It’s hard to believe that we have now reached the second anniversary of this humble blog. Our last anniversary found me in France, preparing to cross the English Channel and having already investigated northern Italy. Little could I guess that a year on I’d be back exactly where I started – Dunedin!
Let’s review some of the past year’s most important moments!
Visiting New Zealand in Le Quesnoy
Shortly after this blog’s first anniversary, I made my lonesome way to the small French village of Le Quesnoy. This idyllic place with its elaborate fortifications was the site of New Zealand’s last major engagement in WWI.
It was a place where I could relax, honour our brave soldiers, and set foot in my home country for the first time in a month. Because a little patch of Le Quesnoy near the site of our medieval-style conquest of the town is in fact New Zealand territory, and so I simultaneously found myself at home and yet on the other side of the world. A strange and moving moment, for sure.
An English Autumn
Our New Zealand native trees are of course almost all evergreen, and while our introduced trees do drop their leaves in autumn, I’d never before had an opportunity to see a real northern hemisphere autumn in all its colour and glory.
Autumn in England saw me frolicking through the falling leaves, watching squirrels gambol about and taking long afternoon walks in the golden light. It was a truly magical time unlike anything I’d experienced before.
Solstice At Stonehenge
As autumn passed to winter I made my way to Wiltshire and its ancient neolithic sites for yet another mind-blowing experience for a wide-eyed girl from New Zealand. Here I walked in the footsteps of people four thousand years gone, wending my way between Tolkienesqe barrows and long-enduring earthworks.
The crowning glory of my trip came at Solstice, when I joined several thousand others in greeting the sunrise from Stonehenge itself, a tradition older than human memory.
As my European sojourn wore on, I discovered to my surprise that my longing for home was only growing stronger with each passing day. Finally I made the decision to return to my old life, took a New Year flight home and very soon after found myself right back where this whole blog started – Okia Flat.
How strange it was to retrace the steps of my very first post, awkward and brief as it was. When compared with the new post I made after my homecoming, it’s incredible to see just how far I’ve come in these two years in both writing skill and confidence. I’ve found my own style and an enduring passion for sharing my stories.
I’d wanted to visit this “paper town” ever since I found it on the New Zealand Walking Access Mapping System (WAMS), but my European travails meant that idea had to be put on hold. Once I returned I took the fantastic opportunity to visit this abandoned Otago mining town with some of my favourite people in the world.
My journey was a success! We discovered ruins, ditches and a shaft, and picnicked in the now-deserted main street as I drank in the kind of epic scenery that makes me feel alive. My readers apparently appreciated the story too and I racked up the views, even managing to get a version of the adventure published on stuff.co.nz.
My First Publication!
Speaking of publication, this year saw the first time I’d ever been paid for writing, with publication in the New Zealand Wilderness Mag. I also nabbed a cover story in the New Zealand Genealogist and had two articles posted on stuff.co.nz.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but this is the first time I’ve made concrete steps toward achieving that goal. The result is somewhat encouraging, seeing as I managed to get published, but the experiment really brought home to me just how much hard work would be involved if I wanted to pursue this route.
Hopefully the next year will show some more progress in this area!
I Turned 30
The moment every woman dreads, the big three oh. In all my imaginings I’d certainly never anticipated spending it far from my family and friends on the other side of the world, unsure what I’d be doing with the rest of my life.
And yet I found myself looking forward to the adventure of my next decade. My twenties were a hard slog of learning to cope with life, and now all that work is going to pay off in the secure and confident woman I’ve become.
Now to the Future…
If you thought after two years I might be running out of ideas, you’d be wrong. Even at home in Dunedin there’s still a multitude of intriguing possibilities. On my list I have a pirate ship, a Maori siege site and an underwater town just to get me started. Beyond Dunedin I already have grand plans for my next holiday, whether it be elsewhere in New Zealand or further afield in Australia, the Pacific Islands, or Chatham Island.
The only thing I know for certain is I won’t be bored. See you next anniversary!