Wednesday, December 27, 2006

This will be a fairly short post to say...I hope you all had a happy xmas and will enjoy the new year celebrations.

I'm a little out of sorts right now, I don't want to go into all of it, but...

1. The weather now is crap here.

Not a good reason to be depressed, I know, but it sure doesn't help. If you want to remove a metaphorical cloud from over your head having a real one over the hills in the distance is not of much help. And...

2. The TV is crap too!!

This is normally a political blog and I tend not to delve much into the personal zone. But I haven't been following the News as much as I usually would. I will write about it when I feel ready, and I don't care if those involved in this damned scenario read it. It is of their own making anyway.

And I project my state of mind outwards a little. I start to miss being in the UK. A winter Xmas with mulled wine and all. And good TV. And the usual parties I'd go to. Hell, I even miss the London smog, the noise, the dirt and all. I miss being anonymous. It goes without saying that my circumstances here right now are not too favourable. Just imagine being a guest somewhere where you know you are being tolerated rather than welcomed, that your hosts would rather not have you in their lives if they could help it. It sucks, and you should be getting my drift now. But still you feign goodwill out of the nice old English tradition of politeness. Xmas and all.

Thank you people who have been following my blog. It may no longer exist without your input. One moral lesson to perhaps be learnt from this post is perhaps not to say anything about anybody that you would not want repeated. It hurts, if not yourself than the other person or people involved. If you can't be direct then don't bother.

Up until now I've only spoken of things I like about NZ, yep, even the englishness of Christchurch! But as I'm in a bad mood I'll name a few things I don't...

1. Weather and TV, as stated already.

2. Small town life and what it implies generally.
Compare the population of Bournemouth (an average sized town, not a city, on the South coast of England).
(In the latest census, the town had a population of 163,441. Bournemouth is part of a built-up area known as the South East Dorset conurbation which includes Poole and Christchurch and has a combined population of 383,713, )

Now look at Wellington:

(Source: New Zealand Census, 2001)

The Wellington region (including Kapiti, Porirua, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa) has the third highest population, containing 11.3% of New Zealand's population.
Wellington City 163,824
Wellington Region 423,765

Bear in mind Bournemouth is a town, not a city. Secondly bear in mind that Wellington is the capital city of NZ. You get my drift?

If you live in Bournemouth or any similiar sized town in England you have the option of travelling to London, or the nearest big city. You don't have such an option here. Auckland is the biggest city and that is a plane ride away, a bit like, umm, having to get from Bournemouth to Paris. There are fewer roads and trains are no good for inter city travel. So you're pretty stuck if you are in a situation like mine over the holidays.

In many ways I like the place but I'm unsure that I could live here. I did live in Bournemouth for a few years but returned to London because I got a bit sick of the small town life. I missed the anonymity that London offers, the way you can simply disappear if you want to. Perhaps this may be partly the reason why many New Zealanders come to the UK.

I hope Political Umpire isn't offended by what I've just written about his home country. Perhaps he can share a few thoughts on it. I'm expecting he may tell me I'll probably like Auckland better as a place to stay for any length of time. Perhaps I will. I still have not decided my return date but when I do it will be made known on this blog.........


Gracchi said...

I'm sorry you were/are out of sorts- everything can look worse through that lense when you are feeling like that. I agree with you about NZ it is so much smaller than the UK in terms of population and that is an advantage and a disadvantage. Hope you are feeling better or feel better soon.

Liz said...

Thank you Gracchi! Your supportive comments are a help. When I was feeling well the smallness of Nz came as a refreshment, when I'm down it does seem to look worse through that lens and more as a disadvantage.
Wherever you are if you feel bad your surroundings look that way too. Alas. I should feel better when I get out from under my boyfriends parents...

Liz x

Political Umpire said...

