Six Weeks in New Zealand

It is Saturday night at Gatwick airport and I am still working on an edit of the wonderful Julia Bradbury planting trees with Premier Paper Group and the Woodland Trust in Surrey. Finally finishing the video, laptop shut, I boarded the plane, the adventures begin.. (video can be seen here) For this trip myself and partner Mike are heading out to New Zealand for a six week ‘vanlife’ trip exploring both the north and south island.

I have been to NZ before, but it was about 10 years ago, and so I was very excited to head back for a second time to see what I missed, which turned out to be a lot as 18 year old Holly was very different.. and no, I did not bungy jump again… nor will I ever!

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Our first stop was Auckland where we met up with some friends then took our little van up to the Bay of Islands. We had the best kumara chips in the whole of NZ here in Russell and it is also where we booked an eco boat ride. We were hoping to swim with dolphins, but once we found a pod they had juveniles so we couldn’t. I am glad they stick to protocol and don’t take advantage just for the money. But luckily, as I was testing out the new mirrorless Canon EOS R from Park Cameras  I happened to get some lovely shots from the boat! I found the camera much lighter than my 70D and the fact I could use my lenses with the adapter really helped. There are a few settings which are in different places which takes time to get used to, but once you have, it is a wonderful alternative to an SLR camera.

Our journey then continued through the north island gradually heading towards Wellington. During our walks we found some lovely hidden beaches, some gigantic Kauri trees over two thousand years old and of course some wonderful waterfalls. The best thing of all was the lack of plastic pollution, probably in the whole six weeks I saw about five pieces.

You can’t take a trip to the north without recognising some of the most stunning volcanoes (whether you’ve watched Lord of the Rings or not!) Maori legend says that the beautiful Pihanga has to choose a husband and all seven males had to battle for her. The last battle of the mountains was between Taranaki and Tongariro – which was a burning battle of rage, where, in the end Taranaki was defeated and he retreated to the west coast carving out the Wanganui River on his way. There are a lot of Maori legends but I think this is my favourite.

Once in Wellington, our ferry crossing was delayed by a few hours because of the weather, but once we were onboard it couldn’t have been nicer, even if it was a bit windy! Once on the south island we took to the water once again, and the perfect bag for this was our 20l Overboard rucksack. We brought it with us as it was lightweight, also it’s so easy to roll up in our luggage and pull out for snorkelling, kayaking and other water adventures..

On the south island, thanks to Viewranger we managed to plan and map out a decent day walk pretty much every other day.

Some of our favourite walking locations were along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, which was mainly flat but you had contact with the sea throughout. Inland we headed to Arthur’s Pass, where were trotted up Avalanche Peak. We woke up at 3am to start walking up to Roy’s Peak for the sunrise. They are all so different but all were truly spectacular!

Then there’s the wildlife…

I am so glad I had my camera and brought a variety of lenses with me. The kea were very inquisitive and at the top of Avalanche Peak they joined us near the top as if to say ‘come on slow coach, nearly there!’ Then you have the seals. One of the best places we went was Surrat Beach and Shag Point. We went to the latter on Christmas Day and saw hundreds of seals just resting on the rock. We stayed for hours just watching their behaviour and how they interact with each other. It is fascinating. Then of course you have the whales. Kaikoura, whale watching capital… the good thing here is that there is only one company who have boats that go out, and they do not get too close and give the whales space. I have to say that I did get a bit queasy (twice actually) but that didn’t seem to matter when there were whales to watch.

This was our first van trip and the great thing about doing it in a campervan was the flexibility. Tired, no problem just pull up. Fancy a cuppa, no problem just pull up. Everywhere we stopped was beautiful, I can’t think of one place we went and thought we best be moving on. But if you do fancy something a bit more structured I found out that the Camping and Caravanning Club run escorted tours where they have packaged together some highlights on both the south and north island. It’s worth checking out. On our trip we were freedom camping, I could write a whole other blog about that! But I have to say, we found some spectacular spots.

