December 5, 2016
I’ve just returned from 2 weeks wardrobe install aboard the Ms Maasdam, flying to Sydney and cruising around New Zealand. Within the past fortnight I have flown around the world, eaten my own body weight in airline meals and spent a whopping 33hrs traveling home. After a 12 hr flight from Auckland on Friday morning we arrived in Los Angeles 2 hrs before we took off, which means that at some point when I was in the air I’d ceased to exist,(must be the space/time continuum Spock)Now I have finally returned home and the jet lag has jangled up my bits and exhausted my brain I’m feeling upside down and inside out. Ive been awake since 3am so have decided to utilize my time and write a blog post.
I was surprised by how familiar New Zealand felt. The country was coming into Summer and the trees and plants were similar to those at home. It was like crash landing into my 1970’s childhood- shops had an individuality about them, time was slower and the race for mass consumption rampant capitalism hadn’t yet tightened it’s grip on the Western world.
New Zealanders’ are very protective of their native species, proud of their produce, heritage and culture. Auckland was simply stunning and once industrial areas alongside the waterfront had been re-developed into neighborhoods. Old shipping containers had been decorated and re-designed into spaces for yoga classes and lounges for reading and hanging out. Bars, cafes and restaurants had been built from old warehouses. And on summer evenings classic films are projected onto the sides of silo grain stores for pic-nicers. Duck ponds, benches, basketball courts and running tracks meant that people spent time together just hanging out and being.
It was a pleasure to see so many thriving bookstores. In a trendy shopping street called Ponsonby Road there were vintage clothes shops, boutiques, tattoo parlours, barbers, cigar shops, wine merchants, bike shops, cafes and coffee shops, art stores, galleries and sex shops. No chain stores in sight, not one Starbucks or McDonalds.
There’s one hell of a lot of delicious ice cream parlours, most of them have won awards of one type or another and all of them use milk and cream from local herds. I had a date, honey and orange cone from Joy ice-creams where the queue snaked out of the door and onto the pavement. Being English I understand the rules of queuing and was rewarded with a waffle cone of complete and utter deliciousness.
Definitely the best way to see any place is to wander aimlessly and sniff the air. If it smells rough you’ve probably wandered into the public toilets or the bushes. New Zealand folks seemed nice and friendly so I asked in shops “where should I go” “what should i eat?” or in the ice cream parlor “what flavor should I buy?” as an aside I also got to sample rather a lot of delicious flavors!
I used to think that the English have grown quaint,eccentric and have peculiar habits like Morris dancing due to the fact that we’re an island race and we have a rich unique history to draw from. We’ve always been more stylish in a shabby eclectic type of way with our tweedy jackets and interesting hosiery. But more and more we’re being drawn to the beige side of life with our clone towns, black leggings uniform and desire for Next homewares. I despair and wonder what will happen? who will be there to fight for the honey bees, save our native species and fight to be individual? why don’t we want to be original?
Like they do in new Zealand.