Back to reality – Month 3

We still don’t have jobs sorted. It takes a little longer than previously thought to get jobs at our age.

So we drink coffee…..

Another double espresso

And eat food……

Homemade scallion (…american recipe) pancake, fried, for breakfast.

Watch Radiohead’s set from Glastonbury for the zillionth time……

Thom doing his thang………

Have some gin at St Paul’s bar

Very posh gin and tonic…..for that read expensive.

And manage to survive another month in Birmingham.

Back to reality – Month 2

This is the boring month we knuckle down to find work ….. but still find time to have a blog post full of food and drink!

We get to explore Birmingham and our new surroundings.

Birmingham canal walk

We were still on the lookout for coffee….

And great food…..

Braised ox cheeks a la Glynn Purnell

But we were also enjoying cooking our own meals, trying to recreate food we had whilst away.

Chairman Mao pork with chinese pickled cucumber

Dumplings were first on the list. We cheated by using premade dumpling wrappers but the results were pretty impressive!

Dumplings…..need I say more?

We had a Swedish open sandwich party to say thank you our Finchfield hosts.

Swedish open butties…..on black bread from the Lithuanian deli near our flat!
Massive home made burger
Grilled cod on saffron risotto

Back to reality – Month 1

This is the fun month.

After being greeted in person by my parents at the airport…..

IMG_20170505_122158855_BURST000_COVER
They have never been so happy to see us!

Catching up with the family…..

Getting lots of hugs from my nieces

And friends…..

A beer in every picture…..nearly

And more friends….

Ladies that lunch……with wine, obvs.

…..we were completely integrated back into English life.

.

Guy after a hard weekend socialising with his friends

It is funny how you both look forward to coming home but also don’t. The thought that the freedom of travelling is coming to an end and you are back to your old life is always difficult. The excitement you have at making all the plans for leaving builds up over a long time, there are many hours spent on the internet, booking trains, hotels and more, packing up the house, selling all our worldly goods on eBay and more than few leaving parties which means it is all so exciting. The booking of a flight home and knowing what you are coming back to is different.

We had a lovely week at my parents in Stroud. Our walks down the canal were wonderful, and made us realise how beautiful this country is. The weather was amazing, those sunny spring days filled with sunshine, blue skies, wildflowers and hope, made us both truly happy to be back.

Our daily walk down Stroud canal had these views…….
……..and these wildflowers

We then had a couple of weeks staying with some friends of ours, and, amazingly, we were still friends a few weeks later. We enjoyed many a (late night) BBQ and more than a few drinks in our stay in Finchfield.

Sardines waiting to be BBQ’d, it would be dark before we ate them!

Flat hunting in Birmingham was depressing at times but we soon found an apartment in the centre of town and were excited to be starting a whole new way of living, city centre living, with no garden, or even terrace, for me to look after!

Not our flat but it is Birmingham Library and this is only 5 minutes from it

Moving in was a trial but we abused the good nature of our mates and roped them into helping. I doubt they will be as willing when we move out as the logistics of moving into a secure apartment, with key fobbed doors and lifts that didn’t work meant it was a sweaty day. We bought them beers to compensate.

4.5.17 Homeward bound

Warning! The following article was written with SEVERE jetlag. All grammar errors, words and opinions are not ours.

Walk, Ferry, Shuttle Bus, Airport bus. 

Hour queue for check in. 

Enjoy 5 movies, two meals, one snack box and one unidentified vegetarian warm food item on 17 hour flight leaving Auckland at 15.30 to Doha. Arrive into Doha at midnight (on the same day?!?) and hang out at the sixth airport to be awarded five stars.

At 2am Doha time we eat a burger in a food court as we are both starving (Stomach’s revenge for red wine overload?). I think I see a giant teddy bear but my mind is sleep deprived and confused. 

I think I meet George Cloony but my mind is sleep deprived and confused. 

Turns out we use the same hair products.

At 4.30am we check in for our 7 hour flight to sunny Blighty. We consume 3 movies, one meal and a veggie pasty thing.

At 11am we land on the damp rock in the north east Atlantic that is home. I think this means it has taken thirty and a half hours to get from Auckland to London but my brain is tired.

We embrace the balmy English weather

Al wins carousel rucksack roulette taking the final trip score to Al 4-2 Guy. She wins the casting vote in our flat hunt.

Alison’s wonderful parents and our new landlords meet us at the airport.

Bus, Bus, Train, Car and within five hours of being in the country we are in Waitrose perusing the Kiwi wine selection. 

We have swollen ankles.

For those of you who have been writing in, demanding to know Al’s fitbit totals for the whole eight months, here are the final scores on the doors:

3,570,330 steps

1,514.81 miles walked (which is equivalent to walking from London to Ivalo, in the north of Finland)

646,995 calories burnt (mostly replaced by dumplings)

1,791 hours slept

Thankfully Fitbit don’t record alcohol units consumed.

We go to bed at 7pm in full daylight.

Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home.

THANKS FOR READING!

3.5.2017 Waiheke Island

Our last day has arrived and we are sad to be leaving this wonderful travelling lifestyle.  The thought of getting a flat, jobs and facing reality is quite a shocker, but on the plus side, it will be great to see family and friends again (and not be eaten alive by mossies).

