The Amazing World of Si Hart

Amazing insights into my mind as I battle against the inefficient world of the library, moderate a message board, write Doctor Who audio adventures and try and stay sane!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Things from March

Here's some things that have been happening:

We had drinks with Chris and James. It was a great night out, with two people I always feelI should talk to more. I'm sure we all bored James with our appreciation of Flight of the Conchords.

We had a lovely afternoon with Mum and Adam at Easter. It's wonderful to see Mum looking so happy now and it's wonderful after all the concern this relationship caused us all last year to have things settled and happy again. It's nice to see both of my parents in good, solid new relationships after all the hurt and heartbreak of the last few years. We had a great meal with them at Strada in Reading. The seafood Linguine was very good indeed.

New albums have arrived. The Feeling is my favourite album of the year so far. The new Supergrass is OK, but they seem to have lost their sense of fun, which really defined their first few albums. The album by Neon, Neon really reinforces how hard working Gruff Rhys of the SFA is (this is his third album in just over a year) and how incredibly talented he is too- very good and will be a grower I reckon. The new REM one plopped through the letterbox today. On one listen it's difficult to say if this is the much vaunted return to form we were promised, but it sounded OK to me.

My reading group are doing a Terry Pratchett next month- Going Postal. I wonder what they'll make it. Come to think of it, I wonder what I will make of it. It's been a long, long time since I gave any Pratchett a go.

We've been decorating the hall, stairs and landing. It looks so much brighter now. The green was dark and dreary, the Ivory Cream looks so bright and lovely. I did some of the woodwork today. I don't like glossing, but it has to be done. Now the house smells of almost dry gloss paint, and will do as we slowly get round to doing the rest of it.

Doctor Who is back on Saturday. YAY!

I survived last weekend's computer games fest at our house by writing for The Vervoid. Got a couple of things done, which is good and I'm 3/4 of the way through reviewing the B7 episode Countdown. I always thought season 2 was the best season, but there's been a real slump in quality over the last few episodes.

We've been watching the third series of Robin of Sherwood. Jason Connery gets far too much stick- he's not nearly as bad as he's made out to be. The series remains the definitive retelling of the myth for me and really puts the recent BBC series to shame in every way. RoS is imaginative, fast moving, beautifully shot and stands up well today I think. A big favourite series of mine.

Getting a migraine in the middle of the shopping in Morrisons isn't ideal for Steve, especially when he has to drive us home.

I'm going to start learning to drive next month. Oh my.

The next few weekends see us visiting lots of good friends- Richard and Mike in Ipswich, Si and Simon and everyone for the next recordings in Sawbridgeworth the week after and then a weekend in Nottingham with Wayne and Co. Should be great fun!

That is all.

Monday, March 10, 2008

10 Wonderful Things from our NZ Trip

Here are ten of the best things from our trip Down Under:

1. Hostels
They won't suit everyone, but what a great way to spend the holiday. I was really impressed with the quality of the hostels we stayed in (although the one at Lake Taupo wasn't great) and having never considered staying in one before I was pleased to find that I enjoyed it a great deal. There's the chance to meet other travellers and share your experiences which was pretty good in most cases. I was also highly pleased with the facilities provided in most of them- and in the ones like Glow Worm Cottages in Franz Josef and Kiwi Paha at Rotorua, the facilities put many of the hotels I've stayed in to shame.
And they're incredibly cheap, considering!

2. Towns and cities
One of the things that made the holiday was that everywhere we visited was different to what we'd seen before. Every town we went to seemed to have its own identity. It just made me realise that UK towns are incredibly samey- from the shops you expect to see, to that way they're designed. Every town was an event, because you never knew what you'd find.

3. Friendliness
We'd been told that NZ was a very friendly country and it was all true. People chatted to us in shops and seemed genuinely interested in what we thought of their country. In fact people seemed to go out of their way to explain things, to chat in shops and be really helpful. My special thanks goes to the woman in the Britomart in Auckland who was really helpful in getting us on the trains for the trip. She went out of her way to make it easy for us!

4. Food
Aside from the issue of them putting cheese in every meal they could (and making me miserable with it!) the food was really good. We ate out most nights because the food in the restaurants was cheap and incredibly decent. they know how to cook their meat over there, which is good, and the fish is wonderful. I tried some new things and can highly recommend Red Snapper fish.
Oh and they make great cakes. The Carrot Cake in Raglan was wonderful!

5. Bush Walks
We went on some amazing walks through the bush (forest) and around the Kaikoura peninsula among others. What made these great was that despite it being the end of the summer and there being lots of tourists around, much of the time we seemed to be the only people doing these wonderful walks, which again contrats with home, where they are always people around. It was marvellous in some ways, but also kind of disappointing that there weren't more people around enjoying them. Although if there had been more people arounf we'd never have encoutered the deer in the middle of the forest in Franz Josef, or been able to stand quietly and watch the birds flying around in front of us outside Rotorua or on the walk to Cathederal Cove. Wonderful!

6. Not Falling Out
I was very pleased that despite spending a month together, me and Steve managed not to fall out at all! Even on the day I was miserable because my pasta had cheese in it and even after some of the nights where other people had kept us awake outside our dorms! We had a really good laugh throughout the trip and there were lots of memorable times together and silly things for the two of us to laught about. I would mention them, but I don't think anyone else would find them funny.

7. Kaikoura
Quite possibly my favourite town we saw. It was just magnificent- a spectacular sweeping sandy bay with clear blue sea washing against it, with snow topped mountains dominating the horizon. Breathtaking views in a wonderfully laid back town. Good places to eat there too, and the whale watch trip was one of the best excursions we did, seeing 2 Sperm Whales and a pod of 5-600 dolphins was incredible.

8. Ice
The glacier was cool (obviously!), and one of the oddest places I've ever been to. We did the 3/4 excursion up the Franz Josef glacier and it was magnificent. The ice was so blue, and despite there being nothing living on the ice, it seemed alive as there was the constant sound water running across it as the ice at the top melts and the sound as it cracks and splits. It's very difficult to describe it in any way that does it justice- one of the greatest and most beautiful landscapes I've seen in my life.

9. Thermal areas
In contrast to the ice, the thermal areas around Rotorua were spectacular in their own way. The smell wasn't so great, but we soon adapted to that, but the thermal pools were a sight worth seeing. I was quite bizarre to think that anywhere in the city, a pool could break out, as we saw when we went round the city gardens where many areas had been fenced off as a new crater of boiling mud had been formed.
The thermal parks were marvellous- especially as they were all so varied and especially at Wai-o-Tapu, where the pools were vivid colours.

10. Driving Creek Railway
The Driving Creek Railway in the Coromandel was a real highlight. Built singlehandly by reclusive potter Barry Brickell to bring clay down from the top of the hill, it's become a great place to visit- an hour long trip up the hill to the Eyefull Tower, through the forest with sculptures to see along the way, embankments made of wine bottles and the viaduct that doubles back on itself and you travle across the bottom, then across the top to get up to the tower. Great!

Best Holiday Ever!