Dear Liz,

Shame your holiday is grating, I know what you mean about the small town thing. Auckland is considerably bigger than Wellington (over 1m population) and much more spread out too, so perhaps won't be so claustrophobic. The weather is a bit better too. But other complaints you have may still apply, and it certainly won't feel like London. It took my father about 20 years to decide he was at home more in NZ than London (and I'm still between stools myself having been in the UK about eight years now)

I don't have the time to write more at the moment (maybe over the next few days), but hope things pick up for you and certainly hope you keep blogging - and blogging about the trip too.

Political Umpire said...

Liz your feelings reminded me of many a holiday past. There are a couple of cliches that spring to mind. The first is that foreigners are different. They might look the same, but they do things differently. Mostly that's a good thing; occasionally, after you've been away from home for a while and especially over a period like Xmas, it can become a drag.

The second cliché is that friends are like milk; they go off after three days. Family of partners or spouses usually go off quicker than that too. Even travelling companions (and yes, even those with whom you are in a relationship) can start to become annoying after you've spent 24/7 with them for a while. Occasional breaks are the only remedy I can suggest, though in the case of the tiresome hosts a few days’ freedom can amplify your negative feelings when you return.

My oldest friend and his family stayed at the Umpire's Pavilion earlier this year, and to be honest we were glad it ceased after four days - his wife, who had been a charming host in NZ, was a complete psycho as a guest, completely thoughtless (didn't even clean the bog after they'd used it, or the dining room chair which they'd stained, nor did she offer to pay for the London Eye I'd thoughtfully booked and arranged, nor did she want to pay her way when they went out - if you can't afford it, fine, don't go etc etc _ad nauseum_).

As well as urging you to take a few breaks from the sources of annoyance, I would stress that after you've been back in the UK for a few months you will be grateful for all the travelling you have done, and in time the annoying habits and demeanour of those you've had to stay with will become amusing anecdotes to tell your friends here. It always pays to remind oneself of that, and perhaps even to blog about it too.

For those reasons as well as my parochialism, I really do urge you to travel to Auckland. Not to do so would be like spending time in the UK (in Bournemouth, say) and not visiting London. Suggest you hire a car (alternatively, if your budget's tight there will be inner city buses: they're not well publicised and will take some time, but there will be another amusing tale for later ...) and go first to Taupo (a few hours drive), then to Rotorua (not far from Taupo at all). At Rotorua see the Whaka thermal village and the Blue and Green lakes - the latter are really stunning). Then move on to Auckland (via highway 27, it's much quicker than going via Hamilton and there really isn't much to see at Hamilton or Cambridge, although the latter's quite pretty). Whilst in Auckland do a trip up the Skytower, get to one of the West Coast beaches (where they filmed The Piano, to give you an idea) and take the ferry over to Devonport (cheaper than a harbour cruise!). Good cafes & bookshops there. Also check out Ponsonby, Parnell and the Museum. It won’t feel like home, but it will feel quite different from Wellington.

The alternative is to fly to Auckland. There is a semblance of public transport there so you won't need a car necessarily, especially if you're in the centre of town. I would however hire a car for a time if your budget allows, to go to the West Coast beaches and also to go to Rotorua for a weekend. Further north (or the Coromandel) is nice but nice primarily for the beaches, and if you get to see the West Coast beaches that will probably suffice.

Perhaps I've come across a little oversensitive before, or perhaps you've noticed the inferiority complex that used to be a great feature of the average Kiwi, and still remains to a certain extent (though I'd have hoped those in the major cities would have started to grow out of it by now). But fear not; on the blogosphere at least I'm entirely fearless! I really enjoy reading other people's feedback on the place, particularly when it isn’t simply insincere flattery as visiting sports teams or politicians usually dish out.

All the best,


Liz said...

Thanks, PU. I guess I haven't been the ideal guest here, although nowhere as bad as your friend's wife. But there are issues with my relationship that his parents have exacerbated and brought to the forefront of everything. I'm pretty pissed off as you probably gather. But I have been away from the source of the main annoyance.

Thank you again for your support and a happy new year!