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January 15, 2008

A Revival

I hate periods of uncreativity or any period where I feel I’m not involved with anything. I seem to have a muse that shifts between writing, artwork, music and games. If I catch the updrift at the right time, I end up with a bunch of songs, some art, a game or a bunch of blog posts.

Right now, I think the writing bug has come back, since the previous post I have written a few music reviews for the Warwick Boar and blog, but I feel I have some sort of duty to finish off my documentation of my year out. There’s still plenty to talk about, and plenty of photos to post.

In the meanwhile, despite not recording it, I’ve been doing a fair bit of art work with a borrowed graphics tablet, of which you can see some endeavours here or you can wait till I post the best bits later on this month. I also bought some acrylics and did a painting for my gran for Christmas, but as of yet no photo exists, that needs to be rectified…

I also plan on using one of the digital art pieces (it’ll probably be easy to guess which) for a little compilation of all the music I’ve accumulated in my ‘demos’ folder for the past year. Some you will have heard, some you most definitely haven’t, and all of it I can still listen to today and not cringe at. I’m calling it ‘A Winter Clean’ as I feel I need a new slate to start things off. I wrote a new song for the first time in what seems like an age today as well, hopefully in light of the fact that Afterburner have a charity gig in Robbins’ Well on the 26th and are entering the Battle of the Bands later on. It feels good to get the creative juices flowing once more.

And I say all this without even mentioning the fact that I hope to release a few games over the coming months, I’ve had all these ideas bubbling round my head I’m gonna burst if something doesn’t get done sooner nor later.

And a new website will have to be organised I guess… damn… it piles up…

Ramble over.

September 06, 2007

We Don't Need To Say Goodbye


It’s been a while.

And I’ve been alternately been either visiting people away from home or cursing the day I made my home desktop computer 3 years ago. So now I’ve got a shiny new PC and a little bit of time to start posting again before Afterburner and I go on a shiny new tour around various places and seeing more friends (I hope).

I’ve been wanting to post this song above for ages, I played a stripped down version at the Acoustic Battle of the Bands (way back in early 2006) but it probably didn’t sound as good because I wrote it the day before. I finally got around to recording it properly when my brother came back with my electric guitar, and an amp to plug it in to. Unfortunately he’s gone with his amp (but left the guitar) so I can’t really do any more full on recording, but there’s quite a few acoustic ones knocking around that I should post in the near future (yeah, right).

Maybe after the tour, maybe in the next few days while I’m not being hounded by any commitments, I plan to put up a page of recordings you can listen to or ignore at your pleasure, with lyrics and all. I did also plan to record a whole album over the summer, but this is the only song I managed to finish…so it remains to be seen how this project will fair.

More NZ posts coming up…

July 18, 2007

Fox Glacier Mints

Fox Glacier 1

12th-13th January – Maruia Springs to Fox Glacier (208 miles)

The journey from Maruia Springs was fairly straightforward. Gorgeous sun greeted us in the town of Greymouth, where we dined in a strange but trendy café-bar – it used 7” records for order numbers! We topped up on petrol, checked our bank balances and rode on through Hokitiki to Fox Glacier.

The hostel was fair enough, plenty of videos (yeh no DVD player in our little section of the complex), free tea and cheap internet. We ended up watching The Talented Mr. Ripley with a few fellow travellers (an American girl and a Scottish girl) as we both had booked the same morning trek on that big icy block less than a mile away.

The previous evening had been wet, despite all the sunshine during the day, and it didn’t bode well for the 7-hour expedition ahead. However, it was fairly clear but not quite bright as the morning came. The centre was opposite our hostel and it didn’t take long to sign up and collect our military grade leather walking boots for the day.

The reason I wore a hat for the rest of the day Danger Danger

A good old fashioned British bus that looked like it came out of the fifties took us around the corner to the site of the glacier. It’s hard really to describe what it’s like purely in words. But if you look at some of the later photos for the dots that look like people. They really are people, and this glacier is really, really big. Even the cliffs at the sides were impressive, sheer to almost vertical, a huge chasm inbetween exactly where we were wandering up.

Dots for people More dots for people

Our guide led us over a trickling stream up the less steep side of the valley, towards one of the passageways onto the glacier. It gave us great views of the valley but it also brought the first sprinklings of rain. By the time we reached the glacier, and it was time to put our spiky shoes on (okay, they’re called crampons), a shower was in full effect.

Before the rain Fox Glacier 6

Under any circumstances this would be a strange experience but this was surreal beyond belief. Moments ago walking though some grassy forest, and then on to a great expanse of ice, every step and stair had been hacked away only a minute before by our guide. We were walking along where the even earlier guided tour had been, but even their tracks had been melted and reformed into new formations, and had to be reformed again by sharp metal forced points to make sure we had some way of continuing forwards. This mass, this creature, was continuously changing and rearranging itself, the guides often recalled how you could wake up one morning after, and the paths would have changed completely from the day before.

Fox Glacier 8

Today, our path was hard-going. Heavy raingear was on by now, and the cold was beginning to show itself. About an hour into the trek on the glacier, and we had to turn back. The rain was torrential, even our guides were losing their optimism, but it was still an amazing adventure out there. All the way back off the ice, we had to fight it, carving new steps, stomping our feet into the ground for sure footing, biting our teeth against the cold. Even off the ice, we reached the trickling stream we had merely ignored on the way over, which had now turned to a roaring river. By this time, getting wet had no meaning, nothing could be wet that wasn’t already so. We simply marched through the torrent, oblivious to any change in the current that had happened.

