New Friends and High Places

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Things have been quiet on the blog front lately. Sometimes I guess you have to let the creative juices refresh themselves and wait for your pen to start impatiently nudging you to make something appear on the page. Luckily, I haven’t just been sitting on the sofa staring at the TV, so even if my creative side hasn’t been challenged much in the last few weeks, my courage and confidence certainly has. After an amazing Caribbean holiday in August, I headed home and repacked my bags ready for another adventure.

Hockey has given me the chance to travel to many far-flung corners of the globe, but this was the first time I had set foot in New Zealand. The first thing I should point out is that it’s lucky it’s such a cool place, because my God is it a long way to travel! I know it’s probably a bit self-indulgent to describe my adventures on here but as I think I said in my last entry, I’m trying to savour new experiences and soak in life as it happens. I want to get my memories down on paper anyway, so hopefully it will get me back on the blogging track and act as a little reminder for me to keep enjoying the moment. Plus it’ll save me a few postage pennies on my as yet unwritten postcards.

Having immersed myself in a foreign environment pretty fully during two hockey seasons in Holland, I have learnt how to get over my ineptitude at small talk and figure out how to make new friends. This time around I was ‘team grandma’ – although this didn’t stop anyone from making the customary short jokes. Hilarious as always 🙂 Having spent the last few months outside a team environment, it was awesome to get back into the swing of things with a great bunch of girls. I’m used to being the slightly weird foreigner, but once they had figured out my sarcasm (and I had figured out that I had to download Snapchat in order to communicate with anyone), I felt at home pretty quickly. I was also looked after like a member of the family by my amazing hosts and even at my grand old age (ha) this made such a difference to how easily I settled in. Sports-mad, friendly and up for a laugh – Kiwis make good mates.

New Zealand is also a phenomenally beautiful place. A few of the girls scoffed at me getting my camera out as we walked onto the field for our first game. There was a snow-capped mountain in the background. As far as I’m concerned, that is pretty damn cool. So I may have looked like a bit of a tourist – but I wanted to be able to remember that view even when I’m a real life old granny. Thankfully I managed to do some non-hockey exploring too whilst I was there. Geothermal parks, hot pools, jet boating, visiting a Maori village, waterfalls, Auckland’s Sky Tower, Mount Eden, a sheepskin factory, a honey centre and even catching a giant prawn (just one – but this was kind of a big deal, ok?)…. all were ticked off my list. Oh and I jumped out of a plane from 15,000 feet. Possibly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. You can’t fail to soak things in when every one of your senses is being inundated by new, exciting, challenging environments. And this was just the North Island…

As well as my tourist cameo, I was there to play some hockey too. We set out with two mantras: to enjoy ourselves and to learn as much as possible. There’s no doubt that we came out of the tournament a better team than we went into it, and I definitely spent 99% of the tournament with a smile on my face. I’ve come home excited to see friends and family, and eager to get started for the season here.

I know I haven’t actually said much in this entry. I guess it’s a bit of a thank you, a bit of a personal diary entry which has accidentally made it onto the internet and a bit of a justification for why I have been busy getting out there and living for a few weeks without a hypothetical pen in my hand for once. Most of all though, it’s just a little reminder to myself about how much fun I have when I let myself… and that’s definitely something I want to keep doing now I’m back home with the people I love and into my normal (but brilliant) life. Kia ora New Zealand…

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3 thoughts on “New Friends and High Places

  1. Very descriptive & visited N/Z for th eCommonwealth Games back in 1990 & then to support Wales in rugby World Cup in 2011 and loved every minute of the visits. Have played hockey there though, but played against plenty of tough Kiwis in UK who have been great hosts during both visits. Good luck for the coming season, two weekends of friendly games, but our lMiddx league starts on Saturday – bring it on.

  2. NZ is just about the most awesome place we have been to. One particularly funny memory was after spending 6 weeks in a camper van we decided to treat ourselves to a nice hotel in Auckland. I’m lying on the bed just chilling then suddenly shouted “wtf” or something similar.Thinking I’d just seen a suicide……only to see them bounce back up……some nutter doing a bungee off the Skytower.

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