I have been thinking about what was the most useful piece of kit that I brought with me.. and I have to say that my Water-to-Go bottle was probably up there in the top 5 pieces. Along with my mini photo printer and watercolours! Whilst the bottle can’t make salt water drinkable, it can be filled up from any water source. Now I know that there are more polluted countries than NZ but for the type of trip that we had it really was very useful! My TOG Buff is of course on my list too.. Also I am so glad I packed our waterproofs, so even if the weather was pants we still managed to get up the mountains. No excuses! I think that Cotswold Outdoor have the best selection of waterproofs and their staff are knowledgeable so can help you out.

Overall, I would most definitely go back to NZ. The scenery is just stunning, the people are lovely and the weather is pretty much perfect (who minds a bit of drizzle!) I would highly recommend spending no less than 6 weeks there though as it is a long way and even 6 weeks really isn’t long enough!

Happy travels,

Holly

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Lifeventure Thermal Mug Review

One thing I love almost more than walking, and exploring, and that is tea. A strong ‘builders tea’ to start my day, and finish it.. And of course a few in between.. But when out filming walks you can’t just put the kettle on. Of course that isn’t a complaint but there is one thing I always carry with me when out walking and that is my trusty green Flask. The proper name being a Lifeventure Thermal Mug.

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It’s the equivalent of about 2 cups of tea and fits in the side of your rucksack perfectly. It’s lightweight and keeps your drink hot for hours on end, so even if you forget, which is the depressing reality all tea drinkers experience now and again, it should still be warm by the time you really need it.

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It is often odd weather when filming in somewhere like the Peak District, one moment it is warm, the next it is hailing, and that is just what happened during this trip, but no matter what the weather I will always have tea!

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If it’s not builders tea I often go for a Clipper Organic Peppermint Teabag too. This isn’t only a refreshing drink but they have a great ethos. They are, I believe the first tea company in the UK to go Fairtrade, they also use unbleached teabags, it’s a win win!

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So whether you’re taking a walk in the woods, up a mountain, or exploring some fab National Trust locations, a thermal mug is the perfect companion! And yes, Mike you are too!

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.holly.

Let’s Explore … The Blog

My ‘Let’s Explore…’ videos are snapshot POV edits that I put together to give a taster of what I get up to when I’m not working! Below you will find edits from a few of my adventures from the last few years from exploring the Chilterns on our doorstep to venturing in the Swiss Alps. There will be more to come so watch this space, and if you have any ideas on where to go next leave me a comment!

Nepal was the big trip in 2017. We walked the Annapurna Region which is just spectacular. I am looking forward to going back and walking some more, harder routes!

Gryon is a beautiful little village in the Swiss Alps. I have been going now for about 5 years. I always stay with Merlin and Gemma in Chalet Martin, you can check out their website here: www.gryon.com

This is a little video from a road trip around Dorset. It isn’t just a walking edit, we get some cycling in there too.

‘Let’s Explore… Sardinia’ is another adventure using the Sony action cam. The underwater case makes it perfect to use on a holiday by the sea.

Croatia is a beautiful country. We have a lot more exploring to do so need to go back, but here is a taster of the scenic national parks and surrounding islands.

The Ridgeway is something a bit more unusual for myself, this was solely biking. This is a route that travels through ancient woodlands, valleys and has beautiful views pretty much throughout.

Ireland, mainly Northern Ireland in this edit, again we will have to go back and explore further West, it is on the cards!

Our first edit, strolling through the countryside that is on our doorstep, a beautiful Chiltern walk. Many more have been had an will create a new edit once I have collected more footage.

Let’s Explore… Croatia

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Travelling has always been important, not just going to the places and the food, but meeting new people too. Croatia has been on my bucket list for a while now and finally I managed to bag a trip, albeit a short one.  Watch the video of the trip here.

14681915_10154622681794158_8725972837615300256_oMy partner and I hired a car and explored the Krka National Park, the waterfalls and surrounding canyons were beautiful. We could have stayed for much longer, however we had a ferry to catch to Hvar.

