So, it has been three weeks since I left the UK, left my family, left my friends and left my high heels behind… And, while my Achilles tendons are gradually lengthening in response to flat shoes and I’m very much enjoying a southern hemisphere summer over a chilly British winter, friends and family are irreplaceable and are still very much missed.
That not withstanding, the reality is that this is still an incredible place to be living and so many people here have been marvellously welcoming and have done their utmost to make the transition as simple as possible – I am a very lucky little winekat. The times when I’ve felt most crippled by homesickness, someone has dropped me a line or I’ve been able to take a moment to look out of my window at the hills around me and remember why I fell in love with this place originally.
Marlborough crash course – continued:
1) Things seem more simple here – not in a bucolic “oh it’s such a simple life” sort of way, but far more practically. I had a morning last week when I needed to get the warrant of fitness for the work truck sorted, go to the estate agents and sort out my tenancy agreement, visit the local school and enroll my daughter, as well as pick up various bits and pieces for our work christmas party. When I was trying to work out my schedule, I felt like it was all going to be quite a rush and rather hasslesome. But I had planned for UK bureaucracy and queues, not Blenheim pragmatism and population. For example, to get one’s warrant of fitness done (sort of the equivalent of an MOT in the UK), you turn up at a garage and they drive your vehicle through various check points (inspection pits, brakes testing stations etc)… start to finish? 15 minutes. Bliss.
2) River swimming is amazing – even after a childhood of swimming in the English north sea, the temperature of the river here still came as something of a shock, but the deliciously soft water and gorgeous surroundings made swimming there a real pleasure. Not a pleasure to be enjoyed for a huge length of time, but a particularly lovely way to start a day.
3) Insect repellent is not meant for the eyes – spent much of yesterday weeping gently out of one eye due to an ill-advised application of insect repellent before application of mascara… Definitely been smarter in my time.
4) I now own a VERY big car – I bought a Mitsubishi Pajero today… Now, apparently Pajero means something VERY rude in Spanish, which is why it’s called a Shogun in the UK and Europe! At any rate, it’s a 4×4, it’s long wheel base, I am dwarfed by it and I LOVE it.
5) It is a small world - a combination of the smallness of the UK wine world and the smallness of the Marlborough world has meant that it’s not many steps from one side of the world to the other…
6)There are SO many stars – I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to poor old Orion being upside down, but I am always taken aback by the stars here. From the sunsets here (which are insanely beautiful) to the milky way stretching overhead, I find myself looking skywards an awful lot.
7) European wines are very expensive here – this isn’t a huge shock, but it was certainly brought home to me when I attended a tasting at a local wine shop, comparing NZ bubbles with champagne. MY WORD champagne is expensive here.
8) Fortunately, there’s plenty of lovely Marlborough wine – having waxed lyrical on my return and – in a way – based my future on it (!), I’m so relieved that I’ve tasted at a few of the placed I loved last year (including my work place – most fortunately of all I suppose) and the quality of wine is as I remembered. I am still besotted with Marlborough Chardonnay, think Marlborough Riesling can be an unsung hero and have had enough amazing Pinot Noir to confirm to me that Marlborough is no longer the bridesmaid in the NZ Pinot world…
9) “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug” was better than I expected - 3D still makes me feel seasick and I still don’t like all the plot devices that Peter Jackson has added to the original story, but this installment was – to my mind – a huge improvement on the first. I’m not sure I will ever really require an elf-elf-dwarf love triangle, I definitely don’t need giant 3D bumble bees and I would like a bear that looked more like a bear, but generally I found myself caught up in the adrenalin-fuelled chase across middle earth. Alright PJ, you have my attention – make it work for number 3 please.
10) The birds are still loud and the bugs are still biting… The former is lovely, the latter is tiresome…
Today’s stuck-in-head-song – I see fire, Ed Sheeran
Today’s dinner – pasta with chilli, rocket and olive oil
Today’s drinks – 2013 River Farm Sauvignon Blanc
Today’s footwear – birkenstocks