Fox Glacier 10 Fox Glacier 10

Apparently our ordeal was worthy of free beverages when we arrived back at the station, the weather still not letting up after all the barrage we had taken. It was all that we could do to just limp back off to the hostel, beaten by the icy fortress, and wallow in some typical self-pitying English comedy in the form of Blackadder…

July 15, 2007

Hot Springs and Sandflies

Maruia Springs 5

11th-12th January – From Kaikoura to Maruia Springs (118 miles)

After the relative high of grabbing some water time with some amazing sea mammals, I met up with Florian (who had just finished the dolphin encounter), said goodbye to Sam, and our hosts at Cray Cottage, and hit the road with a vengeance.

We had a vague idea of what we were going to do and where. We had booked a glacier hike for the morning of the 13th (we’re not superstitious folk) so we had to go cross-country to the west coast to make our appointment happen. We decided a good halfway point would be the haven of Maruia Springs. A privately owned set of spas and hot pools, where if you go for the (unadvertised) camping site, you get free access to in the evening and morning after. The weather was a little overcast still, a few spots of rain interrupted our coffee break but didn’t dampen our spirits as we found an amusing sign name to pose stupidly in front of.

Maruia Springs 1 Maruia Springs 1

As we arrived at Maruia Springs, the clouds just managed to part enough to show a bit of that bright blue sky we’d been desperately lacking. It was also enough time to put the tent up and figure out what we actually got for our money.

What we got, was quite a lot. The first area, was a series of large outdoor rock pools, naturally heated by the hot springs by the mountain but also a very unnerving murky black colour. The colour wasn’t the first thing to hit you though, it was that beautiful sulphurous smell that accompanies all things geothermal. Then the next things to hit you (or bite you) were the sandflies. Anything above water was fair game for these little minions of evil.
Eventually, we gave up with the pools, and took an invigorating massage (it literally felt like pebbles rolling down your back) from a cold waterfall nearby to clean up (it helped keep the sandflies away as well). The weather had turned again, so we moved swiftly on to the other main section of the spa, the Japanese bath house.

Japanese bath houses are different. You have to use these strange little showers before and after entering the pools, and you get this little stool to sit on, and a bowl for pouring water over you. But it was a complete haven away from the rain and sandflies. It was complete luxury to lounge in a hot pool gazing out at the mountains through a huge window listening to the pitter patter of the rain on the glass. I’m surprised I never shrivelled after staying so long in these pools, but it was beginning to get dark and we hadn’t eaten yet.

Our late meal was again a triumph for sandflies, we were reduced to eating our meal in the car, beer in the drinks holders and squishing bugs against the windows. It was a mutual consensus that we’d leg it to the bar inside the complex and stay there for as a long as was deemed reasonable (by the staff at least) before making a break back to the tent.

Maruia Springs 3 Maruia Springs 4

The morning after was much brighter, and lot more pleasant, though still not without its share of those little nightmares. We had planned an early departure, but sod that, we still had free access to the bath house, and that became an almost definite requirement in preparation for the next leg of the trip, across to Greymouth, and down the west coast to the glaciers…

July 13, 2007

Seal Shots

DolphinsNSeals 9

11th January – Kaikoura Peninsula

As I said in the previous entry, I booked in a seal swim not much longer after the dolphin encounter. Florian had arrived and he was on the dolphin trip while me and Sam took part in this. It was a lot less busy, a bit more personal and ultimately just as interesting.

Instead of heading out to the sea, our motorized dingy took our small group out to the very tip of the rocky ground that makes up the Kaikoura Peninsula, which I had ambled along during the previous week, albeit a little further inland. On land, seals can be seen as pretty rough and lazy creatures, but there’s much to be said when you catch one taking a dive. First though, we had to get near them.

We disembarked the boat in all the appropriate gear and made our way to a small inlet between the rocks. In an attempt to not disturb any of these huge seals, we effectively commando crawled through shallow water towards the little islands they appeared to inhabit. It was pretty tough on the hands and knees, even with a wetsuit on, and with the tide trying to nudge you into the walls, it was a more enduring experience to the open water meeting with the dolphins.

DolphinsNSeals 12

We reached a deeper pool in amidst the rocks, and as we were looking around for some that were ready for a dip, two started fighting right ahead of us. Lots of growling and slapping later, one pushed the other into the water and it rushed off to perch on another island before we had chance to take notice. It wasn’t long though before our guide started pointing out seals that were tired of not getting any sun (it was quite overcast on that day) and decided to jump in. I ended up out of the rocky outcrop altogether watching one seal as it glided about underwater, trails of bubbles as it swept past, almost directly aiming for me at one point.

DolphinsNSeals 3

We had another underwater camera, and I managed to get one great picture again to illustrate just how huge their eyes are underwater. I’m quite sure it was another fluke, because this was taken as it just swerved away from me during another imminent head-on collision. Either way, it’s fair to say that on land, these creatures may seem little morose and uninspiring, but that isn’t their game. Underwater, it’s a completely different scene, and another fantastic one at that.

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