There’s not been much progress on planning for the Trip this week as I have used all my none-working time for Christmas shopping, baking and decorating. I have slipped a little ‘Trip prep’ in where I can, however. I have added a little note in the Christmas cards to alert UK friends to our plans and to flag up this website (a little promo never hurts!) so that they have plenty of time to prepare for mature couch-surfers … and buy in plenty of booze!!

I am pleased to say that this week was an excellent Trademe week with plenty of interest and sales. However, our new ‘purging’ model has proved tricky on the Christmas present front as all gifts now have to be consumable, ‘travel ready’ or extremely small. On the plus side, the trip has also opened up new areas of exploration. I am currently considering a pair of Crocks footwear for durable, lightweight and water resilient camp/shower/beach shoes – plastic shoes have never really appealed before but suddenly they are a ‘must have’ item.

On the knitting font, all is going well – I have nearly finished the cardigan with just the button boarders to complete and attach. The cardy is a very neat fit and is certainly not on the baggy side but I figure that any extra capacity would not increase its warmth (possibly the contrary) and just add to weight. To keep the momentum going, I bought two balls of sock wool yesterday to start the footless arm socks I mentioned in a previous post.

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I went out for a bit of a jaunt yesterday along the waterfront with the excuse of going for a coffee in St. Heliers and picking up a Christmas tree from the helicopter rescue people. While I was out, I overheard a couple of sets of European tourists talking amongst themselves. Both incidents reminded me of why we moved to NZ in the first place and I have to admit, I had forgotten the viewpoints represented by their comments.

In the first instance, one person commented on the very large amount of space a group of young volleyball players were occupying on the beach as if it was a serious breach of beach etiquette. Another in the party commented that it was not a problem because there was lots of space on NZ beaches. I was immediately transported to the days when we, like everyone else, would search for enough room to fit the dimensions of a beach towel (never mind an entire volleyball game) on a pretty standard European beach in summer.

In the second instance, I overheard a mother calling her daughter back from going to the beach unaccompanied with the reasoning that she would be ‘taken’ by a stranger. Whether or not this is a statistically sound statement in Europe or anywhere else, I would argue that it is not something that would even occur to the average New Zealander. I was reminded of the totally over-the-top culture of fear and perception of ‘stranger danger’ that exists in the UK.

It is these little things, that you forget after 20 years away, that I am sure will come flooding back once we are in Europe. It is probably an accumulation of these things that will send us scurrying back to the land of the long white cloud where people chase after you to return your dropped wallet and offer help when your bike chain comes off, the land where you can leave your inner city apartment and be cycling along a stunning waterfront within minutes and be sitting on a practically deserted beach drinking an excellent latte within half an hour.

Sometimes it seems so much greener on the other side, and sometimes you are blown away by how much green is on this side of the fence.

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All posts, Bicycles in cities, Cycling clothing, Preparation

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