First and foremost, I wanted to thank everyone for the wealth of comments I received on my Jolly Roger shawl. I’m overwhelmed. Really and truly, I find you all to be an unceasing source of inspiration. There’s nothing better than visiting my peeps in bloglandia reveling in all of the new and brilliant items you put forth. The internet rocks my world.
Second, I received a TON, literally gazillions of entries (this advertising didn’t hurt either) for embellishing Boring and Blank O’Lantern. I will be going through all of your amazing stories and ideas this week. You’ll soon pay witness to which of the ideas submitted provokes hook to yarn.
Third, I want to apologize for the delay in release of the Dem Bones scarf pattern. It’s really complex to write out (the construction is rather obtuse) and in addition I’ve had very little free time since August. So, eventually it will get done and though I’ve missed this Halloween season, there’s always next season. I know, famous last words. Anyway, I’m trying people! I’m finding it very difficult to balance my work life with my “real life” as of late. If I just didn’t have to sleep, I’d be so much more productive!
Okay, now let’s talk New Zealand! I’ve only covered a smidgen of my trip thus far. So much more to tell!
So as you do not think me thoroughly pickled 24/7, let’s cover the ambrosia-free portion of the program consisting of kiwis and hobbits and caves, oh my! Yes, though it pained us all to leave our Waiheke island retreat AND the vineyards, I needed to see some hobbits (a LOTR junkie such as myself cannot fly all that way southward and NOT partake in some hairy-footed touristy homage…I’m telling you, this is next for me…). Therefore, accompanied by my cadre of traveling companions, we hopped the ferry to Auckland to meet up with our tour guide who was to whisk us south to the site of the Hobbiton movie set (among other locations), which I affectionately refer to as Bilbo’s ‘hood, seen at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring and also seen at the end of The Return of the King. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
Okay, I’m a dork and that is well established so let’s keep going shall we?
Upon arrival at the Auckland ferry depot I skipped (yes, I, did) over to the shuttle, while my travel companions skillfully attempted to act as if they’d no idea who I was. Yeah, whatever, I was going to Hobbiton. Nothing or no one was going to rain on my parade. Nosiree. However, there are those who would try. Enter, my own personal Sauron for the day, my husband. Oh yes, immediately upon plummeting my rear into the seat of our transport, Sauron Gonzalez embarked upon an oh so familiar litany. Such one-liners as, “Gee Regina, have you ever seen Lord of the Rings? We may have to ask someone to explain the story to you.” Another that goes a little like this, “Tell the man how many times you’ve seen each movie Regina. Go on, tell him.” Or my favorite by far, directed to our poor unsuspecting tour guide, Robert, “I’m a catholic and the Vatican is my Mecca. My wife, she’s going to visit hers today.” Duct tape anyone? Anyone? Anyone???
Anyway, our freewheeling transport traveled southward from Auckland, approximately two hours through some a-mazing countryside before arriving at the Shire’s Rest, located at the front of the Alexander farm, otherwise known as Hobbiton, outside of the small rural hamlet of Matamata. From there, our little group of travelers boarded a larger bus appropriately named, yes you guessed it, Gandalf, with a gaggle of young German LOTR devotees for transport inside the working sheep farm and down to the site of my personal Mecca!
Disembarking Gandalf, we were introduced to a delightful young woman conversant in all things short, curly-haired, donning fur-bearing feet. She would accompany us as we dodged profuse piles of sheep poo poo and explored the remains of the Shire in search of Bilbo’s Bag End, The Green Dragon and of course, the party tree.
I listened with unbidden joy to her stories of Peter Jackson and crew times past, which included terms from the common Hobbiton vernacular such as “stunt sheep”…
"Party tree detritus" (pink stuff up in the branches)…
And of course, "Bag End" (big hobbit spotted!)...
We spent close to two hours on the set and it was just amazing, right down the ritual party tree hug (the hubs and his sister demonstrating)…
It was with heavy heart that we boarded Gandalf to head out of the Shire for transport to our next tour destination. Yes, even those traveling with me not so very infatuated with LOTR felt a little blue upon exit. Needless to say, to commemorate our visit the travelers four purchased all manner of tourist crapola emblazoned with Hobbiton logos, of which we were assured you could not obtain anywhere else, not even on the internet. Ah, yeah...Loaded for bear, our sorrows assuaged through purchase power, we hopped on our little blue bus to begin the next leg of our journey, The Kiwi House!
What’s as big as a chicken, has wings the size of ficus leaves, is nocturnal and sucks worms and other entomological wonders out of the dirt with an anteater-esque beak? Yep, the national bird of New Zealand, the kiwi! As some of you may know, I love birds (I have nine of ‘em) so the chance to see an actual kiwi was truly a treat. But wait, there’s more than just mere kiwi view-age to see at The Kiwi House! There is also an amazing aviary to walk through, which housed all manner of feathered New Zealanders.
And yes, we purchased more souveniers just in case you were wondering.
The Kiwi House was neato!
You know what else was neato? Our third and final destination of the day’s journey, the Waitomo Caves. Nothing can prepare you for what you’ll experience in the “deep places of the world”, i.e., the glow worm caves located at Waitomo. Yes, I said glow worm. And yes, you get to see a bazillion of the bluish glowing beauties while in the caves. And did I mention that it’s dark down there too? And there’s an underground river system? And you have to view the glow worms (truly amazing) via boat? And no photography is allowed??? Bummer. Check out the website though. You can find plenty of pictures there. Eight enthusiastic thumbs up from my travelin’ par-tay! Yes, more stuff was purchased...Are you sensing a theme?
The hubs and I are definitely going to visit the caves again in the future. Yes, it’s that cool. Only next time, we are doing 'em by tube.