Our terrace

We have toast, butter, honey and coffee on the terrace. The amaretto was a welcome addition as heads were a touch sore from last night.

Caffeine, and more, pick me up

Our day was quiet.  We blogged, diaried etc.

We ate fish and chips by the seaside.

All food groups are covered here

Went for a walk on the beach.

We had ice creams.

I left Guy on his own in the wine shop tasting wines, he maxed out the credit card.

I cooked meatballs and couscous for dinner.

We watched our last night of kiwi tat TV. 

Tomorrow we get our flight home and arrive on Friday, we are being met by Mum and Dad at the airport, which will be lovely. We are spending a few days with them before heading up to Wolverhampton to see friends (and get a flat and jobs…..).

We will update this blog occasionally with exciting things we do in our lives, dumplings we eat and our next adventure, whatever that will be. 

2.5.3017 Waiheke Island vineyards

Our last day visiting vineyards starts with a coffee, obviously, accompanied by toast, lashings of butter and honey all on our little terrace. 

We then count mossie bites and compare them. Who knew the mossies on this island we so desperate for Roberts blood? Guy wins the most bites and for once we are happy to be going home to a mossie free haven.

We do a bit of strip shopping up and down Oneroa high street then we set off walking up and down the winding roads to the 2 walkable vineyards on this island of 31 vineyards, Mudbrick and Cable Bay.

View from our terrace

Mudbrick is a stunning setting, overlooking the islands bays and Auckland in the distance, set up high, it looked very Cotswolds to us. The prices of $20 for a premium tasting of 4 wines was steep, none of which were particularly great or worth the huge price tags, eg $89 for a bottle of Syrah. No extra tastings were given, portions were small, it was all very corporate. 

View from Mud brick
Auckland CBD in the distance

Next was Cable Bay, $10 for tasting and you only get that price taken off if you buy 2 or more bottle of wine. Again, this is much pricier than anywhere else we have experienced, we are thinking there is a posh tax on this island and we are thankful we aren’t going to any more vineyards here.

So, final scores on doors for NZ Vineyards visited is 33 and we have tasted over 275 wines. 

One last vineyard stroll

Guy also has a foldable pocket wine guide that he will bring out when tasting wines back in the UK so he can identify the plums, dry canned peas etc flavours in each variety of wine. You have all been warned. 

Rare photo of Guy looking happy AND drinking Rose

A walk home was undertaken in the sunshine via Alison Park.

Great park name

We stop for lunch at a beautiful setting of Wai restaurant. It is great food, but the wine is expensive, nearly the same price for a glass as a meal, but we still have some as we won’t get this opportunity soon. 

Chicken livers with Pedro Ximenez sherry sauce

Colcannon with corned beef

The afternoon is spent blogging, drinking wine and telling our mates we are drinking wine for the last time before we come home (we can’t do it tomorrow as we can’t face the 17 hour flight with a raging hangover).

Our favourite kiwi chardys

Dinner is sausages and couscous.

Guys sausage presentation

We watch more tat TV and drank more wine and listened to some Bon Jovi, just to annoy Guy.

1.5.17 Hastings to Waiheke Island

Today we make our penultimate journey of this trip, it will be a mixed bag of transport, taxi, teeny plane, bus, ferry, bus. 

We have booked an internal flight with Air New Zealand as it was cheaper than the bus and it saved us an overnight in Auckland.

Propeller driven plane….gulp….

So, on our last Monday away, as everyone at home was having a bank holiday lie in we were up early. We packed and left our glamping tent, which had been battered by wind and rain the night before, and got on our way to the small but beautiful Napier airport. 

View from Hawkes Bay airport

We checked in our bags, as they had bottles of wine carefully packed throughout we asked that they have the fragile tags put on. They were duly tagged.

Look at the fragile label, this means do not throw it around the plane

Breakfast was pastry based with Hawthorne coffee to wash it down. We watched as the baggage handlers threw our bags into the baggage hold on our plane. Fragile tags duly ignored.

Gourmet sausage roll

The wind had really picked up so it was with trepidation that we boarded the small, propeller driven plane. It was bumpy on the way up but once up it was a breeze.

55 mins later we are in Auckland and on our way into town for the ferry to the beautiful island of Waiheke, where we had booked a bit of luxury for our last 3 nights of the trip. 

Auckland CBD from Waiheke ferry

The 35 min ferry journey was stunning, many photos were taken.

Landing on the tiny island we got a bus the 2km into Oneroa, luxury, and got into our Air BnB to see what we have for the last time. Washing machine and dryer are the essentials as I don’t want to go back to Mum and Dad’s with a bag full of washing. Mum never did my washing when I was a student so I doubt it will be gratefully received on Friday!!! 

Our place has views front and back to the seaside. How ace?

Harbour in Waiheke 

We got some fancy items from the posh Island Grocer and essentials from Four Square and went back to the flat to do washing and cook up some lamb merguez sausages for a late lunch.

Guy cooked a stunning evening meal of lamb meatballs, couscous and adds green leaves for health. 

It was accompanied by 2 very fine Pinot Noirs for which we were grateful to be drinking due to Guy’s diligent packing and not the Air NZ baggage handlers. We watch The Bachelor and MKR. 

Pinot Noir taste test