier describing what a lovely time we had drinking our way around an Australian wine region, than trying to explain the bizarre atmosphere when visiting the embalmed body of a former communist dictator. Go figure.
I’d be interested to hear what kind of thing you enjoy reading more, I’m always hungry for some feedback. For the moment my instinct is to keep coming up with a mix.
This is a bit of a mystery at the moment. We’ve spent the first half of December sleeping a lot, trying to get into some kind of routine, and tentatively setting up the beginnings of a life in Christchurch. Right now we’re hanging out north of Auckland, getting ready for Christmas and looking forward to the arrival of the rest of Arthur’s family in the next few days.
For me Christmas and the New Year are a great time for taking stock, and focussing on the most important things: good food and good company. Possibly not in that order.
I hope you have a chance to enjoy and reflect this Christmas. 2016 has been pretty terrible for lots of people, but fingers crossed 2017 will have some better headline events. And hopefully most of us can find bits of good news in every year.
I’m feeling incredibly lucky to be in such a beautiful place, and to have some lovely people in my life to share it with. The world is looking scarier than ever after the events of this year, in terms of the planet and the people on it. What this makes me want to do is start small, change the things I can, have a positive impact on the people around me. It sounds little, but I think it can be big, and I think it might be the only way I can do good, and stay sane.
What it makes Arthur want to do is run for President of the United States of America. Each to their own.
We’re wishing you all a happy festive season wherever you are!
P.S. One small good for me this week has been giving some money to help make the situation in Syria slightly less dire. I expect there’s lots more I could do, but this is a quick bit of help that I’m sure is needed. Click here for some suggestions of places you can donate if you’d like.