Day 1 – Hobbiton

Posted on October 8, 2019

Now… where to begin?


On second thought. maybe not there – let’s start with breakfast.

Pre-dawn start today (so much more time for activities!), and a buffet breakfast at the hotel, getting to meet more people I didn’t get a chance to the night before. After packing up everything (including my stomach), we boarded Shadowfax (our coach), met our driver Ray, and begun the two+ hour journey to Matamata (or Mada Mada if you’re a Japanese Cyborg-Ninja).

The journey there reminded me of our drives through Ireland, with rolling green hills, farms/animals and an ever-present grey looming cloud to block the harshness of the Sun. Some tidbits and trivia as we went, as well as some idle small-talk to pass the time. Soon enough, we pulled up to our drop point and all hopped off for a small break/souvenir shop and to pick up our tour guide, Theresa.

A short drive later, and we arrive to our destination. Following the winding path, Hobbiton opens up before us, in all its glory.

We didn’t get as much time as I would have liked (is there enough time in the world for that?), but lagging behind certainly helped get clearer photos with less people around to have to edit out later, though soon another tour group came up behind us and forced us to rush through a bit.

The whole set is incredible though – it certainly feels like a working, living village, with an inspiring amount of attention-to-detail. Each hobbit house feels unique and lived-in, all the gardens are alive with flourishing flowers, bees buzzing, birds chirping. It’s basically what you’d imagine and hope for when seeing it on film.

I took over 500 photos, so I’ve tried to include a bunch here which I could be bothered to process. More may follow, but you get the idea.

We climbed up the hill to Bag End, which was cool to see, though I wish we could’ve walked up to the door, past the fence. But then again, we weren’t on party business, so it’s fair enough.

Down the hill to Sam’s house and the surrounding hobbit holes.

Then off across the bridge, past the mill, to where the Green Dragon lies. That’s right! The Green Dragon is a pub! Get clickbaited.

I lingered behind so much that I missed out on sitting inside for long and enjoying a drink, but I got some nice photos/video outside with no-one around. We then headed into our marquee tent to enjoy our buffet feast, which once again had great food, and a lot of variety. Would recommend it next time you’re ordering from Uber International Eats.

After our meal, it was back to the coach for a scenic drive to our next hotel in Rotorua. There was a small delay with our rooms, so we got a complimentary drink and relaxed at the bar for a bit until they were ready.

After a short rest, in which I wrote some of this, plus downloaded/began editing today’s photos, we headed off to a Mitai show/dinner/evening, which is contains information, songs, dances, food and other traditional Maori things. There was an amazing theatrical performance, including a powerful Haka performed by the tribe.

After the show, we had a delicious feast (another amazing buffet), followed by a nighttime nature walk to see the glowworms, as well as the nocturnal native Kiwi birds. We even got to see a freshly hatched Kiwi as an added treat!

It’s way too late to still be awake considering my 5:30am alarm, so time for sleep. Overall though, what a day.

My back hurts.

Drone Aerial Shot

New Toys!

Posted on January 5, 2016

Christmas brings many great things – family, food, frivolity. But perhaps the most anticipated part of the day is the long-awaited opening of the presents. This is true unless you end up buying yourself some presents. Then you get to know their identities immediately and also get the added benefit of playing with them early!

So on that note, as a pre-Christmas gift to myself, I acquired a new hitty-with-sticks-sound-maker! Because it’s such a well-crafted, pristine and aesthetically pleasing piece of musical artistry, I decided to only take photos of it using my less-than-worthy phone camera. But regardless, here it is:

Also as a half-present-to-me-half-present-from-me, I got a flying toy! This one has a camera on it, which allows me to take sweet videos and photos from the sky! Again, such a highly sophisticated and delicately crafted piece of engineering begs to be photographed poorly from a phone camera for your viewing pleasure:

I swear I will only use it to fight crime.

I swear I will only use it to fight crime.

A still frame from a test video I took of my house can be seen at the top of this post (though you’ve likely already seen it). I also think it’s worth mentioning that I used a lot of hyphenated words/phrases in this post and I think I may have gone overboard with it…

Miracles Denied

We don’t stop often enough to consider and appreciate the unfathomable miracles we take for granted in our everyday lives. Although I say they’re unfathomable, let’s give it a try. Let’s do a little fathoming.

We walk our own path; one that only we can fully understand. Only we can know our own journey in its entirety, for it is too vast, too complex to be able to express or communicate to anyone else. Everyone has their own worlds to deal with; their own experiences, and yet this causes us to be oblivious to the fact that everyone else also has a complex path of their own, leading them to the moment they’re currently living.

It is a miracle every time you pass a stranger in the street. The chances of you being at exactly the same place, at exactly the same time as that other person is astronomical. Your many years of living, likely taking you around countries, states or cities; each decision made, big or small, ultimately leads you to this moment. And it doesn’t end there.

There are an enormous amount of decisions made by those before you and around you which lead you to this moment. Hundreds, if not thousands of years work might have gone into placing you on that particular street on Thursday at exactly 4:12pm. You might have only been there for a minute. Only sixty seconds. And yet for the first time in history, and quite possibly the last, your long, winding, complex path crosses with a certain stranger’s. Someone you have never crossed paths with before and may never again. Someone who has their own entire world of experiences and decisions; their path stretching back years and years, carefully leading them toward this exact point in time, where the two paths momentarily intersect.

This immeasurably unlikely miracle is often not even considered. It goes by unnoticed. Perhaps we should let our worlds collide. Interact with those around us and take advantage of the impossible opportunity in which we’re lucky to have found ourselves. Let’s at least appreciate the incalculable odds of two strangers crossing paths, for every second of every day there are paths crossing for the first and last time, all over the world. Missed opportunities; miracles denied.

Let’s change that. Let’s interact with the other paths; join them for a moment. Become a part of their world, their experiences, their story. Let’s impact their journey, even if in the smallest way.

Who knows what waves we might cause with our ripples?

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