There and Back Again: A Welsh Girls Tale

To be born Welsh is to be born privileged. Not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but music in your blood and poetry in your soul (Wilfred Wilson).

I love being Welsh but I hate being British. Brits are bland; they have no flair, charisma or passion and they tend to see the downside of most situations. I really don’t enjoy being associated with the Union Jack. I for one am passionate, I’d of course like to think I’m charismatic and I totally have flair (for the dramatics mainly) and I definitely take the lighter view of life; but then I consider myself Welsh not British.

The British ‘culture’ is getting me down so I’m off to experience some others. I’ll tell you all about it here and hopefully pick up some tips that Britons can take on board. I’ll record my observations and report back.

Bon Voyage!

Old Year, New Year Interim

So everyone tends to disappear from social networking and the likes over the festive period (unless they have a fancy iPhone strapped to their hand in which case you get all the gory details of their Christmas goings on) so I’m not going to beg anyone’s pardon for being incognito during the blurred lines of 2011 and 2012. But I will give you a brief (non-gory for the most part) low down of my recent adventures…

You’ll be happy to know that Kirstybell arrived safe if not entirely sound on Christmas Day morning as planned. Christmas Day was a rather relaxed affair with Kirstybell sleeping off the jetlag for most of the day whilst me and my housemates watched Christmas movies and watched Tom cook us Christmas Dinner.

The next few days consisted of stress, anxiety and agitation as I commenced packing up the things I’d accumulated over the last 4 months in Auckland; it was awful! I had far too much stuff, far too little space in my bag and absolutely no upper body strength to transport my life out of Auckland! Still I persevered, pulled my act together and ruthlessly rid myself of things I didn’t really need. (There were a few footwear casualties but I’d rather not talk about it).

You may or may not recall that the next stop after Auckland was to be Gisborne on the East Coast of the North Island for a New Year’s Music Festival called Rhythm and Vines (R&V). R&V began back in 2003 when a few guys couldn’t decide what to do for New Year’s Eve so wound up camping on a friend’s family vineyard for their own celebration with some drinks, a couple of barbies and a few bands keeping them entertained. 200 people showed up for the first R&V; 40,000 showed up this year.

It was my first ever festival experience if you can believe, mainly because generally speaking festival prices are ludicrous back in the UK and always take place in the summer, which usually means I’m pulling money together to get the hell out of the UK to somewhere sunny. I’d seen all the horrendous news clips of people (and their tents!) sliding down mud banks and being entirely wrapped in bin liners to stay dry at these ‘summer’ festivals and I wanted nothing to do with them - At least here in NZ on the sunny east coast I wouldn’t have to worry about packing my wellies! Or so I thought…

All I can say is I’m glad I forked out a little extra cash for my tent since out of the 7 tents in our party, ours was the only one that didn’t leak when the heavens opened – which was pretty much every day and in complete earnest on New Year’s Eve! Ah well such is life; thankfully our Kiwi neighbours in the tent next door came prepared with awnings to hang over our communal ‘party area’. After a savvy purchase of a $2 emergency poncho in town I was all set.

I have to say that the weather didn’t deter us one bit and I had an amazing time. Mainly because of the company I kept and the backdrop where R&V took place. The tents were lined between rows and rows of grape vines in a valley surrounded by mountains and the stages for the artists were snugly positioned in their own little valleys further in the grounds where you could watch bands from the hill tops (or choose to throw yourself into the thick of a 15k + crowd!).

It was the perfect way to end 2011, with friends I’d come to love dearly from Auckland (and who I wouldn’t be seeing for a while as they were headed their separate ways) and with new friends who I know I’ll see again on my travels; and of course Kirstybell. Neither of us are huge fans of New Year’s and if we had it our way it’d be spent watching movies and eating Chinese food and usually being in bed before the midnight hour even arrives.

Ironically the final day of the festival (the day everyone was kicked out) was glorious! I said goodbye to all my friends and me and Kirsty, along with my old housemate Dave, headed into Gisborne to find accommodation for the night before heading down to Hawke’s Bay the following day in search of fruit picking work!

We were tramping along through town with all our worldly possessions strapped to our backs, in the blistering heat, having already called two hostels who had ‘no room at the inn’ and feeling dejected to say the least, when two girls caught our accents, rather perceptively noted us as backpackers and asked us where we were heading. One block later after we’d explained our circumstances, Renna and Kyrsa had invited us to stay at their place!

Oh the kindness of strangers! They drove us home, gave us free reign over the shower and TV and fed us as well! We had a comfortable night in warm beds, added two more friends to our repertoire and headed out first thing to catch our bus to wine making country.

This is where I’ll leave the adventure for now as I’ve babbled enough for one day. I’ll simply tell you that I’m writing this in a cosy little hostel in Hastings called The Sleeping Giant and waiting for the sun to come out (fingers crossed).

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