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Hvar was spectacular. It was a short drive to our Airbnb cottage, the heavens opened as we turned up but that didn’t matter as the view from our room made up for that. We spent the rest of our time exploring the islands around Hvar, and all I can say is that it was tranquil, I can imagine in the height of summer it is a different story…

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Watch the video of the trip here

Image, Instinct and Imagination: Landscape as Sign Language Film

Image, Instinct and Imagination: Landscape as Sign Language

The exhibition, unveiled by Julia Bradbury answers the question Professor Appleton poses at the start of his book: ‘What do we like about landscape and why do we like it?’

Simon Warner’s landscape photography allows visitors to try out their newly acquired skills of landscape interpretation.

Here is a short film about the exhibition held at Royal Geographical Society  where geographer Jay Appleton and photographer Simon Warner join forces to explore Jay Appleton’s Prospect-Refuge Theory of landscape appreciation.

First published in his book The Experience of Landscape where aesthetic taste in landscape and landscape art is shown to derive from primitive, hunter-gatherer instincts for viewpoints (Prospect) and shelter or concealment (Refuge).

1st April 2014.

 

please watch in HD. Enjoy.

.holly.

The Suffolk Countryside Article

Constable country is definitely one to visit when exploring the countryside in England. Suffolk is a county that I have known all my life and it never ceases to amaze me.

The Lonely Heston Bale
The Lonely Heston Bale

Harvest is an important time of year in all of England, but especially in Suffolk. The nutrient rich soil provides a perfect base for a variety of crops. The fields look spectacular with all the heston bales lined up neatly, even if one does get left on his own.

Footpaths in Suffolk
Footpaths in Suffolk

I have spent my time growing up in this county, being on farms and learning the rules of the road, well footpaths… and many footpaths in Suffolk resemble the muddy tracks that once upon a time used to be main roads for horse and cart traffic.

Southwold Beach Huts
Southwold Beach Huts

Tourists mainly flock to the Suffolk coast where beauty can be found in the variety of buildings placed in the landscape. Even if the weather is moody and the sea harsh against the shore it can still provide vivid experiences for all ages.

The Aldeburgh Shell
The Aldeburgh Shell

There are many artists who have been inspired to draw, paint and create all types of sculptures in Suffolk and Maggi Hambling was one who created this iconic shell on the beach of Aldeburgh.

Higham Church
Higham Church

Away from the shores there are many meadows and pasture lands for grazing animals. The church remains the main feature as the centre of many villages all over the county and the hedgerows grow high and mighty sustaining the hamlet lifestyle for the wildlife as well as the village people.

Dusk over Meadows
Dusk over Meadows

Being British, we all have the fail-safe conversation starter about the weather. Even in the east of England we have similar talk, however we also most probably have some of the best weather that England has seen and I hope I have inspired many of you to come and visit it for yourself.

 

.holly.

Nuts About Mylk ? Article

I lazily walked down into the kitchen today to make a cup of lovely English tea, not only to find out that I have ran out of tea bags (big dilemma!), but I did find Andy working away with his scales and nuts creating a variety of concoctions for his new company, Nuts about Mylk. He has engaged Gemma into the process too as she was busily working away creating a logo. 

Gemma designing the logo
Gemma designing the logo

I have never tried pure nut milk before and actually I didn’t know what to expect. I watched how it was prepared, I have never seen so much precision in a kitchen, then again my cooking doesn’t involve scales and measurements.. 

Happy baby and Andy
Andy looking after baby whilst mum designs logo at Chalet Martin

The final bottled products were made from a selection of almonds and cashew nuts with cinnamon and vanilla added to the mix. 

Nuts About Mylk Photoshoot
Nuts About Mylk Photoshoot

We were then all due to test it, there were a variety of words that floated about and they were along the lines of full, flavoursome, light, organic, and once tried the cinnamon one warm the best quote was “ohhh yeaaaa, that’s christmas in a glass.”

Nut Mylk Ready to Test
Nut Mylk Ready to Test

They are all so light you could drink the whole bottle! I think my favourite was the chocolate one, it was the sweeter of the three. However, I am waiting for the Hazelnut and Vanilla Mylk to be created as I feel that will be my favourite. 

Nuts about Mylk Logo
Nuts about Mylk Logo

.holly.