Travels - The Glittering Sands of New Plymouth

Yes, I know, they’re not particularly glittering. The thing is, they ARE.

Back Beach.

See only in New Zealand would they have such a surfeit of beautiful beaches that when they get one like this they just call it ‘Back Beach’. I think this is something pretty deep rooted in the Kiwi Psyche, because if you look at the Maori names for places, they’re often pretty down to earth. Maunganui - Big Mountain. Ruapehu - two explosions. Taranaki - Shining Mountain. I’m not meaning to be disrespectful by the way, apparently you can’t rely 100% on breaking down place names into their component parts to get their original meaning, but as Ruapehu is an active volcano, you can see where that may have come from.

Back to the subject, or back to Back Beach. The sand is black, but it’s not just plain black, it glitters. And as I found out, it is extremely difficult to capture in a photograph, as the camera just can’t quite believe what it’s seeing and just thinks sand = sort of browny gold.

The following picture has been heavily worked on in Photoshop to try to get a sense of what this feels like ‘real’.

Moody, innit?

Although it looks isolated there were loads of people using this beach, walking dogs and stuff, very friendly people too.

I walked on this beach twice, once with my partner and his sister, and then a second time, when they went off for a coffee and I decided to nip back and take pictures (not only do I find it difficult to take pictures OF people, I find it difficult to take pictures when People are Around. It’s a wonder I take any at all).

On the second visit, I got from about 2 miles behind this photo, to the bottom of the pointy rock in the background, Paritutu Rock, and just at the point where I was furthest from the car I got a phone call to say they were done.

I drove back, thinking I could find my way back without Sat Nav and do you know, New Plymouth is a lot more complicated than it first looks. I ended up on this short, wide, and incredibly straight road with lots of airplanes on it and people waving and screaming at me. Don’t know what the hell was going on there.

Anyway I eventually found my way back.

Oh we laughed. Well they did. Until I drove them back of course. Well, there’s a lot to think about - indicator stalk on the wrong side of the steering wheel, automatic transmission, a parking button rather than a plain old brake. And of course they drive on the other side of the road to the UK.

What? They DON’T?

Well my travel tale is almost done. Back down to Wellington for a few days, and then back to the UK via Hong Kong, so a bit more to blog about that. Then after that I think it will be back to blogging about insect photos and stuff.

And a confession for those of you who don’t realise it, I am writing this some time after I got back. There’s obviously a downside to this. Some of you may be idly wondering what will happen next - will I suffer a ghastly accident, perhaps a Cathay Pacific plane dismantling itself at 30,000 ft because it couldn’t cope with the undeclared weight of all those passenger cabin bags that were over 7 kgs, ahem… think of all those little bits of drama I’ve been trying to build in to make this slightly more readable…. I’m afraid you now have the disappointment of knowing that I MADE IT.

But look on the bright side - you’ve also missed the part when I got back and had to go back to Real Life, a Job, the UK, Brexit, Donald Trump, Laundry. And Jesus, I was moaney for that month. Nobody needed to hear that.

And I confess I have genned up on Employment Law in New Zealand and I did ask a few Kiwis while I was over there what the general population would think of an Englishman telling them all how to manage people, would they think Uppity Pom Go Back To Your Own Country? This is currently very similar to the prevailing view in the UK. People over here seem to want everybody to go back to their own country. This is quite a tricky proposition as we are a nation of immigrants and if we took it literally, the Anglo-Saxons would be back off to the ancient homeland in Germany and we’d be left with a handful of pureborn Celts with an awful lot of lawn mowing to do.

However, all the kiwis I spoke to about the possibility of a stuck up Englishman telling them all how to do stuff were surprisingly nice about it, the couple in Rarotonga I met gave me the name of a recruitment website, and even said “We wouldn’t mind YOU”, and when I contacted the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in NZ to ask where I could read up on the differences between UK and NZ law, gave me a few helpful pointers and said ‘let us know when you get here…’

I contrast that starkly with the welcome people receive in my own country, even in the airport. As you pull into Auckland International Airport the first thing you see is a huge banner saying “Thinking of Emigrating here?”.

Pull into Heathrow as an international traveller and the first thing you’ll see is a small depressing a4 sized purple poster saying “Assaults On Our Staff Will Not Be Tolerated”.

Enough for now - the dogs have rushed out to the back yard so that either means my partner will be back from his string quartet gig, or Amber, the next door neighbour’s dog, has had the temerity to use her own back yard again…