And once again it is time to say goodbye. As ever I find myself drawn to the sea, pulled into a trance by the regular movement of the waves, with that feeling of sadness and finality coming over me.
New Zealand has taken its toll on my belongings too, so I say a final farewell to:
- My camera, broken beyond repair in a strong gust of wind nosedive to the floor in Nelson. The replacement really is much better …
- My walking poles left in a mountaineering instructor's car
- My Aldi children's ski gloves. A gloved high five goes out to these which did a superb job of getting me through a five day mountaineering skills course. They did well, and by the end of the week they were dead. There may even be a photo of them in last salute pose on the sunny balcony of a hostel …
- Micro Towel. Hated this, dumped it. Something smaller than the size of a tea towel has done a blinding job ever since.
- Sunglasses. Bit the dust in a belly flop onto paddle board incident. Replaced with polarised better bigger lensed ones. Farewell sunnies.
- North Face T-shirt. I loved you. You were a fabulous purple and you understood a woman's shape. You were polyester and you dried overnight. Unfortunately you held onto the Rotorua sulphurous mud smell for pretty much ever, and the flattering vertical white stripes down the sides were embarrassingly unwhite and unlikely to ever be so again.
- Karrimor walking sandals. Your work was done. You were ancient and you were not designed to ride a bike. Mesh walking shoes were indeed the way forward. Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed or unthanked.
- Gelert stove. Ah, sadly you let me down. I mended you on arrival and you broke again, the teeny screw being lost forever. Today we say goodbye.
- My heart. New Zealand has taken a part of this and there is unfinished business. I need to return. There are mountains and crossings with my name most firmly on them. Alas, not yet …
- Half of my lower right back molar. I haven't mentioned this but yes, it's missed, and it's been slightly irksome for some weeks now. NHS will be consulted …
And I take with me:
- The best ever trainers / walking shoes / sandal things I have ever had. I hope it wasn't just a holiday romance between me and the Kathmandu mesh topped, vibram soled darlings.
- The tiniest souvenirs known to man. Badges and bottle openers for the main part. Penguins and Kiwis all the way.
- The micro fibre map of the Redlands mountain bike trails, doubling up as the best camping towel I have known.
- Tupperware. In memory of the hostel kitchen argument I witnessed, I have my own tupperware and nobody shall ever argue with me about it. It's been a boon for leftover food against the ravages of ants, wasps, inquisitive birds, possums … … … and I can see it having usefulness similarly for the future so it's coming home too.
- A summer dress and sandals
- Memories, thick and fast. Abel Tasman five day trail, cycling round Wellington's shoreline, cycling up One Tree Hill in Auckland, riding up to the lake near Rotorua on Christmas day for a swim, riding the Fixie in Nelson, bus journeys, people, hostels …
- Skills. The Alpine Butterfly knot, knowing how to rope up for glacier travel, knowing how to get back to the bottom from a sport climb, snow anchors, a zillion different ways of cooking 2 minute noodles.
- Writing and thinking joined up together. As time progressed, I found I was really enjoying bringing together thoughts on wildlife, culture, and environment and putting them into writing. I remembered I had a brain and almost used that 20+ year old degree from time to time. It was good.
- Perspective. I've persevered with the mindfulness book learning, and if this comes home with me, I think it bodes well for a more balanced kind of future. I won't say a happier one because I am happy, it's what I do, I do it well.
- Photographs. What am I going to do with all these photographs?