Helen Findlay

My adventures in Middle Europe and The Colonies. This blog contains my own views and opinions and does not represent those of my employers, or any other organisation with which I am involved. Remember, just because it isn't Singletrackworld, doesn't mean it isn't shite !

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Greetings from Middle Earth

I have been in New Zealand for 12 days now, and still haven't spotted any Hobbits, Giant Gorillas or talking Lions, which is disappointing.

The flight over was fairly painless, aside from the ridiculous "transit" at LAX. We were made to line up, fill in a green form, get photographed and fingerprinted, walk 50 metres and hand half of the green form back, then get back on the plane again. Massive threat to US Homeland Security averted there. Oh well, at least they didn't make me pick up my bike and lug it the 50 metres, and it gave us something to do for an hour while the plane refueled.

Having a great time in Wellington, getting out on the bike and visiting friends and relatives. As Winton (my second Dad I guess you would call him) had to work on Christmas day at the Dominion Post we had a Christmas Eve dinner up at the beach house at Te Horo, with my sister Fiona and her bloke Andre and my nephew Alexandre, and Winton's daughter Rosie her husband Matt and their daughter Charlotte. Had a brilliant time, cooking the food on the bbq and sitting on the deck in the sun overlooking Kapiti Island.

Mother and I had a pretty quiet Christmas day, visited my cousin Amanda in Upper Hutt to see her new house, and was pleased to also catch up with auntie Linda and uncle Graham and my cousin Andrew.

Attempted a long hard technical route on the bike a few days ago, the Kennett brothers (famous kiwi trail builders) have put together a trail along the ridge from Mt KauKau to Makara Peak. You can see the ridge from my mothers house in Wadestown, and I have often looked out the window and wondered if I could ride my bike along it. Sadly not, was 6k into the 36k route and was getting blown off the bike in the howling northerly. Its very exposed up there, and after coming off backwards and just missing a rock with my head decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and cowardice was the better part of discretion. Will either find a friend to go with or wait for a less blustery day.

Went out on tuesday with Adrienne and Stephanie (oldest friends from school) and a few girls in town. Few drinks and nice malaysian meal. Small education on acceptable taxis at the end of the night, things have got so bad with complaints about assaults from drivers that I was made to wait for a cab from a particular company to arrive at the stand. Pretty worrying, used to be that you could trust a taxi to get you home.

Winton owns a 1956 Wolseley that used to belong to his dad that he has restored. We had a great day out in it yesterday over in the Wairarapa visting some of the vineyards. Very stylish for travelling in. Will post some pictures when I figure out why my mothers PC won't accept the USB connection from my camera. Have eliminated the possibility that it just needed a good kick. Bizarrely I ran into an old friend Caroline Atkins who I used to work with at Vic Uni Library and more recently lived in London. She was back seeing family and is living in Auckland now, and pregnant (of course, everybody I know in NZ either has babies or is pregnant - am surprised people don't utilise me as an aid to conception) anyways that was a pleasant surprise to run into her and catch up.

Busy next few days coming up, off to see Jo and Daniel and baby Lucien today, going to Narnia with mother tonight and visiting the wildlife sanctuary in Karori to see the Tuataras (big native lizards) with Ady and the twins tomorrow.

Heading down to Christchurch for New Year weekend, my friend Alistair is there staying with his bro for 6 months and will catch up with some of my aunties, uncles and cousins. Hoping to get a days mountainbiking around the Port Hills, but have just had alarming email from Alistair that he is a pure roadie these days so might have to do something about that.

Petra - have some pictures of Alexandre will send them when I sort the technical issues at this end !

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Winter has been cancelled !!!

Thanks to my mother (pictured with my stepfather Winton) who doesn't quite control the weather, but was generous enough to buy me return flights to Wellington for my christmas present. Thanks mother !! Counting the days, only 12 to go. And not before time, I have come down with a nasty cold this week so have been skiving for several days now. And skiving is not easy when you don't actually have a job....

I fly out from Edinburgh the morning of the 15th December, return the afternoon of the 10th January. On the 12th January I am off to Spain for two weeks cycling in Murcia, near the Sierra de Espuna national park.

I have been filling my time while I am looking for a job with a number of projects:

The Sweeney Project. I have been helping my elderly neighbour a couple of times a week, taking her to the shops, collect her pension, the opticians etc. She is in her 80s and is a bit deaf and can't walk far but is pretty sharp. We went out last week and had christmas dinner at Frasers. Will try and convince her to pose for a picture.

The SCU Project. Have also been doing some volunteer work for Jenny at Scottish Cycling, which has been quite interesting, and gets me out of the house !! Spent a couple of afternoons last week proofing the Scottish entries in the British Cycling Calendar. The power - mwah hah hah etc.

The Wales Project. Will be going away next weekend with my business partners Hugh and Joe and Hugh's sister Alice to Wales to do our Trail Cycle Leader course and assessment. We are looking at starting a small business next year delivering cycling training. More details on that before we launch.

The Blog Project. A friend of mine is in Tenerife being a professional mountainbiker and training for the Commonwealth Games. I offered to do a weblog for him. This became a project on its own, and I have to say I am quite pleased with it http://jamesouchterlony.blogspot.com This meant of course that my Blog looked a bit shit, hence the upgrades you see now !!

The Shit, I Had Better Get A Job Project. This is one of those projects that goes on in the background. Not much happening the now, prolly cos it's the lead up to christmas. I have one interview on the 14th December (the day before I leave for NZ) and am cautiously optimistic about it. Will mean a daily commute to Livingston tho...

The Ebay Project. Selling off loads of bike bits on Ebay, it's amazing what people will pay money for. Got £16 for second hand Ultegra bottom bracket last week. Have also started selling stuff for other people for a cut. Got £18 for my friend Paul's exceptionally tasteless Halfords Team pink and orange tiger striped skinsuit. Scary.

The Winter Training Project. Am trying to get out and do the miles on the bike, but have to say it isn't easy in this weather. Am managing a couple of longish rides a week, and have been running, spinning and doing free weights or exercise ball workouts. Have decided gyms are very tedious. When I first started going I thought everyone was staring at me, but after spending an hour on the running machine while the weights were busy, I realised that it is soooooo boring the only thing to do is people watch. Would wear my sunglasses so I could do it properly, only I think I might get thrown out. Meeting Julie C at Inners/GT next week for a mtb ride, very much looking forward to that.

Will post some pictures of our Trail Cycle Leader Adventures in Wales.